“God, send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden on me, only sustain me. And sever any tie in my heart except the tie that binds my heart to Yours.” - David Livingstone

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Landing in Africa!

(This was written by my Dad on April 6, 2015)

Greetings from Africa!  Friday afternoon, we landed in Lusaka, Zambia, ending an airline trek that took us from Manila to Hong Kong, then on to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, then Harare, Zimbabwe, and then the final hop to Lusaka.  This land of David Livingstone is home to one of the largest populations of Adventists on the African continent.

As we stepped off the plane and descended the steps to the tarmac, the cooler weather of the southern hemisphere was a welcome change from the heat of the Asian tropics.  We headed towards the terminal, hoping that the church brethren we had only met through email, would be there to meet us.  After a brief wait in line outside for medical security to check our passports to ensure that we were not coming from an Ebola country, we entered the terminal.  Just inside stood three tall men in suits, holding a sign which read, “Amazing Facts – Pastor Lowell Hargreaves.” What a welcome sign that was to strangers in a foreign land! 

The brethren welcomed us as kindly as long-time friends, and a moment later a fourth man in a suit—a colonel in the military—showed up to help us with our visas.  For the first time in all our travels, we were taken through the diplomat line for passports!  The colonel took our passports, and handed them in to someone in the customs area.  As we waited in line, chatting with the men regarding our trip, I happened to see in the baggage area through an open door, one of our trunks passing on the conveyer belt.  I said to the brethren, “It looks like our bags have made it here too.”  “Oh,” said the colonel who had returned from the customs booth, “you have baggage?  Quick—follow me.”  We slipped through the open door, past the customs officials, and into the baggage area.  As I pulled trunks off the conveyer belt I thought to myself, “This is the first time in my life that I’ve skipped customs and gone directly to baggage!”

Providentially, not one of bags was missing in spite of all the transfers, and a very tight connection in Addis Ababa!  Moments after we had stacked all our trunks on baggage carts, the colonel was back with our passports.  Because of his position, we had no hassles with visas, and since he is a Seventh-day Adventist, the local conference officials requested his assistance.

Beautiful flowers! Going from the airport to our lodge.
Outside the terminal, we were greeted by more church brethren, all welcoming us like family.  Pastor Silas, the conference ministerial secretary, motioned us into a side door, and there in an airport conference room were the church ladies waiting to welcome us.  Two formally dressed little girls presented both my wife and I with a bouquet of flowers, curtsying as they did so.  Since Zambia is a former British colony, many of the English customs are found here.  Needless to say, we received a “royal welcome” by the church brethren in Africa!

After getting slightly lost in the spread-out city of Lusaka, our driver finally pulled into the compound were our “lodge” is located.  We were welcomed by a friendly African woman who is hosting us in her home.  She has a very comfortable house which she rents out to church and other guests—much like our “bed and breakfast” places in the States.  Only here, it is bed, breakfast, and lunch! 

Sabbath, we were able to see what life is like for many Africans.  Zambia is one of the poorest countries on the continent, and the section of Lusaka where the conference is organizing our evangelistic meetings is crowded with people who are living in poverty.  This city of two million has over a hundred Seventh-day Adventist churches, and most are full!  Sandra and I spoke (actually my wife just listened :) in a church with 700-800 in attendance, and Michael with Teresa, spoke in a church with around 1,200.

Just across the street from the church where I spoke Sabbath, is the Chimwemwe Primary School Grounds, the target venue for our evangelistic series which is scheduled to begin this coming Friday night.  Most public evangelistic meetings here are done outdoors, with people sitting on benches or the ground, or simply standing.  The brethren are planning to build a covered stage for the speaker, but everyone else is out in the open air.  Rainy season is supposed to be over (the locals informed us that it has not rained for the past three weeks), but since we arrived, it has been pouring every evening and often into the night!  We are praying for an outpouring of the latter rain here in Lusaka, but also praying that the rainy season will end again before we start the meetings!  Join us in praying for an outpouring of God’s grace and blessings for the people of Africa.

Another update to be posted soon!

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