International Project Update: September Training in Zambia
Letson Kachoronga is already leading training sessions at the United Methodist Conference Center/SIFAT Training Center in Lusaka, Zambia. Letson participated in last May’s Field Study at SIFAT and also taught some of the agricultural classes. Letson uses Foundations for Farming techniques to teach sustainable agriculture that produces significantly more than traditional farming methods, as well as uses Biblical principles and discipleship. Although the center is not completed, Letson is already training local community members.
We had a wonderful three-day training at SIFAT’s Zambia Training Center from Thursday, Sept. 26th to Saturday, Sept. 28th. We had 20 participants from two churches, Matero and Kanyama UMCs. I was really encouraged by the level of willingness of learning that was shown by the participants. We discussed health, leadership skills, community development and agricultural techniques. Pastor Kenneth Kalichi, the new pastor of the Abundant Life UMC that is located on the Center’s property, talked about community development; Patricia and Mavis from Matero, who are part of the Lusaka District leadership taught on health matters and leadership skills respectively; and I spoke about agriculture.
Tom and Peggy recently traveled to Zambia. While there, they were able to meet the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s team of Engineers Without Borders and spend time on the project site. Dave Barnhart, of Trinity UMC in Birmingham, will be helping lead the first SIFAT short-term mission team later this year. Dave joined Tom and Peggy to visit the site and help prepare for future SIFAT teams to stay in Lusaka. Below, Dave shares about his experience with Tom and Peggy in Zambia.
I’ve always been impressed with the impact SIFAT’s short-term mission projects have on the people with whom I travel. When I make comparisons with other mission trips I’ve been on, SIFAT participants learn more, they have a better experience, and they often get turned onto missions both at home and internationally.
I’ve had the opportunity to shadow Tom and Peggy the last couple of days to see what goes into laying the groundwork for a successful mission trip. There’s a lot of work that mission teams never see! It’s like putting together a puzzle, fitting resources together with people and organizations to make a big picture. Only in this case, the puzzle pieces keep changing shape, and you don’t really know what the final picture will look like. You simply have to trust that God’s got the picture on the front of the box, and when it all goes together, it will be better than we imagine.
When you put together any puzzle, it helps to get the corners and sides done first. EWB and Harbert Construction, the local churches and SIFATÂ have done marvelous work in putting together the first pieces. The past few days we’ve done some networking with WorldVision, Zambikes and other local potential partners. One of the engineering students told me that he was surprised at how much of the work involves diplomacy and learning how to navigate both local culture and our own.
I’m only here for a short time. I already can’t wait to come back.
See Tom’s photos after the jump!