Today’s post comes from Chris Mummert, ELCA Malaria Campaign Synod Coordinator for the Lower Susquehanna Synod. Chris writes about her experiences on a trip to Zambia last May. Many thanks for sharing your story, Chris!
Did you ever experience a God moment in a completely unexpected place? It happened to me last May as four friends and I were wrapping up a once-in-a-lifetime, “bucket list” safari in southern Africa. I had been to East Africa twice prior to this trip – both mission focused through the ELCA and through LWR. This time was a completely pleasure-driven safari with side trips to Capetown, South Africa and Victoria Falls, Zambia.
We were on our last full day in Zambia before flying home. The manager of the inn where we were staying asked us if we wanted to take a walk through some villages early the next morning before heading to the airport. We enthusiastically said “yes”!
The next morning, quite early, we walked down to the banks of the Zambezi River, boarded a small motor boat, and headed out to our destination. No one could see a thing in the dark, thick early-morning fog that completely encased us. The driver took us upstream for about 25 minutes. I prayed that he knew where we were going.
Finally the driver made a hard right turn and gradually we could discern the shoreline. We had arrived!
Coming onto shore was like stepping back in time and place. Rudimentary huts, many with thatched roofs, sticks fashioned into fences to delineate and protect gardens, and animals running here and there dotted the landscape. But it was the children, with wide smiles and bright eyes who happily and warmly greeted us, that left an indelible impression on all of us.
Our guide, Webbie, had grown up here. He had had the good fortune of being sponsored by some church folks to complete his education and learn a trade, carpentry. His English was excellent. He and I walked side-by-side through this village. Curious, I asked him about the water. He quickly assured me that the villagers were careful to boil the water before children would drink it. He volunteered that this village was in a malaria-prone area (My ears perked up!). He continued that with the help of some “international organizations” (I wondered, “Could it be the ELCA?”), their village was supplied with mosquito nets and that their health clinic was also supplied with medicine to treat anyone who succumbed to this disease. He said that this help has made a significant difference to the village and its children.
The group of travelers poses with their guide, Webbie.
I was awestruck. This was to have been a pleasure trip with nothing to do with “church stuff”. God intervened. God led us to this village and to Webbie to tell his story and the story of how we “international organizations” are making a difference in people’s lives.
This village, reachable by boat, is a testimonial to what can happen when we join hands and give out of our generosity to those who need our help. Remember this story of Webbie and this village’s children as you consider what your gift will be in Tree of Life’s Malaria Campaign. You can save lives through your generosity.
Submitted by Chris Mummert