Posts in Immersion Trips

In and Through

July 11th, 2019 Posted by Go, Immersion Trips

Our team started preparations for our trip to Zambia back in April. We never could have prepared ourselves entirely for all that God did THROUGH our team. In addition, we never could have prepared ourselves entirely for all God did IN our team. It was truly a remarkable trip.

Upon arriving in Zambia we were greeted by both the Poetice staff, as well as a multitude of students on site for the School of Justice and Mission. 24 of them to be exact, coming from 7 different countries! What our team was immediately overcome with was incredible dependence on prayer and worship that the staff and students displayed. We opened our time together with a prayer and worship service as we all released what was going to take place over the next several days into the hands of God. It was a powerful evening which laid the foundation for what would soon take place.

Our team was able to assist in running a leadership camp that ran from Saturday through Tuesday. The camp was made up of approximately 60 students who the Poetice staff had already been pouring into and had identified as leaders. It was amazing to get to know each of the students by name as they entered the camp on Saturday. Over the course of the next few days, relationships developed that I’m sure will last a lifetime between several different cultures.

On Sunday, we were able to experience a worship service at Poetice with the students at the camp, and the community of believers that gather there each week. Jeremy gave an outstanding message on false prophets which is something that the Zambian culture is, unfortunately, having to deal with more and more. We continued to hang out with our students afterward and deepen the relationships we had started to develop the day prior.

Monday was the day in which things really took off in ways we could have never anticipated. Part of the leadership camp included a day camp for children in the surrounding communities. Monday was designed for children ages 6-10, and Tuesday was designed ages 11-14. As we began the camp, our team broke into small groups with local Zambian students/leaders taking us into their surrounding communities. It was amazing to watch these Zambian students step up into leadership and gather the communities together. After all of the groups came back from inviting the communities, 506 children were welcomed into Poetice on Monday, and 350 more were welcomed in on Tuesday. We were blown away by the numbers, as well as the ability to keep this many children under control!

Over the course of those two days, songs were sung, games were played, meals were prepared and given and most importantly the Gospel was shared. Between Monday and Tuesday, 60 children prayed to receive Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior! It was beautiful to watch as they were welcomed into the loving arms of their heavenly Father. Words simply can not do justice to the power that was displayed throughout those days. Our team stepped up in dramatic and dynamic ways, as well as the Zambian youth from the leadership camp. All we can do is praise God for the work that He was able to do through each of us.

After camp concluded on Tuesday, we had a few moments to take a breath, and then we jumped right back in on Wednesday with a weekly children’s program that Poetice runs. Prior to this week, the most Poetice had on site for this Wednesday program was 400. Well, 650 showed up this time almost literally blowing out the walls. It was remarkable. Children were shown the love of Christ in tangible ways. Our team stepped up and shared testimonies, taught lessons and led games, all for the glory of the Kingdom of God. It was inspiring to watch.

We can only imagine the impact Poetice will continue to have in the communities of Choma, Zambia, but one thing is clear. God is on the move! The needs of Poetice are great, especially in order to keep up with the demands of the community. Through support from several churches, including our home church of Watermark Wesleyan, Poetice is able to reach the needs in the surrounding communities by giving 100% of their weekly tithes through the church services BACK into the community. It was amazing to watch how God is providing for them in exponential ways, however, it is clear that the needs will continue to grow and grow, as the Word of God is shared throughout the surrounding communities of Poetice!

We concluded our trip with a spectacular view of Victoria Falls, and one of the best game drives I’ve personally ever been on. It was great to be able to celebrate all that God had done over the previous days while being immersed in His creation. The trip was quick, the ministry was great, and the country of Zambia and the beautiful people of Choma will be missed, but the work remains as the Spirit of God is on the move in that place!

Trevor Kaufman is the Director of Send & the South Creek Campus co-pastor at Watermark Wesleyan Church in Hamburg, NY. Trevor has been on numerous immersion trips to Zambia with Poetice over the years.

How God wrecked and rebuilt my heart in Zambia

March 27th, 2019 Posted by Go, Immersion Trips

As I sit here trying to put my thoughts and feelings about my time in Zambia into words I don’t know where to begin. There are no words powerful enough to describe what God did to my heart in Zambia. He shaped me for the future!

When this trip was first announced at church I immediately got hit in the chest with a feeling of I have to be there. No hesitation, no doubt, clear as day I have to be there. It was a construction trip, which isn’t my strong suit but I got hit for a reason. I asked about the trip and told my story and was accepted on the team to go. Throughout the preparation, I was under spiritual attack, but God took care of that too. The day came to go and I was ready and excited.

The flight over was a bit rough for me. I couldn’t get comfortable and ended up getting sick on the planes. Throughout our first day there my stomach wasn’t right and I kept asking God why did you put me halfway around the world in a strange place with an upset stomach. I felt like I was on a boat the entire week, which was an interesting feeling.

We had a chance to worship and attend service with the community on Saturday and Sunday. That was an awesome experience and really powerful, but I still didn’t know “why” I was there.

We went into the community behind the base and got to see the homes of the people there. It was a huge wake-up call for me and all that I take for granted. To see how these people, fellow children of God, lived was heartbreaking and my first thought was I have to fix this. I quickly learned that only Jesus can fix this and He is working in amazing ways through the people who live there and the full-time missionaries serving Him.

Coming back after the home visits we got started working. I went over to the coffee shop to help with tile removal, etc. I quickly overheated, was dehydrated, and felt useless watching other team members work tirelessly, while I was sitting there holding a broom on the sidelines. Once again I asked God, why am I here? Silence.

I got teamed up with Brad to do various tasks, mostly indoors, during the week. This was great! No overheating risk, etc. We bonded during the week and had great conversations. I’m truly blessed that he came into my life. But still at the end of the days, I had this nagging, why am I here feeling. Still, silence, until Wednesday came, and my world was forever changed.

During morning devotions on Wednesday, Nikki asked if anyone would be interested in helping with the youth program that afternoon. I put my hand up without thinking and was excited to help. The program for the afternoon was the tuck shop. Each week that the kids come to youth program they get a “coin” and once a month they can come and “buy” things. Things like bracelets, Bibles, notebooks, but also essentials like toothpaste, toothbrush, soap. I was assigned to work a table where the kids would come and “buy” their items. What happened next I never imagined would happen. The first boy through came up to the table and I asked him what he would like. Mama B had to help translate. He had 4 coins, so he had been showing up for a month to learn about Jesus. He said he wanted to “buy” 2 bars of soap. One for his mom and one for the baby at home. That was the exact moment that God broke me down to nothing. This 12-year-old boy could have picked anything, and he picked soap. Not even for himself! I had to stand there for an hour while 200 kids came through with similar stories trying not to lose it. I knew the first person I talked to would open the floodgates. After all the kids came through I was helping clean up, and Amber asked me what I thought. All I could manage to say was overwhelming, and I dashed to the prayer room and started sobbing. I have never sobbed that hard in my life. I cried for the people there, their situation, questioning God as to why he was putting these children through this. It was at least a half-hour before I managed to settle down enough to get some words out. I talked to Jeremy in the prayer room and heard some of his story. He put it in perspective for me, that only Jesus can “fix” this and that it is His plan. The soap that these kids are “buying” is as big of a blessing to them as getting a new gadget here is to us. Extreme poverty is all they know and throwing money or things at it will only make it worse. Only Jesus can heal and provide!

At that very moment when that boy came through the line, was when God moved and showed me why I was there. I was filled with compassion and have such a drive to fight injustice and help those who truly have nothing. God moved that day and changed my life forever. I still tear up thinking about him and the selflessness. He is truly the hands and feet of Christ.

Thursday we had a worship night which was amazing. I’ve been to worship nights and revivals before but was never moved the way I was that night. To worship in Tonga and English is so powerful. There are no words to explain what I was feeling. The tears just flowed and flowed. Praying with others around you, the words just came. They were not my words but His. The Holy Spirit was moving.

For the second half of Friday and the first half of Saturday, we got to do “touristy” things in Livingstone which was awesome! It was a perfect end to the week. When it was time to leave I was excited to head home. I had no feeling of regret or sadness that I was leaving. There was nothing that I said I wish I would have done that or experienced this. To quote The Last Arrow by Erwin McManus, I had no arrows left in my quiver. I left my whole self in Zambia, and will never forget how God worked in me and works through the people there every day. God is so great and I can’t wait to go back!

Forever changed,
Mike Devlin

Mike Devlin went on an immersion trip with Watermark Wesleyan Church in 2019.

Growing by stretching

March 27th, 2019 Posted by Go, Immersion Trips

“A construction missions trip to Zambia? I’m going to need to pray about this!”, was my response when I first heard about the trip. But deep down, I was certain I was going to go. I’ve worked in carpentry for many years, and I’ve always wanted to visit Zambia; this was a no brainer for me! With having enough skill and having had already been on one mission trip, I filled out the form online and I knew I was fully equipped to tackle anything that it would take to get to Zambia. Although, this trip ended up being a much different experience than what I anticipated.

Throughout our training and preparation time, I found myself beginning to give into this void of sin and found nothing but my pride getting in the way of asking the Father for help in overcoming those past habits. Until this point, all I had thought about was me, me, me – and nothing about Him! I felt lost, at times I questioned why I signed up for this trip and even an occasion where I tried to withdrawal from it. However, Jesus led me through this time of questioning and because of His love for me shown through my teammates, I kept preparing and training for the trip. If it hadn’t been for His love, I would have found myself at home missing out on what would become an incredible experience! Ultimately, this adventure would become what led me back to the most important relationship I needed – my relationship with Christ!

The day to leave finally came and as I sat down to fly over the Atlantic Ocean I immediately had a sense that this trip would be the polar opposite of my previous mission trip. I knew this trip would be more difficult. I hadn’t been praying daily, I wasn’t engaging with God’s Word, and I was totally disconnected from the church and the community involved. I had been relying on myself to get through this experience, rather than letting the Father be in charge. It became clear to me that I was simply a passenger on the plane of my life, and I realized I was in way over my head. I needed to give the steering wheel back to the true pilot and let Him lead the way.

Upon landing in Zambia and meeting the staff of Poetice International, it was a clear reminder to me that it doesn’t matter where in the world you live, what your race or gender is, what language you speak, or the conditions you grew up under; God can take all kinds of different people with a common objective and create a family. That was exactly what the staff of Poetice felt like to me. God had created a family there that welcomed us into their home as if they had known us all their lives. We began our stay by singing songs of worship, several of which were outside of my realm of ‘normal’. As we attended church the next day, I witnessed people of all ages dancing and smiling, praising God for His presence in their lives. I would have thought that people shackled by poverty and unideal circumstances would have an attitude of grief or discontent about their lives, but instead, I was pleasantly surprised to see a true sense of freedom and joy filling the service we attended. Some people may think it’s their lack of judgment against each other or even their disconnect from the American standard of living that gives them so much joy. It wasn’t what they didn’t have, it was what they did. They did have a vivid, profound, loving relationship with Jesus; a relationship not clouded by social media or tainted by an envious attitude toward their peers. After being home for two weeks, I’ve finally come to the realization that was the moment God revealed to me that this trip would be about so much more than just getting construction work done.

Often we get so wrapped up in other things that we can miss what God is saying right in front of our faces. This was true for me during our trip. I’m a goal-oriented person and I find deep satisfaction in checking items off a to-do list. We were only going to be in Zambia for a week, so I really wanted to make sure I utilized my time well and got as much done as possible. That way the Poetice staff could keep moving forward with their plans and accomplish their goal of opening a coffee shop ministry. After all, that’s why I came here right? Wrong! Throughout the week I watched my team as they created impactful relationships with people of Choma and seize opportunities to work with youth. Meanwhile, I did what I do best – lose myself in my work. I mean that’s easy when that’s where I find the most comfort. Over the last few years of my life, this cycle of trading fellowship time and relationship-building for accomplishing work goals has become more and more common. By the time I realized what I was missing out on, our week was already at a close. With only a few days justify, I asked God to focus my heart on interacting with the guys that surrounded my work area. I realized I wasn’t going to get everything done that I had intended to, so it was time to ask God what He really wanted to be done. From then on I felt something I had been missing for the first few days of our trip, and months leading up to it – God’s presence.

Mission trips are awesome because much like how God created each of us uniquely, God creates each mission trip experience to be unique for each individual. My experience has been that He takes me at the season I’m in and continues to grow me in my relationship with Him and with others. One of the things I always look forward to when I’m traveling far from home is seeing how much bigger God is than me. Even in places where people live deeply impoverished; regardless of skin color, languages, life circumstances, God still sent His son to die for every person’s sins. Not just for Americans – for everyone. He loves us all the same and He can still deeply impact me in a different country as much as He does at home. God continues to be so good to me and I pray that I can continue to grow into the man He has made me to be.

Dillon Kupski went on an immersion trip with Watermark Wesleyan Church in 2019.

How Africa Changed Me

November 29th, 2015 Posted by Immersion Trips

It’s cliché to say, “My time in Africa changed my life,” but it did. Lest I lose sight of the combined effect, I’ll identify some of my more minor transformations:

My fingernails grew long in Africa! I attribute this to several factors that in America cause me to nibble them in nervousness. I saw a clock just once during my entire stay in Zambia. With my planner back at home and no schedule, deadlines or appointments, there was no reason to fret.

I looked fabulous in Africa! Actually, the only mirror I saw in Zambia larger than a credit card was in the airport on the way home. Without reminders of what was visibly wrong with me, I considered how I felt more than how I looked. Not worrying about my appearance made me less shy in getting to know people. I was home for six days before I looked for my lipstick.

Olivia & I set up, photo by Heidi Dornbusch
Olivia & I set up, photo by Heidi Dornbusch

My social standing soared in Africa! Just Kidding. As a business owner who relies on sales via the Internet, social media is a part of life. Introverted, I relish the superficial, “hands off” connections I make online. The reprieve from technology in Zambia made me remember who I was before social media. I had more time for reflection and devotion, and instead of clicking “like,” I was able to “plug in” to actual conversations with real people. Relationships matter more-yes, even Facebook friends matter more after my time in Zambia.

 Giraffe class w/ Highland Creative Arts Students- photo by Gill Zulu
Giraffe class w/ Highland Creative Arts Students- photo by Gill Zulu

I gave up control in Africa! As a painting instructor, I’m particular about set-up and clean up, washing and carefully reshaping over 100 paintbrushes after classes. But teaching acrylics outdoors in 105-degree Zambia taught me to loosen up my rigid expectations. We made do without tables or paper towels, and out of necessity, our group members devised water cups from soda bottles, smartly affixing them to easels with yarn. I let go of needing to clean sun-baked paint off the handles of brushes, as appearances didn’t matter. Teaching was about connecting and expressing ourselves through paint more than it was about our materials, set-up or clean up.

I lightened my load of “stuff” in Africa! Actually, I was burdened with a huge bag every time we left the base- it stretched to my knees with everything I might need and many things I never would. I was always misplacing items because they were lost in the giant bag. I HAD A DREAM that I emptied my backpack at the airport and it was filled with identical water bottles, most only partially filled. The Point: I was weighed down with stuff that: 1.) I couldn’t take with me; 2.) I didn’t need more than one of; 3.) would be furnished when the need arose. Africa makes me rethink the relevance of all the “stuff” in my life.

You must be thinking that life is simpler in Africa. NOT SO. The people of Zambia endure much, and I’m not talking about load shedding or lack of hot water, or even running water. More often than not, peoples’ stories leave you heartsick. Because of AIDS, almost half of the population in Zambia is younger than age 14 and many are orphans. And yet these Zambians have a faith and fortitude, a desire for change and a commitment for others that inspires me and shames my petty concerns…paintbrushes?

Photo by Emily Eggebratten
Photo by Emily Eggebratten

Life in Zambia is not simpler, but it’s prioritized more towards faith and relationships than to schedules, appearances, and things. Our friends at Elijah Mission International Zambia (EMIZ) & Poetice International empower people in their communities to learn a skill, earn a living, support their families, and inspire others to do the same. They confront injustice. Here, in the “Land of the Free,” I’m advised against writing about my faith as it could turn off art collectors, but in Zambia, the government welcomes churches into schools to teach kids about faith-based abstinence in the face of the AIDS pandemic. This is life and death, and Life.

I left a piece of my heart, and brought back some of that beautiful Zambian spirit. I appreciate my blessings more and will more readily identify and respond to need. My goal is to remember all the little ways that Africa changed me, and to remain changed in a world so different.

Shebo, Edward, Alina, Bill, Steady & me at the conclusion of the mural project in the new arts academy's music room.
Shebo, Edward, Alina, Bill, Steady & me at the conclusion of the mural project in the new arts academy’s music room.
SonjaCaywood_author-150x150 ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sonja Caywood is an artist living in Dayton, Wyoming.

This story has been re-posted from an outside website. See Sonja’s original post here.

Road from Choma, Lusaka Camp

September 3rd, 2013 Posted by Immersion Trips

The last few days were more challenging. We had a long trip from Choma back to Lusaka, where we joined a team from NY and participated in another camp. I was very ready to go home at this point, and since it wasn’t really “our” camp, we felt that we didn’t have much to do. However, it was on the last day that I had one of the more significant experiences from the trip. After lunch, during a time where all I really wanted was to be along, I decided to sit next to a girl who was sitting by herself. After only talking for a few minutes, she told me that her father had left her family and they had no money. She went off to find work and was raped in the process. Her mother blames her for the rape. It’s a common story in that part of the world, but I was suddenly looking into the face of it. I didn’t really know what to tell her at first, except over and over again that it wasn’t her fault, and no, she wasn’t ruined. My attitude suddenly took a turn at that point. Was it worth it to travel across the world to tell this young girl that it wasn’t her fault she was raped? Yes, even if for no other reason than for that.

RachelDurik_author-150x150 ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rachel Durik is a photographer located in Naples, FL.

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August 31st, 2013 Posted by Immersion Trips
In light of this post, let me share one of the many joys I experienced in Zambia: The kids.
I am a mom. The more we’ve pressed into justice and allowed God to work it into our lives, the more practical and real it gets. Practically speaking, I was eager to get across the ocean again, to get with young mothers, with all. those. kids. and just love them. I wanted to hold their hands and pray for them, tell them true things, encourage them, play with them. I’m not an emotional basket case about it, it’s just something practical and hands-on that I love to do.
When I meet young mothers I want to fill them up with true words, tell them they are doing a wonderful job, that I can tell they love their babies very much. When I meet children, I try to say every true thing I can think of to them; that they’re beautiful, they’re smart, that they are funny and strong.
Time in Africa is short, so you need to make as much of your voice and presence as possible. These are the things that you can leave behind. I honestly believe God multiplies them.
These are images from the compound in Choma.
We might call the compound a “ghetto” in America. Remember, it’s not the poverty itself we are fighting. True wealth has nothing to do with money. A man may have nothing but be incredibly rich, another may have the world and be as poor as can be.
We aren’t fighting to give people more money, more stuff, a life more like what we have in America. That would be a sorrow and is a tremendous missing of the point.
It’s the effects of poverty we are defending against. It’s the ability to have a safe place to lay one’s head, to have enough food to eat, to have a good, honest way to earn money for your family’s daily needs. It’s the prevention of poverty-related crime, disease, ignorance, violence, slavery and trafficking. These are the things that get us out of bed in the morning, that Poetice works to prevent every day.
When you sponsor a child through Poetice International as a Defender, you take hands with many other like-minded people who want to fight for the orphan, the vulnerable, with real, life-giving care and help. It’s a holistic approach that gets to know each family individually, helping that truly helps, assisting with food, resources, relationship, encouragement, education; all woven tightly with the gospel. And it’s in Jesus Christ that this work exists and holds together.
This is better than Starbucks, Amen?
MeganKoch_author-150x150 ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Megan Koch is the Spiritual Formation Asst. & Restore Director at the Ransom Church in  Sioux Falls, SD.

This story has been re-posted from an outside website. See Megan’s original post here.