After three months in Zambia, Michael entered his last week in the country.
It was Thursday, August 5th, the day before the Hamburg team arrived. Michael was talking of his concerns to John about the next week. Michael felt as if his energy was drained. He felt as if meeting new people, and leading a camp was pointless. Yet in his despair John challenged him. They both would go the week with one purpose: to serve. Anytime and anywhere, they would give this one week their all, so that when Michael got on that plane, and John got on that bus, they would feel satisfied with no regrets. Friday came and EXP was making their last preparations for the coming U.S. team from Hamburg, New York. Leading accommodations, Michael knew he had to change his personality. No longer could he hide in the shadows, unwilling to meet new people. So he called upon the Lord for strength. Sitting in Zion, a secondary base, he waited for the Hamburg team to arrive. His stomach grumbled with hunger and his eyes felt heavy as he sat in that front room. The bus rolled up and out came the three people staying Zion. Michael suddenly felt excited and ready to meet some people. Greeting the new arrivals he guided them to their room and brought them back out to the bus. Feeling excited, Michael and company showed the rest to their rooms at the main base, he got some food, and piled them back in for a tour of town. Michael scanned the group as they drove. Learning names, and making those first impression judgments. Now this tour was no ordinary tour of town. First stop: a herd of next to the road. Playing in the river and munching on some food, the elephants were observed by many excited onlookers. One of which got a little too close and heard it from the elephant followed by a charge toward him. Yep, Michael felt it in his bones, the excitement fueled him. They all arrived at Shoprite and the Hamburg team was allowed to exchange their money for the week. The moon rose over the base as the newly formed Program 10 team finished orientation and feasted upon their supper. Afterwards, many went to get gelato. Caleb, and eager young man approached Michael and asked how he got in Africa. Michael told him and Caleb replied back his answer as to why he was in Africa. Michael fell asleep content and excited to start getting to work with this new team. Morning came and they got to work early. After a nice worship/prayer session Michael sat through another session on missions and how EMIZ (Elijah Missions) does missions. The team learned of integral mission and got on a new perspective for this camp. Later on Michael traveled over to the camp grounds and helped out with activity set up. Another day down, and Michael began to make some friends. Sunday came and Michael had his last church service. After church he went back to the campground and fixed up the fire pit area along with Matt, Justin and John. Providing more hang out time between the guys, Michael kept serving and putting himself out there. Monday came fast and it was time for camp to begin. Last minute adjustments and then working the registration table was Michael’s mission. After all the students settled in, they went into their camp groups. Michael and Katie manned group three and got a group of quiet Zambians. Night came and all the men stuffed into two huge tents went to sleep. Michael used the Lord as an alarm clock and awoke John and Justin from the cold at 5:13am. They made their way towards the kitchen and huddled around a brasier full of hot coals, warming themselves and talking about whatever. Soon from the tents and echoing across camp they heard Will’s voice call out.
“Do you love my Jesus… Deep down in my heart?”
“Yes I love my Jesus… Deep down in my heart!”
Together: “Ohhhhh deep deep, Oh deep down down, deep down in my heart! I love my Jesus! Ohhh deep deep, Oh deep down down, deep down in my heart.”
The two provided a lovely alternative to pots and pans and awoke the campers with a smile. Full of energy all the campers ran out ready to start their day. After a nice message by Pastor John, and some one on one time with the kids, it was time for the activities. Stepping away from his team Michael manned the hallowed water challenge. You know, where the bottle has holes and you can only use whats on your person to fill the bottle to the top? Catching a lot of flack and blame, Michael observed many frustrated groups come together and finish the challenge. Coming back together with his team later on, Team 3 created a skit to preform at the bonfire. Night came quick and Team 3, going first, preformed the story of Adam and Eve. To Michael’s opinion they killed it. Next the men and women split up to have those private talks. Matt, Justin, and Caleb shard their stories with the boys and the offered the kids the chance to become Brothers 4 life. Very collected the boys all took the oath and we prayed over them as they continue this group to keep each other accountable. Michael sat back and watched young men get fired up about being a brotherhood together and ready to go back to their schools and change some things. Everyone left the fire, and Michael was left with John and Justin, then Matt and Will. Laughing and having a good time the group cracked jokes and bounced ideas off each other till about 3 in the morning. John and Michael then were left to spend the night at the fire and kept warm all night as they gazed at the beautiful African sky. Wednesday brought with it the last day of camp. After clean up and a final group 3 meeting, Michael stood in the back as Eyram commissioned the kids back to their school. The camp was done and Michael lied in his bed feeling finished. After a bath and a couple naps, Michael returned to the group as they debriefed the camp. Reach for life camp, installed in order to try and instill values in the kids off David Livingstone High School, centered around purity to prevent HIV/AIDS, in these and future kids lives in Africa. Many people were astonished at the camp and how effective it was even if we felt exhausted and discouraged. The next two days were filled with some community outreach, as well as much celebration and mingling between new friends. Michael then reached his breaking point. Person after person on the Hamburg team, a Buffalo Bills fan. And not only just a fan, die-hards and with many connections. MANY connections. Michael was dumbfounded after each conversation. Terry Pegula, Jim Kelly, Fred Jackson, and many more just casually thrown into conversation. The hamburg team was awesome and invited Michael to come to church and then a Bills game. Michael was thoroughly ecstatic. Friday night was a big celebration as many people gathered around a campfire in fellowship to end the night. They wrote down what they would miss and threw it into the fire. A somewhat somber end but very nice in Michael’s opinion. The night was not over though. Just as people were heading to bed. Will called forth people to go for one last gelato run. Michael mixed 5 flavors and hung with Matt, Caleb and Will. They four walked out and questioned the world what they could do on their last night in Zambia. Michael then fired the statement: “A free taxi ride.” Thinking that it was impossible they set to work and called a taxi over. The driver saw four white men approach him with pace. Will did the talking and begged for a free ride back to our house down the road. “We are in a hurry and have no money.” Will explained. “Get in.” The driver let them in. The Boys now acted as kids as they hopped in the car and drove down the road. They got back to base and jumped out of the car as they ran up to the house. Michael felt very satisfied as the rushed in to tell everyone what had happened. He finished that night with a bang and slept very well. Michael then Woke up and said goodbye to his new friends as John and Abby, along with others, headed off towards South Africa for another round of beat the drum. Michael fell back asleep as he woke up again only to say more goodbyes as he headed home himself. A great ending week to a great summer. Michael put himself out there and reaped the benefits.
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Ennis • 2015 International Immersion Intern