The month of September started with much anticipation as we planned the opening of the Elijah Music and Creative Arts Academy (Elijah Academy for short). The entire team of our mission organization (over here it’s called Elijah Mission International Zambia, or EMIZ) met for devotions and praying over the space.
Classes were scheduled for 2 and 4 PM that Monday and the next day was 2 and 7 PM. The class we were starting with was Theory Level 1. My teaching partners, Likando and Steady, were excited about the prospect of getting solid teaching in this area. So when the time rolled around, our grand total number of students that showed up was…
And he was well beyond Level 1…
We avoided disappointment as we held out for the rest of the week, but no one else came. Then we thought about what possible explanations for this might be. The first one was that it was the first week of school here. Another was that the news about the academy might not have been advertised well enough. In addition, we didn’t yet have instruments to teach with and maybe Theory just wasn’t enough to motivate students to come.
So we put those plans on hold. The solution would present itself in the next two weeks. In an answer to your prayers, our shipping container arrived safely, AND EARLY! And later the same week, the Creative Arts side of the Academy opened an Art Exhibition in our local Art Gallery (the only one of its kind in Zambia) that featured work by local students, many of which are orphans or vulnerable children. At the opening ceremony for this exhibition, we promoted an Open House of the Academy.
When the Friday afternoon of the Open House arrived, over 100 potential students and musicians turned up. And some were an hour and half early! We enjoyed sharing the instruments with them and getting them excited about classes which would begin the next week. Even our missionary partners, the Emerts, got in on the fun!
The next several weeks have been full and busy with classes. Brad is teaching a trumpet class and the theory class. Our Zambian music teachers are Steady (on clarinets, recorder, and theory), Isabel (guitar and voice), and Likando (flute, recorder, alto sax, and guitar). We all take turns in leading devotions and worship with our students.
It isn’t just Brad that’s been busy! In addition to homeschooling, Amber has actively taken part in assisting with a young women’s ministry called Girls Revolution. She has been building relationships, mentoring, visiting homes, and sharing devotions along with the Zambians who lead GR. The focus of this ministry is on purity in their relationships and building into their identity in Christ.
Amber has also volunteered her time in helping with a neighborhood Kids’ Club. They recently had 400 children show up! Liezl, who leads the club, estimates that over the year, 220 kids have been led to the Lord and discipled throughout the time. “We know about God, and we go to church,” one student told her, “but we didn’t realize that we could really know God.” The kids receive practical training as well through the use of colored plastic tokens they earn for attending, answering questions, and participating in the activities. Every six to eight weeks, they have a Club Store where students can purchase toys, school supplies, or home items like soap and toothbrushes. More often, the kids will pass by the luxuries of toys for things they can share with their families. One boy saved up his tokens for several months to buy a backpack for school. We are excited for our home church in Michigan to partner with this great outreach to help provide items for the kids to “buy” with their tokens.
In October, Amber’s dad, Ken Rice, was on assignment in Angola (Zambia’s neighbor to the west), so he made the flight to visit us for a week. We enjoyed showing him the city of Livingstone, experiencing the ministries we are involved with, and making a special visit to the game park where we were privileged to see nine rhinos up close and personal. It was nice to have our first “family” visit. We are looking forward to more in the future! **hint hint**
Finally, to wrap up the month of steps forward, we had a special time of prayer and fasting over EMIZ property in Choma. Many of you may remember that when we first started our Zambia journey, we worked with the music academy in Choma (about 2 hours northeast of Livingstone). In fact, we had originally planned to live in Choma to work there. The one-year delay had to do with this property that has now fully been given to Elijah Missions to use. Our aim was to rededicate the land, the buildings, and the future of that place to the service of the Lord. It was a great time of spiritual victory, dreaming and envisioning the future work that can be done there.
We have seen the hand of God moving in the work we are doing, in the people we are getting to know, and inside our hearts as we continually pursue building our relationship with Him. We are missing friends and family but are grateful for technology that allows us to stay connected.
As you pray for us, please keep these requests in mind:
1) Holidays: As November approaches, all of our American partners will be heading back to the U.S. for some needed rest and reconnection with family. Even our Zambian partners go to visit family, which leaves us on our own for the remainder of the year. While we do have a family trips planned, we are going to be on our own for a quite awhile. Pray that we connect to each other as a family well, and can thrive in this time of making new memories, even while missing our family traditions back home. If you would like to include us in your Christmas card list keep in mind it could take at least 2 months for mail to come but we certainly would LOVE to hear from you (Even in February!) Our mailing address is below.
2) Pray for relationships. The ones we are making (with ministry partners, fellow missionaries, students) but the ones we have need maintenance too. (ie…marriage, children!)
3) Praising God for his answering our prayers about our shipping container, for family visits, and for new found friends (especially teenage BOYS!)
We cannot even begin to express how thankful we are for you! Our faithful supporters: you make this possible! The reality of living here long term has impressed upon us just how important our regular monthly investors are. For sustaining the work we are doing here in Zambia, we are asking you to consider starting a regular monthly investment, or if you are currently giving, consider boosting your gift to help us cover a new gap. Recently, the country of Zambia had an economic shift that caused all their fuel costs to go up 30%. This, of course, causes the price of everything to go up! In response, we need to adjust our budget to match. You can sign up online by clicking on INVEST. In the past, one-time gifts have helped us purchase our vehicle and get other start-up costs covered. You can still give one-time year-end donations which will go toward saving for future trips back to the US (aiming for November 2017). Thank you so much for your investment in God’s work here through us.
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Snail mail (And I do mean S N A I L) is:
PO Box 60250
Livingstone, Zambia. Yes, that’s it!
Zikomo ndi musala bwino! (Thank you and remain well!)