As we arrived at our base camp it became apparent that things were not going to be as expected. In my previous trip to Zambia we stayed at a really nice base in Choma, with showers, Wi-Fi, a big kitchen, a huge common room with couches, beds all ready with bedding and pillows, and big walls all the way around the base. This base is not that. When I post this it will signify that we have gotten Wi-Fi, after a few days disconnected. The walls are only concrete in front and back with just wire fence on the side. We take cold bucket baths. We sleep in sleeping bags. The kitchen is small. We have no couches. So right off the bat it was very different. That first night we were told that this experience would be hard, and that it would really push us out of our comfort zones. So to start off the Elijah Experience they woke us up at 4:00 in the morning on Tuesday with pots and pans telling us to pack a blanket and and a water bottle. So with my sleeping bag and water bottle In hand we all met in our common room. The leaders then proceeded to blindfold us and we all piled into a bus. We arrived at our destination and left the blindfolds behind to start a almost two hour walk on a dirt road in what seemed the middle of nowhere. After a nice walk with the sunrise at our backs we arrived to camp, where we all set up tents on the shore of the Zambezi river and then ate PB&J for breakfast. We then split into four groups and set off on a scavenger hunt to find different challenges throughout the campground and complete them with teamwork. Here were the five challenges:
1) Three stones in a triangle, with sticks that do not reach in between the stones, suspend a bucket with a rick from the three sticks.
2) Two sticks up right in the ground with a spider web of string between them. Climb through the holes of the string to get your whole team across without using the same whole twice.
3) A tire swing hangs over a stream full of crocodiles (not really) Get your team across the stream.
4) With a water jug full of wholes travel to a nearby stream, using only the supplies you have on your person, and fill the water jug.
5) Your team must consume as many raw eggs, YES!! raw eggs, and onions as possible.
So in good spirit my team tackled all the challenges before any of the other groups. I won’t go into great detail but just share the highlights of these challenges. We pretty much blew through the first three, no real problems there. However, when the water challenge arrive we became frustrated. Using my waterproof rain jacket we were able to gather a lot of water to pour into the jug, but seemed to never get the jug full as we could not cover all the wholes and slits the drained the water. We finally filled it halfway and deemed because of the state of the jug that we had finished. Kudos to us. And the last challenge. I know you are eager to hear of this. On our team was Laura and I, Americans, and then Prince and Limpo, to Africans. Prince and Limpo bravely sucked down fifteen eggs between the two of them. As me and Laura barely finished the onion, which stayed in our mouths for the rest of the day. So after all these challenges we got to eat lunch and then rest for some time. We soon found out that we had another challenge. Find our dinner, catch it and cook it. So with chickens let loose we all chased and caught the chickens and brought them to the shore, near our fire pit. After boiling some water, we killed the chickens. Which I had the great honor of doing. Yes, I killed a chicken. With one foot on the feet and the other on its wings, I held its head on slit its throat. It took me some time but I was able to do it. We then had help from many of the African women to de-feather and then cook the chickens. So we ended the night with a big bonfire, some Nshima and chicken (homemade) and gazed ate the stars… After a night of fellowship we then crept to our tents, exhausted, and slept on the cold hard ground. Which I bunked with John, who in spirit of packing light brought only his water bottle, soo we shared my sleeping bag. Woken up in the middle of the night by sounds of hippos, who apparently walked through our campsite… And with a rough nights sleep we hit the road again and walked in the hot sun back to the bus to take us home.
After struggling with some homesickness and regrets about going on this trip, God rewarded me with a feeling of community and friendship and a feeling of just how big he is compared to us. I still miss home. I miss my family, my friends, my girlfriend very much, but after being stretched, and pushed far out of my comfort zone, I know God has a plan and he has me here for a reason. These next three months will fly by and with that I will reap the rewards God has laid out for me.
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Ennis • 2015 International Immersion Intern