September 2018. A vision trip with Operation Mobilization. 4 weeks with a plan, not quite turning out as expected, but I certainly came home with a decision……
The base of operation mobilization in Zambia, where I stayed, is quite large with several missionaries who live there and who work from there. Having a lot of missionaries there, short term or long term, meant a lot of encounters during my visit, a lot of beautiful conversations and many opportunities to encourage each other. Life on the base was basic with very monotonous and little tasteful meals. A lot of “Nshima” (thick corn puree) with little meat and boiled cabbage or a soup (sauce). Back in Netherlands I realized again how blessed we are here. Just going to a supermarket and being able to buy pretty much all the things I want. This is really different in most parts of Zambia!
Sport- en evangelism camp for the disabled
Every now and then the OM base organize events and I was lucky. There was a sports and evangelism camp for people with disabilities. It is very nice to see how eager disabled people are to learn and to be able to do things despite their physical and any mental health issues……. Disabled people are often ostracized from the communities (villages), there is no place for them and certainly no special care, tools or special education ….. A very large part of the population of Zambia believes that when you’re disabled, you are cursed…… So sad ……. Then it’s so good to be able to let them know that they are valuable just the way they are!
Tabitha Skills Development Center
The also counts for the women in the communities. They are mostly uneducated, illiterate, often single and they cannot manage to provide for themselves, let alone for their children. As a result, they are often forced into prostitution or other forms of slavery. The ‘Tabitha Skills Development Center’ focuses on equipping these women by bringing them hope and recovery with practical and business skills and most important of course, spiritual Discipleship. The skills they learn are sewing, pattern-making, catering, working with beads and knitting.
The ‘Tabitha’ project was the reason why I was in Zambia. To do research whether I can be of any added value for a longer period of time somewhere next year with my pastoral counselling experience and all the experience I have got in textiles.
The new building for ‘Tabitha’ was not quite ready yet and the old building was already cleared out, so the training for the new season could not start yet. As a result, the team would visit the communities and get started with the women there. I was invited to join them. Bible study in the morning and in the afternoon we would get started with some sewing techniques. Sewing by hand actually, not really my best skill….. Especially when you consider the fact that I was out in the heat, sitting on a tree trunk or on the ground.
Besides teaching, the ladies of Tabitha are working on small orders for a wholesale company from America and during my stay I was glad I could help them. I was good for me to work on the sewing machine again and to work close with the team. Mind you, my intention was to get to know them.
I also visited some other locations where there are women who have gone through the ‘Tabitha’ training and started up their own little business and they also started teaching other women again. This is the intention of the Skills centre. I did notice that the quality and the workmanship could do with some improvement so they can start to make good quality products for the local market.
What would this trip have in stall for me?
4 weeks…….gone so quickly………A vision trip to see whether I can go back long term (2 years) to work with ‘Tabitha’. A journey which did not quite work out the way I expected and had planned. A country such as Africa where things never go according to plan. A country so different from the Netherlands………
I was very curious to see how this trip would work out for me. The first 3 weeks made me doubt very much, so I got slightly nervous, because I’d promised myself I needed to have clarity before the end of the trip whether I should go back or not.
YES!……..I will go back!
Amazingly God gave me clarity the last week, step by step, piece by piece so on the last Thursday evening I could tell myself and on Friday afternoon I could let the team ‘Tabitha’ know that I hop to be able to go back to Zambia! Somewhere between April and August 2019….. First for 2 years. There is a lot to organize beforehand and very important I need to gain financial support, otherwise my work cannot take place………
But when God’s will is there, there’s a way!!
Back in Netherlands the process started, so my story will continue!!!
To be continued!