Saturday, August 09, 2008

Rhett and Megan O'Briant Experience in Zambia with Living Well

We really appreciated all those who prayed for us while we were away. We definitely felt that God was watching over us as we were away. We lost our luggage, but we received it in time for the conference. The A.L.A.R.M staff was so kind to us. They worked very hard to make sure we enjoyed our stay. We also greatly enjoyed each member of our team. Ed had a passion in his teaching in Zambia that was extraordinary. He was an amazing leader during the conference. Donna had a way of connecting and engaging the participants in the lessons. It was very clear that the Zambians enjoyed her teaching.
There were several things we noticed about Zambia. It had a wonderful climate with temperatures in the 80s for highs and low humidity. The area smelled of grass fires. We saw man people walking everywhere we went at all times of the day and night. Their native language was called Bemba and their currency was called kwacha. Many people there were unemployed from the copper mines.
While there, we soon discovered that there were frequent daily power outages. This also affected the water supply. Many times we did not have hot water and the pressure was really low. We soon learned to take showers whenever there was water.
On Sunday before the conference started, we went to a local church service. The church was only a couple of blocks away from our guesthouse so we walked. It really touched us to hear their singing from several blocks away as we approached the church. Their worship was very strong and lively. We definitely felt God’s presence among the Zambian people. We also got to witness several baptisms after the church service. After each baptism the people sang and presented each person being baptized with flowers. After the service, the people greeted us in the churchyard.
The conference was held at a camp that was a forty-minute drive outside of Luanshya, the town where we were staying. On the drive each morning, we saw many people walking to school and work. Many also carried their goods to the local market each morning. Once we turned off the main road, we drove down a road for about 2 kilometers. It was like driving in a cow pasture. It had tall grass on both sides. People walked out of the tall grass on both sides so there must have been many villages in this area.
Ed opened the conference with a greeting and the first training session. He spoke with and amazing strength and showed and tremendous passion in his message. Donna was very good at getting the participants engaged and participating in the lessons. We felt blessed to have these two leading us. The first day, we read a case study about the pastor, and then split into two groups of men and two groups of women. The participants had a great discussion time about the pastor in the case study who was focusing so much on his ministry that he was leaving his marriage and children behind. It sparked some very interesting discussion. The pastors and their wives were very well spoken and addressed the issues we were talking about head on.
On Tuesday we went to a school with Megan Lea and Jacque. We traveled down roads that were covered with potholes. We swerved all over the roads, shoulder to shoulder, to avoid them. When we arrived, we learned that the age group of students that Megan and Jacque would speak to had been sent home because they had not paid their school fees. They ended up speaking to a younger group of students than they had planned. The girls were able to share about their heavenly father’s love and to share about child abuse with these kids. The children were very respectful to their teachers and to us.
On Wednesday, we went back to the conference. We were able to share our marriage testimony and then to teach our first lesson on using Godly communication with your spouse. One of the couples at the conference volunteered to help us hold up hearts for our lesson. As we discussed ways of communication that break down our marriage our volunteers tore off parts of the hearts they were holding. Then we began teaching Godly strategies to improve communication. While we were doing this, the participants put their hearts back together with glue. At the end we discussed how the hearts were still torn even though they had been but back together and the only way to completely heal them in your marriage is to use forgiveness.
Megan got to celebrate her 29th birthday at the conference. She was given a birthday card and everyone sang. It was a very unique and special birthday for her. Beatrice also had a birthday cake for her that evening after supper. It was definitely the most memorable birthday she has ever celebrated.
On Thursday, we taught another lesson. It was on conflict resolution in marriage. We started out the lesson by showing the participants a film canister, which represented marriage. We then poured water into the film canister. After that we showed them an antacid tablet, which represented conflicts in their marriage that were not resolved in a Godly way. We then put the antacid in the canister and shut the lid. In a few seconds the lid burst on the canister and hit the roof. This demonstrated that unresolved conflict can cause and eruption in your marriage. This set the stage for us to talk about ways to resolve conflicts in a Godly way.
Several times during the week, Donna and Ed facilitated question and answer sessions. The participants submitted the questions. Ed and Donna gave the participants time to share their ideas on how to handle the situations and then Ed and Donna finished by sharing God’s word on each topic. The participants often recognized that their cultural beliefs and habits were different than God’s plan. They recognized the need to change in several areas.
As we finished up the last two days of the conference, we had several people who shared testimonies with us. One woman told us that she had counseled a couple and when they came back a few weeks later with the same problems, she told them to get divorced. She told us that now she has some other tools to give couples that come to her and are struggling. Several of the participants also talked about how important the communication lessons were to them. This made us feel like we were accomplishing the work that God had sent us to do.
Looking back, we clearly see that God called us in this mission to trust Him. He showed us that he was in control. We also learned to look to Him as we prepared our lessons. We feel that he clearly showed us the activities and stories to share in our lessons and it was an amazing experience to see how the people understood very clearly what the message was that we had been sent to share.