Independent Presbyterian Church
Friday, April 18, 2014

Updates from the IPC Africa Mission Team 08

Monday, August 18, 2008   
Friends,
We are safely back on American soil! Our plane arrived in Atlanta this morning at about 9:00AM and we got to Birmingham by plane at about 10:00AM. Our journey from the start of our travels from the game park in Botswana to Livingstone Airport to Johannesburg Airport until we arrived in Birmingham was about 36 hours long...We managed the long flight from Johannesburg to Atlanta well, though by the end of the entire journey we all looked a bit worse for wear! The first thing all of us wanted to do was get home and take showers!!
 
It was good to see some of our family, friends and co-workers at the airport to greet us with smiling faces and warm hugs. When you have been so far away from home, under emotionally difficult circumstances, the sight of your home city and of people you love brings an incredible amount of joy and relief.
 
I will tell you all that our team felt we were clearly held in God's strong, loving, gracious hands during this trip to AfricaWe believe that our work made a real difference in the lives of the people of Mwandi, that we built deep and strong relationships with children, adults, patients, mission workers and others at Mwandi, that we learned and received even more than we gave. Our team was filled with good, fun, easy-going people, willing to pitch in and do whatever was asked of them, and we enjoyed good fellowship with one another, and we all came to love Keith and Ida Waddell and their family. We saw much every day that threatened to tempt us to despair quite often, but somehow, while acknowledging the immensity of the needs, problems and systemic "evils" in Africa, we all managed to hold on to our hope, and to redouble our intention to work in whatever ways we can, small or large, to bring about the change we believe is necessary to bring the children, men and women of Mwandi to the abundant life we believe God longs and intends for them to have. If they are to have that abundance, it will require all of us working together to speak truth to power, to raise our own voices in the halls and chambers of local, national and international governments on behalf of justice, equity, and human dignity for all God's children, no matter where they happen to have been born by some twist of "fate."
 
Remember the quote from Ghandi: "Be the change you want to see in the world..." Even though we know that ultimately it is God who brings about the change and transformation our world needs to embody his Kingdom, we also believe God can use us to help bring about some of that change, so I believe Ghandi is on to something here...Be the change you want to see in the world...That is what we need to do for Mwandi as well.
 
And so, we walk back into our comfortable homes, jobs and lives here in Birmingham today with images floating through our memories: dirt-covered, impoverished, often hungry children who consistently smile at you and come up and say, "I want to be your friend!"; a warm, humble, faith-filled people who welcomed us with open arms and hearts; the sounds of laughter, of children singing in incredible harmonies in Lozi with songs that talk about the goodness of God and the persistence of hope and joy in a world that so often seems devoid of both; the goodness and love of Keith and Ida Waddell who in their early 50's work their mission jobs all day in the hopsital, the school, the HIV/AIDS clinic, Kandiana, the infant formula program, and other places around the mission, only to come back to Simba House and have to play host to mission teams and to parent a nineteen-month-old Zambian child. We leave with heavy hearts as we remember children and adults who have become our friends who will continue to live in grinding poverty, many of whom will go to bed hungry each day and have only tattered rags as clothing and as we remember patients in the hospital who made significant progress toward healing with our wonderful nurses and others who helped out with patients, knowing that now they return to basically non-existent nursing care. So, we come home determined to find ways to help and equally determined to go back again.
 
Your prayers and emails meant more than I can ever say on behalf of the team. We are grateful for your care and attention and that so many of you took the time to see just a slice of all we felt and experienced. Perhaps some of you will want to come with us in 2009!!
 
Love,
Susan
The Rev. Susan A. Clayton
Associate Pastor for Community Ministries Independent Presbyterian Church
 
Saturday, August 16, 2008 
Friends,
Well, it is a great pity that I cannot attach pictures to this email, because I have some stunning ones! We have had the most glorious day-and-a-half at the Elephant Valley Lodge in Botswana. We have been on two game drives and one boat ride down the Chobe River. We are driving in the Chobe National Park and have seen a bit of everything almost and it is a reminder of the absolute beauty of God's creation. Today, within a space of about five minutes, all in one large area of the Chobe River and an island there, we saw elephants, hippos, crocodiles, myriad birds, warthogs, antelope of various kinds, giraffe--all living together in what looked to us like a kind of Eden! We also have seen Zebra, baboons, monitor lizards, cape buffalo, everything you can imagine!! We were only disappointed that we did not see any big cats, though our driver tried valiantly today! Our game lodge is centered around a watering hole, and every day, it is surrounded by elephant, baboons, warthogs and tonight a large herd of cape buffalo came through. You can just sit and watch it all in front of you. The landscape is also beautiful. It has been an extraordinary way to end this African journey. We are truly reminded of God's great majesty when we look around at this part of the earth God created...
 
Tomorrow morning, we head back to Livingstone and the airport...then to Johannesburg and the long flight home. We will see Keith, Ida and baby Mubita one more time at the airport. We will be sad to say goodbye to them and to Africa, but we will all be glad to return home to all of you.
 
Thank you for sharing the journey! We will see you in a couple of days.
 
Love,
Susan
The Rev. Susan A. Clayton
Associate Pastor for Community Ministries Independent Presbyterian Church
 
Thursday, August 14, 2008 
Friends,
Well, today is our last full day at Mwandi and all of us are quite sad. The team has been quite tearful today. We started with the hospital chapel at 8:00AM where the hospital staff and some of the village regulars said goodbye to us and everyone in the team got quite teary. We then had our last devotion with the staff of the OVC (Orphan and Vulnerable Children Project) where we also got quite emotional. It is very hard to leave here when you know that you have only managed to offer a small drop in the bucket and you leave so much need and pain and suffering behind you. You also leave these wonderful workers in the mission who have such servant hearts and work day in, day out, year-round, somehow not losing hope in spite of the overwhelming pain and need around them. They hold onto their faith quite strongly and it is a humbling experience to be in their presence. 
 
We also did the final devotion with the children at the OVC and were also quite sad to leave them. Others worked in the hospital off and on with patients today; Taryn, Jane and Elaine went to an HIV/AIDS clinic out in the bush and have not yet returned. We look forward to a report from them about what they saw and experienced.
 
Greg, Phil and Peggy, along with some help from Laura Ann and Melanie, were finishing up the staff house work today and we took the Designer Showhouse tour today and it looks so much better than when we started. It is freshly painted, the roof has been replaced, the bats are gone, the cement has been repaired on the outside and a new first step has been put in place...It looks good!
 
Greg, Keith and I took a trip into the village to see a broken bore hole in one part of the village...what the locals call a "choko choko" for the sound it makes. We were swarmed by children. This entire part of the village has to walk quite far to another bore hole or to the river for water. Someone is coming later in the fall to try to repair it, which will be of great help to the village.
 
I am attaching pictures of: Mr. Chihana, one of the hospital's clinical officers, wearing the embroidered coat Tommy Thomson sent with us this year, which thrilled Mr. Chihana!!; pictures of the OVC today; pictures in the village at the bore hole and some of the swarm of children who surrounded me while we were there. They all say, "Makua (white person), I want to be your friend" to which there is a secret handshake we have all learned quite well in the last week!
 
Tonight, we are having the pastor of the UCZ church, Harris Silishebo, for dinner, as well as Chrissy, a nurse from Australia who has been working with our nurses and will be staying another couple of weeks. We are having a traditional African meal tonight!
 
We leave in the morning for our brief game park excursion and everyone is looking forward to seeing this part of God's beautiful creation. I don't know if we will have internet access there so this may very well be my last post, but check back just in case!
 
We have been privileged to be here...filled with joy much of time...learning more than we will retain...overwhelmed quite often...saddened, challenged, frustrated, outraged by the injustice, awed by the faith of Keith and Ida, of the workers in the mission and of the people of the village. We cannot wait to share more wtih you when we return. Thank you for all your prayers and the emails some have sent after reading our posts. It is good to know so many of you are taking a part of this journey with us!
 
We look forward to seeing you next week!
 
Love,
Susan
The Rev. Susan A. Clayton
Associate Pastor for Community Ministries Independent Presbyterian Church
 
 
 "It is very hard
    to leave...
   We have been   privileged to be here."
               Susan Clayton
and the IPC Africa Mission Team
 
   
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Friends,
We had a really good day today. The team is feeling very productive and good about what we have been doing in our various areas of work during our time at Mwandi, I believe. The [IPC] nurses have done a wonderful job in the hospital bringing help, better health care and hope to the patients and their families during this week we have been here. There have been three C-sections in three nights, and last night, both Taryn and Jane went with Ida Waddell to the hospital to help with the surgery. The young girl who was pregnant was brought in from an outlying area where there was no doctor after being in labor for many long, unproductive hours. The mother is a sixteen-year-old, HIV+ girl with only her brother as family to come with her. She came very close to rupturing last night, but they were able to get the baby out quickly, though there was a lot of bleeding. The baby was a girl, seems healthy. The mother received the medications to prevent mother to child transmission of the HIV and the baby received her dose of medication today. The baby is a beautiful little girl and the mother is doing the best she can, I am sure, with little family support and being so young herself. Our nurses were an invaluable help to Ida and the doctor last night. Today, they continued to work hard providing wonderful care to some extremely sick patients.
 
Ed Wilson is finishing up the great work he has been doing to write policies, procedures and standards for the laboratory at the hospital and to work with the wonderful lab tech, Heath. What Ed is doing is not flashy, but it will be of long-lasting and great effect for the future of the HIV/AIDS testing and treatment and monitoring program, the TB testing, the microbiology lab they are trying to set up, etc. He has been a great help.
 
Phil and Greg continue to be the primary people hard at work on the painting of the staff house, along with Peggy. A couple of others drop in and out and there are three Zambians working with them. The house is looking great and will be such an improvement for the two clinical officers living there. Whenever we see them around the mission they are grinning ear to ear because their dismal housing situation is getting better by the day! We had two of the Zambians working the last two days to get all the bats out of the roof and re-roof and plug up all the holes. There were easily hundreds or thousands of bats that flew out this morning and they quickly patched things up so they could not return. So, there are many homeless bats flying around Mwandi tonight!!
 
Others of us spent time in the hospital helping the nurses with patient care, giving out toys to the children on the full pediatric wing (thanks to First Presbyterian Church, Birmingham and their White Cross ladies who made the stuffed animals!), we also gave the toys to the newborns on the maternity wing. Then, we finished our last day of Vacation Bible School. By the time we finished today, we had well over 100 children at VBS and it grew every day! The kids of all ages seemed to have a wonderful time as we sang and told bible stories, did a bible drama and spent time doing crafts, which they love because they don't get to use crayons, glue, etc. very often at all. We were sad to see it end and Sissy and I both were the lucky recipients of "love letters" from some of the children! What fun we had. The snack situation was better today, as we devised a much more orderly process for distribution! After VBS ended, our group spent some time with the Sunday School teachers for the UCZ church and one other church in the village who had been with us all three days. They told us of their many challenges and asked us about our Sunday School. I think we all felt saddened to realize how very much our children, our church and our Children's Ministries area is blessed with while these children truly have next to nothing...We prayed to give them encouragement and talked about trying to plan a teachers' workshop for our trip next year. Cindy Coulter, are you reading this??
 
Tonight we had Heath, the lab tech, and his wife Lillian for dinner and it was a lovely evening and enjoyed great fellowship together. Tomorrow, it will be more work of the same nature. Taryn, Jane and Elaine are going out to the bush to take part in an HIV/AIDS clinic at one of the satellite sites for the HIV/AIDS program. We all look forward to a report from them tomorrow.
 
We are all headed to bed now for a night's sleep before an early start tomorrow! I've attached pictures of the toy give-away, the opening game of VBS while we waited for people to gather, Percy, the youth leader who helped with VBS and two Sunday School teachers wearing their ONE t-shirts, Betty Drennen with Dorothy, the Simba House worker who is managing Betty's cottage industry of bag-making (!), the group on the porch tonight after a day of work sharing fun and fellowship, and the Waddells' foster son Mubita at play---we are all in love with him!
 
Love,
Susan
The Rev. Susan A. Clayton
Associate Pastor for Community Ministries Independent Presbyterian Church
 
 
 
 
  
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Friends,
    Well, so far I have told you mostly the wonderful, beautiful, faith-strengthening things about this journey to Mwandi and we have seen and continue to see and experience many of these things every day. But I would be remiss if I did not try to communicate some of the terribly sad, challenging, difficult, painful realities of life in Mwandi and the way in which they prey on the heart and mind of every one of us who is privileged to be here.
    It is almost impossible to explain the level of pain and need in this place. The depth of grinding poverty in Mwandi Village is immense, and if it is possible, the poverty is even worse in the smaller, more rural surrounding villages. We have now visited two of these smaller villages--Kasaya with the flood victims yesterday, and Sikuzu today. Both of these are small villages in comparison to Mwandi, with perhaps hundreds of inhabitants instead of thousands. Yet, in some ways, the issues faced in this part of Africa one can see in even starker relief in these smaller settings. The people in all of these villages, including Mwandi, live in a state of subsistence poverty...barely able to keep body and soul together...always hungry...with no clean water, no electricity, life in mud huts with thatch roofs and dirt floors.  The incidence of HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria, and dysentery is immense in all the villages. There are entire generations of young people living without parents. Extended families are pushed to the limit with trying to care for the many orphans in each family. They simply cannot feed, clothe and school the many extra children they are trying to care for each day.
    The hospital in Mwandi, by Zambian standards, is a fine hospital. However, our nurses and our one doctor are astounded at the level of inactivity among the hospital medical staff on a daily basis. The nurses mostly sit and talk with one another while the patients are receiving little care---sheets soaked with urine and filled with dirt and unchanged for days at a time; patients needing to be walked to encourage recovery lying in bed all day; not enough medicines, supplies...wound care supplies are almost non-existent. It seems there is only pain medication for the worst situations such as surgery, and patients who are dying, like our friend Mary, have no access to palliative care. There is only one doctor, who is not a surgeon, but must sometimes perform surgeries. There is often only one nurse on duty for all the wards...female, male and pediatric. It is overwhelming...The simplest patient care and the simplest supplies we take for granted are not present here.
    The orphan problem is immense. There are currently an estimated 1,200 orphans in a village of approximately 10,000 people and the OVC (Orphan and Vulnerable Children Project) only has funds to allow them to feed 200 of them each day...Their clothes are in tatters. They look unhealthy, especially the ones we see around the village who are not the beneficiaries of the OVC. These children have thin bodies, often yellow eyes...many of them are surely HIV positive, the lack of clean water affects them tremendously, especially if their immune system is already compromised...Again, it is overwhelming. The status of women and the abuse and violence against them is horrible...
    All of this is to say, while we love our time here and see much that is wonderful, we see much that causes us pain and challenges us and causes us to feel overwhelmed. There was almost a riot at the Vacation Bible School over the small snack we provided. The trip to Sikuzu reminded us that the poverty is even more difficult in these rural areas. Our visit with the Chief this morning, which was good, was also informative of the many challenges this region faces. 
    So, while we ask you to continue to pray for us, we ask even more fervently for your prayers for the people of Mwandi and the surrounding villages; for the mission personnel who work so faithfully every single day all year long in difficult circumstances and never give up hope; for an improvement in hospital staffing and supplies; for a revitalization for this culture and its people; for hope and faith to sustain them all in the midst of pain and challenges we cannot begin to imagine.
Love,
Susan
The Rev. Susan A. Clayton
Associate Pastor for Community Ministries Independent Presbyterian Church
 
"While we ask you to continue to pray for us, we ask even more fervently for your prayers for the people of Mwandi and the surrounding villages ...  for hope and faith to sustain them all in the midst of pain and challenges we cannot begin to imagine."
                              Susan Clayton
 
 
 
ONE:                        The Campaign to Make Poverty  History
 
Our IPC team members and the local Mwandi residents are proudly showing their white bracelets which symbolize the ONE Campaign. ONE is a new effort to rally Americans-- ONE by ONE -- to fight global AIDS and extreme poverty.
 
 
Monday, August 11, 2008
Friends,
    We have had a spectacular day today! We began by leading the hospital chapel service at 8:00AM. The entire group participated in some way and a few people took leadership roles. Amanda led the opening prayer, Elaine read Old Testament scripture, Ed read the New Testament, Greg preached the homily and I led the pastoral prayer. We sang several hymns together--all of them were well-known by the hospital staff and villagers who were present except for the one we did as an anthem together...an oldy goldy indeed, "I Love to Tell the Story." It was a great experience and I think the team did a wonderful job of leadership!
    After chapel, the hospital workers went off to the hospital, plus Sissy, who helped this morning with patient care. Another big group went to the staff house we are cleaning and painting. Three of us, me, Elaine and Taryn, went with Keith Waddell to visit the flood victims from earlier this year. Quick background: during the rainy season (November -February), in December, a village on the Kasaya River just a few kilometers from Mwandi, was horribly flooded when the Kasaya burst its banks. A few people were swept away and killed and everyone in the village had flooded homes and lost all of the meager possessions they owned. They were evacuated to just outside Mwandi and lived there in tents for months. In December, Keith and Ida let us know of this situation. The Mwandi mission was trying to provide food and supplies for the flood refugees from their already meager funds. We sent some funds from our General Benevolence budget that helped purchase meat, beans, rice, cabbage, milk and mealie meal for the over 300 people who lived in the village and were refugees. They are back in their village temporarily. The Chief has granted them some land further away from the river to avoid the evacuations that have occured in the last three years since the flood patterns seem to have changed. We visited with village headman and some of the members of the village council today and then toured the village and learned of some of their needs. Pictures are attached. It was fascinating, educational and also fairly devastating as the needs are so immense.
    After lunch, several continued work on the house and in the hospital and another group of us went for our first day of Vacation Bible School at the church. They had invited the Grade Seven children, but of course we had all ages---toddlers to teenagers. Percy, the youth worker at the church is helping us. We had approximately 50 children this first day, but we know the kids had fun and word will spread and many more will come Tuesday, and probably even more by Wednesday! We had great fun. We learned a Lozi song they sing in church and they learned an American song...Alleu, Allelu, Allelu, Alleluia, Praise Ye the Lord!" We told the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 and did crafts together. We had a snack which was huge hit with what we think were hungry children. Lots of smiling faces and hugs were passed out at the end of the day and they all said they would be back tomorrow and would invite friends as well.
    It will not surprise anyone who knows her to hear that Betty Drennen has gotten a cottage industry started here in Mwandi. She bought a cloth shoulder bag at the market outside Victoria Falls that is simple to make and she showed it to Dorothy, who works at Simba House helping to care for Mubita, the Waddells' Zamiban foster son. Dorothy also works on a sewing and knitting circle with the mothers on the infant formula program and they have started making the bags based on Betty's purse!! They made several bags today and many of us are buying them for $10 each, which will provide the sewing circle with great funds to help furnish food for the mothers on the formula program and their families. We may bring a few back to put in the First Light Gala auction!!
    We are all back now at Simba House, relaxing for a little while before dinner. We go to have our audience with the Chief at 8:30AM tomorrow---skirts for women required and we must all be on our most respectful behavior! He is actually a fascinating, Oxford-educated attorney and always has the most educational things to tell our mission teams. I believe he also really enjoys being with us as he is somewhat isolated as the Chief in this culture.
    We are having a glorious time and learning a lot, making wonderful relationships...the people working in the hospital are making an enormous differnce in the lives of very sick patients because nursing care here is almost non-existent. The change in some of the patients' conditions just since getting good nursing care is remarkable. 
All in all, a glorious day!
Love,
Susan
The Rev. Susan A. Clayton
Associate Pastor for Community Ministries Independent Presbyterian Church
 
"It will not surprise anyone who knows her to hear that Betty Drennen has gotten a cottage industry started here in Mwandi... They have started making the (cloth shoulder) bags based on Betty's purse!"
                              Susan Clayton
 
 
 
 
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Friends,
We had a true Sabbath Day todayUnlike in the United States, Africans take seriously the concept that one should not do anything but attend church and spend time with family, friends and in rest and relaxation for the Lord's Day. So, we began our day with worship at the United Church of Zambia congregation in Mwandi. UCZ is the Presbyterian Church (USA) partner in Zambia and is the sponsoring denomination for the Mwandi Mission. Worship began at 9:00AM and lasted until noon---three full hours. Now, I don't want to hear any moaning if IPC runs over by 10 minutes on Sundays when we have communion or a baptism!! The singing by many different groups in church was incredible--the harmonizations were once again wonderful; the choir uses only African drums as instrumentation. There is much dancing as well. We prayed, gave offerings, and then heard a wonderful sermon by a lay person in the congregation about "the windows of our life." The basic message was that we live and act in the world according to how we see ourselves--the windows through which we see ourselves and the world. So, we should see ourselves as beloved children of God, made in God's image and should live and behave accordingly. We were greeted by the congregation so warmly and had a wonderful time at worship.
 
After lunch, we spent time preparing for the hospital chapel service we have been asked to conduct tomorrow morning at 8:00AM for hospital staff and locals. We have it all planned and it should be a privilege to share with them in music, prayer, scripture, meditation, etc. We also planned for the Vacation Bible School again, getting our craft ready for tomorrow. We are so looking forward to the VBS, although we know for certain that we will have no idea how many children or what ages to expect until they actually show up. The seventh graders were invited, but once word is out, we imagine children of all ages will appear! We are simply going to be flexible.
 
We all went on a boat ride down the Zambezi late this afternoon and saw an unbelievably beautiful sunset on the river. Now, we are settled in playing yet another game--this time, "Catchphrase." A couple of folks have gone to the hospital with Ida to see a C-Section. Yours truly declined the offer to be a witness!
 
No pictures today. More tomorrow!
 
Love,
Susan
The Rev. Susan A. Clayton
Associate Pastor for Community Ministries Independent Presbyterian Church
 
Saturday, August 9, 2008  (new pictures below)
Friends,
Whew! What a full day we have had today! It has been filled with many wonderful activities and learning experiences. I have lots of great pictures from the day, but the internet connection is so slow today that I am only getting to send an email after many, many tries now at 11:30 PM, so I will try to send pictures tomorrow if the connection is better.
 
We started the day by leading a devotional at the OVC (Orphan and Vulnerable Children Project)  for the staff members. We sang some hymns with them in English and listened as they sang for us in Lozi, the traditional tribal language of this area of Zambia. Their singing is so spirited and their harmonizations are incredible. On one of their songs, something about getting in to the land of Canaan, they danced as well as sang! We spent time sharing scripture and words of encouragement and then had a long time of prayer together. It was a blessing for all of us, I believe. We all remarked on how we strengthen and deepen one another's faith by sharing together. That devotion was at 9:00AM and lasted until almost 10:00AM. We went back to the OVC at noon and did devotional with the children. What an incredible treat that was! The children sang and danced for us, some of their songs are in English and some in Lozi. We tried to teach them a couple of songs, including "Rise and Shine and Give God the Glory" about Noah and the Ark. They loved the motions and even attempted some of the words! We also shared scripture, story and prayer with them. They climbed all over us, held our hands, laughed and hugged us. It was bath day at the OVC so they were all freshly scrubbed from COLD baths! 
 
After a delicious lunch of bean soup and quesadillas (!) we started work on the house we are going to paint for the two staff members of the hospital who live there. The house is in bad shape and needs not only fresh paint but a few substantial repairs, which will have to be done after we leave---roof leaks, replacement of ceiling boards, new faucets, tiling of the shower, etc. But we can at least paint the place and get it fresh and clean looking. We started today by cleaning all the walls really well in the house and sealing some of the HUGE cracks in the plaster! We will actually start the painting on Monday morning.
 
Meanwhile, our medical folks and a couple of others were at work in the hospital and laboratory. Taryn Drennen and Jane Cooper are both nurses, and they and Amanda Wilson and Elaine Van Cleave helped walk some of the patients up and down the halls. They also spent time with our very sick friend, Mary. They actually got her to eat a bit today, bathed her, changed her bed, helped her sit up a bit, and worked to relieve some pretty severe chest congestion. Ed Wilson is hard at work in the lab, helping the Mwandi lab tech, Heath, with his microbiology lab he is trying to set up, as well as helping write standard practices for the lab. All the folks who worked in the hospital today felt very good about what they accomplished.
 
At about 4:00 we went on a walk in the village, with one of Simba's wonderful staff members, Dorothy, who took us on a tour and gave us some background on the village. We were constantly surrounded by children from the village who love to follow "makuas" translated "white people" or "missionary" around, holding your hand and asking you to take their pictures endlessly! It was great for the team to get a sense of local village life and everyone remarked on how beautiful and peaceful the village is, in spite of the poverty and difficulties of life there.
 
Tonight, after a good supper, we played a mean game of trivial pursuit, in two teams. It took a long time, but was great fun and finally one team dominated! Of course, we won mostly because Keith Waddell, the male missionary here, was on our team and knows everything about everything and answered every question correctly! Great fun!
 
Tomorrow, church in the morning. No work on Sunday, so we will relax a bit and take a wonderful boat ride down the Zambezi. Don't you wish you were here?? We are continuing to have an extraordinary journey and our faith is strengthened every day.
More tomorrow and hopefully I will be able to attach some pictures!
 
Love,
Susan
The Rev. Susan A. Clayton
Associate Pastor for Community Ministries Independent Presbyterian Church
 
"All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all."
 
 
 
Friday, August 8, 2008 
Friends,
    We have had a wonderful day today! We began with a delicious 7:00am breakfast and then a chapel service. We took a tour of the entire mission today and those who are here for the first time were amazed at the size and scope of this mission. We saw all the areas of the hospital, the Outpatient Department, the laboratory, Kandiana (the "old folks' home"), the Orphan and Vulnerable Children Project (OVC), the Basic School, the church, the pre-school, etc. Keith and Ida's fifteen year old daughter, Catriona, and her friend Emma along with Keith and Ida's son Gregor's girlfriend, Anna, are painting a wonderful mural of Noah's Ark with African animals and it is so cute! Ida left us mid-morning to go to Namibia and shop for infant formula. The good news is that she found 60 tins of formula today!! We gave her some money from our petty cash to help purchase the formula if she found it, and lo and behold, she did! Also, miracle of miracles, Nestle in Lusaka called today after months of Keith and Ida phoning and emailing them to say that they are willing to talk about the possibility of shipping formula to the mission. So, God seems to be at work through our prayers and hopes and dreams to make this a reality. As we heard in hospital chapel this morning, "Nothing is impossible with God."
 
   One bit of sad news is that the baby that came in the hospital yesterday that was the original cause of this formula search today died during the day today. So, this formula cannot help her, but will help so many others. Several tins have already gone out to mothers on the infant formula program. Good news for them!
 
    We spent most of the afternoon planning for our devotions with staff and children at the OVC tomorrow and our first day of Vacation Bible School with the children on Monday afternoon. We are looking forward to the time with the children. We will also begin work tomorrow on our maintenance project, working on painting and doing some repairs on one half of a staff housing duplex.
    The weather is glorious, the fellowship is good, and we are all learning a great deal and having many new and wonderful experiences!
 
Love,
Susan
The Rev. Susan A. Clayton
Associate Pastor for Community Ministries Independent Presbyterian Church 
  
     
     
 
 
More from Thursday, August 7, 2008 
Friends,
We are successfully in Mwandi! We had a wonderful visit to Victoria Falls when we first arrived. The falls were full but not as full as we have sometimes seen them. There was a beautiful rainbow, however and I will try to attach a picture to this email of the beautiful Falls---one of the Seven Wonders of the World! We did a bit of shopping for our meals and then headed back to Mwandi. We arrived just in time for our first beautiful Mwandi sunset on the Zambezi River, and as usual, it was an unbelievable orange that lit up the entire sky and reflected in the river below. We had a delicious dinner and caught up with our dear friends, Keith and Ida Waddell, the Church of Scotland missionaries at Mwandi. Two of their children are here for a visit on holiday from school so we also got to visit with them and a couple of their friends as well. We sorted all of our supplies and claimed rooms and began to get settled. Ida got a note from the hospital about a six-month old baby whose mother had died in childbirth. The baby was in hospital for malnutrition because the family taking care of her did not have enough money for milk. They are asking Ida to put her on the infant formula program and, of course, she cannot refuse them. The problem is that she now has 78 infants on the feeding program and is currently out of formula as well as not having enough funds to cover the children she is already caring for. She plans to drive to Namibia or Botswana tomorrow to try to buy out whatever she can find of infant formula. A small group of us went to the hospital tonight to see the baby for the first time and she is a tiny little thing who is so weak she can barely cry. She also has a bit of a cough, but again, is so weak she barely makes a sound when she coughs. While there, we also stopped in to see Mary, the hospital laundress and mortuary worker that many of us have known for several years. She is HIV+ and has been in hospital for several weeks now with a systemic fungal infection. She cannot eat and they are feeding her through a tube but she is skeletal and weak. It caused those of us who have known her for a while to shed some tears. So, tonight, we have had a full dose of the reality of Africa, poverty, hunger, HIV/AIDS, orphans, etc. We are now about to head for bed as we are pretty exhausted from the many days of travel. Tomorrow, it will be a tour of the mission and the beginning of work! 
Thank you all for your prayers. We feel them from here...More later...
 
Love,
Susan
The Rev. Susan A. Clayton
Associate Pastor for Community Ministries Independent Presbyterian Church 
  

 
Thursday, August 7, 2008 
We have safely arrived in Johannesburg and are at the moment in the Joburg airport waiting for our plane to Livingstone!!!  The flight from Atlanta was LOOONG but everyone did very well and we arrived on time.  We had a lovely evening at a hotel in Johannesburg, a good breakfast this morning and then all fourteen of us and all of our many (28!) plastic totes took several shuttles to the airport this morning.  In typical African fashion, they changed our flight to one hour earlier without informing us this morning so we were lucky  that we decided to get here "very early" this morning which in the end meant just in time!  Everyone is doing well and we are all so excited to be on our way to Mwandi!  I am attaching two pictures of our team---the first when we were fresh and beautiful about to board the plane in Atlanta, the second when we were waiting for the shuttles to the hotel last night with all of our totes, looking a bit less fresh and beautiful!!

I will email again after we get to Mwandi tonight.

Love to all there,
Susan
The Rev. Susan A. Clayton
Associate Pastor for Community Ministries Independent Presbyterian Church

 
 
 
 
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Friends,
       I wanted to post an email here before our team leaves. We are headed out of Birmingham on a Delta flight on Tuesday morning, August 5th. We fly to Atlanta and then board an international Delta flight that will take us, over approximately 17 long hours, to Johannesburg, South Africa. We will spend one night there and then board a flight on August 7th taking us to Livingstone, Zambia where the missionaries from Mwandi Mission Hospital in Mwandi, Zambia will pick us up and drive us the remaning two hours to Mwandi! Our team of fifteen people is so excited to be embarking on this two-week journey to Africa. We have spent months preparing for this trip: preparing in practical ways by buying supplies to take to the mission to help with various projects there, shopping for personal items to take with us, gathering for meetings to learn about Mwandi and IPC's mission history there, emailing with the mission personnel at Mwandi about the best way for our team to be of help while we are there, buying plane tickets, etc.
      We have also been trying to prepare our hearts, minds and spirits for this amazing journey. Those of us who have been to Mwandi before have tried to prepare our first-timers for what they will see: incredible poverty, HIV/AIDS orphans by the hundreds, a culture vastly different from our own, the astounding beauty of Africa, the deep and abiding and joyful faith of the people of Mwandi. So, now all that is left is the journey itself. We go with deep gratitude for the opportunity, with deep faith that God will use us for good in Africa and the certainty that we will learn much, an openness to being changed and challenged, and unbridled excitment and joy!
     Please pray for us all as we make this long journey of faith. We will likely not be able to post again until late on the 7th when we actually arrive in Mwandi: time difference--Mwandi is seven hours ahead of us. Thank you ahead of time for your prayers!
 
In faith,
Susan Clayton
The Rev. Susan A. Clayton
Associate Pastor for Community Ministries Independent Presbyterian Church