Blog Post by Fr. Jim Chambers, OMI
The participants of the Zambian Mission Experience (Oblatepalooza 4) are: Prenovices Brian Bernhardt and Teko Teko-Agbo; Oblate youth ministry director Miguel Munoz (Tijuana, Mexico) and future oblate prenovice Pedro Verdugo.
As these four men and myself prepared for the Oblate Mission Experience to Zambia, we were fortunate to have a visit from the person who sponsored the trip. Mr. Robert Lively, an oblate partner, has been sponsoring this trip for the past four years. Mr. Lively and his son Brock joined us for dinner at the Provincial House in DC where the orientation was taking place.
After Dinner, Mr Lively’s son Brock, shared his powerful experiences of his 2 previous Oblatepalooza Mission trips to Zambia with us. In his sharing, Brock recounted how his first mission trip to Zambia transformed his vision of the world. According to Brock, the witness of the materially poor people of Zambia taught him to be content with the minimal. This experience also opened Brock’s eye to realize that material goods are not the source of happiness; for the people of Zambia were happy regardless of what they lack.
Brock enthusiastically shared many other stories of his second trip to Zambia. His sense that he felt that he was at home in Zambia , it was home! and the African value of hospitality became much clearer to Brock.
We all expressed our gratitude for this amazing, once in a lifetime gift of this Mission experience to Mr. Lively
During the four-day orientation, the program came across some obstacles which we were able to overcome. While we do not expect this experience to be free of unexpected issues, we are determined to make the best of it, with the help of God.
Fr. Fernando Velazquez, OMI, a missiology professor at Oblate School of Theology led the orientation. He guided the four men in understanding culture, understanding mission, and building community. He helped guide them into forming a community covenant, a covenant to the people they are to encounter, and a covenant to God whose mission this is.
In the afternoon of July 4th, we all participated in a Mass celebrated by myself and Fr. Raymond Mwangala, who had also given a presentation on the history of Zambia and crossing cultures. The mass was held in the Oblate chapel dedicated to Our Lady Queen of Missions, in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Fr. Raymond at the end of the Mass commissioned and blessed the group.
Our Flight is scheduled to depart at 1100AM on July 5th with a connection in Addis-Abbaba, Ethiopia then onto to Lusaka Zambia!!!
We reach Zambia July 6th in the afternoon Zambian time We will see you on the other side of the flight.
- Lusaka – I plan to see the Oblates’ House of Studies and many other mission efforts including work farming.
- Kabwe – I will be visiting our parish house.
- Kalabo – The Oblates recently built huts for elderly people in this village!
- Lukulu – I should be visiting a church, school, HIV clinic and leprosarium.
- Mongu – From radio station Radio Liseli the Oblates broadcast into remote areas and villages of Zambia. This should be very interesting.
- Shangombo – A huge focus of this trip for the traveling team is to build a much needed toilet / sanitation system here.
To give you a sense of scale, the time for traveling by bus from Lusaka to Mongu is about 8 hours at a distance of 600 kilometers (375 miles).