time-850x518The Lunda people of Zambia call their toddlers (one to two year olds) 'screamers'. I am sure that many of you will relate to this description. Often children of this age group become over tired, incoherent, needing rest and time out. In a similar fashion those of us who reach middle age can become humourless, disillusioned, tired and need a break. Short-term mission work of a few months to a year may be just the answer. Here is how it helped me.

 

My employer (Canterbury District Health Board) was willing to give me a year leave without pay and I had around three months of paid leave owing me. At 53 years old I wanted to put this time to use in a constructive manner that would benefi t others and myself. There are so many needs to assist in furthering God's kingdom. I decided on helping at Kalene Mission Hospital, North Western Province, Zambia.

I went to Kalene with a number of specifi c goals:

  • To provide fi nancial accounting for the year
  • To assist where possible in the hospital (I am a pharmacist)
  • To be involved in Bible teaching in churches in the locality
  • To possibly provide some teaching within the Zambian Enrolled Nursing school at Kalene.

I was heavily involved in the fi rst three but did not seek opportunities in the fourth due to lack of time.

I found it a very rewarding and satisfying year. Many of the hospital staff were a pleasure to work with, courteous, thoughtful, helpful, having good senses of humour and willing to learn. I was able to utilise a number of skills from NZ and learn new skills. The danger is we can feel that we have all the answers and wish to impose this on those with a need. I found that people need first to acknowledge a problem. From this they need to start to seek answers. At this stage they may be more open to hearing your possible solution.

I travelled every Sunday to one of the eleven churches that I could reach by bicycle. This provided me with an escape from
the demands of the hospital and an opportunity to do Bible teaching and enjoy time with rural Christians. I enjoyed this the most. I only wish that I had taken more time in preparation for the messages I gave. Often there would be someone able to
give a translation from English or else I used my basic Lunda. Separation from my wife Lyn back in NZ, was a strong motivator for me to get jobs done and hand over to others, so that I could leave Kalene. Lyn found the separation more difficult than I did and I am thankful for the support to her by friends, family and church.

Now that I am back, I again realise how blessed we are here in NZ. I would encourage older experienced people to share their gifts and expertise with Christians in less developed countries. You will find a new way of viewing life and those you minister to will be grateful for your assistance. - Geoff Stark

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