Saturday, July 19, 2014

Come Back Alive


So imagine yourself just finishing a hard week at work, there is a sense of accomplishment, a satisfaction to all that has been done and now you are ready to rest and reflect when all of a sudden something major happens. This is how it was for us who are here serving the Lord in Zambia. We had just finished up a major welding project as well as leadership training when our instructor informed us that we had 5 minutes to run to our tents and grab 1 personal item. What we had thought was that we were going to have a cookout and reflect on our week but in reality it was the next test in our time here. 


Overland provides a unique aspect of hands on training in the field in the case of emergencies. The time was now, we huddled as a team and discussed what the 1 thing we each needed to grab and returned within the 5 minutes. When we got back, our leader informed us that now we had to condense these items down to 4, so we went from 17 to 4. What do we need in order to SURVIVE AND COME BACK ALIVE!!!??? 

We were handed a GPS and our journey started. We had to follow our coordinates to our camping site in the middle of the bush. We had an axe, string, matches, knife, and headlamp, our instructor showed us GRACE in giving us 1 more item. We had an 1 hour and 30 minutes til sundown. We got to camp, gathered upon ourselves the things of the creation and built a shelter for the night, it could fit about 8 people and we got a fire started. (It is in the 30’ s-40 at night) 

After this was done, our leaders came to us and instructed us that we needed to go meet someone who was going to give us some more supplies. It turns out that it was our food: nshima, water (20 liters), and a live goat, no utensils just the knife that we had. So we had to kill our dinner as this goat is yelping out, conserve our water, and eat the local nshima. So we proceeded to kill our goat, his name was Bob. We have to cut the skin and pull it off, hang it up, drain the blood, and then take out the insides and cut it into pieces. (Doing this with the supplies that we have) We washed it down and then cooked it over an open fire. As well as our nshima, which used water, remember we have to conserve. The food came out great as we have goat on a stick. 

The big test was passed now it was on to the night. We have 12 hours to withstand the weather, which is freezing with what we had on. We slept outside the shelter because it was warmer near the fire. We used rocks for pillows and soft brush for some comfort. It was extremely difficult for even those who did this back at home during hunting season. Conditions were the way it would have been if we had gotten stuck out in the wilderness and we have to know what to do. I ended up with 1 hour of sleep that night and couldn’t wait 'til morning. We passed the test and walked back to base, completed our task with hope of never having to do it again. 

Living out Faith in real life!!!      

In Christ,

Joe Hennis

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Out of the Mouths of Babes


From the time our daughter Kendall was born she was at church.


We made it a priority that as a family we were in church.
  •         When she was 10 months old we dedicated her to the Lord.
  •         When she turned 1 we started disciplining her using scripture.
  •         When she was 2 Joe and I went on our first mission trip.
  •         At 3 she was memorizing scripture.
  •         At 4 she was praying actively for those she loved when they were sick or needed prayer. Many times reminding us to pray for them.
I don’t say any of this to boast in us or in her for that matter. I say it to boast in the Lord. When Joe and I dedicated Kendall to the Lord in the spring of 2009, we took it seriously. We didn’t want to raise her in church but in Christ.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Proverbs 22:6

The day before we left for Africa Kendall prayed to receive Christ. Joe told her she had to pray on her own and she did.


She did excellent traveling to Africa. The first couple weeks and over the first expedition Kendall was ready to go home. She wanted to eat garlic bread at Sonny’s, rangoons at Panda, quiche from Caffe Chocolat, sleep in her own bed, and play with her dog. It was a normal adjustment for an American kid. Life was drastically different for her. There were times she loved what we were doing and she would tell us bible stories while she sat in a tree. Then at other moments she would say absolutely nothing to anyone.

The adjustment has been slow. After the first month she stopped saying she wanted to go home. Now she just tells us everyone she misses. At the top of her list is our dog Gracie, her cousins, and her grandparents.

While we were in Sekute we watched as Kendall came out of her shell for the first time in a while. If you want to reach Kendall’s heart you do it through music. She just loves it. She doesn’t really discriminate to any music style, yet. If she can dance or sing to it she’s happy. We watched her open up as she led worship with our translator Concilia. Trying her best to pronounce all the Tsonga words.

Then in the last village of Manono, for our last bible study that day, Kendall shared the Gospel with 30 women and even more children from my lap. There are no words to describe that feeling. I only wish I had been able to record it for Joe. Telling him in words will never be enough.

  •        At 5 she was sharing the Gospel in remote African villages and helping to lead worship. 
In case you feel we’re putting ourselves on a pedestal I’ll also share here that when Joe preached at the first Jesus film she whispered loudly for him to not preach too long. She’s a pastor’s daughter for certain…

I’m amazed at all that God has done with this precious girl in her short time on Earth. I am humbled that God chose us to be her parents. I can’t wait to see what God has for her. She is God’s girl.

When you share God’s Word with anyone it never returns void.

Love knows no bounds.

In His Love,
Jennis



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Happy Birthday Princess Kendall Vanellope


Today we are celebrating our self proclaimed Princess Kendall Vanellope turning 6! This is the third year we've done this interview. It's always fun to see how she answers her questions. I end up laughing all the way through. I love that she answered in mostly complete sentences this year! You can compare with last years answers here. :)




How old are you? 6

What makes you happy? Um, presents, movies, soda, and playing!

What is your favorite animal? My favorite animal is a cheetah.

What is your favorite thing to eat? Let me think. I would guess, chicken nuggets!

What is your least favorite thing to eat? I do not like peppers!

What is your favorite thing to do? Play and drink soda!

What is your favorite TV show? Pirates!

What are you really good at? I’m really good at arting!

What is your favorite movie? My favorite movie is Wreck it Ralph and Ratatouille.

What is your favorite color? My favorite color is golden with yellow.

What is your favorite song? My favorite song is Can’t Shut Up by Anthem Lights.

Who is your best friend? Kya, Sahara, Sunda, Keiro, and Danielle.

What do you and your mom do together? Um, we play with my ponies at home in Florida.

What do you and your dad do together? Um, we watch movies and have girl time.

What is your favorite sport? Basketball.

What is your favorite team? The Gators.

Where is your favorite place to go? McDonalds! Oh, I mean Universal and Disney World.

What is your favorite book? Green Eggs and Ham

What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be a parent!


It's been an amazing adventure these past 6 years. She is such an amazing little girl. Her insight and simplicity in situations that should stop her. She's funny, loves music, and art. I can't wait to see what God has for her! I pray that she chases God and the dream He has placed in her heart all the days of her life. Thank you for this sweet girl Lord! We are forever grateful! 






In His Amazing Love, 
Joe and Jennis




Saturday, July 5, 2014

Round We Go

Every time we got to a new village I asked God the same question. What should I share with these ladies?

Every time I got the same answer- share your testimony and 1 John 3:16.

By the second day, I was a little frustrated. We were doing eight bible studies that week.

“God, why do you want me to keep sharing my testimony and that verse? Can’t I share on something else?”

Silence.

So at every village when I was introduced I shared the shorthand of our testimony. It went something like this minus the pausing for the interpreter:

“I’m married to Big Joe. Our first year of marriage was very bad. Joe drank a lot and did a lot of drugs. I didn’t respect him because he did those things. Joe didn’t love me the way I thought I should be loved, because I didn’t respect him. It was a very bad cycle. After our daughter was born (at this point Kendall would usually smile really big and point at herself) Joe and I separated for a period of time. It was during that time that Joe tried to kill himself. When you try to hurt yourself in the states many times they send you to a hospital. They also send a very big truck called an ambulance to pick you up. The driver of the ambulance was on a very busy road and while driving asked Joe if he knew Jesus. You see we had gone to church many times, but we just listened and never applied it to our lives. It’s what you call pew potatoes. So, when the driver asked Joe if he had heard of Jesus- we had. We just never understood in our hearts. The driver asked Joe if he’d like to accept Christ right then, pulled off the side of the road, jumped into the back with Joe, and he accepted Christ right then! During the time we were apart I also accepted Christ. Nothing about our lives were the same after that. We didn’t walk the same, we didn’t talk the same, our lives were different. You see for the first time in our lives we understood what true love was. When you understand and receive God’s love it changes everything. God restored our marriage! Joe and I could love each other right for the first time as well as others. It’s that love that compelled us to fly for three days in a big airplane to be here with you. So that we could share with you how much God loves you and what He can do in your lives. I also would like to share a verse with you it’s 1 John 3:16, By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

Not a bad thing to share, but I was tired of talking about myself.

It wasn’t about me though.

What I would later find out is that these women understood husbands that drank a lot, because many of them have one.

Alcoholism is a problem here. Drinking in Zambia is not the same as in the states. It doesn’t taste good. It’s straight up alcohol. So the only reason to drink here is to get drunk.

At one of the bible studies I got to pray for a young girl named Mercy who was married to such a husband. She had a baby on her hip and one in her belly. Mercy was ready to go back home to her parents’ village because she was not happy with her husband.

Very humbling.

On Friday of that same week a man went up to Joe at a leaders meeting and told him that my testimony was very encouraging to his wife.

God knew exactly what those women needed to hear. He already knew that they could relate. All I needed to do was be obedient to what He told me.

All I needed to do was share my love story with God- with others.

I encourage you to do the same when God prompts you.

In His Love,
Jennis




Saturday, June 28, 2014

Indian Surprise

I only really had one concern for Africa besides snakes: getting sick.

A month into our trip it happened. Headache, chills, and body aches.

Malaria is big here. A precious friend and team member had nearly died from a case of malaria that went cerebral a few weeks before. So we were taking every precaution.

It would be our first experience with third world clinics. When we got to the clinic we signed in like normal. It was the first time in my life I didn’t actually know what my address was or have a phone number… I just responded with Rapid 14 in Nsongwe. They took my temp, blood pressure, and weight. Then we waited in a waiting room. The doctor was out, but would be back soon.

When the doctor arrived we went into his office. He wrote down my symptoms on a white piece of paper. He thought from my symptoms I either had malaria or typhoid fever. The symptoms are similar for both. His exam table was also in his office. There was PVC pipe that was hung and then a thin sheet to close the exam area off.

The doctor had me get on the examination table and kept saying my stomach was super swollen. I had already told him that it was my “time of the month”- hence the swollen stomach. He kept pushing until it hurt saying, “Your stomach is swollen!” I responded that perhaps I was just fat?

After that we walked to the lab where he pricked my finger for blood. I would get a test for malaria similar to what diabetics use to test their blood sugar, and then he would also put it on a slide to check my blood under the microscope. We waited in the waiting room.

When he came back the doctor brought us back into the office. As it turned out I didn’t have malaria or typhoid fever, praise the Lord! He thought maybe it was just a stomach thing. There was someone who was just sick on base that went to him and the blood samples looked similar with a lot of lymphocytes in our blood. I couldn’t understand everything the doctor was saying because he had a very strong accent. He mentioned something about an indian surprise and injection. I turned around and looked at Joe who nodded. Turns out he was telling us about an antibiotic shot. “Don’t worry”, he said,” we do these all the time in my country!” We paid for our visit, antibiotics, and the shot, but for safety sake Overland wanted us to get my blood tested at the hospital too.

When we got to the hospital we were directed to the lab for the blood work. While they were pricking my finger I noticed other blood samples on the counter. We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto… There were also some seriously sick people who were also waiting in the waiting room for their tests or results. I prayed for their healing and that whatever they had was not contagious. After the blood was tested and put under the microscope, they also saw no malaria! Thank you Jesus!

After that we headed back to the clinic so I could get my “indian surprise”. Guess where they put the shots here in Africa? I’ll give you one guess. Not only did I get a “surprise” but I had to pull my pants down for it too. Very humbling. 

I felt much better after the shot though and by Sunday I was MUCH better! I don’t want to go to the clinic anytime soon, but I’m glad they’re here. I was blessed with friends who drove me to the doctor/hospital, checked on me regularly, and stopped in to pray for me. Not to mention my amazing husband and daughter who took great care of me!

In His Love, 
Jennis


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sekute

Monday

We left base camp in Nsongwe and went to Shoprite in Livingstone to grab supplies before we headed into the Sekute Chiefdom. We were super excited and were able to have lunch at our favorite spot. We arrived a little late so we had to get settled really fast and put our stuff up and then took off to the village of Sikabimba to show the Jesus film. We had a local dinner with nshima (maize meal) and rape (similar to collard greens). It was very good! While we waited we were able to hang out with some of the men, women, and children. We sang many songs and even danced. After we were done we went to the spot to show the Jesus film. To make the film screen we used two poles of wood dug into the ground and a string that connected to a white bed sheet. Overland is equipped with some technology that allows for the film to be shown which is really neat (some have never seen a film). The film was awesome! It was in their own language, they speak Tsonga and Toka Leya in this area, so they were able to comprehend it. After the film, Joe was asked to preach to the crowd. Did I mention that it was freezing out? Joe delivered a simple Gospel message and asked for a response. Most of the crowd responded, about 70 people prayed to receive Christ, not everyone did but one is enough. We had set up a bible study in the same place to follow up and share the Word of God the next day. One of the ways that ministry happens and starts is setting up bible studies by way of the Jesus film, this helps people really grow and become a disciple of Christ. The church is lacking in this area but with prayer and Jesus, people shall become disciples as they are poured into. Some of the people, not all, have a desire to know God personally and intimately.

We went back to our village; we are staying in a local built village with huts, kitchen, long drop (This is the bathroom- Kendall calls them long dumps), and other living quarters. It is an amazing area, we were spoiled with beds as well, some had to sleep on the ground but since we had a family, they let us have the more comfortable hut. We must be well slept to do ministry fully. This place even had a shower. (Spoiled) We went to sleep right when we got back because the rest of the week we had three bible studies set up each day for the week with two leaders meeting on Friday. One of the ways that Sector Managers do ministry more efficiently is setting up an offsite living area with the villagers.

Tuesday

We were up early on Tuesday. We had 3 villages to go to for Bible Study. One of our team members suffered from terrible motion sickness. The roads we were driving down were incredibly bumpy and rough. She was on the verge of being sick, so we all just laid hands on her and prayed. When we got to the first village, Siakwaya, our team member stayed in the car. Every bible starts with worship and then we split into ministry teams so we could do men and women’s ministry separately. One of the things to remember was among the men. We had about 15 men, varied in age. Most of it was sharing about how to walk out this life. We talked a lot about forgiveness and spiritual warfare.  A 92-year-old man who walks everywhere came to the bible study, he comes all the time. He forgot last week and was very upset about it, to the point that he wanted us to pray about it for him so he wouldn’t forget. The question came to mind, “How do we feel when we miss time with God??” Is He that important in our life? Most of the bible studies ended in us praying for them and with them as time permitted. In our group we ended up having 35 women that morning! After we got into the car and drove down the road we found that God had healed our team member of her motion sickness! It was awesome! The next bible study was at the village of Sikabimba where we shared the Jesus film at the night before. There were probably thirteen women and children in our group. Our last village of the day, Kambwe, we had bible study under an enormous tree. We had around 15 men and a few younger children. The men in this group are well versed, this is a strong bible study, been going on for 2 years. Most of them are leaders in the area, 2 of the men travel to where ever the bible study is (over 15miles by bike). I preached on following the Holy Spirit and walking out this life in Christ. We talked a lot from Ephesians and Galatians. Questions at this bible study were about forgiveness. A lot of people want to do the right thing but they don’t realize who they really are in Christ. It’s the same in the US. We shared a lot about there standing before God and how to walk their relationship out. We shared a lot with Pastor Enoch, as he is a leader amongst the community, we also live on his land. We had five ladies and then many children. In this village they had just built a new church. That night Pastor Enoch’s wife Judas made us a good dinner of beans and nshima. There was even cooked pigeon! We discussed many things with the Pastor, understanding the area we are in. We also talked about family life, building relationship.

Wednesday

Our first village of the day, Sikokwani, started with everyone playing frisbee with the kids and teaching them how to throw them. They loved it. This bible study we had some questions about how to forgive people who have wronged us? It would seem this is an extremely hard thing to do here just like it is in America. You have to understand that everything here is done in community so if something happens, it affects all, think about your neighborhood, do you know the people around you? If you aren’t part of the community no one helps you- ever. It’s super important here to be a part of the community. What about your churches? Do you make it an effort to talk to someone you don’t know?? Looking at the early church, they were in community to where no one was in need??

We talked with the men about how to walk out the relationship, and what a real relationship looks like. We also talked about the difference between light and darkness. I drew a line in the sand and talked about serving the one true God and not the devil. I asked them about which side they were on and if they were trying to still be in the world. We also talked about what is the job of the corporate body of Christ? We had about 18 men.  In the ladies group there was probably 15 ladies and more children and babies. They shared that there was malaria in their villages, which is surprising since there isn’t much water in Sekute.

After that we went to the next village, Nzwenga, we had probably the same amount of ladies. There was a little girl there that was dressed like Cinderella. It was beautiful. We only had 2 men but they spoke English according to them, was very hard to understand. I felt God lead us to share about prayer and the importance of it. We tied this in to walking out life in the Spirit. They had some questions about Anointing of the Spirit, Baptism (what is right), and church.

The next bible study was in Siambezi. It was off the side of the road instead of being in a village like the rest of our studies. This is where we only had three men but they were all leaders. We talked a lot about marriage here with them as well as being married to the church. God really spoke to one man there because he was very angry (you could feel the heat coming off of him) with a man in his area because he was always getting drunk and causing problems. Remember community living! And He was the Senior Headman which means he oversees many men in charge of their areas. He had asked how we are to forgive people like this. I explained to him that God expected us to forgive regardless and to pray for him and do good to him. (Matthew) We told him that God holds us to a higher standard and we must set the example regardless of what people do. We also talked about how important it was as a leader to set the right example. We tried to help him understand that God has set us apart and we must adhere to the Word so that we set the example of light in a dark world. Here there were close to eight ladies. We had a really good discussion about forgiveness when the ladies asked about it. The ladies were so animated when we were discussing it and how God has called us to be different. After that we headed to Pastor Felix’s house to have dinner. We had chicken (real chicken that was running around earlier in the day), nshima, and relish (sliced cabbage and tomatoes). After dinner we headed out to Mukuni, where we would hold the Jesus film. I’m not kidding, as the film went on there were people coming out of the woodwork! There were probably 200 people there by the time the film was over! We shared the Gospel and probably 100-150 prayed to receive Christ. It was awesome! After the film we put on some music and danced for a while. We would have bible study here the next morning!

Thursday

Our first bible study was where we held the Jesus film the night before, Mukuni. We had about 7 ladies at our bible study. We did have a few men, since we just watched the film; we talked a lot about Jesus and what it really means to follow him. Not many questions though, people were still wondering about Jesus and who He really was. We had an awesome time of sharing what God has done for all of us. Our next bible study in Manono had a special treat for us. It’s called maheu. It’s a drink made from maize. Kendall did not love it. (We have a video!) I can’t explain exactly what it tastes like other than that you must drink and chew it simultaneously. I’m sure that helps… Zambians love it! Usually the drink is fermented, but they had just made it fresh for us. This is where we had about 60 people total. Preached a lot on light in a dark world. We drew a line in the sand and talked about what side we were on and that we can’t live in both sides for we will hate the 1 master and love the other. Leadership was well represented here and questions were very good. There were probably 30 women there! They were very interested in us and asked questions, which is rare during bible study. We hung out for a while afterwards with all of them! After that we headed back to our village. That night we watched a movie on the wall of one of the huts and had dinner and popcorn. Super fun!

One of the highlights of this whole trip is that Kendall loved our translator and was leading worship in the villages that we went to! It was awesome. Kendall actually shared the Gospel in Manono at one point. (We were really proud parents, tears!)

Friday

The guys headed to a leadership meeting while the girls headed to Delevu to meet a headman and his wife. The 2 leadership meetings went well, we shared a lot about forgiveness and choosing to obey God rather than the community or things of this world, remember if you do things apart from community than they will excommunicate you. (lots of ancient spirits and things against God) There were 20 men at the first meeting. We talked about focusing on Christ in all that we do, and never taking our eyes off of Him. It was another turning point and God moved mightily in the hearts during the response time. People were really encouraged, a few questions but mostly some work is to be done in this area. Our translator had called out 2 people here and said that we needed to pray for them and it turns out that they both confessed that some things in there life that needed to change. One man said that he had a dream about fighting with his family and then ended up alone, this happened about 6 months later, he was very emotional which is something you don’t see. The next meeting was with about 11 people, had some time to share the word and encourage them to not lose focus of Jesus. We must stay the course and finish the race, that as people we lose track of Him and start to complain but we must repent and turn the Devil away. The headman’s name was Alfred! It was an awesome time sharing with them! Turns out he is a Christian. He told us a lot about the village and what was going on there. We talked and prayed for the village and all that live there. We were blessed! After that we headed back to base.


In His Love, 
The Hennis Family


Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Chitenge

Lovely people, let me introduce you to the chitenge.


That awesome skirt I’m wearing is actually a piece of fabric to cover from my knees and up. Women of marrying age and higher have to wear these. They use them so your shape can not be seen. Showing this area would be equivalent to women in America walking around without their shirts on and nothing underneath if you catch my drift… Not pretty, and you definitely don’t want to offend anyone. You’re probably not going to share the Gospel that way. Chitenges are our friends. 

What I found as we got out into the bush was that women use them for everything! The “good” chitenges are made from a quality fabric and cost about 30 kwacha. That’s about $5 dollars depending on the current rate of currency.

Mostly, they use them for coverings.

Next, would be baby carriers.

Then, blankets for their kids.

Finally, they use them like purses. Tied end to end and stuffed with whatever they need to carry. 

Plus, they make a great covering when you have to go to the bathroom in the bush. ;)



In His Love,
The Hennis Family