I still can’t believe in the last 2 days I’ve been in 4 countries. I just made it over to Zambia, Africa for my project trip with Engineering Ministries International (EMI) and it has been an adventure! From Colorado Springs to Denver to D.C. to Ghana to South Africa to Zambia; here’s a quick recap of my journey here.
Colorado Springs to Denver to D.C.
My day started at 3 AM Monday morning. I got up early to finish some last minute packing and met my carpool at 5 AM. Our project leader drove another team member and I to Denver to catch a 8 AM flight to D.C. Smooth check in but I took about 20 minutes getting through TSA. I packed a flashlight in my carry on that I didn’t realize was connected to a tiny pocket knife. Opps.
I’m pretty sure I got that thing from the dollar store so I was more than happy to surrender it. After handling that, my bag kept alarming for some type of chemicals. The lady dumped everything out on the table and ran it through 2 different machines. I was kind of embarrassed because I packed WAAY too many snacks. Then the TSA lady proceeds to tell me she has to do a full body pat down right there or in a private room. What is life?? I kept my cool and remembered how I doused all my clothes with bug spray the night before. As she’s patting me down, I thought for sure the spray was setting the alarm off and they were going to take my clothes. Meanwhile, my team is patiently waiting for me in the distance. I thought they were about to see me wearing paper clothes. To my surprise, I passed the pat down and they sent me on my way. We made it to our gate with plenty of time to spare! The 3 hr flight was peaceful and I got some much needed rest.
D.C. to Ghana to South Africa
During the 4 hour layover in D.C. we met up with some more team members. Each EMI project trip is majority volunteers. These are design professionals highly skilled in their area of expertise. We have surveyors, architects, electrical engineering and civil engineers on our team and they are all pretty awesome. One of the civil engineers brought along his wife, Rachel, who is a nurse. It’s crazy how much Rachel reminds me of my step mother! They kind of look alike and have similar demeanors. Did I mention my step mom is a nurse too!? And if that wasn’t enough, it looked like Rachel was trying to smuggle a stuff fish onboard. My step mother LOVES sea creatures and she may have a stuffed fish that looks just like Rachel’s. HAHAHA
A few of our team members were delayed and couldn’t make the connecting flight in D.C. I commended our project leader, Dan, for handling everything while remaining calm, cool and collected. He said he got it from looking at how I interacted with TSA. Lol
As I’m waiting to board my 16 hrs flight, It REALLY hits me that I was about to sit on a plan for 16 hrs! What is life?? The ride wasn’t nearly as bad as it could’ve been. I watched a couple movies, started a blog (which turned into a poem), ate dinner and I had TWO empty seats next to me!
8 hrs later, we stopped in Ghana to refuel, drop off and pick up passengers. So even though I never left the plane, I was technically in Ghana for an hour. With STILL TWO empty seats next to me, wheels were up for another smooth 7 hrs down to South Africa. I ate breakfast, read a book, worked on that poem (I’ll post when complete), ate lunch and slept for a few hours. I woke up with a stiff neck right before we started descending. I thought Yes I made it to Zambia! NOT! I forgot we had another flight from Johannesburg, South Africa to Lusaka, Zambia. The plane arrived almost an hour late! When we (8 team members now) got off the plane, we had 35 minutes to make our South African Airways (SAA) connecting flight. Thankfully there was a SAA employee that led us through the international check point and security. She did more than led us.. This chick ran (with heels on!) almost the entire time!! We looked like that scene in Home Alone when the entire family was running through the airport! I tried to record some of the action, but failed. And take a wild guess who took the longest getting through checkpoint? Hahaha I had no idea that we would have to go through security again (In my mind I was Africa when I got on the SAA plane back in D.C. lol). Somehow my bag got through security with a full water bottle. There was no place for me to dump the water and everyone thought going back through the line would take too long. So I chugged all 20 ounces of water in about 10 seconds. It looked like a clipped from Fear Factor (minus the gagging). I got through security and we ran A LOT more. As the second youngest person on the team, I felt obligated to lead the pack. I failed at that too. We finally made it to gate with about 5 minutes to spare. Thank God!
South Africa to Zambia
Last flight was about 2 hours and I swear SAA is the best because they fed me AGAIN! By the way, the food was pretty good! Especially the dessert! Those two hours literally flew by and I was on the ground in Zambia! Praise the Lord! After waiting 30 minutes in line for our visas, we realized our luggage didn’t make that connection in South Africa like we did. This is nothing new in EMI’s world and we all handled the situation with help from the Holy Spirit. Another 45 minutes of waiting for our visas and we were officially in country!! We got these cool dual visas that will allow us to enter and exit through Zimbabwe! They may come in handy when we go to Victoria Falls on the last day! We met up with 2 more team members and the staff of the Chikankata Mission drove us to a nearby hotel for the night.
The adventure is just beginning
We are staying at a Best Western Hotel in Lusaka (the capital) for the night. Besides the outlets and what kind of looks like a composting toilet (but isn’t), it looks and feels exactly like a hotel in the states. In the morning we will have breakfast and head to the project site where we will be staying for the rest of the trip. Our project leader gave us a list of devotionals we will start each day with while here. Please pray that our luggage and the last two team members arrive safely tomorrow! Whelp, it’s already extremely late here and I have to be up by 8 AM! I wanted to post this because I never know when I will have WIFI connection! I hope to update you all soon on the amazing things God is doing through and around me here in Chikankata, Zambia!
With God’s Love,
Jamara Beard ❤