In a few weeks, I ship my family off for a return mission trip to Lukulu, Zambia. We ask for your prayers and, if you wish, your financial support.
In 2008, my son Josh and husband Mike were among 28 people from Bay City, Michigan, and the surrounding area who went to Lukulu, Zambia, in Africa to help at the Sancta Maria Mission, about a 12-hour drive from the capital of Lusaka. This was the first group of Catholic missionaries to visit since the mission’s founding. A group of 15 is returning July 26, and my daughter Heather will join her brother and dad.
In 2008, we restored the old church and turned it into a youth center for the parishioners and neighboring villagers to use. We also patched and painted the interior and exterior of a building that became the mission’s first preschool that opened for the first time in September, following our departure.
Josh and two women from the village.
Afternoon playtime with donated sporting goods we brought. Children walked for up to two hours to come every day – and kept coming after we left, so the mission continued the play program for them.
We stepped into a world so different from our own. We never had met people with leprosy, or heard of young girls being charged a fee to walk across someone’s property to get to school. But the people we met were amazingly resilient and hospitable.
In 2009, we donated one year’s tuition to the University of Zambia for a young man recommended by the parish priest. This year, in cooperation with local hospitals, we donated a shipping container full of medical equipment to the mission hospital. We also have worked with an Upper Peninsula group on the Mothers Milk Program, which helps produce soybeans that are made into soy milk for babies, greatly reducing the transmission of HIV from mothers with AIDS.
This summer, we will be installing the tile floor that we purchased for the parish center through the generous donations of our mission supporters. Others in our group will be working with the young children, ministering to the sick and assisting the parish priest according to his needs.
We have had many fundraisers – spaghetti and chicken dinners, a dinner cruise, a jazz concert, rummage sales, raffles, silent auctions and bake sales. We continue to work the concession stand at Great Lakes Loons minor league baseball games when we can. The money we raise provides for the necessary materials and the transportation costs associated with it. It also provides for the transportation of our group as well as our food and lodging costs. Food and lodging alone would be an almost overwhelming burden for a third world village with scarce resources.
We have raised $44,000 so far, and have about $8,000 to go. Every $5 and $10 helps, and we would be grateful for your support. Donations can be snail-mailed tax-deductible to St. James Catholic Church, 710 Columbus Ave., Bay City, MI 48708. You also may donate through to PayPal to our personal account; every penny will go to the mission.
If you have questions, leave them in the comments; we’d love to hear from you!
Outside the church. We found services could last for three hours and included dancing altar boys and much music. Scriptures were brought up the aisle in a boat, because that’s how the Word of God first came to the village.