Sunday, March 23, 2008


Happy Easter!

Greetings to all of you in the name of Jesus Christ! We apologize for the LONG delay in posting anything new, but this has been one of our toughest months to date. As many of you had probably been told, Jessi, Sunda and I were planning on coming home at the beginning of May to visit home for a few months. It was going to be a time of updating our churches and supporters as to what we are doing here in Zambia as well as a time to show off our daughter to anxiously awaiting grandparents and family!
After many trips to Lusaka and a lot of fees we had finally secured Sunda’s passport (in her current name since the adoption is not yet finalized) and we made our trip to the US embassy where we had been previously assured that getting her a tourist visa was our best option. Upon arrival, all of those hopes came crashing down when the US embassy denied Sunda a tourist visa due to Jessi and I being volunteers and not owning enough in Zambia to ensure we would return with Sunda (since the adoption is not finished). This was very hard news for us (not to mention the grandparents), but what could we do. It wasn’t tragic news because we weren’t being separated from Sunda, but our plans were definitely changed.
In this month’s upcoming Sons of Thunder newsletter there will be an article updating our future plans in Zambia. After much prayer and contemplation with several close friends and family, we have decided to transfer our work under a new ministry here in Zambia called Overland Missions. Though the reasons are many, our greatest is that our heart is to get out into the bush and disciple followers of Jesus Christ. Overland Missions sole purpose is to reach unreached people groups all over the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. They have a base just outside of Livingstone (one hour from our present location) and they have been mobilizing teams in unreached areas all over the world for ten years now. While Sons of Thunder is doing a tremendous job with the orphanage, school, clinic and the families on the farm, we were having a difficult time building a new outreach program when there is a fully developed one just down the road with Overland Missions.
Sons of Thunder has given us their blessing in this transfer and understand why we have decided to move. With that said, I’m sure many of you supporting us would like to know a bit more about Overland Missions and our particular assignment with them. The following is Overland Missions mission statement:

Overland Missions is a missions organization committed to empowering the third world indigenous church and bringing the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth. Through expedition-style missions we lead teams into locations that would otherwise remain neglected or unreached (a condition usually caused only by an area's lack of accessibility). Based in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Overland Missions' motto is, "Any Road, any Load, any Time". We believe this statement to be indicative of our commitment and our approach to meet the needs of the third world. We utilize the best equipment technology has to offer, the expertise of over 15 years of reconnaissance experience, and the revelation of the New Creation purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. Overland mobilizes young adults into more than 30 nations. We take God at His word and believe by faith to see the book of Acts continued in the earth today. We claim every nation, every island, every tribe, and every soul within our jurisdiction to reach, teach and empower with the Gospel.

Jessi and I have made a five year commitment with Overland Missions here in Zambia to oversee the discipleship of the Masokatwane chiefdom; a large area in the southern province of Zambia that is in great need of outreach, discipleship and evangelism. Our focus will be to establish relationships with every pastor in every denomination of this chiefdom in order to disciple and strengthen the foundations of those churches. Virtually nothing will change in the vision we have previously shared with you, which is to live with the people in order to reveal Jesus Christ to them through any and all means.
Overland offers an advanced missions training that will better equip us to thrive and survive out in the bush. The training offers courses in the bible, diesel mechanics, welding, GPRS navigation, off-road techniques, cultural understandings, and many other areas. As I am sure many of you may want to know more, please visit Overland’s website at . It is a very informative website that should answer most of your questions. I (Jacob) will also be traveling home on May 22nd through June 10th in order to meet with as many of you as possible and hopefully share at a few churches.

Overland Missions has set up a personal account for Jessi and I so the same process will work for those who have been supporting us. We are asking all of our supporters to please begin sending your support checks to Overland Missions beginning in April at the following address:

PO Box 566, Cape Canaveral, FL 32920

Please DO NOT put our names on the memo like before, but write our following 4 digit account Code on the check or envelope: #3027. Make the check out to Overland Missions. You will begin to receive a newsletter from Jessi and I beginning in May that will keep you updated with all of our endeavors here in Zambia.

If any of you have questions or would like to know more before sending to Overland then you can also send your support checks to my parents, Norm and Jeannie, who will deposit directly into our account as well. Their address is 290 Northview Rd. Wellsburg, WV 26070. In this event, simply make the checks out to Jacob Schwertfeger.

Jessi and I cannot stress to you how indebted we are for the continued support you have shown. We have been stretched beyond all seemingly capable limits this year in some ways, but it is because of you that we are able to remain. You must know and believe that you are enabling the gospel to reach the ends of the earth. THANK YOU!

We would also really love to begin an e-mail correspondence with all of you to better know how to pray for you and to better know you. Our e-mail is We are asking that you would write us an e-mail with your name so that we can keep in touch in a more one-on-one way.

Jessi and I will begin our Advanced Missions Training at Overland Missions base in Zambia on May 3rd and it will carry us through to August. During that time we will also be planning and preparing for the beginning of our work in the Masokatwane chiefdom. Please keep these things in prayer as well as the finalizing of the adoption (the government has banned all adoptions temporarily).

With all of that said I hope and pray that you take serious time today to celebrate and contemplate the fact that Jesus Christ laid down His life so that you could enjoy eternal fellowship with God. Man can’t hold him down, nails can’t hold him down, death can’t hold him down. Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is worthy of us losing our lives to glorify Him in all things!

We love you all and look forward to seeing you in the States with our little one in God’s time!

Jacob, Jessi and Sunda

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Another Trip to Lusaka

Jacob is heading out for Lusaka on the night bus tonight. AGAIN. During this adoption process, we have had to make more trips to Lusaka than I ever thought possible or necessary. Jacob has been the one to make the quick trips necessary to sign a paper or fill out a form. I think this is trip number 6 or 7.

I never thought, in a million years, that I would be so dependent on the man that I spent so much time away from during our dating and engagement. However, I am absolutely despondent at the idea of him leaving again. Jaime brought it all into perspective the last time he went, saying, “You have such a good husband. He just makes those trips to Lusaka to deal with the adoption without question. And he never complains about it or hesitates to go.” Meanwhile, selfish me is thinking, “Why does he have to go???? I’m so BORED when he’s not here. And it’s HARD to take care of Sunda without a relief squad.”

Meanwhile, Jacob leaves at 7 pm, sits on a cramped bus that smells distinctly African for 7-8 hours, endures countless stops, and stays on the bus once it arrives in Lusaka because it’s not safe to be walking about until at least 6am. He then walks to the Social Services office to save cab fare and sits outside, waiting for the social workers to show up so that he can accomplish whatever he has been requested to show up for. Whenever he gets whatever he needs, signs whatever paper needs to be signed, or talks to whomever needs to be talked to, he grabs some lunch, checks email, and gets back on the bus to arrive home in the middle of the night. Because it’s 3am when the bus drops him off at our farm, he often walks the 3 km to our house (once carrying a mini-stove purchased in Lusaka) to avoid me having to leave Sunda alone sleeping while I pick him up in the car.

So, as you can see, he really has the raw end of the deal. But, it seems to me that every time he leaves, the Zesco (power) goes out and the water tank runs dry and I’m left hauling water up the steps. Besides, it’s SCARY to be by yourself in Africa. I mean, it’s really very safe. But, if a cobra would show up in the house, who would I call?

All of this has made me realize that I would be a terrible military wife. Or a traveling shoe salesman’s wife. It’s true that I don’t really crave “alone time” very much. To me, alone time is someone sitting beside me and leaving me alone. They don’t have to leave. As long as I can still read my book, then we’ll do fine. And Jake is great at that.

When I was young, I hated to be the last person in the house to go to bed. I would race up the stairs while Sam was still brushing his teeth so that I didn’t have to turn out all the lights and creep upstairs in the dark. Nowadays, with all of this living in Africa and power outages, I’m much better with the dark. But I still don’t like to be the last one to go to bed. And when it’s just me and Sunda, well…you know the rest.

Needless to say, Jacob is leaving for Lusaka tonight. I am not a happy camper. Can someone come and stay with me for a couple of days?

On much more important and less whiny news, we have had a terrible elephant infection on this farm. You know how they say that elephants have good memories? Well, it is TRUE. We had never had elephants on this farm until last year when a herd wandered through and discovered some maize in the Southern corner of our property. This year, despite the fact that the rains were heavy and there was water everywhere (which should have prevented them from coming this far away searching for it) they came again, in higher numbers. Just last night, a herd of 200 elephants completely trampled the fields of the villages in the Southern Corner, destroying their harvest totally. As Padmore, headman of Mubuyu village quotes, “You can now walk through our fields with no problem, as if there was nothing planted there.” The elephants were so many that they ended up walking their way through the actual village, among the huts and kitchens and fires. We just spent a week at this village…in a TENT. No one was hurt. It’s just so hard because it completely ruins your philosophy for helping people here. “Don’t give money, don’t give away food…TEACH the people how to farm. TEACH them how to make their own profit.” Well, now they’ve spent MONTHS laboring in their fields so that they can feed their families and maybe sell some crop at a profit. And one herd of elephants with a good memories have destroyed everything. Melodramatic? Maybe. Fact of life? Absolutely. But STILL. It pretty much destroys all of my opinions about teaching people to work hard and save money and be smart. If I worked my butt off for two seasons in a row and two seasons in a row my maize was harvested by elephants, I don’t know that I wouldn’t sit by my kitchen fire and talk about how “poor we are in Zambia” too.

The problem here is not AIDS, or poverty, or elephants…it’s hopelessness. Poverty (which I know nothing about living with) breeds hopelessness. Take the case of the woman who is in the clinic right now, nursing her 2 ½ year old back to health. What is the child sick with? An extreme case of malnutrition accompanied by edema (swelling of the skin), and a skin infection caused by sitting in her own urine for hours at a time. How does a mother let this happen to her child? My theory? The mother gets so wrapped up in hopeless poverty, she doesn’t even realize that she could do something to change, at least, her child’s situation. There has never been enough to eat. There has never been enough soap. There has never been anyone that cares. And so why take her to a clinic while there’s still a chance that she can recover? (the baby is still touch and go) It’s not your fault that the elephants ate your maize. It’s not your fault that there is no employment to be had. And it’s not your fault that you haven’t had anything to eat with your nshima for 4 days. It’s just the way it is, and there’s really not anything you can do to change it.

How blessed I am. Not just because I’ve never been really hungry. Never not had enough money to buy a Coke. But because, I’ve never been through anything that has made me say, “Oh, well, that’s it…there’s no more hope in this situation.” I come from a culture that lives on hope. I know that Jake and I have expressed before that really, that’s the reason that we’re here. To spread HOPE. Not in a liberal, “be who you wanna be” way, but in the way that Jesus is our hope. Poverty might not change. Sickness might not change. But if you have the HOPE and the PROMISE of the fact that God loves you and has a PLAN for your life, you have everything.

Recently, Jake and I have been feeling like the elephants have been trampling OUR maize. We’ve had a lot of trials these past months. But ultimately, I am persuaded. I am persuaded that He is able. And my problems seem really small next to some of my Zambian friends. Are your problems actually pretty small too?