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Local Family Takes Mission Trip

For Denny and Kammy Paulhamus of Cogan Station, it was the family reunion of a lifetime when they recently reunited with their daughter Ashley, who has been working as a medical missionary at Zimba Missions Hospital in Zambia. The Paulhamuses recently made the long journey to Africa with their other three adult children, Andrew, Alicia,

For Denny and Kammy Paulhamus of Cogan Station, it was the family reunion of a lifetime when they recently reunited with their daughter Ashley, who has been working as a medical missionary at Zimba Missions Hospital in Zambia. The Paulhamuses recently made the long journey to Africa with their other three adult children, Andrew, Alicia, and Austin, and seven members of their church family for a trip that was two-fold in nature. Rev. Tim Hartzell, lead pastor of Faith Wesleyan Church, explained. “Each year the church has an auction to raise funds in support of global missions. Last year we decided that any excess funds that were raised would be put towards sending the Paulhamus family to Africa so they could experience the Zambian culture first-hand, and to see the work that Ashley is accomplishing. There was also a need at the hospital for construction of a building to store batteries for a solar panel system. The hospital experiences power shortages on a regular basis, which can quickly escalate into life or death situations for the patients. The solar system will create a new power source, which will allow the hospital to continue operating when their main power source is down. The hospital has used generators, but purchasing diesel is an extra expense in an environment where resources are scarce.”

“Faith Wesleyan is blessed with an abundance of professionals and highly skilled individuals, so we opened up an opportunity for construction workers, medical professionals, and others who would be willing to respond to the needs of the Zambian people in a hands-on capacity.”

Josh Bower, Charles (Chan) Wasp, and Charles Diffenderfer are construction workers who admitted that they felt God tugging on them when the opportunity was presented. “As soon as it was announced in church, I knew the Lord was calling me to go,” said Diffenderfer. Bower agreed. “When the Lord tells you to go, you need to go. I wanted to put my hands to work for His purpose, not mine. It was definitely a life-changing experience.”

Stacy Lockcuff, a physician assistant at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, also traveled with the team and admitted that she initially had a lot of resistance to the idea of going. “For many years I felt called to go to Africa to provide medical care, comfort, and healing for the people there. And for many years I came up with many excuses not to go. For example, there are too many bugs, viruses, bacteria, long flights, and the fear of not having control of the situations around me. But one day while driving I heard a song on the radio, “In His Arms” by Plumb, one of my favorite Christian artists. God met me where I was, and He knew I would hear Him through music.”

Rebecca Spencer is an intern pastor and youth director at Faith Wesleyan, and for her, the decision was a bit easier. “My first overseas missions trip was in Guatemala, so I was excited about an opportunity to learn about another culture, spend time with Ashley and the people she loves, and see God’s love beautifully displayed on the other side of the globe.” With no previous construction experience to offer, Rebecca served as a laborer on the building crew.

On Saturday, May 5th at 2 AM the very excited team of twelve left Williamsport for the JFK Airport, where they would begin the 14-hour flight to the Livingstone Airport in Zambia. After a two-hour wait to get medical supplies through customs, the team made the journey to the missions house, where they stayed during their two-week adventure. On Monday morning the group walked 100 yards along the Great North Road to begin their first day at the hospital and construction site. The Great North Road is a two-lane highway that extends the entire length of Africa into Cairo, Egypt. Their first encounters with the people of Zimba were positive. Denny Paulhamus recalled, “The people were friendly, and said “good morning” each day. They were eager to communicate with us. They were very helpful, and happy.” Ashley Paulhamus added, “Zimba is a town that usually captures a lot of visitors’ attention when they see simple ways of remote living, dirt roads filled with playful children, and interesting smells all around, but yet joy-filled smiles of the people.”

Work days at the hospital began at 8:00 with a half hour service at Zimba Missions Hospital chapel. Afterward, some of the team went to the construction worksite, while others remained to serve at the hospital. “We got to the site, and quickly discovered we would need to go gather up the supplies needed for the building,” said Denny Paulhamus. “We traveled the back roads into the villages for the supplies. It was dusty and dry as a bone. The shops were actually 8 x 10 lean-to shelters. The bus station was more like a woodshed. It was not at all what I expected. We purchased a wheel barrel, a shovel, a trowel, and a water pipe. We hauled two loads of handmade bricks on the back of a trailer that was hitched to a tractor. Once the supplies were assembled, construction began “the Zambian way.” There were about 50 bags of concrete, all of which were mixed on the ground. Afterward, they shoveled it back into the wheelbarrow and then dumped it on the ground to form the footer. It was a lot of manual labor. It wasn’t until the last day of our stay that the building was painted, and it was finished.” Chan Wasp explained, “Their culture is much more relaxed than in the USA. There is just not the hectic pace that you have in this country.”

Stacy Lockcuff recalled that her first impressions of Zimba were mixed. “When we arrived, the situation hit me as being overwhelmingly awful. The need, the circumstances, the housing, the lack of equipment in the hospital. It was also overwhelmingly wonderful and amazing — people, patients, caregivers, medical providers, love, grace, prayer, Christians, and new friends. The first day there I assisted in the casualty bay. The second day I did outpatient and saw a whole bunch of patients. I took two suitcases of toys with me, and 250 packs of bubbles, because that gains trust with my patients quickly. Bubbles are like an international language of love. If you ask anyone I traveled with, they can tell you that of all the patients, my number one favorite person was Laurence, a little boy with cerebral palsy and sickle cell anemia who also suffered strokes. He didn’t have a wheelchair, so his dad carried him everywhere over his shoulder. One of the things we did was fashion a wheelchair for Laurence, using medical supply parts. By Wednesday I had six children with cerebral palsy, so I ran a CP clinic for two hours every morning. My translator told me that word got out in the village that there was a “muzungu (white) lady” who likes the “special children.” I was grateful for Chan and Charlie and everyone who helped me build equipment for them. There were lots of wheelchairs, but none of them worked.”

Lockcuff also took time to organize and label the orthopedic supplies in the medical warehouse. “There are heaping piles of supplies that come on shipping containers, but no one knew where anything was. Denny, Charlie, Andrew, and Chan built some shelves, and we organized the supplies by back, and lower and upper extremities. In addition, I was able to assist with surgeries, which was something I had been looking forward to. It just amazes me that the doctors there do so much with so little — and they don’t complain.”

In between working on the hospital and construction projects, the team dined on local cuisine like fried caterpillars, goat curry, crocodile, and nshima. During their downtime, the group enjoyed a safari in Chobe, Botswana, and a trip to Victoria Falls. Located in southern Africa on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The locals refer to Victoria Falls as Mosi-oa-Tunya, which means “the smoke that thunders.” It was in this lush tropical setting that Andrew Paulhamus proposed to long-time girlfriend, Chelsea Emel. “She said yes!” Paulhamus happily announced to the church family after their return home. Emel is employed as a paramedic and felt God calling her to a short-term mission trip to Africa since college.

No family reunion is complete without a picnic, and anyone who has ever attended a Faith Wesleyan or Paulhamus family picnic knows that a lively game of corn toss is always part of the festivities. While recalling many happy memories of time spent with family and friends, Ashley thought it would be fun to create a new memory by wrestling a greased pig. In response to her idea, Chan Wasp replied, “This is like Disney, Ashley. We’re here to make all your dreams happen!” Although the pig wrestling never came to fruition, Josh Bower came up with the idea of doing a pig roast instead. To get the party started, Ashley’s brother Andrew, with the assistance of Cody Young, constructed a set of corn toss boards. At 4:30 the next morning a pig was butchered, and after a full day of cooking it, an invitation was issued to their newfound Zambian friends to come over and enjoy a little piece of Americana complete with food, fellowship, and corn toss. “It all worked out, and it was neat to have everyone there under one roof halfway around the world. We were all believers, and you heard the different stories, and you learn from everybody what their purpose is,” said Bower. Rev. Hartzell jokingly replied, “Now be honest – you have Andrew Paulhamus making corn toss boards, and a pig roast – so this was a hillbilly picnic.” “Yes,” Bower laughed, “It was almost like a professional hillbilly convention.”

When asked to summarize what impacted them the most, Denny Paulhamus replied, “Ashley loves it over there. She’s been there for four years, and she has a heart for these people. Zimba was beautiful in its own way. It was the people that made it beautiful. Our prayer should be that more people will come to know the Lord. I can only hope that we were a testimony to the contractors and those we came in contact with.” Kammy Paulhamus added, “It amazes me that these people have nothing, but they want to share and give back. It was a wonderful experience, and we can’t thank the church family enough for their support.”

Ashley Paulhamus also expressed her gratitude for the faithful support of the Faith Wesleyan church family. “Zimba Missions Hospital serves a population of 98,000 people. Simply said, that’s a lot! Many expectant mothers with potential C-sections, general surgeries, and daily clinical care requires electricity. The new solar panels will provide a source of back-up during daily power outages. Running the generator is also very expensive. It’s nothing shy of a blessing to have a solar installation at the hospital. No words can express what a difference this will make every day for the patients we are serving. I praise the Lord for the financial backing for this project, and for sending a team from Faith Wesleyan to kick off the project by building the battery house. The next step will be the installation of the solar panels, which is scheduled for August. To God be the glory, great things He is doing!” Bishop Clara Nyinenda, a local pastor who works at the hospital, agreed. “The hope that is being given to the people is tremendous. This is going to save a lot of lives.”

By Robin Muffley
Faith Wesleyan Church

Robin Muffley
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