Left Mongu at 9am-made it across the new bridge by Sioma over the Zambezi.  My buddy Fr. Pius met us right at the bridge and escorted us to Franciscan Srs convent in Sioma where we left the van. The roads from this point would not be good for the Van.

Sr. Marian was very hospitalable  and provided an excellent lunch.  In my rush to get to Sioma I forgot to pack a lunch for everyone. The religious of the missions definitely take care of each other!

We left Sioma at 1:30pm and many bumps later we made it to Shangombo at 5:30pm. We are a little dusty and slightly bruised, but very happy to have made it!

We were met by Fr. Richard Chanda, who immediately let me know that he had Kasama coffee for me😂😂😂😂.  It will be a good 8 days in Shangombo!!!!

Visita a Kalabo

El día de ayer me encontré con una comunidad muy bella en Kalabo. Nos adentramos en la habana por primera vez en nuestra estadía aquí en Lusaka. Debo decir que fue más que interesante e intenso… un hermoso compartir con las personas de los pueblos escondidos en Kalabo.

Estoy muy agradecido con Dios por poner los medios necesarios para mi estadía en este lugar, y de algún otro modo le agradezco infinitamente al P. Jesse Esqueda por darme la oportunidad de representar a los misioneros de nuestra comunidad en Tijuana.

Lo más bonito de convivir con las personas de Kalabo sin duda alguna fue la manera en cómo nos han recibido. Nuestra cultura es totalmente distinta a como ellos perciben que debería de ser el mundo, porque lo único que conocen es el pueblo en donde han vivido siempre. Tratar de comunicarme con ellos es difícil porque no conozco su  lengua nativa, pero todo lo positivo, logró resultar perfectamente bien con su manera de recibirnos. Ver como los niños corren detrás del auto en el que llegamos, con gritos de felicidad que desgarraban sus pulmones, no tiene precio y mucho menos distinción de raza o géneros. Nos recibieron con las mejores de sus comidas, con bailes y música.

El día de ayer pude apreciar cómo es que existe la escasez de agua, mala alimentación y falta de conocimiento hacia el mundo exterior. Las personas de los pueblos en Kalabo son muy humildes y sencillas, pero sobre todo son muy felices y eso lo saben compartir.

Prepararse espiritualmente será un factor importante siempre para las personas que deseen visitar estos lugares tan hermosos porque no se sabe de que manera se te puede presentar Dios.

He visto el rostro de Jesús en estas personas.

Oblate Radio Lisele Monday


Today was a quieter day as we prepared to head to Kalabo tomorrow and for our longer experience in Shangombo. In the morning, though, we had the opportunity to visit the Oblate radio station (105.3 Liseli). We arrived, and firstly, participated in the Mass that was aired on the radio. It was inspiring to be in a celebration that could be experienced by so many people who were unable to go to Mass because of a lack of transportation. We also had the privilege to be interviewed on the radio, about our lives in America, our experiences with the Oblates, our experiences of Zambia so far, etc.

Upon going to the radio station and being interviewed, it forced me to reflect on this experience as a whole. We have already been in Zambia for almost a week, and it has been a quick week at that. We have traveled to various Oblate places, along different urban and rural centers, along Zambia. Yet, it dawned on me today, that we are almost a third of the way done, and our time here is going to continue to go fast.

However in the midst of my feeling of my limitations, I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here, to use my strengths and weaknesses for Jesus, and to be with the people and with my fellow journeyers: Fr. Jim, Miguel, Pedro, and Teko. It has been a real blessing to experience a new culture, with different languages, ways of being, and to experience the simple joy of the people.

Fr. Jim told us from the beginning that our main aim should be to receive from the people more than what we give. I hope and pray ,this evening in Zambia, that we will continue to be open to the seeds planted within us during our travels, and that God works through us to plant seeds in the people we encounter.

An update Mongu Travels

On Saturday, after the car was fixed we were off around 10:30 am.  John and Bill had been picked up at around 9:30 as the bus drove by.  Between me calling Shalom and Fr. Freeborn we were able to have the 2 seats reserved on the bus before it left the station in Lusaka.  Cell phones have  completely changed how we are able to deal with breakdowns.  I remember in the past sleeping overnight before help came.

The trip was pretty uneventful up to Kafue Park. We ate lunch in the car with what we had packed.  As we got close to the bridge over the Kafue we were seeing Impala’s, Puku’s and some Warthogs.  The Park officials were burning the grass in the park. It was very close to the road and timed we felt extreme heat as we passed by.  They do this every year to keep the growth down. But also after the burn then green sprouts come out that are good for the grazing animals.  So we did not see elephants or Zebra’s in the area around the river on both sides where they are normally found.  So I had told the guys it just was not our day,  but as we were getting close to leaving the park we suddenly saw an Elephant right next to the road. Then we saw a giant herd of Kudu’s.  I guess the burning of the grass moved some of the bigger animals to that end of the park.  So it was a good drive.

But as soon as we got out of the park, the road to Kaoma (if you can find it) was in a terrible shape. The worst I ever seen. The pavement would just disappear now and then and there were major potholes in the road.  We thought we were having another problem with the van.  The front wheels were extremely hot and a burnt smell would periodically be sensed by a few of us.   But the wheels cooled down and the smell disappeared, we still do not know what caused the problem, but the van has been working perfectly since.

We arrived in Kaoma, I had called Billy and John and they had taken off to Lukulu about 30 minutes before we arrived.  We had a quarter tank of gas and we needed to at last get 10 more liters to make it to Mongu.  We went to the Puma gas station (formerly BP) at the crossroads to Kaoma.  When we pulled in it we found it closed.  They had run out of petrol and immediately we were rushed by some entrepreneurs trying to sell us petrol for twice the price.  They had them in old vegetable oil containers and what else they could use.  After taking to Fr. Gregory at the local parish, he confirmed that there was no petrol in town(the other gas station in town had closed) and that if we needed any petrol we would have pay to the price.  We went back and I negotiated a slightly lower price (not much lower , but it made me feel better) and we brought 10 liters the minimum needed to get to Mongu.  I mean the minimum. By the time we got to Mongu it was showing empty on the guage, the last few kilometers(or miles) were tense.

We arrived in Mongu at around 6:30 I found the Total gas station and filled up the Van. I did not remember how to get to the Jack Joyce House (JJ House).  It was dark and everything seemed different. There were new roads , traffic signals that were not there before and new businesses, so nothing seemed familiar.   We called Fr. Barnabas and he met us further in town and we traveled paved roads almost to the house.  Wow!

We arrived at the house and found Fr. Chibesa(Parish Priest of Kalabo) at the house.  Fr. Barnabas and him were traveling the next day to Lusaka for meetings.  It was good to be back in Mongu where I lived for 2 years.  Inutu the great cook when I was there was still cooking at JJ House.  The food was great and it was good to catch up with Chibesa and Barnabas.

There was not enough room at JJ house for us to stay and Fr. Barnabas had booked us into a lodge ran by the Presentation Sisters on the road to Limalunga( for those who know the area it is right after the Sepo convent) It is called Liseli Lodge.  The rooms were great, but we found out in the morning that the geezers (hot water heaters-a solar and electrical combination) were not connected to the electricity so the showers were cold.  The winter months solar is not enough to get and keep the water warm. It is winter now in Zambia cool to cold nights and warm to hot afternoons.

We had a relax Sunday.  We went to Mass at St. Agatha’s.  I wanted to go there because the Church had dedicated a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe and thought it would be good for Pedro and Miguel to see a little of Mexico in Zambia. I was also hoping to run into the Comboni Sisters who do ministry at the Parish.  The sisters have a multi-cultural community, with sisters from Ethiopia, Spain, Italy and Mexico.  I was lucky because one of the Ethiopian Sisters was at the Mass.  I was able to get an invite to their house at 3 pm.  We had a good visit with Sr. Marta (from Mexico) and the sisters from Ethiopia. Most of the conversation was in Spanish, which I think was good for Pedro and Miguel.  Everyone but me were able to understand. Teko who speaks excellent Spanish has been the major translator for the group (Miguel knows enough english and Pedro a little less).

We went back JJ house for Dinner, then back to Liseli lodge.

I awoke to hot water which was good, but the other guys did not.   I hope they will have it  tomorrow.  We went to Mass at Radio Liseli and the guys are getting the tour and being interviewed at the station.   Billy and John are coming this afternoon on the bus.  I will pick them up at the bus station.

Will post more about this tonight.  We are heading to Kalabo tomorrow, I am looking forward to seeing the new road.   It used to take up to 8 hours by boat to get to Kalabo but now only an 1 hour drive.  This will be a day trip…more to come- we post more photos as we get better internet.





Agradezco a Dios por el P. Jesse Esqueda que esta en Tijuana, P. Jhim que nos acompana, Teko-Teko y Brian Bernhardt hermanos seminaristas y Miguel Munoz que viene de servicio como ministro de jovenes y por nuestras familias que se encuentra en casa.

Desde el inicio de nuestra llegada ha sido complicado el hecho del traslado y la comida. Todo es muy distinto aqui. La ciudad es muy pequena realmente muy contaminada. Es muy distinto a la vida a la que estoy acostumbrado.

Fuera de toda esta parte psicoemocional con la que creci, es hermoso el poder conocer esta cultura tan distinta a la mia porque las personas tienen un saludo muy peculiar con el que te reciben de la manera mas amable posible. Es complicado el hecho de que las personas trabajan muy duro por sobrevivir y alimentar a sus familias ya que la sobre poblacion lo complica un poco mas. Me encuentro en un gran momento de mi vida en el que solo quiero aprender de las personas que me rodean y poder servir como Dios me lo esta pidiendo, y si por algo estoy aqui es porque asi me lo ha mandado.

El trabajar con la personalidad de cada uno de mis hermanos de la comunidad Oblata en esta cultura, tambien se ha convertido en algo muy interesante para mi, puesto que ellos me han ensenado a comer sus comidad tipicas y debo admitir que es hermoso poder comer sus manjares tan distintos a los que ya conozco.

Han transcurrido apenas 3 dias desde nuestra llegada y se han presentado casos interesantes, desde la forma de hablar hasta la manera de saludar, se que lo he repetido en varias ocaciones pero me encanta desenvolver mi parte humana porque no deja de ser hermoso y reflexivo a la vez. Tratando de aterrizar mi punto, quiero estar tan de cerca con estas personas, tanto como estar en la prescencia de Dios, porque solo asi podre conocer la misericordia de Dios cerca de lo que las peronas me quieren regalar un poco de su cultura, con su tiempo y espacio. Debo reconocer que antes pensaba en que las personas que viven en los paises de este continente (como los de Zambia, Africa) no estan tan avanzados en su manera de pensar. Pero estoy equivocado, todos tenemos la misma capacidad de pensar y tenemos pensamientos similares, una cultura de la otra, y eso es normal porque las personas que crecemos en un lugar tenemos la perspectiva superficial de los que vienes de afuera. Es por eso que quiero decir que agradezco a Dios infinitamente por darme la oportunidad de salir a conocer el mundo, en especial a mis hermnos que radican en este pais (Zambia, Africa), porque podremos ser distintos en nuestro comportamiento cultural, pero compartimos en su mayoria el amor hacia el mismo ser divino que es Dios.

La Aventura continua y se avecina el encuentro spiritual. Las ganas por conocer a los que me reciben en sus hogares, es inmensamente proporcional al amor que siento por Dios. No puedo amar mas de lo que Dios ama a este mundo, pero puedo amar tanto como puedo conocer el miesterio de Dios.

By Pedro Verdugo

We made it!!!!!!!

The flight was awesome.  Ethiopian Air  rocks!

We made it to the KK international Airport in Lusaka 2:30- no problems getting a Visa-except they would not take Teko’s $50 bill-too old.

Frs Mpundu and Terence were at the airport to pick us up.

They had to split us up- too many Oblates visiting- We found Fr. Pat Chiso, Br Max  – Fr. Joe Phiri, Br Felix, Fr. Nebby  Fr. Emmanuel and Fr. Humphrey also around.    John Wagner and Billy Fuller are staying at the Center House and Oblatepalooza at Mekeni.-  The Hospitality has been extraordinary-

It Seems we all slept well-We will be posting more today as we visit Mary Immaculate, Our Lady’s Hospice……  So stay tuned for more….



OBLATEPALOOZA IV- Zambian Mission Experience

The participants of the Zambian Mission Experience (Obaltepalooza 4) are: Prenovices Brian Bernhardt and Teko Teko-Agbo; Oblate youth ministry director Miguel Munoz (Tijuana, Mexico) and future oblate prenovice Pedro Verdugo.

As these four men and myself prepared for the Oblate Mission Experience to Zambia, we were fortunate to have a visit from the person who sponsored the trip. Mr. Robert Lively is an oblate partner, and has been sponsoring this trip for the past four years.  Mr. Lively and his son Brock joined us for dinner at the Provincial House in DC where the orientation was taking place.

missioning mass    After Dinner, Mr Lively’s son Brock,  shared his powerful experiences of his 2 previous Oblatepalooza  Mission trips to Zambia with us. In his sharing, Brock recounted how his first mission trip to Zambia transformed his vision of the world. According to Brock, the witness of the materially poor people of Zambia taught him to be content with the minimal. This experience also opened Brock’s eye to realize that material goods are not the source of happiness; for the people of Zambia were happy regardless of the lack.

Brock enthusiastically shared many other stories of his second trip to Zambia. His sense that he felt that he was home in Zambia , it was home! and the African value of hospitality became much clearer to Brock.

We all expressed our gratitude for this amazing, once in a lifetime gift of this Mission experience to Mr. Lively

During the four-day orientation, the program came across some obstacles which we were able to overcome. While we do not expect this experience to be free of unexpected issues, we are however determined to make the best of it, with the help of God.

Fr. Fernando Velazquez, OMI, a missiology professor at OST , led the orientation. He guided the four men in understanding culture, understanding mission, and building community. He helped guide them into forming a community covenant, a covenant to the people they are to encounter, and a covenant to God whose mission this is.

In the afternoon of July 4th, we all participated in a Mass celebrated by myself and Fr. Raymond Mwangala, who also earlier in the day gave a presentation on the history of Zambia and crossing cultures. The mass was held in the Oblate chapel dedicated to Our Lady Queen of Missions, in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Fr. Raymond at the end of the Mass commissioned and blessed the group.

Our Flight is scheduled to depart at 1100AM on July 5th with a connection in Addis-Abbaba, Ethiopia then onto to Lusaka Zambia!!!                                                               .the oblatepaloozerites  We reach Zambia July 6th in the afternoon Zambian time

with donor  We will see you on the other side of the flight.