Tommy Downs

Tommy Downs

A Servant of Jesus Christ

Ate a Rat

We started taking a course (Wilderness First Responder) where essentially we learn how to be EMTs. It’s definitely fun stuff. Now I can pretend to be a doctor with so much more plausibility. I’ll use the simpler stuff often, I’m sure. Though really, Jesus is my healer, so I’ll always go to him first.

Our bodies are amazing, we truly are beautifully and wonderfully made. God is so great.

Hyponatremia (I think it means low sodium)

Realized that I’ve never really felt hunger so I tried to fast until I felt hungry (Which would be never since man lives on every word that comes from the mouth of God?). (I still drank water) By the second day I was feeling tingly in my legs, but my stomach was fine. (Didn’t realize that was because I had filled the whole thing with water) So I kept having to relieve myself every hour, and I couldn’t sleep for longer than an hour at a time (no big deal I thought). On the second day I continued eating at supper, but my symptoms didn’t subside.

I kept getting weaker and my legs and feet kept getting cramps. I had an absurdly high fever. They gave me three negative malaria tests just to be sure. I knew it was because I didn’t have enough electrolytes, but I couldn’t get enough electrolytes into me. (I didn’t realize how much water I was still holding)

By day 5 of this affliction, I was fighting very hard to stay alive and to proclaim healing over my body. No one knew the cure, they told me to hydrate. Hopper and Joy kept me company through the night, I was weak, I was faint, but my mind was fully awake and sharp. Finally, very early in the morning when I thought I was gone, I vomited in a fine 5 foot cone, after which I puked out a great amount of fluid. I started to realized that my stomach was full of water and that I needed to empty it out so that I could fit some food in without it being diluted 100 to 1. I fell asleep by 5am. By 7am I was up, and by 8am I was eating breakfast and getting back to class.

Praise the Lord. He is my healer.

Victoria Falls

Oh, on day 3 of my hyponatremia binge, we went to the Victoria Falls. “It’s one of the 7 wonders of the world.” It’s such a weak justification for going. To be fair, it’s probably pretty cool when there’s actually water going over the falls. We went and saw a mile of rock with occasional spots that had about as much water as a leaky faucet.

Some of the baboons were 4 foot tall while in their regular quadrupedal stance. They lunged at Corey’s coke, but he hid it and they instead went after Maddie’s; Corey then threw his coke and the baboons left Maddie alone.


It was time for our second expedition; this time we were going to a sector and doing some more casual stuff. Oscar (our Zambian AMT student) and I went with Bitton (Zambian) the sector manager to Nyawa. Everyone else went different places in similarly small, or larger groups. So I was the only white person around for miles and miles.

We stayed in tents outside Pastor Sweeney’s house. He was a great man who went everywhere with us, we were a quartet, so to speak.

We rented a car, the pastor drove, and we went to different villages in the area. I often spoke first and I made sure to explain who they are in Christ. I made sure that they knew that they have the same spirit that Christ has; that anything that Jesus has that they have. That they have access to the father, that they have authority, power, and righteousness. Oscar and Bitton told the people that if they prayed for rain that it would come since God is no respecter of persons. And sure enough every day after that it rained; God is good. God hears us when we pray. One day I had a toothache, but as soon as I was prayed for it went away. And likewise, one morning, Bitton and the pastor were feeling sick in their stomachs, so I prayed for them and they were healed. We laughed a little that myself the foreigner, and Oscar the Zambian city boy were not affected. Brandy told us not to get sick, and sure enough we didn’t.

One day Bitton had me pray for Veronica’s (pastor Sweeney’s lovely wife) sewing machine which wasn’t working. I commanded it to work in Jesus name and the machine obeyed, because everything must listen to the name of Jesus. I have that authority, every Christian has that authority, and I’m learning to use it and walk in it more and more.

At one of the villages they told Oscar and I that they loved us, but that we couldn’t come back unless we brought our wives with us. They knew we weren’t married, so the implications were that we had to get married before we go back; so Oscar and I will avoid that area for a few years.

Life is slower doing sector management, it’s a lot of down-time which I used to read the bible and take naps.

Every day we had nshima with meats and cabbage. We call it Nshima power. Nshima is like a corn meal grit-like substance that you dip into meat or eggs or vegetables. I loved it, it was the best. Most foreigners can’t stand the stuff, but I’ve been raised to eat everything. I even had a fermented nshima drink, it was good, it was like a thin yogurt with nshima chunks. Nshima is the Zambians favorite food, but I think I like it even more than they do, I sure ate more than they did. I was less picky than any of the Zambians, and that was weird since I was in their country eating their food. It really was good food though. Even the rat was tasty; they caught a rat the size of a small housecat and my immediate question was, can we eat it? The pastor laughed, but I was serious.

“Do you really want to eat it?” He asked.

“Yes I do. If someone cooks it.” I said. The day after that I ate it for breakfast. Bitton, Oscar, and Pastor Sweeney didn’t want any, so I ate the 3 pieces set before us which each were about the size of a regular size rat. It was better than chicken, it was tender, meaty, and just all around good. They think I’m weird, but I find if you actually try food with a good attitude going in that you’ll like it. I’ll wager that if you gave someone that rat and told them it was rabbit or duck or something that they would love it, it’s our fear and our perceptions that often get in the way. Did I get sick from it, of course not. The bible says if I eat poison it will in no way harm me, and besides, we eat pig and just about all meat is cleaner than pig. A rat eats grain and good food, so the meat turns out well. If I could eat rat every day, I would.

On the way back from Nyawa, Oscar and I crammed into a “small bus.” The vehicle was about the size of a mini-van, but they put 20 people in it, plus all the chickens under our feet and the goat strapped to the roof. It wasn’t as uncomfortable as you would think and was actually really fun, every once in a while our bus would stop, pick up some chickens or some people and we’d continue on. Eventually we got to Zimba where we met up with Paris and Candice who had been doing similar things in a nearby sector. We shared about our trip, they shared about theirs. When we got to Livingstone I bought a bag of what Oscar called “baby mucus” for to snack on. It’s like a treenut that has a sugary syrup inside and you chew it and spit it out eventually. Actually it’s very reminiscent of figs or dates, it’s good stuff; again I don’t know why Oscar doesn’t like it, but he knew I would like it. He’s starting to know me very well.

Maybe someday I will find a food I don’t like, but I’m starting to lose hope.