Tommy Downs

Tommy Downs

A Servant of Jesus Christ

Came Back Alive

Pleasant surprise! We had some days that weren’t 125 degrees, so we had a surprise Come Back Alive session where we made Corey our leader and we went out into the “bush” (Outside the gate). We followed GPS coordinates to a goat and Hopper put the goat on his shoulders like Keith Green from the ministry years volume 1 and carried it the whole way. We walked for a few kilometers, following other coordinates and clues until we came to a location where we were supposed to set up camp and survive. Unfortunately we had very few supplies that they let take with us, so we only had 2 lights.

We built a fire, started filtering our water and started cooking Nshima. Oscar and Paris did that for the most part, while Theara & Samrach wedged the meat between split sticks and cooked them over the fire. Hannah pretty much butchered the poor goat by herself; it was great to have such a specialized team.

The water (after being boiled) was like “bad hot chocolate” according to Joy, but I thought it tasted wonderful and better than regular water. It was just water with African dirt in it, and African dirt smells like gourmet coffee or something, so it was wonderful. Maddie even conceded that it wasn’t too bad.

I ate a bunch of Nshima and goat. Staff visited us a couple times, and we (as a group) were apprehensive and on watch because we feared them taking us or our stuff. Hopper setting up a road block might’ve been taking the role-playing too far. We had no blankets or sleeping bags, but it was warm, albeit hard to sleep on gravel ground. Around midnight, four cars rolled up full of Overland staff, they took us back inside the gate to go back to base because elephants were about and had murdered people in the recent past.

So we finished camping out for the night in what was the equivalent of camping in the front yard… Yeah, it was easy, but fun.


The next day we walked back, took a shower, (we were covered in soot and dirt) and took a nap. Afterwards, we had breakfast, and most of the group went to Casey’s to watch the Rugby game. But Joy wanted to go to Nsongwe, so Hopper, Joy, and I went. Henette offered to take Hopper’s spot on dinner prep if we didn’t get back in time; she’s such a wonderful lady full of vision and encouragement, I just call her mom, because she’s like a mother to all of us.

So we went to Nsongwe, but we didn’t find Trevor our usuall translator. So we went to Fred and Memory’s and hung out with them, then Memory took us ministering. We encouraged people, prayed for them, got to know them, and listened to them.

Eventually it began to rain, very hard, and we found shelter in a woman’s shop who we were ministering to at the time. A man named Terrence came in and enthusiastically started sharing about the goodness of God, then he left and danced in the rain.


The next day was Sunday and Nicole, Rodrick, Amy, and Oscar preached. It was very good; Nicole was realigning people’s hearts, Rodrick was reminding us of our responsibility as watchmen, Amy was talking about our worth to God, and Oscar was talking about bringing the dead to life in Christ. “I know you want to go to the morgue and raise the dead, but when you preach the gospel to someone, you are raising the dead, you’re bringing them from death to life!” Said Oscar, “So everyone here has raised the dead!”

Nsongwe 2

Then, we went curio (souvenir) shopping in Nsongwe. Every African knows how to make identical trinkets that you would never see in their homes, but I guess it’s fun to take back to people in the States. Overcame my fear of shopping;

Afterwards, Thanak (another Cambodian), Hopper and Joy, and I went to Trevor’s church where all the churches were getting together for a tea party fundraiser. They’re building a church in the Victoria falls I guess; it was great to see lots of different denominations get together. Each group performed a song or two, and some did skits as well. The drum beats were amazing. We saw lots of people we recognized who we had worked with with (double words are fun) Overland.

Then we had tea, sandwiches, and we walked with Trevor back to the base. We got some green mangoes from some people as we walked, they were hard, but good.


I’ve been practicing my Khmer (Pronounced: Kuh-my; means Cambodian) language. It’s fun. It’s a pretty easy language in a lot of regards but still has some fun gotchas and phonetics. I play Cambodian games and use what little I know of the language, this might be my element.

Hard to focus on my final project when I could be ministering or learning Khmer, lol.