A Well-Oiled Machine
By Joey & Kaitlin Speichinger
The Lord’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). The Lord’s will may be clear at times, but often, the challenge is discerning His will from ours. Overseas missions work has always been a passion and calling for Kaitlin and me. With the Lord’s help and provision, we obtained technical skills—nursing for Kaitlin and aviation maintenance for me—to use as tools to spread His Word and love. However, we wondered where we would serve, using our skills to bring Him glory. The Lord made the answer clear in August 2014, and by November 2014, we were settling into life at Chitokoloki Mission Hospital, a mission station on the sparkling waters of the Zambezi River in Zambia.
Since 1914, the busy mission station and hospital have served people from nearby villages and cities, areas across Zambia, and even neighboring countries. Like the body of Christ that the apostle Paul talks about in Romans 12, our team’s purpose is to use our God-given gifts and abilities to help one another and teach God’s Word to the people who come to Chitokoloki. Each missionary plays a unique role in spreading the Gospel, whether through school, medical, or village ministries.
A flexible maintenance team
Maintenance is a major part of our ministry. The maintenance work is broad because it entails many areas: aviation, hospital, automotive, and facilities. Chitokoloki Mission Hospital is more than 100 years old; therefore, over the years, many buildings have needed either a remodel or a complete rebuild to continue being useful. Since the mission station is large, the missionaries rely on multiple tractors, vehicles, quad bikes, and an airplane to accomplish their ministries.
A typical day may involve almost all these areas, each of which seems to take priority sometimes. The challenge is deciding which to tackle first while allowing enough time to fix the other problems. My daily goal is to keep the equipment working so the team can use each piece as a tool for spreading the Gospel. Our maintenance team comprises approximately 14 staff, whom we have trained or are training.
The villages surrounding the mission are developing, so people bring their ox cart or motorcycle to the maintenance shop for repairs. During the season for farming cultivation, people frequently bring in their hoe or oxcart for welding. I use this opportunity to practice my local language learning as
I try to talk with them in Luvale. Despite having so little to work with, regarding tools and parts, the local people manage so well; it can be humbling to see. On the other hand, I thank the Lord for His protection over the people who use the vehicles or other modes of transportation since safety is not a concern. There’s a learning curve to making parts multipurpose and much stronger than their original intent. And the roads test the vehicles beyond what they were designed for.
Recently, we had to install a rebuilt transmission in the mission’s semitruck while we troubleshot the problems with the former one. We primarily use this truck to pick up the goods shipped in containers from overseas eight times per year. The pickup site is about 350 miles away from Chitokoloki, or a 13-hour drive. Occasionally, the semitruck will also transport building supplies for some of our large-scale building projects.
Another major project was the final stage of our two-year avionics upgrade on the mission’s airplane (a Cessna 206). Not only is the new equipment more up to date, but it also allows the pilot to use more tools while flying, increasing accuracy and safety.
Surgical marathons and home schooling
With our family growing rapidly in the past six years, most of Kaitlin’s time has shifted from serving as a nurse in the hospital to caring for our four children (Owen, twins Corrie and Paige, and Faye) and providing hospitality for many of the visitors who come to Chitokoloki. However, every couple of months, an influx of surgeries—what we call a surgical marathon—will occur, and Kaitlin will assist with most of the cases.
Kaitlin is also involved in the shipping containers we receive from Canada, England, and Northern Ireland. Annually, we receive about eight shipping containers filled with supplies—including clothing—for the hospital and mission. We use the clothing to trade for produce, which the hospital needs to feed its patients two meals per day. So the clothes are a huge help in cutting the hospital’s food costs, and the people are happy to receive them since they are better quality than what they can buy in the local market. Kaitlin helps sort the items and make bags of “pay” to trade for the produce.
At home, Kaitlin home-schools our kids. In 2022, she finished teaching Owen, our oldest, kindergarten, and they are working on first grade. She is also teaching kindergarten to our twins, Corrie and Paige, and Jack Brundage, the oldest son of our missionary coworkers Chris and Allison Brundage (Missionary Prayer Handbook Day 4).
Christ’s diligent witnesses
In 2022, three young men and two girls were baptized and have since been growing in the Lord. They diligently tell their classmates about the Lord. Please pray their witness will continue and others will choose to follow the Lord. Recently, two boys in the children’s ward of the hospital professed their faith. Please pray the Lord will use the work at Chitokoloki Mission Hospital—from maintenance to medical—to turn more people to Him.
Joey and Kaitlin Speichinger are commended from Believers Gospel Chapel in Augusta, Georgia.
Originally published in Missions magazine, March 2023. For more content, sign up for a free subscription (US) to Missions at CMML.us/magazine/subscribe.