Family leaves on mission to Zambia |

Family leaves on mission to Zambia

by Jo Rafferty

It’s a long way from the Gardnerville Ranchos to Africa, but nothing new to Sandra and Dave Stewart who are about to embark on a mission in Zambia.

Only this time the couple, who met in Africa, Sandra’s native country, while Dave was volunteering on another mission, are bringing along their 1-year-old daughter, Olivia.

“I met her there in 2003. I knew her about a year. We got married over there,” said Dave Stewart of his wife. “I was there with an organization called Father’s Heart Africa.”

Dave and Sandra Stewart are returning for two reasons. They want to spend time with Sandra’s family, and they wanted to continue their work for the non-profit, FHA, which provides hunger relief, education and brings the gospel to the children of Africa. Information provided by FHA – – states that there are 1.6 million orphans in Zambia due to AIDS and a high mortality rate, and that the life expectancy is only 35 years.

“We will be making sure HEPS (High Energy Protein Supplement) is being distributed,” said Dave Stewart. “We will be making sure kids are enrolled in schools, and if not, why.”

“And writing newsletters,” said Sandra Stewart.

The Stewarts’ job duties will also include doing the bookkeeping for the organization, and taking photos for a child sponsorship program. More information on the program can be found on the Web site.

Zambia’s main religion is Christian, although there are still groups who practice witchcraft. However, the Stewarts are most worried about the fact that they will face more social prejudice in Africa than they have in their three years of living in the United States.

“There are cultural differences,” said 38-year-old Dave Stewart.

“They voice it out,” said Sandra Stewart, who is 26. “They don’t like inter-racial couples.”

Dave grew up on the East Coast and moved to Mammoth Lakes for eight years, before going on the mission to Zambia.

When the Stewarts first moved to the U.S. they stayed with Dave’s mother in Mammoth Lakes.

“I had her make a snow angel. I took her cross country skiing for the first time, if you can imagine,” said Dave, of Sandra, who had never seen snow before. She also had not tasted turkey, which they served at that first Thanksgiving. After about a year, they relocated to Carson Valley where Dave worked at GE Energy for two years, until recently he underwent hernia surgery. Sandra worked at the Business Bank of Nevada.

“We settled here and absolutely loved it,” said Dave.

“Just to live in the Valley, with the mountains, it’s beautiful,” said Sandra.

Both felt the call to go back to Zambia, and will be leaving Monday, making a stop in Pittsburgh, Penn., where Dave has family before going on to Zambia on Jan. 15.

They plan to initially spend two years there, then decide what to do after that.

“I’ve been praying about it for about two years,” Sandra said.

“The more we prayed about it, the more confirmation we got on what we’ve got to do,” Dave said.

n Jo Rafferty can be reached at or 782-5121, ext. 210.