Thursday, May 31, 2007

Visiting Lifeway Christian School

Greetings my friends! Today has been an extremely long day, and I am exhausted. Yet I couldn't wait to get here tonight and write to you about the amazing day I had yesterday.

Yesterday we visited the Lifeway Christian School. This is a school that Family Legacy started last August for grades 8-12 along with providing them group housing with a house parent. Children in Zambia have to pay money for school beyond grade 7. 39 kids were selected to come and participate in grade 8 at Lifeway. So yesterday, we went to visit them.

Now they are currently on break, even though the other schools in Zambia attend year round. The kids made a special trip to school so that we could see them. With us we brought brand new school books, backpacks, notebooks and pencils. I have video that I wish I could show you, because the kids hooped and hollered over those items! One boy, named Abram, just kept rubbing his head and covering his face over and over again. It was beautiful.

We then were able to go and see the kid's homes. There are three homes, one girl's home and two boys. All of these children were chosen from the poorer community schools to attend Lifeway. All 39 of the kids were sponsored by Americans, so that they would be able to attend school and have full-time housing for free. Most of them are double oprhans, which means they do not have any parents. You would not believe how thankful these children are for the opportunity to attend school, not to mention being removed from their abusive situations.

On the way to the houses, everyone rode in the back of an open bed 18-wheeler. It was great! The men seranaded us with Zambian praise songs, and I was able to sing along with the ones that I knew. I cannot convey to you the beauty of the Zambian's singing and the look of joy that comes across their faces when they worship. It is a moment that I will tuck away to be sure, and enjoy over and over again.

The girls house has one big bedroom with about 10 bunk beds. The houses are very quaint, but kept very clean. There is running water in the house so that they are able to easily cook and clean, which they are taught to do for themselves. Two of the discipleship leaders, Chilufya and Naomi are the house moms. At the boy's houses, they had planted Chinese cabbage and had a plot of land that was available for more planting.

Each of the boys houses has 2-3 rooms, only about 12X10 and contain approximately 4-5 beds. They are practically on top of each other, but I guess boys don't care about that. The children were so excited to have us come to where they live and I had the opportunity to speak with several of them about what they are learning. Their English is getting quite good, and one boy Cephas was telling me that they were exploring Genesis in their Bible classes.

I don't know how many of you have seen my Camp Life video, but if you have....this is for you. The little boy who is crying and singing on the video.....Kelvin is His name. Well, he is quite a few years older now but he is in the school and quite possibly the most precious boy I have ever seen. He is quiet and humble, but so incredibly full of the Holy Spirit that he makes everyone around him joyful. He has the heart of a servant.

The girls were thrilled to have us also. One in particular attended camp life last year and told Susan (Greer's wife) that she was about to be taken by her auntie and uncle who abused her. Susan prayed with her that God would rescue her from her situation and the girl was tormented. However, she was chosen to attend Lifeway, but we did not have the names of the children attending the school so we did not know she was there. Well, she ran up to Susan and said, "Do you remember me?" Well of course Susan did, and the girl was telling us that she thanks God so much for rescuing her from having to live with her abusive auntie and uncle, and how the girls in her home were her family!

My heart overflows in thanksgiving for what God has done in these children. I am thankful to be able to take part in this project and bring the Word to these kids, who need it more than anything. I anticipate when they will grow to be adults and be raised up to be the leaders of their country. I long for the day when they will go on and make many disciples and transform their governments and churches into bodies that glorify Christ.

I have noticed that our Zambian brothers and sisters are much more quick to attribute all of the work to the Lord. For example, when Greer commended Bwalyia (he is the principal) for doing an incredible job with the kids, his response was: "Oh, I did nothing, it was all the work of the Lord." And....he MEANT it. He wasn't just giving lip service, his heart was genuine and sincere. I think that it what I love about these people. Just when i think I've got the humility thing down, my fellow believers show me that I need to be giving much more of the credit in my life to Christ.

It is good to praise the Lord
and make music to your name,
O Most High,

to proclaim your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of ten-stringed lyre
and the melody of the harp.

For you make me glady by your deeds,
O Lord;
I sing for joy at the works of your hands
How great are your works, Oh Lord.
How profound are your thoughts!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Mwachoma Bwanji

Mwachoma bwanji (good afternoon)! Today I am writing you from Spar, which is the grocery store here in Zambia. As I sit in this cafe, i can hear at least 4 or 5 different languages being spoken. I love that.

So this week has been full of more preparation for the American volunteers which will be arriving on Saturday. A hand full arrived this morning, but were shipped off immediately to their tour of Victoria Falls. When they return they will be rested and cured of jet lag and ready to give their hearts to the orphans!

Every Sunday, we attend church here in Zambia and this week we went to Lifeline Community Church where my favorite Pator Eddies speaks from the pulpit. Unfortunately, he was not here this week and the associate pastor gave the sermon. He kind of lost me halfway through, but his main message really touched me. The premise was that "if you knew what God had put into the person next to you, you would treat them better than you do."

I started to realize that if I just considered this along with how we are called to love each other as Jesus loved much more fruitful and joyful my life would be. That we are called to encourage and support one another, and if we realized what God wanted to do in each person that we encountered, how much fruitful we as a people would be. We would be spurring each other to our fullest potential. There is definitely not enough of that going around. Just a thought.

I love the Zambian church. It is so alive with spirit. There is acapella singing, there is dancing, there is rejoicing and there is praying aloud...alot of it. It is such a beautiful experience to be able to see another culture worship their God. It is a little glimpse of what heaven will be like when a people from every tribe, tongue and nation come before the throne and worship. Nothing could make my heart more happy.

I am hoping that tomorrow is the day that I will be able to go with one of the Zambian discipleship leaders to the schools. I am very excited to see all of the children, and hear all of their singing again. I want to live a day in the life of one of the Zambians, and be able to take part in it.

I just found out that we will not be returning to the INternational School for camp. A new principle has taken over and he will not allow us to come there because we are a Christian organization and he is an atheist. This is very sad, because the ISL is one of the BEST places to host camp life. Instead we retreat to Nakatendi Hall for then entire summer, in the middle of downtown and it is much smaller. Perhaps the Lord has chosen this as a better place to witness. We will see.

I have noticed that Lusaka is becoming a more prominent place to be. The Zambian money (called Kwacha) is getting a better exchange rate these days, and prices are continuing to rise. I hope that this is a good change and will affect the people of Lusaka, and not just the government.

Last night we met a lady who works with a program that tries to get street kids off the street. The numbers of them are increasing every day and there are more street kids here than ever before. OH, if we could only have the Tree of Life Village built now, so that we would have a place to love and house them. There are so many problems here. The community schools are very poor, the teachers who teach there sometimes only have the equivalent of 3rd or 4th grade education. The children are only able to attend school for a few hours a day, even then you can imagine the quality is very poor. The children are continuously moved from extended relative to extended relative, making it difficult to stay in one place, and therefore one school. Or they are removed from school to go and "work." For girls, that means mostly prostitution and for boys, breaking rocks. Please continue praying with me for these children.

Next week we will be teaching them how to be VICTORIOUS in Christ! Mulungu aku dalise muzanga (God bless you my friend). I love you all, and I hope to be writing again soon!

Mwenda mushi, (go well)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Tasting Nshima

This is the beginning of my zambia 2007 blog journey!

This weekend from Friday to Sunday is a Zambian holiday. Actually, the weekend represents independence for 7 different African nations. Last night many of the local churches in the area held overnight prayer sessions in light of the holiday.

Today there was a preparation/training meeeting for all of the local Zambian volunteers which was held at Mulungushi Conference Center. It was very exciting to be on the other side of Camp Life, and to see how the Zambian volunteers are prepared for what they will experience this summer. I was able to reunite with some of my most favorite Zambian ladies, Doris and Elizabeth as well as nurse Gertrude.

As always, the Zambians never fail to impress with their beautiful singing and powerful prayer. I continue to learn more about how to pray more powerfully and be joyful in any given circumstance. They are amazing, and I love being able to learn from them. This year's theme for Camp is "You are free and victorious in Christ." The idea is that each day we are going to teach the kids a truth that opposes the lies they believe. This year is going to be more amazing than any year previously, and we were able to get excited with the Zambians about the message Christ will bring in 2007! May Jesus name alone be exalted in our work this summer.

Day 1: you are hated...lie
you are loved in Christ...truth
Day 2: you are rejected....lie
you are accepted into the family of Christ.....truth
Day 3: you are worthless....lie
you are significant in Christ...truth
Day 4: you are lost...lie
you are secure in Christ...truth
Day 5: you are VICTORIOUS with Christ in you! Absolute truth, praise God!

You can know when you look in their faces, but Doris made it very personal for me today when she shared about her own personal life. She and her brother are both orphans and despite the fact that their parents have been gone for quite sometime, she says that it is difficult even now because she has no one to look after her or support her. She experiences rejection, feeling lost and hatred everyday. These lies are extremely real for the and it is sometimes hard for me to relate to. Yet I am able to experience some of their sorrow each day and be their light of Christ with encouragement. Doris is one of the most joyful and genuine people I know, always carries a huge smile on her face.

Today, I learned how to eat nshima properly from my friends Paul and Elizabeth. Nshima is also called "mealie meal" and is a type of corn meal made into a mashed potato-like substance. I have tried it before from the market, but it was incredibly salty. Today's nshima was much more tasty and I received double portions thanks to my friend Paul who instructed me to ask for "bevlla," which means "more please." I admit it, he tricked me. It blessed him because I made him eat my leftovers so as not to waste anything. It was all very amusing.

Elizabeth continues teaching me Nyanja and says that my pronunciation is becoming quite good. I love the friends I have made here and so enjoy being able to cherish and spend time with them. After meeting with the Zambians today, I feel that the transition is happening smoothly. When I spend time with them, I remember all of the things that I love about this place and why I come to teach and share the Light within me. To share hope and love with the hopeless, and those who feel they are without love.

I also received some very tragic news about one of my girls from last year. One of the discipleship leaders informed me that she went to the school last week to see the children, and was told to visit the mother of one of my girls (Esther). There she was informed that Esther passed away last week. I don't know much regarding the cause of her death. To be honest, most of her family probably do not know much more either. The burial has already been held, but hopefully I will be able to visit her mother sometime next week and have time to pray with her. I am not sure it that will be possible, but I would like to try. In the meantime, I am praying through how to grieve and cope with the loss of a child I loved so much, but knew only for the weeks that I visited here. In that respect, it makes it very hard to leave again, feeling as if I am abandoning them. I find myself knowing that I am only the planter, and Jesus is responsible for the rest, but this thought doesn't make it easier to cope. My only hope is that this one was reached for Christ before her death. She knew the joy of being in love with Jesus, and I can rejoice in that.

On a hopeful note, I was able to meet Esther Ruth Zulu. I mentioned to several of you a while back that the director of Family Legacy here in Zambia was pregnant. She delivered the baby in December, and I can honestly say that she is the cutest chocolate baby I have ever seen! Extremely mild mannered, and definitely wins the hearts of those who surround her!