Saturday, June 16, 2007

George Compound

There is just not enough time in the day here to do everything that I want to, and part of that includes emailing you all individually. I want you to know that I have received all of the emails, and they are blessing me. Please keep sending me stories from home. I am sorry if I have not resonded, forgive me.

Thursday was community day, and I am so thrilled to be sharing my experience with you. I traveled to George compound, and the community school we are involved with there is called Jesus Cares George. They are a new school which has never before worked with Family Legacy for Camp Life.

Some of the roads the bus traveled on were exactly the size of the bus so that we were brushing shopkeepers stands as we drove by. It was a little scary, I am always afraid they are going to hit someone. When the bus arrived at the school, there were probably about 100 people standing around. We briefly prayed, and then the kids were off to boldy proclaim the freedom offered through Christ.

I couldn't possibly have enough time or room to share everything, but what I do know is that George is one of the most poverty stricken areas in Lusaka. The need for the gospel there is so unbelievable, and so raw and genuine. Every home that we visited people were eager and ready to hear the words of Christ, and when we were finished people were standing in line for us to come and talk to them. One man who was so drunk he could barely walk approached us and said, "I want to accept Jesus." Then the children prayed for him and went through the evangecube and this grown man just began weeping....right there!

I can't tell you how many times this happened, over and over. The people of these communities are desperate for the love and power of Jesus Christ. They LOVE the evangecubes! It's funny to me, that this is a tool that probably many Americans would make fun of. But to these people, it is essential. It is a perfect visual of the story of Christ, and to have children explaining it is very powerful because usually not much value is placed upon them.

We talked to entire families! People began weeping in the streets. Now, I know that others on our team did not have similar experiences, so I know that the Lord was paving our way and blessing us with opportunities. I have never experienced anything like this, even when I have come before. We were truly blessed.

Amongst the poverty, the death, destruction, struggles, injustices....I'll tell you, there is something that the people have very right here. The NEED for Jesus. I feel so incredibly at home here. Literally, when we are in town, tons of people walk up to us and want to know what it is we are doing here. We have connected with so many people. God is powerfully at work here, and I am so blessed to be a part of it.

I wish I could write of each encounter that we had today, but I am running to meet my friend Raphael for coffee. I am so happy that I have been able to write as often as I have. I still have a cough, but my spirit is well, and I am encouraged. Please continue praying for the new group of children that will come this week, and please pray for me that the message of freedom in Christ would indeed free my own soul in Christ. That the same bondages we are breaking the children of would also be broken in me. ANd PLEASE continue praying for direction and leading from the Lord. I don't know what His plan for me is, but I know that it is big and I am feeling more confidence that He may be calling me here longer term. I love you all!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Story of a Boy Part 2

Yesterday was the last day that I had to go to Matero to see the little boy whom I was giving penicillin injections. Every day that we have gone the family has invited us into their home and we were able to visit and share the gospel for about an hour or a little more. On several occassions, there were 4 or 5 people from the community who came to the house to also listen to the gospel. Even the little children stay inside to hear us read the Word of God.

You know, sometimes when you hear the message of Jesus for the first time, you just want to hear more. So that's what we did, we shared more and more, and everyone in the place listened intently. It turns out that the little boy's name is Christopher. He had told me at camp that his name was James, but that is in fact his older brother. The entire time that I have been seeing him, he has said about one word to me. He's very shy and I'm not sure what is going on with him, but he just sits in my lap and allows me to hold him the entire time I am there. Did I mention that he is one of the cutest little 6-year olds I have ever seen? Well, then again, they all are.

I hope to be able to post some pictures soon, but I have not yet had an opportunity. Christopher missed picture day so he didn't get a "snap" like all of his brothers (who also came to camp). So while I was there, I took a picture with him and his entire family and at some point this summer will get it to him so that he can hang it up on the wall. They were discussing trying to save some money in order to get a picture frame for it. So sweet!

On another note, some really crazy things have been happening at camp. I can tell you that this year is far more powerful than any other year that I have been. As you know, our theme is "victorious in Christ." Our sub-theme is "breaking the chains in Zambia." Let me just tell you, digging deep into the lives of these children and praying for the chains that are binding them to be broken....Satan is not happy. Several people have been witnesses to releasing demons, and although I have never personally witnessed this, I can tell you that it is very real here in Zambia. The number of children that are plagued by nightmares of eating raw meet, drinking blood, and being brought to a graveyard is phenomenal. Some children confess that they feel like someone is tugging at their throat and not allowing them to speak, or choking them, and they have physical marks on their bodies! I tell you, I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't witnessed it for myself.

The exciting thing is that God really is breaking the bondage that these children are in, and I have seen some very powerful acts of God here. It is scary, and exciting all at the same time. I would love to write to you more later, but I have to get some zzzzzz's now. As always, I love you all and am so happy that you are traveling this journey with me!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Oddities of Zambia

Bats....there are bats....everywhere! I here them all the night long, squeaking. They sound like child or dog toys.

Oh, and here in Zambia, the police can take you to jail for no reason at all. A week or so ago one of our drivers was harassed by the police. The police don't have to give you a reason for why they chose you, but then they start asking for money and you are demanded to give it to them. If you don't have it, you go to jail. If you do have it, they take it and then you go to jail. Crazy I tell you.

Oh, and tonight...the students were rioting outside of our compound because the government had not given them their lunch allowances. I'm not kidding. To top it all off, as punishment the city cut off the water to supply to the village so we now have no water. I'm really not joking about this...oh my goodness how different things are here!

In addition, today while we were having camp a former presidential candidate showed up with his political party to convene for a meeting. Nakatendi Hall had overbooked. This man's name is Sata and from what I can tell he is a very prideful man. They came in and started making all kinds of noise while we were having a teaching time for all of the teachers of each school. We were kind enough to move our meeting outside, but I stayed in to work with Adrian on a project. Sata's assistant demanded that Adrian and I come to speak with him. I informed him that we were in the middle of a project and could not be disturbed (really I was buying time to find Moses Zulu the FLMZ director). He looked very put out by this, but I didn't really care. He began yelling at one of the girls in my villa. He told her, "Why are you teaching these orphans about Jesus? They don't need Jesus, they need food."

I just wanted to tell him that I had witnessed what Jesus has done in the lives of these kids. In fact, I've personally witnessed that spiritual food is better for the child than physical food. Many of the children come crying that their stomachs ache after eating (because they are full). Now they definitely NEED the food, but physical food doesn't fulfill the child or make the children happy. Being loved in Christ does!

I've seen the boy with the burned/stoned finger again everyday since I last wrote to you. Everyday we have gone to give him injections and share the Word with his family. It's fascinating to me. People from all over the community come freely to here the teachings of Christ. Even the children are fixated on the teaching. No one talks, they just listen. It's like they are craving to here more. Then, when we are finished they will ask their questions.

Please continue praying for me. My health is not good, I am fighting off a cough and some respiratory issues. I think it's due to the pollution and dust here, as many others are experiencing the same. This happens to me every year, and my spirit is good. I just need prayers for energy and healing. Being closer to the equator and higher in elevation is causing many of the Americans to feel nauseous and drained of energy. Pray for our team. I have to run quickly and get to bed early for some much needed rest. I love you all!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Story of a Boy

The first week of camp is officially over and I have so much to report that all I will say is...God never fails to amaze me. There are so many ways that God showed His glory and power that you will just have to ask me about them when I return.

What I want to tell you about this evening is the experience that I had today. On Wednesday, a little boy named Christopher came to see Gertrude and I at the nurse's station. His right pinky finger had been severely burned and was completely full of pus. It looked terrible. There was a big blister that had popped and pus was oozing everywhere. I want to be graphic because I want you to understand what it is that I saw. He reported that his friend had shoved his finger in a fire, but even that story could be false. You wouldn't believe me if I told you the lack of information that is available in this place.

So, Wednesday was his frist day to come to camp. We treated his finger and informed him that he needed to come back to see us. Thursday was shoe day, so it was to crazy to even see children at the nurse's station, so today we found James. His finger looked worse, pus was still oozing everywhere and wreaked of infection. Now, our nurse's station is strictly basic, cleaning and treating minor wounds, tylenol and advil for headaches, etc.

I knew immediately that I could do nothing for him. Luckily there is a clinic right down the street and I received permission from Greer to take him to the clinic. Gertrude and I took him to the clinic where we received some antibiotics and treatment for worms as well as some painkillers...all for the cost of $1.00! And yet still, no one bothers to take this child to the clinic! The depravity of these children is extraordinary. The nurse at the clinic told me that he would need to be getting penicillin injections for the next 5 days and that he would need to come to the clinic. Well of course, how am I supposed to make sure that his caregivers take him? This woman was extremely gracious and agreed to give me all of the shots so that I could go to Christopher's home and give them to him. Afterwards Gertrude informed me that this was extremely rare, and that God had blessed us through the nurse.

This afternoon, we traveled to his house (which involved alot of walking) to give his father instructions on giving him the medication. All the while we were walking, 40 or so kids just followed us around. I kept picking them up and holding them, greeting them in Nyanja (which they love) and loving them. When we finally arrived to Christopher's home, we met his father who is sick with Malaria. I spoke to him in the brief Nyanja that I knew and then Gertrude and Paul helped to translate. He warmly invited us into his home and informed us that Christopher had told him about the enitre day. He thanked us for what we had done. I gave him some instructions on how to give the medication and asked if I could come each day to give Christopher the injections. He kindly agreed and then we sat around and shared the Good News of Christ. We explained to him that in Christ he was loved, that he was accepted into God's family, secure if he believes faithfully, and that Christ offers freedom!

The expression on the man's face instantly changed from sadness to joy! He said that he wanted to have all of those things and Paul led him in prayer. We then offered to pray over him for his health and he accepted. The man thanked us repeatedly and said that he was looking forward to seeing us tomorrow.

This experience was beautiful for me. The teachers of the school came with us to the house, and they were able to witness Christians carrying out the word of God and they informed us that they were changed by their experience at camp this week. It was a joyful experience for all, and I love communing with people in the communities. I wish I could convey to you what it was like to be here, and travel all of the dusty dirt roads to seek out those who are hurting. Somehow this is wonderful to me, and the Lord continues to bless me extravagantly!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Community Schools

Mwachoma Bwanji! (Good afternoon)

Well, today is the second day of camp and I can honestly say that after being an administrator for two days, I have never given enough thanks and credit to those in full time ministry. It is tough. There are so many people to please, and so many great ideas that theory. Practically those ideas are a nightmare. :) The Lord is definitely growing me and stretching me and I am glad for it.

Last Friday I was able to tag along with two of the discipleship leaders (Innocent and Naomi) to visit three of the community schools that are here for camp this week; Jesus Army, Restoration, Swesta, Ibex Hill, and Bethel. We went out to the schools to distribute tyvex, the paper arm band that all of the children must have on to come to camp life. Attendance at camp is based upon school attendance so that the discipleship leaders can follow up with the kids year round. Though some other children show up around the time of camp because they know it is coming, they are not allowed to come. Camp life is an incentive for school attendance and the discipleship leaders go to each school every day.

When we showed up we were invited to the small 8X8 room that was called the director's office. We greeted one another and then gave instructions on tyvex (remember last year some of the director's were selling them to community children to make money for themselves, very sad situation). After we were finished, we walked into several of the classrooms to visit the children. Innocent was the first to walk in and oh my goodness the children were so excited right away. They started yelling, Uncle Innocent, Uncle Innocent! Then Allan (another summer staffer) and I walked in and the kids went wild. As I have been practicing my Nyanja, I spoke a few sentences to them and they all laughed. They were taken off guard that I was able to speak Nyanja and absolutely love it when you try to speak their language. It also sounds funny because their accent is so different, although my Zambians tell me that my pronunciation is quite good. I am very happy to be able to have an extended period of time to learn and practice the language. The sounds are completely different from English.

I was so amazed that each school we went to, there was a similar reaction. You can tell that the children ADORE the discipleship leaders, and I know why. All of them are unflappable! They are full of love, patience, kindness and big smiles. They all are such a joy to be around and I am so very blessed by their presence. There are more Americans than ever this year, but I find myself wanting to spend more time in community with the Zambians. I have so much to learn from them, and they have such beautfiul spirts, always giving the glory to God for everything. I am very encouraged when I spend time with them.

So as we went around to the schools I realized what a special time it is for the kids when they are able to come to camp. Their faces light up when we talk about camp. We travel in blue, volkswagon type vans that are labeled "His Bus". When the children saw us arriving, they all began chanting "his bus, his bus, his bus." When we walked into the classroom, they all began singing camp life songs.

I just cannot tell you how overjoyed I am to be here, to love these kids, to love these people. I am so thankful for God's provision in my life and for the amazing opportunity to experience community with my Zambian brothers and sisters. I have so much more to say, but my time is limited. I hope to be able to write to you soon regarding the first days of Camp! Nikukonda (I love you). Tizaounana Mailo (see you later).