I wish words could express feelings. I have had so many strong and amazing revelations since I have been here but each time I sit to write about them my mind is lost for the words to describe them. My mind is reeling, my heart is full, my body is tired and simultaniously stregnthened...
I have been thinking a lot about Thanksgiving with the holiday coming up, and I have always considered it the day to give thanks... Recently I have had so much to be thankful for (I always have had, but have been blind to it). For the past few weeks I feel as though people have just been pouring mercies and kindness on me. I was thinking about the name of the holiday and feel it is more Thanks and Giving than giving thanks. We are given so much, and everything we are given is a gift and so we should be giving just as much back. I am gave up my freedom and car and apartment and job to be here, and people have been giving money and provisions by the boatload. I wanted to have opportunity to give back to some people who give to me even thought they have nothing.
Specifically, Maureen, Enock and Perjuite. They work for James and Megan and as such I am kind of out of their "juristiction". Enock has spent full days putting together my furniture or rewiring my electric so I can have a stove. He gives me advice on how to get away from the callboys and bad men in town, and I know he truly cares for me. Perjuite makes a point every single day to ask me how my day was and he watches over me and keeps me safe at night. Maureen has been a freind to me- she gives me advice, teaches me, helps me, protects me, and watches out for me. I opened my door yesterday morning to see her sweeping my doorstep.... She has been an example of giving,strength and hard work.
Although Thanksgiving is an American holiday, I've asked them to join me on that day for a meal and fellowship. I have never made a Thanksgiving meal before, but I will be away from my family and they have accepted me into their respective families and so I wanted to spend the day with them. I want them to relax and eat what I made for them as a token of my appreciation. A while ago I heard through the grapevine that Maureen had run out of Mealie and they were eating only bread. I took Richard and Mwansa to lunch and on the way home bought a bag of mealie. Maureen told me I shouldn't have done that and when I asked why she said "because I don't want you to run out of money buying things for us and then you'd have to go home." I explained to her that God gives to us and calls us to give to eachother, so while I am technically not "paid" while I'm here, I have been blessed and I fully intend to pass those blessings on to everyone else. We are provided for, especially when we are doing God's work. Today her hotplate stopped working so I gave her mine. God provided me with an oven last week, just in time for me to pass on my blessing to her. She has been such an example to me and I want to show her the same graces she has shown me.
At the begining of this week, I was babysitting the Williamsons and sort of set "in charge". We had a good time and I was so glad to see Megan and James get a break to recoup and rejuvinate. It was odd to have Enock, a grown man, come ask me for permission to do things. It is strange to be so close to the class separation in this culture. In the states, I'd respect and answer to him because he is a man and older than me. Here, he "answered" to me because I am white and have more money than him. We had a good time nonetheless and the rains began Monday night. We had a crazy thunderstorm Monday and Tuesday night which brought these big bugs (which I learned are flying termites). In the morning Richard and Mwansa were running around collecting them by the hundreds. They laid them out to dry all day and that night they cooked them and ate them- litterally manna had fallen from the sky. They offered them to me but I politely declined (no need to be THAT giving... ;) ) They showed me how the inside was white like a cockroach and the outside was "nice and crunchy"... no, but thank you SO much.... :)
On thursday we went to Kabanana and found that the Dakas and the Mbare/Mwamba/Zimba family were not home. It is a holiday for most kids and all the children were out with freinds and playing.
As for the Dakas, they are preparing for a memorial service for a teenage son and father died within a month of eachother last year. In the compounds where they live it is customary to have a huge feast and singing/prayer all through the night the day of the death. Being steeped in a Catholic background, they will be having the Catholic choir come sing and pray the men "into Heaven". I pray for the children, and their mother that they would see the error of this practice and learn what true salvation isa nd also it is a difficult time and they are grieving.
We found the Mbare/Mwamba/Zimba house closed and locked. The children were out playing with freinds. Thier mother left at the beginning of last week to go to another town and they have not seen her since. She could be gone for some time- leaving these small children to fend for themselves. Megan and I went to Kabanana again this morning, for reasons explained in the next paragraph, and we found Christian there home alone cooking his breakfast on a hot plate. He was supposed to be at the school building but told us he wasn't there because his trousers were dirty... Megan mentioned later "Of course- because little boys are not made to remember to wash their trousers and be ready for school or cook their own breakfast... that is what mothers are for..." Please pray that their mother will come home and will take care of her children. They are left alone for weeks at a time and Memory is very sick- it just isn't right. In terms of Christian himself though- he was VERY happy and talkative. We have had trouble getting him to speak and he had seemed so depressed and down for months- but we learned today that he knows more english than we thought and was very polite and happy spirited. It may have been the fact that noone else was around and he was happy to have this special visit all to himself. I said to Megan "I honestly didn't know if he had teeth or not!" I can't say I've ever seen him smile before today. That was very heartwarming and encouraging.
Lastly we went to the Tembo home. I wish I could describe it in any way that could bring you the feeling I got. There was such an air of depression and sadness clouded over the house and in the room. Wisdom could barely lift his eyes to look at us and as they spoke, smiling looked painful. The entire family was home. I asked everyone why there weren't out playing and no one answered. Their bodies looked frail and weak and they just.... they were so sad. Their mother has been very ill and is knocking on deaths door. She refuses to take medication and will soon leave this world and her four children with nothing. After we left it finally came out that they have not eaten for around two weeks. Fanny said she has brought them what she can- but it was small and mainly for the sick ones. Their family was starving and I asked why we hadn't been informed of this and they said that the family was embarrassed and they thought the giving was for school only. If I had a car I would have gone right then and got them food- but using the public transportation with the sun setting it was unreasonable. I came home and told Megan and we immediately made a plan to get food this morning and bring it to them. Maureen made a list of what they would need, and Megan and I went today to buy the items and bring them food. I am happy to say they now have plenty to last them quite some time. Megan and I tried to explain that while we are primarily giving for school- we need them to be healthy and fed as well. My heart broke knowing that Memory and Nathan had their hardest week of testing this week and no food. When we dropped it off we stayed only for a short time (they were hungry, and Zambians don't just sit around and eat in front of other people, so we made it quick) and their mother thanked us many times and simply said "This is truly the work of God". How true that is. Pray for the mother (Alice), that she will relent and take medication and perhaps prolong her life to take care of her children. Pray for Memory and Nathan as they have one more week of exams (Memory ends the 11th and Nathan the 10th). Pray for the whole family to gain physical stregnth and health and as they do that their spiritual heath will multiply.
We are still looking for a house to rent to use for food, education and ministry to the children. We want to be able to connect with them, minister to them and feed them physically but most importantly spiritually. We need these kids to be taken care of and off the streets. Pray that we will find a house and soon (Rainy season has begun and it is difficult to find anything decent this time of year) and that we will have wisdom concerning the best place and items to buy.
Also, pray for Maureen and Fanny These women assist us in the ministry every week. I walk arm in arm with them each Thursday and hear their concerns and troubles in the walks from one house to the other. On more than one occasion they have defended me from innapropriate men and treat me as a sister. They are giving their time and money to children who have little more than their children have. Fanny told me this week that her husband was away and she was home with her two children when theives tried to break in. They couldnt get in and so they stole whatever they could reach- her curtains. She said at one point she was looking the man in the face and he was looking in hers as they litterally played tug of war with her curtain. What a strong woman. One of the concerns for them is that in being seen walking with me each week, and when seeing the white people come in and out when Megan comes monthly they become a target for theives, robbers, and ridicule and persecution. Maureen has been called a satanist and Fanny even worse, because of their faithfulness and assistance to us in this ministry. It is a very different thing to have the colour of your skin bring pain or suffering to your friend. I feel helpless.
Right now what is on my heart is getting a car. When I see a situation like the one on Thursday... how much easier it could have been to hop in the car, buy food and bring it back, but instead I was helpless again and at the mercies of public transportaition and the setting sun. Also, I am begining to get concerned about my ability to reach them during the rainy season. During very hard rains and storms we wont be able to walk around Kabanana (another reason both the house and car are necessities). I also would like to be able to get to more youth meeting, Bible studies, and church but I am at the mercy of the Williamson's availability (which I am very thankful for- they've made it a point to be available to me whenever possible and often I'm sure it is quite inconvenient but they've have been extremely generous), I'm also at the mercy of the availability of freinds to pick me up or ride the bus with me. It is a strain and extra expense for these freinds and for the Williamsons to be "responsible" for me. Not to mention how much more often I could go to Ndola if I had transportation.
Today Richard was very disruptive and rude in class. It was hot, and nothing was getting done and I went home afterwards very frustrated. A knock came on the door and it was Richard. Without saying anything else, he asked me simply if I would forgive him. I said of course I would and gave him a wink ( we have a special wink... :) ). Before he walked away he mumbled something under his breath. I asked him what he said and he mumbled again. Finally I said "Oh for crying out loud, Richard, what is it?" He looked at me and asked "Do you still love me?"
I was dumbfounded. How often do we sin and fall short of the glory of God and yet we ask for forgiveness and it is given without hesitation, and we ask Him, "Do you still love me" and the answer is an immovable and unchanging "YES!".