Wednesday, November 2, 2011

When God closes one door....

Well, this week I have both sad news and great news. I'll start with the sad because it leads into the good..

We will no longer be sponsoring Harrington. As you know if you've been keeping up with emails and blogs, he was really struggling with a stutter, some disabilities and falling behind in school. We had a meeting with him 2 weeks ago, where he promised to go back to school and be giving it his best effort. Later that week, we went to the school and found out he had not attended a SINGLE DAY in October. He also never went back after the meeting. We went again yesterday to the school to check on his progress and they told us he quit. He has since moved out and is living with an elder sister 30 minutes away. I drove there with Maureen and Fanny and we sat down with him again trying to emphasize the consequences of this decision. He simply refuses to go back. It was heartbreaking to see this process of him pulling away... and know we have done everything we can and he is done.

It's hard to deal with a situation like this, but I have to remember that an organization like ours rarely has a 100% success rate, no matter how much we want it to. We had to cut off Memory (Tembo) as well, when she had her baby- and I am sure Harrington won't be the last but I am sure it will never get easier. We will continue to pray for him and I hope he realizes his mistake and finds the means to get back to school in the future.

When we went to his old school, they told us they could not give us our money back since he had come spiradically at the beginning of the term. They did offer us the option, however, of placing someone else to fill the void. We decided to let Protasho take his place. We brought him and Patrick to meet the administration and tour the school so they knew where to go and it was so funny to see them smoothing their hair, buttoning their shirts and wiping the dust from their shoes to make a good impression. Protasho was almost shaking and was saying "Madame, specs- on or off?" He wanted to make sure he looked the part of a school boy- it's been a long time! While we were in the office,  they said they would test them for placement next year.

I was SO NERVOUS and immediately felt sick. They have been working SO HARD since January. We litterally started with ABC's and 123's- and were on conjunctions and superlatives etc within 5 months. It's been a long and tiring journey and they are by no means 100% so I was in a cold sweat wondering how they'd perform. It was obvious they were nervous. At one point, I linked my arm in Protasho's armaand as soon as I did that, he CLINCHED my arm in and would not let go until the entire meeting was over. Normally, he would have smiled and then shook me off... no 16 year old boy wants their "mom" hanging on them when they're trying to make a good impression! So for him to be holding on to me for dear life, I knew he needed the support. They did slip up on a few simple things but the headmaster said he could see the fire in their eyes, and if I was to be tutoring them all year he would place them in...


GRADES FIVE AND SIX! I almost had a heart attack!! I am SO proud of them and I know they will give it their all. They looked shocked themselves and I think it actually scares Protasho to death but with this placement to fill Harringtons spot, he'll get a feel for school and get back into the swing of things before the real school year starts in January. They also offered us the oportunity to place Patrick in grade 4 for the rest of this term for around 20$ just to give Protasho moral support and also get him back in school mode. We left and immediately got them backpacks and notebooks as well as socks and shoes. I was doing well until we arrived at their house and they got out both toting heir backpacks and turned around to wave goodbye. They are out of my hands now and in real school... the tears started then and start flowing again every time I think about it.

Also, we have SIX Baptisms coming up on Sunday! I am leaving for Ndola on Friday, but we'll be heading back Sunday morning to make it back in time for the baptisms that will actually be held in the Williamsons pool. I am really looking forward to that.

As much as I have setbacks and heartaches and worries all year with these kids... I look at this week as an example of God's unltimate grace and control. Protasho and Patrick's success represents the many educational triumph's we've had over the year with all of the kid's improvements and battles and overcoming their own personal trials and difficulties to do what they have to do. The pool party with our 50 "family" members  represents the growth and sustainability God has granted us in our work. These baptisms represent and MAJOR part of our ministry- the spiritual aspect and the fact that 6 are being baptised is so huge and so powerful it shows that we are reaching more than their brains. Through God's grace Fanny and Curtis and our ministry are reaching their hearts and most importantly their souls.

I have huge hopes for next year. I am excited for my trip home for the month of December, but I am equally excited to get BACK and get more kids and just spread this work as far as God allows with the means we have. I have said it a million times and I'll say it a million more. I am PROUD to be a part of this work, and GOD is here- right in the middle of all of it. There is no place I'd rather be and no job I'd ever choose above this one.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Remember the way Joseph cries even when he's singing.

Last night I had a dream that Megan and James had a reminder board in their office and each week we put up a sentance that reminded us of why we are here. In my dream, on this imaginary board was written:

"Remember the way Joseph crys even when he's singing."

I woke up with tears streaming down my face at 3 AM. The truth is, Joseph IS sad. He lost his father and his brother in the same year. He lives in extreme poverty. He looks depressed. He's a little tiny boy, and his only freind is a grown blind man who comes and sits on their porch. He doesnt laugh and play with the other kids, he sits with this man and they talk... or don't talk. He doesnt smile. He's sad.

These kids have real struggles and real heartache that I never knew when I was growing up. Heartache I still don't know and I am a grown woman. They have pain inside of them, but they also have the love of God inside of them too, and each one of them has a chance, through our guidance and care, to find that hope and that joy and that peace in Christ.

Sometimes they do things that irritate me. Sometimes they do things that dissapoint me. Sometimes they make the wrong choices, or their guardian makes the wrong choice but I refuse to give up on them because no matter how hard headed I am and how much I make the wrong choice, God has never given up or walked away from me.

These kids, all of them, consume my life. My wheels are always turning. I find myself thinking of Everlyn when I am making breakfast or worrying about Barbara when I am driving or laughing at something Christian said when I am washing the kitchen floor or tearing up at night knowing that they are all going to sleep on the floor or the dirty ground or on inch thick foam mattresses....I am struck with guilt as I realize I have more than one pillow and then I fall asleep coming up with plans how to get them beds. How to get them more soap. How to get their guardians pots and pans... how to take care of them more... Then I think about their neighbors and the kids I give high fives to when I'm driving the older boys to school.

I don't count sheep. I count needs.

I just feel helpless in the MAGNITUDE of need- that is utterly indescribable.

I decided to make one of these reminder boards, but I realized I was immediately flooded by a thousand things I don't want to forget. I'll think of a new one each week and impliment this idea in my dream, but here are a few that came to mind right away:::::

I don't want to ever forget what Amos's face looked like as he buried his face in his new blanket and grabbed up his bag of soap and blanket and mosquito net like he just won the lottery.

I don't want to ever forget his sister putting her head down in her lap and just saying over and over: "awe, awe AWE" ("no, no, no") in disbelief that we were giving him shoes, a mosquito net, hygiene products AND a new blanket- it would be months and months and months of work for her husband to be able to afford all that and it was in their hands all in one day.

I don't want to ever forget the feeling of pain but also love and sisterhood when we told James and Mary's cousin we were sorry her baby died this weekend. It was her first born. When I saw him last week he was the size of my forearm and was only taking shallow short breaths and Fanny told me it didn't have long... she was right.

I don't want to ever forget how EVERY morning, without fail- Protasho and Patrick walk up to my car, I roll down the window, they shake my hand and say "Morning Madame", I say "Morning  guys" and then they say "Madame, we missed you." and get in the car. Every school day since January.

I dont ever want to forget the way Annie smiles.

I don't ever want to forget Richard and Maurice riding the bike Reece bought him for Christmas last year down the road. They never knew they'd meet when he bought that bike and to see them riding together laughing and smiling without a care in the world.... was amazing.

I never want to forget the way the kids get so excited when I pop in on them unexpectedly. Like today when I saw Philip at home and he specifically thanked me "Thank you for coming to visit me, Miss Kat.", or how Nathan asks me to "surprise" him at work or how Barbara begs me to come to church every Sunday- and when I do it, they act so happy and proud.

I never want to forget the once a month text messages from Kaumba. "Hello Miss Kat. We just wanted to greet you and tell you thank you again for everything, and we will see you soon. May God greatly bless you." Every month, always the same message but with different wording. He has taught me a lot about gratitude.

I never want to forget my first English conversation with Mary's grandma, Veronica. Last week, we joked in Nyanja about holding all our meetings with her in "Chizungu" or: English. She laughed and laughed cause she doesn't know a lick of English. Today she came up to me and said "Hello, how are you? How are you feeling?" with her coarse hand in mine, and still a bit shocked I said, "I am feeling fine, how are YOU feeling?" she said: "I am feeling very well thank you" and then broke out in a LAUGH that should be bottled and sold.... She apparently did her homework and she was as proud as a peacock.

I never want to forget the way Harrington cried on Tuesday. These kids need love.

I never want to forget Patrick begging me to teach him the song "This is the day the Lord has Made". He sings it under his breath all day.

I never want to forget the day we were so tired in class, and everyone was so hot and so worn out we decided to have a fly killing contest instead of doing math. The kids thought it was the coolest thing ever and still talk about it today.

I never want to forget the way Richard always makes me gifts and presents and hides them places- he made me a necklace out of straws and a matchbox car, another out of a rusty key and grass, clay figurines, and once he ever decorated my kitchen with flowers.

I never want to forget who Morgan used to be and how clearly I can see the change between then- and who he is as a Christian.

I never want to forget the meeting we had to announce the business startup with the guardians. The joy and gratitude was tangible and powerful. Writing this now, I have this bubbly feeling in my stomach just remembering the atmosphere.

I never want to forget how overwhelmed I was swallowing tears the first time I sat in the Tembo's house. I am there all the time now, and it's become very familiar- so I don't want to ever become numb to their situation.

I never want to forget Peggy's house. It's impossible to accurately depict it using words or even pictures. I was there, sitting on the floor and talking with her mother today. The claustrophobia, the smells, the feeling of the flies all over me, the realization that if I had stretched my legs I would have been touching both walls at once- the dead rat on the ground outside the door, the flea, tick and disease infested dog laying next to their laundry, the fact that my brain started trying to calculate at which angle on the dirty floor her mother must lay in order to fit horizontally at night... not to mention with four children in there.... the fact that she has not lived anywhere except that miniscule room in 30 years.... thirty years.....

I never want to forget what a crowd of kids screaming BYE BYE BYE when we leave looks like. They all need what we are giving their neighbors. It hurts.

I never want to forget Tisa's confidence when she sings in front of the whole group. She has a slight stutter and is VERY shy and soft spoken but as soon as you ask her to lead a gospel song she turns into Mariah Carey.

I never want to forget Barbara's "strut" the first time she got her hair braided.

I never want to forget seeing Mpando run. It was painful to watch him limp around just walking, and it was amazing to see him run for the first time with all the other kids after he got his corrective shoes.

I never want to forget the day Maggie made me a meal to say thank you for taking her to the clinic when she had pox. It was disgusting  and I can still taste the sour milk on my tounge but I ate it happily, and I am greatful for that meal still today.

I never want to forget the fact that Fanny has these kids in her home every day. She comes with me and Maureen every day when we make our rounds doing various things. She goes out of her way to assist, and translate, and relate, and WORKS... and she does not make a dime. The heart she has for these kids is the heart any ministry worker needs, and I look up to her and strive to model her attitude and generosity. God will give her what she deserves- if not in this lifetime then the next. She will wear a crown of solid gold.

I never want to forget the way Prisca's hand feels inside mine.

I never want to forget how strong Maureen is. She is a single parent, living in a compound, facing illness and she takes it all in stride and gives what she can. She makes it work when many in her situation would give up.

I never want to forget the joy Lawrence has depsite the fact he is facing the odds. All the odds.

I never want to forget Geofrey's humility. He came to us at age 20, asking for a shot at making a life for himself. He is struggling through grade 8, but he is more determined and more of a man than many I have met in my life.

I could keep writing these for hours. It's good to remind yourself why you do what you do.

"For the needy will not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor will never perish." Psalm 9:18

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

There is no doubt in my mind, these kids are a gift.

It has been another busy week here. Last week, in addition to teaching, Maureen, Fanny and I went through bags of clothes that were Megan's kids. We then went out and bought more so that we could have each child having two full outfits. Then we went out and distributed the clothes to the new families and had some time to visit wit them again.

It is always so great to see the different reactions when we give a gift, especially one as substantial as this. Amos came in and kneeled on the ground to greet us, as is the custom. Fanny handed him the bag and he smiled SO BIG and then JUMPED up and ran out of the room. I think he was embarrassed cause he was so excited and didn't really know what to do. When we gave James his bag- he wouldn't open it  but was desparately trying to see through the bag. We asked him to take a walk with us and he looked so torn between his gift and us, and finally came..... bag safely clutched behind his back. He was NOT letting that thing go!!

On Monday, after teaching in the morning, Maureen Fanny and I went shopping for HOURS searching for the cheapest mosquito nets. Unfortunately, they are not cheap and we couldn't find them for less than about 10 bucks each. We bought them so all the families now have a net, and we also got all the food for Saturdays pool party (we went from having 20 people to cook for to almost 50 when you include us staff and all the W's!) We also got each family laundry soap, soap bars and from donations we recieved I was able to also include hand sanitizer, socks, chewable multivitamins,  toothbrushes, toothpaste, lip balm and some sweets.

Tuesday again I taught in the morning and then  we went out to shop for shoes. We got all of the new kids pairs of shoes which was great. After that, we went to Tisa's older sisters house to talk to Harrington. He has become very discouraged in school because he has a speech impediment (a bad stutter) and he has fallen behind on his reading because if it. He was getting to a point of not wanteing to go to school because he might get called on to read out loud and get laughed at. It was painful to be there and see him try to explain how he was feeling. The more he tried to explain it to us, the less he could finish his sentance and he became very frustrated and depressed and just started crying and having shortness of breath. We talked to him for a long time, reassuring him and letting him know I would take him out of his tutoring group and give him separate personalized tutoring. It was a long and emotionally/physically tiring day.

I am really looking forward to my trip home. I definately love what I do and I am happy to do it for as long as God gives me breath but the work has piled up and with such few staff and the amount of work to be done it can become overwhelming. I look forward to the break.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

200% growth increase= 3x the work, and loving every minute.

Well it was yet again another month since my last blog. These past two months have been a fluster of activity and political activity and all sorts of other things.

In September, there were elections. I can say, I have never seen or heard anything like that in my entire life. People were stampeding and mobing in the streets (I got caught in TWO in Chipata) and there were rocks thrown, fires set and people beated. Police came in with teargas in some areas to control the situations. Luckily, our little neighborhood was quite quiet. I was off work for some time while the violence was going on (it was worst in town and in the compounds, where I usually work from) but I was keeping up with what was going on outside my little fenced in world here through news, radio and friends. The opposition, Micheal Sata, won, and there was a TEN hour celebration of cars, parades and people screaming and yelling in the streets (it started at 12:30 in the morning and ended well into the next day). Our kids in Ndola were on "lockdown" for a bit, as police were dealing with vioolence and set off teargas bombs in the streets- and everyone was instructed to stay in with their windows and doors locked.

Luckily, everyone was safe and life has continued on. I have since gone back to teaching and am still steadily working with the boys. One morning, Protasho came to school wearing a hat and said "Madame, my head is not good." He took off the hat to revel all the hair and a good chunk of his skin missing, in an open pink wound. What had happened, was that some drunk men were arguing over political issues and knocked over a bottle of oil that was on sale at Protasho's mom's business- and it shattered. Protasho stood up to them telling them they had to pay for it. They began to beat him, and then threw rocks at his head when he was down. He had 4 stitches, but is healing quite nicely now and the hair is growing back in. I felt so bad for him, but so proud that he was "man" enough to stand up to the men.

Their school is going well, but I believe Protasho has a lot of the learning disabilities as Barbara. Patrick will understand something at a grade 5 level in two tries, and it takes Protasho about 2 weeks to get the same concept... and if we don't review each day he has lost it in a week. This is frustrating for him, as Patrick is 3 years younger than him.

Mutale had been coming for tutoring also, and we were considering sponsoring him in the next year. Unfortunately, on Monday he came to class drunk and was fighting with Protasho. We had to let him go from our program because of breaking the rules. I feel bad but he clearly wasnt focused and serious and there are so many kids out there who need our help.

Speaking of which- we have added EIGHT new kids!!!! That gives us a new total of 30 kids!! Many people like to read a short bio of the kids, so here they are: (check facebook for photos coming shortly)

James Stambuli was born in November of 2001. He is the youngest of three children. His mother died of HIV in January, 2004, and his father died the same year of HIV in December. When his parents died, James was often extremely sick so his grandmother, who had become is guardian, took him for an HIV test, for which he was found to be positive. His white blood count was so low that he was immediately put on ARV medication and has been on them since. He has been going to a free community school and is performing extremely poorly due to lack of resources, crowded classrooms of 70 or more kids, and also frequent absences due to his sickness. He struggles to complete grade 1 level, even though he is technically in grade 3. He lives with his grandparents, and 5 cousins whom the grandparents also look after. We are also sponsoring his cousin, Mary who lives with him. He is a very smiley boy and seems to want to do well and succeed. His living condition is simple. The family shares one bed and it is a small space for 7 people to fit in. We will be placing James in a closer school (his is quite far considering his health) at grade 3 and offer him advanced tutoring to get him caught up to his peers.

Mary Banda is a single orphan, living with her grandparents. Her father died in 2005, and her mother is still living and lives close by but does not take care of her children. Occasionally the mother is said to do bits of work but it does not pay for food, clothing or any other fees for the children. She lives with 7 people made up of herself, her grandparents and other siblings and cousins. She has a brother in high school, and another who failed out of grade 7 and never went back She herself has never been to school. We are sponsoring her cousin from under the same roof, James, who is HIV+. She shares a bed with all those in the home and her living situation is quite cramped and sad, as her mother is not taking care of her and her grandmother is stretched between 5 kids. She likes girly things and when we met her she was in a bright pink nightgown with clips in her short hair. She is very smiley and seems to be happy and proud to be involved and ready to go to school. We will start her in grade 1 at a nearby school.

Edina Phiri is a single orphan living with her grandparents. Her grandfather is very ill, as he recently had a stroke, and neither of the grandparents work. Her father died in 2007. Her mother is still living, and actually resides with her uncle two streets down, but does not care for her daughter physically or financially. Edina’s home is very small. She lives with her grandparents and 5 others. They have no bed or bedroom, and they all sleep together on a mat on the floor. One of the people she lives with is her sister, Agnes, who has down syndrome She was raped last year and has a small baby (Natasha) that she needs constant attention to care for as she suffers from “outbursts” and “fits”, which divides the elderly grandmother's attention between her and the ailing husband- leaving little left for the care of the other 4 ( Edina, Joseph, George and James). She completed school up to grade 3, but stopped last year due to lack of financial ability.

Emmanuel Tonga was born in 1998. His parents separated when he was born and his mother moved to Chilenge (a town about a half hour away) and got a job as a maid. She does not financially or physically support Emmanuel, his brother, Frank or his sister, Nelia. His father died in 2010, but Emmanuel was not associated with his father anyway, because he was left with his grandmother (who is also widowed) in 2004. His sister, Nelia, is 7 and has never been to school. We will be supporting both Emmanuel and his brother at this time. All three children were left by the mother in 2004 when Nelia was born and have been with their grandmother since. She lives in a one bedroom home. All four sleep on the floor in the main room as there is no bedroom, or bed. When first meeting him, Emmanuel came out with a folder where he had saved every piece of paperwork he has ever received that concerns himself and his schooling and handed us the folder. His grandmother says he is always that organized he claims it is so “people take him serious.” He is VERY excited to be going back to school. He made it to grade 5 at a free community school in a class of nearly 70 students, but stopped in 2010 due to lack of funding. We plan to send him back to grade 5 to a nearby school.

Frank Tonga is the middle child of 3. His older brother, Emmanuel, is also one of our sponsored children. He also has a young sister, Nelia. They all live with their grandmother who was widowed years ago. His father died in 2010 but Frank was not closely associated with him, as his parents were separated. His mother dropped the kids with their grandmother the year Nelia was born and has not come back for them since. She works as a maid in a town about 30 minutes away but does not physically or financially care for the children. He and his brother, sister and grandmother sleep on the floor in the main room as there is no bed or bedroom. Frank completed grade 3 but stopped attending school last year due to lack of finances. He seems shy but very smiley and excited for the opportunity. We will be sending him to grade 3 at a closer school in 2012.

Amos Mumba is a double orphan being kept by his sister. She is married and has a small baby of her own. He grew up in the bush, but last year moved to Kabanana so his sister's husband could find work, however, he has only found odd jobs, and it is not sustaining them. They are living in a two bedroom home that they share between 9 people. He has not gone to school since 2010 but had completed grade 3. He seems very shy but willing and ready to get back into school. We plan to send him to a nearby school in 2012

Peggy Simangola is the first born of four. Her siblings are Steven (7) , Beatrice (4) and Boniface (1). Her father died in 2007. She has attended a community school up to grade 2 but according to her mother it is “as good as not going to school at all” as she was in a class of over 60 students. She stopped attending in 2010. Her mother is often sick and is unable to work due to severe chest pains and weakness. A recent Xray showed “spots” on her lungs. They live in a one bedroom home and the mother was born in that room and has never lived outside of it, and is now raising her children there. Their home life is VERY sad. They have no shoes, no bed, and rarely have sufficient food. They often go days without eating at all. Their home is covered in flies and cockroaches and is in very tight and unsanitary quarters. We plan to send her to grade 2 in 2012.

Steven Simangola is second born of 4 children. He has never attended school. His father died in 2007. Her mother is often sick and is unable to work due to severe chest pains and weakness. A recent Xray showed “spots” on her lungs. They live in a one bedroom home and the mother was born in that room and has never lived outside of it, and is now raising her children there. Their home life is VERY sad. They have no shoes, no bed, and rarely have sufficient food. They often go days without eating at all. Their home is covered in flies and cockroaches and is in very tight and unsanitary quarters. We plan to send him to grade 1 in 2012
In the next few weeks we have a lot coming up including a Pool Party, Christmas Parties for both the Ndola kids and also one here and a few other events. I can say in the past week I've been getting increasingly stressed and overwhelmed as I am planning my trip home, presentations when I get home... adding these new kids and all the background work that goes on, preparing Barbara for her big grade 7 exams, tutoring all the kids in preparation for end of the year exams, budgeting for the next year.... there is a lot on my plate. On top of all that, Protasho has tonsilitis, Barbara and Memeory have intestinal worms and I was told I have dysentary.

I have about 2 months to go here before my break... pray that God sustains me and gives me the strenth to do what needs to be done. November through February are our busiest months, and with 30 kids now (we had 11 last year at this time) I have tripled my workload.

I love the work God has given me to do. I can honestly say, tutoring/teaching isn't  my calling even though it takes up so much of my time. My favorite days are the days when we go shopping and bring food or clothes to a family. I love going out and meeting new families and looking for opportunity. I even like the days we spend taking kids to the clinic and making sure they are heathy- knowing that otherwise they'd never get treatment... but my ultimate favorite is just... hanging out with them. I am given the chance to be a positive influence DIRECTLY in 30 lives. That is not something I take lightly. I want to talk to them and sing with them. I love coloring with them and hearing about who Barbara thinks is cute or what dream car Morgan has or what Patrick wants to do when he grows up. These are my kids... they are real kids with ideas and souls and plans and hopes- and I can facilitiate guiding them to be the men and women they will become. It's simply incredible, and worth the purple bags under my eyes.

Monday, September 12, 2011

In a year...

Sunday, September 11th marked exactly 1 year since I arrived in Zambia. I thought I'd dedicate this email to a few highlights... these are not all of our stories, they are just a few. This is a small taste of the work that is going on here. It is just a taste of what each of you are a part of through every dollar, every thought and especially every prayer. It is not impossible to change the world. It starts with just one child....

*One year ago, there were 11 children in the Kabanana program, and 21 in Ndola. Today there are 22 in Kabanana and 26 in Ndola. (NOT including all the siblings, cousins and friends we interact with on a daily basis.)

*One year ago, Protasho Musara and Patrick Banda could not get from A to B in the alphabet. Today, they can read, write and speak English.

*One year ago, Christopher Sakala could not spell his own name and was not enrolled in school. Today, he is number one out of 40 students in his grade at the most competitive elementary school in Chipata.

*One year ago, Christian Mbare did not attend school regularly and could not understand spoken English. Today, he is speaking, reading and writing and is among the top 5 students in his class.

*One year ago, Mpando Silungwe was crippled and not attending school due to his handicap and lack of funding. Today, he is at the top of his 10th grade class and fitted with new specialized shoes, medication and crutches that are correcting his handicap and enabling him to walk to church and school without issue. When we had an outing in Ndola, I saw him run for the first time during a game of "Red Rover".

*One year ago, Barbara Mwamba was failing out of school and her teachers had given up on her, telling her to her face, in my presence, that she was lazy, dull and would not ever make it to grade 8. She rarely attended school and never handed in her homework or participated in school. Today, she is the first to arrive at school and the last to leave. She attends weekly tutoring and begs for books to read and extra work to do in her free time. She writes her exam to enter grade 8 in November.

*One year ago Kelley Chamoa was an alcoholic and spent his time stealing and walking up and down the railroad tracks looking for his next high. After witnessing his friends death, he came to the church for help and is now enrolled in grade 8, and has started his own gardening business to help his family of 9.

*One year ago, Wisdom Tembo was a self professed theif and had no interest in church. He is now attending faithfully even witnessing to his own mother. They are both undedicated and dying of HIV/AIDS. We are able to make sure he has food, blankets when it's cold and an education so that if he is enabled by his mother to take medication he will live a long and successful Christian life.

 *One year ago, Harrington and Christian were untreated for serious ailments and in the past month, we abolished both infections/parasites that otherwise would have remained in their systems and spread throughout their internal organs.

*One year ago, Nathan Tembo was attending school through our program, but showed signs of being ungrateful and prideful. Today he is an active member of Faith Baptist Church, a 10th grade science teacher at Raobath Academy and has just applied at the University of Zambia for a medical degree.

*One year ago 10 families in Kabanana were living in extreme poverty without proper income or any hope for the future. Today, each of those 10 families has a full running business and a stable income to provide food, medical care and other necessary provisions for their families. Ten families is no small impact in a community, and it affects their extended families and neighbors as they are providing food and necessities that were not previously available in their areas... the ripple effect is astounding.

 Wisdom, Kaumba, Kelley, Morgan, Philip and Francis are all in the Baptismal class at church and will be baptized and join the church next month. All of the kids in our Kabanana program receive a monthly full "family lunch" and monthly devotional/Bible study. In the past year, the boys and girls have all had four separate intensive health/hygiene and appropriate conduct "seminars". In the past year, all of our kids have received a full year of education, school supplies, food for their bellies, shoes for their feet, clothes for their backs, blankets to sleep under, and Bibles to read- in addition to many other gifts and hygiene products each month. Last Christmas they received their very first Christmas presents... ever.

I am so incredibly honored to be a part of this program. It's hard to describe to someone who cannot see or smell or hear or touch these children what is going on here. We are not just helping 48 kids with school and giving them basic Bible knowledge. We are imparting the truths of Christ and giving hope and a future to these 48 kids, their hundreds of family members and their thousands of community members. A year ago, people screamed and pointed when they saw my white face. Today I drive down the street and people wave, call me by name and stop and ask me how work is going. They have accepted me into their lives, and have accepted our ministry into their community.

These children call me "Mom" and I take that very seriously. It is no small thing to be a mother, and to know that their Father is in Heaven giving me the strength to be that mother they need. Words can not express the way God has blessed this ministry and the way you can see His hand working through us. None of this would be possible without our Lord and Savior and He is showing His love for the orphans and the widows through our work here.

I thank you for allowing me to be part of the hands and feet of the work here. It is a privilege and an honor to be able to do what many of you have the heart to do but can not, I am here in your name and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Please keep us in prayer over the next 2-3 weeks. There is serious political unrest here, including stoneings, fires and violent riots. I will be working from home for a week or so, as it is becoming unsafe to continue moving around the compounds. As advised by the US Embassy, we have stocked up on food, water and other necessities and will be "laying low" for a while. Pray for a peaceful transition of power and little or no effect to myself and the Williamsons here, and especially our kids in the compounds.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. -James 1:27

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

To everything there is a season... including the flu.

Well, I seem to have let another month go by without updating. I have been super busy organizing Christmas gifts, tutoring half the kids, doing home visits, hosting people in my home and doing the Guardian Business Startup.

Tutoring is going well. The boys are all reading and writing, and all the kids seem to be doing well except Barbara. She is the most faithful in both school and tutoring attendance, but due to learning disabilities (and not at all for lack of trying or laziness) she is consistantly failint. Please pray that God will open her mind and give her the understanding she needs to pass her exams and do well in school. Most of the other kids are doing great, we are still having attendance issues with Memory and the Daka family, but they were recently warned and they have until the end of the year to show commitment or we will have to replace them, out of fairness to the others in the community and their sponsors.

The guardian business startup has to be the most rewarding thing I have ever been a part of. To be able to say that I am facilitating TEN families in getting a fresh start and a clean slate.... to be able to provide food and shelter and medical care for their families.... it's phenomenal. So far we have started on the first 5 families, and we will finish them before going on to the next five. We delivered two bales of clothing to two homes, and went back for two more and by the time we got back, Mrs Daka had sorted, organized and laid out her clothing to sell outside her home. She wasn't even waiting until we helped her rent or build her kantemba (or, shop)... she was ON IT. It made me so happy to see her jump right in within a few hours!!

The most powerful so far has to be Kaumba's Uncle, Isaac. He converted a room in his home into a shop... complete with shelving units and a buyers window. He had it all built and rady before we even got there, and he officially opened for business on Saturday!!!! So exciting... it is beyond words!

Katherine left after a 6 week visit, and she is missed! She did a great job and had a wonderful time here helping out. 3 days after she left, Maurice, a good friend from home, came for about two weeks to visit and help out. The kids all immediately took to him, and there were a lot of broken hearts when he had to leave on Sunday. He was a huge help in the work while he was here and it was a blessing and an encouragement to have him here.

Right now I am down with the flu so I took yesterday and today off. Tomorrow I will go back and continue with the business startup. Please kee all of the guardians in your prayers and also Fanny, Maureen and I, as the startup involves a LOT of travel and work.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busyyyyy

Life has been pressing on here... things have been very busy! Last Saturday we had our second "Boys Day" Tickey and Musonda, two of my friends from church, came and did a devotional and talked with the boys about "girls and and relationships" It went VERY well and I believe our boys benefitted very much from that, I am very thankful for them and their efforts on the behalf of my boys. We did school all week and it went well- the boys are progressing so well!

On Friday, we were able to do school in the morning with Protasho, Patrick and Mutale (the boy who has recently just "joined" our class). We also were able to meet Patricks mother. There was a lot of confusion on what was going on there... It turns out that Protasho is the youngerst brother of Patricks mother, making Protasho Patrick's uncle. Patricks father died shortly after he was born and then the mother remarried and had two more, then that father died. She recently married the father to her last born- who wants nothing to do with the children from her previous marraiges which is why Patrick lives with Protasho. Friday afternoon we got word that Harrington was very sick and so we had to cancel our classes and take him to the clinic. They are not sure what it is, his malaria test was negative but he is showing all the signs and symptoms of malaria so they are treating him with the antibiotics for that. Before we left, we took Barbara to get her hair braided because she never has had it done and all the other girls get to have theirs done.

Friday night Katherine Johnston, a nursing student who is here doing short term missions, and I cooked chicken, "soup" (tomato, onion, oil, peppers and seasoning), and beans for the family lunch on Saturday.

On Saturday we had our "family lunch". We got to Fanny's house and the power shut off, so we went and bought charcoal and cooked over open flame until the power came back on. We prepared the above mentioned as well as cabbage and of course, nshima! The lunch went very well. Megan, Katherine and I served and everyone was there except Philip (his Aunt needed him to work), Harrington( who was sick), Francis (who had a meeting at school because he has been elected a "prefect" which is like a hall monitor) and Memory (who went with her mother somewhere). After lunch, Katherine gave a Bible study and a health/hygiene talk. Overall it went very well. The Daka's brought their neighbor, who is blind. He is apparently Joseph's best friend and the only person he will speak to.

After the lunch, Katherine and I took Tisa, Barbara and Mwansa to my youth group at the church I attend. We brought them to my place for a sleepover which was SO much fun!! We took them to the mall (Barbara's first time) and out to eat at a real restaurant (Tisa and Barbara's first time! Mwansa's first was last year when I took her to a chicken place- and she didn't know how to use the silverware!) After we ate we took them home and watched a disney movie, painted eachothers nails and I flat ironed Tisa's hair for church sunday. We had such a great time and took the opportunity to talk to the girls about being women (via proverbs 31) and not focusing on vanity and boys. They came to church with us Sunday and then we took them for lunch and dropped them home. They/we had a wonderful time.

Monday and Tuesday was the annual Antioch Youth Conference at Kabwata Baptist Church and we had a representation of about 30 kids (ours plus their friends and siblings) from Kabanana. It was a blessing to see them hear God's word for the two days and to spend that time with them.

Monday night was the fourth of July, so we had some of my friends, Tickey, Musonda, Corry, Chanda, Mumba and Maggie over for a barbeque and played some games together. It was nice of them to celebrate with us!

Yesterday we had school again, but we were informed that Protasho's mother (Patricks grandmother), was severely beaten by two men. She cannot find work because her face is swollen and she is very sore, so we sent some mealie (corn meal for making nshima) and gave Patrick and Protasho the next week off so that they can be doing piecework to help supply food for the family.

Tomorrow we will be leaving for Ndola to visit and minister to our kids there and returning Sunday evening.

Next week on Monday, Lord willing, we will be starting our "Guardian Business Startup Ministry". I am VERY excited for this as it will be great for the families and also for us.

On Tuesday Morning, I got word that my father was rushed to the hospital. It was a hard day of waiting and worrying not really knowing exactly what was wrong or how serious the issue was. He is still in the hospital and is in a lot of pain, but he is expected to recover well and I would covet your prayers on his behalf. It is very very scary to have something like this happen when I am halfway accross the world and I have had a very heavy heart for the past few days.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

CAN I have a lisence please??

It's been a while since I've blogged... again. I seem to never have a free moment and if I do I can't see straight from being so tired. I don't want this to be a "complaining" post, but I have been so cranky recently... for me anyway.

I think it has to do with being so exhausted. It seems as though it has just been one thing after another- Daniela was here and I had malaria and the infection, and then immediately after that Pastor Dunn and Pastor Walker were here and I traveled to Ndola. Immediately after that Protasho and Patrick came and we had twice the school and then Anthony came and then I traveled to Livingston and 3 days after Anthony left Katherine came and we hit the ground running again. I have loved and appreciated having all of these people here... and I would do it all again exactly the same way (minus the malaria) but it is tiring doing your regular job and then also adding extra cooking, extra grocery shopping and the stress of keeping the house clean and making sure people who have come all this way are entertained and busy. It's easy to feel a bit overwhelmed.

I think any woman who has ever hosted anyone in their home understands the need to obsessively clean the bathroom and the kitchen and keep food on the table and keep people happy and busy.

Also, I am really missing my family and very much missing companionship. Somehow despite having these people in and out I am feeling more lonely than ever. Maybe it's the instability of it all... Even my freinds here are around me in cycles.... one month they are around the next they start a new job or start school and they are gone. That for me is difficult especially dealing with emotional instability.

I went to start the process of getting my lisence- We were supposed to leave at 9:30 and didnt leave until 11.... that's a whole other story (Zambians, in general, do not move on a very tight schedule). We got to the place and stood in line at counter 1 to ask where to go. She directed us to room something-or-other where we stood in line to ask him what the process was. Just before it was finally my turn to go in the guy "stepped out" with the man that was in there before me (i learned later they are at that point accepting a bribe to get a lisence without a test) so another ten minutes later I went in and sat down and after the formalities and greetings I asked him what the process was for getting a lisence and he tld me I needed copies of my passport and work permit and to apply at room 2.

So I went out and got Corry and Tickey and Katherine and we walked down the street and made copies then walked back and got in the line for the application. As I was sitting I realized everyone was furiously studying the "10 basic rules of driving" and an old man next to me said that you ahve to recite them in your interview or you can't apply so he shared his with me and we crammed while we sat. Finally I went in and my "interviewer" (Its a row of 4 people on one side of the table then the applicants sit across so theres no privacy at all) asked me where I was from and I said the US and he said "Oh! Washington!!" I said "uhhhh.... yea except..... Kentucky." He asked me what I do and I told him I work with orphans and vulnerable children. He said " I am a vulnerable man. Can't you bring me some mealie tomorrow?"

Sidenote** I cannot express to you how utterly TIRED and SICK of hearing those things I am. At first I used to laugh and make an excuse but now I want to punch people. I actually work with people who have nothing, and you are sitting at a desk in a paying job drinking coffee and eating scones. Gross.

So I had to pretend that I wasn't disgusted since he was in charge of giving me a chance at getting the lisence, so I said "Maybe I'll try to tomorrow" He seemed pleased with that and put my name in the book and told me all they'd have to do is transfer the lisence. He didnt ask me to recite any of the code but JUST as we were about to finish he said "Oh, but you have to get a medical exam at the hospital. Go have a doctor fill out this form and then I'll put you in the system." I wanted to scream

So I gathered the minions and we drove to the Universty Teaching Hospital, which I affectionately call "House of Horrers", and walked around for 10 minutes trying to find where we can take this test. Finally a nurse directed us and we went inside the building. we found the doctors door and there was a big white sign.

"Doctor's hours:

(12-14 lunch)
14- 14:30"

Yes folks. That's a 4 hour work day. Unfortunately it was 12, so we had to LEAVE the hospital and drive to the mall to get lunch. When we got back it was 14:30 (because, like I said, Zambia needs energizer batteries but runs on a fat guy pushing a broken wheelbarrow brand) but I marched in like I owned the place. I was seen by a nurse who asked me if i could see and then put down on the paper that I have 20/20 vision (not a joke). Then I went to the doctor who asked me If I had medical issues and I said no, so he signed it and gave me a bill for 11 dollars. Noone touched me, noone tested me.........................

When I went to pay the cashier asked me what I do and I said "Orphan care" and then he asked me to buy him a car. This time I said "Yea sure! I'll just use the money that was sent to feed starving children to get you a BMW" He told me he likes silver ones. He did not get my sarcasm.

SO we went back to the car place and got back in line for the same room.... finally i finished with that guy and he directed me to counter 24. I stood in line and struck up a conversation with a guy who asked me about work and everything. He was an older guy with white hair. I thought I was safe. WRONG! He finally asked me for my number. I said no but we were in a gated line and I couldnt get away and he was relentless so I told him I didnt have my phone (Lies, I had two and they were visible in my purse. oops) So I told him a fake number and then he CALLED IT and some zambian man answered. Oops again. Finally I gave him my MTN number and later that day he texted me and asked me to come to the gym with him. I blocked his number. Anyways so you go to that counter and they put the information in the computer and then she directed me to room 3 for my photo. On my way out a guy blocked my way and said he overheard my conversation and wanted my number too. I said No. He stood in my path and kept saying he wanted to come work with the orphans too and so I signaled Corry and Tickey with my eyes but they were talking to Katherine so i just pushed past him and cruised to room 3 leaving everyone in the dust.

After standing in line again, I went in and the woman mumbled something while stareing at her computer. I though she was greeting me so I said fine thannks. She continued with her computer then looked at me and with the NASTIEST face and voice said " I SAID take off your neclace and earings. PAY attention". I was so appaled at being yelled at like a child I didn't even know what to say so i let her take my picture in which I look like i'm about to cry, and then got directed to the payment counter. Someone was accepting a bribe again, so I had to wait twice as long, then I paid and was told to come back the next day to book my driving test. I asked why I couldnt book it today and she said "Come back tomorrow". Awesome. I have yet to go back.

On Tuesday I asked Corry to come with me to get an application from the University fo Zambia for one of our sponsored kids, Nathan. We left, as usual, 2 hours late and by the time we got there it was 15 minutes before 12 and the man had just "stepped out"... He wasn't going to be back until 14. I had had it with anything Zambian government run at that point so we just left.

It's easy to be frustrated. I can honestly say I spend 50 % of my life just WAITING around for things to happen. Waiting for people, waiting for offices, waiting for processes.... waiting. It wastes my time, my money, my fuel...

Enough complaint... that is just to explain the crankiness.... Work- however- is wonderful. The boys are reading like pro's and spelling machines! We have a new boy who just got in the car one morning when Protasho and Patrick got in and he's been coming to school ever since. His name is Mutale Mumba and he's 15. I am slowly milking his life story out of him but in the meantime we are keeping him close to us and out of the streets. We have been doing nothing but running around getting things done, teching, shopping, preparing..... Katherine is really seeing the work and I'm glad. We took Memory for a Cd4 count and the machine was broken... of course... so we had to take her again, but her count is in the thousands which means she is perfectly fine, for which we are VERY thankful (Wisdom's is below 300). We also got 2 bales of clothes yeaterday using the remaining money from Pr. Walker's church, that we will bring to Ndola with us. We opened them and sorted the clothes and we were all convinced there would never be enough for all of them.... in the end- everyone got 2 bottoms, 3 tops, and an extra bag with 2 bottoms and 3  tops for family members... AND we had 6 (SIX) large garbage bags full of leftovers AND another garbage bag of baby clothes that Katherine and Megan will take to a baby orphanage today. It was truly like Jesus feeding the 5000.

That's all I can think of really.... so much has gone on and I'm being terrible about being consistent with this so I know alot is missing.

Just know this. I love my children. I love that they call me mom and get upset if I don't see them for a day. I love that they know I care and that they know they can rely on me fully. I love them and they make me happy and they make ALL this other stuff MORE than worth it for me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I dedicate my life to You. I dedicate my life to these, Your children.

I thought I'd take this time to tell a few stories of some of the kids so that those reading, praying and supporting can see the fruit of our labor through the words. I wish everyone could see these kids and their lives and daily hardships and battles first hand, but I will do my best to bring them to life here.

Kelley Chamoa is an 18 year old boy who's parents are drug addicts and alcoholics. He lives in a one bedroom shack secluded from the rest of the village with 5 brothers and sisters. He himself quit school and turned to alcohol and sniffing glue with friends... for three years. Last year, one of his friends tried to hitch a ride to town on a train, lost his footing and was killed. This reality hit Kelley hard and he was ministered to by Pastor Chirwa of the Faith Baptist Church in Kabanana where our orphans attend. He first began attending church there, and even started bringing his brothers and sisters and inviting friends. He asked our ministry for help in getting his life back on track and we are proud to say he is back into school- he has, on his own initiative, planted a garden for us to use for the sick orphans we care for and has recently approached Pr. Chirwa to be baptised and join the church.

^ shown showing off his new haircut!
Protasho Musara (15) and Patrick Banda (13) live with Protasho's mother along with Protasho's twin sister, Maggie. The mother is a bartender and an alcoholic. They recently were removed from their home and had to relocate. They are currently living in a rented room next to an open pit that the neighbors all use as a toilet. The stench is terrible and the living conditions are atrocious. They have been out of school for quite some time because the mother was using her money on alcohol. Their uncle came to us requesting that we assist them. When we tried to put them into school they were denied because they are far too old to be in the same grade as the other kids at their level. Neither of them could speak English or even spell their name. I began teaching them in January. On the first day of class they could not understand a word I was saying and could not recite the alphabet past the letter "c". They couldn't recognise their own names written down or name any of the numbers or letters. I am overwhelmingly proud (and typing with tears rolling down my face) to say that today they are reading simple sentences, writing letters to their sponsors and communicating full conversations with me in English. Today Protasho said "Madame, I am reading ChiZungu books. Oh and B-O-O-K!!" I had to laugh... they know me well as a teacher, spellings are music to my ears! (chizungu litterally means "big white" and they use it to refer to the English that Americans speak.) They have a lot of family trouble and Protasho is abused and "hated" (his word) by his mother because he has decided to go back to school instead of working for money. Last week their mother went away to a funeral in another village and left them with no food or water. She has yet to return.... we stocked their shelves and are regularly checking on them, but this shows you the extreme selfishness and ugliness of some of the guardians we deal with. Despite all of this, they come to Sunday school and church every Sunday and recently prepared a duet that they sang at a youth conference in front of over 100 people.

^ My sons! Can't you see the family resemblance? Because I can.

Nathan Tembo is our first ever grade 12 graduate. He comes from very poor living conditions with both a mother and a brother suffering from HIV and an unwed sister with a newborn. His home has been quite tumultuous of late with physical fights, beatings, arguments and general unrest. We decided to look into college for him since he, despite all of this, graduated with highest merits and honours from his school. Nathan went out on his own and got a job working as the natural sciences teacher at Raobath Academy. He will be applying at the University of Zambia in August with our help. We are overwhelmingly proud of him and... he is actually Geofrey's, another one of our orphans, teacher! How cool to see one graduate from the program and turn around to teach and mentor the next generation of orphans.

^Morgan, Kelley and Nathan... the three musketeers!

Morgan Tembo (Nathan's brother) has been one of our most challenging orphans. He was characterized by pride, stubbornness and lack of respect or self control. He was involved in physical fights with his sister and even beat his mother. He ran away from home after learning he was not blood related to the people he had grown up to believe were his mother and siblings. When he returned, he came with a terrible attitude of demands and self righteousness. Over the next months we came up with a plan of making him work to pay off his school fees. He washed my car every week, dug the foundation for the church building, helped Kelley with the garden, cleared the pastor's lawn and cleaned the church every Saturday to prepare it for service the next day. He has since apologised for his actions and through Kelley's (his best friend) good example and witness we see an amazing change and transformation in his character and attitude. He announced last week that he is a Christian and wants to attend baptismal classes.

Kaumba Mwondela is one of our brightest and most hard working orphans. He is in grade 8 and his teachers consider him to be one of the highest in his class, along with one of our other orphans, his best friend Tisa Sakala. He lives over an hour from the school that he attends and his living conditions are some of the worst. His room is a bare cement wall with a dirt floor. Before we sent blankets, he was using an empty cornmeal bag as a blanket and sleeping on the dirt. His parents both passed away and he is living with an uncle who could not afford to send him to school. He patiently waited and watched his cousins leave for school each day, and yet he stayed positive and helped his uncle by gardening and doing general repairs around the house. He has faithfully been coming to church even before we began to support him. When we handed out clothing earlier this year, he began giving some of his away to his needy friends before even looking to see what was in the bag. He is always encouraging the younger boys and is one of the first to always say thank you and be more concerned about others well being than his own.

^Kaumba outside his uncles home

Tisa Sakala lives in a one bedroom home on the busiest street in Chipata surrounded by bars and noise. She lives with her two cousins, her mother, her brother and her sister. They have no power or running water, like most of our orphans and they all sleep together in a small room. Their mother sells tomatoes but recently ran out of money and they were not eating for quite some time. Every day I pass by their home on my way home from work and see Tisa outside scrubbing clothes, cooking nshima, sweeping, bathing her brother or doing many other kinds of work. Many girls her age are out with friends or getting into trouble, especially in her are, but she is bound and determined to work hard to better her life. She is often sick, and is a tiny little thing for her age (she has the body of a 12 year old but is 18). She is dealing with a lot of stress and worry but she defies all odds and is at the top of her class of over 70 students. She has not yet professed Christianity but is open and willing to talk about it.

^Tisa and myself, sisters from another mother.

Barbara Mwamba was another "problem child" for us. She was failing almost every subject and her teachers told us she was lazy and uninterested. When confronted about it, she seemed cold and uninterested in what we had to say. We decided to give her one more chance and we switched her to a better school. I pulled her aside and told her I knew she wasn't lazy and wanted a better life for her and offered her extra help. She took me up on it and I have been tutoring her every Friday since. She is now... incredibly, one of our most determined and hard working students. Her teachers say she gets to school before they do and waits outside, and she is always the last to leave- except on Fridays when she has tutoring :) She has a million questions and is suddenly hungry to excel. All she needed was someone to believe in her and have a little faith in her and now the sky is her limit. She is happier, more joyful and is faithfully attending church. Her home life is terrible, her mother has been prostituting form the home and all but kicked the kids (her two brothers and one sister, who is HIV+) out to fulfil her own selfish desires. She made it clear she didn't want the kids and when they went to their older sisters home for help she accepted them, on one condition... that they work. They are worked like slaves at their sisters home and are physically and emotionally abused. One day Barbara was confiding in me and she started hitting the sided of her head and saying "she just screams at me... she screams and screams and screams..." ...To go through all that and then show up to school the next day early and with a smile on your face... that is the Grace of God.

^God love the girl for her positive attitude and sense of humor through the ugliness of her life

There are so many more examples... Sometimes it can be easy to only see the hardships and the need that we can't fulfill. I tend to become overwhelmed some days. There are nights when I fall asleep crying because I am in a bed with a blanket and my head in a pillow and I don't know where my children are, or if they are safe from harm, or if they are cold or if they had supper.... I can start to drown in the negatives and the deep emotions of this work and this ministry....

I wanted to write this both as an encouragement to myself and to all those who sponsor a child, or give or have given in the past. Our time and money is not being wasted, brethren. The naked are being given warmth, the hungry are being given nourishment, the sick and weak are being given medication and most importantly...  lost and dead souls are being given life and orphans are being adopted into the family of the living God and they now have someone to call 'Dad'.

Your prayers are not in vain. Your gifts and donations are not given in vain. I smell and touch and see and hug and tickle and hold hands with and laugh with and cry with these children. They are my life and my life is a gift from God.

Friday, April 22, 2011

They only asked me to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do...

Just a quick update on this week. On Monday we had a barber volunteer to come and give all the boys haircuts. The power went out at Fanny's where we were doing it so we had to load up and relocate to Maureens but luckily they all got new looks! (Some of the boys are away for the holiday, but those who were around all got their hair done. After that we brought a counselor and a social worker to the Tembo's so that they could try to convice her to at least let Wisdom take medicine. She is absolutely unshaken in this, and we left with little to no progress made. In fact, it seems Wisdom is even more on his mother's side on the issue now. We have another appointment next Wednesday.

We were given a donation by the Pizzino family as well as a friend, Daniela Ando, for us to use toward something the kids needed. On Tuesday, we went into town and purchased a bale (large bag of slightly used) of blankets. It is getting cooler at night and the kids don't have beds (as you can see, in one of the albums I took a photo of Kaumba's room) and some of them just sleep on the cold hard floor so we were able to give each child at least 2 blankets! We devided them up and labeled them and then Wednesday we set out delivering them. We were able to sit and talk with the families more while we made these deliveries.

On Thursday they were all supposed to leave for a 3 day vernacular confrence, but after they all gathered with blankets and toothbrushes and clothes in hand, the bus broke down and they all stayed in Fanny's house for the night! The kids were invited with their families, plus Fanny's family makes somewhere near 35-40 people sleeping in her little home! They were able to get packed up and head out this morning!

A few items for sponsor's knowlege and for prayer:

When we visited Everlyn's home we talked extensively with her Auntie and got some more personal information. When she was born, both of her parents died while she was still nursing. The Auntie took her in and is raising her as her own child- Everlyn is not aware that this is not her mother. The Auntie's husband (who Everlyn thought was her father) died a year ago so essentially she has been double orphaned and then single orphaned. Her Auntie sells water for money, and right now is a bad season for that. People are not buying because it's no longer hot and dry. Only one of the Aunties 3 real children is in school- he was supposed to graduate grade 12 but she was unable to pay for exam and school fees so he will not be finishing. The other two would be in grade 9 and 6 but are not attending due to finances.

Protasho and Patrick are being evicted from their home on the 30th of this month. Their rent has been 80,000 Kwacha (16 dollars) per month. The mother recently got a job and there is no reason she shouldnt be able to pay this. They are not telling us the real reason for the eviction but we have reason to believe that since I am seen there 3-4 times a week the landlord assumed I am giving them money (white person= money) and raised their rent to an amount they cannot pay. We cannot help them with rent, unfortunately, because if we did we would then be asked by every single family to pay their rent. They have told us they are not going far and I have decided to drop the boys off within walking distance of the home and try not to be seen there to save them from this happening again.

When we went to the Sakala's (the home of Faith, Tisa, Christopher, Harrington and Emmanuel- plus the mother/auntie) they were so excited to be recieving the blankets! They live alongside the road and it gets very cold there. They have a tiny little house and all 6 of them sleep together on the floor. The mother was holding one of the blankets and said "I am even salivating in anticipation of the sun going down just so I can use this blanket." We noticed the cupboard and shelves were empty and asked about food. They had nothing in the home but tomatoes. The mother sells tomatoes but since they are in season, they are not in high demand because everyone has them so they had no food to be seen. We immediately went to the market and got them mealie (cornmeal), fish, some vegetables, oil and sugar to stock the shelves. This woman is VERY determined to work and support her family and never asks us for anything, so it was nice to see her accept this gift with tears in her eyes. She wants to start a charcoal business (cold season is fast approaching so charcoal sells well) but doesn't have the start up money yet. Also, Tisa is having chest pain and racing heart beat every evening. She was taken to the clinic and her BP is very high so they are monitoring her and we take her back monday. It could very well be malnutrition and stress from her living situation.

Kaumba's roof blew off his house in a rain storm but he has been helping his father repair it with scrap metal and peices they find in the dumpster. They seem in good spirits and are working hard to repair the home before it gets cold. There are many holes in the roof so it will be very cold- they thanked us PROFUSELY for the blankets!!

Kelleys garden looks great and we found him and Morgan working on it together- the initiative these boys are showing is absolutely wonderful.

Lastly, there are photo's in the last album on my facebook of the plot where the church building/ ministry house will be. We are VERY excited and they begin building next week- praise God!

You can imagine how difficult it is to see this much need and feel a bit helpless at times. There is a never ending list of things that need to be/could be done for these kids and their families and neighbors and it can be so frustrating to not be able to do everything, but by God's grace we are at least doing everything we can- he is opening doors and creating opportunity for us to obey His word and care for the orphans and the widows and for that we are thankful!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

ALL THE TIME. God is good.

I am VERY TIRED and the last thing I want to do is write a big blog so here are the hilites of why this has been one of the best weeks ever- and why we should praise God together for his goodness... (as well as a prayer request).

In absolutely no particular order:

1. Protasho and Patrick are understanding and speaking English. It is not perfect and they need a lot of work- but they went from "How are you, Fine" being ALL they knew in English to carrying on full conversations in 3 months. They can also spell a lot of words and are starting to sight read. I am crying typing this.

2. Someone who cuts Megan's hair has offered to come give free haircuts for all our boys!! This may seem so silly but they need it and lice and head sores are an issue here so it's a blessing!

3. We had a "girls day" on Tuesday and I had a great opportunity to minister to the girls as well as have them open up a bit. We painted eachothers nails, ate brownies, talked about peer pressure &boys, and played with barbies. It was a complete success.

4. They began digging the foundation for our new building this week!!!!!!!!!!!

5. Someone from my home church sent another donation to me personally, which makes me able to fill my tank with gas and buy food so that I can better minister and spend more time with the kids. Praise God!

6. My friend who left gave some money for us to put twoards getting blankets for the kids, and one of the visiting pastors also gave money and together it covers the cost for a bale of blankets which will mean we can give each of our kids 3-4 blankets a peice! They sleep on the hard ground, and the season is shifting and getting cold so this is a HUGE deal and a load off our backs!

7. Today we had a "family lunch" and we cooked nshima, chicken, rape, eggplant and soup for the kids. They all got full bellies and left with big smiles- another huge success!

8. I hooked a sponsor up with two of our kids this week. One had the same birthday as her husband, and the other, who is a twin, has the same birthday as her own twins! Then I hooked up the last of the kids with another woman. This boy broke his hip and one of her children has had a broken hip also. This may seem odd- but to me it has God's handiwork written all over it. (as a side note, the two kids we have who have mental disabilities are both coincidentally linked with two families that have a disabled child. God is in control)

9. My relationships here are great and I am blessed with the most amazing friends and church family who are nothing if not the most loyal and amazing friends I have ever had.

10. I had the most wonderful time with Daniela and I was encouraged and refreshed by her visit. Also I am feeling 100% better!

As for the item for prayer:

Many of you have prayed for this family before (the Tembos). Wisdom is one of ours in our Kabanana/Chipata group who is HIV+. We took him for a Cd4 (white blood cell) count a few weeks back and they ran some tests on him to check his liver function so that we can get him on the proper medication right away. His count is VERY low and he is sick nearly every week with skin sores, coughing, vomiting and many other various ailments.

This morning I drove to Kabanana to pick him up and begin his treatment and his mother, Alice, said he "went to play" and it's too hard to find him. With his health, he rarely travels far from home so we knew she was avoiding the appointment. She got very heated and finally said that she refused to let us put him on medication. She herself is, by every calculation, suffering from full blown AIDS at this point, but still claims to be HIV negative. (She is tiny, weak, frail with sores and rashes all over her body- frequently ill) When we had first brought Wisdom to the clinic, the nurses pulled us aside and asked if the mother is on medication because by the looks of her she is in her very last days, and we had to try to explain that she insists that she is HIV-. She took away the medication they gave Wisdom before, and told us to "close the chapter" on asking about this for Wisdom, and that he can decide when he's older. Unfortunately- with his Cd4 count he will not make it to "older" to make that decision. She believes, and has brainwashed him also, that medicine is satanic, and HIV can simply be prayed away.

She is also asking us to tell her where he got HIV from since he is such a young boy (it was obviously mother to child transfer) and it is impossible to explain this to someone so far in denial. It was a very hard and emotional morning, to say the least. We left the home and went to the clinic to explain this to them and one of the counselors there offered to come and speak with her. We have an appointment on Monday to bring this counselor to her home. Please pray that she receives us and softens her heart.

Wisdom and Alice are both very sick, but Alice's pride is in the way of admitting she has this disease and finding help for her son. This is a huge burdon to us and such and emotionally taxing situation. Please pray that she will allow Wisdom to take medication, and even take them herself- and prolong her life so that she can better care for her children. (She is in her upper 30's and appears to be around 60.)

I know that God is in control of the situation. Please uphold it in prayer with me.

Monday, April 4, 2011


So, a childhood friend, Daniela Ando arrived on Satuday! She is a nurse and has come for the week to do some work in a local clinic.

I was unsure about getting to the airport so I enlisted the help of a freind but we were both running late and then we had to go through two police checkpoints so I was SO scared that we'd be late and she'd be there worried and confused but it turned out that we got there JUST as she was walking out so it was perfect timing. We spent the day relaxing and letting her get her bearings, and of course- catching up on the last 10-15 years!! I was feeling a little "off" but I thought it might be the excitement and business of running around and getting ready for her arrival.

On Sunday, we went to church and during the morning service I started to feel sick. I got up and sat outside for a bit, and then felt better but as soon as I went back in, I was feeling sick again. I just felt nausiated and dizzy. After the service, my friends Corry and Tickey escorted Daniela and I to a clinic near church to have me checked out but they were closed, so I decided to tough it out and we went back for a church lunch and evening service. On the way home, I knew I wasn't feeling right so I went to the 24 hour clinic (which happened to be the one Daniela would be working at) and asked for a malaria test. When I saw the doctor he ordered a slew of tests including blood and urine. Turns out I have malaria, as well as a UTI and my hemoglobin is extremely low which has been accounting for the dizziness.

I am really disappointed because this is bad timing with Daniela here- I wanted to be feeling 100% so I could be taking her around and spending more time with her and for her- but instead I feel like laying down all day.

Today was her first day of work, and I decided to take today and tomorrow off. This morning I woke up and did my laundry and then cooked breakfast and immediately started feeling awful. I had overdone it, yet again... it's so frustrating to be worn out from making eggs. I also took my pills (of which I have 13 per day to take.... 13!!!) before eating so I immediately got sicker.

I am really struggling with disappointment right now. I had so many plans of making this a great week for Daniela and being able to take her around places and spend time with her and I feel miserable. Honestly- the irritation is making me feel worse than the actual sickness. I keep trying to tell myself it's in my head but when I stand up and walk around my head starts to pound and my body just wants to sit. I know God has a reason for this and it all works in His plan, it's just far to easy to be angry that I'm sick!!

I plan to take tomorrow off as well- and Wednesday I will just have morning class with the boys, and then in the afternoon we will shop for some food. On Thursday, we plan to have a "Family Lunch" with all the kids and I am SO excited for it. Daniela will be coming along for the day and will get to see the kids and where I work. On Friday she leaves (SUCH a short trip!!) but she has already been a huge blessing and encouragement to me. I am VERY thankful for her being here!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

" Why else would you be here?"

Today has been a good day. School with Protasho and Patrick went really well- not so much that they blew me away suddenly knowing English or anything... but we had fun and laughed and I could FEEL them learning things. I have learned to make everything.... EVERYTHING a competition for those two- and it tends to be quite humorous. The victor cheers himself out of class, and then the next day it's the other one and so on....

Also, we will be building soon for our ministry house. That may seem like a little thing but talking about it today Maureen, Fanny and I just cried! It has been stressful having some boxes piled in my house, boxes and bags at the Williamsons, and trying to do school out of two houses disruting their days...  this ministry house is SUCH as huge answer to prayer. I am more than excited about it... just to  have a small building that will be common ground (and to stop tripping over piles of books in my room!)

Tomorrow we take Wisdom to start him on his life long daily medication. We had his Cd4 count (white blood cell) count taken, and he was at 250. He should have been on medication when he got anywhere near or below 300- so this low number accounts for his frequent illness. It was a struggle to get his results (the first place lost his results and lied about it for 2 months, and the next place had "technical difficulty" but 3 tries later we are getting him settled with that tomorrow. )

This morning I was driving to work and in a roundabout, or circle, this woman- who was white- pulled right out in front of me out of turn and I slammed on the brakes and so did she cause she got scared so we were blocking traffic. To the man behind and the woman beside her, both Africans, she mouthed "sorry" and made a sad face while they beeped at her. When she turned to me, she got a smile on her face and waved. I thought this very odd. It was like she felt because we were both white we had some sort of secret comrodary. I was irritated (and also beeping) and she got almost a look of offense that I was not smiling and waving back. I was baffled. I have been thinking about it since. Should I have had some sort of connection to her? Honestly- I don't think so. I didn't see colour, I saw wreckless driving. I would have beeped if she was chinese or arab or made of skittles it didn't really matter.

It's weird to think about these things. On saturday I went with my freind Chanda to an art exhibit at the Swedish Embassy. Every single white person we saw smiled and said "hiiiii" to me like we were long lost freinds, but ignored Chanda. The only person who said anything to Chanda was one of the workers who greeted him in Nyanja but ignored me. I think this is still kind of racism. It may not be hateful or vengeful but it is classification due to race. Why can't the worker say "muli bwanji" to me? He has no idea if I've lived here a week or my whole life. Why should I determine my interaction level with someone based on race. In the states you say hello to people you know and not to people you don't. Imagine if someone went around greeting only the people of their same race in the US- it would cause an uproar.

It's just funny to me how people assume here. There are men who sell CD's on Cairo Road in town. They come to your window and say the names of the CD's they have. The other week, one guy was walking toward us and shuffled his collection then when he got to the window he said "Madame, Gospel??" Chanda laughed, and I asked why he was laughing and he said it was because he purposely put all the gospel in front of the rap and all the other stuff, because he knew I was a missionary.I asked... "What? How on earth could he know that??" And he said "Why else would you be here."

God is working in my heart as I deal with missing home and some relationship issues here. I caught myself feeling sorry for myself a bit and missing life as it was before- but that never seems to last long. I still feel a bit blue and I'm having some insomnia issues... but God has a plan and He's working it out His way. Thank goodness for that. I am considering this trial joy- it is producing endurance.

Monday, March 28, 2011

I shall not want.

Wow. It has been quite some time since I have blogged. Time keeps passing in this whirlwind of activity I tell myself I will update and then all of a sudden two weeks has gone by. I have been busy busy with the work here.

I am still regularly teaching Protasho and Patrick- they are doing so well, and are almost reading. Today Protasho spelled "apple" without any help! It can feel slow at times, but they are even communicating with me, or trying to, in english now. When we started "hello" was about all we could say to one another and now we are singing songs, playing games and reading books. They call me "Madam Mommy" (Mommy and Auntie are very respectful terms here) and once a week they buy me a fritter (which usually are covered in dirt and I can feel the sand gritting in my teeth when I eat them- I am sure they will be the death of me but I have yet to find it in my heart to say 'no thanks', so I muscle them down every week.)

Things with the other kids are going well. Teaching and tutoring can be tiring, especially with so many kids and so many different ages and ability levels, but I am soldiering on and praying for fruit. We have still had a few coming down with sickness here and there but thankfully nothing serious.

I am really looking forward to next week. A freind of mine, Daniela Ando, from when I was little and attending Albany Baptist Church is coming for the week to volunteer at a nearby clinic. I am really looking forward to having a girlfriend come and getting the opportunity to catch up and reconnect with the States.

I have been a bit down of late. I am really missing home and my family and freinds from the states. I don't have many close girlfriends here- whereas I was in a sea of gabbing girlfriends and sisters at home. I am more than grateful for the many freinds (who I honestly have to call family) God has blessed me with here- two in particular have really kept me happy and strong and smiling every day- they are the most wonderful people in my life and I would be lost without them.

It is a weird feeling I have. It's like an inner turmoil. I don't want to go back to the states. I know that's hard for my stateside family and friends to hear but I really and truly have found my home here in Zambia and I have no intention of leaving. I sometimes with I could just teleport back for just a week or two to see my family and kiss my neices and nephews and shop at walmart... the little things. I have plans to come home for Christmas but it's weird to think I have not seen my family and freinds for 7 months and won't see them for another eight months.

I really... really wish I could dance with my neice Cora or hear my Mom's "I am way too tired but I love my family" laugh and hug my sisters and my brother.... You really do not know what you had right at your fingertips until you live in a place where it's not possible to see them.

I think a mix of stress and work and anxiety about the future etc has got me in some sort of blue funk but luckily it usually only gets me for a few hours before I get a text or message from a freind here reminding me of the many blessings I've been given.

I keep getting asked how on earth I left a place and lifestyle like what I had before to come here and live how I am now and do what I am doing for no pay.

I love my work. I love these kids. I love that I spend 7 days a week thinking about them, planning for them, helping them, ministering to them ... living 7 days a week for 21 other poeple (not including my freinds and "family" here who I also live and breathe for) can be stressfull and exhausting and challenging and scary but I would not trade it for my old house and car and bank account for the world. I made my choice and God blessed it every step of the way, I know He won't stop now.

Psalm 73:26My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

My heart may be missing home, and my flesh may be tired and weary but HE is my stregnth and HE can never fail... therefore neither can I.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

physical to spiritual... (one of the best days I've had in a long time)

Where to even begin. Megan and I left around 7:30 AM and drove to Fanny's to meet up with everyone. On the way, I was still mentally preparing myself, forming the usual sheild of "Belke strength". When we got there we had to wait a bit for the bus and it was getting nervewracking... there was just a nervous and unsure air about the kids. Only one, Geofrey, did not come (he is brand new to the program and was very hesitant as he doesn't really know anyone or how we operate quite yet). Even Mrs. Tembo came along to support her kids.

We already knew that Wisdom and Memory were HIV positive. I was not there when they went to the clinic and found out, (it was before i moved here) and I have heard from both Megan and Fanny how difficult and emotional that was- and I was very nervous.

When we got there (the receptionist is a member of my church I didn't even know she worked there!) they had everything pretty well ready for us and they did a great job interacting with the kids, who were OBVIOUSLY nervous, and getting things done quickly and efficiently for us. We had them come in one at a time and they had a finger prick of blood taken and then they were sent back to the waiting room. After the last of them (22 total, because Geofrey was missing but  2 of Maureen's kids came) was tested we all sat in the waiting room for less than ten minutes and then they called us back for the results. Only Megan and I went back and I was starting to get a lump in my throat already. The man had the result paper in his hand and I was quickly scanning it trying to figure out what the 0's and 3's meant when he said OK... we need to see Memory and Wisdom for retesting, they are the ones who had a positive result. Megan litterally said "are you sure?" and he was like.... yea... she said "that's all, I mean... they are all negative?"

Every one of them was negative. Statistically- that's a miracle. One in four Zambians is HIV+, and yet we had 20 all negative....
Keep in mind that these are children who: most of them at least one parent died from or is living with HIV, and they are more vulnerable to the disease due to their heredity, family life, surroundings, upbringing.... so many factors. God.... our God is a God who answers prayer.

Afterwards we brought them all back home for pizza and cookies as well as games outside, a devotional led by Pr. Pizzino, swimming and a movie. It was honestly a day full of blessings and joy- and the kids left here with full bellies and HUGE smiles on their faces... what a day full of positive memories for each of them to have. Wisdom did seem dissapointed that his results had not "changed" but he has been a 'man' about it and has been mature beyond his years. It was great to watch him laugh and run around with the other kids having a great time. I can honestly say he left here a very happy boy despite God's plan of having him suffer from this disease. Memory is not old enough to understand what it means that she is HIV+, so she had fun regardless (she is one of our more shy girls so it took her some time but she finally opened up and played with the other girls).

It is a big and beautiful family we have, and I am proud to be a mother to each and every last one of them. God is so good to us. He has saved them all physically through the prayers of His people. Now please let's pray that he heals them each Spiritually- even all in one day. Nothing is impossible with God. Nothing.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

...and THAT is how I know that God is real.

Well, the trip to Ndola this time around was (mostly) a success! First of all, big news- I finally got my visa! It was a hassle, but it is officially in my possesion, and I am free and able to live and work until February 2013. We left early on Friday morning... much to the sorrow and dismay of my Friday students who took it as a personal attack that we didn't have school that day. The trip was... mostly... uneventful. There were something like 9 police checkpoints that I had to go through, and it was the second to last one where they stopped me and told me I had to pay a fine for not having reflectors on the front of the car. They are built in in the back, but not the front. He told me it was 170,000 Kwacha (which is almost 40 dollars) but "graciously" let me pay 54,000 Kwacha (something like 10 bucks). (PS, I went with a friend to pick up reflectors at the auto shop... they are 15pin... which is about 3 dollars.) I then continued on and for miles and miles there was no speed limit sign. It was free and open fields so I assumed it was 80 (as it is most of the trip) well... it wasn't. I was fined 180,000 Kwacha for going 80 in a 65 (I was supposed to have guessed the speed limit better). So 50 dollars (that I don't have to be throwing around) later- we made it safely to the lodge and checked in.

We met with about 4 of the kids before it started getting dark so we called it a night. Saturday we met with the rest of the kids as well as having a mini update meeting with Lister on our way to and from each place. Sunday Morning we went to the Sunday School with the kids and then to church at Grace Baptist, where the ministry runs out of and Kabwe Kabwe preaches. After that, we headed home and , thank the Lord, only went through 3 checkpoints and weren't stopped once. (I have 6 months to get a Zambian liscence from when I get my passport stamped and... lucky me... they stamped my passport February 24th when I got my work permit/visa, so starting from then I have 6 months to get the liscence. It is just another hassle of lines and cues and red tape and corruption and money that I don't have to spend.... a major headache basically.)

Most of the kids are doing well. They are almost all performing below average because of poor living conditions, bad health, poor nutrition and other environmental and emotional issues. There are, as always when dealing with teenagers and children, some challenges such as drinking, cheating, ungratefulness etc- and  I suspect serious mental problems with a few of them, and one in particular, named Esther.

She has a very bad attitude and is extremely rude and disrespectful. She has become increasingly bad in the recent months and tells her mother to "shut her mouth" when she is speaking with us. On this visit, she was asked to show us her notebooks (we check their progress this way) and she told us she had none because we don't take care of her and we buy things for everyone except her. (This is, obviously, untrue). She did not recieve her uniform yet due to a shortage (along with 4 of our other kids), and so she got the uniform reciept, threw it at Lister and told her to go get a refund because she probably stole the uniform from her anyway. She then began crying and pounding her fists and we asked her what was wrong and she said she know that we are giving the other kids more than her and "stealing" from her. Her Christmas bag was one of the ones that ripped open in transit, and she thinks that we have taken things out of it and given them to the other kids. She was raising her voice, rolling her eyes and calling us "liars" and "thieves". Her performance in school is terrible and she blamed this on us as well- saying we "owe" her more food and school supplies. She even said "I didn't ask for this but now you are here, so why can't you do anything for me?". I suspect from my backround in psychology that both she and her brother Patrick are suffering from severe mental disorders. She and Patrick both have moodswings as well as physical ticks (banging the hands against the legs, heavy blinking and unprompted bursts of laughter or noise). She needs a lot of prayer and we encouraged her to attend church (which she does not). She also has a letter that she wants to send her sponsors, but she refuses to let us have it because she doesn't want us to read it. She keeps asking us to give her the money to send it but we have a strict policy against that and she again began to cry and tell us we were cheating her. I told her we are here to help her and not hurt her and that we are praying for her. We walked out of the house to the car and she gave me a big smile and hugged me saying "see you next time!". It was a very emotional and sad visit.
These kids of situations, and others like our issues with Morgan and the Tembos, can prove to make this work very challenging and stressful- but I am thankful for the training God gave me in mental illness, psychology, child and adolescent development, family studies and education. I can see how he was preparing me for this work.

If you are interested in hearing the updates on the rest of the kids from Ndola (or Kabanana), I can forward you the email I sent their sponsors. I know that sometimes people aren't sponsoring but like to include one of the kids in their prayers each day. You can email me that request at

On Tuesday we went around to all the schools within Kabanana to get updates and reports on them. Overall, I was pleased with the reports and didn't hear anything I didn't already assume or know. We are having issues with school attendance for some of the kids in Kabanana. We plan to address this at an upcoming meeting with kids and guardians because we, as a ministry, can't pay school fees for kids who aren't going to school. There are litterally scores of children jumping to take their place and we need to stress that to them.

On Saturday, we will be taking all the kids for HIV testing. I have been praying about this- that God will cause all of them to be negative, and if that is not His will that we will be emotionally strong and able to help the kids cope with these things. I am trying to mentally prepare myself for this.... These have become my own sons and daughters and I get a physically sick every time I think about hearing "positive" about any one of them. Unfortunately, the only child who will not be coming with us is Richard- and he is a. my special favorite and b. the one I worry has it the most. He has gone to stay with an auntie in Kabwe for a while and will be the only one not tested. In one way, it's a relief (I know, that's strange, but when I think about Richard being positive it actually HURTS inside) and on the other hand I want to know so he can be properly medicated.

Another Saturday this month, I have asked some of the older guys from my youth group to come and talk to/hang out with our boys in Kabanana. They see Maureen, Fanny and I every week- but none of them have any positive male role models- I know they have questions and things they struggle with and I want them to have older (but young enough to be relevant) guys to talk to and confide in.

I have been feeling really tired and overwhelmed lately. This week I took Monday off because I was feeling sick (I have had a flu since before I left for Ndola) and took a freind, Corry, to start the process of getting his passport. He doesnt have a birth certificate or the death certificates for either of his parents, so we ended up running around all day picking up forms and keys and getting information etc, without getting much accomplished. Tuesday we did school visits all morning in Kabanana and Chipata and then I met with someone from the Ministerial College in the afternoon to give him a tutorial on the finance record keeping programme I use, and then from there went to Bible Study and afterwards caught up with freinds from church that I didn't get to see over the weekend. I was still feeling sick, so I took Wednesday off and went with Corry to drop off his forms for his passport. It ended up taking from 8:30 AM until 3:30 PM (This is Zambia, remember) so... it wasn't much of a day off. Today I have been at the computer since 8AM writing reports, filing out profiles and making phone calls to get information etc. If I have a day with nothing to do (which I haven't for a long time) then I feel like pulling my hair out because I am stir crazy, but when my days are packed I go to bed frazzled from trying to pack so much into one day. It's as if there is no happy medium. I have been here now 6 months and the work gets more and more ivolved daily. I would like to take a short holiday to give my brain and emotions a break but money is something I cannot throw around with fuel prices (I have to pay somewhere near 70 USD a week in gas with all the traveling I do to and within Kabanana, Lusaka, Chipata and Chilanga)  That may be less than a lot of people, but when you don't have a stable paycheck- it's a fortune.

I am very appreciative of the prayers of the people in the US and UK who read my blog, know of me or are related to me. I can feel God working in me and shaping me into the woman he wants me to be. I have been so blessed the past six months it is almost unbelievable- but nothing should shock anyone when we are talking about God's work.

Because of God's love and sovereign plan, I was born to my parents. Because of His sense of humor- I was a handful and a rebellious headache. Because of my parents firm and unconditional love, I was forced to remain in a  Christian college when I wasn't a Christian. Because of my past experiences I decided to study Psychology and Education. Because of that college and my chosen field of study, I went on a school trip to Zambia in 2007. Because of that trip, I decided I wanted to live in Africa. Because of that decision, I went again in 2008. Because of my experiences in that trip, I was saved by the blood and love of Jesus Christ. Because of graduating, I moved to Kentucky to be near my sisters. Because of that move, I met the Williamsons who were planning to move to the very country I visited twice. Because of their move, I was encouraged and inspired. Because of a terrible experience at my former job in KY- I was renewed in my faith and reminded of the calling I felt so clearly before. Because of that calling I prayed, knew God's approval of His plan, packed my things, sold what wouldn't pack and moved to Zambia. Because of the quick and passionate spirit God gave me, I made the decision and moved very quickly. Because of that quick timing, I was able to be here during a time when Megan and James were overwhelmed with issues in their life and ministry and needed help the most. Because of the extra hands on the field with my being here, we have increased the amount of children we help, love, minister to and sponsor from 11 to 21 in Kabanana and from 23 to 25 in Ndola. Because of the love and generosity of a church in the US, I have a car. Because of that car, children get to the clinic when they are sick, go to church and school and meetings where they learn about the Lord. Because of people sending money for me to sustain myself, I am able to stay here and tutor, minister to, counsel and love nearly 50 children. Because of my training in Education, there are two boys, who did not qualify for traditional schooling, who are now learning English, math and science and doing devotions with me before school when they would otherwise be in the home of their alcoholic street walking mother, or walking the streets themselves. Because of this ministry and the people I work with and go to church with here, my faith is stronger now than it ever has been and I am growing in the name of my Father in Heaven, and because of my growing faith I am able to be a better friend and minister back to those ministering to me here in Zambia.

Every choice we make and every road we take- every interaction starts a chain reaction. We are each affected when we least expect is and it's all in God's plan.

When I hear people say God isn't real... I am dumbfounded.