Monday, January 24, 2011

Faith. Eff, Ay, Eye, Tee, Aych. Faith.

Today I started off the morning in the clinic again. After a few labs and some interrogation on if I was insane for moving to Zambia, I was told that the infection has not cleared and they precribed a stronger drug and then two others to combat the side effects of the first. Lovely.

After that joyful start to the day, I went to Kabanana. I pulled in to pick up my first two "students" of the day, Protasho (who's 15) and Patrick (who's 10). As I pulled up, they were smiling and waving- and they got in the car so happy and excited! They barely speak a lick of English but they WANT to learn, so I think they will be my most succesful students. We got to Fanny's, (we are using Fanny and Maureen's houses as school rooms until we can find a ministry house) and set to work. They insisted that they could read, but couldn't. Then I asked them if they knew their alphabet. They said they did so I asked them to write it. They both wrote "A... B... C" and then the tounges came out and the scratching of the head started. Patrick also wrote "F" after C, but that was the extent of their alphabet knowledge. We spent the rest of the morning learning letters and letter sounds, but they were eating it up and i could hear Protasho under his breath... "apple... ahhhppppuuuhhhllll... apple" Love it.

At lunch time I dropped them at home and then went to a safe place along the side of the road to eat my lunch and prepare for the afternoon lessons. I then went and picked up Harrington, Evelyn, Faith and Christopher from school. The school they attend is allowing me to take them once a week for extra tutoring. While I was there the headmaster called me into his office and asked me if our ministry could donate computers for the school because the kids need them etc. I was like, brother no can do from our specific ministry but I'll get the word out there (they really are good people and a good school) So- consider the word "out there".

I brought the kids to Maureens and we went over letter sounds and body parts and told them to bring their assignments and homework next week. So far, so good.

My weekly schedule looks like this:

  • 7:15... Breakfast/devotional with the Williamsons (and Heather, for now!)
  • 9:00-12:30... Drive to Chipata Village pick up Protasho and Patrick, drive to Kabanana, tutor them, then drive them home.
  • 12:30.. lunch in the car
  • 1:30-4:00... Pick up Evelyn, Harrington, Faith and Christopher from school, drive them to Maureens, tutor them then drop them off at home on my way home.
  • 7:15... Breakfast/devotional with the Williamsons
  • 8:30-11:30... Drive to Kabanana to tutor Malama and Morgan
  • 11:30... Tie up any loose ends with Fanny and Maureen, visit anyone who needs visiting, take anyone to the clinic who needs it (obviously timing on this varies from week to week.
  • ??-5:00... Return emails, update orphan profiles
  • 6:00... Bible study
  • 7:15... Breakfast/devotional with the Williamsons
  • 9:00-12:30... Drive to Chipata Village pick up Protasho and Patrick, drive to Kabanana, tutor them, then drive them home.
  • 12:30.. lunch in the car
  • 1:30-4:00... Pick up Tisa and Kaumba from school, drive them to Fanny's tutor them then drop them at home on my way home.
  • 7:15... Breakfast/devotional with the Williamsons
  • 8:30-11:30... Drive to Kabanana to tutor Malama and Morgan
  • 11:30... Tie up any loose ends with Fanny and Maureen, visit anyone who needs visiting, take anyone to the clinic who needs it (obviously timing on this varies from week to week.
  • ??-5:00... Write weekly eports to orphan sponsors, financial reports/filing (as well as house cleaning and laundry!)
  • 7:15... Breakfast/devotional with the Williamsons
  • 9:00-12:30... Drive to Chipata Village pick up Protasho and Patrick, drive to Kabanana, tutor them, then drive them home.
  • 12:30.. lunch in the car
  • 1:30-4:00... Pick up Christian, Felix and Barbara from school, drive them to Fanny's tutor them then drop them at home on my way home.

(Once a month there will be Saturday meetings from 10-12 with the kids for Bible study and health/HIV education)
  • In the morning I try to do something with friends
  • 2:30... Young People's meeting at church

So, my schedule is somewhat consistent just the kids change. They rande from grade 1- grade 11. I haven't even put Nelia, Philip, Geofrey, or Joseph on the plan yet. Sigh. Please understand if I don't email you back for a few days, I am not ignoring you! This week and last I've had the added pressure of not feeling well, clinic visits, immigration visits (I go back Thursday, hopefully, to pick my visa up!) as well as clinic visits for two of the kids here in Kabanana and planning for the trip to Ndola next month. As anyone who's been there can vouch- just two hours in Kabanana can feel like an entire day, so I am ready to drop when I get home.

I am grateful to have work to do- it seems daunting and overwhelming now just getting into it, but it keeps me focused and on my toes. Just pray that I'll remain healthy enoguh to keep up the pace because if I slip up a day or two I get WAY behind. Luckily, I have great freinds here who have been calling and/or stopping by every day to check on me which is a great encouragement!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Faith is the promise of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.

Today. Today was rough. I started the day with my eighth consecutive freezing cold shower. I have been sick, and the medication they put me on seems to be making my headaches worse, my bathroom trips more often and I have this terrible taste of metal in my mouth that I can't get rid of. Basically- I started the day grumpy. I almost didn't go to Kabanana this afternoon, because of this headache that seems to want to persist 24/7... but I decided to just go for an hour- collect some info for my files then go full day tomorrow and Friday (I took the begining of the week off due to collapsing and sickness- and being told not to drive or work for 5-7 days. Yea right.)

Anyway, I sucked it up and went, and picked up Fanny and Maureen and we started the day. When I got there we first went to the home of the mother/auntie to four of the new kids we just added. We were getting some background info on the kids... two of whom there is no birth record and so no one knows their birthday or actual age. One of them has had sores since he was six months old. They come and go, and are now spreading throughout his body. I asked, in the 14 years he has had this problem, if he'd been treated or seen by a doctor. Basically she said they take him to the little clinics around, but they continue to give him the same medication that clears it for a while then it comes back- and they just do the same thing over again.

We then went to find another of the boys so we could let him know his tutoring schedule. We got as far as we could in the car and the neighbor laughed and made jokes about how it's a rare day that we find his mother sober (she was intoxicated to the point of not being able to communicate last time we went). Noone was home, so we left instructions for them to be there to meet with us Friday. This boy is 15 years old and has barely completed grade 3, due to running out of money at that time. He has a twin sister who did even less, and has no intrest in learning or school. This boy has asked that we please please help him because he wants to learn. Basically no schools will let him in, he is mature and could pass for 16 or 17 and is at about a grade 2 level. Psychologically that is just to hard, on top of learning challenges, for any kid. We agreed that I'd tutor him for this year, in hopes that we could get him in a higher grade, maybe even 5 or 6... If Richard and Mwansa can bump two grades each in 3 months, there's no telling where we can get him. He has a young brother who I'd like to have sit in on the tutoring- they'd end up at about the same grade level. The mother, like I said, is a drunk. They live in a 1 bedroom house and she often entertains men there overnight- all 3 of the kids are obviously old enough to know what's going on. It's painful to know they are living in this kind of environment...

From there we were driving and Fanny told of someone she knows, a 17 or 18 year old boy who was trying to jump on the back of a truck and got caught and was litterally torn apart. She said they couldn't have a coffin or funeral... they just had to put him in a bag and bury him. After she said that, Maureen said... Yes, And we will be burying my landlord this weekend. I was shocked. I just met her last week. She gave birth to a baby two weeks ago and had complications. When I saw her last she had just returned from the hospital and was saying she was feeling better... now she is gone, and there's a 3 week old baby being shipped of to an auntie somewhere.

We decided to go to All Efforts Academy. We had 6 kids enrolled there two weeks ago and wanted to see how they were doing. Basically, we were told they were struggling and really needed the tutoring, but I was encouraged that one of the teachers said he could see the potential, it just needed to be coaxed out of them. Much improvement from their last teacher who basically left it at "they are dumb and lazy so it's not our fault". We were about to leave when the headmaster asked us why some of the kids were coming without lunches. We were shocked because we bought the families food to last the month for lunches. She also said they missed school, and the excuse was "no clean clothes". We told them that and said we'd address it with the guardian and work it out.

We then went to find the guardian. The mother is very innapropriate, constantly having a string of strange men over to spend the night or leaving them alone so she can go spend the night with someone else. (we are talking about a 10 and 8 year old left alone in an ungated house in the compound...) Anyway, she wasn't around so we went to see the older sister. She has been paying rent for the mom and the four kids we sponsor, and covering any other needs. She told us her husband just lost his only source of income and that she was not paying rent or providing anythong for her mother, because she is aware of her lifestyle. She confessed that she used the food we bought for the kids to feed her family, because they are also starving and she's had some of the other kids staying in her home. She kept saying "This is not an orphanage. My marraige is failing and my family is suffering." Basically, the mom is getting kicked out of the house, and where she goes she will not take the kids. She doesn't want them. The sister has also said she doesn't want them because they are causing nothing but trouble and pain in her life.

What.... what does one do in this situation? Four kids. noone wants to take care of them. No one wants them. All I want to do is lay our sleeping bags all over my floor and pick them all up and bring them to live here- to get them away from these awful influences in their lives. No wonder it's so hard for kids to get a good education and get out of the compounds when they have people who bring them down and tell them they are stupid and give them examples such as these... or worse litterally abandon them. How can you convey God's love to a child who sees nothing but Satan's evil filth all day.

We also had two of the boys we just put into better schools come to us and tell us they want to go to their old school and that they'd go to their old school for a year and THEN we could talk about switching them. After a day like today I was thinking, really? You haven't been in school for two years, and have not had steady food or clothing for longer because no one could pay for you- and here I am... an American who left her life and home and car and comforts and family behind to live in a tiny house and shower with cold water and have stomach problems every day and people are paying for a uniform and a backpack and lunch and clinic visits and shoes and socks and notebooks and textbooks and christmas presents and you come to us and say that this better school with a better education is not what YOU want because you're freinds aren't there and you tell us where you'll go. what?!

I have to remind myself that this is really like parenting. Lots of times, we have to say no and the kid gets mad and pouty and maybe even runs away but you have to do what's right for them anyway... because they don't know what they're talking about- they haven't experienced life and don't realize what they are getting themself into. At the same time... God has the same relationship with us. He can see the future and we pray and pray and ask for something... but if it's not good for us he doesn't give it. And years later we say ahhhh ok, that's why that prayer wasn't answered. Really- we are supposed to be praying "Your will be done, not mine"... in which case  if we are praying according to God's word all prayers will always be answered!

Today was a sobering day. My headache is worse and I am worried and stressed and overwhelmed... but I am here. I am here to tutor and to hug and to minister and to drive kids to the clinic and to give health education and encourage and love and teach and preach and most of all... to convey God's love to these children. It is sickening that in four months I love some of these children more than their own mothers and blood realtives do. How is it that I care more about their lives and health and future than their mothers and sisters and aunts?

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them- for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these"- Mark 10:13  I pray that I not only let them come, but rather am used as a catalyst.

I need prayer.

"For the poor will never cease to be in this land, therefore I command you saying "You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to the needy and the poor in this world." Deuteronomy 15:11     Yes, Father. I will.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I am a vapor in a wind storm.

Well, it seems time has finally caught up with me in the health department. Like I said, the stomach issues have been pretty consistant and I've not been sleeping well plus headaches, but I assumed it was stress related ... or just... living in Zambia...

This morning I had breakfast with Heather (oh yea, Heather is here! She came Thursday night) and the Williamsons and was fine so I went to Airtel (a phone provider, basically like a verizon store) to have them help me with my new phone. As the woman was talking to me I litterally started sweating buckets. In a matter of two minutes I had sweat through my shirt, and I was leaving drops of sweat from my face on the counter. The woman was like... "ummmm are you ok? It's not that hot and you are really really sweating..." My hair was starting to be wet from so much sweat so I told her i'd come back another time since I obviously had a fever that just broke and as I was saying the sentance BOOM. Next thing I know I am on the ground being slapped awake by the customer who had been behind me in line. They got me upright off the floor and gave me some water and led me to a chair and then the woman who's desk I was sitting at asked if I was pregnant because I hit the ground hard and as she was saying that... BOOM off the chair and back onto the floor. They left me there this time and just put a guy's sweatshirt under my head and tried to use my phone to call Megan (the security guard had taken my keys so i wouldnt drive) but i was having all sorts of issues witht he phone so after a bit I said I was ok, and was just going accross the street so they let me leave.

Luckily the security guard had rushed to grab my phone, keys and purse and held on to them throguh all of this for which I almost kissed them cause they could have been gone in 30 seconds. When I got home Megan firmly scolded me for driving after all that and then took me straight to the clinic where they did blood work and urine analysis... and it turns our I have a severe infection which is why I got the fever and everything. The doctor showed me my test results and told me what numbers I should have been at and where I was now. He said basically it's obvious that I've had this for a while and asked why I didn't do anything before. I told him I had no idea I had it and he said "have you had stomach issues? using the bathroom frequently? headaches? losing sleep? feeling nauseaus and dizzy?... (i said yes to all) and he said.... And you know that's not normal, right?" I told him, Sir- this is Africa, that's how I've been defining normal. My fever is at 102F and the headache is pretty bad so today I am just sleeping and finishing a few things for work from home.

This Saturday, I went to Munda Wanga with some friends from the youth group- Corry, Chanda and Janice. It's a zoo/botanical garden. It ended up POURING rain the whole day, but we had paid and commited so we walked around for about two hours- Chanda and Corry sharing one umbrella and Janice and I sharing the other. We all got pretty wet and muddy and then went to the Youth Group meeting after that. By the time we got home Corry had already gotten a fever and headache. I am sure the weather didn't help my situation much! Unfortunatley Christian, who I mentioned in the previous blog, did not come for the meeting or church on Sunday- I had really been hoping to see him.

This week I've got a lot planned with scheduling and organizing everything so that the following week we begin cruising through work like a well oiled machine. I pray that this medication heals me quickly and allows me to get moving on the things I need to get done.

Even as I'm writing that, I'm reminded of James 4:13 "Come now, you who say today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a place and spend a year there engaging in business and making profit. You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow- you are a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, say, If the Lord wills we will live and also do this, or that."

His plan. Not mine. His plan. Not mine. His plan. Not mine....

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.

I guess my once a week blog has turned into a once a month blog! I am going to try to fix that. I feel like life has been a whirlwind since Thanksgiving and I am still waiting for the dust to settle. I've had a lot of work within Kabanana. We added eight new kids to the program. We also decided to move all of the kids into better schools. We weren't satisfied with the level of care and education they were recieving so for the past few days I've been visiting schoools, finding out prices, paying fees, arranging for lunches and uniforms, buying backpacks and notebooks... it's been very busy. We did have to say though, that if we were still traveling by bus this would have taken us a month to accomplish- so God in His providence brought everything together at the perfect time.

Last week we took Richard and Mwansa to test into school. Richard was technically in grade 3, but performing at a grade 1 level. Mwansa was technically in grade 6 but performing at around grade 2 or 3. Neither of them could read or write sufficiently. As we were walking, Mwansa was holding my hand and she began to cry. I asked her what was wrong and she basically said she knew she was going to fail because she always failed in the past. I reminded her that  God was in control and she'd do fine. They took their tests and I am overwhelmingly proud to say that Mwansa tested into 7th grade, and Richard tested into 5th! In 3 months of real close contact learning, we were able to get them reading, writing, multiplying, dividing and everything in between. I am so happy!!!

Also, someone from home sent money for me to get Richard a bike. When we used to pray after Bible class, I would pray for God to provide me with a car. When Richard saw that prayer answered he began fervently praying for a bike every day. I knew his mom had no money so I just let him keep praying half way laughing each time.... well one of my freinds from home caught wind of it, and sent the money for me to buy Richard a bike for Christmas. You should have been there to see his face and hear the screams of happiness...

This is honestly a reminder that no matter what, God provides. He answers prayer not just for food and clothes and shelter but every once in a while he throws in something special just to see and hear us laugh like this.

I have been feeling sick to my stomach a lot lately and had headaches and lack of sleep. This can be quite irritating with my living situation because if I wake up feeling sick in the night time I have to fumble around to find my shoes, then fumble around to find my keys then unlock my door, then I have to find the key for the padlock and unlock that. After that I have to unhinge the iron gate and walk outside to the toilet (most often in the rain these past few weeks). Then I come back and re hinge and close and lock everything only to get sick an hour later... It can be frustrating but I know I have it much better than lots of the people I live around and work with so I am thankful. Please pray that I'll have patience and joy in every circumstance.

Christmas and New Years were hard days for me, but I had new experiences (Spending Christmas day at a 3 hour church service then an outdoor barbeque with a family from the church- very unlike my cozy snowy christmases at home in my PJ's from the past!). New Years eve I went to an overnight prayer meeting which, to me, was the best way I have ever brough in a new year and I am very thankful to have gone and experienced it.

My car is being finally finished with the insurance  and road tax being paid. I had an alarm system put on it yesterday for obvious reasons and I am very grateful for that, it will save me a lot of stress especially in the compounds. (another 1000 dollars I didn't budget in... sigh.. thankfulness.... thankfulness!) Also I finally got my water filter, My sister and brother in law sent me the funds and I was waiting for a shipment of them to come from South Africa and it's finally in my possesion (hoping this will help the upset stomach issues). I now have plenty of water... here's the look at the fidge:

This week I am finishing up the registrations and payments for the kids and making sure all of them are settled in school with everything they need and then next week I will begin tutoring. I am looking forward to it, and would ask for prayer that I would have wisdom and they would have the ambition so that together we can get them the best education possible.

God is teaching me a lot about patience this year, and I am thankful for the lessons. I tend to feel discouraged if things arent going the way I think they should RIGHT then. I have learned, though, that God really does have a plan for everything. He knows what he's doing and I have to stop trying to be in control- because it's in those times that I start messing things up. I know he has a plan for me... a GREAT one. There is no need for worry or impatience, only joy!