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