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.