Sunday, December 30, 2012

In 2012, I went just wherever He went. In 2013, will go just wherever He goes.

Twenty twelve! What can I say about this year? It had it's share of ups and downs but even still I can only see God's grace as I look back on this year full of major life changes for me. Last year in December I NEVER would have thought I'd be writing most of these things and Thank GOD He's got a MUCH better plan than mine!

This year in the ministry has been quite fruitful. At one point we had 45 kids enrolled, but by God's grace and divine plan we are rounding out the year with 43. Quite a difference from 11 when I first arrived here!

We have new staff members (Fanny is now full time, Andrew who manages our finances (he actually does accounting- so the day he took that responsibility from me I almost did cartwheels in appreciation and joy!), and Mwidula who will have various responsibilities but with the orphans, mainly working with the older boys.

We had write a number of them writing major exams this year and we are anxiously and prayerfully awaiting those results. Fanny, myself and another part time tutor Mr Mulolwa also started weekly tuitions classes for ALL the kids, as opposed to me tutoring only a handful of them who were in desparate need last year.

We now have a (mostly) fully functional building, complete with a working kitchen! Praise God!!! It still needs a few things (floors and ceiling board) but it functions and it has been a HUGE advantage to us.

We have had many pastors, visitors and volunteers this year all of whom have been a great help in one way or the other. We also had our first Hope Kabanana Camp in the winter (summer for my overseas readers) and it was a great success- the kids had an absolute blast and we pray for an opportunity for a  repeat in the future.

We had about 25 kids tested for HIV this year, and only 3 were positive. Statistically considering the economic and social situation of these kids, that is nothing but God's kindness and mercy.

Alex, who has severe cerebral palsey and many other mental/emotion problems, was enrolled in special classes in school and is THRIVING. We also started him on some medications to stabilize his condition.

Around 15 kids who had never recieved a Christmas present before got their very first one this year, complete with shiny new church clothes.

Just the thought that 43 kids are off the street and in class is a blessing. Such a huge blessing.

I could go on for hours about what has been accomplished this year.

We had a few sorrows and disappointments. One of those sorrows was the passing of Mrs Alice Tembo. She had become a freind to me, despite differing opinions the fact of the matter is she was more than entitled to those opinions. She is survived by four kids and a grandson who are out there in the world alone now, making choices and decisions every day. Never stop praying for them.

We have dealt with disrespect, ungratefulness, lack of commitment, fighting and all manner of issues that come with  working with kids aged 7-21 every day. It's part of their humanness, and we wouldn't be here if they didn't need our guidance and unconditional love which we wouldn't be able to give them without God's example towards us. I hope they see that.

The major negative in my mind, despite any issues or problems that arose, is that this year we had no conversions or baptisms. I pray that 2013 is a year of spiritual awakening for the kids, I wouldn't care if they all failed out if we got to see more of them professing faith. Please pray in that direction with us.

In terms of my personal life, again it has been a year of ups and downs. I had many struggles with my health- including surgery/biopsies taken in March. The results were not perfect, but still promising. I have a follow up procedure scheduled in May, so please uphold me in prayer in that regard.

I lost three puppies this year. Two, Derbi and Lily who were sisters, I lost to parvovirus. They are apparenly a breed that rarely survives it. The other, Jules,  I lost to what was described to me as "canine leprosy". The last one I lost to parvovirus was the hardest I and Sydney had a very special connection to her and I nursed her from home for 3 days before she finally passed. It was very hard to watch as she was EXTREMELY ill and in a lot of violent pain. I had her admitted and treated at two different vet practices but the virus took hold of her quite severely. Jayte, who I got for $2 on the side of the road and was the size of my hand and made of bones and skin (who also had parvovirus, but survived it)- has grown into a massive 8 month old beast who is the most loyal and happy dog. I feel bad he has lost all his buddies and amazingly, he took losing Lily the hardest too (even though he was with Derbi and Jules much longer). Yesterday he just laid on her grave and sighed/ whined. She was a special pup.

I moved out of the Williamsons guest house and into my own place early this year The house has been SUCH an amazing blessing and has allowed me to be able to show hospitality to people over the year, including Jacky and her kids, Catie Woodman and even an old college freind who was passing through with the peace corps (small world!) I was also able to host holiday dinners and a braii for my church's cell group.

I had theives come when I first moved in, but the Lord was gracious to spare myself and my car- and they took only stuff from outside in the yard. Since then, I have enjoyed the peace and safety of my home, and the oportunity to use it as a ministry.

Now to the good part- the most important and monumental part of this year- Sydney Bwalya Kombe. He proposed to me on October 6 and my life will never be the same. He has been nothing but a helpmate, encourager and best freind to me. I can not believe how well we fit together and how clearly God's plan has been mapped out for us. I know that I do not deserve him, and he deserves WAY better than me but I am thankful just the same. He is the most kind and ... for lack of a better term GOOD person I have ever met, while at the same time being strong and that leader I have been aching for. He has even seen me breakdown in tears over random stuff (including being yelled at by a passing motorist... teehee) at least 3 times and hasn't run away yet!

 Our wedding with be in June of 2013 and I pray... PRAY that the days fly by. Lord willing, we will be going into ministry in Kasama which is about 12 hours from here in Northern Zambia. It will mean my involvement with LION will change, but I am not sure to what degree it will be left at this point, so we shall see how God wills in that regard. I know at least personally I will be in VERY close contact with my sisters working here, and whenever I travel to Lusaka for supplies I will be coming for hugs and checking up on my family in Kabanana!!

Please keep Sydney and I in prayer as we work out the logistics and paperwork of our union- it is by no means an easy task, as we are finding out, and we need a lot of patience, faith and trust in God's provision.

I have many hopes/plans/aspirations for next year. There is so much I see God doing and so much I know we can do with the strength He gives. I have not, and will not grow weary- and I know that this love and stregnth I feel has nothing to do with my human heart but everything to do with the fact that the Lord is by my side holding my hand. Some days I spit in His face with my sin. Some days I doubt His plans. Some days I shake my fist in His face but then I open my eyes and see all that He is doing for me, the financial and emotional support, the provisions, the ability- the breath in my lungs, the perserverance, and most especially all He is doing for this nation all for His glory and I come with my tail between my legs pleading for forgiveness, smehow all the while never feeling the warmth of His hand leaving mine.

I have grown. I feel God shaping and molding me each month and each year, and I see Him putting instuments of change and growth (Sydney) in my life. I don't deserve it, but my heart is joyful and thankful nonetheless.

Continue to pray for me. I am currently a missionary who is on a fast track to being a Pastor's wife. God has called me to it and I pray that I will be the support to Sydney that I need to be as well as an instrument in the ministries of the church and potentially, if that's what God wills, even LION on some level.

An unknown hymn writer says it clearly here:

I will follow wherever He leads,
Every problem, my Savior, He knows.
Though the path may be LONG,
With His help I'll be strong
I will go just wherever He goes.


When the sun starts to set in the sky,
I shall know I am nearer my home.
But until that great day
And I'll go just wherever He goes.

As I close out this year, I am nothing but thankful with the knowlege that at the end of it all GOD is in control and every wrong note in the orchestra was conducted by Him, so it still sounds sweet to me.
 It was a year of heartache, sorrow, happieness, anger, joy, fulfilment, disappointment and celebration.... but then again, they all are aren't they.

Monday, December 17, 2012


Well, the tide comes in and it goes out, so I knew I had to expect a time like this. It has been a frustrating week or two. We were supposed to be in the Copperbelt this week meeting Sydney's family but due to funds and a few other issues, that was postponed. After a series of minor frustrations and issues, I woke up to my expensive hose being chewed through by the dogs, and a broken water filter-- and flooded kitchen floor.

After dealing with those things, I went with Sydney to interview for his visa so that he can come to the states for our wedding. After not having enough money- driving back to the ATM, then back to the embassy - and in total about 3 hours of waiting- his visa was denied. They keep the $200 bucks, and we leave with a shiny new denial letter.

I can't express how devastating this is. Financially, this is a huge blow to us, as we've already cut out christmas presents, evenings out, and cut back on just about all other spending.

I have surgery coming up which I have no insurance to cover, not to mention two plane tickets and visas and all the other wedding expenses coming up. This has just felt like an end of the year blow below the belt.

It is easy to say "God is in control" but it is even easier to be frustrated and angry and confused. We now have to figure out if we can afford to "gamble" for a second $200 interview, or what on earth to do next. Dresses and tuxes are paid for, as well as deposits on the venue- and I am feeling entirely overwhelmed by this dark cloud.

All I can say is, we drove home in silence while tears streamed down my face and I sped and had road rage and when we got home I started throwing pots and pans around and slamming cabinet doors grumbling and making lunch, and sydney silently went in the living room and prayed. Of one thing I am sure, I don't deserve him.

On the flip side, this weekend we will have the Christmas party. The kids have been preparing songs and memory verses, as well as a Christmas skit. I am looking forward to that celebration as it will be my last Christmas with the kids. I am still not used to Christmas away from home, but I am very thankful that this year, at least I have my new family (Sydney) and these kids to spend it with.

One point of GREAT PRAISE we have is that this week we took the kids for HIV testing. They were the last 10 (save a few) that did not go yet. In God's great grace not a SINGLE one was HIV+. We have been blessed thus far in that regard and we praise God for that.

As I write this, my mind is flying to people and cities and families who have much bigger problems than a denied visa. I am feeling so disgusted by my ungrateful heart and I almost deleted this post and started over- but that would be lying and I have always wanted this blog to be what's in my heart. Unfortunatley, this exposes my selfishness quite clearly. As I wrap this up, I am chosing to change my heart and believe that God has a greater plan. Choosing to believe that that 200 dollars will be returnd, and another 200 found. And if need be, another 200 after that. He will sort out my surgery and He will take care of us because He brought us together for His glory and He will bring that to fruition.

I have a lot to be thankful for, and I am more blessed than I deserve. There are many families who will wake up with family members missing this Christmas, one of those families being one I grew up with, who have supported me in my ministry here, and I cannot express enough what I am feeling for them. I chose to be thankful that my family is safe and warm with their families in their homes, and regardless of presents or big meals or familiar smells or faces or tastes, I will have a fiance who loves me and cares for me and treats me FAR far better than I deserve.

Seeing the ugliness inside yourself is tough. I have a long way to go. God knew what he was doing when He sent me here, and He has a lot more to teach me still.

Monday, December 3, 2012


I finally have the time to sit and write a blog....well, I will use that phrase lightly, since the bathtub is full of clothes to be washed, I am headed out to the  post office as soon as it opens to pick up the last of the Christmas gifts for the kids, the dogs are begging for food, the dishes need to be done... etc. But I knew if I didn't wirte this now, next thing you know it's Christmas and thats a whole other blog entry!

Kasama was beautiful! Sydney and I left at the beginning of the month and drove 12 HOURS on some good roads, and some very bumpy roads to get out deep into the Northern Province of Zambia. Luckily, in the nick of time he got his driving papers so we shared the driving responsibilities. The road was long, but the scenery was beautiful.

Kasama itself is a FRACTION of the size of Lusaka. There is one traffic light in the entire Northern Province, and it is there in Kasama. There is a shoprite, but it's the only recognisable grocery/food store other than roadside markets or people vending on the streets. Here in Lusaka there is pick and pay, spar, melissa, shoprite- and not only that but MULTIPLE of those, so I have been spoiled and there is a LOT of variety and choice. I am told the shoprite there is the ONLY shop in all of Northern province so again, at the end of the month when everyone gets their paychecks, there are long cues of people who traveled and are emptying out whatever was on the shelves (the selection was.... scarce) before the next shipment comes in from Lusaka.

Also, there are no restaurants (whereas in Lusaka you have a choice of about 50 within short driving distance, including Subway and KFC etc...) Kasama has a lodge that will cook food if you call ahead by a few hours to give them time to prpare but your choice is chicken, fish, or beef- with nshima or chips.) There is also a shawarma place at the fuel station, and one or two take out nshima places, but nothing like fast food or sit down restaurants.

Even beign the capital city of Northern province, it is much more a village whereas Lusaka is a bustling and developed city. Luskaka has 3 or 4 beautiful new malls and movie theatres and restaurants, staduims, and places of entertainment etc. There is none of that there. Kasama's more needy people live in thatched grass and clay houses as opposed to living in an actual home structure here that might have power and water hookup. It's amazing to see- no matter how needy someone might be, there is always someone who needs more. But it also puts in perspective all the whining and crying we do on a daily basis- when you see what a person actually can survive on.

Kasama is BEAUTIFUL. There are beautiful trees, flowers, streams, lakes and waterfalls in the area. People are much more conscious of that and there is not litter and garbage thrown all over the ground. It cuts down on diseases we have seen here because of pollution and contaminated water, like cholera and dyssentary. They don't suffer from that in that area which is a blessing.

Also, I love that there are not very many wall fences, and no electric fences there that I saw. Since it's a small place, people know eachother and crime is at an extreme minimum. You can leave things outside without them being stolen and people are not surrounded by fences and gates and electrified fences- which makes it much more beautiful, comfortable and friendly.

The best thing about Kasama is the cost of living. First of all. food, clothing and amenities are a fraction of the price. The same package of chicken that is $8 in Lusaka's shoprite is $3-4 in Kasama's shoprite. Dogfood in the big bag that is $21 in Lusaka, is $10 in Kasama. Dresses in Lusaka (from the thrift shops) run anywhere from $10-$20. In Kasama, I didn't see anything over $7-10.

Also, housing is much less, is is much cheaper to build and MUCH cheaper to rent. A 4 or so bedroom house in Lusaka with a yard, depending on the area, ca be 1,000 to 2,000 dollars a month, depending on the area (some areas might be about 800$ or so). Many flats and apartments with no land at all and terrible power and water hookups here can be $8-900 a month because they are close to town. In Kasama, we were  told there is nothing on rent over $300. We ate meals in some HUGE and gorgeous homes with 3-4 bedrooms, and no one was paying over $220 dollars. My home here in Lusaka, which was the cheapest I could find for its size and I have terrible power and water (it's only on sporadically) is $520 a month. One the EXACT same size without the power and water issues there and a bigger yard is about $170-200 dollars. Some people who had only one or two bedrooms, or a flat, were saying their rent is about $50 bucks a month.

So, since there are no malls, shopping centers, theatres, stadiums, and the cost of living is so low, it is a place where you don't have to stress so much financially, and can have a nice comfortable home.

We absolutely loved the place. it was so friendly and warm there and just a beautiful place to be. You forgot about the lack of malls and entertainment because there are people to visit and waterfalls and lakes to see.

Most importantly though, we LOVED the church. Ther people welcomed us with OPEN arms and it was such a blessing to be there. We were hosted for breakfast lunch and dinner in different congregation member's homes, so over the two weeks we got to know the people personally and spend time with them. Everyone was so gracious and amazing and loving twoard us. The church structure itself was gorgeous but the people were just so wonderful and instantly became family. At one point Sydney and I said to eachother "We've only been here two weeks but this place just feels like home." We felt like we knew the people for years!

There are not as many whites that come through Kasama, and I was told one of their major concerns prior to us coming was having a white pastor's wife- would I be accesible, understanding, know their particular problems/issues etc. By the time we left I was told that I squashed all those fears and the ladies especially no longer had ANY of those concerns, which was such a relief and a blessing to hear!

So that's Kasama in a nutshell. Sydney had a meeting with the elders and deacons and Lord willing we will return there in the near future. Please pray with us in that regard, we would LOVE to be there as we start off our marriaige and ministry.

As far as the kids here go, they are on break from school so they are enjoying and we are doing a more minimal amount of tutoring since it's the end of the year and they (and we) all need a break! We are also working on preparations for the end of the year party, and they plans for next year. They had a swimming party scheduled while I was away so I know they enjoyed that, and here in about 2 weeks we will have our Christmas party. I am looking forward to it but also a bit heartbroken, it will be my last Christmas with them! Maybe next year I will travel to celebrate with them! :)

They older ones will be going to a youth camp at Kabwata soon, so pray for those who are unsaved to come to Christ- many youths are touched in those same youth confrences and it is our greatest concern that we have more baptisms. Last year we had 5 and this year we haven't had any so please pray with us in that regard!

Next week, I will be traveling again just for a few days to the Copperbelt Province, to Ndola, Kitwe and Chingola to see where Sydney grew up, meet his mother and siblings and also get some counsel from Lazerus Phiri and his wife, who are a mixed couple of a Zambian man and American white lady so we are hoping they can offer us some practical counseling, since they have been married and living here for many years.

After that will be the Chritmas preparations and party and then comes the dreaded paying of the school fees for next year!! January will be a busy month.

Sydney has his visa interview soon, and I have to go to immigration and find out about what to do with my visa here.... so please keep all that in prayer as well.

I think that's all and my to do list grows by the minute!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

It's my turn to wear white!

I'm engageeeeeeedddddddd!!! I couldn't think of any other way to start this blog entry :) Many have asked how he did it, so let me take this forum to tell the story!
Every Saturday morning, Sydney takes me on a "coffee date" where we can catch up, talk about the week and he can tell me about his sermon if he's preaching the next day. We always go to a little cafe called "Blue Moon" but on the 5th, Friday, he asked if we could try out a new place called "Sandy's Creations." So, on Saturday morning I picked him up and (as is my custom since I knew he started ring shopping) checked for any ring box sized bulges in his pockets. There was no mistaking the flat pockets- so off we went and I didn't suspect a thing! We went and had breakfast at Sandy's which is a beautiful gardens place with an amazing pool and flowers and trees- so gorgeous. We sat there for hours, talking and chatting about life and eachother and love. Finally it came time to leave but before we got up, he said "Oh by the way, you thought we came here for breakfast but... we didnt". He then reached into his BACK pocket (the sneak!) and pulled out a white ring box!! He made a beautiful speach of which I didnt hear not ONE word because I was bawling- and then he asked me to give him the honour of being his wife!

I said yes, by the way! Now traditionally here there is an engagement party where the ring is given in front of a big crowd and the answer is obviously known. He took a big risk doing it the "American" way- just the two of us, and apparently I gave him a serious panic attack when i started to cry cause he started second guessing !! I am so grateful tho, for this memory of just me and him in the bright sunshine smelling the beautiful flowers and confessing our love and commitment to eachother- I wouldn't trade it for the world!
So- We are getting married! The date is 22 June, and he has sacrificed having his family and friends be able to attend in order to appease me and allow me to have it in the US, knowing we'll now be spending the rest of our lives here in Africa. I wish there were some way to at least get his brother, Bright, who has been a God send to both of us there for the wedding as a representative for Sydney far from home, but we are still trying to figure out how to make that possible. We will then have a separate party here, in Lusaka for his family and friends and my Zambian family.
It will be expensive just in terms of travel and visas and all of that logistical stuff, so we are planning on a budget and trying to squeeze two celebrations into that tight budget so pray with us as we try to be as wise as possible.
In addition to that, I am having surgery again to have biopsies done in May, to give myself time to heal for the wedding. I am no longer on any insurance, so that is another major cost taking away from the wedding. There's a lot of stress starting to pile and not a lot of time to deal with it- but I know God will cause everything to run smoothly as He has brought Sydney and I together for His great purpose.

We will be moving to Kasama, which is about 10 hours from Lusaka. Sydney, Lord willing, will be ordained as the pastor of Kasama Baptist Church next year, and I will follow. This does mean that I will be leaving the LION of Zambia orphan ministry in about 6 months. It is such a bitter sweet thought for me. I have dreamed of finding a man like Sydney my whole life, and he is truly a gift from God that I don't deserve. I will follow him joyfully to the ends of the earth. This marraige does, however, mean leaving behind over 40 children that I have come to love, cherish and that I have been mothering the best way I can for two years. It also means leaving my best friend, Fanny and her family- Maureen and hers, the williamsons and NOT to mention my FAMILY at Mount Makulu Baptist Church who have been there for me and loved me for the past two years, most especially the Mwondela's and Sakufiwa's and all related parties... So much of my heart and soul has been invested in Lusaka and all these people and families, but I trust God has used me how He saw fit for that time.

I am looking forward to starting life (because marraige is really where this new life starts) with Sydney as the pastors wife and main support system and encourager. I am anxious to see what doors God opens for me there, and how I will be able to minister and serve and what I will be able to do with everything He has taught me thus far. I have big plans for a ministry there- but Sydney has put his foot down that the first year of marraige is to be just us, and I am submitting (yea... submitting! haha!). It will be a big year for him starting out in his first official pastorate, in a new place and settling in there, and so my ministry in 2013 will be Sydney!

In two weeks we are going together to Kasama to see the place we will be living for the first time! keep us in prayer!

Now- thats my exciting news! In terms of the work here, things are going well. PLEASE pray for our grade 7's and grade 9's who have major exams coming up in the next few weeks. (Wisdom, Robert, Tisa, Kaumba, Kelley, Morgan, Francis, Ruth and Felix) and all the others who will be wiritng tests and end of the year exams.

Nathan just finished his first term at univeristy!! Such a proud moment when I went to pick him up and we emptied out his dorm room into my car so he could be home for break. Keep him in prayer as he continues his higher education (he is studying medicine).

Rabecca has been sick on and off lately. They had said it wasnt malaria, then treated her FOR malaria, but she can't seem to kick it! Otherwise, we haven't had too many health issues.

Alex is doing well and does not need to be on any serious medicaions for the time being, and he is putting on weight! We are very thanful for that.

We plan to have a pool party in November, and then Christmas party in December!! Looking forward to these fun times to round out the tough year we've had.

I myself have been in and out of the clinic for 3 weeks with terrible flu symptoms,  painful coughing, bloodshot and painful eyes and a number of other odd things. It seems to FINALLY be leaving me!

I think that's all I can come up with for now... just know the hot season sun has NOTHING on the shine of my smile right now... God is good!!!!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Today, I choose joy.

I cant think of any other way to begin this post other than to say that I am very happy. Many of you have been praying together with me that God would bring me a man and he went above and beyond all I asked of him. Some of you must have REALLY been on your knees on my behalf for me to have been blessed in this way... Please continue with us in prayer as we grow closer together and together- grow closer to God.

Work with the kids is going well. We've been busy finishing up paying school fees and chasing kids around trying to make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be. ( Some of the kids like to "extend" their vacations into the next term- especially the new ones who are not used to much structure in their lives.

Continue to pray with us for the Tembo family. The kids need guidance and we can see some "acting out" and rebellion I am sure some of which is due to greif and some due to lack of structure and discipline now in the home. They need the true knowlege and saving power of Christ and I pray we show it to them through our love for them, actions toward them and feeble attempts to minister to them and show them love.

It seems as though the chicken pox have finally stopped spreading around! So no more white creamed faced greeting me on the road every day. This month is child health month, so last week Fanny and I were busy taking all the kids for measles vaccinations because there was a recent outbreak.

Now that we are finished with all that- we can FINALLY get back to my sweetheart, Alex. We plan to start him on the ARV's tomorrow and then as soon as any negative effects subside from that, we will move on to finishing up his paperwork for school.

Please pray for the kids for the next few months, in October and November they begin their grade 7 and grade 9 tests which are VERY important- and put a lot of stress on them, thier families and us as we continue to tutor and get them ready for those.

I got a new baby girl puppy, Jules (aka Juju). She has myasis, though so today I am taking her to the clinic. Jayte has one eye that has turned completely white so he'll also be along for the ride! Pets!!

This was just a quick update- trying to be more on top of this blogging thing so I dont have to cram everything into one long blog once a month!  and couldnt stop myself from gushing about the joy in my heart <3

Friday, September 7, 2012

Cloud 9 is comfy.

Another month gone by. So much has changed in that 1 month it feels like a year! At the beginning of the month, we had our first annual Hope ministries camp! Most of the kids were able to attend, for one family- the guardian was not comfortable letting her 2 kids go for that long a period of time. For the rest who were not able to come, it was because of a chicken pox outbreak of all things!

We played sports and games, made necklackes with the girls, had devotionals from Catie and Bible sessions with Pr. Thole and James, had separate boys and girls "talks" getting to some issues of growing up etc... (the boys one was handled by Joseph Quarmout who was here visiting for a few weeks). The kids absolutely loved it and on Friday, although the adults were ready to go sleep- the kids were begging to stay!! It was such a blessing to be able to do that and they are already asking when the next camp is- I am using it as incentive for them to do well in school so they remain in the program and get to do that again!

After the camp, Catie was here for another week and then headed home. In that week we started Alex's processes of texts/exams for him to get his paperwork. For 3 days, Fanny and I woke up at 4am to go and get in line at the hospital. You wait in line there for hours upon hours.... the doctor shows up around 9:30-10 (but if you are not there at 4-5 you don't get a spot in line and they only see 15-30 people a day). By 8 there were over 100 people clamoring for a spot. Nightmare. Absolute nightmare. Anyway we pushed and shoved as much as the rest- and I am ashamed to say that on the second to last day I used my skin to my advantage, depite promising myself I'd never do that.

Having been up and at it since 4am- when it got to be 10 am (knowing we had ANOTHER appointment to line up for at noon) I lost all patience and pushed through into the office telling them this was our second day here and we were going to miss our next appointment, essentially making a white lady scene. (MY FIRST I might add, in these 2 years) It turned out they had even misplaced Alex's file, and never wouldve called us- so it's a good thing I did that! After 3 grueling days of that we have one more appointment and then we'll be done. But I can safely say that hospital is on my list of places never to ever visit again as long as it's my choice. (That was the same hospital I was refered to for my biopsies earlier in the year.. not a chance!)

Alex collapsed at church on Sunday, and the doctors say he is severely underweight and malnourished (I'd say so, at 72 pounds and 17 years old...). On Monday, we start the process of taking him to get started on ARV's. More appointements and needles- which he HATES, but at least at a different clinic!

The kids started back to their last term of school this week and last. With Maureen on leave from work for the month, Fanny and I have been cooking. It has been HOT and cooking over open heat for 40 kids is no picnic!! We also paid up all the school fees which is stressful so I am glad thats over with.

Many of you have been praying for/asking about Maureen's wedding. Regretably, it was called off. It is for the best and she is handling it with God given stregnth but please keep her in your prayers.

Last month was the Reformed Family Confrence here in Lusaka. It was a great week and I had the pleasure of hosting two women who traveled here for the confrence from Luapula. They were wonderful guests and I am happy to call them freinds and proud I was able to give them a place to stay so they could enjoy and benefit from the confrence.

Many of you have also been praying for me in regards to my lonliness and want/need for a husband. Welllll.... at the confrence I met someone. He is a pastor and serves as an intern under Conrad Mbewe at Kabwata Baptist Church. He desires to be a missionary pastor after finishing his internship. We are getting to know eachother and enjoying eachother VERY much, and I would ask for your prayers now as we talk to freinds and pastors and seek God's direction from here.

This month will be full of appointments for Alex, meetings with teachers and guardians, delivering food, teaching tuition classes and on top of all that is my 2 year anniversary of moving to Zambia. I can't wait to see what year 3 brings my way....

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Today is Mrs Tembo's burial. She started out two years ago as a woman I barely knew. A guardian to some kids I was getting to know. She left as my friend.

I thank God she got to hold her first grandchild.

I thank God she saw her 3 sons baptised.

I thank God she saw Morgan turn from a stubborn and fallen boy to a kind and funloving man.

I thank God she saw that Wisdom's grades are some of the best in his class and he's going to pass with no problems.

I thank God that he sustained her just long enough to see her oldest son get out of the compound and get accepted to study medicine at University.

God is gracious.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Alice Tembo.

Yesterday we had gone to see Mrs Tembo. I had planned to bring the kids to see her today for the first time in two weeks, knowing the time was soon. We left the hospital at around 5:30 and she passed away at 7. No one knew until this morning because her mother, who had been with her at her passing, had no phone and no means of transportation.

Catie said she believed that for Mrs Tembo, seeing Maureen Fanny and I gave her peace knowing her family was going to be taken care of and it enabled her to stop suffering and let go. I don't know that I've recieved a greater compliment. I hope we are able to fill the shoes of mother auntie and caretaker to these children.

 The kids were prepared but are taking it as well as can be expected, and in fact Wisdom has run away. I am sure he needs time to process. Please pray for this family, pray for Fanny and Maureen as they spend says and nights caring for and being there for the family. Pray for myself as I try to find where I fit into this and how I can be of help to each one of these kids, Fanny, Maureen and the family. Pray for the ministry as we decide how to move forward with the kids and what to do next. Pray for Wisdom....

I see my Father's eyes.

Almost another month has gone by. So much happens in these months and it's weird sometimes to think about how I'm the only one who will know what is thought and seen and felt as each of these days goes by.

Mrs Tembo continues to go down hill. From the last time we visited her, she continued to deteriorate. In the middle of the night about a week ago, Nathan booked a cab to rush her to the hospital- knowing full well he had no money to pay for her car or the cab fare. The next day, the cab driver showed up at Curtis and Fanny's demanding that someone pay the fee. He was threatening to beat Nathan and then take him to the police. We paid the fare and dodged that drama but it was a stressful day for everyone. I am so proud of the man Nathan has become. He started university at the same time his mother has fallen so ill. He's juggling caring for his siblings, the stresses of starting college and all the worried and pressures and concerns of that and still manning up to care for his mother as well. I pray God blesses him for how well he is handling the weights that have fallen on his shoulders. Catie, Maureen, Fanny and I went to the hospital yesterday afternoon to see Mrs. Tembo. We were told she was in "critical condition" and it's clear as each week goes by that she is closer to the end. I don't handle these emotional situations very well, and I don't know how to look at such a young woman with family who needs her and know she is leaving them. I feel like the pain in my eyes is too clear to her and I don't want to cause her any more pain herself. This evening after work I will bring all the kids to see her- they haven't seen her since she was admitted because transportation is too expensive.

Catie, Fanny and I took Alex last week to begin his assesments for special placement in school. In the first hour and interview process we got all his forms. He was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsey. The woman said it was good that we found him and brought him in because he is very advanced and will be able to do a lot if he is given opportunity. His hands are crumpled and shriveled but he can hold a pencil and write. His hearing is bad but it's there. From there we were given a 5 page packet of forms that have to be filled out- each in a different wing by different doctors or even different clinics/buildings. The hospital is like a whole town in and of itself so it was a full day of driving from building to building. We made appointments for eye exams, ear exams, psych evaluation and followups- (all made for different days a month from now how “convenient”). He was able to do physiotherapy that day because the doctor was available. She asked him questions and he was able to stand on one leg which he was VERY proud of and laughed for a while when we praised him with "well done, good boy". Very pleased with his performance! :)

We had to get some medical/physical stuff done as well. The hospitals policy is that all patients are tested for HIV routinely before they even see the doctor. I went in with Alex alone, as I was dragging him around by the hand most of the day and was in most of his interviews/tests with alone him while C and F waited outside so he'd feel comfortable but not on display. They tested him once, then immediately did it again. I knew that was a bad sign but then they said what I was dreading. HIV positive. He sat there smiling as he had NO idea what was going on... I was there alone with him and just held his hand while they finished up the paperwork. I gave him a wink and he attempted a wink back but it was more of a scrunched up goofy face.

Halfway through the day (and it was a LONG DAY) as we walked down long confusing corridors, something made him laugh and he did a little dance then just burst into laughter- of course it spread like wildfire and we all just stopped walking and laughed. None of us really knew WHY we were laughing but to see this boy with his big gums out laughing at whatever on earth was going on his head was enough to give us the energy to finish the day....

Through all this testing and bad news and diagnosis and a full day of waiting room after waiting room he found something to smile and laugh about and spread that laughter to 3 hungry, tired and irritated ladies... May God bless that boy every day of his life.

We had his cd4 count (white blood cells) taken at another clinic yesterday- so now next week we'll take him to start on medication. Odds are we wont be able to bring him to the camp since it gets worse before it gets better. I'll miss his smile.

Two weeks ago, Derbi and Jayte (my puppies) got really sick. At first we thought maybe they'd just eaten something bad but they stopped eating and started vomiting blood. We brought them to the vet and they were dignosed with Parvo virus and immediately put on IV's and admitted for 4 days. I went the same morning we took Alex to the hospital to pick them up and we got out of the car and Fanny asked how they were. The vet said "no, come in- we'll talk"... and I knew. Derbi didn't make it. He said she had made it up until that morning and when they got there in the morning- she was gone. Jayte was happy to see us and so excited to leave but I bawled in the office. Some people here dont understand the way Americans feel about pets and it was clear that I was making the vet uncomfortable but there was nothing I could do. I excused myself to bring Jayte out to the car and come to terms with it. Derbi was my first puppy. I felt responsible for not getting her to the vet in time for her vaccinations.

I've been having grass planted (the whole yard was just dust when I moved in) and so I've had an older guy who was out of work come and plant/water the grass every day. He's a good man who has become a friend and he's extremely protective of me and my things. He barely speaks English so it's something of a comedy hour every time we try to communicate. It's a mix of english,nyanja nad hand signals but we make due. He's been together with the dogs since he came since he's there all day every day- and when they got sick he was really concerned. When they were in the hospital he asked every day if they were ok. When I came home with only Jayte he seemed genuinely sad for me. He told me he had a dog once that he grew attached to and when he died he was so sad. He said in his broken english "Madame, sorry the ka (small) white one is die. At least it should have be this one (pointing to Jayte). The other one was beautiful. Too bad." I know what he meant but I almost had to laugh at that.... Derbi was a beautiful dog and a rare breed here. Jayte is like a gutter mutt and his breed is a dime a dozen. And bless his heart he kinda looks like a drowned rat. But his personality is so great and hes a sweetheart.

So it's been a month again of a lot of ups and downs. I am so thankful to have had Catie Woodman here through all of it. She's given me a shoulder to cry on when my first puppy passed away, support as we deal with all this other stuff and shes been a great help in the ministry and great company at home. I needed her here. God keeps sending people here to help me cope and I feel underserving but so greatful that He cares for me that much.

My sister Johanna had her first baby on Monday after a long wait for this pregnancy then high risk throughout. It's been especially difficult knowing I wont see that baby until it's not even really a baby anymore.... and I really.... really miss my family right now.

My 26th birthday is coming up... so much more has happened then I thought I would accomplish by this age. I live in a foreign country and directly care for and am blessed to be a part of 45+ kid's lives plus their families. I was sure I'd be married and have kids by now or I would DIE but in fact I am stronger than I thought- dealing with life holding only the hand of the Lord and instead of 2 or 3 kids who look like me He's given me 45 kids who look like him. They have their Father's eyes.

I've been having weird financial “issues”. In the last two months I have had stolen from me or “misplaced” money on 4 separate occasions- adding up to almost 300-350 dollars. I am not sure why, but I feel that the devil is attacking me by financial means. I keep hearing of ministries closing because money dries up and it causes me anxiety, then I had money stolen from me or go missing one after the other- things keep breaking that need to be replaced... Money is tight anyway but these things make it tighter. I think God is teaching me to rely on Him and trust that He's got it all under control. Worry is something I struggle with and in the past few years specifically financial worry. I still believe with all my heart that God put me here in this country, this city, this ministry, this house and on this couch for a purpose. HIS purpose. I know He'll control every aspect of it including the financial so I pray for ease of the sin of anxiety.

Next week we have a 4 day camp/VBS for ALL our kids on a camp site an hour away called Ciyanjano. It will be a LOT of work but I am looking forward to the work and the fun the kids will have. We have a lot planned and Catie will be doing the arts/crafts and messages/lessons on the theme “Power Perfected in Weakness”.

Last night I am picked up Moriah Barr, who is essentially my sister in law (my sisters husband's sister.) I'll see how she's doing but she'll most likely come with us today to check on some results at a few schools, teach a class in the afternoon then taking the kids to the hospital to see Mrs Tembo. I hope I don't completely wear her out but she'll definitely get a taste of the work here and my life today!

There is so much more I want to say- so much I want to talk about. Protasho took a mock exam and failed. He came to me down on his knees saying “I am so sorry, Mommy”. All these little things that make up my day and hurt me or excite me or make me laugh or cry.... there is no way to properly convey them or get them all out there and no one has time to read it all anyway but just know that God is very much at work here- with these kids and these people I work with and relate to who have become my friends and family... God is doing so much more than I am able to portray here. We are too blessed.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Death, Marraige, Change, Life, Happiness and Lonliness.

I cant believe I skipped a whole month and a half of blogging. A month and a half that were so full and so ...big.

Last week- I went with Fanny to visit Mrs. Tembo. She refuses to take ARV's or any medication for that matter. When she used to fall ill, she would come out and sit in the living room and chat with us. I knew this was different because Memory told us we'd have to go into the bedroom. We walked in and I was shocked. Shocked. I have never seen a human being in that state before. You see it in movies and posters for AIDS and things like that but to see it and hear it and smell it and TOUCH it is something else all together.

She couldn't move. All that remains of this woman I used to sit and laugh and joke with just a month or two ago- is a skeleton. her skin is shriveled and dark around her tiny frail frame. She has no cheeks- no flesh to speak of. She managed to move one arm anough to shake my hand and I was so scared her fingers would break inside mine. Fanny talked with her for a while and she chatted with me a bit too. Finally we decided to leave as it was clear she was falling asleep. She had mentioned that none of her prayers were being answered so now she had stopped praying and was just "waiting". I asked if I could pray and as soon as we bowed our heads my mouth went dry. What do you say? How do you pray for Mrs. Tembo? She is going to die. She is leaving behind 4 kids and a grandchild with no money. Her oldest son is starting COLLEGE this year. An impossible achievement for a kid with his backgroundand she won't be there to see it. Wisdom is facing the same pain and suffering as she is going through if he follows her footsteps and avoids medication. Morgan wants to be a soldier. She's leaving the world at a young age almost by choice. I scrambled for some words to put together and we left. I relaized I had just looked into the eyes of death- held it in my hands.

I went home and told Megan- if you plan to see Mrs Tembo, go now.

I love Alice Tembo. She may not have the same beliefs as I do but I truly beilieve that she does NOT take medication because she loves and believes in God. Her faith in many ways is stronger than most. It is twisted, and I think it's wrong but it's between her and God. What I know is that she believes SO MUCH in God's power that she doesnt take medicine. I will miss her hemming my chitenges for me. I will miss her laugh and the way she looked sitting on that leapord carpet. I'll miss the way she thanked me everytime I came to see her and always asked me to come more often. I wish I had. She's got 4 good kids. Each of them make thier own mistakes but they are all people who need God's love and protection.

Ba Alice, I promise will be there to show it to them.


My friend Jacky moved in with me for the month of June. She had been here since November trying to adopt two girls, Evolet and Kiera. There was a sieries of things that went wrong- one thing after another really. She had to move around from place to place but for the last month, she moved in with me. In a strange way I feel honoured and so happy that they were with me at the end. Things continued to go wrong and discouragements grew and there came a point when it was clear that she was going to be going home without these two girls. Being in this house through those rollercoasters of thinking it was finally working out and then being shot down and gaining hope and then losing it again... it was stressful and tiring.

The hardest part was hugging and squeezing and loving those little girls knowing, especially toward the end, that the woman they called Mommy was flying back to America- never to return, and without them. I tried to make it a fun time, we had dance parties and coloured and we even went out to a reptile farm and spent the day playing and looking at the animals out there. On the last day- we found out they were not even going to be placed in the same orphanage they'd come from- but rather a brand new one with no freinds, no familiar faces....

I have a hard time with things like these. Evolet, after learning that she was not going to America to have the family and birthday parties and bedroom she had been dreaming of, even asked me why she couldn't just stay here with me. Try explaining to a 5 year old laws and regulations when all the while you are actually thinking about how no one would probably ever notice if I did just keep them... Then my mind turned to adoption costs and if I could swing this and if I was ready for two daughters.... If I had an extra lump of cash laying around those girls would be here in warm beds with me.

Even writing about it now is gut wrenching to me. I know no reader will ever understand but Jacky was my freind and these girls became daughters to me too and then they were just gone. One day I woke up and there was no more spilled milk at breakfast, no more yelling at anyone for sitting on the coffee table, no more E's drawn on the wall, no more dance parties and no more excited screams that I was home every time I walked in the door... just quiet.

For that month it was hard to focus. I had a foot in work and a foot in this situation and a hand in my own dealings with freinds and another hand in other things it was like playing life twister and I am still remaining with a backache from all the twists and turns and split emotions. I stretched myself thin trying to figure out my role in each thing and was left feeling helpless in everything.

Jacky left toward the end of the month. I am visiting the girls this afternoon. I want them to have at least one constant in their life. They are amazing kids and God is with them. This much I know.

The day Jacky flew home, I fell really sick. My fever broke and I have been  coughing and struggling to breathe, especially at night, for almost 2 weeks. I lost my voice completely for a week of it. I was treated for pneumonia but it never subsided....

We've been so busy with the kids. Teaching and cooking and preparing them for exams. We had a group meeting to touch base about rules and celebrate birthdays. We've had a lot of sickness and most of the kids are coughing and sneezing- it's abnormally cold this cold season. Feels like the end of fall and most people especially our kids, arent prepared for it. We gave out blankets and bought sweaters but you can't stop the noses from running. I love these kids and I am enjoying getting to know the new ones, who are much more rwody and rambunctious that any of the others. Somehow, I have a soft spot for "bad kids" and I'm drawn to them. I want to know what's up- what's behind that behaviour.

We've started the process of getting Alex "certified". He's severely mentally challenged and in order to get him into skills training, theres a mountain of paperwork and trips to clinics and hospitals and ministries and all that. We got the preliminary letter after  hours of waiting and then we took him to Chipata clinic.... the place is a nightmare. An absolute nightmare. We finally got a referral to UTH (another nightmare) and we'll taki him there for steps 3-6 next week. Alex blesses me with his big gummy smile. and his silly little laugh.

They are a good group. 45 sons and daughters, thank you Lord.

In June, I had a break in. Some theives jumped over my fence and stole whatever was outside and of value, including my trashcan (you'd be surprised how expensive they are. I spent 3 weeks saving up and finally just took the plunge and bought it and within a week it was stolen), my wheelbarrow and shovel etc. Expensive stuff. I realized I needed to take my security seriously, since the next stop is inside the house, and I had electric fencing installed. It was an invasive process and there were guys inside and outside of the house, and in the process about 50$ was stolen from my purse.... On top of all that the water shut off for a week (actually there was a leak the water company didnt want to fix, so they just turned off my water. nice.) and I had the power shutting off every day. Then the landlord told me they were finally ready to put in a hot water heater (I have been bathing with frigid cold water in this cold weather- not helping my pneumonia) and then they came and left every day for a week saying they needed one part and would be back tomorrow. It finally got installed and didnt work so I called the plumber who installed it and he said "Yes, madam- that's the wrong water heater for your house". WHYYYYYYYYYYY he didnt say that before spending a week installing it I'll never know- but after that they removed it, bought a new one and now I finally have a water heater, but it takes about an hour to heat up and uses a lot of my expensive electricity so I haven't used it yet....    life. Stress can feel like it's choking you sometimes.

We've been busy planning Maureens wedding also, which is set for September 1. I had her and Fanny over last weekend and we spent the day dress shopping, budgeting, planning and making her invitations. Very fun and so happy for her.

I hosted a church Braii (barbeque) at my house on Monday. I was nervous as it was also sort of a housewarming- the first time most of them were coming to see my new place! Our cell group just finished our Bible Study topic so we were celebrating and also saying goodbye. Uncle Hillary Anderson, one of my very favorite men at the church, is moving to another country for 2-4 years. He has always checked on me and he and his wife, Rita have been like parents to me. I'll miss him dearly.

It's been an emotional roller coaster this month. Being sick has only made it more of a bumpy ride and there seems to be no end in sight for this painful cough. Between worrying about money, then having theives, then having to put in a VERY expensive electric fence then having money stolen- and mrs tembo and jacky and the girls and my own friendships.... not a fun game of twister.

I feel lonely. Even having people around and having my amazing freinds and church family- at the end of the day I go home and stare at while walls and empty bedrooms. Patience is wearing thin but I continue to pray for a companion and children of my own.

I look forward to having Catie Woodman come on Thursday. She'll be staying in my home for 5-6 weeks as she works with the ministry. It will be good to have the company and get to know her. I have gained many dear freinds from the people who come here and volunteer- I knw she'll be another.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sing, sing I shall.

Sing, O childless woman. Shout for joy you who has never given birth! Burst into song you who have never been in labor... for more are the children of the solitary woman than of her who has a husband. - Isaiah 54.

I don't think I have ever stopped to read those words before. Someone posted it on facebook  and I am sure the surrounding verses give it another meaning and much more context but I have to say that one verse really hit me. The more time that passes with me being here, the more I get questions like "how long are you staying" and "why did you chose to come HERE from THERE?". Especially since moving I am getting more pointed questions.

Why didn't you stay in the states and get married?
Why did you chose to be in a less safe environment?
Why chose to be so far from family?
Why would you rent a hause all by yourself rather than wait for a man to come along (very uncustomary in this culture)?
When are you going HOME? (meaning America)

You get the picture... There's a lot of ways to answer them I guess, but heres what I can say.

I do want a husband but no one said he's in the states. He may not even be in Zambia, and frankly he may not exsist- but either way I dont believe in a female sitting on her hands waiting for prince charming. There's a lot to do in this world and what I am looking for is a man who sees what I am doing, appreciates why I am doing it and Who I am doing it for, and loves me for those reasons.

As far as safety and comfort go, there is a point there... but again, I have been comfortable and spoiled for 25 years... I could do without a lot. In fact though, I am quite comfortable here. Sure, I go without water for days, and theres creatures and critters I could do without, random stomach bugs and illnesses, and as I sit here writing, there's no power and my new house has no hot water so I've been taking ice cold bucket baths for a week.... but I am blessed to have found a beautiful home to rent and I have furniture to sit on and a bed to sleep in and I am doing better than I could ask.

There's lots of things I took for granted in the states. Growing up for the past 25 years, nearly every single time I turned a faucet, water came out! When I flipped a light switch, it turned on! Those rules dont necessarily apply here... but will that kill me? I have learned you can do WITHOUT so much in this life, and I have so much MORE than what is necessary for survival. (And miriads more than I deserve).

The truth of the matter is, what I am doing here, and to be able to be a part of in the LION orphan sponsorship program is worth more than all the hot showers in the world (or just showers for that matter)... it's worth more than eating at my favorite restaurants and having power every day and having doctors I can trust and the ease of simple tasks not taking a week when in the states they'd be done in 10 minutes....

It's worth more because I am called to do something that was a heavy burdon on the heart of Jesus himself. Daily, I interact and do my best to assist, care, and show love to the widows and especially the orphans. Some people wear those WWJD bracelets while they go out partying or spend their time shopping at the mall, but this.... this is what Jesus would do. He'd seek God's calling and when God made it clear to Him what he should do He'd do it, and He'd suffer if need be, but do it with a selfless and loving and egoless heart. It's an honour to walk in shoes that Jesus would wear. I haven't mastered the selfless or egoless part, and I am not even good at being loving all the time but I am doing my best. I know this is where he wants me to serve and if I had to do it in a cardboard box and eat only rice to get it done, I would. The mercy and undeserved love of God is shown in the fact that I do it surrounded by all these earthly comforts.

So when I get questions like " BUT when are you going HOME?" I simply say "after work" and head back here to Chalala until tomorrow.... :)

(By the way, the power just came back just as my computer battery was going to become low... Thanks, Lord)

So- things are moving swiftly... we are 5 months into 2012! We are up to a total count of 45 children. 45 children who try my patience, make me laugh, make me cry, and fill my heart to the brim. Every school day they get breakfast and lunch, go to school and they have a schedule for coming to us for tutoring and games etc. The classroom is so helpful and the kitchen is underway (but still in progress so keep it in your prayers!).

I wish you could see the smile on their faces on the first day of school, or playing in the yard at the church site...

By way of my own progress, it's been a long and eventful- and tiring and amazing week! Last Tuesday I officially moved out of the Williamson's property and into my own place. I was blessed to find a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom HOUSE on a decent sized plot of land which is newly built and has all new tile and is being fitted for new kitchen cabinets and counters. I got it for almost the same price I used to pay for my discounted studio apartment in Louisville... so yea. To say I am blessed is an understatement. It is also being installed with electric fencing and a push button gate opener... so that's also a blessing. I also got a "guard" dog for free- who's actually just a puppy... and am looking into getting a second one. Dogs are GREAT security here, as many Zambians fear dogs the way we'd fear someone who had a tiger chained in their front lawn.

The very first day I moved in, I locked up to go pick up the guy who was supposed to install something in the house, and when I got back the lock had broken and there was no way in, so while he pried I kicked and 30 minutes later- we were in! Needless to say I had to have those locks replaced. Thursday morning Enock came and set up my stove for me and then rewired a light that didnt work... then we headed to town to find new locks for the doors. We spent almost an hour doing from shop to shop trying to find some that would fit! Finally we did and he came and fixed them, but then the kitchen sink wasnt working. Every time the landlord's maintenance guy came to fix the sink, the water was off so he had to leave. Finally Enock told him- just buy a new faucet! So the landlord was supposed to deliver it on Friday. He did, but it was the wrong size so they left again and said they'd come back saturday.

Friday night I locked all the doors (18 locks in all) but somehow had the wrong key for the hall door- so when I locked it it locked me in for good! I went to sleep then Sat morning used my garden tools (all I had) and a key as a screwdriver and did everything I could to get it open. It wouldn't budge so I had a good cry then called the same maintenance guy. Everything was locked so an HOUR later he came and jumped over the fence, got my keys through the window, opened the grill door and front door, got inside and then simply found the right key and let me out! He still didnt have the right faucet so he left again and then came back in the afternoon and fixed the sink!

There's no such thing as cleaning out a house for the new tennants so I came into a LOT of filth and room by room I've been bleaching and cleaning and trying to put things in their place. Through all of this I got a terrible stomach bug on Tuesday (move day) which got worse on Wedsday and as it subsided that night, I got a sore throat, earaches and I've been coughing and sneezing since.

So I am exhausted, theres a LOT of work still to be done (I have barely touched the masterbedroom let ALONE the outside...) and amid all that I have still been working in Kabanana and also from home- getting their profiles written and lists updated and spreadsheets done...

Soon though, it will all be finished and I'll reap the fruit of the labor I am putting in. little by little I see it coming together- and actually a lot of it, personally and work related, is going MUCH more smoothly than the Zambian "norm" so God's hand of blessing has been upon me and us.

So now I sing and shout for joy as a husbandless woman who has never given birth... I sing for the million blessings I don't deserve and 43 kids God has placed in my life for me to love and cherish every day....

Monday, April 30, 2012

Well I am back. It has taken a while to get to my blog because I hit the ground running a bit. The week I got back we finally moved into the classroom! I am so excited and it has been such a huge blessing. Going from carrying boxes of books in my car and realizing I grabbed the wrong one ot trying to get everyone on the same page and writing on their laps to having tables and chairs and blackboards and a bookshelf full of books! God is good! The kids are really loving it so far and we are having out official "open house" on May 12 to welcome the kids in and finish our final decorations just before for a big reveal!

I am beyond happy to be back and I am really encouraged by God's faithfulness to me. I had a refreshing time to see some of my family and to be encouraged especially by the people at Grace Covenant in Flemington. I am so thankful for their lovingkindness and the way the pray and take special interest in me and my health and the Lion of Zambia ministry.

I needed that time of encouragement as these thoughts of my health were starting to wear thin and I was getting more anxious. Gid granted favorabel results and I will leave tomorrow and all the tomorrows after that up until my next operation up to him. As soon as I got back it seemed God was directing my steps in every way and one thing after another began to fall into place.

There are times in life when you really see HOW God causes all things to work together for good. You don't always get to see and understand it, and I think these glimpses are a privledge.

Aside from God blessing the ministry with the classroom, and the fact that the kitchen is working it's way up from the ground- we also have 15 potential new kids! The ladies of LION will be meeting with them and their guardians on Thursday.

Aside from THOSE blessings, on a more personal note, I have finally found a house! I move in on the 8th, and I am so excited I have not stopped smiling for days. God sort of just "dropped it in my lap" and so far everything has been running smoothly. He really is taking care of me and I got an incredible place for a great price and I am very very thankful.

I look forward to seeing where the rest of this year leads and the developments of the ministry especially. I have said it before and I'll say it again, I am overwhelmingly proud to be a part of this ministry and I am thankful for the women (and man, James!) I work with and especially the kids I am honored to be with each day!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Breath goes in, breath comes out.

I am having one of those times in my life where everything that happens or that I see or hear I can clearly see “Ok, God is trying to teach me something from that.”

I am trying to learn that I need to have more patience. I am finding it more difficult as time goes on (I thought it was the opposite?) I wanted to be here and get the medical tests. Now they are done and I want to be home. I want to find my new house and I want to put a garden there. I want to start a Bible study for the girls in my church, and share with them and learn from them. I want a husband and a family. I want to MOVE on with my life... and God keeps saying wait.... wait.... wait. And I keep getting more frustrated. Theres a reason why patience is a VIRTUE and not an inherant personality trait.

I am trying to learn to be kinder. I get to easily frustrated and I have little tolerance. I always thought I was the most tolerant person I know. I am tolerant of black and white and yellow and red.... I am tolerant of looks and characters and interests and cultures. I am not tolerant in other things, which are hard to explain but I know what they are and so does God, and he's making me aware of it.

I am trying to be more conscious of my “respectable” sins. The worry and the anxiety and the frustration.

I am trying to not be so sarcastic and to be gentler and sweeter. (If you know me you are laughing right now. I am too.)

I want to become more thoughtful and to ask people about themselves and their life, and actually care. I am trying to be more conscious of others and their needs and to be less lazy and selfish in terms of how I treat and speak to other people.

Now I am just rambling, I could go on and on. As you know I am in the states and I am TERRIBLY missing the kids and my work back there but I am where God wants me so I am accepting that (I am trying to be more content too.... sigh)

About Kabanana:

Good news and bad news. Bad first, Barbara is not in the program anymore. This was a hard one for me because I invested a lot of time with her and I have a personal relationship that I've developed with her almost on a big sister little sister level. She failed grade 7 a second time. We exhausted what we could do for her in terms of school and she seemed a bit indifferent and then went on to ask us to just bend the rules and pay extra money to get her into the next grade. It's clear she does not want to or can't put the effort in, and so we had to let her go to make room for the scores of kids who are chomping at the bit to get into school and work hard. It's hard to spend a year working with someone every single week thinking you are getting somewhere with them only to find out your efforts have flatlined. I can only hope the love we showed her and the education she got both at school and in church will remain with her. I hope to continue my relationship with her and guide her somehow in her life because God knows she is not getting guidance from her family.

Now the good... no GREAT news is that Nathan made it into UNIVERSITY. He got his acceptance letter a little over a week ago. We are looking into grants and loans from the government to help cover the costs. He was one of the original kids, our first grade 12 graduate, the first of the kids to be baptised and join the church and the first to go to school. He is paving an admirable road for the rest of the kids, and I am so proud of him.

It's times like these I have to say OK, Maybe Barbara was not the success story I had prayed for but I forgot to pray as hard about Nathan and look what God did! He comes from one of the hardest homes and he has defeated so many odds... people sing the praises of their favorite musicians and sports stars that defeat the odds... I sing for joy for Nathan Tembo. Born to a mother with HIV, lost his father, grew up with no electricity, no running water, no couch, no bed, no tv-- rarely any food in the home, a sick brother, a sister who got herself pregnant in highschool.... One day he met Curtis and Fanny, then he met the Williamsons, then he met me. Together we all worked with him, counseled him, encouraged him, assisted him and he put in the effort and used the gifts and intelligence God gave him and now he is gearing up to hop on a bus and go get a higher education which will allow him to get a higher paying job and help his brother with HIV or his sister with a young baby or his mother who's dying and not the least of all be a shining example to 28 kids looking up to him- that's what they can do too. There is hope for all of them, Barbara included.

my stuff:

The procedure I had done was.... well... not great. It was painful and it didn't make me happy by any means but it's over now. The big news is I got my results back and I am CANCER FREE! I am in a high risk range with some abnormalities so I will have the same procedure with the biopsies (sigh) done once a year for 3 years... but the Bible says I only have to worry about today, and today I am cancer free.

A lot of people talk about surviving cancer and how it changes their life and they have new perspective. Well... I am an “almost had cancer might have it in the future someday” survivor. I let that change me just as much. Something about waiting for two months wondering and researching and thinking and planning for the worst, then the best, then the worst, then deciding to stick with the best.... all of that has no choice but to change you and give you perspective. It reminded me that I am futile and fragile when I like to think I am unbreakable and infinite. It made me look for lessons and open my eyes to soak up as much truth and learn from others as much as I could... I hope they don't close back up again because I have learned so much with these bulging eyes of mine.

It reminded me how precious breath is and I hope I dont forget that. Today I take breaths, and I thank God for that. If I am blessed enough to have air in my lungs tomorrow, I thank him for those too.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

7 days in a week, 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, 60 seconds in a minute....

Well, as expected- Satan hasn't given up just yet. I came down with some sort of nasty flu and spent Sunday afternoon in the clinic waiting to be seen by the only doctor on duty. After just over an hour, I was seen. The doc asked what was wrong and I told him I had a sore throat- so bad I could barely swallow without tearing up and I'd been having headaches and fatigue all week. He took out a peice of cardboard about the size and shape of my palm. On it was drawn a picture of a person wearing a scarf. He went on to explain to me that I needed to be wearing a scarf (pointing at the scarf to show me what it was) after 6pm. (It's 80 degrees every day....) He then told me not to drink cold water or the infection would spread to my ears. He came around the table and looked at my throat with a dollar store flashlight- and then told me "You've got a sore throat". He perscribed an antibiotic I've never heard of- losenges I told him i didn't want because i had already bought them, pain killers I asked him not to perscribe because it was ibuprofen and I already have that too- and .... mint mouthwash.

I actually started laughing because I was thinking about the fact that this was possibly the dullest doctor I've ever encountered in my life but I don't think he enjoyed my snickering very much. He told me to find turtlenecks to wear... and I was on my way. I took Monday off but went to Kabanana on Tuesday. Maureen and Fanny took one look at me and said "oh.... oh .... why are you here?" Apparently I looked like a corpse walking.

The throat pain is not so bad now but I am left with a croupy cough and I'm still having the headaches and fatigue- but those might be just stress related.

It's the first of March. By this time, I had planned to have found my new house and moved in. By now I'd be painting walls and decorating and planting my garden. By now I'd be in Kabanana every day working on setting up the new room and tutoring and cooking for the kids. March was the month my boyfriend was supposed to be coming for FOUR WEEKS to help out with the work, visit, and figure out our future plans.

Instead I've been home from work for 3 days this week. I'm still living behind the Williamsons unable to plan for my new place because the future is in limbo. My boyfriend is not coming now- and instead of cooking and cleaning and preparing for his visit, I'm packing my bags and heading in the opposite direction.

This year has been full of trials. I have been told the pendulum of life swings this way sometimes and I just have to wait for it to swing back the other way. If you know me, I don't wait well. Every plan I've made for the year has crashed and burned before my eyes. I'm scared to write anything in my dayplanner now. I pray that the test results I get this month bring news of change. News that will allow me to breath and move forward rather than sit in the same place or even move back.

I pray that no matter what the results are- at least I'll be able to do what i need to do with the knowlege of what's going on. Right now I feel as though everything is in limbo. Everything's uncertain and it's hard to feel secure or fully happy when your mind gets to wondering.

In 7 days I'll be on a plane. This trip is going to change things for me in many ways... maybe every way. I pray God makes it clear what He is trying to say through all of this because right now I feel like that one kid in class who doesn't get it when everyone else seems to know what's going on. Open my eyes, Lord.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Is there an end to caring for the orphans? Never.

The excitement of the big Chipolopolo win for Zambia subsided, and then their biggest boxer- Esther Phiri, won her match. This is Zambia's year!

Work here has been moving along. We had a great time on Saturday with all the girls for our "Girls Day" and Fanny led a devotional on loving eachother as sisters, as well as appropriate love between the sexes. 3 of our girls were missing, but we had 7 visitors from church and the community so that was great! We painted nails and then the girls had a chance to read their letters from their sponsors and write back. Of course- we also ate! Our favorite pasttime!

Here is a link to the photos:
Right now I am shifting focus a bit to my trip home. I am leaving in about 2 weeks and I have to try and prepare myself physically and emotionally. I have been struggling with extreme fatigue and lethargy... I am forcing myself to perform basic daily functions. I've also had some random stomach upset in the past few days as well. I don't know if this is a result of stress and worry since I am not letting myself think too hard about the next month but either way it's a tough time.
In other news, I've been thinking about adoption. Obviously this is nothing I am rushing into right now but we can just say the seed has been planted in my mind. There are a lot of factors to think about- pros and con's if you will. The one major pro is that when you live in Zambia, it's much easier and MUCH less expensive to adopt. I know there is the issue of me not being married, but I personally strongly feel that having only a mother is better than having no parents at all. If a child can grow up in a home with a woman who loves them and can care for them- then it's better than growing up in a group of undercared for and undernourised kids.
There is a single girl here who is exactly my age who's been fostering her daughter for adoption. She came before she was 25 which is why shes been fostering for so long, you have to be 25 to adopt.
Anyway, this is something I'll think about for the future. I have my health concerns and some other things to sort out before I get into it but it is something I'll start praying about now as I move forward in life.
Please keep me in prayer as I wind up work here in the next two weeks and then head back to the states for a short time.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dancing in the streets

Well I just wrote an entire blog and it was deleted by the internet that I love so much here....

In a nutshell, work has been VERY busy. Maureen Fanny and I have met with the guardians and talked to them about their responsibility to the ministry and the kids and well as encouraging them to be part of the church life more than they are. It was a good opportunity for everyone to get to know eachother and we left laughing and talking as friends.

We have paid all school fees, except for Nathan who is waiting on acceptance to the University of Zambia, and Barbara who failed.  All the kids have new shoes, backpacks, notebooks, pens, pencils etc. They've also got lunch provided every day either by their school or Maureen.

We also had a family lunch for the kids and I led a devotional on New beginnings as we start this year off. Many of the kids sang solos and I will be uploading some video of that as soon as I have better internet! It was great for us all to be back together again playing and singing.

M, F &I have also visited all the families to encourage and check on them, as well as visiting all the businesses to see how progress is coming along. Many of them are facing a lull because of the season but some have decided to switch what they are selling for this season and it seems to be working, not a single failure among all 10 businesses and in fact, many of them have "promoted" themselves, moved to better markets and are calling themselves shop owners and marketeers rather than just vendors or sellers!!

Here is a link to the pictures from the guardian meeting and then the lunch- pictures of the businesses are still to come once the internet is better and I can upload them all at once!
In other news, Zambia won the Africa Cup! I am SO PROUD to be here and to be part of this.... you can not imagine the excitement and hype. Imagine the entire united states... every single person... is a baseball fan. Now imagine EVERYONE supports the same team, and that team just won the championship. Now add in a culture that celebrates with singing and dancing and noise.... beautiful chaos!
It's a lot like the elections only about 10 times more, because now it's not just sata supporters, its every single person. I wish everyone could experience this kind of excitement and patriotism... every single person in the country on the same page, all happy about the same thing, all in it together, all dancing and high fiving in the streets... for days (I still hear yelling and car horns and vuvuzelas, 2 days later!) Awesome.
I have pictures and video to upload of the aftermath- people in the streets etc. but again, the internet is bad right now. I will try to get to it later!
In terms of my health, I a still a bit overwhelmed but being so involved with the Africa Cup and work and everything else over here, time is passing and I am making it through. I am scheduled to return to the states on March 8 and my procedure is on the 14. Provided the results are good I will be back in Zambia and in the work the beginning of April so please continue to pray!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Before you give up- make sure you're not in a teacup...

If any of you follow my blog or see my facebook, you know that January has been a month of trials for me. From having my bank card "disappear" all the way to flat tires I have felt Satan's attacks on me large and small. He's been making it difficult for me to do my job, difficult for me to focus, to sleep to eat.... It's been a month of tears and struggles and trials- so I know God is producing endurance through this but I don't know what kind of marathon he has in store because I am wearing thin already.

The most significant of the trials is the fact that an issue has come up in regard to my health. I had a routine physical when I was home but because the duration of my trip was so short, the results of my labs and tests did not come back until I had already landed back in Zambia. One of the blood tests came back showing some significant numbers and in addition to that, a-typical cell formations were showing.The combination of the two is a problem.

Since my last tests were in 2010 and everything was clear, the doctor hopes and believes that this could be pre-cancerous rather than cancerous but did not want me to wait a year to come home and find out. There is a diagnostic test that needs to be done, however a specific machine does this test and I was informed by a friend of the Williamsons who is a doctor here, that this machine is only at one hospital here, one that I am uncomfortable, to use the very gentlest terms, to be treated in for a flu much less an internal procedure.

Because of all of this, I will be returning to the US in April to have the diagnostic test and seek treatment if necessary.

When I was talking to a friend here, I was stressing about having money spent to come all the way back because "what if it's nothing". She said " .... isn't that what you're hoping for? If it's nothing you have a party and you come home!" I guess things can be a bit out of perspective sometimes when you realize you were putting your bank account at higher importance on the list than your life.

I am praying that it is nothing, and if it's something it is caught early enough to turn it into nothing but only God is in control of that.

It's been a hard month. It's been hard to get back into the swing of things with jabs from Satan at every turn. It's been hard getting scary news for the first time in my life when I am across the ocean from my family. I am only 25. I've never gotten scary news before. Ive been to the doctor a thousand times and Ive always gotten a clean bill of health. No one ever really thinks of themselves as able to get seriously sick until they get the call from the doctor. If I am completely and totally frank, I still believe it's probably some kind of fluke. It just doesn't make any sense.

That's how the devil gets you though. He turns you upside down and backward until nothing really makes any sense any more... you start to wonder if God really has a hold on things down here. Did he forget? He's got a lot to think about- there are billions of people in the world.... maybe he didn't hear my prayers for a husband, maybe I wasn't convincing enough on how much I want kids... Maybe he was dealing with someone else when I was trying to get his attention to ask that I live a long healthy life and do what I want to do. The list goes on and on... and it because all to easy to take power out of God's hands.

It's so easy. It's so easy to say, OK God, I've given up my life, moved away from family and friends and now I'm doing what you called me to do and then you let this happen? I don't have time for this. I am too busy- I just got back- the kids need me here, I don't have the money.....

I stayed home to get some emails and planning done today. I was flipping through the TV and landed on a movie and this was the line Ashton Kutcher (don't judge me) said " This is your life. Right now. It doesn't wait for you to get back on your feet."

Obviously this was a secular movie but it's true. God doesn't just give us one trial, wait for us to get up and dust off and pull our socks back up... no. This is a fight. This is a war we are waging down here and He knows exactly whats going on. He knew what was going on in Jobs life... He may have even had a conversation with the devil about me just like he did then... and told him to go ahead and do what he needed to do, but that I won't break. What an honour. I wonder if people think about that. The Bible says God doesn't give us more than we can handle and so he must have though Job was made of pure steel.

The point is, most of the things we go through in life are so overwhelming and swallow us up til we feel like we're drowning and as soon as God sees fit to lift us up and place us back on solid ground we turn around and see it was a tea cup we had fallen into and not the ocean.

All the panic and anxiety and worry was - quite frankly- silly.

If  I am not sick, all of this was a bump or glitch in the road to teach me something of which I am not sure yet but it will be clear... if it's cancer or pre-cancer or anything rhyming with cancer God's in control. I am only scared because I know about it. God could take me tomorrow if He wanted to in a car crash or anything else- and it would only mean he's got something better for me to do up there than down here.

All of this is just to say... that's whats going on in a very vague nutshell. Work is continuing here. All the kids are in school and their fees are paid except Barbara. She failed her tests... miserably. Another trial. Did I help at all? Did I teach the wrong things... Should we have had more sessions....? One thing makes everything else bigger and harder. The work seems more tiring to me than I remember but it might be because my heart and mind are heavy and I have no choice but to drag them along as we visit the homes and buy the food and pay the fees and try on shoes and pick out backpacks....

Dark clouds are over head. They'll clear... they always do.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mama said there'd be days like this...

Well, day 2 in the country and I am already in crisis mode. Last night I slept all of 2 hours, and I woke up this morning ready to start my first day in Kabanana back to work. I went to the ATM to take out cash for paying school fees and as soon as I entered my pin #... the machine froze. The guard assured me this has happened already this week, and that it would unfreeze and my card would come out.

An hour later.......

A bank representitive shows up and told me it's the company policy that foreign cards are immediately shredded when the machine captures them. I start crying because this is my only access to my own money and the ministry money, and she calls her boss. I talk to that boss on the phone and she explains again that there's nothing they can do-- they destroy the card. I told her that was ludacris because it was THIER machine's malfunction.... so she hangs up and calls HER boss. Finally she calls back and tells me that they will save my card at the bank in Long Acres and to come pick it up at 10AM tomorrow. I thank her profusely... but I'm doubtful because when Katherine was here, they shredded her card even after promising to keep it.

I decide to go and pick up my liscense, which I was supposed to have gotten on the 21 of Nov.,  on the way to work because it's overdue and realize the paper to retreive it is not in my car, so I drive all the way home and search for 30 minutes to no avail... now I am crying again and so I pack up Fanny and Maureens gifts and the clothes for their kids in my car and head to Kabanana anyway to see what we can do with no cash.

On the way, a dog jumps out in front of the car and I slam on the breaks sending the baskets of gifts I spent an hour putting together last night flying all over my car. I stop to put them back and realize half the candies have already melted and are getting all over the presents so I have another good cry and just keep driving.

I got to Kabanana and saw Wisdom, Tisa and went to Protasho's and then over to see Amos's sister... then used up what was left in the wallet to get as many notebooks as we could promising more whenever.... just whenever.

On the way home I went to the Road Safety Place (you will kiss the DMV if you ever try to get a liscence in Zambia) and I walk up to the counter and started crying before I even started talking. I explained that I lost the paper and he said he couldnt give me the liscence and I'd have to start over....I cried a little harder and he finally asked if I had proof of identity. Of course.... I had left my passport at home but I knew the number so he reluctantly put it in the system and got my liscence out and gave it to me... I grabbed that thing and RAN.

On the way home, I stopped at the bank to re-affirm that I'd be coming in the morning. After waiting in line for 45 minutes, my number was called and I explained the whole story. The guy just looked at me and said, well I don't know what they are talking about because foreign cards get sent to the revenue place in town and get shredded we arent even involved in that. I started to cry. I said that the lady and the other lady and that lady's boss said to come here at 10 and pick it up and he said "we dont get any deliveries til 12" I thanked him for his encouragement...... and then he said "Look, if she said to come here, she must have made some arrangement so just come then."

Needless to say I will have another sleepless and prayerful night. If I dont get that card, my entire life and the ministry are pretty much on hold until I can have money and/or a new card sent here, which could take weeks. I am sweating to death- it's 101* out. My eyes are red and puffy and I feel helpless and irritated and scared and overwhelmed, already.

Time to get on my knees.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Wow... what a month this has been!

I left Lusaka on the 21st of November to head back to the states. I was able to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years with my family this year which was completely invaluable to me. I got to see a new nephew, hear great news, help out my sister who had surgery, spend time with my sisters and brother, see my grandmother, aunts, uncles, some cousins and even some freinds from high school and college.

It was nothing more than game playing, eating, laughing and having a great time but I'll treasure those 5 1/2 weeks for ever. (Hopefully I don't treasure this extra 17lbs and 14 inches forever though....)

My mom and I spent the last week sorting through all my earthly belongings and boxing them up to be shipped here, then I guess I'll be officially Zambian!

It was a great month to end an amazing year, and I am thankful now to be back where my heart is and where God has placed me.

It's very easy to almost second guess yourself when you see the grocery stores and restaurants and family and friends and think how much more CONVENIENT life is in the US... but all of that melts away when that plane lands and you smell the familiar Lusaka smell and hear the local accent and see the smiling faces.... I'll be back to work on Monday and I am happier than ever.

I look forward to what God has in store for us in 2012. In 2011 He brought us trials and hardships but we also tripled in size, gained staff and built a building.... who knows what He's got in store for us this year... I'm just glad I'm first in line to see it!