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!