In August of 2004, Joel and I had the tremendous privilege of going to Zambia for 11 days to work in an orphanage. This was something I'd always wanted to do. Secretly, I was hoping God would call us into full-time missions in Africa.
It was an amazing trip. We got to be a part of a Sunday service at the local church on Namwianga Mission. To be a part of a congregation worshiping the same God that I know and worship was incredible. And these people sang from their hearts. These people danced from their hearts. It's hard for me when I hear people who think that dancing is 'innately evil' or who have a hard time with that. In Africa--dancing was an expression of joy, praise, and sorrow. I only wish that I felt so free to respond in that way. (in Heaven, I've decided that I will finally dance!)
We spent time at Eric's House--an orphanage run by Roy and Kathi Merritt. This house had 20-something kids when we were there--ranging in age from 2-20.
Another house on the mission, Haven House, housed the newborn through 2 1/2 year olds. Since we were there, they've built two more houses! These kids are orphaned by sickness or disease (often times, AIDS has taken their parents) or just brought to the homes by parents/family who can't afford to care for them right now. They are then returned to their families once they are 2 1/2 and are weaned from milk.
While we were in Africa, two baby boys were brought to the home. They were 2 of quadruplets--the other babies had died. We had the opportunity to name them--and our group named the "Newton" and "North". Joel and I ended up sponsoring those boys until they went to be with family again. Here are their pictures:
It's been 5 years. Zambia is still so often on my mind. Hardly a day goes by that I don't, for one reason or another, remember that trip.
I came back realizing a few things:
1. God wasn't calling me into missions there (yet!)
2. I'd had it all wrong. WE were not the 'blessed' ones. They were. They knew what was important. Their worship seemed to pervade every aspect of their lives. They were so real. So genuine. So willing to share the little they had.
3. I would never be able to live like I used to, before the trip:
Even though we were only gone 11 days, I came back realizing how much STUFF we have here.
I so often complain that 'we don't have enough room in this house' or 'I just want a bigger, nicer house'. Yet, my bathroom is about the size of some of their huts. Where 4-5 people sleep. And sew. And hang out.
I have an entire room devoted to holding and storing my FOOD. Many of these people live off of 3 meals of nshema (ground maize) and garden vegetables (if they're among the fortunate ones).
I complain when I only have about a few choices of what to wear on my feet. They are among the lucky ones if they have ANYTHING on their feet.
It's a hassle when I have to drive across town to go to the bank, buy my food, mail my letters. They walk on foot FOR MILES to do that. To drink water. To find firewood. And, they carry heavy crates and baskets on their heads while they walk.
I hope that I never forget what I saw there. That I always remember how MUCH we have. I hope we have an opportunity to go back another time, too. But for now, we sponsor two new children who need milk and food each day. And we pray that many orphans and children will come to Namwianga Mission to be loved, fed, cared for, and shown the love of Jesus.
Someday, maybe we'll get to have a bigger part in that. Hopefully.
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