We arrived here on Saturday morning. Our hotel is nice! We have all laughed because I kept saying that I’d never had it this nice on a mission trip before and then once we got into our room several issues arose. We had no hot water (everyone else on the team did), our hairdryer doesn’t work (everyone else’s did), our safe doesn’t work and sometimes you can get locked in the bathroom and can’t get out, and most days we don’t have any towels at all. Derek says they rigged our room for this because he wanted me to feel comfortable! I think it’s kind of funny that it’s all the luxuries that don’t work, that most folks wouldn’t dream of having in Africa anyway!
On Sunday we had church, which was a great experience. Then we went to this place called the arcades. We had lunch and did a little shopping. On Sunday evening we had a group meeting and did some ministry projects and spent some time catching up with Mark, who had been in Africa 3 weeks prior to us coming.
Today (Monday) we got up and got ready for our first Camp Life day. The theme of our camp this summer is the 23rd Psalm. The camp director had already prepared us for some of these children. He said that a lot of the children have lost either one or both of their parents to AIDS. Also many of them are beaten, sexually abused and sometimes taken out in the night by the witch doctor. The director says that we will teach them today this phrase, “The Lord is My Shepherd, I shall not want,” and talk about when the Lord is our shepherd that he guides us, takes care of us and that no matter what we go through that God will BE with us through it all. That He will be our comfort in times of trouble. I did not know what to really be prepared for. My prayer was that I could learn from every child, they are little survivors and there is truly something that every single one of these children could teach me. I am convinced that by the time the end of the week is over that I can name each child and what they taught me this week. I’m actually looking forward to that! My prayer is also that they would open up to me and my Zambian helper quickly so that bonds can be formed between us.
Today, I wasn’t sure what to expect. We got to camp early and met up with our Zambian helpers. My Zambian helper is Phoeby. I will tell you more about her in a future blog. After about 45 minutes we could hear buses coming down the street and could hear little voices singing to the top of their lungs. As they pulled up you could hear them more clearly. Phoeby told me they were singing, “We are coming, we are coming…” and then when they drove into the camp area, they changed it to, “We are here, we are here…here we are.” It was adorable. Then they began piling off the buses. There were over 1500 children there today. It was crazy. The children were divided by the school they attended and then put into lines by their size and then in lines of 12. Then they were counted. They did all this in a matter of minutes (1500 children) all the while singing and dancing. It was hilarious! After that we were assigned our group of children for the week. I have a group of 8 11-16 year old girls. They are all adorable….and lucky for me they all speak English pretty well.
We spent the day getting to know one another…teaching them songs and them teaching me songs and games. Then we had 2 group sessions where they learned about the 23rd Psalm. Then we had small group times where we discussed these things. It was a great time. The girls aren’t very talkative, but I feel that they will open up over time.
One of the things we are to do over the week is have a one on one time with each child (along with your Zambian partner who can translate for you). I only had time to meet with one of my children this afternoon.
Her name is Mary. As I talked with her I asked her many questions. A lot of the questions are for information for Family Legacy to have to use for future ministry. So I began to talk with Mary to get to know her a little better. I asked her who she stayed with (lived with). She told me her sister. I asked her where her parents were, and she said that her mother could not afford to keep her, so she is now staying with her sister on the couch in their living area. She said that she misses her mother very, very much. She only sees her once a year and it’s the happiest day in her life when she is able to visit her. She told me that often her sister and brother in law tell her that she is eating too much and acting as if she belongs with them. Mary told me that she never feels at home in her sister’s house. I cried big tears for this little one who, not a single day feels like where she lives is her home. She also told me that she does not have a breakfast or lunch meal ever. She says the first time she eats every day is at 2PM when the school provides a snack for her. Then she told me that today, her first day at Camp Life was the best day she’d ever had in her life! I was so broken over this child and I know I will continue to be broken as I speak with the rest of my children. Sometimes we take our lives so for granted.
I asked Mary if anyone had ever told her about heaven. She said no. I spent a bit of time with her telling her about Jesus and what he did for her and that one day she will have a place where she lives forever that she will always, always, always feel like it’s her home, that she will never feel like a burden or out of place. After that we prayed together and she sobbed her little heart out and wrapped her arms around my neck and wouldn’t let go. If I think about her for more than a second, I am in tears. What a brave little soul!
When you go to bed tonight, think of her. Think of the children around the world who this is their life, and be thankful!
I will try to do better in writing! We don’t have the best internet access, we are having to pay for it….so I am typing this in a document on my desktop and then just cutting and pasting it! But I’ll try to force myself to be more regular about it!