Friday, June 22, 2012

My boys (5 of 6): Isaiac

HELLO Isaiac!!! This boy is going to be a heart breaker! On day one, I wanted to scoop him up and bring him home. There is something about Isaiac that is SO amazing! When he smiles, not only does his smile reach wide, his eyes (oh those beautiful eyes) they smile too! I am telling you, if he were the sun, when he smiled, he would light the whole earth at one time! It is the MOST beautiful smile! Okay, I will try to stop talking about this smile, but seriously, take a look at that "snap" how beautiful is my sweet sweet Isaiac??
He REALLY wants to go to school, he enjoys learning and loves math. He hasn't attended school in quite some time, his parents could not afford it and his mother needed help with chores and his younger siblings. Isaiac lives with his mother, father and younger brother. He has 2 older sisters and one older brother who live with in another home, they have the same mom but different dad. Isaiac's dad... well, I can honestly say this was a first for me. When I asked him if his parents worked he said his mother did not, and his father collected money for the toilet. YEP, his job is to collect money from people who need to use the restroom and make sure the "facility" remains locked. I know he is lucky to have this job, but I can't help it people, I am going to say it, you are going to read it and you can not get mad at me, I have kept my humor to a minimum in these posts... that job stinks... literally!
Okay, I tried to lighten the mood before I hit you with this. Isaiac told me that he is afraid of his parents, he said they beat him. I asked him why his mother did this and he said it was because he wouldn't go to buy sugar, he would not tell my why his father beat him. I asked him if he felt they loved him, he said that his mother did, but not his father. I don't know about you, but this breaks my heart, however, I also realize it is a cultural thing. I know that instead of talking to children and teaching them with example, the Zambian parents inflict pain, that is what was done to them and they don't know any better. I broke my heart to see big alligator tears coming out of those beautiful eyes. I just sat there and watched this child cry, and what I wanted to to was tell him that he would never be beat again and that I would keep him safe, but I just watched him cry, and I said a little prayer that I could come home, find a sponsor and maybe his parents would see that he was an investment for the family and they would be kind. I can not stand the thought of any child having to endure a beating from anyone, much less my sweet beautiful Isaiac being beat by the people who created him and brought him in to this world. I weeped with him, I seriously HATE myself for having to leave him knowing what is happening to him.
After he told me about the tough stuff, he told me that he prays at home with is family and every Sunday they attend the Angelican Church (don't know much about this church either, but I can't imagine that any God loving church would agree with beating a child...)
Isaiac wants to be a doctor when he grows up, he went to a clinic to visit his aunt who had maleria and thinks that is what he should study to do so that people will not suffer. Did I tell you Isaiac is 10, he has no idea when he was born, but he knows he is 10 and should be in the fourth grade.
Isaiac wore two different sweaters to camp, one was a fleece, the other was embroidered with two yellow roses and the words "sweet girl". I was glad that the other boys could not read and that no one picked on him. It was providing warmth and he needed that!
My sweet Isaiac is quite, reserved, methodical. He didn't look in my eyes unless I basically forced him to, when he would look at me, I would grin, then big smile until he smiled back!
What to pray for him when I get home:
Pray for the beatings to stop.
Pray that he will go to school and be smart.
Pray that his friends will not steal from him.

My boys (4 of 6): Rabbi

Rabbi is eleven years old and lives with his mother, father, 2 younger sisters, 1 older sister, and 3 older brothers. That is 9 people in one house (the size of your walk in closet) and NO ONE works. I felt like Rabbi was one of my least taken care of boys. His nose was always running, his clothes were more tattered and torn than the others, he had scrapes and bumps on his legs. I just generally got the impression that he is worse off than most. With such a large family and no income, I can not imagine their living conditions.
Rabbi was my first big hug! He is a loving guy! He didn't tell me how many times he eats a day, I don't know if he was embarrassed or if it was so inconsistent that he literally didn't know how to answer.
His family can not afford for him to attend school. I couldn't get a good read on what he does all day. He is very quiet and doesn't say much (which makes this description a little difficult!) I want to say, you just need to meet him to know about him and love him.
Rabbi did open up about some ugly truths, he is very scared of being beaten by his elders, from what I could tell, his older brother, 29, beats him up a lot. I asked if it was when he is drunk, but Rabbi wouldn't say. He also told me that his 28 year old brother was arrested, and currently in jail, but he couldn't tell me what he had done to be arrested. Rabbi also opened up about the exposure to witches. He told me about his nephew had been cursed by witches and gave him stomach pains.
On community day, Rabbi's mother found us in the compound, she wanted to take Rabbi to an "appointment". NOW, lets be clear, I am just some white girl who has known her son since Monday. I didn't feel like I had any authority over this child, but she was ASKING me if she could take HER child. By mid conversation, Rabbi had moved from the center of the group to being pressed against me and wrapping his arms around my legs. SO, if she was really asking me for permission to take her child, and his reaction was to latch on to me, my answer was NO! I gathered my group like a mother duck and said "we will go now" and we left her there. As we walked away, I asked the translator to glance back and make sure she wasn't charging me for a beat down or for what I kind of felt like was kidnapping. I asked Rabbi several times if he knew what the appointment was about, but he said no. We also met Rabbi's sister, Gloria, on one hand, she was as skinny and tattered as Rabbi, on the other hand, she was as KIND, LOVING AND JOYFUL as Rabbi. She followed us all day, luckily we didn't run into the mother again!

The first day at camp, we were taking pictures and Rabbi very gently took my sunglasses off my head and put them on, then he put them back on my head and tucked my loose hair back behind my ear. Any chance he could get, he would pet my head, I am pretty sure it was my hair he wanted to touch. During large group, Rabbi would watch the skits so closely, in small group, he would want to retell everything that had happened.
He is such a sweet kid, I worried that he might be hurt after community day, but he came back on Friday as happy as nothing had happened. He was one of the "belly achers" on Friday, so we went to the nurses tent where he was given medicine and because it was so cold and he was not wearing enough clothes, they gave him another shirt for warmth. Once he had some one on one time with me standing in line (I was holding him close to block the wind and keep him warm) he seemed to be fine.
Rabbi needs a sponsor, he desperately wants to go to school, he told me how the children make fun of him because he has no education. I know he could use the one hot/healthy meal provided to the children at Family Legacy Schools, as well as discipleship and the solid education. Please let me know if you are interested in helping Rabbi, I would love to tell you more about him.

My boys (3 of 6): Robert

Robert stood third in line, he is SMART! He understood and could reply in English more than any of the other boys. Of all of my kids, I would assume Robert is the most "well off" he had on clean clothes each day and rotated between two pairs of shoes. Now understand that he may have been sharing clothes with siblings, but at least there were clothes to share!

On community day, I got to meet Roberts grandmother, she was a beautiful, kind, gracious woman. She thanked me for loving Robert! For LOVING Robert??? I was like, "THANK YOU FOR ALLOWING HIM TO BE AT CAMP FOR ME TO LOVE!!!" Part of our day in the community was helping clean up, my boys were sweeping her yard and picking up trash around the house. Robert was so sweet, he brought out some bread to share with his group. Now let me explain, food is hard to come by for these people, extra food to share, almost unheard of! So that he shared food was a HUGE deal and a tremendously generous gesture. His grandmother stood there watching so proud. This was another happy heart moment for me, maybe my heart exploded a little at that moment. I can't say it enough, these people, these beautiful Zambians are a happy, kind, and peaceful people.

So... One of Robert's blessings- hold on to your chairs folks- he had a fancy toilet! WHAT? A hole in the ground with a tire... I had to take a picture, I told the kids I was taking a picture of the ducks. Oh, the ducks, they provide eggs for the family (another blessing in Robert's life).

Robert is 9 years old (I believe that), his favorite subject is English. He lives with his mother, grandmother, older sister and two younger brothers.  His father died of TB in July of last year.

His grandmother is the only one who works, she sells clothes in the market or on the side of the street. This is probably why Robert had different clothes on each day. His mother does not work, unfortunatly I did not meet her when we were at the house.

What is Robert afraid of? Last year theives broke into his home and beat he and his family, and sometimes the older boys in the compound beat up his younger brother. 

Robert's family are members of the United Church of Zambia (I don't know much about this church) but Robert did tell me he was baptized the Sunday before camp started. He was a whiz with the evangicube and explaining the word of God to his community members.

What does he want me to pray for him?
Pray for his health, sometimes he has pains in his head, legs and stomach.
Pray for him to stop being insulted by the other boys in the compound
Pray that he will get to have a birthday party, he thinks his birthday is November 6!

My boys (2 of 6): Taurai

Can you say stinker??? Then you know Mr. Taurai (T-ow ((like ouch))-rye). This child is HILARIOUS! He is a jokster, and on day one I realized he was a 65 year old man stuck in an eleven year old body! Is stood second in line, probably a head taller than Kennedy.  Taurai, I had to keep my eye on this one! AND I am thankful I did! He gave me a lot of laughs. Check out his little face, how could you not just fall in love with that? His expressions were never ending. The funniest/cutest/most adorable thing about this little firecracker was his laugh. His laugh came straight from his belly! He laughed like a little old man, he would knee slap, lean back, and EVEN add a little finger point and wink. WHERE did he learn this??? OH, and HELLO ladies! This little guy flirts! He was flirting with Trish's group of girls, when we served them lunch, he was first in line and handed out most of the lunches.

Here is what I learned: This handsome little fellow says he is 11 years old, and (this is a shock) he knew his birthday (now if it is right or not, who knows, but he had a date) August 17, 2011. As I said, he is only a head taller than Kennedy who I believe is 7, Taurai looks about 9, but who am I to argue! :) He lives in Chaisa with the other boys in my group, but did not know anyone in the group until camp.

Taurai's father died in 2007, he lives with his mother, grandmother and two brothers (one older, one younger). His mother does not work, however, his grandmother does, as a servant.

Much like the other boys, Taurai sleeps on the cold, hard floor with his siblings every night. He eats (only) twice a day: although this is good news, it is still sad.  He was always hungry at lunch. I let him try my peanut butter and honey sandwich one day, and he seemed to enjoy the sugar (just as you would hope any child would).

Afraid of I asked, "at night he is afraid of the thieves, they came into his home last year and stole from he and his family, and  the witches that live close by who come at night and try to hurt him". Luckily, his mother settles his fears by reassuring him that since he has a strong relationship with God, the witches will not hurt him.

He and his family attend the Roman Catholic Church. I am going to do a little research here, I heard that maybe their Roman Catholic was not like ours, but from what I gathered from him, he feels safe and he understood most of the lessons from camp and said he had heard them at church as well.

I asked him if he feels loved and by who, he said his mother and the rest of his family.  This is BIG news, HE feels LOVED, not all of the children in Zambia have this comfort.

Taurai wants to attend school, but his family does not have the funds. His favorite subject is English and he says he wants to be a Doctor one day (because he wants to help people).

This kid is BOLD when he asks questions, but very meek when he is asked. He likes to be the center of attention, but he is kind of clumsy and doesn't always "stick" his attention getter, does he get discouraged, NO WAY, you are looking at him and he just gained another few minutes to show you what he can (or can't) do! Think, jump roap, kartwheel, stuff like that. OH and giggle... he giggles a lot!! 
Taurai needs a sponsor! With only one person working in the house and 5 mouths to feed and shelter, it is impossible for his grandmother to make enough money to send him to school. Feel free to contact me if you are interested, I would love to tell you all about him and the program!

Prayers he requested:
Pray for him to attend school
Pray for him to stop sleeping on the floor...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Getting to know my boys (1 of 6)... Kennedy

Kennedy, what a sweet, sweet boy! He is the smallest in physical size of all of my boys, but his heart is big, his smile wide and his need for love even greater.  Kennedy told me the first day that he was 9 years old, I think he is closer to 7 by his size, but I also have to take into consideration the extreme malnutrition of these children.

During blessing time, I asked Kennedy a lot of very personal questions, he was very open and I felt really good about his responses for the most part.

He lives in Chiasa with his mother and father (this is rare!!!) and they both work (this is even more rare!!). His mother is a maid and his father is a guard, I wanted to know more about these jobs, but he did not have any more information to offer. He has 3 siblings, one older brother and 2 younger brothers. He sleeps on the floor with his sibling. People, when you think Africa, you think HOT, well, I am here to tell you it is COLD, their winter is like a Texas winter and I believe that is colder than it should ever be! It was below 55 degrees every night we were there and Kennedy was sleeping on the dirt floor with his sibling!  

If all that he tells me is true, he lives in a blessed home! His parents provide three meals a day!!! That is unbelievable! Of coarse, please keep in mind the meals consist of sheema, which is like grits, so there is no nutritional value, however it is food and they are lucky to have it once a day much less 3 times a day!  With that being said, Kennedy told me that a lot of times he wakes up with stomach pains, which I would guess is an affect of the swelling sheema in his belly and lack of vitamins and much needed nutrients for a growing boy.

Kennedy showed up to camp in the same clothes every day. An over sized Flinstones t-shirt, a Hello Kitty thermal, green wool sweater and red pants. All were tattered and torn, however, he was warm and probably very thankful to have each of these layers. I seriously wanted to give him some chap stick, his little lips were always dry, however, this was the only thing I noticed that might give him physical discomfort. He appeared healthy and well.

He said that he likes to play with his friends, they play a lot of games, I am assuming football, he was quite quick on his little feet! I had no idea that little package could be so agile and quick!!
I asked every child if they felt safe at home, Kennedy said, "yes"! AND I believed him, until he told me that the "witches" that come at night that try to harm him. As I said in the previous post it is hard for me to wrap my head around this concept, however, it is real, these people (as a culture) have passed these beliefs down from generation to generation. Most often if someone is sick, they will see a witch doctor to heal them instead of going to a clinic that offers real medical help. My heart hurt when he told me this, little did I know he would not be the last.  The good news here was, when I asked Kennedy if his parents knew, he said, "yes", I then asked what they said about the witch and he said, "they would pray for him when he sleeps that the witches will not come for him". Hey parents, can you imagine your child telling you that and you saying you "would pray for them when they sleep so that the witches will not come for them", this is aint' no boggy man folks, this is real!

Although both of his parents work they can not afford to send the boys to school, so at age 9, Kennedy is still in grade ONE, in the States, he would be grade 3.

 There was a camp song to the Father's Prayer, on the first day the camp leaders were showing us the "dance" moves to the song. Kennedy didn't realize we were learning the moves, so as soon as the camp leaders started the Father's Prayer, he leaned his sweet little head down, pressed his beautiful tiny hands together and prayed the prayer out loud, it was one of the sweetest moments I had a camp. This child, who is so blessed by Zambian standards, yet so deprived by American standards prayed to a God that he truly believes in and loves! That was one of many of my cry moments, fortunately, that was a good cry moment, unfortunately, there were very few good cry moments in this week.

At the end of each blessing time I askd for three things they wanted ME to pray for THEM when I went home.
Protection from the witches that come for him at night.
Good health

This is my Kennedy, he is my sweet sweet Kennedy. He is from the fair well blog, crying his little eyes out on the bus, that is how I left him, but I will see him again, I will be sending him to school, and I will be back in Chaisa to see him.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Okay, I want to introduce you all to my boys, however, I feel like I need to explain a few things that are very foreign to Americans, but necessary to understand the way of life in Zambia...

Compounds: these are the villages/slums the people live in. They are (by our standards) DIRTY! There is no organized garbage collection (I know, I work for a garbage company, so I was in complete shock of what I saw, I even tried to explain to them what we do with our trash and they could NOT understand). So imagine walking out of your front door, dropping your trash and burning it, OR taking your trash to a trailer parked on the main road, dumping the trash in on top of already burning trash.  Folks, it stinks, it produces the raunchiest smell and smoke. The upside, they do not produce a ton of trash, because they literally seem to use everything for something!

Zambian homes... let's be very clear, when I say home, I want you to think a concrete block structure with one entry/exit, no windows, and about the size of your walk in closet... OH and lets also get these facts straight... electricity, there is none (no fridge, no TV, no microwave, NO lights)/ running water, nope, none of that either/ did I hear you say toilet, don't be silly, not in these homes. For the most part, they do not have doors, there is a sheet hanging over the opening. NOW... just because they are poor and live in extreme poverty, please do not misunderstand, poor does not equate to unkept, nor does it negate pride, or the desire to be clean and well kept! With a small space, you must keep it organized, and maintain an efficient use of space, and from what i saw, they did. The nice homes are two rooms, a bedroom for the parents/care takers to sleep and the main room which transforms from the living room, to the kitchen, to the dining room, to children's bedroom (reminder, this space is the size of a walk in closet).
So maybe you are wondering where some of the luxuries that we know so well are found for these people,  here is a quick rundown:
electricity: it's just not an option, there isn't even wiring in the homes for this, no switch to flip, I have no idea how they see inside!!
running water: there is a community faucet, I never actually saw anyone using it, I know hot is not an option.
toilets: ummm... bathroom talk, it has a whole new level of discomfort for me!  If you are lucky, you have a fancy toilet (when I say fancy, you think, hole in the ground with a tire on top so you don't fall in) if you are another kind of lucky, you use the outhouse (for a fee...), and if you are common (I am assuming this to be true, no one would really say a definitive yes, but I am pretty sure I stepped in it) you go where you are when you need to. -side note- men reading this, the "go where you are when you need to" approach, I realize you think "whats wrong with that" well, HELLO... lots wrong with that, this is not to be considered lucky, and you should refrain from using this as your method of relieving yourself... that is just my little "public service announcement" for the day-

Chores: let's do another when I say, you think... when I say yard, you think dirt ground. Their yard (for lack of better word in my limited vocabulary) is a dirt yard, they sweep the loose dirt from their yard. Women share the same wash bowls, I am assuming you have come to the realization that there are no washer/dryers, so the women line up in the street and wash their clothes then hang them to dry. A lot of women were sorting charcoal that they take to the market to sell.

Food: Sheema, it is like grits (but no cheese, butter or salt) and they eat it with their hands, by scooping it up and rolling it. They seem to love it, and there are a few varieties of sauce you can put on it. I tried it, taste like bland grits, they need cheese! Chicken is pretty common, none of my boys mentioned that they ate chicken, but I did see a lot of them for sale in the market, feet and all and feet alone! Bread, they eat a lot of bread, white bread, with no preservatives so it molds quickly! Dried anchovies, I have no idea, but they sold them at market and we gave a couple bags to our sponsor kids in the "food drop"

Toys: The only thing I saw kids playing with was a ball, not like any ball you or your children play with, like the kind that you take a plastic grocery sac, fill it with dead leaves or trash, pack it tight and continue to wrap plastic bags around it so that it won't bust... it lends itself to hours of football and hacky sac fun!

Witch Craft: This one is going to make you vomit! Witch craft is real in Zambia! Good Christian, God believing folks believe in witch doctors and their healing/harm.  Parents take sick children to witch doctors to cure what pains them. Let me say,  I think they are crazy, but it is so ingrained in their culture that they all just go with it. If I can stomach my way through a "witch" blog post it will happen another day. Here I will give you the highlights of what I learned. Witches roam the compounds at night, with no doors to the homes and the children sleeping on the floor it is common for them to go into a house and try to cast spells, and hurt the kids. These poor little souls literally have no protection from these crazy people invading their space and trying to insert evil into their bodies! They have insane ideas on how to treat illness and any other thing the parents don't like about their child. I don't understand it, I don't want to understand it, but I sure as (you know what) want to make sure my boys (and any other child for that matter) never has to worry about it. I had a dream a witch doctor was trying to get me and I was almost scared to death!

Clinics: They have them, in fact, we drove by a beautiful white, newly constructed clinic. Too bad they only had one nurse, a doctor that was on lunch and possibly not coming back until the next day. No supplies or capability to help the sick and wounded...just a bunch of suffering people waiting to be seen, hopefully before their illness takes their life.

Markets: I love to shop! It is literally one of my favorite things to do. I thought I could shop for just about anything... NOT in Zambia, the market was the most disgusting thing ever! I literally stepped in chicken guts, watched the lady pick the dead chicken up off the dirt, boil it, pick it's feathers off, then blanch it in cold water. I think I threw up a little in my mouth, it was gross, not clean or sanitary, nor did it give me a feeling that the chicken would be healthy to eat IF you wanted to! The produce is beautiful (see tomatoes below), they sell lots of beans, and second hand clothes.

I think there are enough details here to get you through my introductions... 6 beautiful boys coming your way soon!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hello Texas!

After 36 hours of either going to an airport, being in an airport, being in a plane, riding a bus, or waiting in a line to enter the airport, to go through security, get through customs etc, I am finally home! HOORAY! Here is the deal, I didn't want to leave Zambia because of my sweet boys, however, I was missing my family (and my bed, chips & queso, water from the faucet, HOT water, shaving my legs...) so I did want to be home. What I didn't want was the 36 hour travel time. BUT just so we are clear, it was well worth it there and back, the rewards on each side were full of love and happiness. I would (WILL) do it all again for the rewards of each!

I got in yesterday, Matt picked up the three of us at the airport. Trish drove back to Waco, Erin had a short layover in Houston before flying back to Tyler, it was just enough time for a hot shower before we took her back to the airport. We were exhausted, but I found the energy to have a "welcome home Mexican dinner" with Matt. He asked me if it tasted as good as I thought it would... it tasted better than that and a little more! As soon as I laid my head on the pillow, I was out! Unfortunately, I was awake at 3:30 a.m., the 7 hour time difference is brutal!

Thank you all for checking in on my blog, I am going to continue to fill you all on my day to day ramblings as well as fill in some of the gaps from my trip, so check back!

That being said, compared to the last two weeks, today has been pretty low key! I did have some pictures printed! I am going to start doing some editing and hopefully share them with you all!

Keep in touch, xoxo

Friday... Fair well... 1 of 2

I don't want to say goodbye, I finally had a child (six to be exact) that needed me, that loved me, that I can and have made an impact in their lives, AND I am in love with them! These kids are starving! Starving for food, but also for attention, love, praise, and encouragement; the parents/adults in their compounds do not acknowledge them. They don't look in their eyes, talk to them about their feelings; much less hug them or tell them they are important and loved! How many times do you tell your kids you love them in a day? These Zambian children never hear that, they are an "inconvienance, another mouth to feed, anther being to tend to", there is no sympathy for their pains, no compassion for their tears, no patients for their behavior, there is little to NO love for these kids!

This was a hard day! I was dreading it Thursday night. I cried, I prayed, I hoped, I made wishes, I begged that something would happen and I would have to stay for just at least one more week! Well, that didn't happen, I am drafting this blog on my London to Houston return flight.

We started Friday with small group. Each day of camp I had "blessing" time with the boys, it is a one on one time to ask them very personal questions and find out what their lives are like outside of the safety and comfort of Camp Life. During these times, I traced each boys hand onto a sheet of paper and asked for three things they would like me to pray for them. On Friday, each child was presented with a certificate for attending camp. On the back of each certificate, I traced my hand, on three fingers I wrote the prayers they asked of me, on the other two, I wrote my own prayers for them. During small group we discussed that when I go home, I will place my hand on theirs and pray with them, and they can do the same. Initially when I was talking to them about this, it occurred to me that they could barely speak English much less read the prayers I had written. So I used this to explain to them how I was going to pray that God would find a way for each of them to attend school, so that they could read what I had written. This is my job- I have to find a sponsor for each of these children so that they have the opportunity to attend school so they will have a fighting chance at being a positive, educated, encouraged future for Zambia.

After small group we gathered for large group, for our final camp lesson, songs and dancing. At this time, they told the children of the gifts they would receive, a bandana, new shirt, a pair of shoes and a bible! They flipped out! So cute!

We left the large group and headed for the shoe fitting station. For those of you that sponsored a pair of shoes, you get a sneak peak at the pics, I will be sending them to you soon! We took their shoes off their feet, I want to describe this to you (be thankful you are reading this, I am one sobbing mess trying to get this part out). These shoes, what can I say, not one of you reading this blog has anything in your possession that is as worn and tattered as these boys shoes. Not one of you has a pair of socks with as many holes as they have in their socks. I literally can not think of ONE thing I own that is in as much disrepair as the shoes on these precious boys feet! Beyond the fact that there are holes in the soles, laces only long enough to keep the top hole together, toes busting out at the sides, dirty, worn shoes; they are proud to have them, THEY have shoes, they have something to wear- not all of the kids at camp did. New shoes- these children have never had a new shirt, blanket, socks, much less a new pair of shoes! My prayer is that their parents will not sell them, that they will be able to wear them with pride.

We ate our last lunch together, for six such tough boys, they all started coming down with "paining" stomachs (I didn't know it at the time, but it was a case of the blues rather than an actual belly ache!)
The bibles... My boys opened their bibles, found the pictures of the evangicube and started reciting what they had learned. I have 6 9-11 year old boys excited and over the moon thankful for a bible and a new pair of shoes!

We sang and danced and played until the kids had to line up for the bus.

My beautiful, sweet boys lined up, didn't say much while waiting for the bus. I tried to engage them in laughter but they seemed really anxious to get on the bus. The call was made to load up and off they went- basically sprinting to the bus, leaving me in the dust. Okay- part of me was crushed, heart broken full on sadness that they didn't have a hard time leaving me. I mean, come on, if I could find a way to pack them up, bring them home and keep them as my own, I WOULD, and there they went- to the bus, without the slightest of a sweet goodbye. Here was my thought process- aimee, these are boys, 9-11 years, they aren't cuddly little toddlers or sensitive little girls, they are young boys living with the responsibility of men, they don't cry, they don't care about some mazunga (whitie) that they have known for a week. Come on Aimee, get it together, you came here to help them, you happen to have fallen in love, but that doesn't mean they feel the same, it has ONLY been a week- well, my brain was cranking out every justification there was, every excuse to WHY they so easily walked away. And then, there it was, out of nowhere, my eldest kid, Chola, comes leaping out of the bus, running to me and full on bear hugs me, I am shocked that we did not fall to the ground. I almost couldn't let go, I could see his tear, I could feel his heart pounding, and his chest sobbing and he was holding on SO tight- my absolutely full, exploding heart breaking all over again! I put him back on the bus, that was tough, but necessary. I was making one final check that they all got on the right bus and there, through the window on the opposite side of the bus was my youngest, sweet, adorable, scared Kennedy, balling! Uncontrollably sobbing- could I possibly leap through this window, reach the opposite side of the bus, escape with Kennedy and run? No- first I am not a runner, I don't know my way around Lusaka, much less Zambia or how to smuggle a child out of Africa, so I ran to the opposite side of the bus, slid the window open and reached through to meet my sweet Kennedy for a sobbing hug, he was leaning out of the window- I seriously could have pulled him out, he is small, I really should have had a plan for this! As we both cried, I kept trying to say smile in Nyanga, thinking this would help us stop crying, it didn't, we just cried, till the bus started moving, then we said goodbye. Full hearts...broken..

Let me back up, on Thursday I was thinking about sponsorships, I have six boys that need to be placed in school, that need the one hot meal provided to them at school, to have the security of of knowing the Lord and the community that Family Legacy offers it's children. With discipleship leaders in their compounds to council the children and their families, the sponsor program offers so much more than just an education to the kids . So... Thursday night I am trying to figure out what I can do. I love all of my boys, I have every intention of finding a sponsor for each one! Here is the thing- I am not going ask someone to take on the responsibility of sponsoring a child through their education an not do the same. (this is probably a conversation I should have with the Mr prior to posting it in a blog, but he is in Chicago today and pretty sure he isn't reading my blog during the Red Sox game, so I figure I have time to talk to him tonight and he MAY read this Monday and then all will be done and he will forgive me, b/c he is a kind loving and forgiving husband... :-)) SO Thursday night I very clearly knew that I was going to be the sponsor for two of my boys and very deep in my heart and soul and with very defined direction, I knew which two boys it would be - of coarse this is not something I could discuss with the boys, i had told Erin and Trish, but obviously, they couldn't tell the boys either, so what happened on Friday was in no way a result of anyone's knowledge of the task I had been so clearly decided to do, I am going to be Chola and Kennedy's sponsor. I have no doubt and I know my four other boys will have sponsors as well. I can not place my finger on the exact reason why these two boys are the ones, I just know it is what I am supposed to do. It is not in any way an expression of me loving or caring for them more than the others, it is just a clear message I received and I believe it is my responsibility. I have 6 boys in Zambia, I fell head over heals in love with six poverty stricken, vulnerable, orphaned children that for less than what we spend on one dinner out, I can send them to school, provide a hot healthy meal once a day, medical assistance and discipleship to. For a little more than $1 a day, all of that is provided to my Zambian boys!
I want to put a few things in perspective- for what I paid for my texting plan for two weeks while I was in Zambia- I could have sponsored a child for a month. For what I spent on the new green fleece to wear in Zambia, I could have sponsored a child for a month. For what I spent on a new pair of African beaded flip flops, I could have sponsored a child for a month. For what I spend in a month on coffee from Starbucks, I could have sponsored a child for a month. Are you getting the picture? For what I spend on wine in a month... Well- I might be able to sponsor a child for a year! ;-) seriously- $40/ month- one of my boys gets a chance at LIFE- an education, the opportunity for medical assessment and treatment, a HOT meal EVERYDAY (think about that one folks, one hot meal a day... That means that my boys would eat twice a day((they only eat once currently)) when was the last time you only had one meal in a day?) I am not preaching to you, and quite honestly if you think that, stop reading, I am not trying to guilt you either, I am just trying to explain what I have been made aware of and explain a world I was not aware of, and exposed to where I found 6 beautiful children and fell in live with and want to know they have a better future than what I left them with!

Okay, I need a nap before this plane lands, I will post the rest of my day tomorrow. Keep in touch- xoxo

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thursday: community day

We started our day in the children's community. My boys are from Chiasa (chi-e-sa) we took off into the compound with a couple brooms, trash bags, evangicube, and the "tickets to heaven". Each of my boys spoke to adults in the compound about Jesus and what steps to take to be a Christian. They were awesome! They literally jumped on every chance to share the word of God! There were several people who dismissed them and did not want to talk, so the boys just moved on, very polite and undefeated. They are so smart and so dedicated! I will blog about this in the future, there are videos to show them at work! After we wrapped up the evangelizing, we volunteered to sweep a few "yards" and pick up the trash.

While we were in Chiasa I met Robert's grandmother, she was really sweet! I also met 2 of Rabbi's sister, Gloria, who followed us all day, will attend camp in week seven. I couldn't get an answer on if the other sister was going to make it to camp, couldn't seem to get her name either! She was really shy- probably had not seen a white person before! They call us mazungas!

We spent the rest of our time cleaning up around the compound, we swept for several families and walked down the market street- future blog about this- it was not my kind of shopping!

Last day of camp tomorrow, I don't want to leave these boys- they have wiggled their adorable little selves deep into my heart! Sweet sweet boys!

On a side note- Africa- has a winter an it is now and it is COLD! They have bad plumbing! AND COLD showers. AND although, my sister in law say otherwise- they have bugs- flying ones and roaches- maybe I only saw one of each, however- it was 1 too many of each! Zambian's are the nicest people you will ever meet, they are just a happy culture, it is so nice to see so many happy people. OH and beds- let me tell you, my sweet boys sleep on the floor, it is 45 degrees outside and they don't have much for blankets and no pillow or mat, just dirt floor. That being said I can not believe I am about to say this, but my mattress is not very comfortable, however, Trish and Erin might as well be sleeping on the floor, I think their bed is made I cement! It is the hardest surface you have ever laid on! Keep in touch- xoxo

Wednesday Camp Life!

Hello from Africa!

Today was awesome! It hit me this afternoon that it all clicked! The boys came running to me this morning, so excited to be at camp! We started the day showing a group of girls how to use the evangicube, they each gave a presentation and did a fantastic job! Kennedy was too cool for school, he must have practiced last night, b/c he had added hand gestures to the presentation, he says he wants to be a driver when he grows up, but honestly, I think he could be an inspirational speaker!
So you will understand the next part of my day, let me explain some of what I have been doing with the boys. Each day I have been taking one child aside (with a translator) and asking them questions, everything from who do you live with, do witches come for you at night, and if your parent is dead... why- so to say the least; I have had to develop a pretty good amount of trust for them to open up! Some of my boys have opened up and cried, some don't have anything to say and others are still working in trusting me. During this time, I ask each child if they have accepted Jesus in their heart and if they understand what that means. So far, the ones that did not believe, have accepted and the others were already believers.
SO... Today my task was to give my own testimony to the boys, I struggled with what I would share. Looking at these boys, I have it all and a lot more! I had a hard time finding something that they would understand or could relate to. It was me, my two Zambian partners and 6 beautiful boys, they listened and then prayed for me. It was SO sweet! A couple were in tears, which made me cry, what an awful way to realize these little boys had fallen in love with me too!

Next we were off to a big group session where we sing and dance and watch a skit and listen to the morning lesson. They love the songs and dance! They have learned not to watch me for direction, I just move to the beat of my own music, which they find very amusing! The skits are always a quick play on the lesson that was just taught- the wiggle worms that were, turn into the most attentive, engrossed well behaved children EVER! They speak Nyanja, so the kids understand every word, and they thrive on the theatrics if it all!

Oh- quick side note, there are large video screens in the center that we are in, on Monday, when the kids saw the screens showing what they we're seeing in real life, they all gasped the loudest gasp I have ever heard! Literally, for most of them they had just experienced their first bus ride, seen white people AND screen, much less a HUGE screen. Their innocents of some things is so cute, however, the exposure they have had to other things is just heart breaking!

Okay, on with the day...
After we wrap with the big group, we go back to our small groups to discuss what we just learned and make sure everyone understands the lessons. We are learning about The Armor of God. My boys have it! They get it, so we talk about how to use it in their lives. It is amazing what they will say and what they deal with on a day to day basis- it isn't pretty, it is scary, and quite honestly, I want to cry each time they tell me about another challenge they face each day.

It's lunch time and we have paired up the small groups to have the boys serve the girls lunch. This is NEVER done in Zambia, the culture is very male dominated and women and kids hold no real importance or usefulness for men, unless they are gaining something from them or taking advantage if them. My boys were gentlemen, and shockingly, they didn't good around! I was a proud Auntie Aimee!!! That is what they call me! We ate our lunch, for the boys it is 4 slices of bread and a "protein" drink. I have a pb&j with water. Zambian culture is a little different for meals, there is NO talking! WHAT? They just eat! I fin it very strange, an I can't help but break the rule everyday!
After we eat (semi silently) it is time for the finger painting project. I will blog about this when I get home- it is adorable!
We have about ten minutes to play then back to big group, then small group, then apple time, then line up to head home.
It was a great day! My boys are smart!
They have all asked me to pray that they will be able to be in school every day. I will pray, i will also be seeking out sponsors to send them to school! UI can't help but randomly take each one and give them a big hug! THEY hug back, THEY seek me out to hug!
Okay folks, I am going to bed, tomorrow we are in the community with the kids. That blog should be pretty good, however, I may need to split it up for time sake. I have to get some rest for my last two days of camp! I am in love with Zambia!!! Keep in touch. Xoxo

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday: Camp Life

Okay, I am a day late- I have to be honest, I was going to give up on blogging, I got discouraged, I was down, but it's all silly, and not why I am here!

I am going to skip right over that negative junk and tell you about the positive- and it is POSITIVE! First off... my boys rock the HOUSE! They are adorable! Older than I thought they would be, and way more awesome than I could have imagined! This could take a while, and it is 10 p.m. here and if I intend on keeping up with these kids tomorrow, I am going to have to give you the highlights now and the details later! I have 6 boys, 9-11. They line up short to tall, so that is how I will introduce you to them!

First up- Kennedy
He is tiny! Says he is 9, but he doesn't know when his birthday is, and I am guessing he is probably closer to 7, but none the less, he says with confidence that he is 9! He is soft spoken, but not shy, he is SO attentive, when we sing and dance he tries so hard to concentrate on the moves and words, his smile- beautiful!

Sneaky little guy, he is a 40 year old stuck in a child's body, his mannerisms crack me up! He is a show off, he wants to be the leader of the pack, he jokes and laughs constantly- him alone is like herding a dozen minnows- he keeps me on my toes! When he laughs- it is from his belly, and always slaps his knee for emphasis! His little voice is raspy and kind of deep for his size.

Robert- he joined us today, he missed the bus on Monday. Quiet Robert, he understands the most English, but he has a heck of a time speaking it, but boy does he try! He is sweet, pretty laid back, watches the bigger boys, but not with envy, just very interested. He joins in after a little evaluation, very careful.

Where do I begin... He is my sweetie! His smile- when he puts it on, is a mile wide! His eyes smile! It is cute! He is respectful, very polite, and super sweet! He is not the leader of the pack, but not a follower. He likes to show off, but he doesn't try to be the center of attention all the time. He includes me, in all of their games!

Still figuring this one out! He is sweet, but a little mischievous! I think he probably gets into trouble for not listening! He is affectionate, and strong!

Helper, guide, leader, athletic, goofy! This kid, he is a handful! He always wants the camera, picture, look, picture, look... He would do it all day! He says one word in English- a lot- camera... He has figured out how to work my phone camera and digital camera! He is helpful, always wants to carry my backpack, which is awesome, because it is heavy!

Those are my boys- they are so smart! They all know the evangicube, which I will explain another day, they have all learned the lessons from the first two days of camp and even some English! I love them, whole heartedly, they are all so special! I will do a blog on each boy on my way home. But right now, I need sleep- BIG day tomorrow! Keep in touch- xoxo

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Day 4

Sunday- oh BEAUTIFUL Sunday!

Started the day with a bus ride to The Hill at Camp Life. ALL of the children from The Tree of Life orphanage met us for church services... this my friends, you will want to read about in a future blog (I am limited on what will post, when we have Internet access as well as exhausted) so stay tuned!!!

So, all 300 of the precious kids joined us for church, so cute! They sang- oh MY goodness they sang their their little hearts out so loud and proud I cried! We had a "guest" Pastor, who gave a wonderful sermon, unlike anything I had ever heard. It was (for lack of better terms ((in my opinion)) raw and brutally honest. He spoke about family, and how we are all one big family, and getting to know your family and most importantly to include God in that family first. He cleared up some questions I had walking in to this about life, church, organizations, labels, and love for your fellow man. He was charismatic, humorous, passionate and for me, relatable! I needed his words on this Sunday before I meet these ten children I am going to greet tomorrow.

Let's talk about praying... when we (you and I) pray, we pray silently, if we are at church and they say, "let us pray", one person prays and we silently pray along, if they say, "take a moment for your prayers to be heard", we pray our own personal prayer silently. Zambian's, they are loud and proud and then a little louder than their neighbor, while the Pastor is leading the prayer! They GET INTO their prayer, they say it with commitment and passion- I was a little taken back- I had no idea! With my eyes closed ready to silently pray along with the pastor, I was overcome with joy for these people who believe so deeply, who are so proud of their Faith and so confident to put their prayers out for the world to hear! I simply have never been that confident, not that I don't have the Faith, or believe enough, and maybe it is a cultural thing, but this blew me AWAY! I, in fact, LOVED IT, and I am praying (although silently) that this will happen again tomorrow, and every day that I am here. IT WAS POWERFUL!

Singing... These kids sing! There were two choirs that performed for us, AWESOME! I have video, and when I can blog from a normal computer rather than my iPhone, I will post it.

Peter, let me tell you, read about him in the future- Peter, they strong, tough looking, sensitive, please sit close to me and let me rest my head on your shoulder Peter! Coming soon...

We had lunch then went to shop our own personal Zambian Market! They brought the vendors to us! How cool! I definitely did my part to support the Zambian economy! Again, another post- you will want to see the treats I found!

For the most exciting part of my day! I met one of my Zambian camp partners and found out a little about my group!!! I got boys! 10 super awesome 6-8 year old boys... I am SO PUMPED! I have been hoping and praying that I would get a group of little boys! I did, I did!!! Grace will be guiding me through this! No people, literally her name is Grace! She is one of two of my Zambian partners! She is ADORABLE! She has volunteered at Camp Life for three years, so she knows what she is doing! Her smile could light up a room! She is in school, turning 21 in November, lives with her Mom and two sisters and loves pink! We only had about 5 mins to chat, so that is all I know right now, but there will be more to come on this precious gem as the week goes on!

Then we sang and danced, it was a rehearsal of sorts for what is to come tomorrow. We sing and dance a lot with our kids- I begged Grace not to laugh at me, she said, "I will not laugh, I will just smile at you"... she will laugh, the kids will laugh, I will laugh, too bad you are not here and you could laugh too! ;-)

That was a pretty full day, so we headed home, grabbed dinner, had a meeting and packaged up supplies for the kids name necklaces, then headed to the house to make PB&J sandwiches for our lunches tomorrow. Luke warm shower and I am about to crash.

I know these posts are a bit scrambled and scattered and I probably have a ton of misspelled words, and bad grammar, but seriously, I am using my iPhone, I am exhausted and well, it would be like this regardless, so just enjoy the content! :-)

I am in LOVE with Zambia, as a whole, the people are beautiful and peaceful! They are insanely friendly and warm. The children... I don't know what to say, I have fallen in LOVE, and I haven't even met my boys! I am afraid of how much I am going to love these kids tomorrow, I am scared my heart is going to explode! I have been so blessed to have a wonderful family, a patient (if that is misspelled it isn't supposed to be the word that refers to someone who is being seen by a doctor) kind, loving husband, a Lemon who isn't always sour and a bunch of super awesome friends to boot- SO tomorrow, I literally think my love level is going to be so great, my heart may explode- full on firework show explosion folks, you will be able to see it in the Texas sky! These are going to be MY boys! Their lives quite possibly will be determined by my actions! Not like my dance moves, c'mon people, be serious here! I have already committed to finding each of my boys and American sponsor- in a heart felt conversation coming your way soon! ;-) I have seen the impact this program has on these children- it is good! God is doing GREAT things through this ministry. PLEASE come back tomorrow to see my post! Meet MY boys!!!

I don't have kids- I have never lay in bed worried about my child's health, or safety- I am lying here right now, so worried about my 10 boys and the lives they are living and searching every inch of my heart to figure out how I can help them... This is going to be a long night... to my Mom and Dad, thanks for all you have done and still do for me!

Keep in touch- xoxo

Day 3

Oh MY MY! This was an incredibly overwhelming, beautiful, insightful, heart warming, tear jerking, eye opening, love filled, inspiring and AMAZING day!

Bus picked us up at 8:00, to head to the housing village we would be moving to where we met our FLMI staff guide, bus driver, and security guard. Our bus was already packed with the 4 food drop bags for each of the sponsored children we would be seeing. We also had a backpack for each child filled with a soccer ball, school supplies, shoes, toys, books, stickers, pictures and a bible. As well as a pillow, personalized pillow case and blanket for each child. Erin sponsors two girls, Charity and Bwala; Chris (who is not with us but Erin stood in) sponsors Waiteson; and Trish and I were visiting Serah (pronounced Selah). Our bus was full! Each child had two big bags (garbage bag size) of food, one 50 lb bag of meli meal, and a bag of meat.

We headed out to the school where the children were meeting us. At this point the kids do not know we were coming to see them, only that they should be at the school for something "special". We arrived before any of the kids, so we spent a while playing with the many children that were hanging out/playing in the adjoining school yard. They were so cute! They thrive on attention, just like any child, they want you to take their picture, they pose and want to see immediately. They had plastic bags stuffed inside of bags to form a "ball" and kicked it all over- there was no goal or determined boundaries, no teams, just a roaming crowd of children running after several "bag balls". They are quick- and the littles ones, don't worry, they hung in like troopers and were just as fast on their feet! To NO surprise, I am not equal or even close to there ability, I tried to play with a few small girls, they ran all over me! AND! Not a single one tripped or stumbled on the big rocks sticking out of the ground (like I did twice... they laughed at me)! Some of the children attend school, some did not, but for the most part- they all laughed and played and were SO happy to be with friends and meet new "white people". There was a boy, Isaiah, who had gone to Camp Life last week, who had his bible in hand and explained the Armor of God that he had learned at camp. It was pretty awesome that a couple of other boys asked for his bible to read as well, when I asked them if they had read the bible, one said yes, turned to Matthew, said he liked this one and started reading. I WISH I could remember his name, I will be posting a photo of he and his sister (maybe not in this blog, but soon). The kids just kept coming, every time I turned around there were more!

Serah and her best friend Alice showed up, then Waiteson. After lots of hugs and greetings, we loaded the children on the bus to head to their homes to see where they live and meet their families. First stop, Serah and Alice! Alice had been in Erin's camp group with Serah, and although she was not one of our sponsor children we gladly welcomed her to the group and made her feel a part. Proof that God works in amazing ways, we had an extra load of food so Erin went with Alice to her home to meet her family, share the gifts and pray with her. Trish and I headed down the street to Sarah's home. It was a nice, very well kept, the surrounding area (kind of like a yard) was clean and there were a few small trees, it is a stand alone cement home with two rooms where Serah lives with her Mom, Dad and 4 siblings. When you think "room" think the size of your walk in closet! Serah's mother Mary, a sweet sweet woman, stays home with the children, maintains the home, chores, children and cooking. She was excited to see us, she welcomed us into her home as she watched us shower her sweet daughter with gifts! Every time Serah would take something out of her bag, her mother would stand to hug us and say thank you (all the while with beautiful baby girl Emma in her arms). Serah was SO gracious, at one point offering Trish her hair bow! She is a smart, very determined little girl! She is in grade 8, favorite color is pink, wants to be a Pilot, and do well in school so that one day she can take care of her mother.
Her smile is contagious and her eyes are filled with joy, you can see it! I could go in for a while and will probably do an entire blog on this experience in the future, but it is getting late and I need to get some rest!
Next we went to Waiteson's home, he had sat patiently in the bus the whole time we were with the girls. He is a sweet, quiet, sensitive boy. He lives with his mother, father and 2 brothers. His parents did not speak much English, so our Zambian partner/translator was a huge help! Again, more details later- it's getting late!
Next up, one of the residential homes of the Father's Heart sponsorship program where Charity lives. AWESOME! and so many things to say, you will have to read about it later. Sorry, this is how I am going to keep you coming back, and my eyes are weighing heavy and I need sleep!

Keep in touch, xoxo

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

To Lusaka!

We are high in the sky- heading to Lusaka, Zambia! We are about half way there with 5 hours ahead of us.

Today was a little rough! We didn't sleep much last night, so as soon as we landed in London, we headed to Sofitel Hotel for a day room, a shower and an OH so comfy bed! We caught some zzz's and jumped right back on flight 255, Zambia bound! Not sure if it is being crammed in like sardines or nerves about what I am about to experience, but I can NOT sleep!

We are HERE!!! Landed about an hour ago. Our bags are heading to the hotel, and we are heading to breakfast! Now the fun begins! Stay tuned!