Friday, July 16, 2010

Stories of HOPE

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a FUTURE. ~Jeremiah 29:11

This will be the last of the blog posts on my actual trip, but Isaac and I are already praying and planning a trip for us both to go to Zambia, hopefully in the not so distant future. God is moving in mighty ways all across Africa, and after seeing Zambia with my own eyes, I understand a bit better why. While there is rampant poverty and a despairing lack of basic education, the vast majority of the people are genuinely happy. They have learned the meaning of placing their hope in the Lord and building treasures in Heaven instead of on Earth (Matthew 6:19-21). Material things do not mean much to most Zambians, but relationships, especially the one they have with their Father, always seem come first.

In a nation that is full of internal peace, unlike most of Africa, Zambia is a long stretch ahead of the rest of the continent. No civil war has ever occurred on Zambian soil, and isn't likely to happen anytime in the foreseeable future. The people work together and are united in common goals. However, the financial infrastructure is just not there for them to expound on such programs as housing reform, free education, and proper sewage. These seem to be basics to us in America, but are novelties to many in a nation where HIV/AIDS has nearly stolen an entire generation of brilliant minds and bodies. However, HOPE for the future is bright since Zambia does provide the medications necessary for moms not to pass on HIV/AIDS to their children. While one generation may suffer without parents, at least they have such a bright chance of not growing up with one nasty disease.

Because of the despair of poverty, I find it humanly impossible to blame the parents or extended family members faced with the thought of abandoning a child. In many parts of Zambia, each second is simply about survival. Often, abandoning a sickly newborn might mean other children in the family have a chance of living. Sometimes, with the death of the mother, leaving the baby behind is the only option a poor father or grandmother has. There aren't programs like WIC and Medicaid in Zambia to be an option for these families. For that reason, I'm so grateful for the opportunity to step alongside those at Christian Alliance for Children Zambia and use my hands where God is doing wonderful things.

I met several kiddos through CACZ who are living testimonies of Jeremiah 29:11. Here are a few of their stories (keep in mind names are changed):

My first day at House of Martha, I met several of the older girls and had a fun time talking about school, food, and singing. After we left, Sandra told me the story about one of the girls, who had only been at HOMa for about 6 years, which isn't too odd as sometimes, older children are placed in the care of CACZ because of abuse or the death of the family members who were caring for them; not just babies come to CACZ. Minnie had been brought to HOMa when she was about 10 years old and was unable to walk or talk. At that, my chin hit my knees as we continued the drive back to House of Moses. I had just walked around the playground with a nearly grown woman and visited with her, but six years before that had been impossible?!?

The story kept going though. Minnie had come from an orphanage that was being closed by the government (if she wasn't walking and talking by age 10, I'm glad it was being closed), but Minnie hadn't been placed there for the same reasons many other children had been. About 12 years ago, a group of hunters was out in the bush, tracking animals. In a clearing, they came upon a troop of baboons, which isn't uncommon in Zambia. What the hunters saw next shocked them: a small girl was with the baboons! The hunters managed to coax the girl near enough to them to pick her up, but that decision infuriated the baboons; one of their family members was being taken away! After a valiant effort on the part of the baboons to attack the hunters' jeep, the hunters managed to drive off with the little girl, who was probably about 4 years old. No one will ever know how Minnie ended up with the baboons or what happened to her family, so she was placed in orphanage number 1, where apparently she never received what she needed to thrive.

Fast forward to 6 years ago. Minnie was brought to HOMa and began going to school at the Terry Woods School at the house. Fast forward to last week. When the students made their own journals with the group from Georgia, Minnie wrote and drew in hers just like the others. She has a passion for cooking and has taken over the kitchen, even though the caregiver do all of the cooking for the kids. Hopefully this will lead to her being able to stay on as a worker at HOMa, even after she's aged out of the social welfare system.

Because of the faithfulness of many to live out James 1:27, God has a perfect HOPE and FUTURE planned for Minnie, and she knows it!

Alex also lives at HOMa. He's about 13 years old, and loves to work with his hands. Alex is the self appointed big brother to all of the younger children and makes sure they listen to the adults and helps them learn. He also loves to play soccer with them. I don't know how Alex came to live at HOMa, but I sure wish someone would adopt this amazing boy. The only fault he has is his age. At 13, he's too old for most families, whether Zambian or from somewhere else, to want to adopt him. He's so mild mannered and such a helpful soul, that I can't imagine why age would stop a family, once they met him.

Regardless of family status, God has a HOPE and FUTURE planned for Alex, and the beginnings of it are being constructed literally before our eyes. Ngobelos are buildings in traditional Zambian villages where young adult men and young adult women are moved to learn how to be productive, stable citizens in the community. CACZ is using the same concept at HOMa, and the girls' ngobelo was opened almost a year ago. The boys have waited anxiously for theirs to be built, and construction is underway. Attached to the boys' ngobelo will also be a skills center for both the boys and girls to learn employable skills as they grow up as godly men and women of the faith. Local churches are working with CACZ to mentor and help each young adult adapt to society outside of the protection of the walls of HOMa once they enter the 'real world'.

What a blessing for Alex and the other older children! Because of the faithfulness of many to live out the words of James 1:27, Alex has a HOPE and a FUTURE!

Loulou and Aggie:
I've written a lot about 2/3 of my precious Trio of Trouble. The twins are roughly 20 months old and have the biggest, sweetest smiles! When Loulou and Aggie were first brought to HOM, their outlook was bleak.

Trash is commonly burned in Zambia as Waste Management has yet to exist there. A man about to light a trash heap on fire saw something moving and went to investigate. On top of the trash heap he found Loulou and Aggie. I'm not sure if the man brought them straight to HOM or to a social worker who brought them to HOM, but they quickly arrived here to be loved, cherished, and nourished.

I doubt it took long for the twins to become the dolls of the nursery. They thrive on attention and light up with smiles when they receive it. A family is trying to adopt them, for which I am ever grateful. I have no idea if the family is Zambian, American, or from somewhere else, but again, God has a HOPE and a FUTURE for these two precious girls who stole my heart, thanks to people who chose to daily live out James 1:27.

The Preemies:
In June of this year, a set of twins, brother and sister, were born to a couple who live out in the bush. Sadly, the twins were incredibly early, and the mommy died. Refusing to lose his wife and his children, the dad brought the twins to HOM, where he knew they could be fed and cared for, as he was too poor to buy formula.

Weighing in a 2.2 pounds each on their arrival to HOM, the twins sleep cuddled up in the same crib at HOM. Many visitors seem scared to hold them, but they were my favorites to coo over as we slowly waltzed around the nursery together each evening. They are now one month old, and Brother weighs 4.4 pounds, and Sister weighs 4.18 pounds. I've never met two stronger babies, mentally or physically. They will suck with the force of a tornado and grip my fingers like The Hulk if tried to let go before they were ready.

As soon as these darlings are big enough to eat nshima, Daddy is coming back for them. Because of people who daily live out James 1:27, it is easy to see God's HOPE and FUTURE for these darling babies.

To those of you who helped make this trip possible for me financially, may God bless you in return! To those of you who prayed continually, and there were many, thank you to the depths of my being. To my incredible husband, the thanks of many Zambians, grown and still growing, have been sent to you. Not many husbands would so willingly and selflessly send their wives halfway around the world alone to fulfill a childhood promise. Thank you.

1 comment:

Shelley said...

After reading about your experience, I'm ready to go!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...