8/2/11

boys


3 boys got baptized Saturday! –
We struggle to really know if people want to get baptized because they want to add another assurance that they will end up in heaven, or if they really want to follow Jesus. These boys< especially one of them, have really sought Jesus. They are all vulnerable and some orphans. Jeremiah has really been giving to them, really trying to instill in them servant humility.
When they wanted to get baptized, well Jeremiah took it very seriously. (He does this when it comes to these kinds of things, and I really appreciate it about him). So he (with Mike, Zambian team member) asked them what it meant to them, what they understood about it. Well they got it. This was only a statement that from here on in, they want to follow Jesus. One thing they boys often say is “they want Jesus to help them stop fighting.” This is something they pray about for themselves, and for others in their village. That people would stop fighting.
We had a celebration planned to surround these boys with love and prayers. Well at first about 30 kids showed up, that’s it, no adults, only kids and us. So we decided to worship, and believe this is who God brought us, so we would go with it. We sang and danced and prayed. At one point Joseph, standing next to Jeremiah, was getting bugged by a kid who well, tends to bug everyone, and he started to get annoyed, and Jeremiah reeled him in put his arm around him and said “remember” and Joseph, only in a way he can, put his hand on his head, and shook his head, and laughed. “Oh yea, oh yea” Watching this happen from across the circle, I was so blessed. Just a tender gentle reminder, and Joseph’s response. Joseph is also the boy who last week chose to get out of the truck, and walk the mile home so a bunch of women and kids could ride instead. Jeremiah had invited him along, but told him how proud he was of this gesture.
These are boys who have had to fight to survive. Joseph is an orphan he stays with his grandmother who also takes care of 8 other orphans. His uncle who was like a father recently died. He has been used, and maltreated. The only explanation for his actions, in my mind at least, is God’s spirit, gentle love and discipleship, prayer, and a tender heart. God has big plans for this boy who has had to grow up to fast. Pray for his heart and mind. Pray that baptism would truly be a new beginning, for him and all the boys.

6/28/11

Zambia so far

Monday, June 27, 2011

We have been adjusting- life here is not really in a rhythm yet though. We got broken into last week Dan’s computer and IPod were stolen, the 4 of us decided to move out – we were planning on moving out in a week any way. so we are at the team house where we were last summer. There is a team mostly from South Africa coming on wed. so we will be spending much of the next 2 weeks camping in the village – I promise to take pictures. We will be helping host them, debrief and just be with them. So we are preparing for this! It will be fun.
We are trying to spread our wings and network with people here who work with vulnerable women and children. We have a meeting – Lord willing – tomorrow with the social worker who works for the Government social welfare department. We want to ask her more questions about their system for placing abandoned children. And we are praying about approaching the topic of international adoption, praying through our steps. We believe God is moving so we want to be sensitive to his speaking and his timing. We spent a little time with her last week and she said that yes babies get abandoned and the orphanages are over full. So we are breaching what our role in this will be. How our orphan home will play into taking these kid, and what God has for their lives.
We have 2 children who we have custody over – as an organization. They are staying with a mama in the village who is thinking about becoming the full time mama. The little girl is 4 and cant walk or talk. She has major disabilities and needs full time therapy and special care. We are looking for a better place for her in the area, but we felt no choice but to get her out of the situation she was in. So pray for these two. 9 year old boy and 4 year old girl. Our role here will be in Orphan care, and we will see what all that means, but look forward to the challenge and pleasure of working with the most vulnerable.
The boys have been such a joy for Jeremiah. He described to me last Thursday night when they had a leadership meeting with leaders in the village. Mukela and big Joseph worship and prayed fervently! Oh what a joy to say these boys have grown closer to Jesus instead of falling away. Thank you for all who have prayed for them over the last year, continue to pray for God’s calling in their lives that they would get healing in their lives and walk with dignity in knowing that they are children of God and He has a big and beautiful plan for their lives.

7/23/10

noon day sun







“Commit your ways to the Lord,
trust in Him and He will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
The justice of your cause like the noon day sun!”
Psalm 37:5-6

We have been brainstorming for the future, and trying to tie up things that could have an end. So it feels good! We took the boys to school to get them registered. Oh wow! You would have thought they just got into Harvard! They were so excited. There are 5 boys who work in the garden and then will sell the produce to make some money to put towards school. The guidance counselor at the school is very educated. (it is a very rural school, so you can never be certain) he has such a heart for the most vulnerable. He is soft spoken and really cares. He asked them each their age, why they left school, what grade they were in. 3 of the boys who are 15 will be in 3rd grade, and 2 of the boys, one who is 12 one who is 15 will be in 4th grade. They didn’t care; they were just excited to go back. Then he took us to a village close by where a lady sews uniforms, so they all got measured, oh wow, what a joy! It was just such a wonderful feeling to see this happening. But we know that the reality is: they will struggle, even in these low grades. Mike who works with us is committing to keeping them accountable with the gardens, and tutoring them on Saturday. We believe they can be next leaders, with discipleship and responsibility given to them! With people who believe they are worth so much by their side to encourage them!

Tuesday we went to talk to their guardians about the gardens and school. We found Michael’s sister who has 2 young kids of her own. She told us Michael told her he was gardening, but she didn’t believe him. But she said she would make sure He goes to school, even if his mom didn’t. Sitting there with her and a few kids around, and Michael in the background – I just got this wave of realization. These kids have nothing, no one believes that we would see them as worthy to invest in, worthy enough to give a small plot of land, some seeds and our time to help them plant a garden to. Sadness just overwhelmed me. But also the feeling of where else could we be?! I Thank God for the honor of loving His Kids.

We are brainstorming about how to identify vulnerable kids, and how to identify and respond to abuse. We are seeing that God must bring us Contentious people in the villages who commit to caring for the needs of the vulnerable, who will identify family problems, and not give in to fear of what others will think or say. People we can train in how to council children though grief and abuse issues. People who will be a safe place. So pray that God brings these people who will stand up for the rights of the poor and need, who will hold people accountable and bring what is done in darkness to light.

These are also pictures of the orphan home! It is coming along quickly and will be done in a few weeks!

PS Jeremiah and I went out on the river in wooden homemade canoes. We were in separate canoes, and we stayed right along the shoreline, we weren’t in rapids at all! But wow that was scary enough! We are going to have to work up courage if we are going to become real fishermen! (and fisherwoman!)

7/18/10





A Promise of Restoration
Isaiah 4:2
“In that day the Branch of the Lord
will be beautiful and glorious;
the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory
of all who survive in Israel”


The justice that is lacking, the mercy that has not yet come to be, the times of jealousy, anger, pride and arrogance will fall away. The Lion will lie with the lamb.
This is our prayer for these villages. That the branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, that He will reach out his branch and restore what is broken to wholeness.

Meeting with the headmen from the village was eye opening. Not many acknowledge the ill treatment of orphans or even children in their own community. – although we know it exists. The meeting over all was a success – I suppose – the headmen agreed that they had a need for an orphan home, so the social welfare social worker can now God willing, write up her recommendation letter and put us one step closer to getting liscenced. But it left a sour taste in our mouths. It was difficult to get them to acknowledge their need to help the problem of orphans in their own villages. They all kept putting it back on us. Asking “but what are you going to do fo us!?” and we would ask them in return what can you do for them? How can we partner, what are some ways we can help these children get into school through ways they can help in the communities? (gardens, basket making, chicken business etc) and they insisted on bringing up all the issues with these ideas (where do they sell their veggies? Monkeys eat their gardens, marketing their produsts is a problem… yet the head man of Singanga village, where we are located has made a very successful garden business dispite all these problems.
We have adopted the policy of wanting them to show initiative in a project before we assist them. But when it comes to orphans, we want them to see it as their own problem. When a child is orphaned, it them puts more pressure on his or her relatives to care for him. It creates a worse quality of life for everyone involved. Now we have old grannies caring for 5 – 10 children! So we are trying to get them to understand we do not have the answers, if they don’t have ownership of the project, it will fail. But it has been years of having NGO’s and foreigners hand them money and their own solutions instead of empowering them to solve their own community problems.

This is what we face. There seems no easy answer. Creating a childrens home is one small answer, because we believe that investing in a few vulnerable, rasing them up as leaders will in turn affect the country and continent, but this isn’t the answer for most. So our question remains, how can we empower those who will stay in their current situations? How do we do justice? How do we defend the rights of the orphan an widow?

Giving them tools to denfend themselves, with no infrastructure to support their cries seems to defeat the purpose. If a child is being sexually abused, and tells someone, they will then be looked at by the community as ruining the family name, and will not be welcome back most likely. So they must be willing to give up their family (no matter how loose this term is) and home. With the rates of abuse in the rural areas, this it is impossible to support and house them all! So where do we turn!?
Please pray with us. This issue will only get louder, and we need to be educated and trained to meet these growing needs.

7/9/10

Update

this picture is of a chicken run (the little houses in the back ground, and fishing nets (the tall things in the front)
kids carrying water from the river
a hut in the village with laundry on the line
girls carrying their dishes to the river to wash them.

The boys are doing great. It is going to be so difficult to leave them. We are praying for a way for what is going on with them to not depend on us. We gave them as a prize for attending English classes a comic book of the life of Jesus. Jeremiah has been teaching them the stories according to the pictures and they have memorized it! (In Lozi, their language). It is so inspiring! They are asking deep questions about how to hear God, how God and Jesus are related. Yesterday Dan gave them a plot of land to garden. We had Collard greens already started so they go to transplant them and now must keep them alive and in about 2 weeks they will be able to sell it! We have worked out that we will account for the money they make and we can put it towards something they need. They all agreed that they want to go to school! A new term starts end of August!

Pray for favor with the headmen of the 9 villages in the chiefdom the property is in. (9 is only the ½ villages that are closest to us) Thursday July 15 we have a meeting with them to ask for their support of the children’s home. This is an important part of helping them, all the villages around, to take ownership of the project. We are also attempting to get the social worker form social well fare to this meeting because she must talk to people in the villages to find out if they want the home before she will write a letter of approval. This letter is needed to get licensed as a home that cares for orphans and vulnerable children. The social worker has been nice but is very hard to catch, we go down to her office about 4 ties a week just to try to find her and tell her about the meeting, we only found her once. So pray God opens doors and give us favor in the governments eyes.

We also must get licensed with Department of Societies, to become a licensed children’s home. And when we went there (a miracle we found it, it is a little unmarked in a courtyard of other offices, a room with papers just everywhere, no computer) she gave us the forms we needed to fill out, and the amount we need to pay to become registered, but she informed us she had no receipts and that she didn’t know when the office in Lusaka would send it.

Jeremiah has been selected for scholarships, but he must have an interview next week Friday over the phone/Skype so pray the connection works and that the committee gives him the scholarship.

It seems like many things lately have been coming up, as far as logistics having to do with importing the vehicle (tax free) and catches that we are all (especially Dan) spending hours on working out. In Africa nothing happens smoothly, but it can be frustrating and exhausting. But we are excited about the ways God is pouring into the people’s lives here, the projects He is building through support like yours! People wanting to come, and ideas about small businesses and gardening and building techniques and fishing techniques. For these we are so excited and grateful! We have such hope for these villages, to go make disciples of even more rural villages in their own country and continent. To give them a kingdom perspective. But we are pushing through so many barriers. Thank you so your love support and prayers!

7/4/10





flying home made kites!
God was Amazed
Isaiah 59:15-21
The Lord looked and was displeased to find there was no justice.
He was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed.
So He Himself stepped in to save them with His strong arm, and His justice sustained Him.
He put on righteousness as his body armor and placed the helmet of salvation on his head. He clothed Himself in a robe of vengeance and wrapped Himself in a cloak of divine passion.
He will repay His enemy for their evil deeds His fury will fall on His foes.
He will pay them back even to the ends of the earth.
In the west people will respect the name of the Lord, in the east, they will glorify Him.
For He will come like a raging flood tide driven by the breath of the Lord.
“The redeemer will come to Jerusalem to buy back those in Israel who have turned from their sins.” Says the Lord.
“And this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord, “my spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children’s children forever. I, the Lord have spoken!”

God was amazed that no one helped the oppressed! Aren’t these amazing words?! Our heart is that we can be God’s strong arm in flesh. That we would model after our ultimate servant leader to fight for the rights of the poor and needy, and speak on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves! But what does this practically mean?

By creating this project from the ground up, our heart is to empower. Empower; this seems a simple enough word, but what practically does this mean to you?
Seriously – what would you do when you see children who look like they have never bathed, they are not in school, they wear the same clothes every time you see them and they always seem hungry. What would your response be?
Would you
A: raise enough money (from the west) to feed them every time you go out to the village?
B: Give them a new wardrobe out of your own closet?
C: teach them, give them pencils and notebooks?
D: something else?
This is the hardest thing we face. Are any of these empowering them? What does God’s justice look like? Do these feed into the mindset that missionaries and aid workers have created for years- African’s dependency on the west, on white people. They express through their words and attitudes that they believe “white people are richer, and must be smarter, and have what we, poor Africans need. We need to ask them (westerners) to give us things to meet our needs.” This may sound harsh but anyone who has ever worked tirelessly in a developing world; even just Africa knows this is often the case. And every day we seek God in how to face it and respond to it.
How do we EMPOWER them?
Our policy has become, teach them to thrive in their gardening skills, even the 15-year-old boys. They can gain pride in what they accomplish by growing and selling crops to allow them enough money to go to school. We have them memorize scripture (a passage from a psalm) before we give them a bible. We want them to value what they are given, to work and in response take care of the things they are given.
We do teach the boys English, that is what we can give them out of ourselves, our time and energy and love, but instead of buying them a work book (something that defines them as a student like the other kids who go to school) we had them make it with paper we provided, second hand card board and a leaf made into a binding. They loved it because they made it with their own hands! When they come ten times (in about 2 weeks) we will give them a small prize that they earned by attending class! This is what we are learning gives them pride, and combats the mentality that they need us. We want to teach them to inspire each other, disciple each other, lead their own Bible studies, and practice English with each other.
Wow it is hard, but to us it is so important that they grow into Zambians who see they can change their destiny, that they can be leaders, and stand for things they believe in even when they then become “different”. Please pray for us, pray for them. That we would walk this fine line according to God’s best for these beautiful people.

6/26/10

Kingdom culture


changing a totally blown out tire int he African Bush!

a shot of a town here, i love the colors!

A Village in the bush
Kingdom Culture
Jeremiah said to me this morning “ wow! It is such a privilege to be in these boys’ lives! To be discipling them and loving them! They are the children God holds closest to His heart and He entrusted us with them. We need to pray to be good stewards…”
Loving these boys: their culture has thought them to be part of the crowd, to not seek being an individual, or to admit their personal struggles. The strength of this is that they really think as a community, they think as a group, “My brother or friend is just as important as I am” we have seen how this can cause them (anyone in the community) to avoid getting ahead because they will be seen as not thinking of the community as a whole (my story about the man who stopped gardening), but I think in it’s pure form this mentality is from God. But we also see how the culture we have been brought up in can serve them as well. We have always been encouraged to think for ourselves, to be creative problem solvers, the get up and keep going when we fall. Being different is good.
We are realizing the encouraging them to be individuals, yet also playing off the strength of their culture; togetherness and the group mentality, is how they will grow the most. This is the kingdom mindset; we want to create a kingdom culture in their lives, and in ours. We can learn from each other.

Mike (a Zambian who we live with and is on our team), Jeremiah and I began Pebbles and Stones with the group of boys we have been teaching English to. This is a wonderful curriculum that emphasizes teaching children how to hear God’s voice and respond to Him. We were not sure what to expect this being the first time. These boys are so hungry for attention and to learn. They are like little sponges just eating up things we/God offers them. Because they have little education, and have had such little stimulation through out their lives, and the culture they come from, it feels like extra effort to get them thinking for themselves. Jeremiah told the story of Jehoshaphat in 2nd chronicles 20, and how he had to pray and ask God for help. They then got their own pen and paper to journal. What a beautiful site; all of them finding their own little rock to sit on and to journal. When we gathered back to talk about what God had said to them, and what they had drawn, most of them repeated the story that Jeremiah had told them. But as we asked more questions many of their fears came out. One boy told us he is shaken awake at night by something (a sprit) and He gets afraid. Many said they were afraid of death. It was hard for them to share their thoughts, but we were so encouraged by how they were beginning to open up. We stood and prayed for the person next to us. It felt like we could finally see into their lives. Having mike there to interpret opened up a whole new world fro Jeremiah and I to really begin to understand their worlds.
We saw a real leader emerge, Mukaela. We went and visited his family after, and found out he is a true double orphan. He lives with his grandma and sister who has a baby of her own. During Pebbles and Stones he shared and helped prod the other boys. He said to us “I want to be a child of God” and we never used this language with him! He can’t read or write (either in his own language or English). So how do we push him into leadership?! Jeremiah saw a picture while he was praying this morning of Mukaela leading Pebbles and Stones with other kids.
Through discipleship, learning Bible stories, and through hearing from God. We pray and believe that specifically 5 of these boys will become leaders in their communities, have a heart for orphans like themselves (3 other have lost their father, and sometimes live with the grandmother and sometimes with their mother), really share Jesus, what they are learning from God, and this will become simple reproducible churches where ever they go. That they would get a vision to see Zambians rural villages reached. We have Faith God will teach them to read over time, and to speak English

6/20/10




just wanted to share a few picks and where we are.
today we (all 9 of us 3 interns, 4 staff and us) are heading off for a few days to visit other orphan homes and maybe see a game park!

Life here is exciting, messy, frustrating, it is causing us to see things in new and different ways, it is pushing us to ask questions and find search God’s heart on things that seemed unimportant before. But over all, here we are.

We have been here over a month now, and time seems to be flying by. The orphan home is beginning to lay its foundations on the property that God has given. We are taking steps, slowly but in the right direction, to seeing the whole project licensed and supported by Zambian Social Welfare. This includes having a school, and clinic someday. The ground work we are doing will God willing incorporate the entire vision so we will have freedom to build and start them as God leads us with out going through this struggle again.
We are learning what it means to be social workers (although we are not technically that) in a developing nation where we face corruption and an entirely different protocol than anything we have been exposed to. Yet here all our work seems to matter so much more. The need and the exhaustive desperation in the people speaks to the fact that God’s heart if for them, for the weak, the small, the oppressed and forgotten.
We are heading to an orphan village ministry tomorrow, to learn from them, listen to God, and dream and brainstorm with all of us here about what God is leading us into in the next stages of the Children’s (orphan) Home He is building.