oh zambia. you've done it to me again. every time i visit you i lose a piece of my heart. the beautiful faces of your people capture me at first sight and draw me in. the precious smiles of your children chip away at this icy heart bit by bit until it's completely melted. the simplicity with which you carry out life intrigues me and calls this technical, complicated body to be still and reflect on what really matters. you always give me tears, but plenty of laughter, too. although you drive me crazy at times and make me shake my head, i still love you and i will return.
we left the village yesterday morning and once again i had to say goodbye to my friends (some new, some old, but all special). goodbye's really never get easier... in fact the closer you become to the people and places you are saying goodbye to- the harder it actually gets because those people and that place begin to feel more like home.
our time went way too fast, but i knew that would happen. 1 month simply isn't long enough and i'm left wanting more of what i can't have- time. sure i miss my creature comforts and sleeping in a bed last night (instead of on the floor of a tent) felt fabulous, but those are such minor things in comparison with what i've seen and experienced. every time i come here i'm overwhelmed by what little people have and the conditions in which they live 24/7. most don't know any different, but it still breaks my heart.
last week allison and i got a chance to visit a deaf school in town. they have 37 deaf students from around the district who come and live there 9 months out of the year to receive an education. the condition of the place where they live though is so sad. there are plenty of bunk beds, but no mattresses. kids literally sleep on the wood boards or some who are lucky bring a reed mad. there are literally only a few plates so the kids have to eat in small shifts which can take hours. plus, we are talking about deaf kids who according to the woman who takes care of them, can be very violent at times. it's an overwhelming job and this women does it for $40 USD a month. after i saw that i was overwhelmed with the feeling that something had to be done. i couldn't see it and just walk away. thankfully allison felt the same way and on monday we went back to town and purchased 40 plates, 40 cups and 3 pots. we trotted our way through town with our bundle of goodies, feeling a bit like santa claus. when we arrived at the deaf school and they saw what we had brought the tears and smiles started flowing. you would have thought we gave them a million dollars! i was so humbled and overwhelmed that this small act could bring such joy. plates? cups? really? REALLY! the caretaker through tears told our interpreter that many visitors come through her place promising to do something and it never happens. she was so surprised and blessed to see someone keep their word.
i tell you this story not to bring glory to me. i haven't done anything. i signed to her, "glory to God" because he's the one who deserves it all. it's only by His grace that i'm in this nation, able to love these people. i tell you that also to challenge you. how many times have you seen a need and wanted to do something? did you think, "oh i'll do it later" and then never get around to it? i know i have! let's start looking around us and MEET THE NEED! it could be as simple as purchasing a plate or as complex as opening your home to a stranger. let's be compelled to LOVE those around us in practical ways! love requires action!
ok, i'll get off my soapbox now...
there are countless other stories i could share with you and hopefully i will when i get home. tomorrow morning allison and i begin our long journey home. we arrive at jfk around noon on friday. i can't wait to see all of you!
God has and continues to show himself faithful. this trip has been incredible in so many ways and more stretching than i thought possible. it all draws me closer to Him, which is ultimately the goal, right?
with love from zambia,