Today has been a day full of so many different emotions. I wish that I could easily paint a picture for you, but I know that I can’t even come close. I’ve seen things today that I want to keep in my heart for forever but at the same time want to forget because of the hurt involved.
Today I had the great privilege to go to three houses in the Sinia Compound with two of my fellow team members along with a Zambian lady named Elizabeth (good name =) ) who works with an organization called TuliOne. In this organization, widows from the Wiphan program act basically as foster parents for orphaned children. They are given food each week, and the children attend school at Wiphan. These are amazing women who have been through so much. It was an honor and a privilege to be invited into their homes, to ask any questions I had, to really see how these people live.
There were two things that really struck me during our visits. For one, the first TuliOne house we went to had three sisters who are double orphans (both parents are dead). The oldest, Helen, has two precious little boys age five and three that also live there. Helen is 16 years old. Yes, you did the math correct. She was 11 when she delivered her first child. Think about the 11 year olds you know. Maybe it’s your daughter or your sister or someone from your church. Can you imagine that?
The second thing that got me this morning was a little girl named Anna. She is new in the TuliOne program and is in Grade 1 at Wiphan. She is a double orphan who went to live with her aunt. Not only did her aunt mistreat her, the other children her aunt took in mistreated her as well. Now Anna is in a loving home and receives food, clothes, and schooling. However, she won’t look anyone in the eye and hardly smiles. She is precious and beautiful but oh so very hurt.
This afternoon we held a conference at the Castle Lodge (where we are staying) for grades 3-7 from both schools (over 300 kids!). It was a wonderful time. The children were taught about living pure and holy lives for the Lord as well as the importance of forgiving those that have hurt us, how it is not our job to try to get them back but that God will fight for us (1 Thessalonians 4:6). They learned that God loves them, He is there Father even if they don’t have an earthly one. They learned that God has a big plan for them, even if people around them tell them they aren’t going anywhere. At the end, each child got a ring that has a cross and an icthus on it to remind them of these things. It was such a beautiful thing. Following that they got to celebrate with cokes and cake (such a treat!) and of course dancing.
My favorite part of the conference was when Mama Kunda (who first had the vision for Wiphan years ago) led everyone in a song sung in Bemba thanking God for everything they have. African singing gets me every time but today, oh my today I just about lost it! All because of the most precious little boy in Grade 3. I don’t know his name, I don’t know which Wiphan school he goes to, and I didn’t take a picture because I didn’t want to ruin the special moment. He started the song with his eyes shut and his hands folded. As the song went on, he began to sing harder and harder. He raised one hand, then the other. He put his hand on his head, he put his hands on his heart, eyes clenched shut the entire time. This little boy was worshipping with all his might, thanking God for all that he had. Think about that….for all that he had. I don’t know if he is a single or double orphan, I don’t know his living condition. But I can tell you this: he has a lot less than you and me.
I know that was really long so if you read the whole thing, congratulations. If you didn’t, and you just scrolled down know this: the people of Zambia are absolutely beautiful.