Saturday, June 14, 2008

The First Few Days in Zambia

Hello again...I am back today with internet access...we hope all is well in Chicago...we had an easy flight from South Africa to Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia...as we walked across the tarmac into the terminal I really couldn't think of a place I would rather be flying to than this beautiful country as the sign above us welcomed us...the people of Zambia are always incredibly friendly and we received a very warm welcome from our friends at the national office of World Vision Zambia...there are over 700 staff who work on behalf of the poor with World Vision in this country and they are truly leading remarkable Kingdom work...

On Friday we headed outeast of town to visit our first Area Development project in an area called Kapaluwe...it was our first encounter with what I would call the "real" Africa and we spent the day there doing a variety of things...As our bus pulled up to a village medical clinic, about 25 HIV/AIDS Caregiver volunteers from that community were singing and dancing and personally greeted each one of us...it always overwhelms you when you are greeted by strangers with incredible joy and love...we had the opportunity to be part of a bike distribution to each of these caregivers who now will be more able to go and visit as volunteers their clients/patients in the surrounding area who are suffering from AIDS...they are incredibly loving servants who truly live out caring for the least of these in an exemplary way...they will even take some of their clients on the back of the bike to the medical clinic to get seen and to often receive their ARV treatments that help them to recover from the ravages of this disease...these specially made bikes were created thru some Chicago donors who have created and organization called World Bicycle Relief and have distributed over 20,000 bikes here in Zambia...the caregiver project is part of a larger initiative called RAPIDS tat has been funded by a grant from the US GOVT in the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief...what a privilege to be part of the giving of these gifts that are so deeply appreciated and will chang lives for both these volunteers from local churches and people suffering in the community...

We then also had a chance to visit people suffering from HIV/AIDS in groups with an individual caregiver...here is where you truly see the impact of AIDS and the remarkable needs present in the lives of Zambians...the woman who I had the chance to visit was named Nadia and she is a grandmother in her 60's...her story is one that grabs and breaks your heart...her husband died over 20 years ago, most likely from and early undiagnosed case of AIDS and she has has 10 children...and yet only three of them are still alive...and she believes that she contracted the virus after talking with doctors while she was taking care of her daughter with open boils on her skin as she was dying...she has also been caring for a double orphan frm the area who has lost both parents...she was very ill before her caregiver began transporting her to a nearby clinic to get tested and begin an ARV regiment in the last year...the impact of this disease is dramatic on this one family, and we wondered if her 6 grandchildren had been tested yet as well...there is a saying here in Zambia that just about everyone has been infected or affected by AIDS and you see it so clearly in a place like Kapaluwe...

And yet in the midst of suffering there is always joy that surprises and almost shocks you as you interact with the people of Africa...it is found in the children running around you, in being called into a dance circle by new friends, (when the video of me dancing makes you tube I may get a few comments from my peers, students and bosses at WA!) in playing soccer and netball on a dirt field where cows are grazing just behind the goal...by the way the girls lost a close game in netball and Jenn Lee scored our only goal in a 2-1 loss to a club team from the area...

As we sat around after dinner at our guest house last night and debriefed fro a couple hours, there were so many comments about the tension that coming to Zambia creates in one's life...you see that you don't need all your stuff to enjoy life, you can have a deep and real faith even in the midst of unthinkable suffering, and you are most struck with the challenge of how do I respond to what I have seen and bring justice and mercy and health and a different future to this part of the world...coming here is incredible, but in many ways it stirs in you the deepest of questions as you encounter life and relationships with a place and people not like you...the Zambians have been and continue to be some of my greatest teachers in my life as I see them live out what it means to know and be Jesus every day...

Your prayers are much appreciated as your students and our staff try to discern all that God is showing us and speaking to us...I long for the Holy Spirit to break us and break into our hearts in a radical and new way as we spend one more week here in Zambia...we are now up in Kitwe and tomorrow morning we will head to Kakolo Village for a community worship service that will frankly blow students away...we can't wait to worship together as the body of Christ with the people God has called us to know and love and serve for the past half decade...

We have been blessed with good health and travel so far...and we are trying to journal and capture everything we can to bring back home to you...

We love you and miss you...I will post again in the next few days...

With Love as the Zambia sun sets tonight...CHIP

4 comments:

connie said...

hi Chip and everyone. We are so glad to pray for you and look forward to your reports!!!

Keep trusting the Lord and learning from Him and getting time with Him each day.

Connie Weaver

Larry Van Dyke said...

Hey Chip, wonderful report. We can only imagine what Sunday's worship service will be like.

Please give some report on Mr. Tony.

Rachel and Mark Sessa said...

Thanks for the wonderful information, Chip and team. We are so glad you are all having such a rich experience and are healthy and safe. We continue to pray for your requests and for stories that bring you hope and joy.

Mr. Tony's wife said...

As Mr. Tony's wife, I don't get any communication at all when you guys are remotely located, so I'm very appreciative that you put so much work in being so open, honest and detailed.
Chip, you are an amazing person gifted by God. God is doing astronomical things for His Kingdom thru you and your team.