Monday, June 22, 2009

Final Day in Zamtan ADP

You have to remind yourself that we just arrived here Friday night...you get in a rhythm of life and begin to connect with people and become familiar with certain communities, restaurants, and activities in Zambia...

Today is our last day in this community before heading to the southern part of Zambia early in the morning...today was busy, emotional, joyful, and sobering...all in 8 hours!

We started with a devotional time with the World Vision staff in their office where I shared part of one of the chapters from the book I have been writing entitled "All I Really Needed to Know in Life I Learned in Zambia" where I talk about many things I have learned from the relationships developed and time spent in this place quite different than my home...I read a section from I Corinthians 13 and talked about the remarkable exchange of love we have seen here and how the love that comes from God truly does lead us to endure, to believe, to hope, and to bear all things...and I showed the staff our Ornage Bag video Matt Hockett made after distributing school supplies at the school last summer...the staff here love to see the videos made after our trips...

Tony and Tom and I had a chance to meet with the Head of Education for this area of the country for Zambia for a few minutes...he is incredibly grateful and excited about the impact he is seeing being made at Kakolo School and is giving them more staff and resources as a result of their progress...I love the chance to engage with the govt leaders who are so pleased with the work of the church and NGO's like World Vision in helping them to achieve their goals of improving education for all students in Zambia...

We then had a chance to participate in a feeding program sponsored by World Vision but run as a small business by several women in the community...It is called HEPS, whoch stands for High Energy Protein Supplement...we made a couple batches of this food by measuring out amounts and stirring them in a big barrel...the supplement is cooked over a fire and becomes a porridge for about 50 pre-school children each morning...they are also each given a hard boiled egg...our students passed out and helped feed the children, who readily polished off the contents of the bowl...for many of these children, it can regularly be the only real meal of the day and one worker told me that some students don't want to go to first grade because they will not get the meal anymore...

We then went out with caregivers, who focus in this area on taking care of about 50 orphaned and vulnerable children and their families each month...my home visit was with a grandmother taking care of her own kids and her children's children...this is in many ways the story of sub-Saharan Africa...a grandma caring for her own kids and those of her children, who have died from the AIDS pandemic...this dear lady herself is HIV-positive but due to the availablity of ARV's from the clinic WA supported, she is now feeling better after having been unable to get out of her home...I have read this story hundreds of times and seen it several myself, but today it just got to me again...life doesn't look the way it should here...this disease has torn apart families and threatened the quality and length of life for so many...I met up with some of my neighbor's sponsored girls in the community and one of them had dropped out of school for a while because her grandmother had been taken to the hospital by World Vision staff...she is the only adult living in their family and you are left wondering what will happen if she is gone to this precious little 8 year old girl...the questions are almost too big to handle, but they are personal questions you have to answer and not just choose to not hear...

We then visited the beautiful and state of the art medical clinic in Zamtan that specializes in stopping the transmission of HIV from moms to their unborn children...it was built with the help of some amazing donor friends from Chicago (we had dinner with them last night) and a few years ago WA students provided over $100,000 to help build a three room maternity wing where close to 300 babies have now been born...it is truly an amazing blessing for the whole region and also provides testing, count readings, and medicines for people dealing with HIV...a nurse giving us the tour was called to help with a delivery while we were there (we didn't watch that part!) and another patient was delivered for treatment on a World Bicycle Relief bike...and we took a picture of the Mauriello twins with the 2 year old twins the Dominguez family sponsors in Zambia!

As we drove up to Kakolo Village for the final time, hundreds of school children in their uniforms with orange school bags on their backs were lined up in straight rows outside the school and began frantically waving as they saw our bus coming down the road...it is one of those sights that you don't have words to describe...as usual, I turn into a puddle as I think about the fact that when I first saw this place, nothing was here...no finished school, no students, no soccer field, no hydraulic pump well, no electricity, no maternity clinic...The students sang their beautiful songs and the headmaster read a letter from the Zambian government to us after we prayed for the families of children who had been struck by lightning and died during the rainy season...We had a chance to tell the student body how much we believe in them and how excited we are for their future...each class was doing something special we could see or do with them...I did grammar with first graders and math with third graders while dancing, singing, and have them recite Philippians 4:13 to me...

We presented the headmaster with jerseys and school supplies in his office, and he told me he simply doesn't have the words to express his thanks for what God has done in this place thru the generosity of a generation of WA students...he is so proud of his school and now has 1052 students registered as the school continues to attract new students who were unable to get an education before...we even talked about a library and computers someday soon...Caleb and I then got a chance to lay a few bricks on the walls being built for the expansion that will triple the school size and give teachers a place to live in the community...we dug a hole last year and next year two new grades will be added as the school grows...and we also saw a maternity wing funded by WA that will allow children to be born right in the village rather than making a 7-8 mile walk during labor to the PMTCT clinic in Zamtan...

We listened to the students sing the Zambian national anthem before we started to leave...there were hundreds of hugs, high fives, fist bumps, and words of I LOVE YOU shared between children and our team as we left this village...the tears shed by several are just a reflection of the relationships God has invited us into...how remarkable to be deeply changed in a couple days by these people and this experience...

For me personally, it was a day of reflection in many ways...as I leave Wheaton Academy, I have an email and cell phone and facebook list of so many friends...so many students are now my friends and might remember a phrase or two I once said...and along with their stories, my legacy at WA is inextricably tied to the scene I saw when driving up to a rural Zambian school this afternoon...it is one I would have never imagined, but one I think is just about perfect...the chance to travel here with my students and colleagues and to watch together what God has done and will do, Lord willing, is something so unexpected, so profound, and so much about the Kingdom of God invading our hearts and a nation and people unknown by much of the world...with great confidence, my friends in Kakolo said we can't wait to see you again soon...somehow, I think they know better than me what God might have in store...

Overwhelmed by the love of God at the end of this day along with our crew here in Kitwe, CHIP

p.s. I will most likely not be able to blog for a few days...the community we are visiting next is a little more remote...we will spend tomorrow traveling and then hook up on Wednesday with my closest friend in Zambia who leads World Vision's work in the southern part of Zambia...

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

More thanks, Chip and our own heartstrings are truly being tugged through reading about your experiences...may the Spirit be a balm to your tender hearts! We parents are gathering this evenging to pray for you all. Peace.
MPCurato

Anonymous said...

Chip, thanks again for your heartfelt words. We know saying goodbye to this village and these people was not easy. We (most of the parents of the kids on the trip) gathered and prayed tonight for all of you. We especially lifted you up as you mourn this place with joy and sadness. Thank you for sharing your love with us and for sharing this experience with our children. We also prayed for safety and unity for all of you. And mostly, we prayed for God's work to be accomplished in Zambia and in the hearts of all the team! May God get the Glory for all of His works! Blessings to you all (a hug for Caleb please and a hug for Miss Becker...tell her thanks for being Mom!)
Jana and Dwight Polivka

Anonymous said...

A beautiful post....a beautiful picture of the children lining the way...
Keep pressing on and allow God to use you all as He desires.
I love being a part of His family and watching Him work!
Praying.....
Ruth G (Michael & Thomas)

Jenna Lee Luetkehans said...

AHH you laid bricks for the expansion! SO jealous right now as I sit in the World Bicycle Relief office and you're in the field....

Enjoy the rest of the trip!

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