I am both happy and sad to be back from Zambia and sitting in my kitchen at 5 am, trying to give my friends here in the U.S. a brief answer to the inevitable and welcome question, “How was your trip?” I appreciate that question, I really do. And I appreciate all of the people who surrounded me and our Horizon International team in prayer while we were away.
I want to spend some time writing about my experiences and giving the people, places, and stories, the attention they deserve, but I realize that my “therapy through prose” process is sometimes more than people are asking for. So, for my curious and supportive friends, who with true interest, want to hear about my trip in short form…here are ten things I learned from my experience.
- The trip is a long one. An average of 30 hours in airplanes and airports each way. It gives you time (but no space) to anticipate and process your experiences. The view out of the window between the beige of Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Ethiopia, is in stark contrast to the fifty shades of green my eyes took in as we finally descended into the U.S. It was the third time I have flown into Washington D.C. this year, and yet I had never noticed how green it was. Perspective
- Kid’s camp was orchestrated chaos, which is exactly the way our leader, Douge’ likes it. It is perfect in its spontaneous dancing and singing and corralling of 220 kids who once a year, get to forget their problems and just be kids in Christ’s care. Being Present
- We were short about eighty-some mattresses on the first day of camp. Four hours later, trucks pulled up with some of the sorriest excuses for a mattress you have ever seen in your life. You would not have picked these up from the side of the road. But these kids were cheering with joy when they carried them on their heads to their bunks. Gratitude
- I heard children tell their testimony and bawled like a baby as one boy explained how his father’s death mercifully gave him enough to eat, and of the many different places he had to live before he finally found a family who treated him like more than a house-boy. Of another boy who said, as if it was nothing, that he sat a year out of school until Horizon found him a sponsor and he could enter the eighth grade with the proper school uniform (I think he was 17). Courage
- I laid my trembling hands, along with twelve others, on the body of the granny of one of the sponsored boys in the middle of the bush, and prayed as I have never prayed in my life while she laid on the ground convulsing and mumbling as our Zambian leaders commanded evil spirits out of her fragile body. Fear
- We baptized 58 kids in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, behind a church in an ice cold brick baptismal, while I sat atop a wall laughing, crying and snapping pictures of each and every one. WINNING!
- Getting to spend days at a time with Gift Zulu, the young woman I have sponsored and watched grow over these past 8 years, is worth every single mile. Holding her hand, hearing her voice, watching her sing…There are too many words. More about that later. Joy
- I am blessed with a loving husband and three of the most amazing children a mother could ask for. I know this because they allow me to leave them to fend for themselves (and worry about me) for ten days, while I very occasionally call home, text home, and finally come home blathering with love and excitement about Gift (my “Zambian daughter”). Their hearts are big enough to include her in our lives, with more than mere curiosity. I wish that for every family. Sacrifice
- Zambia has changed quite a bit in the two years since I was last there. There is a lot of new construction by the Chinese; they just had their first real democratic election (more about that later). I struggled with why they can build a new mall in the center of Lusaka, but the schools in Chongwe still have no desks. Progress
- There is a battle of good against evil that manifests itself in both hidden and obvious ways. I was never more aware of it until this trip. The spiritual and social battle for this generation of kids is fought every day by a group of “laborers” I proudly call my Zambian family. I am humbled by their grace and grit, and the way they advocate for the kids every day. Humbled.