It’s mango season here. Most mornings I walk to the base and start my day by accidentally hitting my head on the mangoes that hang down from the tree. It’s also the hottest time of year. By the time class starts at 7:30am I’m already sweating, and when I go to bed at night I’m usually still sweating. It’s funny, I was in Kabwe this past week for training and everyone complained about how hot it was, while I was wearing jeans, because it was so much cooler there than Mpulungu.
The training I attended was called the Channels of Hope Facilitator’s Training through AidsLink Ministries. AidsLink is a national organization that works alongside Operation Mobilization to go into communities to eradicate stigma around HIV, provide basic and practical knowledge, and bring the hope that we have in Christ to people living with and affected by HIV. The purpose of this training was to receive practical knowledge of HIV, learn how to facilitate workshops, and challenge our views on HIV related topics so that we would all walk away with a Biblical perspective of how to respond to this epidemic. It was a great training!! I found out that there was a lot that I didn’t know and had my conservative Western views confronted. I walked away from the experience realizing all over again, that as the church we need to respond to people the way that Jesus responded to them; without judgment and with compassion. Basically, how can we love people better, and how can we take initiative in responding to this problem that affects so many in our communities?
When I was asked to reflect on what OM Lake T is already doing, I realized that we’re responding to the problems that HIV creates, but not getting to the root of the problem. We have an orphan school…most of the orphans being orphaned because of HIV, but are we actually doing anything to prevent the spread of the virus? So, now the task becomes figuring out how to take this knowledge and conviction and do something with it. My plan is start with ensuring that the HIV+ students at our school are receiving support and care, and then possibly branch out to lead workshops with the Self-Help Groups that are already in place through the ministry.
Orphans aren’t the only vulnerable children that we work with. We now have a young boy from Nsumbu village staying on base with us because his father wasn’t taking care of him, he wasn’t going to school while in the village, and his mother (living in Mpulungu) said she would poison him if he stayed with her. I thought you’d love to know that the cost of his food is being taken care of by extra support that I have from YOU!! He’s one of my grade 4 students so I’m very happy to have him back in class and well taken care of.
My classes at the school are going quite well. It’s always nice to come back from time away in Kabwe or Lusaka and be greeted by the kids with big smiles saying, “Teacha Selah! Teacha Selah you’re back!” My English classes, although still tough, have been fun and are usually my favorite part of the day. I’ve also got some young readers on my hands!! The kids in my small groups who don’t speak any English and have been stuck on letters for a long time, are finally able to read a few simple words and sentences. As a teacher, it’s always immensely helpful to see some sort of progress, even if it’s small. I get so excited about the thought of kids becoming readers. Reading can open up so many opportunities for their future. Not only that, but they’ll be able to start reading scripture, which will help them comprehend it in a new way. I want these kids to have God’s Word available to them in every way.
Remember in my last email when I said that we are going to be experiencing some leadership changes and have been trying to refocus on our vision? Well, change has come and is still coming. Our field leader has officially stepped down. He’s been on leave since April so that he could focus on the ministry that he actually wants to be doing. So, he’ll still be on our team with OM, but we are looking for a new field leader (and MANY other workers for various vacancies on our team).
Change is also coming to the school. Nothing specific has been said, but I feel it coming. We are in great need of renewed vision at the school. I’ve spent a lot of time observing how things are done here and building relationships, and now I (and a few other team members) feel that it’s time to step up, take initiative, and make some changes. Some changes would be more practical, but overall, I have this vision that the school would be a worthwhile ministry where the students are being discipled and actually receive a high quality education. This means that I may need to rethink how I’m currently serving. I would possibly do more coaching and training with the teachers.
If I’m out of the classroom and doing more professional development and mentoring this could also open up the opportunity for me to spend more time in the villages to coach and train the teachers there. I was able to visit Eggy, the Chipwa teacher, but wasn’t given enough time with him. Ideally, I would spend a few days in the village with a focus on modeling lessons and lesson feedback. Doing this could get complicated though. I would have to arrange transport, food, and places to stay in each village, but I would love to go!!
A verse that has been comforting and yet challenging to me through all this change and decision making is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” This verse gives a good picture of what it looks like to love Jesus. This is what he requires from us. Through the opportunities and challenges how can I do justice, love kindness, and walk with God? I find myself asking this question a lot.
And the moment you’ve all been waiting for…THE BARRELS HAVE ARRIVED!! Y’all, I can’t even express my gratitude and excitement to you. I’m drowning in chocolate, toys, and books. This is the best kind of mail i've ever received. Continue to pray that the blessings in the barrels would be used well and would bring joy and light to the kids. It’s actually an interesting story…I’d been messaging the AmeZam people like nobody’s business trying to make all the arrangements for the stuff to get to the lake. Turns out, it was going to be kind of pricey to get the stuff to Mpulungu. Then, Ivy (missionary from Taiwan) messaged one of the Chinese guys (only she can communicate with them because she speaks Chinese), and it turns out that when the barrels arrived he was in Lusaka and could bring 2 of them up to the lake. This cut the price of getting the other 2 up to the lake in half. On top of that, they arrived the day that a bunch of our disciples were around so they could help carry the tubs to my house. One of them carried the whole tub of books on his head by himself…It was probably to most Zambian thing I’ve ever seen.
I’ve already had some of the grade 4 & 5 kids come over to my house to play with all the toys. They had a blast!!
-for the school planning meeting next week. This is the meeting where we’ll be making a lot of decisions that will affect next year.
-for our search for a new field leader and other staff. Pray that God would provide the right team and leadership for this field.
-for Ivy’s permit. She was able to get a 3-month extension, but still has to see if immigration will approve her 2-year permit.
-that we would take every opportunity to share the Gospel.
PRAISE-My work permit was approved!!
Thank you all SO much for you continued support. I hope you know what difference you all are making in Zambia.
Mushale Bwino (stay well),