Happy New Year, everyone!
This is a greeting that I still hear quite often, and is usually mixed with the classic Zambian follow-up of, “What did you bring me?” To which I reply, “A smile.” If someone hasn’t seen you since New Year it’s still appropriate, and even required, to greet them by saying Happy New Year. I’ve found that Zambians keep track of who they’ve greeted each day, and with what greeting (there are like 20) so that they can move to the next one when they see you again. Needless to say, greetings are very important. If you don’t greet someone here it’s like a slap in face.
My holiday month was filled with traveling and visiting, but also provided ample time to relax. I was able to spend some quiet time at my flat, host a few student visitors, help facilitate a Christmas program for orphans in Saikolo Village in Kasama, take a day trip to Cishimba Falls, visit a South African missionary family living in Mbala for Christmas, visit a friend from discipleship in Kabwe for New Years before she heads back to Germany, take a ride on my friend’s speedboat, and clean out my new school office. I’m very thankful that my time here has allowed me to make friends that I can visit and spend free time with.
On New Year’s Eve, after my friend and I decided to jump in the pool at 1:00am, we stayed up for a while talking about the year we’ve had in Zambia. We both agreed that we were immensely blessed to have experienced all that we have, and to have felt God’s call in such a clear way. She then challenged me to think of a word to hold onto for 2018. The word “hope” came to my mind right away. I know that this year God wants ALL of my hope to be in Him. Not in what I may be able to accomplish or what I may think will happen in the future. There are some things that God is asking me to let go of so that He can replace them with the simple, yet triumphant hope that I have in Jesus. “And now, O Lord, for what do wait? My hope is in you” Psalms 39:7. My future and what it brings is whatever God wills, and all I have to do is look to Him and follow. I don’t have to wait for anything, I already have Jesus.
And now, I will have much more time than anticipated to meditate on this truth, because schools have been required to stay closed until after January 30th due to an outbreak of cholera in Lusaka. The outbreak has been quite serious. The police and military have been cleaning major cities, even using teargas to clear out some outdoor markets so that they can be torn down. Just yesterday there was a mandatory cleaning day in Mpulungu where all business were closed and required to clean. All the teachers came in to clean, so our school now has the comforting scent of bleach at every turn. There have been reported cases of cholera in some cities close to Lusaka, but it hasn’t reached the lake…Please pray that the outbreak will be contained!
Even though schools are closed, my work as a school leader has begun. I was tasked with organizing the school cleaning day as well as informing the teachers of what grades they will teach this year. I’ve also had to help with the hiring and letting-go of some teachers…Something I never thought would be my job. Through this I’ve already noticed that communication is a big issue at the school. Even though we have roles and responsibilities there are still a lot of things that require a person to just notice that it needs to get done (or that it isn’t right), and to take initiative in doing the job. When I reflect on my experiences as U.S. school I think, “Man, they are so far ahead and function like well-oiled machines.” There’s a lot of work to do here, not only academically but also in ensuing that our school really is a Christ-centered school. The other teachers and I desperately need God’s grace to do the work He has given us.
Please also pray…
-for our school kids. They now have to spend more time in the villages where they don’t always receive proper care or consistent meals.
-for a new fielder.
-that we would have more people called to serve at the lake. Two of our missionaries from Trinidad are leaving after this year, and we are already in need of people as it is.
-for me as I transition into a leader at the school. School hasn’t even started and I’ve already experienced how much can fall through the cracks, and how difficult communication can be amongst the team. I need Godly wisdom.
-for the leaders and teachers of the school during this extended holiday, that we would make the best use of time and continue to glorify God through whatever we do.
In five days it will have been a year since I left home. Feels like a dream to think back to life before Zambia. Thank you SO much for your support through all the ups and downs during this first year of ministry at the lake. I’m so grateful to have supporters and prayer warriors like you!