"May the God of Hope fill you with all Joy & Peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with
HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit" Romans 15:13

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Precious Faces

These faces make my heart so happy!!!
I was at Target yesterday and needed some folders to start the year so back to the school supplies I went.  There were so many eager faces buying their school supplies (one of which was one of my students last year and I loved getting to see him and his family).  I remember going with my mom and picking out my supplies growing up and I loved getting all of the new crayons, folders, pencils, and anything else I might need.  As I was looking around, it reminded me of how blessed we are to be able to go and purchase what we need.  When we were teaching  in Zambia, we took new supplies with us into the classroom to use and the kids (and teachers) were so excited!!! 
I began thinking about all the sweet faces that will be entering my classroom this year and how they will be bringing their supplies with them to start the year.  It made me think about a conversation that Teacher  Dorothy and I had about some things she won't allow at the school some of which are razorblades (pencil sharpeners) or scissors.  I didn’t understand why and when she explained to me that the students aren’t allowed to have these school supplies because of the high percentage of students with HIV.  That is one thing that I don’t ever have to think about here.  The worst that happens here is that at least one child tries to cut their hair so we have to have the conversation of what we can cut and not cut at school.  I don’t have to think about the fact that 1/3 of my class is infected with a vicious disease that knows no boundaries.  Five of the sweet babies in my classroom at Kabanana are HIV positive, two are sisters and the others have siblings but none of their siblings have it.  Dorothy said that there is no reason those kids should have been born with HIV.  In Zambia when you are pregnant, "if" you go to the clinic, they automatically test you and if you are positive they put you on medication so your baby doesn't contract the disease.  Sadly, many women don't or won't go until they are ready to deliver, and therefore, the innocent are infected with this vicious disease! 

How can you not fall in love with these faces??
The next day after our conversation when I got in the classroom and looked into those beautiful eyes of the 5 kids in my room with HIV, my heart broke into a million pieces.  I had to fight the tears back so hard as they were singing and dancing with so much happiness.  Looking at those beautiful, loving, and precious kids I know that other than a complete miracle (which can totally happen) their precious lives are going to be cut short here on earth.  Most of those sweet faces don't even know they are sick!  God has filled them with so much joy and love despite their situation.  Even though these children have been dealt this, I know God is and will continue to use them in a mighty way to impact His kingdom until He is ready to bring them to their eternal home.   The future of Zambia is being changed, one child at a time.   

On a side note, as many of you will be shopping for school supplies before school starts and are looking at the wonderful “sale prices” of the supplies, if any of you want to pick up a few extras, I would love to collect them and take them to Family Legacy to ship over on the next container they send.  These are the supplies they are always in need of:
Pencils, crayons, blue pens, red pens, construction paper, dry erase markers, composition notebooks, notecards, pencil bags, and block erasers.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Last Day at Kabanana

I can't believe it has been a week since I had to say good-bye last Friday! It was so hard to know that I was leaving.  I knew how much I loved those kids, or so I thought (I love them more than I could have ever imagined)!  As I told them how proud I was of them, their tears began flowing.  I prayed over them and during the prayer, all I could hear were sniffles and then sobbing.  In Zambia, you are not 'supposed to cry" and teacher Dorothy had even joked about the fact that I shouldn't bring a "funeral"to her classroom, but she was even crying.  I think they were sad I was leaving, but even more than that, I think all that they deal with at home needed a good cry!  A good cry can be good for you especially when you are in a safe place to let it all out.  Teacher Dorothy has created a classroom of safety, happiness, and love.  This is something these kids don't have at home like they should.  Teahcer Dorothy is the head teacher and so not only does she know all of the stories of the kids in her class but the stories of all the kids in the school  Essentially she is a teacher, counselor, nurse, and prinicpal!  The stories that she has to bear is almost too much for any human being's heart to take.  All of the kids come from severe poverty and I think out of 20 kids in my class only 1 had both parents.  Many were double-orphaned, and the rest typically lived with their mother.

The whole school came together in an assembly and presented the American teachers with a gift.  They gave all of us chitenge's which is a piece of cloth the women wrap around their waist that goes down to the ankles.  The kids were allowed to speak into the megaphone if they wanted to say something to us.  Many of them said thank you and then came Dalitso (which I would have put into my bag and brought back with me if I could have), he was sobbing and so loudly said, "teacher, I love you! Please, please, please, don't leave!"  My heart fell into a million pieces!  We all cried a little bit more and hugged.  The good thing is that even though we left, their teachers are there and love them so much!!  Those kids know that too, and know that they can always talk to their teachers about anything.

The donors of the school were there on that Friday that we were leaving and so the students gave a presentation.  One of the 7th grade boys spoke from his heart about Kabanana meant to him.  This is a paraphrase of what he said: Kabanana means so many things to me.  I have learned to love and learned to love others.  When I grow up I want to be a lawyer so that I can help those who are imprisoned.  It is AMAZING what these schools are doing for these kids in Zambia.  Everyday, there are kids in the community peering over the wall of the school or through the gate longing to be able to come to school.  If any of you would like to make a difference in a child's life and send them to school, please contact me and I will share with you about the Father's Heart Sponsorship program through Family Legacy.  I have seen the change that has been made in two years of the girls that I sponsor and it is beautiful to see them learn and grow.
 I love those kids so much and I didn't want to have to tell them bye, but God has filled my heart with a love for them that I didn't know was possible.  As much as I love those kids, how much more God loves them, me, and you!  I cannot even fathom the love the Father has for all of His children.  No matter how much they are hurting, they can always find comfort in God's love! 
Precious kids in my class!!

"In your unfailing love, you will lead the people you have redeemed.  In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling." Exodus 15:13

Monday, July 16, 2012

Psalm 116

I started my day be reading Psalm 116:
"I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath! Death wrapped its ropes around me; the terrors of the grave overtook me. I saw only trouble and sorrows. Then I called on the name of the Lord; "Please, Lord, save me!" How kind the Lord is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours! The Lord protects those of childlike faith; I was facing death, and he saved me. Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me. He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. And so I walk in the Lord's presence as I live here on earth! I believed in you, so I said, " I am deeply troubled, Lord." In my anxiety I cried out to you, "These people are all liars!" What can I offer the Lord for all he has done for me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and praise the Lord's name for saving me. I will keep my promises to the lord in the presence of all his people. The Lord cares deeply when his loved ones die. O Lord, I am your servant; yes, I am your servant, born into your household; you have freed me from my chains. I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people- in the house of the Lord in the heart of Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!"
What a humbling day today was. During lunch we were eating our peanut butter and jelly sandwich visiting with Dorothy and Morris. We were asking questions about them and hearing their stories and it became a sinking feeling in my stomach at points of the conversation. I was asking Dorothy how many brothers and sisters she had and she said that she is one of 28. She said that her mother had 10 kids and when her mother was finished having children, then her father went and got another wife and brought her to the village. I was very baffled because I had asked her how old she was when her father left them and that is when she told me that he had multiple wives. He did this with two more so with four wives, he had a total of 28 children. She said that her mom and two of the others wives left him there. Our conversation jumped around and we were talking about school and she and Morris were both talking about how they want to go to school to get their degrees. Here in Zambia you can get a teaching certificate, but that is different than a teaching degree. They both said how lucky we all were to be able to go to college. I am so blessed to have been able to go to college and get a degree! I am so thankful for the support and encouragment of my parents while in college. I think there are times when I take for granted that I have a good education and I didn't have to struggle to get it.
Morris began telling us a little about himself and when he was growing up. There were 5 girls and 4 boys in his family. In 1994 his father passed away, so it left his mother to raise all 9 children. His oldest brother was already in school and became a teacher, so he helped Morris with school fees so that he could finish grade 12. He told of how 3 of his sisters have passed away 2 with AIDS (one of them just this past January) and he has a brother who is HIV positive. He was telling how AIDS has ravaged his family because of poor choices. He said how they used to blame people and not help them, but how it has changed his view since several in his family have had or still have AIDS. It really made me think about the compassion that God has for us no matter the choices we make and that He loves us no matter what. God wants us to love HIS people no matter the circumstance, what they have or don't have, and love them for who they are and where they are. My heart broke for him and his family hearing the struggles that they have been through. Even through him telling us about his life and how difficult it is, he is still smiling and has joy pouring out of him. He also talked about how he is determined that his kids and his brother's kids are going to get an education so that his kids could have a different life than he had. As he is saying this, it makes me think about how these teachers in this school are changing the futures of these kids who come from the worst situations. My heart cries out for these kids and the situations they face each and everyday! Although they are faced with this day in and day out, they have so much joy!
As the conversation continued, the teachers were saying what difficult lives most Zambian people face. I could feel the question coming on and I was praying so hard that it wasn't going to be asked, but then it was. Teacher Dorothy asked, "Have any of you ever lacked or gone without?" then the clarification came, which we already knew exactly what she was talking about but since we all were silent I think she thought we didn't understand the question. She said have you ever been without food or a bed, and at that point it was a punch in my gut. I looked at her and said no, I haven't and she said, "You are very lucky" and this was just another reminder of the simpliest things that God has provided for me time and time again. I am so blessed to have never been in need of anything much less in need of the basics of survival such as food and shelter. Even those with jobs in Zambia still struggle to make ends meet and provide food and shelter for their families. Psalm 116 that I read this morning had so much more meaning as I can hear His children here in these schools with that cry out to God. 
Lord, I cry out to you for your children God that your provision would run over and that they would have all that they need. God as they look to you and search for you, may they find hope in you to know that you will never leave them abandoned. Thank you Lord for so richly blessing me and my prayer is that I would never take that for granted. It is in you alone that I place my trust and I know that you will provide for my every need. Lord, please continue to break my heart for what breaks yours.
"Praise the Lord, all you nations. Praise him, all you people of the earth. For he loves us with unfailing love; the Lord's faithfulness endures forever. Praise the Lord!" Psalm 117

Sunday, July 15, 2012

What a Blessing: Church at Tree of Life!!

What an amazing week this has been! Overwhelming, suprising, joyful, fun, and happy are just a few words to describe the emotions of the week! The teacher that I am working with is amazing!! She has such a loving heart for these kids and knows all of their stories! As I have been working with her and in the classroom, I have seen how much these kids want to learn. I was helping her assess some of the older kids (around ages 14-16 and this is their first time in school) and it was heartbreaking to see them struggle to tell me the letter sounds which none of them could tell me all of them. They are such smart kids and they can tell you things orally, but are missing the foundation of learning which is reading. Some of them I gave them a reader and many of them didn't know where to start reading as they were reading the copyright page. It broke my heart to think of how many books I have in my classroom and these kids don't know where to start reading. The exciting thing is that this is all going to change as the kids are in school now and they are going to hav that all change!! They so desperatly need more books in their classoom and I want to find a way when I get home to start collecting some to send over on their next container.
Another heartbreaking sight is to see other kids in the community peering over the walls of the school or through the iron gate and they are wanting to desperatly be in the school learning! There are so many kids in the community waiting to be sponsored and if any of you are interested, I would love to tell you more. These kids being in school and getting a good education is what is going to change their future. I can't tell you how amazed I am at the growth that has taken place just this week in what these kids have learned!
This morning, I got to worship again with Paulina at the Tree of Life Village!! One of the songs that the kids sang was I am a Wonder
There couldn't be more fitting words to show what a wonder these kids really are. Just imagine that they have come from filth, beaten, prostituted out, thrown out of the house, starved, verbally abused, and some live on the streets fending for themselves. These children have been looked down upon and not given a second thought. The words of the song are:
I am a Wonder
To hear these kids sing this from their heart knowing that this is where they came from and to see how God has picked them up from where they were and totally changed their future! These kids are so full of life and joy. After the kids lead worship, they have two of them tell their testimony. John got up to tell his testimony told of how he lived with both parents, was in school, and had a happy life. He said one night he was watching TV he could hear his parents fighting and then he heard a gun shot, two minutes later, he heard another gun shot. He went to bed and then the next morning, he went to his parents room and knocked on the door so that he could get some money to go and buy breakfast. He didn't get an answer so he went into the bedroom where he found blood all over the wall and saw his mom laying there with a hole through her head and then he looked at his dad and he had put the gun in his mouth and killed himself. None of his relatives wanted the children that were left behind but he did go live with an uncle. The uncle said that he had to go to the muslim church and when he refused, he kicked him out of the house, so soon after he and his brother were moved into the CRC (community resource center) and then out to the Tree of Life Village. He testified as to how good God was to bring him to TOL!
Faustina went up to tell her testimony as well and told of how she lived with both parents in the copper belt of Zambia. Both parents had jobs but then her dad got very sick. Eventually her mom had to quit her job and take care of her dad and then about 3 months after that, her dad passed away. They were unable to afford the rent on their house, so they had to move to another area. While there, her mom got very sick and so her older brother took her mom to the clinic where they found out that her mom had breast cancer and so they did surgery. Some time later her mother passed away and after the funeral, they had no family that wanted them and so they were going to be out on the streets, but Uncle John and Aunt Susan came and told them that it would be okay and they said that they would come back and take them to the TOL. She didn't know what that was, but she knew that they loved her. She has been at TOL since December. After her testimony, she came and sat back in her seat which was between me and Alicia (another one of the ladies here on the teacher trip and she bent over and was sobbing. She couldn't stop crying. I can't imagine the emotion that retelling her story brought up in her. What courage it took for both John and Faustina to stand up in front of 250 of their peers and tell their story!!
Another thing that happened today was that Paulina was looking through my journal and it is one that I had brought the last time I was here. She turned to the page where I had traced her hand and written down everything that she had told me in 2010. Some of those things were: pray she can continue going to school, pray for peace in the house, gets beaten everyday, Auntie tries to stab her wants God to change everything she is going through. She pointed to it and told her friend that this was her testimony. Last week I had retraced her hand on the backside of that page and so I asked her what she wanted me to write this time. She is so shy, so I started by writing that she lives at the TOL in the Heart House. The we wrote: Paulina is happy and taken care of. She attends school everyday. God has changed everything she was going through! Praise God!!!
Sadly, these stories are the norm...but what an amazing God we serve that promises a future for those who love Him.
This morning I was reading and I thought it was so fitting:
"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enmies. For he has gathered the exiles from any lands, from east and west, from north and south. Some wandered in the wilderness, lost and homeless. Hungry and thirsty, they nearly died. Lord, Help! they cried in their trouble, and he rescued them from their distress. He led them straight to safety, to a city where they could live. Let them praise the Lord forhis great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things." Psalm 107:1-9

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Teaching in Kabanana

I guess in Africa, you can say the Fourth times the charm. I have tried to post something three times now and everytime I type it and hit post and everything freezes up. I guess you could say that the internet doesn't like me. Lizzie (who's computer I am using) has been able to upload pictures and blog everyday and I sometimes can't even get logged in. :)
I can't believe is aready Wednesday night!! This has been such a busy week but such an amazing week as well! On Monday, I was able to observe in a classroom of about 35 kids that were in grades 1, 2, and 3. It was a bit overwhelming as I saw so many different ways that I wanted to help. I knew that I needed to pick the most important thing but had so many things that I didn't know what that was going to be at the time. As I was observing, we were asked to write down the good things that we saw happening and to write down ways that they could do it differently. The teacher that I am working with is named Dorothy and she is so good with the kids. We talked about the things that I saw and she said, "I don't need you to tell me anything that I did good, just tell me what I need to change. I am serious, because I just want to learn from you." They are so eager to learn new ways to do things and to make a difference in the school and children. When I left on Monday I was completely overwhelmed, because I didn't know how to manage three grade levels and a class of so many. When we got back to the house that evening, we started looking through the donations that had been given for materials to use in their classoom. When we were looking through the supplies, I found the number posters that I had taken down from my own classroom and was able to put them up in her room. That was fun to be able to do that and have a piece of what I had been using in the states in this classroom.
On Tuesday, I started teaching by doing some of the morning routines that I use in my own classroom. Some of those include music and songs that I use everyday. I was able to get a cd player to take with me and the kids were so excited to be able to hear the music and sing with it! I loved seeing their faces light up when the music came on. I quickly learned that most of the kids (except for a couple) don't know their letters and sounds so the most important task at hand is learning to read. Another overwhelming feeling came over me as I knew that I would only be here for such a short time. Also, when Dorothy was telling me what she wanted help with, it was to show her how to teach them to read and to teach them how to write...sure I can do that in two weeks, NOT! I just have to keep reminding myself that it is baby steps. I taught most of the lessons and Dorothy taught one. During the break time, she pulled out the paper that I had written suggestions on and she said, " I want you to tell me what I have not addressed" In one days time, she took everything to heart and was really changing what she was doing. As I read over the list, she changed everything that I had mentioned. I was so encouraged by her enthusiasm and dedication to her job! That afternoon, I gave the kids a notecard and asked them to write their name in pencil and then I would check it and they could then trace over it with a marker. When I pulled out the markers and showed them how to use them their eyes lit up like a runway! They were so excited and couldn't wait to use it. They all worked so hard on their name so they could get it to write with. As the kids leave each day, they line up at the door to leave the room. I told them that I wanted to give them a hug on their way out. I hugged them and told them that I loved them. As they left the room, the teacher said that she could hear them saying in nyanja, "teacher Allison loves me." It is so amazing to think that some of those kids don't hear that and how much they need to know that someone loves them! We did have a fun suprise today. Right before lunch, all of the teachers left us in our rooms. It was very strange and they were gone for a while. In a few minutes Dorothy came and asked us if we could go outside for a minute. While we were looking at her funny,we said yes and she closed the door of the school behind us so we couldn't see in. After about 5 minutes, she came and got us. We walked into her room and all the teachers had set up lunch for us. It looked so nice. They had a table cloth across some of the desks and they had fixed chicken, relish (spinach and something else that is soupy), and nshima which is their staple food. They said that if you are welcoming someone into Zambia, then you will kill a chicken and fix them a meal. It was so nice of them. Later that day, new desks were delivered to the school and Dorothy told Kathryn ( who is the American that is over the teachers) "today is a day of miracles, first God provided the money to come together so we could fix you a meal and then we have just recieved new desks" It was so humbling that they scraped together enough money to cook for us when they could have saved that for their family. I never have to think about where my next meal is coming from or if I have enough money to eat. This is something that I take for grantid and being here is just a reminder of all that I have to be grateful for.
Today, when I woke up, I felt a little more settled in, in how the day was going to go. We found out last night that there would be a camera crew (they have been at camp all week) filming today so that they could use the video in promoting their school campaign to raise funds for new schools they need to open. When they got there, they came in my room and the kids were doing so good to not be too distracted by them. We were working on putting sounds togther and I was so excited to see how well they were doing compared to yesterday. They were really soaking in what I had been teaching them and they were retaining it! The kids attempted to write a sentence today and that was fun to watch them write and see who was able to figure out some of the sounds. After the break, Dorothy (who is also the head teacher, which just means she has to takecare of any problems that arise) had to go out and deal with some problems. I was with the kids for about 30 minutes by myself which wouldn't normally be a big deal, but when you have a language barrier, that becomes a long time. I was trying to read them a book and it was so hard to convey the meaning to them with the limited English that they spoke. they were getting wrestless, so I decided to switch over to math. I was trying to teach them to skip count by 10s and then I thought I could take them out and play the circle game so they could pracitce it some more. This became a quick disaster as some of the kids were pushing and fighting and the language barrrier was becoming more of an issue than ever. We went back into the classroom, because this was obviously not working. The kids continued fighting and nothing that I was doing was working, so I finally picked up my backpack and said that I was going to leave. I walked out the door as some of the kids kept saying, sorry madame, sorry, sorry, sorry. As I turned the corner out of the door, you could have heard a pin drop. I think they were so shocked. I waited outside the door for about a minute and then Dorothy and Kathryn were coming around the corner. Dorothy went in and asked, "where is teacher Allison, what has happened to her" It was silent for a few minutes and then they all started ratting each other out. They said that they would just apologize and that they wouldn't "dood" that again. She said that she would come and look for me and see if I would come back. They were very apologetic and I think that they realize that they still have to be respectful even if she is not there.
When we left today, they were working on a road that we have to take to get out of the compound. We got to the corner and there was a HUGE hole (deep enough that if the tire fell in we would be stuck there) and beside it was a huge pile of rocks/gravel that was piled up. Our only way to get out was to stradle the hole between the tires. One of the kids had followed us up the road to this point to make sure that we could get out. He was trying to tell Kathryn which way to turn her tires and it was getting very confusing. I got out to look and it was crazy!! There was no way that she could make it from that angle. The other problem was that we weren't really coming out of a "road" and we were between two buildings. So, Kathryn is trying to back up and get turned out onto the road to where we can go on it straight and miss the hole. Here is where the next problem came into play.....in the backing up and going forward and backing up and going forward, her wheel got stuck on a tire and we had to get some of the kids and the three teachers had to push the car so she could get unstuck. I am sure that we were quite a sight. She finally got the car where she could be straight on the road, and we had to be in the front of the car to help guide her over the hole. She got it straight and there was no extra room for mistakes. She had to perfectly stradle the hole and stay straight. We were all praying so hard, and God was good and we finally were able to get out. I will post pictures as soon as I can, because it was quite funny!
Thank you again for all of your prayers and hopefully I will be able to update more tomorrow, that is if the computer will be working.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Father's Heart Trip

What an amazing day this has been!  I got to go and visit Naomi and Jeany today.  We went to a different community first to visit the sponsored kids from another family.  It was so fun to get to see them visit their kids, but I was getting anxious about seeing my kids.  We went to see Naomi first and knowing the story that I had previously posted about how sick she was when I last saw her, I was so ready to see how she was doing.  Little did I know the emotions that were going to flood over me the second I laid eyes on her.  Leaving Zambia was so hard the last time I was here in 2010, because Naomi and her mom were both so sick and I honestly didn't know if I would be getting a call back home telling me something had happened.  As soon as she stepped out of her house when she saw me, she came down the steps with arms opened wide, I wrapped her up and the tears began pouring out of me.  Those of you know me, know that I have an "ugly" cry and it's all I can do to keep it from being loud. :)  I don't even know how to put into words what I was feeling when I was there with her.  The best way to describe it is to say that my heart was actually hurting for the emotion that I had kept inside me and I was shaking.  I had no idea that those emotions were coming and I realized just how much I loved her, more than I could even express.  So much that my heart physically felt that reunion!  She looked so GOOD and healthy!!!!  Her mom was there and she looked good too.  She has a bad knee, so she is unable to walk any where away from the house, but she was up and is now on ARV's to keep her as healthy as possible from having HIV.  Naomi loved her clothes and was so excited as well as her mom.  She absolutely loved the scrapbook that I had made for her with all of the pictures from the past years from CampLife.  I had written some little things in it to her and her discipleship leader that was with us told her what it said and her face was priceless.  We visited with her and her mom for a little while and then she prayed for me before we were going to have to leave.  She was praying in Nyanja, but as she was praying I could feel the tears rolling down my arm from her and then of course, I couldn't let her cry alone so my fountain of tears started again.  She became so emotional that she couldn't finish praying.  They translated her prayer to me and she thanked God for me coming to visit and bringing all of the gifts.  She also asked for protection and peace over me and my family and was so grateful to get to see me.  I loved being able to talk to her in English and she could understand me.  It is amazing how much she has grown in 2 years and the difference it has made that she is now in the Lifeway Christian Schools that Family Legacy has provided.  She is now in grade 7, so she will soon have exams coming up that will determine if she will be able to go onto grade 8.  My prayer is that she has learned enough to continue on.  I did find out that she has an older sisiter that I didn't know she had, so her sister's 2 kids were there at the house as well as her grandmother.  All 6 of them live together in this house which is one room and is no bigger than 8 x 12.  The floor is concrete covered by dirt and they actually had a bed now that all 6 of them sleep in (this was not a large bed, probably a very small full size bed).  Even though they don't have anything and barely enough room to turn around, her family loves each other so much which isn't neccesarily the norm in the compounds of Zambia.

Our next stop was to visit Jeany.  She came bounding out and was so excited to see us.  There weren't many people at her house when we got there.  We went in and I asked her if this was a new house and she said yes.  They had moved from one side of this pod of homes to another.  It was a bigger house (not big by any means) but you could sit down inside and visit from the sunlight that came in.  I gave her the bag of gifts and she was pulling out the clothes and about 4 shirts in, she threw it up and covered her face and said "Thank you Jesus"!!  She was so very overwhelmed that she had to stop for a minute.  She would look at me and hug me telling me thank you.  Then she continued pulling out the clothes.  She pulled out a pair of jeans and was so overjoyed!!!  It just made my heart so happy to see her filled up with Joy from a few new shirts and pants.  We continued to visit for a while while her brother went to find her mother.  While it was just us, I was asking her how she was doing and she said fine, but she still continues to ask for prayers for her mother to stop drinking which has always been her prayer ever since I have known her in 2007.  She also asked for prayers for a bed.  There are 14 people that live in her house.  Her mom and dad have their own room and her siblings and 3 nieces and nephews all sleep in an 8 x 8 room that is only a concrete floor.  It made me so sad that she has to sleep on that cold hard floor.  I am not even sure how that many people lay down in that small of an area.  Her mother did get there right before we left and as I hugged her, I was overcome with the smell of alcohol and then her sister showed up and I think she had been drinking too.  I pray that Jeany will not follow in those same footsteps and that she can break that from her future family as she  lives for the Lord.  I was so proud of the progress that she had made too over the past 2 years in speaking English as she is working toward learning to read. 

We did take both families a huge bag of mili mill which is what they make nshima from which is a Zambian staple.  They also recieved 2 dozen eggs, cooking oil, beans, bread, kapenta (small dried fish, yuck!) and meat which is a HUGE treat for them.  They were so grateful because this means they will be able to eat everyday for a little while before the food runs out!
This was an amazing but emotional day and I am so grateful to see both of these girls healthy and being able to get an education.  They love going to school and are so thankful for being able to get an education.  They know that with an education there is no hope of making a different life for themselves.  I know how much I love these girls and there is so much of me that just wants to bring them home with me even though I know I can't.  God has been so faithful to provide for them and I know that He will continue.  I tried to upload pictures, but it wouldn't upload tonight, so hopefully I will have pictures coming soon.  Thank you so much for your continued prayers!!
Love, Allison

Friday, July 6, 2012

Tree of Life Move in Day!!

Today I got to be out at the Tree of Life Village as they were putting the finishing touches onto four new homes for the kids to move into. It was such an amazing opportunity to be able to be there and witness this. This morning, we got to line the dirt road with the children who already live at the TOL. They were dancing and singing and jumping as two buses pulled in filled with dirty faced and tattered clothed children who were absolutely beautiful. These children had no idea what they were about to see or where they were about to be left. The got all of the children off of the bus and they current children living there sang them a song. Here are some of the words, Welcome to the Tree of Life.....we are a bessing to the nation. Those words made my eyes fill with tears as I thought about how God has chosen each one of these children and though they were in some of the worst situations, He is turning them into children who can truly grow up to change this nation of Zambia. I would hear different stories of why these children were here, but I think the most heartbreaking thing was to see a mom bring her three children and leave them at TOL. Her youngest was around 1 1/2 and I couldn't even imagine how a mom could just hand over her children. They invite the current caretakers out to see where the kids are going to be living so that they cannot say that Family Legacy stole them even though they sign them over to Family Legacy. It was so fun to see the kids putting on all of their new clothes and come out with HUGE smiles. They came in so timid and in just a short time, they were filled to overflowing with JOY!!!!
I also got to visit Paulina today who lives out at TOL. My parents and I sponsor her and she has been out there since December. I hadn't seen her in 2 years and so I really didn't know what to expect. Last time I saw her, she really didn't speak much English at all and she was super skinny. Today, when I saw her, she was almost as tall as me, filled out to a healthy weight, and she could talk to me in English!! I gave her the bag with all of the gifts in it and it was full of all different kinds of things. She pulled out the package of gum and paused then asked, "is this gum?" I told her yes and then I asked her if she had ever had it before and she said no. I was so suprised so I had to tell her that she could chew it, but when she was done to spit it out. She didn't know what the lotion was and was so excited to have her own necklace. The scrapbook that I made for her was so much fun to watch her read. She had the biggest smile on her face and it was so fun to watch her look at the pictures that I had of her from the past 5 years. She has grown up so much and is such a beautiful girl. She is 13 now and in grade 4. I walked with her back to her classroom and she showed me her desk. I had asked her if she could read and she told me no, but her friends said she could. Teasingly I told her that I wanted her to read me a book and so another friend quickly put one on her desk. It was the Little Red Hen and I couldn't have been prouder as she was reading it to me!!!! Just 2 years ago, she couldn't speak to me in English much less read a book. What an amazing transformation is taking place in her life. I was so proud of her and couldn't stop smiling at the amazment that God has done over the last few years. One thing that really stuck with me today was when her house mom asked if I was the mum to Paulina....whith a big smile, I said YES! they truly think of their sponsors as parents and I am so thankful that God crossed our paths together. I gave her a heart necklace and I told her that it represented God bringing her heart, my heart, and my parents heart together because of His heart for all of us. She was wearing it the rest of the day and I loved the Joy that abounded from her. Tomorrow, I get to go visit Jeany and Naomi at their homes. I am so excited to see what God has done in their life over the past two years
Hopefully I will be able to post some pictures soon! The internet in Zambia doesn't always work and when it does, it is very slow. Last night it took Lizzie 30 minutes to upload one picture, so hopefully maybe I can get a few on there this weeknd. Thank you again for all of your prayers!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Zambia Here I Come!!!

It's finally here!  I am so excited to get on the plane tomorrow.  I have checked in online, printed my boarding passes, and the bags are packed.  I am allowed 3 bags at 51 pounds and well let's say I couldn't do it.....I have two bags at 50 pounds and one at 68 (at least they will let you pay an overage fee). 
I feel like Christmas has exploded in my bags and I can't wait to empty them out when I go visit three sweet girls and give gifts to the teachers I will be working with! 
I can't tell you how much fun it was to go and find some clothes, blankets, candy, jewlery, and even a baby doll for the girls.  It's a good thing I am leaving tomorrow because I don't know if I could quit adding things to give them as a gifts.  My last purchase was today and it is a Cabbage Patch for sweet Paulina.  As I was opening the box today I couldn't help but hope that Paulina feels the excitement that I remeber having when I was little and got a new baby doll.  I got each girl a heart necklace to remind them how God has brought our hearts forever together even though we are thousands of miles apart.      
Please pray for me while I am gone and listed below are some specific requests:
1.  Pray for safety while traveling and while in Zambia.
2.  Pray for health.  It is winter and very dry in Zambia while I will be there which tends to cause problems at times.
3.  Pray for the hearts of the teachers and kids that I will be working with that I will be able to display the love of Christ and exude the Hope and Joy that He has given me.
4.  Pray that God would enable me to be creative in planning lessons without materials to work with.  (I am most nervous about this part since I am used to having lots of resources and materials to use on a daily basis.)
5.  Pray that God would show me how to love His children through His eyes.
6.  Pray that I would sense God's movement and act on His nudging me.
7.  Pray for all of the Americans that are following God's hand in this trip and that not only will He use all of us in a special way, but that we won't come back the same.  That God will change us for the better.
8.   Pray against the attack of the enemy.  Satan wants nothing more than to stop the work of God.  I am so thankful that we have a God that can conquer anything that Satan puts up. 

I am so grateful that God has called me back to Zambia this summer and I am truly blessed by the support of all of my family and friends!  I love yall so much and I am so excited to get to share this adventure with you!