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