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