During my second week of teaching in Zambia, I was at the Chawama Legacy Academy teaching grade 2. This week was a breath of fresh air compared to my previous week. The classroom was full of precious kids who were so excited to learn. There was one child, however that would daily come late and who never smiled, named Gertrude. She seemed disinterested in learning, often was a distraction to others, and a name that I had to say multiple times to redirect onto what we were doing. Many of the kids would hang on me during the breaks but she didn’t seem to want much to do with me while I was there.
On Thursday, I was walking the morning class out to get their lunch and I walked around to the opposite side of the building from where they receive their food. Gertrude followed me and in passing in a soft voice said, “my dad died.” “Excuse me, what did you say?” Again Gertrude repeated it with her head turned away from me, “my dad died.” I stopped her and was trying to get her to talk to me, but quickly the language barrier was preventing our conversation. We were standing right by the field workers office (the field workers, check on these children and follow up on any home issue that might arise), and so I pulled her out to help me with translating and knew that she would know more of Gertrude’s story. Gertrude’s father had been sick for a while and had passed away a couple of months prior to my time there. She is the youngest of 5 children and desperately misses her father. Her mom is not working but her oldest brother does small jobs and tries to help the family when he can although he doesn’t live with them.
As I was looking this little girl in the face, I was asking the Lord what to even say to that other than I am so sorry! I felt that He was impressing on my heart to share with her that when I was there in January, I lost my grandmother. She kept her head down, but I lifted her chin and was trying to get her to look at me in the eyes. Through the tears pouring down my face, I told her that right after I got to Zambia in January, that my mom called me to tell me that my grandmother had passed away. I shared with her how I know it isn’t the same as losing a parent, but how hard it was to not be with my family when it all happened, but that the Lord took care of me. We talked about how even though things are so very hard right now, God sees her right where she is at, He loves her more than anyone can imagine, and that He will take care of her and her family. I prayed over her that the Lord would fill her with joy amidst the pain and that she would see and feel His hand daily in her life as we cried together. As I left her that day, my heart was so heavy for Gertrude, but I had to trust that God was going to continue moving in her life.
Friday, was the day to say good-bye to that room full of kids. We had fun playing word games, reading stories, and giving lots of hugs. The best part of the whole day was the continual smile on Gertrude’s face that I hadn’t seen all week! She was a completely different child and I know that it wasn’t anything that I did but what God was doing in her. As much as I would have done anything for my grandmother to pass away when I was at home, the Lord knew what He was doing. If it was all for that moment for me to share my story with Gertrude it was all worth it. Life is hard for these children in Zambia, but it becomes even harder when you lose a parent or both of them. This is something that I will never understand, and it isn’t my place to understand it. What I do understand on a whole new level since January is that when we feel like we can’t do what is set before us, God carries us through each moment and we are able to continue on. Not that we aren’t still sad and shed tears, but we have a God that can bring a peace and joy over us that this world cannot understand. Lord, fill your peace and love in the hearts of all of your children, young and old, no matter where they are!
|Filled with JOY!|