Monday, May 19, 2008

Leaving Home to Come Home

So this has been such hard last couple of days. I never imagined it would be this hard to say goodbye. The last month has been very productive, exciting, but also sad. These people have become my family and have taken me as one of their own.

The last month or so there have been a number of things going on. I was able to attend a traditional kitchen party and wedding which was so neat to see from another world. There is so much tradition involved and also so much fun. Mostly though I was preparing for my parents to come to see me. I really enjoyed their visit and we were able to see so many things that I never had a chance to see. We went to many different villages, saw a million animals, and visited Alice’s family. I also had to do some crazy things with my dad like the zipline and gorge swing (off a cliff)! My parents also had the opportunity to meet the children they are sponsoring and their families. This was such a blessing to see them come together. They were so excited to see each other and took lots of pictures. They also brought many donated school supplies for the school that have been SO helpful. Thank you for those who contributed!

Apart from their visit, we also continued to visit the boys and have a bible study/encouragement group with them. Two of them have showed very much talent in their singing and producing abilities so they were sponsored to record a demo track at our local studio in the youth center. I believe they will go far and would love to share their music if anyone is interested. There is also one boy, Moses who has always been closed up to the idea of God forgiving him. He says that he has done too much to forgive and has gone through so much. The last week I was there I was happy to see him participating for one of the first times. We talked about the amazing grace and span of God’s love for him and he discussed how he was feeling. He showed interest in staying in touch to discuss more. His heart has gone through so much pain so it is so difficult for him to accept that he is unconditionally loved.

The other thing that we have been doing is spending the money donated for projects for the school. We received so many unexpected donations that ended up going so far. First of all, we bought new pots, utensils, and mattresses for the school as the old ones were very dirty and some were stolen. We also bought some books, and teaching materials. We were able to hook up a landline for the school and pay the big electricity bill. We were able to make it more secure by putting burglar bars and locks on all the doors since they didn’t all have them. We also put cement blocks in one window that was a security risk. After that, we bought a computer and all-in-one printer/scanner/copier that my parents brought and had a carpenter build a bookshelf and a desk for these. These were the most important things as they will generate money for the school. We have started this as a business and are also using them for administrative purposes. The remaining money was donated to a support a youth camp, buying insulin and a tester for a diabetic, paying for some very talented orphan boys to record a song, build a bookshelf for a small library in our church youth center, and various other small donations. The money that is generated will also go to buy supplies for a small shop to also generate money. This has made such a difference in the school and it was such a blessing to be the one the distribute it. It is always rewarding to help start something that is self-sustainable so that they can continue raising money themselves. Thank you again for those who contributed!

The last week was very busy as my parents left, I was preparing to leave, and we were also preparing a fundraiser. We planned to have a boat cruise for a fundraiser, but people didn’t pay in time, so we changed it to a game drive/tea and coffee. It was a lot of fun and we were lucky to see elephants, giraffes, crocodiles, impala, water monitor lizards, and other things. We didn’t make as much as we had hoped, but were still able to raise some money to help start the shop. It is stressful planning everything and making sure everyone is satisfied! After that, I was basically doing some last minute things to prepare to leave and of course saying goodbye. The day before I was supposed to leave, I was trying to say goodbye to everyone when my mom told me that my grandmother passed away. It just added to the blow of leaving and it was hard being so far away and having to go straight to a funeral when I get back. It was not reality being in another land so far away. I did get to speak to her a few days earlier just to tell her I loved her and pray for her. I know that this was to give me some sort of peace at not being able to have been there.

Now as I am returning, I feel my heart desiring to be back in Africa. A world where life goes slow and people are important, where greeting one another and respect are highly regarded, where modesty and sharing with your neighbor are required of people…and where people lose their friends and family members everyday due to the diseases and accidents that come in a world of poverty. I miss my friends there. It has been quite challenging and tiresome, but extremely rewarding as well. At first, I felt like I needed to fix everyone’s problem and meet every need, but as time went on I found that relationship was most important and then I could fill in the needs when it was possible. My desire is to someday open an orphanage where children mostly stay with foster parents and adoptive parents are searched for, where they are taught sustainable skills, and where the love of Christ grows them into people who reach out to the “untouchables”. This is my passion and it is the reason for me coming back to get my Master’s degree in social work.

Thank you to all those who have contributed to my experience either financially, in encouragement, prayer, or just in your blessing. I will see you all soon.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Blessings and Challenges

So the last month in Zambia has been good, but it is getting difficult as it becomes closer to my time to leave. I will miss this place so much as it really has become a second home and I have really become a part of a family here. There have been some exciting things that have come about in the last month and also some challenges as always.

One very exciting thing is that the neighbor boy who lives in the backyard (what is called the servant’s quarters) has finally accepted to start coming to church with us and now accepted the Lord and wants to be baptized! He and his brother are orphans and Alice told them they could live in the back for free if they help keep the place clean. The older boy works and the younger one goes to a free school for orphans learning about plumbing and welding. He is very smart and always comes to me with math questions that we have been working out together. It is very exciting to see him grow.

As for the school, we took the kids on an educational tour to a “fake village” (it was a lodge overlooking the gorge) and although a beautiful and fun experience, also a very stressful one as we had to keep 30 kids away from the edge of the cliff. We also did a project in class that includes a Polaroid of themselves on a tracing of their hands and feet. Parents were very excited to receive these.

I also had the chance of speaking to the parents about child abuse and telling them the ways to prevent it. It was a chance to share some of my knowledge with them, but it was also difficult as the social welfare system is not well organized as it is in the U.S. to deal with cases such as child abuse. It is not always a good thing to report abuse to them or the police because you may find that nothing will happen or they will actually make the situation worse. When I went to child welfare to get information, they really knew nothing and had no concrete laws on it. We just encouraged them to come together as a community to discourage child abuse and we also told them that if there were cases that were not being correctly dealt with due to corruption in the police, that we could help them report it to an organization called International Justice Mission who helps in these sorts of extreme cases. It has been a difficult thing for me to find the balance as my duties as a social worker, but also respect the culture and understand the justice system. It is very frustrating to me that people get away with such things. This topic came up when I suspected abuse on one of the boys at the preschool as he was so terrified of showing his mother that his bag broke because she whips him with a stick on his legs so that there are marks. This is normal here, but it is never right for a child to grow up in total fear of his mother. Anyways, it is hard, but I am growing.

The school closed this week so now I will be working on a few other projects including helping the youth center create a library with some books that were donated by former missionaries in Africa. Books are so hard to come by in Africa so this will be such a great resource for the youth especially since they aren’t just old books. I hope to start this project soon. The youth also had a youth rally where they had HIV testing again and a youth Sunday where they ran the whole service. They will be hosting a youth camp soon so they also did a fundraising Braii (BBQ) which was very fun. Once more, I tried to start a girl’s bible study with the teenage girls as I really want a chance for us to talk about the issues teens go through and be open with each other as it is so rare in this culture. The problem is that the girls do not show up to many things so it was very difficult to get them to come. This was a bit disappointing, but I will continue to reach out to these girls.

The boys are doing well. They are continuing to grow and be excited about God. The last couple of weeks we started having them each share something. It could be a testimony, encouragement, song, verse, etc. We really saw some amazing talents in these boys as well as incredible potential. It was so good to hear from them and be excited that God really is doing big things in their lives! It is so worth the time we have taken to invest in these boys as I believe they will grow up to do big things. We have also had some new faces from church become excited about coming to encourage them.

One of the most encouraging things that has happened this month is the generous contributions of friends, my lifegroup, and Rockharbor. It has been so exciting because I found that Rockharbor donated $1500 which we have used or are in the process of using to buy a computer, printer, photocopier, burgler bars, locks, mattresses for the kids to nap on, and possibly some other small items. The computer, printer, and photocopier are not only for the school to become organized, but also to generate money for the school. We will be charging the public to use these things and generating money to help pay school fees for those who can’t manage. We will also most likely start a small shop with basic necessities to also generate money.

There was also a few other donations that I am so grateful for. One is a monthly supporter who will be helping a few orphans that are being looked after by their grandparents. We visited these kids and it is so crazy how AIDS has swept through their family. The grandparents had 15 children or something and I think only about 3 are still living. And it is so common for people here to have lost 1 or both parents very early on in their life. The other donation is my lifegroup who has been so amazing. If I don’t have to use much money for immigration, most of this money will also go to buying materials for the school and paying school fees for kids who can’t manage, as well as helping a few people with general needs, such as the boy living in back of us who needs a scientific calculator for school.

I am also helping to put together a fundraising boat cruise for the school that will take place on May 10th. God is really blessing the heart Alice has for children and the ways in which she sacrifices for them. The other big thing I have been doing is preparing for my parents to come and visit. I am very excited to show them around where I have been for almost a year and also get to enjoy Africa a bit as a tourist. The Lord has been beside me during this time and I am so grateful to be in His arms and to also be His arms and legs to others. God bless you all.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New Adventures

My past month here has been a different experience from the time I was here before, but a chance to see other parts of Zambia and experience other things. As I said before, we visited many families in areas of extreme poverty. During this time of visiting, we also visited a man who was very sick. They said he had Tuberculosis, but that usually means the person is also HIV+. They do not say this because of the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS. I have never been with someone so sick and it literally broke my heart to see him in the condition he was in. We prayed for him and I could not help but weep and pray for God to comfort him and his family. This was the first time I was faced with the reality of this disease in someone’s life. A couple days after visiting this man, we heard that he passed away. This was a huge loss for the community as this man was involved in many different projects benefiting the community. We attended the traditional funeral and burial which is a long event, and in the end we were exhausted. Although I didn’t know this man, I had spent that short time with him and I experienced the pain and heartache that him and his family were going through. At least I was able to stand with them during a hard time and know that there is hope in Christ in the darkest moments.

Though this was a sad story, there have been many other exciting stories. There is a teacher that I work with who is pregnant, yet could not afford a scan to see if her baby is healthy, much less pre-natal care. The scan was only about $10 and so I was able to help her and it was so exciting to see the picture and hear that she was having a boy and he is very healthy. The little things we do for others are those that they remember. Another exciting thing was that money for a stove and freezer for the school were donated. As I mentioned before, these things were stolen by a previous housemaid and therefore the school was struggling to prepare lunch each day for the children and teachers. We recently bought the new freezer and stove and I have never seen anyone so excited. Alice (the director of the school) was so thankful to be able to cook faster and keep food longer. We were also able to buy a part for the mini-van so that we can fix it to start picking up kids for school.

Recently, Alice and I went to see a beautiful area overlooking the Zambezi river in the middle of the bush where we want to take the kids on a picnic. It was so relaxing to just be in nature. We also went on a trip to a place called Kafue Gorge to see an area where Alice may open another preschool due to the need in the area. This town is in the hills and filled with all sorts of trees, plants, and other greenery. It overlooks a beautiful gorge where they generate electricity from the Kafue River. We ate so much sugarcane, bananas, guavas, corn, and other fruits and vegetables that grow in the area. It was beautiful.

I have really come to love the kids at the school and also the people I stay with. We have laughed together and have been sad together. Alice is teaching me to make African food and I made French toast and tacos for them (with homemade tortillas!). At the school I mostly help the children one on one or sometimes I help teach them songs or rhymes. If there is anyone that has resources to teach reading, writing, or other good teaching resources PLEASE pass them along. Most kids here can’t read until they are age 9 or 10 because not only are there few resources to teach properly, but also there are not many books available. I have also seen that the teachers are only taught that there are “slow learners” and “fast learners”. They don’t learn about learning disabilities. There is one child who doesn’t talk and he is four years old. I think he may be slightly autistic, but they have never heard of autism. They just say he is “dull”. Since I worked in a school for special ed kids, I may start trying to work with him one-on-one. As far as “social work” here, I have been trying to access the needs of the families and find out why there are certain problems with children. Mostly, it is poverty so lack of resources makes it hard to help in this area. Alice tries to help by forgiving them of paying school fees and providing lunch, but it becomes hard to run the school when so many people have problems paying school fees.

So this is mostly what I have been doing and learning recently. If you know of any organizations that can help a developing preschool in Zambia or you would like to support yourself, please contact me at I am trying to help Alice raise money for the good thing she is doing here. I will also be applying for a work permit soon so that I can at least stay until May since it is more expensive to extend my visitor’s permit. Please pray that I get my work permit and also that God continues to lead me in the direction he has for me in Zambia. I still desire so much to work in adoptions and I am trying to find out more about that here in Zambia. Thank you for your support and prayers!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New Beginnings

So I am back in Zambia now and on a different path. I had to make some very hard decisions and go through some very hard times, but the Lord has been faithful through it all.

I am now volunteering at a local pre-school here with one of the women, Alice, from my church. We have been visiting families who have children at the school since many of them are orphans or vulnerable children and go to this school for free. Alice has a big heart and she gives so much even out of the little that she has. The houses we visited really amazed me even after living here for 5 months and visiting villages. It is amazing to me to see how people can live, but somehow they are sustained. I have also visited many of the families of the kids that are being sponsored. All of them had stories of how God miraculously provided for them and their faith is so amazing through all they have gone through. I will be visiting the boys’ home soon as well and hopefully continue the program that was started.

My living situation is not as scary now after some improvements, but still a huge adjustment. I actually live in a school building in one of the rooms. My room at least isn’t so scary anymore because I now have a lightbulb in (imagine electricity!), as well as a mosquito net (to also keep other scary bugs away like cockroaches which I see way too much), and a door with a lock (yeah I didn’t have a door), oh and a curtain on my window. The next project is putting a light in the bathroom (very scary at night) and a new plug in my room so I can use it. Still, all the appliances in the kitchen were stolen so there is nothing: no stove, no fridge, nothing. She cooks on this little makeshift stove and she buys meat each day since we don’t have a fridge. Also, I have to buy bottled water so I don’t get sick. The bathroom is scary looking, but somehow I manage by taking baths with a bucket, but there is only water coming from the tap twice a day at certain times, and sitting on a seatless toilet that a million kids use. Oh, and I don’t have a pillow J But, honestly by some miracle the Lord is giving me peace here as my room is much more cozy now and the girl I live with is a blessing. She really sacrifices to give to the kids at the school by giving up other comforts.

It has been so good to see all the people I have missed so much. I feel like I really have a family here and they have given me so much more than I could ever give them. Their hearts are so soft towards others and listening to the Lord. Please continue to pray for me as I try and find my new routine and adjust to the most recent changes. Please also pray for the families and children I am working with, that God would continue to provide for them and empower them in the gifts and talents He has given them. I pray they don’t ever give up hope. Thank you so much!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Back in the States

I have arrived back in the U.S. and cannot believe I am on American soil again! My last month in Africa has been challenging and stretching. Before our November outreach team arrived, I traveled to Harare, Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, as well as prepare for the team and for my departure in both Zambia and Zimbabwe. Then we had our last outreach team right before I left. So, nonetheless it has been busy.

The boys we have been working with are doing very well. We have seen them grow so much in their faith and two of them have come to know the Lord! They have really connected with the young adults at my church and are excited to come by and see them at the youth center. They had a big soccer game with the youth at my church and they are excited to have another one. Also, while the team was here they visited them and we made a big meal for them. We danced and sang and just spent some good time with them. It is always good to see them smile. The young adults have continued this ministry and have become very passionate about it. This is so exciting to see.

I said goodbye to the deaf school and told them I hope to come back, this time with some hearing aids to donate. The teachers were sad to see me go as there is only one teacher for three grades right now so the extra hands are always good. It was very hard to say goodbye to the kids I have come to love so much.

The kids being sponsored are doing well. They were very excited to hang out with the team when they came and we all went together to visit an orphanage. They had so much fun playing with the kids and hearing a testimony from an orphan who came from Zimbabwe (Taps) and has since become an amazing worship leader in a big church there. The kids also wrote letters to their sponsors which they were all excited about as well, so those are coming. I brought them with me to deliver to all the sponsors. Other children were also interviewed so that we can continue with the program.

The team also visited the old people that I had been seeing every week. They are always excited to see visitors and dance and sing with them. I have grown such a heart for these people even though I thought that kids were my main focus. It was hard to say goodbye again knowing that some of them may not be there when I return.

The rest of the thanksgiving outreach was about sharing a meal with people in the rural villages and bringing them donations of seed, mosquito nets, bibles, and clothes. We had so much fun dancing and singing with the people of Africa. Here are my impressions that went up on the website where you can see more about this outreach…

“An act of Thanksgiving…this is a phrase that has really rang true this week as we have served people in the rural areas who hardly ever have visitors coming to serve them. We gave thanks to God by giving rather than receiving.

As we went to these villages and served a big meal with rice and meat which is very rare for them, the people were very thankful, especially in Zimbabwe where it is very hard to find food. Something I found similar in each village was that people were much more excited to receive seed to plant in order to keep receiving food. Each time we announced that we were giving them seed, the women would dance and sing and put these huge smiles on their faces. We also gave them mosquito nets and bibles to keep them safe from malaria and bring them closer to the Lord.

The biggest moment for me was when there was a woman in one of the villages who came forward to receive Christ and she had a demon. We all prayed over her and claimed her for Jesus and she was delivered. She collapsed into our arms crying and saying “thank you Jesus” in her language. It was so beautiful. I was blessed to be a part of that experience. I could never ask for a better Thanksgiving than what I experienced here in Africa. Thank you Lord for this time to sacrifice for you.”

This was such a special team. We worked together so well and for me it was such a good time to spend with girls my age and just laugh. I loved it.

So now I am back in the U.S. and have just attended “The Global Summit on AIDS & The Church” at Saddleback Church. We brought Pastors from Zambia and Zimbabwe to attend this with us and everyone has benefited from it. This has re-ignited my passion and made me excited for what is next in Africa. We had the privilege of hearing from the first lady of Zambia who now wants to partner with us, the first lady of Rwanda, and Hillary Clinton! There was also an amazing thing that happened where Wess Stafford, the president of Compassion International spoke. I really love this organization and admired the things he said. I told Glen I wanted to meet him because he runs this huge sponsorship organization and I knew I could really learn from him. Well, before Glen could find him, I found myself sitting next to him! We talked for awhile and he invited me to Colorado to come talk to him more about strategies. He was very excited to share with me! Then, we found out later that Ted, a man in my lifegroup who was a missionary for 25 years in Africa, lived in the same African village as Wess and hasn’t seen him in 40 years! Glen is very excited about all this and has told me it really shows I have the favor of God and that this is an amazing opportunity.
Besides all of this, I ask for your prayers about the timing of my return and the possible changes that will take place. I have so much appreciated the incredible encouragement and love that I have received during my time in Zambia as it has been hard adjusting to a new culture, making new friends and contacts, and starting a new ministry. It can get very discouraging, but God has been faithfully beside me. I have seen him fight for me and stand by me when no one else will. I have seen his hand guide me in very specific directions and I have seen him bring key people into my life at the exact time that I needed them. Africa has brought a fresh taste into my mouth of the Lord’s grace and love for me. I have learned even more about the importance of human relationships and the freedom to worship God. I have also learned so many practical things as a missionary and social worker that will build a foundation for whatever work I do in the future. Most of all, I have learned that it is not me doing the work, but God and so I cannot feel like a failure or like I am useless because ultimately I am just a vessel being used for His work.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Roller Coaster of Emotions

It has been three months since I came here now and I have experienced and learned so much, yet had many difficult times. I am now involved in many things here and am always meeting new people who have new things they want me to help with. The difficulty has been to find people to help and support me in what I am already doing.

My “typical week” now looks like this: Monday- I work on things for the sponsorship program such as interviewing parents, writing profiles, e-mailing, or brainstorming ideas. In the afternoon, I take some of the young men from my church to the “orphanage” where the boys who were living on the street are now living. It is actually just a house they live in and the older boys take care of the younger ones. They have no programs and so we have been going once a week to share the Bible with them and spend time connecting with them. They are starting to see who Jesus is and the value they have in him. I have seen them looking up to the men and desiring to model them. It is so rewarding to see them start to see their value and have hope for their life despite their circumstances. I frequently meet more and more young boys living on the street and it has been difficult to try and do what is best for them. I try and direct them to other programs that can help them and encourage them to go back to their families and stop begging, but it has not been easy to continue to see them day after day. The problem is usually that their family does not have food or they do not want to follow the rules or do chores, so they come to the street where they can be free and beg for food rather than starve. It is a complex and difficult situation.

On Tuesdays, I volunteer in a deaf classroom at a local school. It has been so great to be able to use my sign language on the other side of the world and to connect with children who are shunned by their families and cut off from communication most of the time. In the afternoons, I have started praying with a young girl from a local high school who has asked me to pray with her about funds for college. She is an orphan and just about to finish high school. It is a miracle she has made it this far, but she dreams of being a journalist, yet has no way of paying for college. We have connected in many ways and I have so much enjoyed being able to walk with her through this time. It has also challenged me in my own prayer life. I am praying that somehow ROCK of Africa and our supporters can help support her. She will be helping me write the profiles for the children and even writing articles about the crisis in Zambia to develop her ability. Tuesdays has also been the day I am supposed to have a girls bible study/encouragement group where young ladies can be free to discuss the issues they are facing. Unfortunately, this group continues to be postponed because the girls are not yet committed. This is my passion and gift which I know is one of the reasons the enemy will not allow it to start. I am praying against this.

Wednesdays and Thursdays, I also work on the sponsorship program as well as try to connect with resources in the community. I also attend a bible study and small group on those days. Recently, I have been learning more about the keyboard from a friend while teaching him how to read music. It has been so great to be able to develop my skills while I am here as well as be a servant to others.

Friday is my day off and I usually try and do something fun and get away from the youth center which is basically my office.

Saturdays, I visit an old people’s home and bring donations as well as just spend time talking with the people there. Saturdays are becoming a day of outreach with the children from the sponsor program as well. This will be a chance for them to develop their gifts and talents and see that they can help others even as they are being helped. I am very excited to start bringing the children to help us and see them become empowered. Saturdays are also the day we have a youth meeting at my church which has been helpful for me to connect with them.

Sundays, of course is the day I go to church and recently I have been teaching my “brother and sister” how to swim. Sometimes I also attend a YWAM meeting bringing youths together from different churches to encourage one another.

I have found all of the things I am doing to be so exciting and have met many other missionaries and youths with the same passion as mine. But, it has also been difficult. I have been learning more about who I am in Christ and the promises he has given us, but have also felt so discouraged from what I am doing at times. I have continued to hear lies that I am not doing anything useful and should not be here anymore, but then I have to be reminded of the truth that comes from the Lord. Right now, I have been constantly praying about whether or not I will be returning here in January and have come up with many reasons for both decisions.

I need your continued prayers for the spiritual attacks against who I am and my purpose for being here as well as prayers for the people and culture here who have also been lied to through traditions about who God is. So many people here have been de-valued and told they are not worth anything because of their circumstances. These lies must be combated and the truth of how Jesus loves them no matter who they are needs to shine through. Helping people to help themselves has also been a challenge as it is so much easier to just give them money or resources, but those things will be used and then what? I have had to learn many of these things the hard way, but it has been a good process.

I appreciate your comments, encouragement, prayer, and financial support and hope that I continue to receive it. My computer is being fixed at the moment, but when I get it back, I also hope to update my pictures on shutterfly so you can see what I have been doing.

Bless you and miss you all dearly,


Monday, September 17, 2007

Halfway Through Yet Just Beginning

I can’t believe I am halfway through my stay here. I have been here for two and a half months, yet I feel like I am just beginning my ministry here. It has been a very difficult first half, yet I am learning so much. I have felt so inadequate as I don’t have a team to work with or others to teach me, I am a pioneer looking for what it is God brought me for. As you all know, this has been a major challenge as I am meeting so many wonderful people, but trying to find something to do that I am passionate about at the same time. The Lord used a Sunday service to speak to me about how he sees those who think they have nothing to offer based on their own abilities. They are the exact people who he sends and uses in a mighty way. I have to believe that and walk in boldness, but it has not been easy.

I am finally starting to do some things that I am passionate about and feel somewhat productive. I have started interviewing families for sponsorship (using my good ol’ social work skills :) to all my social work buddies) as well as put together profiles for each child. If you are interested in sponsoring, I have some kids ready and those who have already told me, your profiles are coming as soon as they are edited. Anyways, I have also started to volunteer in a class for deaf students at the school nearby my church. Anytime you volunteer in a school though, they want you to teach their class which I am never prepared for. They are teaching me some of the different signs they use and already I love the kids.

The other thing I started this week is visiting the boys I was working with at the place they are staying. I brought about five of the guys from my church with some food to donate and we sang music, gave a message from the Bible (which took forever because we had to translate), and then we discussed it in groups. Already, I saw the boys looking up to the guys that came. They are really wanting a role model and so I was happy to see them look to these guys. One of the boys (Boyd) gave his heart to Jesus which was very exciting. We are excited to continue to visit them and spend time with them. Two of the boys, Davias and Boyd, started school this week which is such an accomplishment! Unfortunately, Nathan ran away to find his mom and since he couldn’t find her, he is now back on the streets. This is very difficult for me to see because I see him all the time in town, but he says he is going back. I hope that is the truth and I think he wants to go back, but I don’t know for sure. The man running the program is very difficult to find so I am really hoping that is the reason he hasn’t gone back yet.

I also have a chance to talk with the girls at a nearby high school about starting a bible study and discussion group. I will be talking to them on Wednesday and encouraging them which is definitely a passion of mine. The matron said she could even get the whole school together to talk to, but I told her I didn’t think I was ready for that and that really I was excited about an intimate group that I can get to know, but of course that is an amazing opportunity. She doesn’t even know me. What if I was giving a message about something crazy? Who knows!

The other thing that I hope to do this week is visit the old people’s home on a continual basis as I know they really don’t have many visitors and they also struggle financially. I would also be bringing some food to them. I am also excited about possibly going to pray with people with AIDS with a man from my church. This is something that stirs my heart immensely so I hope that this is something I can do.

One of the other difficulties I have found in my heart is feeling like there isn’t much need although there is immense need, I just don’t know how to help all the time and it isn’t always things that I am passionate about. Also, because I am in the city, I don’t always see the needs of the villages or even the ghettos of Livingstone and there are so many Christians that sometimes I wonder why I am here when they have people to do the work already, but I realize more and more that sometimes they need a little budge from someone outside. I pray that I my eyes would be more and more opened to the need and that God would show me how my skills and abilities fit those needs.

My biggest need right now is people that will partner with me in prayer for specific things like the sponsorship program, the boys, the deaf school, the girls bible study, the old people’s home, and the people with HIV/AIDS. I also have a chance to go and talk and pray with women in prison. It sounds like a lot, but I still have a lot of time available as these are things that are mostly just once a week. I would like to focus on a few things, but first I need to find my passion. So please, if you are willing to partner with me in prayer, tell me so that I know these ministries are being covered.

On a more personal note, I sang in church this Sunday which was so great, yet it took boldness because I don’t exactly have the greatest voice. I am learning to walk in boldness though so it was good practice. I also finally have at least one girl friend to share more of my heart with which has been such a blessing. I also met many women from the U.S. who are also missionaries here and was able to have lunch with them and be encouraged by them. We also saw many elephants by the river which was such a treat to see.

Well, that is about all of the updates I have. I have so appreciated the support I have had from friends and family back home not only financially and through prayers, but also in the amazing encouragement I have received. It is always helpful to know I am thought about and cared for back home when I am giving so much here and don’t have a cheerleader next to me all the time. I love you all and can’t wait to bring you my next blog to see the things that God is doing through your faithful prayers.

Tizowonana ,