Oh, my God, fellow man, and this great land
They all cry out for full restoration
And this will take patience
And this will take the tribes and tongues of all the nations
And all of creation groans in anticipation
Waiting for the Son of God to be manifest
And I can feel it burning in my chest
The liberation for the oppressed.
And it’s beautiful like the feet that bring good news'
It’s beautiful like this freedom tune
It’s beautiful like the power to choose to change
Beautiful like the long awaited rain
Beautiful like the healing pains
Beautiful like to holy flames
June 23, 2014
This morning we all felt like we had been hit by a bus. We forwent running and slept until we absolutely had to get up for language class with Chimuka. Today she taught us phrases we can use at the Havens-- simple questions, commands, and answers. After language we rode with Meag to the Havens and got the different things we needed for the day out of her language classroom since we switched Havens today. Becasue I’m at Haven 2 (the toddler house) this week, I start my day in Meagan’s language classroom. The kids have language class for an hour and a half. I sat in today, and probably will for the rest of the week, to watch Meagan interact with the kids. They are all so incredibly smart with their singing and counting and colors and body parts. It amazes me how children have the ability to pick up two languages so quickly. Joel was participating so well and really gets going when the other kids get riled up. He just wants to be a part. I love that baby.
After language class we gathered everyone and walk back to Haven 2 for nsima time. They ate lunch, got a bath, and went down for a nap.
While the kids were bathing I went into the kitchen to see if I could help with the Aunties' lunch. I met Ba Susan who speaks pretty remarkable English. We joked around about how much stronger Zambian women are than American women. She let me cut the tomatoes and put me in charge of the soup. She let me try to mix the nsima and I attempted, but quickly turned it back over to her. She was so fun to be around. Ba Franco, another Auntie I met today, came in the kitchen around that time. They were joking around with each other and it was so fun to see them so playful. A mouse darted across the floor and they all chased it with a towel trying to get it out but it ended up hiding behind a cabinet. I was laughing so hard.
I started my one on one time with them when bath time was ending, and I was able to grab a couple of the ones who weren’t able to sleep too.
I absolutely loved every part of one on one time today. I thought it was going to be exhausting but it really wasn’t. First of all, when I go and get whoever I need all I have to do is ask, “(Insert baby name here), do you want to learn?” And they answer with, “YES!” That in itself can tell you how excited they are to explore and know as much as they can. It was pretty easy today because everybody just wanted to be read to. I was thinking I would be on my feet running around all day but they all were so content with chalk or bubbles or books.
Each child is so unlike the other and I treasure each difference. Ella is so incredibly cuddly. Vera only needs you to smile at her for her to burst into giggles. Vigi is so independent and determined. Deacon sits still as a stone and is meticulous about turning the pages. Memo is so focused and resolute in saying the right thing. I could say something about each one.
A couple of my favorite moments from today:
1) When I was reading to Biggie he was so attentive and answering so many of my questions during the book. He counted and repeated after me every time I asked. At one point he pointed to a crescent moon in the sky on a page and said, “Banana!” I didn’t have the heart to tell him otherwise. After our book I asked him in Tonga if he would run around with me so we got up and took off. His deep laugh is hilarious and it’s a pretty great sight to see him running straight at you with outstretched arms and a 40-year old sounding chuckle.
2) Joel also wanted to read today so we did and of course we got into a tickling match. I have never heard him laugh like I did today. It was a wheeze. Like the kind where you’re silent because you’re laughing so hard. I started laughing just as hard as he was because I never thought I would hear that sound. Every time he would start I would start and he would end up throwing his head into my chest. I’m so thankful to God for giving me moments like that.
Around 17:00, Meag, Aubrey, River, and I met and went to Haven 3 to help feed and then back to Meag’s to make dinner. We had pasta with homemade alfredo sauce. We do it pretty big here. After dinner I wanted to shower before we had our Monday night “Now What” time, but what do you know the water went out so I ended up washing my hair in the kitchen sink. Ridiculous? Yes. Hysterical? More yes.
Tonight in our “Now What” time we went through the first chapter which basically talked through 3 different approaches people have in discerning God’s will. The first is the “Dot Approach”, the second the “Ditch Approach”, and the third is the “Dad Approach”. What approach you have determines how you interpret the rest of the book so tonight was just finding out which you are. The Dot Approach is when you believe God has one way, one spouse, one path, one plan for you. This kind of belief system leaves you asking/looking for signs for what to do. To make a wrong decision might derail the rest of the plan. The Ditch Approach is when you believe God is fine with whatever you choose so long as it isn’t causing others or yourself to sin. Here, God can take whatever and make it into whatever He needs. The Dad Approach is an in-between. You disagree with the Ditch Approach because you don’t feel like you can do just whatever. You believe you’ve been given gifts and talents and God acts as your Father who knows you so well He prods you into opportunities which allow you to exercise those talents. And you disagree with the Dot Approach because you believe God still allows you to exercise free will in choosing what it is you do. It was interesting to see how different parts of my life have fallen into each one.
Such an awesome start to the week.
June 24, 2014
This morning we woke up in time to leave the house at 6 to go to Livingstone to check on Jonah’s (Haven 1 baby) biopsy results. He had his test the first week of May and Meagan’s had to drive to Livingstone every couple of weeks since then to see if the results are in. The doctors keep telling her they will call her and let her know once they come in, but Meagan’s been here long enough to know that what that means they will indeed call when the results are in, but that’s if they remember to call before the paper becomes buried under other things. She told us to be prepared to wait for hours and hours only to be told the results aren’t even in yet. So we packed up, went to the Havens to pick up Jonah, and rode to L’stone. Meagan talked to us on the way there about different kids’ situations. She told us how certain kids got to the Havens as well as what will happen with some of them after they leave. She specifically told us about the ones that don’t have any kind of home life to go back to. It angers me to think about some of the things these kids have already had to experience and it makes me even more angry to picture the confusion and darkness some of their futures hold. Some are going home to parents who are mentally insane. Some are going home only to become malnourished to the point death and brought back to the Havens again. Some are completely orphaned and have no kind of plan yet in place as to what will happen. I just don’t understand.
We pulled into the hospital and there was already a line so we sat down to wait. I read a little bit and then Meagan decided she would be proactive and be the one to ask instead of waiting in vain. She went to the desk and asked if she could personally look through the stack of biopsy results. They let her (which I'm sure breaks all kinds of codes) and Jonah’s weren’t in there. She told us later she saw resultsin there just coming back from tests that had been given in November. When she saw his results weren’t in, she asked to talk to a doctor and he told her if nothing has changed in his behavior than she should just come back in two weeks. All in all we only waited about an hour which absolutely never happens according to Meagan.
Since we were planning to be there all day we decided we would go ahead and ask for more information about seeing the lunar rainbow at Victoria Falls. I think we’re going to try and see it. Basically it’s a rainbow that can be seen at night because the moon is so bright.
We needed to get groceries too so we went and ate at Kuba Café for some coffee and brunch. We got the groceries we needed and headed back home. When we got back, we went to the Havens and I spent the afternoon working with Seth, Memory, Maureen, Joel, Vigi, James, Reuben, and Ella one on one. Today each of them colored with me in a coloring book and we went over colors as we used them. Since Seth is a little older than the other ones I was able to do some reading and alphabet work. After making the trip to L’stone, working with the toddlers, and then feeding at Haven 3, we left the Havens feeling worn OUT.
We got back to the house, had a quick dinner, and then Kathy Merritt, Cyntia, and Jason came over for game night. It’s so fun seeing them interact with each other and even more fun joking around with them.
Every passing day it gets easier and easier to fall asleep at night, and harder and harder to wake up in the mornings. But just as much as I feel tired, I feel accomplished because I know that means I’m doing exactly what I came to do.
June 25, 2014
We finally worked up enough energy to get out of bed and run this morning! I ended up running the trail to the end and back without stopping which felt so great after a few days of not running.
Language class with Chimuka today was so interesting. We talked about Tonga names; what they mean and why they name their children what they do. The whole time she listed off names that are common and we wrote down their meanings. Some of them were so strange. For example, one of the names was Mupenzi. A child is named this when they are born when there is trouble going on in the family. For example, if the father of the family has just passed away, and a child happens to be born, then it will probably be named Mupenzi. Another example is the name Bulongo. A child is named this when they are born during a funeral. I asked Chimuka why Zambians do this in their culture. Why do they name their children after sad things? I explained in the States if a child were to be born in a sad time we would try and forget about it rather than give a child their name after it. Chimuka told me she really doesn’t know why, they just do. I asked Meagan on the way to the Havens and she said a lot of it has to do with the fact that Zambians are so different than Americans in the way they grieve. American culture is extremely unhealthy when it comes to grief in that it can last for decades or even a lifetime and never really come to an end. We either bury it as though difficult times aren’t happening or we submerge ourselves in it to the point we can’t move beyond it. Zambians, however, take a period of time to grieve and then move on. So naming a child after a hard time wouldn’t be a constant reminder of pain or bring up buried feelings like it would in my culture. It’s almost as if the names of children serve as a family history. It was pretty interesting. The art of remembering is so incredibly important in this culture. Some other interesting ones from class today were:
Siamabi- born in an incestuous union.
Donkola- “one who opens the mother’s womb” (first born child)
Miyanda- given to a child whose mother had difficulty conceiving to the point of having to use roots or herbs
Munsaka- name is only used in the Bansanka clan. They praise themselves for “Bana Chibwa Camazakala kuluma cilatotobola,” meaning “those that belong to the family of dogs with a lot of fur, but when they bite they do not leave a mark.”
Chimuka also explained to us one of the rituals of marrying here when it comes to an incestuous situation. If two people fall in love, realize they are related somewhere in the family tree, and decide they still want to marry, they must take part in a "family-tie-breaking" ritual. They must kill a goat together, remove its intestines, tie them around both of your waists and the family tie is then “broken”. You are no longer related and you can marry.
After class we went to Havens to work with the kids. While I was helping Ba Susan sweep the kitchen, Meagan asked me or some help with finding some things for the babies in the containers so we went and shuffled around a few boxes for some clothes for one of the Haven 2 girls who needed some shirts that better fit her.
Today when I was working with Seth we were working on shapes and played a game of memory. While it was his turn he was singing a Zambian song that translates into “I love You, I love You Jehovah because you have given me life. Because you have given me _________.” And usually you fill in the blank with whatever you want. A thing, a blessing, a person's name, whatever. And as he was singing when he got to that part, he put my name in the blank. We sang it back and forth to each other while we played. His love for learning and for life lives in a special part of my heart.
I spent time with a couple more kids and then Meagan came back and asked if I would help her take some of the kids to town and help her find some jackets for them since cold weather is coming. So we loaded up Seth, Maureen, Memory, Ella, Reuben, Joseph, and Vigi and went to town. While we were riding there, “Honey Bee”, the country song, came on in the car and all I could do was look at Meagan and laugh at how funny this situation was. Two American white girls. Seven African babies. A bumpy dirt road. Africa. “Honey Bee”. What.
The kids handled town like champs. There were a couple of drunk guys and a man who was the most deformed I had ever seen someone, but the kids didn’t act a bit different. They can be surprisingly mature for their age.
We found everyone a jacket and then headed back to the Havens where I worked with some more little ones before going over to Haven 3 to help feed. I love the Aunties over there. They are so silly with the babies and with each other. They always are singing or dancing and every evening when we walk through the doors they greet us with hugs and huge smiles. I’m excited to go to Haven 3 next week and know them better.
After feeding we came back to the house, made some chili, and had girls’ devo with the Grade 9 girls from the secondary school. Meag talked to the girls about how it is totally possible to do Christian things without really knowing Jesus. Going to church, reading the Bible, and doing Christian things can all be done without Jesus. The girls really opened up and talked about how they find it difficult to say they actually personally know Jesus. It was really neat to see that.
Today is the day I can say “I’m exhausted,” and tomorrow may be just as difficult since I’m going out into the village for the night with Bina Mbombo. Now that I think about it though, even when the tired was getting the best of me today God gave me moments like in the car on the way to town, Seth’s sweet singing, and the hugs from the Haven 3 Aunties. He is too mindful of me.
June 26-27, 2014
This morning we slept until language class because it’s village day! I can’t believe it’s already been a week since we did this last time. Language class today was all about whatever we wanted to ask Chimuka. Any cultural advice for the village or just Zambian culture in general.
We went to the Havens, had language class, and then headed back to Haven 2 for nsima time. The TV was on in the background when I was feeding Maleele and “No Scrub” came on. Before I knew it all the babies were bouncing up and down, dancing to the music while they were eating. It was perfect.
A couple of days ago one of the Aunties told me Aubrey told her I was a good dancer (from the moment she finished that statement I knew this was Aubrey’s attempt to embarrass me) and she wanted me to dance. I told her I would dance when Aubrey comes to Haven 2 to dance. So after nsima time, some of the babies took a bath and I went to Haven 3 to get Aubrey. I figured, you know, it just might (and by just might of course I mean definitely will be) embarrassing, but what the heck. Who can say they danced with Zambian women? Aubrey and I came back to Haven 2, found Bina Franco and danced in the main room to some music on the TV. All the workers outside and other Aunties were all staring at us by the end. It was hilarious. Bina Franco was laughing the entire time. We asked her if she would teach us their traditional dance later that day when all the babies were napping and she said she would.
I was able to grab a few more kids for one on one time before then. Today I worked with Seth, Memory. Maureen, Ella, Vigi, Vera, Deacon, Joel, Biggie, James, and Maleele. It’s so funny when they see me walk into the room. They swarm all around and say, “You want to learn me?” while another says, “And me?” and the other, “You want me?” It’s hard to tell them no when they ask it like that.
After learning for a couple more hours Aubrey and River came back over to Haven 2 to learn some of the dances. We went to the back room and they closed the door, pulled all the curtains, and proceeded to teach us “the bedroom dance.” Yep. Women here, before they get married, are put into isolation for a week and “taught everything they need to know about how to keep a man” (quoting from Chimuka our language teacher). So when she’s in isolation one of the things she learns is this dance. Wow. Wow wow wow. And when it’s 7 Zambian women and 3 little American girls stuffed in a room it’s even more wow. So after they are finished (again, wow) Aubrey gets the bright idea to teach them a dance of our own: how to twerk. Yes. I said twerk. They tried their hardest to do it but it was just straight hilarious. Talk about a bonding experience.
After teaching some more with the kids it was time to go With Bina Mbombo out into the village. We walked with River and Aubrey and their Aunties and split at our usual spot. We walked up right as to sun was starting to set and, as usual, it never disappoints.
I helped Bina Mbombo sweep away the dirt and cow dung around her cooking hut and then her father walked by so I was able to meet him. He looked relatively young so I asked her how old he was and she said, “I don’t know! “ and then turned to ask him. He's only 57! I helped Bina Mbombo cut tomatoes and cabbage and then joined her kids outside of the cooking hut and sang and played games with them. They have a game that’s exactly like duck duck goose except it’s in Tonga and instead of chasing the person who “gooses” you, you run in the opposite direction of them and race to the spot.
Bina Mbombo called me into her hut for dinner and we ate nsima and an egg/tomato mixture. It was so incredibly yummy. After dinner Bina Mbombo and Mike, Mbombo, Luyando, and a couple of the other village kids came into her hut and by flashlight we went over the Tonga I had learned this week. Mike, her second oldest son who looks to me to be at least 16 or 17 years old was practicing reading the words. He said he can’t read Tonga so it was good practice for him.
It occurred to me then the differences of the values found between cultures. Thinking back to when Bina Mbombo had to ask her dad how old he was, I couldn’t imagine someone having no idea how old their parents are. And it’s very uncommon for the typical junior/senior in America to not know how to read their first language. Initially my response is to find it sad. But then it occurs to me—who cares if Bina Mbombo knows how old her dad is? As though knowing facts about someone shows how much you love them. She loves and appreciates him the same way I love my dad. And who cares if Mike can’t read Tonga? As though your reading level shows how intelligent you are. Written word hasn’t ever been a priority here like it has been in the States, so why would it be sad that he doesn't perform at an American standard? He's not American. He knows more about other things than I ever will. Today I just realized just how different our values can be and how NOT sad those differences are. They’re just different. Nothing else.
After practicing our words we stepped outside and I marveled at the stars yet again. I wish so badly I could memorize them.
Tonight we were all tired so we went to bed earlier than last week, all of us tucked away by 7:30 PM. Hilarious. But it gets dark here by 6:30 and once they’ve eaten and done a hard day’s work it’s time for sleep. Needless to say I was asleep by 8 (sorry Dad for ever making fun of you for going to bed by 9:30).
I was restless in the night waking up every hour until 6 when Bina Mbombo called me into the other room to have porridge. We ate and talked for a bit before walking back to the Havens. We found Aubrey and River on the road and all walked together. We parted ways from the Aunties, thanked them for the night, and walked back to Meagan’s to put our bags down and get ready for the day.
|Sunrise on the road back to Meagan's.|
When we got back to the house Meag was still sleeping so we walked to the Hamby to find Emmett and Cindy and James. We drank some coffee and talked with them some about what they’ve been up to and planned to have some sort of game night with them soon. They’re so fun.
We got back to Meag’s found her awake, so we got ready and went back to the Havens for our last day at our particular Haven this week. I worked one on one with a couple of the kids before their language class. They watched Frozen today. They are so well mannered and they all sat so still. It was so funny because one by one they started falling asleep in their little plastic chairs. Joseph, one of the little boys sitting in front of me almost fell backwards in his chair so the rest of the time I was holding his head as he slept. So funny. Every time I watch Frozen I think of sweet Kailey Massey. I don’t know how life after death works as far as what kind of consciousness there is of this world, but if she does know what’s going on here I couldn’t help but think of how happy her heart must be knowing her favorite kids in the world at her favorite place in the world were watching one of her favorite movies in the world. Sweet serendipity.
After language class we woke everyone up and headed to Haven 2 for nsima time. I fed Vera today. That girl. There is RARELY a time a smile is not on her face. All you have to do is lock eyes with her from across the room, smile, and she’s laughing. I could just squeeze the life out of her hugging her so hard, wanting her to know how much she’s loved. Meagan always says she feels like she can never get them close enough to her and I know exactly what she means.
I worked one on one with Maureen, Joseph, Reuben, Ella, Vigi, Vera, Joel, Biggie, and James. They’re all so smart. It’s sweet how even when I have them actively counting or sorting things they always end up asking for a book. It’s pretty precious how all they want is a lap and a story.
We left the Havens early to go to Kell Hamby’s memorial service. Kell is the son of Ellie Hamby (the head honcho of Zambia Medical Mission/the board/life here at Namwianga). Kell died from cancer a few weeks ago. Ellie and her daughter got to Zambia today and came straight to the memorial service from the airport. I couldn’t imagine. When they got there everyone stood up as they entered. The service consisted of songs and a couple of speeches by people dear to the Hamby family. We formed a massive greeting line at the end so everyone could greet Mrs. Hamby in order to “keep the pressure off of the Hamby family household” per Ba Siaziyu. Speaking of, it was really great seeing Ba Siaziyu (our HIZ 2012 language teacher) and Ba Moonga (our HIZ 2012 cultural storyteller) again. Hearing their voices brings so many memories to mind.
After the service we came back to the house and Meag and Aubrey and I played Yahtzee and took showers before making dinner. I went to the solar showers since it was right at sundown (when the temperature of the water has gone down enough to not scald you but is still warm from the day) and I had my first real shower since being here. It was incredible. The other days have either been so hot you can barely splash yourself to sponge bathe, so cold you can’t breathe, or right when you finally get your hair wet enough to get shampoo in it the water runs out so you have to finish in the kitchen sink. You can’t help but notice the little things here.
We talked over dinner about some of the difficult situations some of the babies come from and the like. I was able to ask her some of the questions I’d been wanting to ask. Like if she ever feels trapped here, like she couldn’t leave even if she wanted to. It was really good conversation.
It’s Friday night so we finished the day at the Merritt’s singing. It’s so good getting together with so many different ages and kinds of people. George, one of the Eric’s House boys who’s probably 10 or 11 if I had to guess, came and climbed on my lap while we were singing and was showing me all of his drawings he had done in this composition book he had. They were so good. There was a page full of animals and he would ask me which animal I thought was the strongest and which was the fastest and which was the scariest. I’m so thankful for the vision of Roy Merritt for that place. It’s given second and third and fifteenth chances to good kids. We ended the night with fun/dancing songs like always and in that moment I realized how long it had been since I had felt this kind of joy. There were Eric’s House guys, employees of the Namwianga radio station and college students behind me, my co-interns beside me, and Meagan and the Merritts and all the smaller kids in front of me. We were all on our feet clapping and dancing and singing at a near shout. I’d almost forgotten how to feel that free in community.
June 28, 2014
This morning was sleep in day (praise) but I couldn’t sleep past 8:30 (dang it).
I caught up on some emails and laid on Meag’s bed with Aubrey talking until it was time to get ready to go. We asked Emmett if he would take us fishing today and he agreed! We had no idea what to expect but we walked for about 45 minutes and came upon this huge lake. We walked through brush and wheat fields as tall as me. It was insane and I was convinced at least one snake had been under our steps. It was so beautiful though.
|Our brave and fearless leader, Emmett|
We walked around the lake and got to the side of the bank where we found some Zambians also fishing. We got the poles Emmett made himself, baited our worms, and threw in the line. There were brim and some other kind of fish but we had absolutely no luck. Emmett walked past us around some trees to see if we could find a way out of the shade and into a better spot. We just hear him yell in the distance which we thought was weird but didn't think anything else about it. He came back around the bend and told us he had come across a cobra nest. The mother dropped in front of him and slid into the water. He was so cool, calm, and collected telling us...needless to say, us girls were pretty terrified. After a little while longer of the fish taking our worms but not staying long enough for us to catch them, we left and walked back around the lake where we came from. We waded in the water and skipped some rocks. On the way back we talked with Emmett about his adventures. He used to work for the Peace Corps and has been everywhere you can think almost. We asked what his favorite place he's been was and he said, "It's kind of like holding babies. Your favorite is whatever one you're holding at the time." So true. He asked us about ourselves, our parents, and other important people in our lives and what we think will be the most difficult personal lesson we'll learn in the next 5 years. Such a cool guy.
After fishing we came back to the house, cooked breakfast for dinner, and went to enjoy a bonfire with the ASU interns and Emmett. I was also able to Skype Daniel for a good couple of hours which will always be a good ending to the day. A couple of the Harding girls from the HIZ 2013 group came late tonight to stay with us for a few days before going to their internship in Macha.
I love this place.
And not in an idealistic fantasy kind of way that puts this actual location of Zambia on a pedestal. I love it for the exact opposite actually. I love it because it challenges me. I love it because it makes me ask really hard questions. I love it because it makes me see things about world and maybe even about God that I don’t want to.
I'm ready to keep learning, keep growing, and keep asking.