Today we went to the Sunday school class in Kawama. It was initially started for the orphans in the shanty town. The class has grown to include many of the very poor children in the area as well. About 120-130 children attend each Sunday morning. The church ( Grace Baptist, Ndola) rents a classroom that meets at a school compound. Many other church groups have rented out some of the other classrooms.
It is exciting to see so many children that are there in the classes hearing the Bible taught. There are many challenges for the teachers though. There are usually only 2-3 for all of the children. They have started separating the kids into 2 groups. The older ones, and then all the younger grade school age kids. As part of their ministry they provide a roll and an energy drink to the children after the lesson.
Other kids have heard and therefore many more children are coming. Also several of the school age kids bring along their baby siblings in order for them to get a snack as well. It is very hard for the teacher, today for example, one teacher in a room with about 100 kids! Some of the very little toddlers were crying, talking or arguing, while the teacher was teaching. SO she not only has to stop a lot and tell the kids to be quiet, but is often talking over the noise of the little ones.
They had told us yesterday at the meeting that they need more people to come and help sit with the children. When we sat in on the class today I was able to move around the room a little trying to keep a few of the kids quiet. If they become very disruptive the teacher sends them out of the classroom to go and find their guardians/parents. They listen to my “shh’s” some of the times, mostly because it is unusual to have white people in their class.
It is cold season here and as I sat in the class, there were so many of the children coughing. And as I looked around at their faces, so many of them had runny noses that if I tried to get to all of them with a box of tissues I would probably not have been able to.
The Bible story today was about Joseph and his brothers being jealousy of him. The teacher speaks to the children in Bemba and in English. After she had taught some of the lesson she stopped and asked for the kids to say some things that they might be jealous of.
The things the children said were truly heartbreaking in and of themselves.
I might be jealous if someone has a
Pencil and I do not have one
A box of crayons and I do not have one
A notebook and I do not have one
A book and I do not have one
New Clothes or shoes and I do not have them
Food… If someone has food and I have not eaten that day. Then I might be jealous of them.
I could not help but think about my own children and our kids at church. Take the same Sunday school lesson and teach it in any one of my kids classes and if you ask the very same question I guarantee you will not get the same answers.
When the lesson finished the teacher started to pass out the rolls and drink. I saw the amount of children and the amount of food and wondered how it was going to all work out. There were way too many children for the amount of food that was available. This snack was very well the only breakfast and lunch for many that they would eat today.
The teacher had to share the roll between siblings and other siblings were given a drink to share. They all were crowding around holding out their hands for the food.
The class was dismissed and the children all gathered in the courtyard. We had brought Smarties to give to the children. Courtesy of Pastor John and Venessa Grevious. He gives them out to all the kids at our church. He is very generous with them too. “Theoretically” a kid could go to him before Sunday school, after Sunday school before the morning worship, after church and then before and after the evening service as well—and Pastor John will keep handing them out .
So we had 5 bags of them totaling about 500 Smarties. It was safe we thought to give each child 2 . But we decided to start with one first. Terry, Wil, Rayna and myself started handing them out. We were rushed upon and literally had hands reaching up all over the place. It started out fine, each child saying thank you and moving away but then all of a sudden chaos began. The older kids were pushing in and pressing against the other kids, little ones were being pushed and falling to the ground crying and then another girl was crying because she had a smartie in her hand and someone took it away from her.
I was quite overwhelmed and after a few minutes Pastor Kabwe came over and said we needed to go, that we were late for the morning service in Luanshya ( a city about 30 minutes away). I gave him the bags of smarties and he was going to give them to the teachers to take care of.
I told him I was sorry for any trouble it caused and I really did feel bad. Something that was supposed to be a happy thing all of a sudden turned not so happy, actually quite sad. The tears started welling up in my eyes and I really did not want to start crying right then and there. We walked to the car and Pastor Kabwe told me it was fine, we just needed to go and that the kids liked to get the sweets.
There obviously was a better way to handle that situation, it just didn’t happen that time. It was a good lesson to learn though. I now can truly understand when people speak about a stampede or when you see in the news or such videos or pictures of refugees lined up for the food truck pushing at each other and fighting over it.
Terry said she now understood when the Bible speaks of the crowds rushing upon and pressing in on Jesus.
I was glad to go and see the Sunday school, but it just brought out more of the great needs they have there. Resources are limited and yet there is so much that needs to be done.
We went to Luanshya after that and James preached at a church there. Afterward we went to see the building site of the church, walls up but no roof. In fact last year in the rainy season because there was no roof the weight of all the rain broke down the back wall and it had to be built up again.
We went to lunch at one of the pastors homes and enjoyed a good time of fellowship. We had good discussions about things in Zambia and the culture and the different provinces. 2 men in particular had a good time of teasing the other and told us that those in the eastern province were suppose to always tease those in the Northern one and they were to take it all in good stride and not ever become offended. The joking rivalry between provinces reminded me a bit of the Northern and southern rivalry in our country.
Before we left, they opened an envelope with a letter addressed to the pastors sent on behalf of a church in CA and Nebraska. Their pastors were here in April and they were compelled to help with the building project. James had carried the letter and money that was given to them from the states. It was sweet to hear them speak of their thankfulness and their desire to send the progress updates and pictures to the churches to truly be accountable for the money they were given.
We drove back to Ndola and made it just in time for the evening service. After the service James and Wil had a meeting with the deacons and elders of the church. They had many questions and things related to the sending of funds and the quarterly reports that the church in Zambia sends to tell how the money was distributed and accounted for.
So the church people cleared out and Terry and I were left waiting on our husbands in a meeting on a Sunday night. I told her, “ Well here we are…who would of thought that you and I would be waiting for our husbands in a meeting in Zambia!”…. We both laughed hard at that one. Since that is often our sunday night routine back home.
2 hours later they were finished and James said the meeting went very well and he was so glad to be able to sit face to face and communicate the financial matters.
We had a good time just talking the first hour, as we have been very busy and not had much time to just talk about some of the things we have seen and experienced.
The other hour we spoke with one of the men in the church who had come in later to wait on the pastor. It was very encouraging to hear him talk about how the Lord saved him and his many opportunities to speak of Christ in the business school where he teaches. He has a neat story.
We ended the night with a visit to our Lodge by Adamson Shamfuti. A friend of James’s that he met 4 years ago. We had planned to meet his family tomorrow and give them a few gifts we had brought. They too are a very poor family.
But we were able to give Adamson the laptop we had brought for him. He was so thankful! I don’t think I have seen anyone in quite awhile that truly was so appreciative to God for this gift. He hugged James for a little bit (which is the most expressive I have seen a Zambian yet) and kept saying, “oh thank you, thank you!” I knew it would be worth it in the end to carry that around for the last 3 days in my backpack, but I did not “really know”.
Tomorrow we will stop by and meet his wife and children and then visit the classes in session of the quarterly copperbelt college module and then get on a bus to ride to Lusaka!