Monday, June 27, 2011

Then God will have disappointed me...

There are some things said that should just never be said. But I think its because we forget who we are and who God is. We are the created ones and He is the Creator.

We forget that, and we think we are something when we are nothing. It might not take on the same forms in all of us, but in the end it is always pride.

Last week I went to visit Mrs. Tembo. The mother of Wisdom the boy we sponsor in Kabanana who is HIV positive. For many months now, others have been trying to encourage her to let us start him on the ARV’s. The medicine that could very well prolong his life and help him to lead a healthy life.

Maureen, Fanny and Katryn have all been to see her on the matter a couple times.
A social worker and nurse from the local health clinic have also gone to visit the home and meet with her. The hope was that she was ignorant of how these drugs, sometimes termed the “Lazarus effect”, could help her son. The very one who came from her womb (most likely with the disease). Since these various meetings she has told the others she has “closed the chapter” and has run off the workers from the clinic-not to come back again.

I had not been to see her in quite some time and I had not yet spoken to her about it.
Maureen and Katherine went along with me. Mrs. Tembo can understand English but usually speaks back in Bemba so Maureen was translating what she said back to me.

We discussed how the family was, the kids at school, Nathan’s new job as a teacher and how big Memory’s baby is getting. Then I asked her about Wisdom.

Through a long conversation she still was holding fast to her thoughts on his not needing medicine and when he is older than he can decide. God has already healed him, she said. God says I will heal all your sicknesses and diseases, so we have to have faith that God has already healed Wisdom. Katherine brought up a good point and said what if we started him on the Arv’s and she could see how he does.

SO that brought me to ask if we started in July and continued to pray for Wisdom but also put him on the drugs, could we take that time until December and see how he did.

She said, no why don’t we all pray for him from now until December. I then told her that we ALL had been praying for him, for 9 months- Maureen, Fanny, Katryn, myself, AND a couple hundred other people in America. My church back home, Katherine said her church back home and many others.

Instead of being thankful that a boy in Africa has gotten the prayers of so many saints around the world, she told me that all of those praying then do not have enough Faith!

I would like to say I couldn’t believe it but sadly I could. The “gospel” that is preached and taught here is often the one of prosperity, health and wealth. Not the true gospel.

She has bought into the lie that if she has enough faith Wisdom will be healed. I tried to tell her that than it is dependent on her “work” of praying. That became clearer the more we talked but it didn’t seem to make any difference.

I explained that we love her family and Wisdom and we have sought to help them in many things over the last year that we have known them. She knew that to be true and I told her it is frustrating then when we know how to help and she will not let us. I told her this was not a “muzungu” thing, but as the nurses and doctors here have tried to explain the benefit to starting the medications.

She was not wanting to come to any conclusion so I propsed that we take the time between now and when the next school term starts, and we go to pay Wisdom’s school fees to help him in school, that we pray for him. Then at the end of August, we take him back for another CD4 count and see where he is and then start treatment if he needs it.

She “halfway” agreed and said if he is still sick, then we can do whatever we want with him because “God will have disappointed me”.
I repeated what she said, “Then GOD will have disappointed you?”
What about all the times We disappoint God every time we sin...God does not disappoint us. “ There is even a song that many people sing here, “I have never seen the Lord disappointing me...” She resigned herself to yes, HE will have disappointed me.

There was a little more discussion, but pretty much that was where things were left. Who knows if when we take him back in August she will agree, ( I am not holding my breath on that one ) but we still need to keep praying for him and the family please.

Morgan was in and out of the room as we were speaking and later when he came along to walk with us somewhere, I told him we care about Wisdom and he said yes he knew that. Then we talked briefly about the ARV’s and Wisdom and how come he has it and not me, Morgan asked. I told him that possibly his mom got it after he was born and then passed it on to his younger brother. But the sad reality here is that because of whatever cultural things, often kids that get it from their moms will not be told that is how they got it. SO they are left confused and wondering what “bad thing” they did to get this disease.

That really angers me sometimes, because here you have a boy who is confused as to why he has this disease, than he hears his mom argue against getting treatment for him, she herself is dying of AIDS, and she says when he is older then he can decide on his own.

Her “faith” also about a month ago, had her drive her son away from the home because he was bringing a curse upon their home with this disease. He left home at night crying and stayed over at the Chirwa’s house. She told him this was all his fault and there was this demonic activity because of him.

This is incredibly sad to see, but at the same time it shows why James’s work here with training Pastors in the Bible, is so vital and important. We are seeing the consequences of false teaching and the damaging effects on people’s lives, right here among the children and families that we are working with. It’s all connected.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Another pair of hands

We have Katherine Johnston from Mebane North Carolina here with us. She arrived on Wednesday and will be staying 6 weeks. She came to help out with the orphan ministry. She is a nursing student and will be helping tutor the kids with Kat during the week and we plan to have a few group meetings with the kids where she can teach them hygiene and a bible study.

We will also be traveling up to Ndola later and meeting with the kids up there.
Please pray for her time to go well while she is here. It is a blessing to have her and we want to use her to the fullest while she is here!

(Here they are separating the bale of clothing we bought for the kids in Ndola )

Thursday, June 16, 2011

An outsiders perspective

Pastor Jeremy Walker wrote a report on his time in Zambia on his blog
I thought it might be helpful to read from another person's perspective.
It was a blessing to have him here and I am thankful he agreed to let me "share" his writings.

He wrote about it in 3 parts.
The link for the first one is below and from there you can find the other ones.
( Again I apologize for not being able to "link it" with the click... have to cut and paste)

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Rollercoaster

Today I happened to get the opportunity to ride on a roller coaster.
I would like to say its been quite some time since I have been on one, but unfortunately this kind, the emotional rollercoaster is one I get on often!

Last Friday we dropped Anthony at the airport and on Saturday we took Patrick and Protasho home. The morning started out fine and I was eager to have a “normal “ day.
Maureen was planning to come by at 9 hrs and the two boys from Bauleni were also supposed to come and meet her.

So one of the boys, Chanda, the original boy showed up and the other didn’t. Maureen and I started talking to him trying to find out more of his home situation and where his parents are exactly. He told us that he and his cousin stayed with their grandmother and she could not walk so they spend their days begging for food.

Their mother and father live in Kapiri and the boys have not heard from them since they left. We found out what we could about school when he was last there, and the grandmother. I then printed out some profile forms and Maureen was planning to go with Chanda to the Grandmother’s home and find out about possibly helping to get them in school.

We also discussed the need to then supply them with some food each month since the “work” of begging that the boys do will stop because they will be in school all day.
it is a sad reality but even with the kids in Kabanana we have come to be helping provide food for the families especially that have older boys and they were the source of income for the home.

So after Maureen and I discussed this we were prepared to look into the matter. I got a small amount of money to give her to go and see what needs they had. Each time the boys have come they have not eaten for that day, which is very common among those living in poverty here.

I gave him some eggs a bannana and a glass of milk for breakfast and when he finished Maureen gathered her things and they were starting off. Just before he got up from his seat, he started speaking in Nyanja to me telling me that he has no place to stay. I couldn’t understand so Maureen started translating and asking him questions.

He told us that he really didn’t have a grandmother and that the other boy Emmanuel encouraged him to lie and make up that story. The reality was that he and Emmanuel sleep in a ntemba each night without blankets or anything and they are on the street.

We asked how this happened and he told us that they started off as a family to go to town and get a bus to Kapiri. The boys were lingering looking at the large shiny buses and the mother kept walking and they got lost. The Father had stayed back and was meeting them later. Most likely what Maureen was figuring was that the mother once the boys were lost thought they probably went back to the dad but by the time they got home to the dad he wasn’t there and didn’t know the boys had been separated and so they were lost and left behind. And no one had ever come looking for them. They said before Christmas this happened.

Maureen and I just looked at each other and couldn’t believe it! It was so heartbreaking to think of them 11, and 13, sleeping outside alone. A ntemba is a shack that people sell things out of. Usually the only covering around the structure is mealie or concrete bags.

I then told him, we want to help you but you need to be honest with us. And we asked if anything else was different. he said no.

We then had to regroup. I went in to talk with james a while and then came back and we tried to then ask as many questions as we could about the family before they moved away. Where did they stay, where did he go to school, what happened when he went back to his house and the parents were gone, what did the neighbors say.???

We then decided to drive him back to his old house and see what the neighbors knew or what we could learn about him from anyone. Someone had to know him.

We drove to the house. I stayed in the car and Fanny talked with the neighbors. Apparently everyone there was new and the only one that would have remembered him was not there. Quite a spectacle was made and about 30 people soon were gathering around. I looked out the window and Chanda had tears rolling down his face.

I could only imagine how sad and hard that would be, to be separated form your family then to come back to your home only to find that no one knows you. No one can link you to your family. My heart broke for him. He got into the car with Maureen and I told him I was sorry.

We drove away and then were stopped by a man in a suit trying to look all official carrying a paper and a pen. He asked us what were we doing here and he was in charge of this village and so anything such as a lost child was his concern.

We could tell his concern was in the Muzungu that had driven into the compound and we tried to quickly get out of that situation. Maureen answered a few questions and then finally I said, we came to visit and now we are leaving and then drove away.

We then decided to go to the catholic parish where he said he had received food from one of the women that worked there. The women was not there today but would be back tomorrow. I asked about the “Bauleni Street Kids Project”, whose sign just happened to be at this very place. We were taken into a nice office where we met a “sister” from Europe that quite honestly I had to do a double take to know that she indeed was a “sister”.

I started asking her about the street kids project. turns out it is not for street kids at all, but they have never been allowed to change the name because of the politics with the archdiocese. In actuality it is a school and project for disabled kids.

After we discussed it a little she started enquiring about the boy. Then 3 more people came into the office asking questions. The same things we had been asking. The last women to come in though had an idea. If he really is from Bauleni, lets ask kids in the school ( of over 200 kids) if they know anything about him.

That was a great idea. The first classroom we went into a couple kids recognized him just as someone that walks the streets alone.
The next classroom about 3 or 4 kids said they knew him. One boy said he saw his DAD beating him the other day because he had stolen something. Then another girl said she knew where he stayed. mmhmm.

The headteacher then said that she could go with us to take us where he stayed.
We all got in the car, quite puzzled. Chanda said nothing, though he started to refute what the kids were saying in the classroom earlier. We drove in silence until we were near his house based on the girls directions. I asked Maureen if he had anything to say. “We are almost there” is what he said. We parked and walked over to the house, then drawing about a crowd of 20 or so kids and adults. We spoke with a woman who was a “grandmother” to him and she told us about his real grandmother that lived in the outskirts of Bauleni, and she told us that he steals things and a few days ago he gathered his things and ran away from his dad and that is the only time he sleeps in a ntemba. When he has been naughty and runs away.

We thanked the woman and the girl for helping us and at that point Maureen and I decided the trail could end there. We drove the girl back to school with Chanda in the car. We parked, she got out and went back to school and we sat there a few minutes.

I asked Chanda, Why did you lie to us? Silence. No response. He fidgeted with the door handle and I could see he was about to bolt out of the car. Maureen talked to him a few minutes and then he said he didn’t steal. I told him we couldn’t believe him because he had lied to us. He remained quiet and then I asked Maureen to speak to him about the Lord and how he needed Christ’s forgiveness.

He remained silent and then asked if he could go now. Yes. Maureen had told him, he could have possibly had help with school, but now he can’t, and he can’t even come back to our house begging for food because we know his story now. And we know his lies, and we know a tiny part of the truth.

No grandmother bitten by a snake. No parents in Kapiri. No brother that was left behind and that sleeps with him on the street each night. Emmanuel was just a friend. A friend that partnered in the lies and that was “smart enough” not to show up today when the lies were being exposed. No being lost and separated from your family at the bus stop.

He closed the car door and turned slightly to look back as he started walking away form the car. And I saw the tears again. Tears streaming down his cheeks. He wiped them with his filthy arm and shirt and kept walking, halfway turning to look back every now and then.

Maureen and I sat a few minutes and then drove away. When we passed by where he was, we found him sitting under a tree looking at us blankly.
So young to be telling such lies.

It still is a really sad situation. But not for the same reasons that I thought it was sad last week, or at 9:30 or at 10:30 this morning as the story was changing. Not sad because he was abandoned and is all alone, not sad because he is freezing at night sleeping on the street, but sad because of the choices he is making. That even when given the opportunity to “come clean” with his story so to speak and be helped, he kept weaving his web of lies.

Who knows what his home life is like. I don’t think we will ever know. But as Maureen and I talked, I told her we need to remember 2 things. One, this is the reason we look into the situation and find out as much as we can about each child we take on and support. And two, just because we were lied to and led on a chase today and really for the last few weeks, it doesn’t mean the next time we have an opportunity to help or look into helping that we don’t do it because we think, “well you remember what happened last time...”

We still are to have our hearts moved and go out to helping the vulnerable and needy children. That is clear. And who knows what the Lord was doing in the boy and in us today, but we know it is for all of our good. Maybe it will make the boy stop to think. I am hopeful that his tears were coming out of a guilty conscience that can be made right if he goes to the Lord.

I know it made me stop and think I ready and willing to go and do whatever the Lord might be leading. I might have my quiet agenda for my day (or life) but when the Lord brings someone across your path you have to answer the question in whatever area, what am I going to do with this now?

That too then compounded the emotions on this the rollercoaster. Not just specifically for the boy, but in relation to my own heart and life. It wasn’t a fun thrilling ride today. You get to the end of it and you feel kind of “empty” inside. It’s Hard to describe, maybe because you were made to have your heart go out and you now feel vulnerable because you were lied to. Maybe because there is almost this adrenaline rush (in a healthy way) when you are finding things out, praying for wisdom, discussing things and are trying to work through difficult situations and decide things you never thought you would have to decide and you get to the end and it stops so abruptly. And the ride’s over.

Kabanana Building Project

The orphan work we do is in partnership with Faith Baptist Church in Kabanana. Faith Baptist is a church plant under KBC.

LION of Zambia is funding the majority of this building project, so if you are interested in contributing to it, please do!

The building will be classrooms that during the week will be used for the orphan ministry and on Sundays will be used for the church. There will also be a kitchen and toilet/shower rooms.

We are very excited that this project is now underway, because it will be such a help to the orphan work.
We will be able to have group meetings there, Kat will be able to tutor the kids there ( rather than in Fanny and Maureen's homes) we will be able to prepare meals for the kids and have a safe place for them to come to during the day.

Having the toilet and showers will also be great as many of the kids need much help in learning basic hygeine and we will have a place where they can come and bathe.
We also plan to use part of the church plot to cultivate a garden and have the kids help work in that.

Several of the boys have been helping work on Saturdays in the beginning part of preparing the foundation. Hauling water from quite a ways away to make the concrete.
When Anthony ( a man from our church was here last week, he spent a day helping with the construction laborers. ( Thus the muzungu in the pictures below)

Here are some pictures. It might not seem exciting to you all, but we are VERY excited, because once we have a place from which to work out of, the opportunities and ideas are numerous.

The church plot
The classroom building structure is going up on the back of the property.

From the building looking toward the road

The classroom block

Where the toilet and showers will be

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I had Maureen come to the house today so we could catch up on how the kids in Kabanana are doing , speak more to Patrick and Protasho and also I had hoped the 2 boys from Bauleni that came by the few times would be back. I had told them to come today but the day has come and gone and they never showed up. I was planning to have Maureen go to their home and speak with the grandmother and find out more of their situation. But that will have to wait for another time.

It was still a good day. We were able to speak to Protasho and Patrick for about an hour about their home situation, family, etc. I think it went really well and I am so thankful for the opportunity we have had to have them here in our home. I think they felt like they were comfortable enough to talk some even as they fidgeted with things and it was apparent that it was hard to discuss some things. I asked them a few questions but then Maureen just followed their lead in what they were wanting to talk about.

First though I asked them to tell her what we did on Saturday and protasho's face lit up he gave a huge grin and then started reeling in Nyanja about how good the day was. ( I was able to pick that much up). That was such a delight to see and hear. I knew they had fun but to see him remembering it and talking about it. Then they talked about last night we ate pizza and he had ice cream for the very first time. "It was very nice" he said.
We took them to a play place with a playground and a jumping castle and they had a blast! It was so fun to watch them.

We found out today that they used to live in kapiri, but moved 4 years ago. Their mom and their stepdad quarreled all the time and so she finally ended up leaving and moving away. Since that time she has had a problem drinking and getting drunk all the time. Protasho said she is a good woman when she is not drunk. Problem is as Patrick said, she can't Not drink. She is verbally abusive, says hateful mean things to the boys when she is drunk and will send them out of the house whenever she wants. She used to "entertain" men in her home often. Recently the stepdad and her have gotten back together and so the stream of men coming in has not been as it once was. The stepdad drinks as well and he too gets very mean and says things about the boys not being his and kicking them out of the house.

When they leave the home they usually go stay with a friend Mutale. Come to find out they actually only spent one night alone outside. ( That is still one too many, but the story has become more clearer).

Protasho does piece work (odd jobs) mostly fetching and carrying water for people. When we asked about his extended family, relatives that could possibly take them in there was really no viable option. He explained the situations with older sister or auntie, all of which have "chased" away his younger sister Maggie. Which means that they certainly would not be welcoming of two more boys into their home.

Protasho had a twin brother. This brother died when he was young and since that time for whatever the reason, the younger sister Maggie has been his "twin". Or that is what they have told people. I really don't know why the mother would tell them to make this story up, but that is what it is.

When we asked, what if we could find a family in the church that they go to, that would take them in, Protasho replied that he didn't think his mother would let them go. A holiday is one thing, but to go permanently wouldn't happen.
He does the fetching of their water and the cooking for the family, especially when the mom is drunk which again he said is every day.

It was heartbreaking to see them sitting there talking about their life, what is normal to them -things that no child should ever have to think about, worry about or even sit and discuss with someone else. How their mom treats them, to see the them stare off into the distance, look down, fidget and speak about their mom. How they have not even missed her, how they don't want to go back…

When I was teaching Protasho on Monday I noticed him squinting while copying words for handwriting. The paper he was looking at was right in front of him. So I later asked him about his eyes, and did it seem fuzzy, etc.
When Maureen came today we asked him some more questions and he mentioned that he had a white spot in the center of his pupil on his right eye, and that it "pained him" when he was outside in the sun.
So I took him to an optometrist. A real one. I could have gone to the local clinic, sat there all day , then been referred to another clinic or the hospital in town then referred somewhere else, and on and on. So we went to the local optometrist that I would go to if I needed an exam and the exam part was free.

We walked in and sat down. An indian woman ( as in from INDIA) was the doctor. She called us back to the room. I motioned for Protasho to come with me and he sat in the chair and they turned off the lights and she started speaking to him in english. "What is the problem?". I stopped her right there and then explained what I knew of the problem and asked her if she spoke nyanja. No. Then she said well you already explained the situation so lets just continue. I asked her if we could bring in the man at the desk that spoke nyanja to translate. She said ok and called him in. He then translated the steps and what she needed him to do. Chin here, forehead here, look this way..etc
Then she told me that he had oppositing in his right eye. I really had no clue what she was saying on top of not being able to even understand her english. She proceeded to say there's nothing to do so lets move on to the left eye and see. I really almost thought to ask the man to translate for me, then realized that might seem offensive to ask him to translate her english into english so I could understand. Did make me realize though that I am comfortable with the "Zambian english" and I get it. ( Moreso than chinese english or indian english)

So they then asked him to read the letters on the chart.
Normally for a 14, almost 15 year old boy this would be the easiest part of the exam.
It wasn't. They asked me what grade he was in, and I explained he is being tutored and not yet in school.
he knows most of the letters but not clear enough and in that situation to say them to know how his eyesight is.

Then they asked if he could read numbers. He said yes and so they scrolled down to the numbers part of the screen. Putting different lenses and asking which one was clearer and to read them again.
I can only imagine how stressful and strange this must have been to him. I get stressed trying to decide which one, A or B, lens 1 or 2, is clearer. Add to that the heavy contraption-like "glasses" that they were putting on his face and placing the lenses on.

After all that was finished I again asked the woman what she meant about the right eye "oppositing".
He can't even see out of his right eye. He must have had an injury or even dust to his eye that scratched around years ago and that eye can not reflect the rays of light and it causes him pain when it is bright and sunny outside.
So she explained to me that his left eye is weak and with glasses worn all day every day it should get stronger but he needs to continually wear them also to protect his eye, because that left one is all he has.

I asked her about the "oppositing" and she said that the only thing that could be done is a cornea transplant, which obviously can't happen. So hopefully over time his one "good" eye will get better so he can see clearer again.

We picked out some frames and the man spoke in nyanja to him.
It was sad to see the lack of empathy and care from the woman doctor, when she realized he didn't know English and he was not "educated". I could feel it and I can say I HATE it.
Almost makes me want to go back and ask for the translater for her english...

When we got back to the house, I asked him to explain to Maureen what the dr. said to make sure he understood. He didn't quite catch it all because he thought he only had to wear them until 12 noon each day.
I then could see he was not happy and was thinking he was not going to wear them. I then explained to Maureen that the glasses were expensive and so I want him to make sure he wears them. Well something got lost in translation and then he was worried about the expense. I told him no, I don't care about the money, I just want you to know that you need to wear them and take care of them. Then I explained how it would feel awkward at first but then after a while you will like wearing them because you will be able to see so much better.

So, we go tomorrow to pick the spectacles up ( that is what they call them ) and then we will see how it goes.
My hope is that he will really wear them all the time. I told him he looked "smart" in them, which means smart as we would say it and then also "handsome or cool"- so doubly smart!