Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I Have a MAID!

There I said it.

Twenty months later and I can now say it. House helper, someone who helps me out at home, someone who helps me clean, a worker... those are all ways to identify her, but in the end she is a maid and I have come to the place where I can say that now.

So, do I feel bad that I have a maid? No.
But, I used to not want anyone back home to know that I had a maid.

In America, only the richest people have a maid service come clean or have a maid in their home. But once you get outside the US, most other countries have workers in the home. Even a friend of mine said that her maid had a maid. Many Zambians we know have 2 maids! You can always find someone who needs a job and the cost is minimal to hire them to help you.

But we are missionaries, so we are naturally expected ( by many) to be roughing it! Eating beans and rice every day, sweating away in the hot sun, reading by candlelight, using a pit latrine, cooking over an open fire, drawing water from a well and boiling our own water.

Well thankfully for us and our situation that is not usually the case. Though I know many missionaries live that way. And I know they must need extra measures of grace each day, because I sure need a lot just for the daily life here.

Since we have had major issues with our water these last few months, like several days during the week where it is off, no water- I have no problem whatsoever with everyone knowing I have a maid.

I can not imagine handwashing laundry for 8 people a couple times a week. Some days all she does is wash the laundry by hand, and get buckets of water to wash the dishes in the kitchen throughout the day and that is it.

Some days I am used to there being no water. ( Yesterday. nothing, I was fine with that. )
And not just no hot water, but like you turn the tap on and nothing comes out all day.
Other days it is aggravating like today for instance. ( Not so fine with that)
You just want to wake up and take a hot shower. You turn it on there is a burst of water for one second and then nothing. So you go to the trash can filled with water and start filling it up to put in a pan to boil water. So I turned it on, nothing came and let out a , "AHHH! "

We are just finishing the cold season, so have not wanted to do the cold water bucket baths but am thinking we will be moving toward that soon! I don't really know what is the problem but the landlord has not really cared and the city water people say it is not a problem on their side of things, so who knows.

Anyway, in light of this challenge most recently I am so thankful to have a maid and I don’t mind that everyone knows!

As a side note: I read the book the HELP recently ... very interesting in light of living in a culture where there is a lot of help. When I go to the grocery store or shopping centre I often see a woman trailing behind the “ma’am” in her uniform. The maid uniform. Many times she is caring for the children. I see this most especially among expatriates, I have even seen people grocery shopping and they have their worker ( whether it is the maid or the gardener) pushing the shopping cart and they are pointing to the items on the shelf for someone else to put into the cart. I see that and I want nothing to do with that type of “help”. That is ridiculous. Come on people, you can put your own groceries into the shopping cart!

We have a place we go to occasionally for tea. They have a cool play area for the kids, and every time I am there I see at least one maid or nanny out by the playground watching the kids. Occasionally the kids run back to the mom who is sitting comfortably sipping her tea in the shade and they say something and run back. And that too seems “ over the top” but it reminds me of the book.

I know it is a difference to some degree of culture. The American culture versus the Zambian, the Indian, the Asian... but then it is also a difference in some of the cases, not all because I don’t know the individuals, but a difference of a mindset.
I am better than you are.

Whether it is the businessman or government worker looking at their maid or gardener, or its the man or woman living in the city versus those living in the compounds / shanty towns, or it is the white person looking down at the black person or even the “workers” looking at those that have no job...
Its all the same mindset. I am better, a better human being. I am worth more than you are.

And unfortunately at some time or another in all of our lives, I think it is safe to say, we view people with the wrong mindset. We forget who we are in the eyes of God, and who we were before His grace was put upon us and we think we are better. It might not be looking at Aunt Jemima cooking your pancakes in the kitchen or Mammie watching your kids on the playground while you are sipping tea, but it is all the same.

Friday, August 26, 2011

HOPE KABANANA August update

The summer months, “or cold season months” for us here, have flown by.
The work continues to grow and expand with the kids.
We were blessed to have Katherine Johnson here for 6 weeks helping in the work.
Then Katryn had a friend Maurice come for 2 weeks and he also was able to spend time with the kids and get to know some of the boys.

The kids have been on school holiday here for the month. They do year round schooling with 3 months on and one month break in between terms. Most of them go back in 2 weeks, for the last term of the year.

Katryn has been spearheading and running herself ragged ( in a good way!) with the guardian business start up project. Donations were given to help the guardians of these kids start their own business, so they could become self sufficient. So she along with Maureen and Fanny have been going non stop the last 2 weeks buying and helping the guardians to get all the supplies, whether it be clothing, charcoal, food items, selling popcorn, setting up a barber shop... paying the first 6 months rental for the shops and ntembas that they will be selling the items.

They just finished yesterday and so now it will be Maureen’s responsibility to go and check on the progress of the businesses. I plan to go next week and see several of them and how they are going.

Katryn emailed this:

As of yesterday, we officially finished starting the 10 businesses for our families. It was a long and very tiring process, but it was incredibly powerful to be a part of. I want to again thank each of you for sending whatever gifts you sent and encourage you to continue to uphold these people in prayer.

-Saphira Tachali has a clothing stand and is also selling "talktime" (minutes for the cellphone) in a market near her home. (Everlyn's aunt)

-Justina Daka has a clothing stand in a market called Mandevu Junction. (Joseph, Felix and Nelia's mom)

-Selina Zimba is selling bedsheets, pillowcases and blankets. (Francis, Barbara, Memory and Christian's mom)

-Alice Tembo is selling food (beans, vegetables, fish etc.) and charcoal from a stand she built at her home. (Nathan and Wisdom's mom and Morgan's aunt)

-Elizabeth Zulu has a stand where she is running a barbershop and selling vegetables. She also is selling popcorn and small food items. (Tisa and Faith's mom, Christopher and Harrington's aunt)

-Isaac Mwansa has transformed a room in his home into a full working convenience store. (Kaumba's uncle)

-Susan Mumba is selling food items such as rice, cornmeal, beans and fish from a stand outside her home. (Philip's aunt)

-Eunice Chipepela is selling food items like vegetables, chicken, fish and beans from a stand in a nearby market. (Protasho's mom, Patrick's grandmother)

-Mirriam Nanyangwe is selling clothes in Chipata Market (Geofrey's sister)

-Victoria Chamoa is selling food such as vegetables, beans and rice in Chipata Market. (Kelley's mom)

The pictures can be found in this album-

The building project is going great and everyone is excited and the progress and the hopes that within a month or two it can be useable. They currently are working on the roof.

It will be great to have completed as we start off the new year in January having a meeting place to work out of and Katryn to have her own classroom for the tutoring that she does.

She is adding a few more kids to help with their studies so that now brings her to being there in Kabanana 4 days a week, with one day at home for administrative work.

We are waiting on all the “shoeboxes” of christmas gifts from the kids sponsors to be coming in over this next month so we can have them all to distribute around the holidays. If you think of this you can pray for all of them to arrive safely with no problems from customs and the post office.

We are beginning to look for more kids to sponsor since we have had requests from people wanting to help. Maureen mainly will be looking for the kids and then we will all go and meet them before we decide. Everyone basically needs help you could say in one sense, but we want to be helping the neediest of the needy. Those that have no other option for help, those who are playing in the garbage heap every time I drive by, because they have nothing else, no school, no future.

This month we had Peter come again to give haircuts to the boys and we just had a lunch yesterday for the kids as well. We like to plan at least one monthly meeting for all the kids and us to get together with them, usually it is over a meal and a short time of devotion and singing.

We have had a challenge with some of the kids not attending sunday school and even school. A few months back we wrote up terms of “agreement” for the kids and guardians to know what is provided and what is not. We pay the kids school fees, provide shoes, book bags and school supplies. We also help with medical expenses that arise. The kids are then expected to actually attend church and school.

We had one family situation arise that we have been watching over this whole year.
A sibling group that was not going to school or church. We decided it was time to remove them from the program after many, many warnings to them and to the mother to motivate her kids to attend.

Fanny and I went to the home and sat down with the mother.
We knew that these kids were wasting the money that is being paid for them when there are HUNDREDS of other kids that need help. Though a difficult thing it was time to let them go.

We sat down in the Living room and I spoke some and Maureen then also spoke. We went over again what was expected, the “contract” of sorts that was signed by the kids and the guardian and that they were continually not attending. And we told her that they were being removed from the program.

We pulled out the registry that Maureen has for attendance and the school records and explained again to the mother. She then told us that she sends the kids to church and the last month after we spoke to her she had been sending them to school as well.

Maureen said, right here is the record they are not coming to church. I then asked to bring the kids in to speak with them.

What was found out is that they leave the house when the mother sends them but they either just mess around for a while and then come home or they go to a friend’s church. So the kids had been lying to their mom. She was sending them, she was doing her part to make the kids go to church.

Nelia started smiling when we asked where was she. It was a joke to her. Her mother then informed them that we were removing her and Joseph the younger brother from the program. The oldest Felix would be on a “probabtion” of sorts for this last school term, but if nothing changed he too would be removed at the end of the term.

Tears came. Tears from Nelia, and Joseph and many tears from the mother.

The kids then left the room and the mother began pleading with us.

I don’t think I have ever been in that position before, where humanly speaking I had the authority to reject the mothers pleas and cries or to show mercy and extend one more chance. That if these kids were dropped from the program that was it. Most likely they would never be given another chance to go to a decent school and be helped.

She cried and said she was begging us. I would like to be able to explain accurately how that feels, but I don't think I can. You pray for wisdom, pray to be gracious and humble and then you have to make a decision.

At that point, all my resolve of our meeting earlier with fanny and maureen of, “this is what needs to happen” and ok we have to do this... changed.
In that moment through the tears. But not just because of the tears.

I asked to call the children back in and spoke to them strongly and told them that it was for their mother’s sake that we were going to offer them this last chance. That they should never lie to their mother, That our God shows mercy to us. That God was giving them another chance. I then told the 2 older kids that they have been setting a very bad example for their brother and that he will do whatever they do. I told them that we want to help them not just in school but spiritually as well and that is why we want them to attend the meetings.

In the end the mother thanked us, the children dried their tears and left the room.
The mother said they did not know how serious it was. Regardless of the fact that we had told them it was serious.

In the past I have been so “resolved” at different things that it really would not matter what came out in the discussion once the “principle” I thought was achieved, we go forward. Didn't matter if we found out new information. Things are clear cut. If This happens then this is the result and the outcome. No Matter what. Hold your ground...

I think God, ok, I KNOW God has been teaching me over the year that life is not clear cut. Yes there need to be guidelines and principles in your programs, but you deal with real people, and how many times do I mess up and fail again and again and yet GOD keeps showing me mercy through his son Jesus. I hope I continue to show more mercy and graciousness to everyone.

A lot to pray for, in this work. Thank you for your interest and prayers!


James's update

Dear Friends,

We thank the Lord for partners back home who uplift us and the work here in prayer! Recently, I was reminded of how important it is to keep everyone praying when I was not allowed into Namibia on a minor technical matter that should not have prevented my entrance. It made me remember we should not take anything for granted and seek the Lord over each detail of our work in this life!

SUMMARY: We are currently involved in three building projects-- two churches and a residence hall for Copperbelt Ministerial College. The Lusaka Ministerial College has moved into its second year, and will begin offering classes on Tuesday evening and Saturday for working students. The orphan ministry has a business start-up project just getting underway now. We have added another church planter who is supported by the ministry, Adamson Shamfuti. Pray for us!

Church Planting:
The past several months have been full of activity as usual. We have added another pastor to those whom we support in spreading the kingdom of God. His name is Adamson Shamfuti, and I have known him since my first visit in 2006. He has about 10 years of experience in the ministry among various baptist churches, and has reformed in his doctrine the last few years. After an internship at our home church here in Lusaka, Kabwata Baptist Church, he went back to the Copperbelt where he has just been made pastor of Lubutu Baptist Church. He joins Marshall Kasongo, Francis Nyati, and Mondesters Hakanyanga as men who are supported from churches in the States through LION of Zambia. We have also been encouraged by the development of Ibex Baptist Church, which is a church plant near us. I've preached there a few times and one of our students from CMC, Kasango Kayombo, is heading up the work and, Lord wiling, should soon be ordained into the ministry there.

Lusaka Ministerial College:
The Lusaka Ministerial College is progressing well and we are looking forward to offering evening and Saturday classes next term starting early September. This will help accommodate the many men who work full time and therefore cannot attend our daytime classes. We have about 20 students right now for the daytime, and look to have another 10 or so coming in September. Also, we've distributed about 10 Kindles to students, loaded with 60 plus books each. This has proven a great and economical way to provide a library for each man. The students have to pay approximately $100, about half the total cost to us for the device. Sponsored students receive them for free. I will be teaching two classes next term. About once a month or more, I go to a church of one of my students and preach there. It has been very encouraging to see the progress they are making in personal and corporate reformation. It is not uncommon to have members of these churches telling me how much they have seen their pastor grow, and how thankful they are for what he is learning. Praise the Lord!

Copperbelt Ministerial College:
The Copperbelt Ministerial College has a lot of fresh faces as well. I was there a few weeks ago with Salvador Gomez, who did an excellent job teaching Christian Ethics. Thank the Lord for sending him! The men warmed to his ministry to them very much. We have about 25 students there, plus another 15 or so who have concluded their courses and are working on papers and assignments . They should finish these things by the end of this year. We hope to have a graduation ceremony in April 2012. The residence hall for the students is under a roof and in the final touches stage. It should be ready for use when students attend the October module, so we're excited about that! It will help the college be self-sustaining since it will function as a lodge when the school is not in session.

Kabanana Orphan Ministry:
Construction on the Faith Baptist Church building in Kabanana (Lusaka) is just reaching roof level and will hopefully soon be under roof. It is bigger than originally planned, so it will easily seat the present church members and have plenty of room to bring in others from the "highways and bi-ways" of the area. This building will serve during the week as a base of operations for the Kabanana orphan ministry. Katryn Belke will use it for the weekly tutoring of some of the kids that need extra help, and it will also host the different meetings we have with children and guardians. Speaking of guardians, we are in the final week of a business start-up project for the guardians of the children we sponsor. Please do pray that the Lord will bless this effort to help these families become financially independent! You can read a lot more about what goes on in this part of the ministry on Megan's blog or Katryn's blog and the e-mail updates.

Williamson Family:
The family is excitedly looking forward to going back to the states for a couple of months from November to January. We will be able to visit our families over the holidays, our home church, and some of the sister churches as well. The kids are doing well in school, and Grace especially seems to be finally settling into the routine craziness that is our home. James preaches most Lord's Days lately, teaches classes always, and manages the colleges and projects. Megan is teaching Caleb and Jackson (5 and 7 years old), and also overseeing the workers and work of the orphan ministry. A couple of the kids have been pretty homesick lately, and could use your prayers as well. As well, my wife and I often feel the need and desire to be closer to the Lord, especially when we see all that is on our plates to do in the home and in the ministry. We would appreciate your prayers for that!

Thanks so much for remembering us, and may the Lord's grace be upon you in abundance through Christ our Savior.

James Williamson
LION of Zambia
Lusaka, Zambia

Monday, August 22, 2011

Namibia Trip?

Post by James

“This is not the US Embassy!” “You can read English-- what does that say?!” “No... you get a blanket if you have done a crime.” “Wait here and we will get someone to escort you to the toilet.” These are a few of the many things I never expected to hear upon attempting to enter Namibia recently.

I was traveling from Lusaka to Winhoeke, the capital of Namibia, in order to link up with Rich Barcellos and John DiVito, who were the first visitors from the States to teach for us in this newly forming college. Though I wouldn’t be teaching, I was traveling to welcome Rich and John, to help with logistics of the module, and especially to sit down with the leaders there to discuss plans related to the college for next year.

Having had a nice smooth journey from Lusaka, and a brief stop-over in the airport of Johannesburg, I was walking into the airport fully expecting to check through with no problem and meet Buddy Bahun, who had come there to pick me up. Little did I know while standing in the line that in just a few minutes, a nightmare of a night would start!

Everything began to unravel when I stood before the immigration officer and handed her my passport. “You don’t have enough pages!” she said. “Well, there is room here, and here and here.” I showed her some places where she could stamp the visa. “You will need to stand aside.” So, I stood to the side while others filtered through the lines, apparently with plenty of pages for the officer to stamp. They processed the whole plane and then the supervisor for immigration came and began to talk to me. She said the same thing: “You don’t have enough pages. Why are you traveling on a full passport?” I pointed out the pages in the back for amendments, etc, as one place with lots of room. “You can’t read English? You can’t tell what that says? It’s for amendments, not visa stamps.” “OK, but Zambia stamped this page, and South Africa stamped that one” I said, pointing to two such amendment pages. “Are you saying we are supposed to follow their procedures? Do you think we are Zambia or South Africa?” Then, I explained I was just saying that other countries used the pages.

Besides, I told her, there is room on several of my visa pages for their stamp. In fact, the previous time I traveled was TO NAMIBIA, and they stamped me then. She kept saying throughout our discussion, “Where? Show me where I can stamp?” I would turn to the pages where there was room, and she would just turn away as if she didn’t see them. I started thinking to myself, “Has someone been a real jerk to her today? I’ve never been treated so rudely by an immigration officer in my life! Has an American soured her attitude earlier and now I’m paying for it?

I explained that I knew my passport was getting full and had even checked with my embassy in Lusaka before leaving, and they were going to get me some more pages after I came back. But in the meantime it was OK to use the passport, they explained. A few minutes later, she said, “Your embassy told you not to travel and you travelled anyway.” A total twisting of what I said. Several times, the same kind of thing happened. In fact, one of the times she said to show her where there was room, I turned to page 14, where there was space for both of the stamps they issue. She held the stamp over the space, where it clearly covered, and then pulled the stamp up again. “See-- it fit. You had it right there. Just press down!”

She kept trying to provoke me by saying things like, “This is not the US Embassy,” or “Can’t you read English,” etc. She then took out a fuzzy copied form which she filled out and asked me to sign. “What does it say?” “That you don’t have room for a visa stamp.” 
“I can’t sign that-- it’s not true,” I said. “Fine-- I will just write ‘refused to sign,’” which she promptly did. Once it was clear she was determined to detain me and not let me enter the country, I told her I was getting nothing from Namibia and wasn’t being paid there. I was only there as a volunteer to help with their education. And her refusal to allow me to enter was only harming her own country. “So I should sacrifice because you’re here for a good cause?!” “Sure” I said. That didn’t help! She would move from one desk to another, and then I would follow her, trying to persuade her to let me in, and also trying to keep up with what is happening. “Sir, you are annoying me! Stop following me around! Go over there and sit down!” Not wanting to provoke her further, I went and sat and waited.

Finally, she came back to me and said “Follow me!” I came around the corner and there was Buddy, ready to pick me up. He was smiling as if to say, “Finally! Great!” I looked at him saying, “No-- not great!” When I got to him I told him what was happening. He tried to talk to me, but was interrupted by her: “Who are YOU!?” Buddy said he was here to pick me up. But she said, “No, he’s not coming into the country.” I tried to talk with Buddy and figure out something to do, but she said, “SIR! Come on; I have other things to attend to. Come with me!”

Taking premature leave of Buddy, I followed until she came to a security scanning area with about five or six policemen standing around. She gave my passport and some papers to them, and disappeared. Now, I was in the custody of the police. Any attempts to get out of the situation now were over. I was stuck here for the night. I didn’t have a Namibian phone account, so my phone wouldn’t work. I couldn’t get an internet signal. I asked to use the phone, but they said, “No, we can’t do that.”

I realized the police were not the ones who put me in this situation and it would do no good being upset with them. I was just an inconvenience to them. I had gotten my bag back with a few changes of clothes, and was shown a small office. “This is where you will sleep.” They took me inside. It was about 8x8 feet square. There was a small table not big enough to lay on, and a rolling office chair. It was an office for these same police so it had a lot of keys on the wall.

I had arrived at 6:30 PM and now it was probably 8:30 or so. The police were all chatting in the local language mixed with some English here and there. I had the door open at first and occasionally would ask a question about what was going to happen to me next, but no one seemed to know anything. Soon, however, a captain or something arrived and he said I needed to close the door. So, it was a jail cell after all, I guess.

They were cooking and eating food next door, but no food or water was given to me that night or in the morning before leaving. They refused to allow me to call my wife and let her know my predicament. Later in the night, about 11pm, I opened the door to ask one of the officers for a blanket. The previous shift had given a small space heater, but it only worked for my feet, and that very little. The term “space” in reference to this heater indicated about six inches around the front screen of this weak device.

I had laid out my trousers on the floor because it was cold tile. I kept my jacket on because of the cold, and also my shoes, but still was too cold to feel comfortable to sleep. I asked again for a blanket. This time, the man said, “No blankets here. If you commit a crime, we take you to the station. There, they have beds and blankets.” “So, you give blankets and beds to criminals, and you make non-criminals sleep on the tile floor in cold season?” What could he say? “I understand your situation, sir.” “So you have been deported trying to enter a country?” “No. But sleeping on the floor...” OK, fair enough.

His boss came by a bit later and I asked again about a blanket and got the same kind of answer. I asked for a reed mat or anything to make the floor more bearable. “Even if I was a visitor in the village, they would give me a reed mat to sleep on.” No sympathy there!

The next few hours were sheer misery. I would shiver and shuffle around trying to find a way to sleep, knowing I would pay later in the week for missing a whole night of shut-eye. But every hour or so, someone opened the door. Since this was the key room, there was always something they needed. And they always flipped the light on to find them. A couple of times in the night, new officers would arrive. I guess I was a spectacle, because they would open the door and peer down at this pitiful excuse for a human being lying on the floor of their office!

In addition, about three times I needed to go to the bathroom. I had to ask to go (humiliating in itself), and then be accompanied by a policeman who stood there at the bathroom while I went. Maybe they were afraid I was going to swallow one of their keys and try to escape! At any rate, it was the only time I got to leave the little cubicle office. The rest of the time was just a long night of trying to do the impossible-- get sleep on a cold floor while being regularly interrupted by police officers charged to keep you detained until you are shipped back home.

About 5:00 in the morning, a woman opened the door and flipped the light on. “Why are you here?” I explained my situation. She thumbed through my passport. “But there is room here, and here, and here” she said. Tell me about it! I thought. I agreed and said it didn’t make sense. She said, “You need to get up.” Am I going somewhere? No. She just wanted me to be awake and up at 5 am!

I waited another three hours, reading and praying and trying to have a morning routine. Sometime later in the evening before I figured I should try to get some spiritual good out of this. What might the Lord be teaching me? And these guys were all people I could at least try to have a good attitude around and treat well and not be a “bad detainee,” whatever that entailed.

Close to 8am, a new officer from Immigration came in with a chipper, “How was your night!?” Or something like that. I was shocked. “Not so good” was all I could muster. She took me to the Air Namibia desk to get my ticket back home. They asked where I was coming from. Lusaka. “We don’t have any flights there until tomorrow, and we can’t keep you here another night.” Finally, something we both agreed on-- they don’t want me there, and I don’t want to be there!

“We can send you back to Johannesburg, and you can enter the country there and then find a flight back home.” “But you guys have said that my passport is invalid. If that is the case, how will I be accepted into South Africa.” “They have their own procedures.” I had to press a little further to make the point, and expressed concern that they wouldn’t allow me in. She assured me they would. And I left it at that, knowing they would since the “problem” with my passport was not as big as the supervisor the night before had made it.

After getting everything set, I flew out that morning back to Johannesburg. I went through their immigration with not so much as a peep from the officer, who simply stamped my passport and waved me on.
My friends the Marslands had a public holiday off for that day, so it worked out to spend most of the day with them before flying back to Lusaka that evening. This was the one bright spot in the whole ordeal. I had really looked forward to catching up with them on Thursday evening after a few days in Namibia, but it ended up I got longer with both of them this way than I would have otherwise. The Lord’s timing is perfect!

That evening, Megan received one tired puppy at the airport. I had encountered one of the rudest people I can remember meeting in some time. I had stayed overnight without water, food, a blanket, or even a phone call to the outside world. I had the humiliation of going to the bathroom under guard, and being peered at by guards as the only thing interesting on the long and boring night shift. I had been unceremoniously shipped back to where I came from, having failed to even spend an hour with the brothers I was hoping to enjoy the week with. And I was tired out of my mind to the point that I just dropped into bed when I finally reached there Tuesday night.

Experiences like that make you think about life and where things are headed and what you should be doing. There was a lot that crossed my mind over those two days which I hope I don’t forget. Some of the lessons were very private and personal. But one that I feel I could share with anyone is that it just reminds us to always pray and take nothing for granted. We can’t so much as take a step without the Lord going before us to prepare the way, and holding us up so that we do not fall. And we truly never know what a day will bring forth. There’s not a day we don’t need him for what we might end up facing. And there’s not a day that He is not with us, helping us through whatever crazy situations we might meet with on the way in this life.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

LGWM School for the orphans and Vulnerable children

A few weeks ago the Ladies for the Hope Kabanana and I visited the school at the church Living Gospel World Mission where Nsangu Phiri ( a student of James's ) pastors.

It was very encouraging to see the work they are doing with orphans and vulnerable children!
Nsangu and his wife several years ago took in a few orphans into their family.
Then they started sponsoring kids that live with their guardians and started a school for them and other needy kids in the area. The sponsored kids receive a meal while at school, and the other kids bring their own food to school.

He and his wife sold their land and home to build the church that they use during the week for the school.

It might sound like they have alot of resources but they don't at all, they just followed what they knew God had put on their heart and are living each day trusting God to provide what they need.

They have 3 teachers that teach the kids and these are all volunteers from within their church. Nsangu was telling us that occasionally if they get 20 pin ( about 4 dollars) extra in the offering that they will then try to pay their teachers every now and then. But they have no salary or anything they can depend on.

Same thing with supplies for the school. If they are able they can buy some chalk every now and then or some extra food for the kids.

The amazing thing I was so glad to see was that they are doing what they can without help from other churches or "westerners".

The separation for the classrooms was made out of mealie bags sewn together. One class needed a teacher so the classes were combined with the older kids.

We were encouraged to get ideas and learn from them and see if maybe the Lord would have us to start a school or something similar once we are able to get settled into the new building.

Katherine Johnson was with us and as we were leaving she was able to encourage him by telling him he reminded her of George Muller. She then told the story of how he gathered all the orphans to the table to pray and thank God for the food , even though they didn't have any, but that they lived daily just trusting for God to provide their needs.
The kids gathered to pray and thank God and shortly after a man knocked on the door and told George that his bread truck had broken down and it was all going to spoil and did he have use for all the bread?

He was encouraged to hear the story and then later the next week we gave him a biography of George Muller to read and to be encouraged by.

here are some pictures of the classrooms and the kids

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Video of Grace's first year

I put together a video of pictures from Grace's first year with us.
One year ago today we brought her home from the orphanage!

Grace's one year GOTCHA! from megan Williamson on Vimeo.

(song by Matthew West "one less" )

Grace's One Year GOTCHA

One year ago TODAY, we brought Grace home.
I don’t even really know where to begin with this post, but have had thoughts floating around in my head for quite awhile so this one might be more like a "journal entry"

She has become our daughter and is part of our family now. I would like to say the road has been smooth and an easy ride, and what dreams are made of. But to be honest it has been quite the opposite.

She has been well loved by every member of the family, and is such an integral part of us. But it has not been without its difficulties for sure.

Since we got her when she was 21 months, I knew there would be some adjustment times and challenges related to her having essentially lived her whole life in an orphanage. But I think it still caught us off guard. Maybe the first few months she was in a state of shock, but then after a certain point she became more comfortable and the “honeymoon” was over.

Over the course of the year we have learned to read some of her “cues” in terms of trying to understand why she is acting a certain way.
For example, the kids are all outside playing, and then they just come inside leaving her alone and an all out PANIC screaming begins. Once I explained to them, you can’t just leave her alone if you were all together, they have tried to understand as well.

For months the way she would wake up in the morning is by screaming, “Mommy! , Mommy! where are you?” And she would continue until we went in to get her.

She shares a room with Jackson and if he wakes up and leaves the room while she is still in her crib, she immediately starts to scream and cry. Fear of being alone I think.

So the hardest thing to work through has been her screams. Screaming when she is insecure, screaming when she is scared, and then just the normal 2 year old I want my way and I did not get my way screaming!

The difficulty is when there is alot of screaming for different reasons, you get worn out and tired and you just want it to stop. And you are not always sharp on determining what the cause is and why.

The latter, just not getting her way screams are easier to handle in one sense. She has something she’s not supposed to have, I take it away, she screams, I tell her no, and then it is just an obedience/attitude issue that can be dealt with.

But how after a year do you make a child feel secure when they are still insecure?

We have alot of people that have come through, maybe 10 different visitors in the last year that have stayed with us. I have found a pattern that once they leave it takes Grace awhile before she feels comfortable and secure again. Same thing if the kids are home from school on break for a week or a month. She seems more stressed and then it takes her about a week to get back to “normal” - whatever that is for her and for our family.

So it is harder to make her feel secure. It is also harder when we live in a culture that generally give in to the kids and get them whatever they want just so they don’t cry or be unhappy.

I have had several times where Grace is with me at church or store or something and she is crying because she can’t have something, or because she has to stay on my back and others have told me, “she wants to get down, she is crying wanting to get down. “ To which I say, “ Yes, I know she does, but I don’t want her to get down.” This usually doesn’t go over well. But any cries are usually responded to by giving the child what they want. For example, kids are fighting over a toy and you give one the toy and the other a sweet just so they each have something, or so the one crying will stop the crying.

I saw this in the orphanage one day before we got Grace. She was playing with a piece of a metal pipe. I then took it away and she threw an all out tantrum. She would not stop crying, and me still being new to her was not exactly sure at that point what to do because then several workers came out asked why she was crying and just said, well give her what she wants.

So you would think that only 17 months of this type of “parenting” at the orphanage, wouldn’t take that long to undo, would it? I naively thought, just a couple months and everything would be fine.

But maybe it takes 17 months to undo? I don’t know.

Many days somewhere in the middle of this past year were very difficult. I became frustrated and irritated and angry. Does that make me a bad mother?
Yes, Absolutely.

A few times this year I have had a fleeting thought when I am in the thick of the screams and emotional turmoil, of wow, what have we done in bringing her into our home?
Does that make me a bad mother? Absolutely.

Am I ok with knowing that I am a bad mother sometimes...? Yes I am.

Would I have said that one year ago. Never. Not Ever.

Would I have held my ground thinking I never get impatient or angry with my kids? Yes I would have and I would have still been proud.

In a strange sense, now I feel better knowing I am not the perfect mother. I never will be.

Sometimes God uses different circumstances in our lives to show us how much MORE of Christ and of grace, God’s GRACE we need to make it each day.

So those have been the hard lessons that I hope we or I have been learning this year.

But for the good stuff.

Grace is a charmer. She is adorable. She has had an explosion of her language and is saying everything and talking up a storm. She likes to play with all the toys now and plays on her own as well. She no longer panics and screams when she sees a doll or an animal. That is progress.

She used to cry when other people (OK-- just the black Zambians!) would come and talk to her. Now she chats away with people at the grocery store, before they even ask her she points to me and says, “my mommy!”

We have realized she very much likes and needs a routine. Sometimes we can give her that, other times we can’t and she has to learn to be OK with that. That too is a learning process.

I have been so thankful and amazed at how patient and loving the other kids have been with her, they truly have embraced her as their sister. One year later and they still fight over who gets to get her out of her crib when she wakes up in the morning!

She is very polite. Saying thank you when ever you give her something. The sweetest thing being whenever any of us give her a kiss or a hug, she immediately says, “Thank you!” and then kisses us back.

After she screams to get out of bed in the morning, she likes to lay down in bed with me and the other kids sometimes and snuggle. She will wrap her arms really tight around us and say, “nuggle nuggle nuggle”.

As I have gone to visit local orphanages over this past year since we have had her, I always come home with a renewed sense of understanding and patience for my daughter.

Sometimes I think about the difference, out of all the 6 kids we have been blessed with, and even though we can say we “planned” all the other ones ( actually get asked that question sometimes...) she is the only one that we “chose”. That we went to an office, asked about kids, were given a list of names and ages of kids that were available and based on what we were looking for, a girl under 2, she was the only one.
Certainly made it easier for the “choosing” part. But we went and met her and then had the “choice” do we want to adopt her. YES we did want to.

And we are SO thankful that we did. But it is just strange sometimes to think about the “choosing” part.

And it is strange to think about how at times, she can, like all of our kids, act in a way that shows an ungratefulness. And how my mind works, -- she is ungrateful when we have brought her in to our family given her a home, love and “saved her” from a life in an orphanage.

Now those of us that are christians immediately should feel our hearts understand that.
God has “saved us” and brought us into His family, not because anything good we have done, but because of Christ. And we can be so ungrateful and unthankful and get grumpy and have a bad attitude about things so often!

Definitely reminds us of ourselves.

So this year has been one of learning and understanding our daughter, but also more of ourselves. Here’s to many more years as a family learning, understanding and loving each other, all of us and hopefully a lot less screaming in the years to come. :-)