Tuesday, June 30, 2009

the throne

If you haven’t in a while, read Revelation chapter 7.

I read it almost every time I open the word. Mainly so that I don’t forget, especially while in Zambia, what I have to look forward to.

Through John’s eyes:

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb”.

Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”

I answered, “Sir, you know.”

“These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

This scene is hard for me to imagine. The joy of this procession, the glory brought to heaven.
I cannot wait to see the great multitude in white robes. I cannot wait to be there and see my babies here in Zambia dancing around the throne wearing white. But more than anything, I will be watching their Father’s face while he takes in every moment.

And the best part:

They are before the throne of God
And serve him day and night in his temple;
And he who sits on the throne will spread a tent over them.
Never again will they hunger;
Never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down upon them,
Nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne
Will be their shepherd;
He will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

These children are aching for the throne.

I'll be out of town for a week so there won't be any postings for a while.
We're traveling 8 hours to Livingstone to see one of the seven wonders of the world!
We're also going on a safari and visiting about 100 sponsored children and writing their updates.
I am so excited!

Saturday, June 27, 2009


My favorite aspect of God’s identity is his role as Father. If you know me at all, then you can probably guess the reason for that. It’s my favorite because it is the name that he has revealed to me in the greatest depth and with the most intimacy. I will never know him better by any other name.

Abba- just the word, that holds all my identity and the only fatherhood I’ve ever known. That word comes to my lips and a longing, aching, satisfaction, comfort, joy, and desire fill my chest.

And as I am here and he sits in his holy dwelling, I am seeing him for just who he is: a father to the fatherless, defender of widows. Almost daily I wonder how much joy it brings him to see these orphans being loved, being touched, calling Him father. I hear them sing and think, Daddy how sweet is this fragrance that is rising up to heaven? How precious are these voices that you hear? They are at the center of his heart. They will inherit his kingdom. It is the greatest honor I will ever know to be here with them, to be among these sons and daughters of the King.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I had one of the most precious moments of my life today, some of the best memories that I will never forget.

Ever so subtly God has been teaching me a new sensitivity to his spirit, especially in ministry siutations. To see with the eyes of Jesus those that are around me. Not to move from point A to point B in my tasks set before me, but to be alert and in constant communication with my Dad, scanning all situations visually for those he would stop and reach out to if he were here.

And today his spirit captured me and moved even my feet. I was busy doing my assigned job for Camp Hope in Chongwe Village, which is to discreetly capture the goings-on of camp in photos. From a thatch hut, I scanned the crowd for the next shot and my 250 zoom landed on a very small girl whose lifeless stare gazed directly back at me through my camera. She was alone and clearly her yellow dress was not Camp Hope attire, she was not a camper. She just stood in the dust, lost. God drew me to her. So I walked over. Her gaze turned into a smile as I smiled and knelt down to her.

As soon as I took her hand, I was promptly informed that she had already been sent home. She was not registered to be at camp, so there was no place for her. Someone dropped her off, but she was clearly too young to find her way home, so she just stood in the field of dust alone, watching the joyful campers run and play around her. The man told her again to go home and she hid her face in my side. I took her hand once again and we walked away.

I led her into My Father's house and then to a rug right in the center of the living room. I looked around and found extras of all the crafts for the day and watched her eyes glow as I spread them out in front of her. Without saying a word I picked up a crayon and started to color. She just watched my hand and my face as I made a rainbow, too shy to join me, these beautiful crayons just couldn't be for her. Slowly but surely I placed a crayon in her hand and pointed to the rainbow. Her eyes all the while memorizing my face and gazing lovingly up into my eyes.

As she began to color, I could do nothing but sit back and gaze at her. Gaze upon this beautiful girl named Rose, who I had the privelege of being with and loving for a little while. It humbled me so much to be with her and to sprinkle glitter in her hair. The entire time I looked at her I could not say anything but, Jesus, I love you, so very much. I love you. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to touch you today.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


There is really no way in this world that I can relay to anyone (but Sophie) the events of our past five days in Kitwe. There were wonderful moments and difficult moments…but these are the best:

The bus:

Watching home video quality African soap operas starring “Beyonce” and “Rihanna” that last four hours. Profuse sweating. Jam-packed bodies. “bathroom” stops when you pay to use the toilet.


Five days of consuming LITERALLY nothing more than chips, eet-sum-mor biscuits, chock-its, fanta, and chicken halves. Fanta in Zambia is the most delicious thing I could ever ask for in a soda. There was one day when I drank about six because people just kept giving them to me.

Auntie Susan:

A 62 year old woman who defends muzungus against drunk men. She fought a few off and I asked her what she said to them. “I said I used to fight!”

The orphanage:

Holding babies and knowing that there just wasn’t enough time to love them all.

And one note of humor:

The bus stops are just indescribable. It seems like mass chaos, but somehow to the Zambians, everything is working out just fine. When we were being dropped off to leave for Kitwe, the drivers/recruiters for the buses saw us in the EOH suv before we even turned into the station. One of them shouted AMERICANS!! And the stampede was under way. We couldn’t even get out of the car as our Zambian friend, Humphrey, coolly got out of the car and strode through the crowd of yelling men. He went to find our bus, while all the men just crowded around the car shouting at us to ride with them. The best was when I looked to my left to see a man pressing his lips into the crack of the closed car door in order to get an audible word in to our leader Paul. He was saying “Sir SSirrrrrrrr, excuse me sir, this way, ride with us” but of course you couldn’t understand him because his mouth was squeezing through the crack. I mean yelling was not enough for him, he took it to the next level. He made my day.


I have finally figured out a way to describe the reaction of Zambian children to us when we visit their compounds---clowns.

It’s so hard for me to understand their reaction because in America, we have all different sorts of people who wear funny things, are tall or short, have different skin colors, and speak different languages. There is nothing to compare it to in our terms. It would take a jolly green giant walking down my street with purple hair to get this type of reaction, or maybe a pack of aliens from mars.

But I think that seeing ourselves as circus clowns does it justice.

People stare, as we would stare if a clown in full costume were walking down our street.
Some children cry.
Some children run to you.
Some reach out to you, but if you reach back and show that you are real, they scream.
Every child is either left giggling, or crying when you are gone.

Yep, we’re all clowns here.


Most of the situations that I encounter in Zambia leave me speechless. Whether it's the bus stop of an amazing woman named Esther, it's difficult to explain in a way that comes close to the experience.

So much of what's been going on lately has been about the absence of words. I never know what to say, or I can't say it in the right language. I'm typing and the power goes out. I talk to God and he tells me to listen instead.

"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power".

I'm becoming a person of fewer and fewer words.

When it comes to my relationship with an all-knowing and all-wise God, listening is the most important aspect of communication. When it comes to visiting the orphans in their distress, words are not needed at all. Loving them like Jesus would doesn't require talking. The action is far more inmportant.

"Dear children, let us not love with words or in tongue but in actions and in truth".

For most of the time I spend in Zambia, I am a person of few words. And most of the things God is doing in this nation and for the orphans that will inherit his kingdom, just cannot be portrayed with any amount of my words. But when I write,
"My heart is stirred by a noble theme
as I recite my verses for the king
My tongue is the pen of a skillful writer" Ps 45:1

God gives words when I need them.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

rich or poor

I have been really surprised to find out that people are actually READING this blog.
Thank you! I’m overwhelmed!

So, I’m just going to write as much as I can. Even if not much is going on here (because SOMETHING is always going on), I want to share with everyone what God is doing in my life and teaching me. I wish all of you could be here and learn with me and see these stories with your own eyes…maybe one day. But until then, I’ll do my best to relay the info!

For the past couple of days we have been in Chongwe Village training Zambian teachers to work with kids and Americans. That’s that.

The ironic part of this ministry is that it does drain me physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but as I give of myself, the people I came to minister to are ministering to me. I’m pouring out of my physical blessings and they are pouring into me out of their spiritual wealth.

Instead of this service depleting me, it somehow fills me up and gives me the deepest satisfaction I’ve known. Ministry is tough. Service is tiring. And somehow Zambia doesn’t drain me.

I’ve realized that our Father has designed it this way. The poor are spiritually rich. I am physically rich. They have nothing to offer me materially but they are so wealthy in spirit that they give back to me in ways that last eternally. I can afford to buy Maheu for a child to nourish them for a moment. In return, I receive gifts that are lasting. The needs of both are filled. What a special and intimate blessing the Shepherd has set aside for his sheep.

“Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised to those who love him?”

James 2:5

“At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need”.

2 Corinthians 8:14

Saturday, June 6, 2009


I can’t really describe today in words.
It was just something that had to be experienced.

I got up this morning and went to visit children in Kalingalinga.
Throughout all the visits, usually there is one that sticks out and today that visit was one with a 16 year old girl named Esther.

Esther is beautiful. She looks like a young woman, not a girl. And while we sat in her kitchen she told us about herself.

We asked her a lot of questions and made some small talk and then we asked her what she likes to do with her friends. Then it got real. Her response was that she didn’t have many friends and she couldn’t look at us because of her shame. Then she began to tell us that she does have friends because we were there to visit her. She said she can’t even say that she is an orphan because God is her father and Every Orphan’s Hope visits her. She’s not alone.

It was beautiful to see her tear up while she talked about what God has done for her. She’s only 16 and her faith is so much stronger than mine. She can say that she is blessed after her father has passed away and her younger sister sits on the floor in a corner all day because she is lame.

I asked Esther to scoot over on her bench so that I could sit by her while we prayed for her. I slipped my hand into hers and she grabbed onto mine with the other. While we prayed she just wept. And we prayed and we prayed. I know God has great plans for Esther and that he will be her provider, her shepherd, her Father.

I don’t think I will see her again. And the hardest part about leaving her house was telling her that it might not be until heaven. Spiritually we will always be close, but physically not so much.

It is such an honor to me to sit and pray with children like Esther. The best and most amazing blessing of my life. I am so unworthy of her presence. I am so blessed to bear her heavy burden, even if I only held the weight for a little while. It was like I was comforting Jesus. He is so present with the orphans in their distress. He blessed me immensely and ministered to me through her.

Friday, June 5, 2009

ba les a baweme...

God has been speaking to me in constant revelation since I’ve been in Zambia. Today I realized that a lot of what God has revealed to me about my life has been in Zambia. Which is amazing, but it makes me wonder what makes it different here and why does my heart long to be here with his children when I’m at home.

I’ve just learned over the past few days that God speaks to me most when I am in His will and doing what pleases him. And Zambia is that place for me. It’s right where God wants me.

So I went to bed last night and woke up this morning with the prayer that God would give me a revelation of specifically what part of orphan ministry he has in mind for me while I’m here. At least for this summer. And honestly, just because He is God and because he has my almost undivided attention in Africa, I actually heard what he had to say:

Mary Leslie,

You are a teacher.

Share the gospel with the fatherless.

Share with them what I have done as your Father.

Best of all, I’ve been reading 2 Corinthians since I got here and God gave me his theme for this trip:

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.” 2:14

PS Our power has been on all day! So I showered. For the first time in five days. That’s a good thing.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


June 2, 2009

Real Story of the Day:

I spent all day in Chawama visiting sponsored children. The part of the day that was most amazing didn’t even involve one of those kids. At one house, we got there and the child had just left for the market, so we just sat with his mother and talked for a while. I asked her how she was doing and then found out she had malaria. I asked her a few questions about her symptoms and her treatment and then I asked her how we could pray for her. She just burst into tears, so I moved over onto her bed and wrapped my arms around her and we just cried together. She had just lost her husband and wasn’t employed so it was very hard for her to take care of her children.

It amazed me how this beautiful, strong woman broke down as soon as someone expressed genuine interest in her life and her well-being. And it was such a blessing to me to be able to comfort her and be with her while she cried. It’s good to ask the hard questions and to be vulnerable. What a great day.

Pray for Martha.

We still have no power. It’s so difficult for the poor. And it didn’t go out until we got here…hmmm.

Funny Story of the Day:

Two newspaper guys asked me and Sophie on a double date. “I have you, he have your friend”. All through the window of our bus while we were sitting at the “station” waiting to leave. Then Sophie closed up his hand in the bus window. The End.

Monday, June 1, 2009

at last....

SO. Here I sit in AFRICA writing in a BLOG, which is not my thing but I figure its worth it to let everyone know the low down on whats happening in Zambia.

so far I've loved it, but that doesn't mean it's easy.

We just got power for the first time in 48 hours. It's kinda frustrating but last night I really realized the reason for it.

I'm so thankful for our house and for where we live. We are living in an old orphan home in Kalingalinga (you say it just like you spell it). It's a poor area, but not the worst...So we've been cooking, bathing, eating, dressing, and talking.....all in the dark. We are adapting and trying to just go about daily life..And God really showed me how thankful I should be.

I'm so thankful to be able to taste in a very SMALL way what it is to be an orphan. Last night we looked out over the city tonight and saw that even a street over, the more affluent sections have had power all day and all night. It's just because of where we're located that makes us less of a priority to get the service we are equally paying for. That sense of injustice that welled up in me changed my perpsective greatly. I'm not looking in on these people from America anymore. My vantage point is now from their darkness and that position makes me hungry for justice for them. It's my job and the job of this team to defend them. To declare justice on their behalf. Seeing the world from their side of the fence helps me crave what God has asked of me. In my selfish, relation-less heart, that hunger is hard to come by on my own.

Just a blessing from Kalingalinga.