Monday, March 29, 2010

I have been thinking of how I can be with Jesus this Sunday, how to identify with the cross this Easter.

While all of the celebrations, acknowledgements, and festivities surrounding Easter are not surrounding me I still have stumbled upon a fresh perspective of the cross.
A fresh perspective among a people who closely identify with Christ on the cross.

My mind wanders to the garden, to see Jesus kneeling and bleeding underneath the stress of his burden.
He says, “Come kneel beside me”. Come sit under this olive tree. Come keep watch.

Do you see my grief?
Do you see who is on my mind?
Do you see the children I am weeping for?
Do you see what I am giving up?

You are with me. Your heart hurts for my children. You are grieved.
You have come to the garden with me.
You kneel and weep with me over my children and all that they have lost.
You are with me because you hurt for them.
You can identify with me because you ache.

We pray for His Zambian babies.

“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it” John 17:15-16

Join us.
Come to the garden and kneel.
Come to the garden and grieve.
Come to the garden and receive the Father’s heart for His children.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I’m tired. My spirit is fresh, but my body and my mind are exhausted.
My flesh is weak.
Even my heart fails.
My compassion yields.
My sin slaps me.
Satan lies to me.
Poverty crushes me.
Abuse bruises me.
Doubt creeps.
Unbelief gets comfortable.

But Truth does not hide.

You are the strength of my heart.

It’s hard to rebel like Christ.
It’s hard to shun culture.
It’s hard to confront lies.
It’s hard to turn my back on the shiny bits of America that still twinkle in the corners of my mind.

I count them all as loss, all for the sake of my reward.

It’s hard to deny my loves.
It’s hard to turn from the things that consume my heart, good things but not best things.

You are my portion.

It takes zeal to storm the gates.
It takes strength to be on guard.
It takes effort to draw the sword of the Spirit.
It takes trust to walk.
It takes a prayer to get up.
It takes faith to praise for what I have not yet seen.

You are worthy.

Some days I am lustful when real love is beckoning.
Some days discouragement is easier to come by than the faith of Abraham.
Some days I know I could not be the one chosen to advance the kingdom.
Some days I know I would rather just sleep than storm.
Some days I know it is easier to let down my guard.
Some days I know how much more I pursue other lovers.

You are the lover of my soul.

And today I’m just tired.
I am at peace.
I am joyful.
I am content.
And I’m tired.

The kingdom, the power, the glory. Forever.

Monday, March 22, 2010


This is the birthday blog to inform everyone back home how WONDERFUL my birthday has been even though I really wish you all could be here. Not even for me, but just so you could see how huge the love is.

I am OVERWHELMED with love here in Zambia.

Here are the details of the celebrations thus far:

The festivities began on Saturday night with our typical Girls' Night agenda (stay in and cook a nice meal with dessert and watch a movie) changed to go out to dinner and get ice cream.

So, I chose Chinese. Just as we were heading out of the house with Annika, it started to rain. At this point we thought taking a cab would be better than walking so we negotiated a cheap fare at the corner of our street where the drivers hang out. Low and behold, we got to the restaurant and there was a Zambian Bridal shower there, not to mention it was actually an Indian restaurant. SO, we settled for pizza, which actually was not a settlement because it was delicious. While we were waiting on our pizza, the power went out at Pizza Inn. We sat in the dark for a while until the generator kicked in. We got ice cream and then Annika surprised me with a chocolate birthday cake she made. Also delicious.

Sunday our CIT's came over for Bible study after church and we made popcorn and shared the cake with them. They danced for me and sang....of course I couldn't just let them do all the dancing.

Today I woke up at 6:45 to a birthday visitor...haha only in Zambia. It was Shantel. Our precious little eleven year old who comes over almost everyday, but on Tuesdays and Friday we tutor her. She is a GEM for sure. She came into my room and woke me up. I pulled back the mosquito net and she sat on my bed. I got a hug and she pulled out a little Lisa Frank party favor bag with my present inside. She made me three cards (I wondered where all our markers went:)) and gave me a black headband, metal and rusty. She said she didn't have anything to give me for my birthday, but she gave me so much. She knows that.
We sat talking on my bed while Sophie went outside to tend to the line of women that had formed outside our gate in the wee hours of the morning. If you cross the dirt road at the end of our street, you find yourself in a compound called M'tendere. They have been without water for five days. The women are desperate and lined up outside our gate in hopes that we would allow them to fill their water containers. They all left with enough water for today and tomorrow at least. The knocks keep coming.

As I talked to Shantel, I asked her about her father. He is an engineer who has been out of work for at least five years. He has been trying to find enough money for transport to Livingstone where there is work for him to do on the construction of a road. I asked her if he had gone yet and she said yes. Someone bought the cement blocks they had stored on their lot and the money was just enough for him to buy his bus ticket.

The man who bought the blocks was supposed to come by and bring the remaining 10,000 kwacha he owed on the 150,000 kwacha payment. He did not. That was the money Shantel's father was leaving with them to buy food. Shantel told me that there was no food at home and she had no lunch to bring with her to school. I said, "Well let's go find some food".

I searched our kitchen and made her a lunch of peanut butter and crackers and four cookies. I put a bag of rice in her backpack and hid the the lunch under a bunch of her papers and school books. I couldn't bare for anyone to take that food from her.

She never asks, she's just honest.
And then Shantel was off to school.

I walked into the kitchen, now it's a little past 7.

There is a sign on the oven that says "mmmm....Look Inside!"

An entire pan of Reese's peanut butter cookies! Just for me!

And a table full of wrapped gifts and notes and signs. All from my little sister Sophie.

Then we headed to Chongwe Village to do the pre-school reading program. Two hours of reading, throwing bean bags, and builiding towers with Jenga blocks. Little did I know there was even a surprise there in Chongwe. Sophie has pretty big sleeves to fit all of these things up them.

We walked over to My Father's House and there was birthday party there! With all the kids and the entire EOH staff. It was AMAZING. We had a dance party, the kids sang, and we all ate some chocolate chip cookies that Annika made. At this point incredibly overwhelmed does not cover it. I was humbled to the floor, below the floor even.

What a great day right? At least 23 blessings, one for every year I've been alive. I even left things out, like my jewelry from Siwale and the dinner and a movie Sophie and I went to last night........It was just too much!
I will say there is no way life, or a birthday, could get better...and still I think it will.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

two for one.

Terrific Tuesday.

For us, no groceries in the house and a long day turned into a pizza night.

We walked about a mile and caught a bus to Kabulonga. What would be about a thirty minute walk was not a much faster ride. But, the 25 cents each does not compare to a $10 cab ride.

Yesterday I asked for joy. I got it.
Today I asked for something to write about. Here it is.

We were so hungry and opted for Pizza Inn, our new favorite of the two pizza places in Kabulonga.
I placed our order, to which I received the response: "And what about your free one?"

It was Terrific Tuesday. Pizzas were buy one get one free.
Of course we were ecstatic. We just decided to try this place and what do you know?
We could spend half as much and stretch our weekly budget a bit further.

Sitting out on the porch 25 minutes later, we had two small, piping hot pizzas in front of us.
They even smelled American.

I picked up my first piece and took a bite.
The first bite, and my eyes darted over to the left. Just below the porch's edge, my gaze was locked into the eyes of a little boy.

He and his older brother were selling corn in the parking lot. It was over an hour after dark and they had probably been there all day. From the looks of what remained in their baskets, they hadn't sold much.

He didn't see me. He didn't beg. He just watched.
He gazed longingly at someone who had something he didn't.

I was no longer enjoying my pizza.

I watched as these two boys kept a close eye on the waiter clearing tables. They watched every plate he cleared and every pizza box he threw into the trash , ready to retrieve it if there was a scrap left to be eaten.

They watched as a couple, enamored with themselves, left their table and their half-eaten ice cream. The smaller of the two wanted to climb up and grab, but he didn't.
I was angry. Furious. At the carelessness, at the waste, at the hunger.
I wanted to scream at that couple, lost in their little world.

The boys made their way back to the foot of our table. By then I was nauseous. The pizza might as well have been bricks that hit my stomach with the weight of gravity, pulling it down into a pit of heaviness.

Sophie tore off the top of her pizza box.
One piece of hers, one piece of mine.
I whistled and slid it through the railing.
HUGE smiles full of shiny white teeth.

"Mulungu akukonda" Sophie said. God loves you.

"Mulungu akukonda. Zikomo" They repeated. God loves you. Thank you.

I turned back to my table and my pizza with tears rolling down my cheeks.
The first encounter I have had in Zambia that required zero processing. There was no emotional delay. It brought me instantly to tears.

I know I saw Jesus.
He didn't beg, He just waited.
He waited to see if I would feed Him, if I would share.
He waited to see if I would love, if I would give what he needed most at that moment.

Jesus is teaching me how to discern in my loving.
He always loved the people he encountered.
He gave them what they most needed at that moment.
Healing or hunger. He discerned whether to feed with loaves and fish or feed from Truth.

Tonight those little boys were hungry.
Love for them looked like pizza.
They needed food and to know that it came from God.

Mulungu akukonda.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Shiny, captivating, enchanting.
Light-reflecting, catching, dispersing.

There are quite a few things in Zambia that do not sparkle.
There are few things that catch the eye.
Few things that are enchanting.
Few things that are shiny.
Few things that are captivating.
Few things that reflect light.

But then that’s only if you are speaking of things.

The little treasures that sparkle in Zambia are dusty, muddy, runny-nosed, holey-shoed, and rag-wrapped.
The babies.

“Little children, Little children,
Who love their Redeemer,
Are the jewels, precious jewels.”

Little gems that sparkle and are polished by the fire of difficult days.
These jewels enchant me as they catch the Light.
It swells inside of them and they reflect it.
It grows and spills out. It consumes the darkness around them.

Where these tiny treasures are hidden, the Light doesn’t waver, it dances.

Their Light dances all over me.

John 1:5

"The light shines in the darkness,

and the darkness has not overcome it"

I am captivated, but can’t you see?
It’s not the children, it’s the Light they reflect.
It’s the way they sparkle.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Sophie has stolen my heart.
She loves to catch a glimpse of me.
Loves to greet me.
Can spot me from a mile away.

She runs naked down the street and jumps into my arms.

At this point I should clarify that Sophie is a Zambian two year old.
I just thought I would casually let the imaginations run wild about my ministry partner before I said it wasn’t actually her.

Sophie is a tiny tot who is our neighbor.
She is two.
She has a round belly.
She screams shrilly.
Her hair is crazy.
And I absolutely love her.
She is my new favorite part of Zambia and I will visit her every day that I can just so she can make it worth it.

If you could see her pint-sized chubbiness running at you with a most curious and characterizing gait pattern, arms high and working harder than legs, you would wilt and lose all strength but smile and laughter as you melted.

The TINIEST of joys.

Little and big, one way or another,
A girl named Sophie makes my day everyday.
They find the lightness in my heart and pull it out.

Friends. Little sisters. Bundles of uncontained happiness.

Sparkles, rainbows, wildflowers, warm fuzzies for the soul.

And both of them love me like Jesus.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Apparently my daily life is a subject of interest.
“Daily” life is right. Day by day and not a step ahead.

Sophie and I have a simple existence.
It’s about time I found something simple.

Obviously, coming from America to a simple lifestyle is not a perfectly smooth transition. Going from a job and twenty things to accomplish in a day to a “to-do” list of one item is quite a change in pace. The rat race gets quite a bit slower.

Here’s my effort at describing our days.

My watch starts to beep at 6 AM every morning. Our guard has to be let out. He’s here every night rain or shine, snoozing on our porch. He is the second or third guard we’ve had since being here. His name is Helix. His name is quite a nice fit. Besides the fact that I think he’s going blind and the fact that he’s slow and old, we’re as safe as babies in the womb. Apparently his duties during a break in include: 1. Noticing the break in and 2. Waking us up.

If it is Monday, our to-do list reads: Chongwe

We are holding a pre-school reading program in the village to get the tiny tots ready for the Esther School being built by GEMS. We are not teaching them to read (there are 55 or more 2 to 7 year olds). We are giving them a chance to interact with muzungus (folks of the white persuasion who are rare in the bush), learn their colors, and listen to our accents. Two hours of reading followed by about 20 rounds of head shoulders knees and toes and you’re wiped.

If it so happens to be a Tuesday or a Friday, our to-do list reads: Women

These two days our house is the GEMS service center. Women are sewing, drinking tea, and praying. Sophie and I are fabric fetchers, batting cutters, dish washers, babysitters, children feeders, and waterers of women. From 8 am to 5 pm. And then we’re dead.

On Wednesdays, to do list= Babies

We go to the House of Moses to work as cry controllers. More than anything, we just give the women who work in the nurseries a quiet minute to think straight. We feed babies and rock babies. We tickle tummies and play airplane. They giggle and they scream. Some are four pounds and some can crawl. Some can sit up and some just spit up. And then we’re worn out.

Thursdays……………………no to do list.

We rest.

Saturday to do list is as follows: Clubs

We visit GEMS clubs in Lusaka at the local churches. We sing, teach, get a work out, give hugs, and take pictures. And we are always reminded, “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly”…. And then we’re quite tired.

Sunday reads: Church

We get a cab into town: Miracle Life Family Church. We worship and learn from an American pastor with an almost completely Zambian congregation. We sing in Nyanja and English. We sweat.

Then we walk across the street to buy our food for the week. We have a nice lunch and it’s homeward bound for us.

Next is a CIT Bible study at our house. Fifteen girls come eat cookies and are fed from the Word. We are training them to be role models to little girls. We talk about boys, weekends, modesty, how to teach and how to be held accountable. And then we’re exhausted.

A one item to do list can easily end up being all you can handle for one day.

Just one day at a time.