Monday, July 28, 2014

Final Thoughts on Africa

One night we watched a sermon by Francis Chan as part of our American worship time. One of the things he was talking about is going out and making disciples. Many times, people (myself included) will say that they just don’t feel God’s presence. But one thing he pointed out is that the Lord gave us the Holy Spirit to be with us as we are making disciples and spreading His name. If we are not doing that, then why do we still expect the power of the Holy Spirit to be with us? One of the things I have noticed being in Zambia is the openness of the people to discuss their spiritual life. We can walk from village to village and ask them about church, God, etc. and they will just sit down and have long conversations about it. There is a place to pity a society with little to eat, ragged clothes, and an ignorance of God’s love. But I pity more the society that is so closed off to God that even when it is presented to them, they are too consumed with other things. It is not socially acceptable to talk about your religious beliefs openly. The void of Christ in people’s lives is being filled with television and entertainment. At least the people here understand a need for SOMETHING in their lives, even if they are putting their trust in the Law or in good works. That isn’t good, but it’s better than oblivion. At least they are open to learning, for the most part. Being amongst people with so many physical needs really accentuates that our only TRUE need is to know Jesus Christ as Lord. They can live with nothing, but if they know God, they have EVERYTHING. 
The lifestyle here in Zambia is so laid back and relaxed, I find it easier to take time to just listen and sit in God’s mercy each day. I’m convinced that an African sunset is the closest I will experience to being surrounded by God’s glory until I get to heaven. Each night it is as if God is painting a perfect picture in the sky. I just can’t get enough of them. 

One thing that has taken me off guard in my time in Zambia is my inability to wrap my mind around the fullness of God. How thankful I am for this lack of understanding. I do not want to worship a God that my mind can fully comprehend. 
Hearing these people sing worship in Tonga is amazing. The thing I struggle with is the inability of this language to express complex thoughts. One word could mean many things. I find myself wondering if the entirety of a concept is getting across to these people. Do they REALLY understand all of the message we are sharing? I have decided that only Christ knows our hearts, whether we are speaking English or Tonga. The Holy Spirit has the power to convict these people of what they need to repent of and the Holy Spirit will be with them to guide them in their walk with the Lord, just as He does for us. 

Lino mbuli mbumuli basale ba-Leza, basalala akuyandika, amulisamike moyo waluzyalo, buuya, lulifwiinsyo, lubombo, abusicamba. Amukazikilane myoyo yanu akulekelelana, na umwi ulijisi kaambo kumweenzinyina. Mbuli Mwami mbwaakamulekelela milandu yanu, anywebo amucite mbubonya obo. Nkabela kwiinda zyoonse amube aluyandano, ikuti luyandano ncecaanzyo cabuumi bulondokede.
Colossians 3:12-14

I felt the best way to express the things that were on my heart during this trip was to post a little bit of a journal entry from my quiet times. 

As I go home, I pray that the depth of my love would bring powerful emotion; that it would not just be a routine love but a passionate love straight from the heart. Lord, give me a forgiving heart so that I may be forgiven. Allow me to be comforting, Lord. You are the almighty comforter and I long to be like you. Allow me to be loving. The best part of knowing You is being able to have an intimate relationship with You. Use this love that is from You to restore the broken. Let that love radiate through me to all those around. Lord we know that Satan is lurking around every corner but that you have given me the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome evil. I do not want to be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. I come with a grateful heart. You have done so much for me that I take for granted. You have made a lowly sinner Holy is your eyes. I pray Lord that my every action would glorify You. That even in the mundane, your light would shine. This can only be done through your love and grace. I pray that my life would be so full of You that when I stand before your throne in Heaven, people will be able to boast in you because of me. Lord we know that your Word will never return void. Our futures are in your hands and you will always fulfill your promises. We can stand firm in Christ We have God’s seal of ownership and no one can take that away. We joyfully stand firm in Christ by faith. I pray that no matter where I am, that I would have a servant’s heart and be as effective as possible for Your name. That whether it is in the streets of Knoxville or the bush of Africa that my lips will forever sing glory glory hallelujah, He is the mighty God that was and is and is to come. Let the heartbeat of my life be the glory of your sacrifice. 

Check out the summary video of my trip!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Going out with a BANG

During my last week at New Day, the kids got to go on a field trip to Livingston. The plan was to take the older kids to see Victoria Falls and the younger kids would go to the crocodile farm. The morning started off at the crack of dawn. We should have known it was going to be a long day when the alarm clock read 4:30 AM. We were supposed to load onto the bus at 5:30 but the bus did not arrive until after 6AM. For those of you who think Africa and think hot..nope. We were all wrapped up in blankets as we piled onto the bus, laughing at our “smoking” breath. The little chocolate faces popping out of turquoise blankets were amazed to watch the sun come up. 

Once we were almost into Livingston, a police car started flashing its lights at us and a man with a large machine gun steps out of the car and approaches the bus. Apparently we were supposed to go through the weigh station. Oops. We just got a warning and were on our way. I went with the younger kids to the croc farm. The kids loved it. I loved seeing their little faces light up when they saw the big crocs and snakes. We even got to hold a baby crocodile. They saw snakes common to the area and they fed the crocs some horse meat so the kids could see a feeding. While waiting on the bus (again) the kids had fun on the playground and open area of grass. 

Once the bus came back to get us, we went to Olga’s- an italian restaurant- for pizza and soda! All Olga’s profits from the restaurant go to the Youth Community Training Center (YCTC). Check it out here - . After pizza, the interns got some delicious gelato before heading back to the bus. Shortly after boarding the bus, the bus driver thought it would be a good idea to stop in the middle of the road while he ran an errand- why he didn’t do this while we were eating I have no idea. Anyways, it wasn’t long until the police pulled us over for illegal parking. They got ON the bus and rode with us all the way to the police station. After waiting and waiting, Blu started speaking Tonga and they let us go. Then, it was back to the weigh station that we had missed on the way in. We didn’t have the proper paperwork or something and ended up having to sit on a sweltering bus with kids sleeping all over us for quite awhile. Finally, they let us leave, but about 15 minutes down the road, the bus started to overheat and we had to pull over at a little town for about an hour to let it cool. Thankfully we were able to find a potty and some snacks. 
Finally, the bus driver decided to give it another go. Unfortunately the attempt was short lived and the bus ended up dying right on the side of the road, this time for good. It was hot and not safe to stay in the vehicle so we all piled out onto the side of the road and emptied the bus out. 
By this time it was about 5PM and the sun would be setting soon, so we put the kids to work gathering some firewood. There was a village not far away so some of the group went over to say hello and borrow a few hot coals to get our fire started. One of the New Day employees, Mulenga, was even able to sit down with the men of the village and share the gospel. While the staff worked out getting more transportation, we were able to get the kids and most of the staff on a public bus headed back towards New Day. The rest of us watched the sun set and enjoyed some star gazing around the fire. 

Finally, our ride arrived! It was a smaller bus so we kinda had to cram in with all our stuff, but we made it. We had a pretty fun ride and sang songs almost the whole way back. We had to stop several time for things like the ATM and to get some tylenol (all our singing gave the driver a headache…oops). We were SO ready to get back and in our beds and then all of a sudden- BANG! The bus hit some deer-like creature without even tapping the brakes. I just knew there was going to be blood spattered all over the windshield. Surprisingly, the bus came out clean and unharmed, but the other interns said they saw it lose a few legs. Blu jokingly said that a true Zambian would go back and get that animal for the meat so the bus driver tried to whip the bus around but somehow killed the bus in the process. So it was completely dark outside, the bus was sitting sideways on the road across both lanes of traffic, and we had absolutely no lights on or way of warning people. We evacuated the bus as quickly as possible. I stumbled out holding a sleeping little girl and scooted down the bank of the road, which was pretty steep, to get as far away as possible from the traffic. The guys immediately started pushing the bus to get it back in the correct lane, then had to push jump start it. Finally we all jumped back on and made it back to the orphanage (after missing the turn off the first time). 
When we got back to the kitchen, the Cooks had saved a dinner plate for each of us interns so we took our chicken and chips (fries) back to the ARK (volunteer house) to collapse after a long day. We hadn’t been sitting for 5 minutes when Ricky came in and told us they had noticed the back door open earlier that day. Since everyone was gone, it was suspicious. After looking around, we discovered that both of the boy interns had had things stolen. Drew’s backpack with all of his money was taken and Sam’s money pouch with his cash, drivers license and passport was also taken. Everyone was just shocked by all of the events of the day but we know that God makes all things work together for our good and that there is a reason for everything. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday Night Live From the Suburbs

Around here, there is usually not enough happening on the weekends to blog or the opposite and I have absolutely no time to download until the week after - buuuut it's summer and the weekend is basically another week day when you live the life of a bum soon to be college grad. 

We heard from Ashley Friday night and oh what a BANG her trip is going out with - you can read all about their 'mis-adventures' here on Darbi's blog. If you read that post and come back thinking, poor people - just know that she is safe and sound. In just a few hours, they will be rising to say goodbye to New Day and departing for Lusaka. Ashley will be getting on a plane bound for South Africa and her co-intern will have to figure out his way home without a passport at the U.S. embassy. Be in prayer for the New Day staff as they will be picking up a new team Sunday night and will need to essentially be in two places at once. If you have ever traveled abroad, you can imagine what it would feel like to be 18 and in Africa with no passport, missing your outbound flight, with no money {which was also stolen} - We are lifting you up Sam! 

I am so ready for that middle sister to be back in the states I can hardly stand it. 
I am finishing up an online speech class ... yes, you read that right - this kid got away with taking oral communication ONLINE. Praise! Tonight, I had to collect an audience of 5 people in my living room and present my speech. We fed them dinner as a 'thank you' - this incredibly cool weather is a welcomed blessing for evening meals by the pool. Who knew July could be enjoyed outdoors in TN?!

P.s. I'm on the prowl for some new blog friends - I want to know your favorites! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Call of the Wild

Hello friends and family -
I am officially in my lat week here at New Day. In some ways it has flown by, but I sure am starting to miss home. The past few weeks have been busy as always so I'll just hit the highlights. 

The team from Immanuel Baptist Church in Temple, TX was here from July2 to July 12. They had a great turn out for VBS each day. Shortly after my last blog post, we ran out of water. New Day is serviced by a well that pumps water into four huge tanks that then distribute water to the buildings. Somehow, the pump was broken and finally all of the water drained from the tanks. So, for an afternoon we were saving water bottles and letting the dishes pile up. But thankfully, they were able to put a new pump in and everything is back to normal. Here is Blu climbing that pole to fix the pump.
Another thing we have dealt with is rats. They like to climb in through small holes in the wall and terrorize us at night. Last week, I woke up to find the side of my backpack had been chewed through. NASTY. Thankfully, we have put out poison and covered up the holes and they seem to be gone...for now. 
We also go to celebrate Christina's 6th birthday party! It is a Zambian tradition to throw water on the person whose birthday it is. Since we celebrated her birthday at night and it was too cold for water, Christina got random bursts of water the whole next day. The kids may run away, but they love the attention and getting water poured on them! 
The biggest event of the last week was the trip to Livingston. I got to travel with the team about 4 hours to Livingston to see Victoria Falls. It was amazing! The falls are so massive and there is just so much power there. There was also a double rainbow right next to the falls. Just a great reminder of God's power and His promise to never use that power of water to destroy the Earth. We got pretty wet walking under the falls but it was definitely worth it. After the falls two of the guys and I hiked down to the bottom which is called the boiling pot. It was a pretty hike that felt like the rain forest and there were wild baboons everywhere. After that, we got to experience the local markets. That afternoon, the team went of a local safari but one of the other interns and I decided to head back to the falls and bungee jump off of the bridge. I had decided I was going to do this before I came to Zambia, but once I was looking over the edge, it seemed like the dumbest decision of my life. It was absolutely terrifying and the farthest 111 meter drop ever! I'm so glad I did it, but it gave me the worst headache and I didn't feel good the rest of the night. Who knew your body isn't meant to be flung off a bridge??
The next day, Samuel {the other intern} and I headed on to another adventure. We drove to the Botswana border, took the "ferry" {more like a floating piece of wood} across the border, and met our tour guide for an all day safari. We were taken to a lodge for coffee then we got on a boat for half of the day to see the water wildlife like hippos, crocs, water buffalo, birds and other animals. Then we went to a very nice lodge for a buffet lunch before heading out in the safari truck to explore the national park and see giraffes, elephants, wart hogs, and we even got to see lions! Those were two very very crazy days! 
Now I am back at the orphanage to enjoy my last week and see what other adventures I can find. Last night, we burned a field to make a new soccer field for the kids. Instead of slashing down all the grass, we just burned it and walked around the perimeter with big branches to beat it out when it got far enough. We will see what other fun awaits this week!

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Land of Captives

The elderly, malnourished, orphaned and crippled - all have touched my heart over the last eight days.  After my second trip to the beautiful country of Guatemala, I am convinced that there must be very few places on earth such as this - In one scenic picture, you can capture so much beauty, joy, happiness, pain, hunger and sorrow. 

This trip consisted of hard manual labor, feeding at the dump, evangelizing throughout the villages and lots of baby lovin', playing and hugging. I was a wonderful experience and I haven't been this tired in a long time ha! 

Only the pictures and faces can truly tell the stories. I left my time in Guatemala  feeling so blessed for what God has given me. I shared this verse with my group as a heart-cry and a prayer - the Lord is good my friends!

The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me
    because God anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
    heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
    pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of his grace—
    a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies—
    and to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
    give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
    a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.
--Isaiah 61--

Friday, July 4, 2014

Boabab Trees & Wedding Fun

Hello again friends and family!

I am still doing well and having all kinds of adventures here at New Day. Last weekend, we caught word that there was going to be a wedding in a nearby village hosted by one of the teachers at New Day - so we pulled some strings and got an invite {which really wasn't hard since we are white people}. We were basically treated like celebrities upon arrival. We were offered the best seats, pulled up on the dance floor in front of everyone and pushed to the front to see the bride and groom come in. It was a really fun cultural experience for sure. We finally left when the men were getting "filled up" {drunk} and we didn't feel like sticking around for hours of present presentations.

This week I also got to go into Choma to go to the market for the first time. We ran so many errands and bought all of the groceries for the orphanage {which was much easier than I thought it would be}. I got to see all kinds of different stores and shops. We saw a few other white people which was strange to me - I wanted to walk up to each one and ask them what brought them to Zambia. Overall, it was a great experience.


Today, a new team arrived and is putting on VBS every afternoon for the local village kids as well as the New Day kids, so my afternoon classes were canceled. This gave me the opportunity to go to a Bible study with Papa Wes in a nearby village. It was a well established Bible study full of older adults just so hungry for the Word. They had questions about everything.  We were going through the Old Testament laws and it was so cool to see them making connections and asking questions relating everything back to their lives. For example, in Exodus 21 almost all of the laws concerning fighting or cows are actually the same as the current laws in Zambia. After the Bible study, Hilda wanted to show us the Boabab tree which was HUGE! After that, a man from the village named Patrick wanted to take us to his house and meet his family. We got to try out hand at grinding maize, tasted some different plants and some "sweet beer" which is a drink made from maize. It was a great time and I really enjoy every chance I get to see the true Zambian lifestyle. 

We caught the tail end of VBS when we got back from the village. Hopefully, I will get to be a part of more this week. I just love being around all of the village kids - they are SO sweet!

In other random news, New Day has a new addition - the cutest baby goat ever! I missed the delivery but was there shortly after!

Mare adventures await this week! We are celebrating the 4th of July with a  bonfire and grilling hamburgers. I'm probably most excited about getting to wear my American flag shirt! I'm sure I will be missing all of the celebration back home so I will definitely try to stay busy and keep my mind occupied in the coming days. 

Until next time...


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Guatemala Bound With Dimes

Hello again...
It seems like it has been a while since my thoughts have been poured onto the screen. In case you missed it, this space of the world wide web is now "Wandering Hearts" and my younger sister will be contributing her face share of content for all of you lovely people to read. She is a brilliant writer and a future med school student - trust me when I say she is a wonderful addition to the team. Onto what's happening in JULY -

Saturday morning, I will be leaving to spend a week in Guatemala at Hope of Life International - I don't have much on info to share besides the fact that I rarely take a trip without something going awry so, please be in prayer for the team!  

So many of you have asked about our sweet Ashley {in Zambia} and she is doing well! We have been able to talk on the phone several times and we get pictures and texts frequently. THANK YOU for the prayers and for asking, I speak from experience when I say there is nothing like  having a strong community to back you on an extended trip such as this. 

I have been preparing for Guatemala under the radar and I feel like their trip has snuck up on me. Between working and summer school, there was really no time to think about it until THIS WEEK! No, I'm not panicking but I have succeed in making several lists and completing none of them - it's crunch time people! 

Since our family has been supporting Ashley on her African adventure, I did not have a chance to fund raise for my upcoming trip to Guatemala. I had my fun several summer ago raising funds for a cross-globe journey and I knew that I would be able to fund my own trip to Central America this time around. 

I never cease to be amazed at the Lord's provision and the lessons he teaches me. 
If you aren't part of a resale page on FaceBook, then you should be - I think every town has one. Over the years, we have purged our house many times always finding multiple bags of things to haul to goodwill. Gone are the days of giving away your beautiful goods when you can sell them - it's an online garage sale! I just have to take a moment and give a shout out to all the wonderful people that bought my stuff - You are sending me to Guatemala! Through this cleaning out process, God has taught me so much about letting go - stuff is just stuff and you can't take it with you when you go. Memories are worth so much more than all the junky things holding me back in life, literally and spiritually. His provision has rocked my world and I know this trip will mean so much more to me than the 3 dresses that have been hanging in my closet for 5 years and I just couldn't let go..

So now begins the journey, nickel and dime-ing my way to Central America! 

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