Reporting for Duty

On this Thankful Thursday, Counting to One Thousand Gifts I am thankful for 295) Serving.

On Thursday of Camp LIFE, we met our kids in their compounds at their Community Resource Centers (CRC) that Family Legacy provides. CRCs are youth centers staffed by Family Legacy Zambian Discipleship Leaders and are located in the compounds where the children live. During the day, both sponsored and unsponsored kids visit the CRCs to play, study, read and have fun. At night if a child is beaten or thrown out of their home (not uncommon), the CRCs serve as a safe house to find help.  Many CRCs have several children living in them with the Discipleship Leaders being their caregivers.

From the CRCs we were assigned various service jobs to do throughout the compounds.

I was very anxious about this day. The night before I had a meltdown in the bathroom and cried like a baby. It was one of those “I want my mommy” moments. I had become overwhelmed by the poverty, stories I’d been hearing about the children’s lives, driving through the compounds and seeing so many children, our plumbing situation in our villa bathroom (another story), and missing my family.  So the thought of serving in the compound quite frankly terrified me.

Here I have a Chitenge on. It’s a two meter piece of fabric that African women wear, especially during the day when they’re going about their daily lives. African women are very modest from the waist down and wear the Chitenge for coverage, even if they have pants on. They also use it as a form of an apron, a cloth to sit on, to carry items and their babies, as well as an aid to carry items on their heads.

It was highly suggested that American women purchase these in the market and wear them into the compounds as a sign of respect and modesty. I found it quite useful, especially outdoors with sitting on the ground.

As we walked through the compound, we saw women carrying babies both old and young alike.

This little girl had her game-face on. She was on a mission and had no time for Americans taking pictures.

Some people didn’t like their photos being taken. So I would politely ask “Photo?” This particular woman was tickled and I was certainly enamored with her carrying a basket with tomatoes. You can see under the basket, she is using her Chitenge as an aid to balance it. Impressive!

As we walked further into the compound people had little food stands here and there.

This one particular stand, my Zambian partner pointed out, sells beer. The beer is in plastic pouches and children can purchase them.

My group’s service opportunity was to assist an older woman with her chores. I did not get many pictures within her home and courtyard as my camera battery was dieing.

My group of boys and I were matched with three groups of 10 girls each and their American counselors.

My boys’ job was to fetch water at one of the local wells and the girls washed the clothes and dishes.

There is a particular way clothes are hand washed, rinsed, and wrung out and these girls had it down. I would not do well! When my Zambian partner asked if we Americans wash clothes this way, I had to say that we have washing machines. I am thankful for 296) washing machines.

These girls made quick work of the dishes. I am thankful for 297) electric dish washers.

Here’s a picture of the older woman’s stove. I am thankful for my 298) stove top.

Paul, my male Zambian partner, would not allow me to fetch water with the boys for safety purposes, so I hung with the girl groups as we served the older woman.

However, my group of boys carried the EvangeCube with them which is a tool that clearly and literally unfolds into the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  As they fetched water they shared the EvangeCube with passersby on the road.

Many girls from the community just came and hung out while we served the older woman. I only got these last two pictures before my batteries completely died in my camera.

However, even though I didn’t photograph the whole experience, I’m thankful that 299) my camera died, as a little girl came to me and raised her arms to hold her.  As I held her, I sang to her “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tell me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak but He is strong….” If I had been taking pictures, I never would have noticed to hold and sing to her.

Pamela, my other Zambian partner, asked her about her name, age, and where her mommy was. She said her name was Maria, she was three years old, her mommy and daddy died, and her Grandmother was raising her and her siblings.

As I held her, she squeezed my arm, and patted my skin. I couldn’t imagine such loss at just three-years old. A lump formed in my throat as I sang to her again, “Jesus loves Maria I know, for the Bible tells me so, little ones to Him belong. They are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves Maria. Yes, Jesus loves Maria. Yes, Jesus loves Maria. The Bible tells me so.”

Our whole group of girls broke out in song and we sang many of the songs they learned in camp. Passersby stood and watched as we sang in a circle around the older woman in her fenced in area. All the while, I was holding Maria.

Maria’s Grandmother finally came looking. She had been working in one of those little food stands. She was very gracious and kind. I told her I’d be praying for Maria. I reluctantly let her go. I am thankful for 300) Maria.

In the meantime, Zach’s group service assignment was to clean up some streets.

Unfortunately, they were accused by passersby of using the kids as slaves. They tried to explain that they were teaching the kids how to serve their community but it was not understood.  They moved further up the road where they were better received. I am thankful for their 301) protection.

After all the service projects were done, we met up at a local Baptist church where we were to have lunch. And my son had extra camera batteries. Yeah!

As we waited in the afternoon sun, my boys generously used the “I love you” sign language I taught them the day before. I told them that my sons and I would use it when they got on the school bus and I encouraged them to use it with each other as they saw one another throughout the compound. I told them to use it as a reminder that Jesus loves them and that even though I’d be in America, it would be a reminder that I love them too.

As we waited outside the church, there were Missionary Baptist women inside the church singing and praying. It was beautiful.

More on their exit from the church and our lunch story in my next post. To be continued…


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carol
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 12:34:00

    Great writers are evocative. Your story about Maria made me cry! Beautiful. You and your story.


  2. You Rock Mom
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 14:28:35

    Ahhh. Thanks Carol! That means a lot coming from your experience!


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