50 Years and Counting!

On this Thankful Thursday, Counting to One Thousand Gifts I am thankful for (302-352) my parents’ 50 years of marriage! Let’s count em!

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,2930,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,18,39,40,41,42,43,44, 45,46,47,48,49,50! Whew!

The handsome couple on the far right of this picture.

With their budding family.

Renewing their wedding vows.

My brother’s wedding. (I know I had big hair! It was the 80s for goodness sake!)

My wedding. Hair calming down.

Their family going from budding to growing!

Dad brings the wisdom and music.

Mom brings the love and laughter.

Together they are still friends and an example of true love and commitment for us all!

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! I love you both!


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…

Children Here, Children There, Children Everywhere!

The first thing you notice on the streets of Zambia is children everywhere. They fill the compound streets, often without a parent or guardian. Many children are not able to attend school because they have to work for extra money or take care of their younger siblings. It is common to see children as young as eight years old taking responsibility for infants during the day.

Zambia has a population of just over 12 million people with a median age of 15.76 years old. That means that over half of the country are children under the age of 16. Parents are dying off from Aids or other preventable and treatable diseases.

Government schools are free to attend for grades 1 through 7; however, students are required to purchase uniforms, shoes, and school supplies. Since 80% of the country lives on less than $2 a day, buying these things is often not an option – therefore school is not an option. The government schools are also very overcrowded with a ratio of 50 students to one teacher and only four-hour school days.

Because there are thousands of children who cannot afford or get into the overcrowded government schools, members of the slum compounds around Zambia have taken to opening Community Schools. Unfortunately, most of the owners of these schools are more interested in making money than in educating children.

Even though the primitive school we visited is in a slum compound, Family Legacy supports it financially and provides it with solid teachers.

Here a Family Legacy staffer is gifting the school with a soccer ball and funding. (Sorry for the poor picture quality)

However, these Community Schools are even more overcrowded than government schools, often with 100 or 200 students per teacher. To help with overcrowding (and to generate more income), most community schools run four sessions per day. Therefore, the kids only go to school two hours a day.

Family Legacy is opening its own schools called Lifeway Christian Academies, throughout the capital city of Lusaka. These schools are bringing quality education with desks and school supplies (along with well-educated teachers) to the slums of Zambia.

We visited an academy under construction with two rooms completed.

Lizzy looks like she belongs in this classroom. 🙂

You can see the children running the streets in this compound as well.

This school will give this compound great hope and these children a great future.

Click here to Learn more > about Lifeway Christian Academies.

And to read about Family Legacy’s educational goals click here: Our Goals >.

On this Thankful Thursday, counting to One Thousand Gifts, I am thankful for:

291) the children of Zambia weaving their way into my heart.

292) for Family Legacy being a conduit for Americans to serve, help and love these children.

293) for the Lifeway Christian Academies that will educate these children and give them hope.

294) that God has blessed me so that I can bless those less fortunate.

Thankful Thursday – Simplify

I keep this sign hung over a mirror in our bedroom–a continual reminder. It’s easy to get caught up in this world, keeping up with the Jones, busyness, etc.

Counting to One Thousand Gifts, I am thankful for:

236) Simplicity.

In preparation for our trip to Zambia with Family Legacy, we were told to simplify our jewelry and attire, so as not to appear flashy with our wealth.

Most of us, including myself, don’t consider ourselves wealthy but well-fed, well, uh comfortable. Okay, by this entire world’s standard of living, we are wealthy.

We were also told to bring a family photo but not in front of our house or cars, again, so as not to show off our wealth.

We were told to remove diamond rings and wear a simple wedding band.

237) I am thankful for a husband who takes our vows and commitment seriously, as he made sure I have a band to wear on my travels.

My wedding ring

My simplified wedding band

238) As I shed the outward (pretensions as well) I feel a simplicity taking over my heart. A simplicity that is letting go of this world, its creature comforts, and status symbols. I’m putting on a simplified heart, simplified hands, a simplified me to serve those in need.

289) This simplicity is difficult and stretching. My mind is clinging to comfort. But I’m thankful for it.

290) My faith, my heart is growing to deeper depths and higher heights.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

Thankful Thursday – Grace, Mercy, Faith and a Rose

Counting to One Thousand Gifts, I am thankful for:

226) God capturing me with grace, but prayers that I no longer put that grace to the test with my health.

227) God’s mercy, but prayers to give mercy as freely as He’s given to me.

228) 14 days until Camp LIFE in Lusaka, Zambia, but prayers for continued faith to see it through.

228) a little rose who has been a fragrance in our lives this week.

229) She’s brought wonderment.

230) Laughter!

231) Hugs!

232) Songs sung from the heart. A true heart of worship she has.

233) A lost tooth.

234) Discoveries!

235) But most of all, a sweetness like ripe summer berries! We will miss your fragrance little rose!

Thankful Thursday – Gone Fishing!

Counting to One Thousand Gifts, I am thankful for 224) “FISH!” And for 225) DaySpring generously giving me this pictured wall hanging of a carved fish (or ichthys) made from beautiful mango wood. The carving detail and overall beauty of this solid piece makes it ideal for anywhere in the home.

Instead of hanging it, I placed it on my entry side table as a symbol and statement of faith.  Joshua 24:15b says, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” This verse is my heart’s desire, and this ichthys speaks that desire to all who are welcomed in my home and family.

The ichthys (which is the Greek word for “fish”) was the early Christian’s symbol of faith.

Fish are mentioned many times in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). Several of Jesus’ twelve disciples were fishermen. He commissioned them with the words “I will make you fishers of men.” Thus Christianity began.

According to New World Encyclopedia, some say (but it is not a proven fact) the fish symbol protected societies of Christian congregations by keeping their meetings secret from persecution by Romans in the first century. The symbol would point the way to ever-changing meeting places. They developed a symbol which would readily be recognized, and which they could scratch on rocks, in advance of a meeting, on tombs, or to distinguish friends from foes. One ancient explanation, still popular today :

“…when a Christian met a stranger in the road, the Christian sometimes drew one arc of the simple fish outline in the dirt. If the stranger drew the other arc, both believers knew they were in good company. Current bumper-sticker and business-card uses of the fish hearken back to this practice. The symbol is still used today to show that the bearer is a practicing Christian.”

I enjoy decorating and gift giving with symbols of faith of such deep meaning. That’s why I enjoy DaySpring’s (in)spired deals, where they have exclusive deals and beautiful product.

Not only did DaySpring give me this Ichthus for review, they are allowing me to do a GIVEAWAY for YOU! A $20 coupon giveaway!

Just subscribe to my blog and make a comment on this post before midnight on Sunday, May 22. On Monday, May 23 I’ll announce the winner!

I look forward to hearing from you!

Thankful Thursday-Shoes, Shoes and More Shoes!

Counting to One Thousand Gifts, I am thankful for

209) shoes,

210) shoes, and

211) more shoes.

212) But not just any shoes, “school shoes” for vulnerable and orphaned children of Zambia.

213) The count is still rising.

214) We only needed to raise enough money for 20 kids at $20 each.

215) But people keep giving.

216) We’re not stopping them!

217) Our extra funds will make-up for other people who can’t meet their goal.

218) We’re sharing the giving wealth!

219) After all, nearly 10,000 kids need and will receive school shoes this summer through Family Legacy Camp LIFE, and the 220) generous giving of others.

Camp LIFE brings healing, hope, and joy to children of Zambia and offers American families and individuals a chance to minister and serve.

The theme this summer is “Kingdom” based on Matt. 6:33 “But Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” The children will hear the Word of God and experience that “kingdom” living firsthand.

At the end of each week of seven camps (about one thousand kids per week), every child will receive a new t-shirt, a bandana, and a brand new pair of “school shoes!”

To attend school in Zambia, children must have a pair of Zambian government approved “school shoes”. In a country where most families are barely surviving on just $1 a day, purchasing school shoes for a child is impossible, let alone for a whole family.

221) My son and I will personally put these “school shoes” on the 10 kids each we will be serving throughout the week! What anticipated joy!

222) Giving an orphaned or vulnerable child a pair of “school shoes” gives them shoes today, school tomorrow, and hope for the future. With an education, these orphans can become leaders in their society.

223) We can’t wait to give them that hope!

To donate or sponsor a child, go here!

Previous Older Entries