Wow! What a month March has been. I hope you have been well in this time? My heart has been especially burdened for people whose difficult home circumstances (i.e. poverty, wife abuse, child abuse, marital conflict, pressing debt, mental illness, substance abuse) have been amplified by being made to stay at home. If you yourself are struggling REACH OUT. If you know of people who have been struggling REACH OUT. Especially in the case of abuse – it could be life threatening. Now that that is out, with a grateful and full heart I can say that it is going VERY well with me.
Co-vid 19 response
You can avoid the topic with all your might, but we seem have to talk about corona virus at some point in every long conversation. The Zambian government has not announced a lock-down, however schools have been closed, large public gatherings are prohibited, everyone is encouraged to reduce their travelling, wash their hands (all businesses must have a hand-washing station in front of the store) and keep 1 meter distance from each other. Organisations with children in their care have to be placed in ‘quarantine’. This means that they have to restrict the movements of the children and people who have access to the children.
The Zambia Project, Village of Hope has fifty children in their care. Because I have interaction with these children, I need to limit the people I have contact with. For now, I am no longer seeing children with disabilities from the community (however, they are still being monitored by the therapy assistant and home visits are being done). I have minimal interaction with staff that live outside of the base, and I am not leaving the base at all. I have been having long periods of interaction with the children on a daily basis. I LOVE IT! My relationships with each of the children has grown leaps and bounds. I am no longer a stranger to them, and I am getting to know all of their names and their personalities.
What we have been up to:
We have been playing, drawing, crafting, having ‘family time’, and doing children-run church. I am having MUCH fun. Our days are split into mornings and afternoons. I tend to spend more time with the children younger than 12 /13 years. Generally speaking, in the mornings I will do a craft with them or I will get them to help me clean the toys (water-play is always fun) so that the toys remain more sanitary. In the afternoons I put out toys that will allow for more free play or independent play. Having so many children playing around is sometimes chaotic. Here are a few pictures of us painting, building forts, playing with educational toys, learning to fold aeroplanes and learning to draw some animals from a video. Needless to say the children's family situation is a bit different to which is considered typical. That is why social distancing also looks a bit different.
On Monday, Thursday and Saturday we have “family time”. For this, each house (consisting of a mother and eight children) are given games and activities that they have to complete together. They also get challenged to memorise a passage of scripture before the next family time. That is three passages per week! My challenge is to learn the scripture verses in Lozi. My learning is going average at best. Here are pictures of two of the posters that were made during one challenge where families had to make a poster representing their family.
It is not all moonshine and roses – but what do you expect from 25 young children? I am having a crash course in practising the fruit of the Spirit. I hear my name on average about 1235789 times in a day. Sometimes the children fight and cry. They make a mess and they break things. After spending time with them for about 5 hours, for me, being graceful and patient no longer comes naturally. At that point being gentle, respectful, patient and kind towards the children becomes a VERY deliberate decision. I suppose that is how you grow! I have deep respect for teachers. I have no idea how they last with classes of thirty plus.
Our hope and prayer is that when all of this is over and we return to life as it was before, that the children will NOT remember this as a time of restriction. We want them to feel that they built strong relationships, had fun, learnt scripture and experienced love.
Through it all I am just overwhelmed at the potential growing inside these children. They are leaders and each of them have the potential to influence and change their communities. I most likely won't be around when they are in their 30s to see how they live their life, but in the meanwhile I am so thankful that I get to play a very small part in their development.
I have already mentioned that churches may not meet at the moment. Hope Church Mongu is responding to this by broadcasting their service on the radio three times on a Sunday and once during the week. They are also streaming on Facebook at 9am every Sunday. If you would like to "visit" feel free to search for them on Facebook. From my side, it has been wonderful to virtually visit churches (especially my sending church, Connexions church) all over South Africa.
Less important updates
The rain has started to become less, meaning that the days are somewhat warmer. I still haven’t worn a jacket since coming here.
The variety of birds that I have identified have plateaued. So far for this month a dark capped bulbul and a steelblue wood finch have been added to the list.
I hope that this doesn’t mean that my journey to becoming a nice person by means of bird-watching is also going to plateau. The robins have left and so have the paradise flycatchers. Maybe they are finding better homes for winter?
I have learnt the difference between an American cockroach and a German cockroach. American cockroaches are the big ones, they only come inside when they are desperate. German cockroaches are the small light brown ones. They enjoy being inside. Apparently they are the real enemies. The other night during load shedding a German cockroach flew onto my neck. The next day I was sitting on the grass with the children and another walked onto my hand. Considering my history with the species I found that very rude (also, what about social distancing?). Needless to say, neither of them lived to tell the tale.
The internet says that for every cockroach you see there are 100 cockroaches you don’t see. I have decided that those 100 cockroaches live outside my house. I can’t imagine where their hiding place would be inside the house. I cannot clean more or better than what I already have. So I have decided it’s no longer a physical war, it is a mental war. I choose to win. They can no longer get to me.
I think this might be the last update on insects. This experience has been educational for me at the very least. I now know a lot more about cockroaches than what I ever hoped to.
I don’t think I have spoken about this before, but I was REALLY struggling with water pressure since I came here. Waiting for the washing machine to fill up was a part time hobby (along with insect hunting and bird watching you can see I live an exciting life). I enjoy showers that represent raging water falls more than gentle streams. I had been showering in gentle streams. One day, I had been without water for almost 48 hours (there had been water but I was never home to replenish my water stash). I went to shower at someone else's house. It was a glorious raging water fall shower. That next morning I realised how good it was for my well-being to have a good shower. I wondered (with a tinge of self-pity) when the next time will be when I can have a raging-waterfall shower.
That day, yet again, we didn’t have water. I found out it was because they were working on the pumps. I am not sure what they did but the water pressure has been FANTASTIC ever since. And I have been much happier knowing that at the end of each day I can take a decent raging-waterfall shower. Every time I open a tap a wave of gratitude rises up in me.
All in all, it has been going really well. I am learning that a lot about how our attitudes influence situations and that we get to choose how to respond to situations. I am being stretched in terms of choosing to act in a patient and gentle manner towards the children no matter how full my children bucket is. I am so aware of the fact that I shouldn’t be talking to them or disciplining them in a way that their Heavenly Father wouldn’t. He is ALWAYS loving, ALWAYS kind, ALWAYS available, ALWAYS consistent. His rod and staff COMFORTS us. This is a rare precious time and I continue to cherish it.
Prayer and support
Thank you for all your prayers. God is blessing me so, so much.
You can continue to pray that all the children in the school and the homes will be sponsored as well as for financial provision for a new Kids Church building. It costs about R780 per month for the children living in the homes and R520 for the children in the schools.
Pray for the children and for their spiritual well-being - that they will be and grow into everything that God intended for them to be.
Pray for protection against any illness that could affect the VOH children or the team working here.
Pray that church will reach more new people during this time of doing church in new ways.
If you are not doing so already, please pray for wisdom for people in leadership positions in governments to make just and right decisions about the way forward.
Also pray for the economies of Southern African countries. Along with that issues such as unemployment which are becoming more prominent. Somehow these unfavourable circumstances always seem to affect those who are already desperate for their daily needs the most.
Keep safe, stay healthy and have a lovely easter time at home with your loved ones! Until next time :)