This morning I woke up at 5 am after sleeping for 12 hours. There was no electricity when I woke up and this put a smile on my face because it felt like I was back in Zambia where the power goes out quite often. I left the house with plans to work on my teaching lessons for ILC camp which begins tomorrow. I have been sitting here for 2 hours and have not gotten anything done because Africa is so fresh in my mind. So let me share.
About two months ago I had a conversation with my dear friend Melanie Hallstein about her adventures in Peru. One thing that she said just stuck with me. To summarize, she said that here in America, when you meet someone the conversation generally goes like this – "What is your name? How old are you? What do you do for a living?" But in Peru she noticed that the conversation was rather – "What is your name? How old are you? What is your family like?"
I noticed the same thing in Zambia. I don't think I was ever asked about my job or what I studied in school. Even though there was a language barrier, many of the people we met were interested in the more personal aspects of our lives. Miss Riley carried a photo of her family with her the entire trip. When we were in Livingstone at the pastoral training seminar, a group of young men surrounded Riley and her photo and asked about each of the 12 members in her family. They all wanted a copy of this photo so they could remember her family. One day in Livingstone we girls were summoned to have "girl time" with Mary, Ruth, Memory, and Gertrude who worked at our lodge. They were so curious about the people we loved back home. They'd say, "e-mail pictures of your family when you get home" and "tell us when you get married!" It was refreshing to meet people with different priorities than what I am accustomed to seeing.
There were certain individuals we met along the way that will forever stay in my heart. I'll begin with Pastor Ibrahim who traveled with us the whole trip. This man has a generous heart that always looks for ways to serve the Lord. One night in Livingstone, Pastor Todd and Lucas went to find access to the internet. Ibrahim took the rest of us for a walk and we saw a pool tournament going on at a bar. Ibrahim said, "let's go watch," and we girls looked at each other thinking "is this really the best idea?" But what does Ibrahim do once we get there? He starts witnessing about Christ to random strangers. It is easiest to witness to people that you feel will be understanding of what you have to say. It's safe to say that people don't come to a bar to hear about Jesus. Pastor Ibrahim used the setting anyways as a witnessing opportunity; I find that pretty remarkable.
We also had the privilege of having our own driver the entire trip. Our driver's name was William and he was the root of much "snort worthy" laughter. Most nights we girls would lay in bed crying from laughing while we reminisced about our William memories. Along the way we had multiple car issues but William never stressed or complained about it. Everywhere we taught he'd sit with the kids and listen to our lessons. He was giving up time with his wife and three kids to drive us around.
In Kitwe I had the honor of taking photographs of each man who attended the pastoral seminar. This gave me a minute to shake hands with and talk to each individual. One 18 year old named "Kings" came back after I took his picture and right away said, "I want to learn everything about you because I probably won't see you until we are in Heaven." This caught me off guard and we continued to have a conversation that I won't forget. Two days later we said goodbye to all of the men from Congo. They took turns sharing how grateful they were for our visit and how much they wished to see us in the future. Lucas reminded them that even though we may not see them again here on earth, soon enough we will all be together in Heaven.
One night early on in the trip, Riley, Lydia and I talked about how we weren't getting to know any of the kids. In a way we were disappointed because we wanted to be able to look back and reflect on certain names, faces, and memories. We'd see a kid's face in one of the many pictures that we took and think, "I know nothing about that kid!" We were wrong though; we do know something about that kid. We know that that kid received the Word of God that day and honestly that's all that really matters. The rest is in God's hands. Lydia was able to teach the children about the Tower of Babel and how even though there are different races with different languages, we are all of the human race. We all sin, we all need a Savior, and we all have been given the same Savior that loves each and every one of us. Your heart can't help but be happy.
It has been such a blessing to work with Pastor Todd, Lucas, Lydia, and Riley in sharing God's Word. We are all thankful for the prayers that were sent our way. We were safe, we were healthy, and we continue to trust that the Holy Spirit is creating faith in the people we've met.