After the longest journey ever, we are here in Zambia. Serenje, to be exact.
We left Lusaka this morning and made the about-eight-hour drive to Serenje where we stay for the next two weeks. The Agape Village Orphanage is about an hour away and I’m so excited to travel there tomorrow and meet the children and Nyawa and Annie.
The ride through the Zambian countryside on a long, mostly-paved road was thrilling, beautiful and slightly heartbreaking all at the same time.
The thrilling part was – well, I’M IN AFRICA! The generosity of Mickey and Jackie to take me with them is something I will probably spend the rest of my life trying to pay it forward. I hope my work to help them tell the story of the children and the people involved with the orphanage serves a good purpose and adequately tells the awesome story God has created here.
Also thrilling was the constant motion in Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia. The city is teeming with fast-moving cars, people walking and congregating everywhere you look and scarcely a spot left where you could build another building. It reminded me of a less glitzy and modern New York City. And Mickey totally reminded me of the tour bus driver we had in New York, as well. The universal driving habits of people in Lusaka are insane and highly skilled, all at the same time.
The beautiful part was the gorgeous lush landscape after we left the city behind and the vibrant people we passed on the way. I noticed that most people are in groups and their bright clothing is sometimes in stark contrast to the kind of depressing buildings they’re standing in front of. The women (and some of the men) balance bowls of fruit and other heavy-looking stuff on their heads as they walk around. Children are everywhere, food stands dotted all the streets we passed and there seemed to be many business fronts – some looking more open and operational than others.
The landscape was green and flourishing and Jackie said this is because Zambia has just come through the rainy season and has seen plenty of water for the past four months. She said from now on, the rain is tapering off and soon, Zambia will go months without a drop of rain.
I can’t wait to take some photos of the trees and see if my forestry-loving father and husband can identify any of them.
Heartbreaking was all the poverty. I particularly remember seeing two kids too young to be sitting on the side of the road, sitting on the side of the road, almost hidden by the tall grass. No adults in sight.
The little communities of shacks, houses and sheds we could see from our van was shocking at first – it’s hard to believe people have to live like that. My friend and traveling companion Peggy, who is very wise, told me to remember that yes, the poverty here can be hard to believe and it breaks your heart. But she has learned the people of Zambia have such a joy for life, a love for their neighbors and friends, and strangers like us, that she feels like she receives as much or more from them when she visits. Peggy says she has met some the richest people she knows, here in Zambia, because their love for God is something that is hard for us to replicate in America. Things move slower in Zambian bush and there are less distractions from holding God at the center of your life. She assured me I will come away from this trip feeling like I was the one that received a gift and sustenance from the people we get to love and be loved by, on this trip.
Peggy wrapped up her afternoon devotion to me with this from 2 Corinthians, 8:9 — For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
“Don’t think we’re the only ones out here with a mission,” Peggy said. “The people you’ll meet, they give just as much to us, as we think we give to them. I am so thankful to THEM.”
It’s a message I’ve heard from Jackie and Mickey for weeks now and I’m thankful God put Peggy beside me in the ZAM van on the way to Serenje to tell it to me again, as I looked out my window. I don’t think I’ll NOT see the poverty, but I have to remember to see PAST it. I think God’s gift for me in Zambia is in the relationships I’ll forge, the way my heart will grow and remembering more often to grab tight to God’s hand as He leads us to love and take care of our sisters and brothers here in Zambia, as they take care of us.
Please pray for Mickey and Jackie, Gerald and Jane, Peggy and myself to be looking for God’s lamplight as He directs our steps, and our hearts, while we are here.
Check back for more posts and photos from our Zambian trip. We’ll try to post something every day.