Like most children, the Agape Village children start out a little shy around adults they don’t know well.
I think it’s safe to say they’ve come out of their shell.
All of them are so precious and I see why others who have come to Zambia to volunteer get so attached to these beautiful little faces and generous souls. They are worth the long trip and more.
They speak with an adorable British accent and most are pretty fluent in English. The ones that aren’t fluent never have to ask for help because their Agape brothers and sisters are quick to jump in and help them when they stumble on their English words. This is a theme with these children and their kindness to each other is very humbling.
But they also are just like kids in America, and in my house. I’ve witnessed some pretty typical sibling rivalry for my attention — and use of my phone to take photos. It’s just like at home!
Today was a great day and I got to sit down with some of the third grade children for “interviews.” I had a few age-appropriate questions for them and they were very excited to be part of a story I was going to write. (They were even more excited about the photo to go with the story – ha!)
Here are just a few:
This is Moses. His favorite thing to do at Agape Village is swing on the swing set. His sister Iris is also at Agape Village and he said his friend Lewis is what makes him most happy. He wants to be a teacher one day.
This is Mary. Her favorite subject in school is social studies and she wants to be a pilot one day. She has two siblings at Agape Village, Danny and Janet. Her favorite song to sing is “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”
This is Beatrice. Her favorite Bible verse is Matthew 7:7 – Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Her favorite thing to do at Agape Village is sing and she wants us to pray for her so she can be a teacher. Her brother is Lewis.
The children spend a lot of time practicing their music and singing. One of my questions I asked them today was, “What is your favorite song to sing?”
They all had ready answers. But some of them speak softly and I had a hard time understanding some of the titles. After I asked a few times and still wasn’t sure what to write down, a few of them would start humming it, trying to help me out.
And it would just blossom like a flower.
Soon, the humming of a few turned into a few flat-out singing quietly and then they were all singing.
Other times, when one answered with a favorite song, they would all nod and get excited and they would ALL break out into singing that song. I felt like I was sitting in the middle of an African Gospel Fame School TV show. More than once I had to concentrate on my paper and writing so they wouldn’t see my tears. It wasn’t loud like they sang on Sunday when we arrived, but quiet, and joyous just the same. It was like they just couldn’t hold it in, once they started singing a few bars. They would end up singing me the whole song.
The children are so authentic in their faith and their love for God is like a window of which they look out to see the world. It’s a beautiful view they have.
Sunday, when I was talking with one of the older girls (I think 9th or 10th grade), I was trying to explain to her what a journalist is and how I write stories about people.
“It is your gift?” she asked me
“My what?” I replied.
“Your gift. God gives us all a gift. This is your gift from God? How you can write the stories?” she asked with the most beautiful, earnest face.
“Well, yes,” I said, “I guess it is my gift, Lillian. Thank you for putting it so beautifully – I don’t always think of it like that.”
She smiled and reached out to hold my hand and scooted a little closer to me.
And then she asked if she could borrow my phone to take a photo. Of course, I said yes.
Tonight, I am humming “What A Friend we Have in Jesus,” a favorite song of the children. I didn’t get a video of it today, probably because I was too teary. I will try in the next few days to catch them singing it and post it for you all to hear.
It’s a beautiful song, even more so when they sing it. Adjust your view and get ready to get the tissues.