Happy trails to you... until we meet again.

Unfortunately, this will probably be one of the last, if not the last. posts until we leave the country. I have had a real struggle getting on the internet today, and barely got the last three posted. I had meant to put some of my favorite pictures up, but the internet is so slow that I will have to wait. So, goodnight for now.

One day I will never forget

One day last week, I coaxed Dad into taking me to the village that is about a half of a mile from the old rent house. I had gone the day before by myself and taken pictures of all the little dirty children. That was one of the highlights of my week. Dad was willing and eager to go after what I had told him. So we picked up our cameras and set off. We reached the village and went in with an escort of about thirty kids by our sides, all laughing and giggling and talking over the pictures we were taking of them. It was so sweet when one little girl shyly went up to Dad and put her hand inside his. He smiled down at her, and she beamed up at him. I already had two little ones pulling me along, and one hanging on to my shatanga. When we stopped, all the kids that could push their way to the front, crowded around and put their faces up to my lens and tried to look through. It was so funny to see their look of bewilderment when all they could see was darkness. “How then can Auntie Sarah get a picture of me on that black hunk of something if I can not see into it?” I can still see their faces!
Dad met a man that was going through the village wearing a suit and tie, and the shiniest black and white shoes I have ever seen. Of course we were curious, so we asked him what he was doing there. He spoke very good English, and told us that he was there to get his choir organized. He invited us to his practice and then led us to a hut where four of the Chimwemwe ladies were sitting. They got up, formed into a circle, and were joined by two of the older boys that were in our escort. The man informed us that they would be singing in five different dialects, so that we probably would not understand them. As they started singing, they began clapping and dancing. Every minute their voices grew in strength. I think the closest to the singing in heaven I have ever been to has been in Africa. In America, everyone listens to other people sing, but rarely sing them selves. In Africa, if they want music, they have to make it. Everyone has a beautiful voice here, and everyone knows the meaning of harmony, which makes it all the better. Daddy has recorded some of the singing, so when we get back, we will not loose the memory of it.
As we were leaving, Daddy said to me, ”Sarah, this is one day we will never forget.” And he is right. I will never forget it.

A day of hope

Two days ago, we had the dedication service for the new community center that the team from Wisconsin built. This community center was built to help others come to know Christ through different activities. They started two Mondays ago I think. The service was amazing and the singing was absolutely wonderful! Some of the leaders of the team got up and shared with the audience some of their testimonies, stories, and the history of the building. They also led everyone in prayer. Then it was time for the music. And what music! The singing made you want to jump up and down and laugh until your sides hurt. Literally. The women led most of the songs and danced up in front of everybody. Many of the people came up and danced along with them. Everyone had the biggest smiles on their faces!
I enjoyed it so much. The children from the Village of Hope came up and sang "Allelu, allelu, allelu, alleuia, praise ye the Lord" They were so cute! None of them got any of the notes right, but their voices were filled with happiness. At the end, the piano player started playing an African song and everyone- men, women, and children- came up to the front and danced. Not an organized one, but it was like a mob, dancing and singing and laughing and praising God! I have never seen anything like it before! Their faces just shone with joy. The amazing thing is, that most of them definitely don’t have it easy. Take Alice for example. She is in the Chimwemwe ladies club that makes purses out of plastic grocery bags. They do that for a living. Alice's husband has been sentenced to jail for six years. She has two children that she has to support. The elder, a girl of about five of six, has spinal TB that has nearly crippled her. The younger, a baby about six months old, has an ear infection. Of course she cannot afford medical care, so it has just gotten worse. I used to get ear infections all the time when I was little, so Mom knows how it is. His case is so bad that he has stuff coming out of his ear. Yet, he never cries or screams, but you know he must be in a lot of pain. They all live in a one-room grass hut, cook outside over a charcoal fire, have to walk past fifty other houses to get to the water pump, their toilet is a small hole in the ground surrounded by a wall of grass, and Alice has to carry her baby on her back by a shitanga (a wrap-around skirt for all purposes). The shitanga thing isn't that bad though. ☺ It really makes me thank God for all the (unnecessary) luxuries we have.
I know there are many stories like hers. She is not the only one that like that. Every woman in that village is either pregnant, has a baby or two, or is a grandmother to many children. It seems like every day we drop Christine (a young mother that lives with the Schwartz family and has a story that I will share later on) off at the village to check on one of the women with medical problems.
One day, Don (a professional trumpet player that came to share the gospel) went into the village with a few of his Zambian friends. They were inviting the whole village to come to a concert that he was doing at the almost finished community center. At one of the huts there was a little boy lying on a gunnysack. They asked what was wrong and the people told them that he had fallen out of a tree a week ago, but since they could not afford medical care, he had just lain there. Don later said that it looked like his arm was out of socket if not worse. One man in his group took a giant leap of faith and prayed over him. When he had finished, he pronounced him healed in the name of Jesus. The next day they came back to see what happened, but could not find him. None of us could, so we sent Christine to go find out what happened. When she asked, everyone shrugged their shoulders. Later, after about a week, Don announced that he had found out that the boy was great! After they had prayed over him he was healed, and went to school the next day! Praise God!!!
Just being able to see how poor everyone is, but how much joy they have, has strengthened my faith. These people are needy, and they want to hear about the gospel. They do not want people to write a cheque or look at the headlines in the news and say “too bad” and then pass on. I’m not saying that donating money is a bad thing. If no one did that, hundreds more would be dying each day. But they want people to care. They want people to pray and to give of what they have. They want to hear the gospel.
Please pray for the young people in your community, that they would have a heart for missions. Today, in our society, many young people are caught up in the frivolity of life. Many are not seriously thinking of the long-term effect that they could have in hundreds of people’s lives. They need a vision. Even if it is just going across the border for a few weeks, people need to see outside their own sphere. I have. I now want to get a nursing degree and go on the mission field for long-term ministry.
God has given each of us many gifts, and he has a plan for each of our lives. We need to seek His will in each of those gifts.

You are now intering the Village of Hope.

You are now entering the Village of Hope. Imagine, you are bumping along on a dirt road with potholes the size of elephants, inside a used car that has little to no shocks. As you are bumping along you see some children walking to the maize fields.
They wave and laugh, and you wave and laugh back. Soon you pull up to a gate that was hand wielded. The guard there smiles and waves as he opens it for you. You are now entering a community, that at the first glance might seem a little rugged, but compared to most villages, is fit for a king. You pass along very slowly so that you do not smash your head on the roof of the car, or run over a stray child. On your left are two cottages with newly planted yards. You might even smell the cow manure that they are using as fertilizer. There are some children playing in the dust that seems to permeate everything.
There might be a young girl carrying a blue bucket of water over to her house. Then you wave and say hello and pass on to the next two cottages where a whole group of children are playing with a soccer ball or balloons. You exchange greetings with the housemother who is tending the fire for the next meal. I forgot to mention that for the past ten yards you were on a newly paved section of the road. Now you just bumped off. You bump a few more yards and then turn the car around and stop. Everyone heaves a sigh of relief, opens the doors, jumps out, and wipes off all the layers of dust on their clothes. You then walk to your left where the house is. There is probably a man there cutting wood or maybe someone trying to sweep. There are three little kids playing on the far corner of the porch in the dirt with empty water bottles.

You mentally thank God for the fiftieth time for all the blessings He has given you. You walk inside and are greeted by everyone in the house. Welcome to the newly built home of Mr. and Mrs. Schwartz, the founders of the Village of Hope, where presently twenty-one orphans are living.