The best thing about today was the play time after lunch. There is a saying in education, “they don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” The truth of that phrase played itself out in a big way when the grounds at camp became a free-for-all playground with soccer balls, frisbees and a random beachball being chased down by hordes of children. It was during that time the language barrier between me and my boys ceased to exist. Finally, we were having simple fun together and it was clear to me, that now, I looked different to them. From that point on, I didn’t go anywhere without at least one of them tagging along close by.
There were a couple of older kids playing wiffleball rather unsuccessfully. They asked if I wanted a turn at bat so I sat my backpack down and took a few cuts then gave it back. The third time that my turn came up, I barely had the pack off my shoulder when Ernest – the smallest in my group – was taking it and wearing it for me.
This child is so small and the pack was so big that now, as I look back at that image, I see Christ. The last thing in the world Ernest should have been doing is carrying my burden, but not only was he willing to, he did it without my asking.
The past two days at camp have been encouraging, remarkable…I think the reality of what we’re doing here hasn’t sunk in yet and that’s why I describe it in such sober terms. To huddle in a circle, face down, palms on the skin of Zambia with these boys and pray together, “Your Will be done: in Zambia, in our schools, in our hospitals, in our orphanages, in our businesses, on our streets and in our hearts. Father, hear our prayers in the mighty name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”
It might be one of the most staggering things I’ve ever been blessed enough to be a part of, but I just cannot realize it yet. There have been dozens of times in praying with Fusion groups or in worship at IBC that I’ve been overcome by the presence of the Spirit and moved to the point of tears. Because that feeling hasn’t struck me, I think I’m underestimating the strength of what’s going on here. Also, I’m a little fearful of becoming, “this American who talked about Jesus” in one of these boy’s stories years down the road as he recounts his unsatisfactory encounters with Christianity.
I pray that I can simultaneously enjoy a proper confidence and a proper humility in sharing the story and message of Jesus with these boys. It’s amazing. We’re having an opportunity to love these kids, pray with them and pray over them. The small group time is what I’ll remember the most and I believe that will be the same for them. And so, God has blessed me with a chance to truly change the lives of 22 Zambian boys forever. I trust that if I honor His Word and His heart, He will honor these boys.
Father, hear our prayers. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
It is great to be home. There are a ton of stories to share, but I thought we’d just start out with a general overview of what Camp Life was like and we’ll fill in specifics in the days and weeks to come.
Each week, they bus about 850 kids in from different orphanages or community schools in and around Lusaka and those kids get to come to Camp from Monday through Friday. The next week, they go to different orphanages and schools and bring in 850 different kids and so on. We were there for Week Three. The kids are put in to groups of about 20 and each group has an American and Zambian volunteer to serve as their camp counselors for the week.
Sunday – there was a meeting and we got to meet the Zambian volunteer that we would be partners with for the week. They helped greatly with translation, local games and songs, etc.
Laura and Vasty
Brian and Francis
Monday – the kids arrived and we were given our small groups…Laura got the little ones (girls, about 5yr – 8yr) and I had a group of boys (9yr – 14yr)
Tue & Wed – the kids come in the morning and we have small group time to sing songs, talk about the lessons from large group, etc…then we go inside for a large group session (songs, lesson)…then back outside to talk about the lesson, have lunch, play games…then back inside for another large group session…then back outside…then the buses come at about 4:00
Thursday – very cool day…every single kid gets a new pair of shoes on Thursday morning, so instead of being with our small groups, all the American volunteers stay inside while the kids are brought in school by school to be fitted and receive a new pair of shoes, a t-shirt and a bandana. By lunch, 850 kids have new shoes and smiles. At lunch, we meet back up with our small groups, talk and then, the really great part, we get on a bus with them and go to their community. Lots to share about this, so I’ll leave it there for now.
Friday – same general schedule as tue/wed except the kiddos leave at 2:00
What’s cool is that after Weeks 3 & 6 (they do 6 total weeks of camp) they do “Rally Day” on the following Monday. And that’s where they bring in all the kids from Week 1, 2 & 3 (about 2500 kids) and do a big large group session with songs, etc. So we got to be there for that which was really incredible.
So, that was a week ago, then on Tue, Wed, Thur we went down to Livingtone and Victoria Falls and relaxed, processed and reflected. Friday, we returned to Lusaka; Saturday morning we flew from Lusaka to London, stayed the night and flew from London to Dallas on Sunday.
Updates, stories and journal entries to come later…for now, sleep.
We rejoice and give thanks for you who are reading this and tied to us in Spirit!
We don’t have long but wanted to let you know that this past week has been phenomenal. We so look forward to being able to share with you so many little stories of God’s wonder and power this past week, and testify to His goodness in these last few days — that seems MUCH longer than one week!! LOL
We were completely broken hearted and to be honest — angry and frustrated– by what we saw (the poverty, the injustice, the depravity…), and I struggle with the words to say where we are emotionally and spiritually now, but it is a very good place, a much deeper, intimate, “in awe of”, and surrendered place. Amazing, incredible things have happened in this week in the lives of hundreds of orphans and vulnerable children–things we never would have imagined and I still get chills thinking about!! To see the transformation from Monday morning to Friday afternoon was unreal–from sad, empty eyes to laughing, hugging smiles. We went into their community Thursday afternoon (slums…sewage in the streets, roofs of tin and plastic…) and the CHILDREN were running up to people and praying for them…and people who normally shun orphans were calling, “Please come pray for me!”
We will send more as soon as we can!
1 The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet received.
2 How long, O LORD, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
3 Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
4 Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.
The Lord ‘s Answer
5 “Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.
Habakkuk ends in chapter 3 by praying, praising God for His faithfulness and what He has seen Him do, and then basically saying “in spite of _______, I rejoice in the Lord! in spite of __________, I rejoice in the Lord!”
18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.
We rejoice in our LORD for what He is doing and what He has done here in Zambia, and claim His promises for these people!! And we thank Him daily for each of you and your compassion and care for His kids here!
Rally Day is Monday, when all the kids from the first 3 weeks come back together — 3,000 orphans and vulnerable children praying and praising God together!
Our return flight is next Saturday. We have been healthy and safe and giving as many hugs as humanly possible a day!
Our journey began Thursday morning in Coppell, TX and 45 hours later we walked in the door of what will be our home for the next ten days. We’re staying in a housing compound right outside the capital city, Lusaka. The weather is absolutely beautiful, it’s the dead of winter here in Zambia, so we’re enjoying 72 degree temperatures and we’re glad to finally be here. The first leg of this trip is over, and now begins the real journey. We’ve been praying that God would remove any expectations for Camp Life that we might have, but still, it’s hard not to expect discovery in a place like this.
After settling in (all of our luggage arrived, a major blessing) and meeting our housemates, we slept. Hard. We slept right through the alarm we had set and thankfully one of our housemates woke us up in time for our orientation and team meeting at 4:30. There are fifty of us total and it is an amazing group of people.
We’ve already heard a dozen testimonies about the work God is doing here and the transformation, the redemption He is fostering. One story we heard last night will break your heart, but it should also fill you with optimism.
Greer, the leader of our organization told us about a 15 year-old Zambian girl named Memory. By the age of eleven, both of her parents had died, she was raped, contracted HIV/AIDS, gave birth to a child that she wasn’t able to keep and was forced in to prostitution. Finally, she wound up in one of the orphanages that our organization, Family Legacy Missions, works with. Three years ago, Memory came to Camp Life and had a chance to experience the acceptance and love and protection that every single one of God’s children deserve. At Camp, one of the first things the kids get to do is make a bead necklace with their name in it. It gives them something of their own they can cherish and it reminds these orphans that they have a heavenly father who knows them by name. This year, Memory was only able to come to Camp for one day because she was so sick and on Friday at her orphanage she died clutching that necklace in her hand. I nearly wrote that, “tragically, she died” or “mercifully…” but I don’t know how she would describe it and it isn’t for me to say. I don’t know how to describe the end of her life here on earth but it is clear that from birth to death, the in-between was over-crowded with injustice, despair, inequality and slavery.
But Camp Life was able to offer her something different. Hope, Joy, Freedom. She experienced God and became a believer at Camp two years ago. God was able to use that week and those people to show Memory unconditional love and relentless grace and mercy. Today, that is all she is experiencing as she sits with Him in heaven. There was a bright spot in her life and she literally held on to it until the end. And this is why we’re telling you about her, not to leave you feeling sad, guilty or helpless. But the opposite. To give us all hope that redemption is possible & to encourage us all to be more faithful in working toward it.
As for us, we’re now more motivated and excited than ever to love these kids and to serve them in the name of God. We’re sending this e-mail from the market outside of the compound and we won’t be here again until next weekend. Please join us this week in praying that these orphans would experience Hope, Joy & Freedom and that they would feel loved.
For us, we’re praying for emptiness so that God will fill us with what He Wills, in whatever amount and whenever He chooses.
His Kingdom Come,
Brian & Laura
I’ve been meaning to write in-depth about these things but haven’t made the time, so for now, here is a little bulleted list of what’s been going on in our neck of the woods…
– The Easter Picnic @ IBC went great! Laura did an incredible job of organizing it and pictures of the bounce houses, petting zoo, pony rides and egg hunt are coming!
– Barbara Ann Radnofsky won! Woo-hoo! Heartening news to be sure, but now it’s on to November against Kay Bailey Hutchison and that’ll be a tough one. Stay tuned for the debates…I’ll let you all know as soon as they’re scheduled.
– A couple weeks ago, we visited some dinosaur tracks at Lake Grapevine. About 100 million years ago, this guy left some priceless footprints that were amazing to see first hand in the very place he left them.
– The garden experiment is coming along. The radishes are sprouting up in little bunches and will allegedly be mature enough to pick at the end of the month. A lone zucchini sprout emerged on Saturday and it gives me hope that the other seeds have germinated as well and are on the verge of showing themselves in the next week.
Hope you’re doing well!
I’m sure that was a lame banner at a high school pep rally once, but now it is a very appropriate title to this post!
Brian and some of the other teachers from up at his school have been playing basketball in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch City League. This last Sunday was the playoffs! His team, which only lost one game all season, won! (they did happen to have several basketball coaches on their team ;))
It was fun to see him out on the court playing! Having been one of 5 girls (out of 80-something) cut from basketball on the very first day of tryouts in 7th grade — an utterly scarring experience (I can still hear Coach Wooldridge saying, “I’m so proud of you for trying!! *big thumbs up*”– I was totally impressed! Here is a picture of the happy Champs in the tshirts they won!