Sunday, June 24, 2007

Hello from Zambia!

We have been busy and our days have been full. On a truly sad note, last night a dear friend of mine here and many of us who travel to Zambia, died. Violet has been a friend for four years now, and I’ve come to know her well. She got my laundry cleaner than any washer could and she’s the hardest worker, man or woman, I’ve ever known. Her hands alone show what kind of a life she’s lived. It certainly hasn’t been easy. After having morning prayer with the Chikusu family at six o’clock, Nate and I went with Kathy to visit Violet at the hospital a few days ago. I could tell then that her death was not far off. She leaves behind a six year old son who will now be raised by relatives. This will be my second Zambian funeral in the few visits I’ve had. Death really is around every corner. It personalizes the way AIDS has affected people in a way that the media could never convey through television or print. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned from Violet about happiness in the face of true adversity, having a relationship with God and a mother’s love for a child. She will be far more than a memory for me.
Yesterday we had our first village experience of this trip. Nate and I absolutely loved it. It was great to be a part of the MWB team. They ran a ‘kids camp’ full of activities for the children of the village. We also had the team working with Zambian nurses who were running a medical clinic. I’m not sure there’s anything better than the smile of a Zambian child. Being there was such a great reminder for us both that happiness is not based on circumstances. These children have a light and spirit about them that truly is not based on the homes they live in or the things they don’t have. We didn’t need to bring them clothes or food because just our love and friendship and time was enough.
Sometimes I think we get the idea that the problems of AIDS and orphans and poverty is just too big for any of us to conquer, but our activities yesterday reminded us that it really is all about one child at a time. The problems we see really are too big for any of us to fix, but if we can do something for just one child or if we can lift just one person, we have done enough. And, really, we are the greatest beneficiaries of any work that we’re doing here. For all that we ‘gave’ yesterday in time and love, we came away from Meya village feeling incredibly lifted (and exhausted!).
Church today was, as always, a great experience. It was great to reconnect with the members here and see old friends. Thing are kind of up in the air about what the next few days will be like, because along with the entire team that’s here, we’ll be attending Violet’s funeral, whenever that is. Originally, after we left Mike and Pam’s house we were supposed to stay at the backpackers lodge, but Kathy is having us stay where she does at the Chikusu house. My family knows that I couldn’t be happier about that one! It’s a special experience to be here and live with a family, especially them. While they are now dealing with the funeral plans, it will be a bit different around their house, but we’re still loving it. Lunch today is at Mike and Pam’s. Pam is literally recreating CafĂ© Rio. We are just spoiled!
Later today we’ll visit the homes of some of the MWB staff and the cemetery. The cemetery is a powerful experience in itself. It truly puts a face on death here. I remember hearing at one point that they were burying about 500 people each day in this one cemetery. It keeps filling up, and they have to acquire more land. We are here, and I continue to return, because of the children that are left behind from those deaths. Even from the States, we can all do something.
We find ourselves being continually reminded of our blessings and that where much is given much is required. We are excited for this new week and the experiences ahead of us. We’ll try to keep you updated!

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