Monthly Archives: June 2016

Zambia Part Three – The CLD

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One of the primary focuses for our trip was to go and work with the CLD (Christian Leadership Development) team.  The CLD consists of exceptional young men and women from all parts of Zambia.  Each one has been hand chosen to be part of this special group.  During the year that they spend in this class, the students have a rigorous workload.  They are being taught to be Christian leaders in their communities.  It’s a great program that the Swindle family has worked so diligently to implement.  The Kingdom is growing in Zambia because of this mission!

In addition to their regular classroom responsibilities, the CLD actively serves their community through various projects.  Our team was blessed to get to partner with them for several days and work alongside them.

One day, we went with them to work in the garden they help to maintain.  Gardening is very important for Zambians, as it provides necessary food and income for many families.  Because they have a definite rainy season and dry season, it’s difficult to maintain crops year round.  However, they have developed a new fertilization method which allows them to grow food all year.  It’s an exciting advancement for them!

Another day, we visited The Haven orphanage.  I was blown away by this place!  All the babies/children who come to The Haven are there because their mothers have passed away.  While in the orphanage, the children are paired with an ‘auntie’ who cares for them just as a mother would.  Each auntie has only 1-3 children in her care, which allows them to give lots of love and attention to each child.  The mission of this organization is to locate family for each child, and work with that family until they are prepared/equipped to take custody of the child.  I don’t remember the numbers exactly, but I believe that of the 400-500 children who have been placed with family, only 4 have had to return to The Haven.  That is an incredible success rate!!  They are doing some really great work there!  Side note: the girl who gave us the tour of the facility was fellow OC alum, Meagan Hawley (2004).  Small world!

The day that affected me most was the day we went into one of the villages nearby.  We split into small groups and each group went to a different home to do whatever work was needed.  I’ll not soon forget my experience…

We walked through fields to get to the home of an elderly woman. She was blind and lived alone.  All of her children have passed.  She had no shoes and her feet were very dirty and calloused.  Her living space was maybe 400-500 square feet.  It consisted of a cooking hut, a sleeping hut, and a bathroom hut.  Best I could tell, there was no food in the ‘kitchen.’  We didn’t go inside her sleeping hut, but I imagine there was nothing more than a mat on which she sleeps.  Her bathroom hut was made of straw walls that were maybe three feet high.  Inside, was a hole in the ground where a pot sat.  One of her walls was falling down so she had very little privacy.  The rest of her living space was outside.  She sat on the ground, as she had no chairs.  I saw no extra clothes, no shoes, no food, no phone, no electricity, no soap…

While we were there,we gathered her empty water containers, took them to the well and pumped them full of water.  Somewhere, there is a photo of me carrying the jug on my head as we walked through the fields back to her home!  When in Rome… The boys in our group gathered firewood and started a fire in her cooking hut.  We swept the debris off of her dirt floors with a bundle of twigs and branches.  I must’ve looked funny because the CLD members in my group laughed at me!!  

After we worked, we sat down and talked with the lady.  I talked with her about who we were and why we were there.  I told her about the love that Jesus has for each of us and that we were there to share that love with her.  During this time, she kept her head down and didn’t speak a word.  I wish I knew what she was thinking!  

Throughout the village, there were lots of children roaming about.  Despite their primitive living conditions, these people were still joyful!  The children laughed and played!  The village people (hahaha…had to be done!) did not seem to be overcome with grief or worry.  I can’t help but be reminded of the verse in Matthew 6:25-34:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Though they have little,and may not even know where their next meal will come from, God has still provided for their needs.  I will surely remember this the next time I get grumpy because the only thing in the pantry is Ramen Noodles!

It was a tremendous blessing and honor to spend time with the CLD team!  The relationships built in the few days we had with them impacted each of us in unique ways.  The family of God is huge!  It’s so astounding that we could travel to the other side of the globe and have an instant connection with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  God is good!

Zambia Part Two – Our Hosts

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I’m certain that mere words cannot come close to illustrating how amazingly wonderful the Swindle family was to us.  Greg, Mary, Mindy and Claire showed such grace and humility in serving our clan for the week.  Their hospitality truly made our trip the enjoyable experience that it was.

Greg, together with the CLD class, worked to put together our schedule for the week.  In a very short period of time, we were able to experience so much.  We got to meet so many people along the way, and get a glimpse into their everyday lives.  Their efforts made for an eye-opening, rewarding and meaningful experience.  I am changed after having participated in all the activities that were planned for us!

Mindy was on call to help with whatever needed to be done during our stay.  What a trooper she was to be so involved with helping to meet our needs, all while her body tirelessly grows tiny humans!!!  Can’t wait to see pictures of those sweet babies!!

Claire might have been a teen favorite as she was our designated dessert chef!  Her brownies, cookies, apple dumplings, peach cobbler, and pie were amazing!!!!  After working all day, Claire still mustered up the energy to come home and cater to our group.

And then there is Mary.  Mary, to me, embodies the true spirit of servant hood.  Mary prepared three meals everyday for our group of fourteen plus several others who joined us for meals.  And she did not take the easy route in this endeavor.  She went all out!  Everything was homemade!  Pizza, chili, taco soup, potato soup, beef stew, roast, macaroni and cheese, chicken wraps, traditional African Braii, biscuits, bacon, sausage, pancakes, French toast, spaghetti, and probably more that I’m not remembering!  Mary worked from dawn to dusk most days just to make sure we were all fed.  I know she was exhausted, but she never let the smile leave her face.  Her sweet, humble spirit was enchanting.  Mary provided us such a great example of what it means to be a servant in Jesus’ name.  I’m thankful to have had the opportunity spend time with this beautiful lady!

There’s no doubt that housing a group of fourteen in their home for nearly a week was an overwhelming task, but the Swindle family handled it with abundant grace.  We were treated with nothing but kindness and love.  Simply saying ‘thank you’ just doesn’t seem like enough.  Greg, Mary, Mindy, and Claire, know that all your work to make this trip a success did not go unnoticed!  I’m honored to have spent time with you and to have learned more about your lives in Zambia.  Looking forward to seeing you again!

Zambia Part One – The Team

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Before the trip, I didn’t know many of the people on the team very well.  In fact, I didn’t even know some of their names!  But after spending ten days with them on this incredible journey, I’ve grown to love each of them.

The Adults – Seth, Jessica, Chip, Stephanie, Melissa, and sometimes Casie 😉

What a fun group!  This group provided the perfect combination of chaperoning, nurturing, leading, and supporting.  Together, we counted heads approximately 500 times to make sure we had everyone with us at all times.  We provided food, especially to hungry teenage boys!  We passed around hand sanitizer constantly.  We laughed.  We shared.  We nudged the teens when they needed it, but mostly we went alongside them as they jumped in and served.  I feel like I’ve made some great friends, and feel blessed to have shared this experience with this group.

The Teens – Keegan, Dalton, Camille, Libby, Liz, Jane, Amber, and sometimes Casie 😉

These young people are nothing less than remarkable!  I was thoroughly impressed by each of them.  In ten days, I never heard bickering or arguing.  I never heard harsh words being spoken.  Instead, I saw this group love one another.  I saw them share everything they had – food, clothing, gum, drinks, money… I watched them treat each other with respect.  I watched them be silly together.  I watched them pray, sing, and worship together.  I witnessed their vulnerable moments when they shared about the experiences they were having from day to day.  I saw them eagerly help with preparing meals or help with the dishes afterward.  And best of all, I saw them being fully immersed in the mission of this trip.  They served in primitive villages.  They played with school children.  They built relationships with the college students in the Christian Leadership Development (CLD) team.  They excitedly shared American treats – skittles, gummies, m&m’s, and gum.  They taught them how to play frisbee.  They played soccer with them.  They sang and danced with pre-schoolers.  They conducted themselves in a very Christlike manner throughout the entire trip, and I couldn’t be more proud of them!

We had so many laughs on this trip.  As time went on, our list of memorable moments just kept growing.  If you know the team members, you’ll have to ask them to explain the following to you…

Some favorite things:

Chip/Terry

Andy/Adam/Anthony

Gary

It was a joke, Amber!

Remember when we…

This macaroni and cheese is so good!

We need three moms on every trip.

Rhakeem!

Oh my stars, y’all!

Quattro

Kangaroo!

Ay-ya, Ay-ya, Ay-ya-ya-ya-ya-ya-ya-ya

As an introvert, I fully expected to have a difficult time being surrounded by people all day, everyday for ten days.  Surprisingly, I not only enjoyed every minute of my time with this team, but I woke up this morning feeling lonely without them.  I missed seeing them today and can’t wait to see them again soon!  I look forward to continuing the relationships that budded during this trip.

Seth, Jessica, Chip, Stephanie, Casie, Camille, Keegan, Dalton, Liz, Jane, Libby, Shea and Amber, thank you for making this trip so great!  I love you all!