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!