Monday, August 15, 2016

isaac...


This time of year is Camp LIFE in Zambia when over 700 Americans come over so that 7,000 kids can come to camp. It is a crazy season of long hours, extra responsibilities and watching God move in ways you can’t even imagine. This year we are celebrating the HOPE that we have in Jesus, hope for a future in Him!

A big part of camp season for those of us mainly working at the children’s village is a season of rescue. So many kids who have been abandoned, neglected, abused and forgotten come to camp. Many need a new home, a place that is safe from harm. This summer our team has rescued and moved in 21 kids who were identified during camp as in extreme need. Each week my heart is overwhelmed to watch God pull kids out of the trenches and bring them to TOL.

This morning I was driving away from the school to the hilltop for camp when I spotted one of our kids who moved in to the village during camp a year ago. When he came to Chelston he was in a large wheelchair that he used to get around the compound. He used his hands to peddle anywhere he went and he had lost use of both of his legs. I would see him sitting around quite often and rarely saw a smile from him.
After moving in, he underwent surgeries and got the medical attention he needed. I’ve watched Isaac over the last year enjoy life so much more. I have seen him laughing and smiling and playing with the other kids. The boys in his house push him everywhere and love him so well! Many days I would pass the basketball courts and see him down on his knees playing ball with the other kids. Nothing was going to slow Isaac down now!                        
Today when I drove by the courts, I stopped. I saw Isaac’s wheelchair and a group of boys playing,  but I didn’t see Isaac. He is usually pretty easy to spot on his knees. I parked my car and started walking over when I noticed Isaac on both feet playing basketball! It was all I could do to hold my tears in as I watched him play.

In one year, God has done a miraculous work in Isaac’s life. Isaac’s physical transformation is easy to see from the outside. From a wheel chair to walking, God’s healing is eveident in his life.  Others of us, the change is from within. The transformation is a gradual growth in the knowledge of Jesus Christ and his power to transform our lives. During the busiest of times, I am extra grateful when God reminds me of a story like Isaac. I am reminded of how powerful He is and how he works in each of our lives.

I  am so grateful for a God who doesn’t forget about us, who loves even the most broken of us and transforms us from the inside out!

with love from Zambia, kenley
          

Sunday, May 8, 2016

lately...





The Tree of Life Legacy Academy Grade 7 Class at the Parliament Building


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Lately, life has continued to fly by. Shortly after my last email, all of Franklin’s five siblings were sponsored and started school at our Kabanana Legacy Academy during Term One. God is always perfect in his timing and never fails in taking care of his children. The day I told Franklin about his siblings getting to go to school, tears filled his eyes as thank yous poured from his lips. Both of us could not be more thankful for people being willing to change the lives of these 5 children! I was able to go visit his siblings shortly after they started school and when I walked up to their house, the two oldest had a class of kids around them where they were teaching the lessons they had been learning at school. Their captive audience was soaking up as much as they have been learning from their teachers at school. I sat with Franklin’s mom for a while just sharing with her all that Franklin has been doing; studying hours for his Grade 12 exams this year, a prefect at school and tutoring others in the grades below them. Tears of joy filled her eyes as the stories were translated for her to hear. Franklin’s mom has become very ill and is no longer able to brew and sell like she has in the past. They are struggling to get by, but I was overwhelmed by the spirit as I left their house just knowing that God will provide, He already is providing and always in His perfect time.

After we completed Grade 9 exams last December, we were able to take our Grade 9 kids on a trip to Lake Kariba. This trip was a celebration for the countless hours preparing for their exams that these kids put in. Some of them would wake up in the middle of the night when the power would come back on just to be able to get extra hours of studying in and not allow the load shedding to keep them from preparing. They missed their holiday breaks and committed to studying daily for their exams!
 
Watching our kids’ faces as they got to experience Lake Kariba for the first time is something I won’t forget. There are many places and things our kids study in school, but only see it on hand drawn charts hanging on the classroom walls. Having the opportunity to see these places first hand is rare for many kids in Zambia. So many of the kids told us during the trip that this was their first time out of Lusaka or they were the first in their family to see Lake Kariba and the dam. How exciting that these kids not only get the opportunity to study about these places, but experience them for themselves.  



Hospitality and Tourism is a huge industry in Zambia that requires years of training to be able to work in the best hotels and resorts. Many of our kids discovered for the first time that there are huge opportunities for them hosting people from all over the world to see the beauty in their own home country. The excitement of staying in a hotel room, eating dinner on a boat and having a breakfast buffet was overwhelming for so many of our kids. We went over etiquette before we left and answered as many questions as we could. The kids asked everything from what to pack to if they would be charged for the soap at the hotel to which hand to you hold your fork and knife with. How incredible that some of these kids had nowhere to go just a short time ago and now are traveling across Zambia and studying up close how power is generated and asking how to properly use the utensils at the table! Our kids behaved better than I could have even imagined. The morning we left kids had made their beds, cleaned their hotel rooms and even took out the trash! The hotel staff could not say enough nice things about how grateful and respectful our kids were during their stay. I am constantly amazed at how God is transforming these kids and molding them into godly young men and women. The opportunities these kids are given allow them to dream even bigger than they even knew possible! One of my sweet girls looked over at me when we were eating dinner on a boat one night and she said, "I knew God was big, but I didn't realize He was this big!"

 
Term One ended for us last week and when I think back over the last 4 months of this school year, I am amazed to see the work that God has done! When we opened in January, we added our Senior Secondary School. For the first time, all 680 kids in the village could attend school at the Tree of Life. My staff of once 8 teachers had now grown to over 50! We now have everything from pre-school teachers to secondary certified and specialized teachers. It was overwhelming to see the hours of planning a master schedule and researching and interviewing teachers all come together as we opened this year. We will officially be able to move into our new secondary building before the open of Term Two on May 9. God is good in seeing us through all the details!

 I was also able to take a quick trip back to the states this term to meet my newest nephew. Incredibly thankful for the opportunity to get to “run” home for big events in my family means the world to me. I wish that I would have had more time to spend time with so many more of you, but I am planning to return again later this year for my furlough time and hope to see so many more people who have missed out on seeing during my quick visit!

As I was flying back to Lusaka this time I sat next to man was travelling over to recruit soccer players for the university team he coaches. Of course the many questions of living over here started and then the big one, “where is home?” I thought about this question I have been asked so many times and answered with what has become my usual response, “which ever direction I am headed in.” These last few months, God has radically shaken my world and transformed my heart, but the biggest lesson I have learned lately is God’s love follows you wherever you are and places people to be “home” for you exactly where you are and when you need it most. Thank you so much for continuing to be my support and encouragement from both near and far. Your prayers mean the world to me and are felt daily! I couldn’t do life here without each of you back home!


with love from Zambia, 
kenley


6 of our 9 Tree of Life kids who completed Grade 12 in 2015 and are preparing for their next steps. Join me by praying for them as they await responses from universities and trades programs. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

franklin...


Changing a life can look different for each child. At Family Legacy, we have 2 programs that are impacting kids. In one program our kids live with us in our full time care and in the other program our kids live with caretakers or family and attend our school. I mainly get to work in our children’s village where our kids live with us full time, but have the opportunity to work with our other program as well. Sponsorship in each of these programs is different, but life changing for both sets of kids.
This past summer, I was given the opportunity to start sponsoring one of the older boys who moved in to the village from another one our residential programs. Franklin was born into a family of seven but abandoned at a very young age. He moved around a lot trying to find any way to survive – farming, scavenging, and begging. With no support from his family and no one to turn to, Franklin lived on the street and sought refuge under a tree each night. One day, a man in the marketplace took pity on him and paid for his bus fare to Lusaka. In Lusaka, things did not improve but became even more difficult for Franklin and he found himself stealing food to survive. Seeing no way out, and having no hope, Frank decided to commit suicide. Unsuccessful in his suicide attempt he continued on until he was chosen to attend Camp LIFE and moved in to our full time care in 2011.
Through spending time with Franklin I learned more and more about his family and where he came from. He did not grow up ever knowing  a father and speaks of how he knew his dad was a bad person. He often talked of his mom and other siblings and family he has. One day, Franklin was talking about how he is the only one of siblings going to school. With tears in his eyes he looked at me and asked, “Can you help them.”
I started having our discipleship staff look for his family. They took a picture of Franklin and starting asking anyone they could in Chipata if they knew where his family was. They eventually found them. His mother was brewing munkoyo, a traditional drink, which is the only source of income she has. There are 9 people living in a 2 roomed house including 5 of Franklin’s brothers and sisters. 


Immediately, I received word of Franklin’s siblings and we decided they needed to get started in our program this year and not wait for Camp Life 2016. These 5 children will not move in to our full time care, but will have the opportunity to stay with their mom and be a part of our other program. My prayer is that we will find sponsors for each of these kids so they can begin going to school. With their sponsorship, they will get to attend our Kabanana Legacy Academy and receive a hot lunch every day. They will receive blessings of food to take home for the family, discipleship from our staff and a Christian education. One day these kids might need to move into our full time care, but for now getting to stay in their own home with their family and getting to go to school is an incredible opportunity. 

If you are interested in sponsoring one of Franklin’s siblings, see the details below and click their link to sign up! I promise you that sponsoring one of these kids and watching God transform their life over the next few years will be more of a blessing to you than it could ever be to them!
When I watch Franklin and talk to him about what he will become, I have a hard time imagining that it is even the same kid that one day was stealing in the streets just to survive. Recently, Franklin has been helping and teaching some secondary classes at the TOL. He came and told me a few weeks ago he had decided he now wanted to become a Secondary Social Studies Teacher; he wants to change lives like his has been changed. It overwhelms me how God uses people to transform the lives of these kids. The lessons I learn from them are more than I could ever teach them!

with love from Zambia,

kenley
 Sponsorship is $44 a month for grades 1-6 and then increases to $66 for grade 7 and above. These 5 kids will most likely be in Grade 6 or lower. The onetime $95 enrollment fee has already been paid for these 5 kids. Click on the name of the child above to get to their sponsorship page. If you have any difficulty registering, call 972-620-2020 and ask for Marla.
 
This year I have taken the challenge to capture a HAPPY moment everyday! These moments are posted along with the HAPPY moments of 3 of my friends on Instagram! Follow us and celebrate the HAPPY in our days! Click here to follow our
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Friday, November 6, 2015

overwhelmed...

 

There are some days when life over here is overwhelming. Family and friends are thousands of miles away, there is more work to be done than can possibly ever be done, there is no way I could ever be what each of these kids needs. But, the great thing is, for every overwhelming moment there is over here there are so many more moments where I am overwhelmed by work being done by the mighty God who called me over here! 

It is overwhelming to watch teachers being taught by our own kids and soak up anything shown to them! In the beginning of September we had teacher training and then opened school for term 3. It is always refreshing to see our teachers growing and excited about learning and teaching new things. It is so always so refreshing when our kids return to school after a holiday break!


I am overwhelmed when I watch 70 kids who weren't even given an opportunity for an education march into the parliament building to sit through a session and understand what is going on. These grade 7 kids created a business and ran it this summer to pay for their field trips. Watching their eyes light up at the opportunity to watch a session of parliament that they have been learning about for years is pretty incredible.


Overwhelmed with the opportunity to start a Senior Secondary School at the TOL next year! I have been working to learn everything I can about Senior Secondary Schools in Zambia and prepare for the opening of our 10-12 school at TOL in January. Be in prayer for us we embark on this new journey!


Overwhelmed each time I am called mom by so many of these precious faces and overwhelmed each time I realize what God has entrusted me with.  Mainly these last few months have been me just trying to keep up with all of these kids and the struggles, challenges and blessings they go through each day!!



In the good seasons and difficult seasons I am most of all overwhelmed by the incredible God we serve and overwhelmed by the grace I receive everyday that I do not deserve! Thank you for continuing in this journey with me and for your prayers and support every day!