Tuesday, December 31, 2013

joy...


Just like that starry night in Bethlehem, when you look into the night sky you will see a vast array of stars, too numerous to count. From where we stand, these stars look like mere pinpoints of light.  If you could travel to where they burn, you would suddenly gain a much different perspective. These tiny, twinkling specks of light would reveal themselves to be huge, flaming balls of gas with extraordinary power and enormous potential.

Orphans are like these stars. From a distance you can only try to comprehend their sheer numbers, 143 million worldwide and 1 million in Zambia. But when you get up close you see that everyone is different, unique, and full of potential.

Since joining Family Legacy, I now have the opportunity to make a personal connection with the orphans of Zambia. Orphans like James, Luka, Evans and Gift… I can only name hundreds of them, but God can name them all. They are as close to Him as His own heart - indeed, they are right at the center of it.

Though the “stars” in Zambia may seem distant to you, let me assure you that they are very real and shining brightly because of your love. If they could tell you how much your prayers and support mean, they would.


I am so thankful for YOUR heart as you have supported me in this journey and enabled me to love of these precious children.  On behalf of the thousands of twinkling lights in Zambia ... Thank You.

I pray that you will have the gift of faith, the blessing of hope and the peace of His love during the holidays and always.
                                                                       
with peace, joy and love from Zambia,
             Kenley

“He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.”
Psalms 147:4-5


december...

This entire month has just flown by! We have been without Internet for a while now, so I have not been able to update about everything that has been happening!

Since our teacher training in the middle of December, we have been marking as many things off of our to do list as possible! We took Christmas Day off, but other than that we have been working long hours and trying to get everything done that needs to be! I have also been working at FCA to clean out and figure out exactly what is there for us to use! It has been quite the adventure going through everything there!

Finally on the 21st the kids came back. I was SOO excited to see them! I was working at the school as they started to return and I was getting more and more excited as each one came home! When I finally saw Luka, he came running and jumped into my arms. James was right behind him to give me a hug! Man I love those 2 so much! I got to meet their mom and she hugged me and thanked me over and over. I told her how much it meant to me to get to meet her and she smiled and said she felt the same way. How blessed am I to get to meet her!


We had our AmCom Christmas party the weekend before Christmas and we had a progressive dinner through AmCom. We started with dinner at one house, then hot chocolate and presents at the next and then dessert at our house. We decided to do a White Elephant Gift Exchange this year with one catch; you had to buy your gift from the car. It was so fun to see what everyone came up with! We had all been looking for our gifts for weeks trying to find just the right thing.  I was driving through Kamanga (a compound we are building a school in) and I saw a guy with a crazy shirt on. I turned around just to make sure it was what I thought it was. Sure enough, Obama’s face was not only on the back, but the front too! I pulled over and waited for the guy to walk by me and then asked him if I could buy his shirt. He did not understand very much English but his friend with him did and explained to him I wanted to buy his shirt. The guy asked what he was supposed to wear if I bought his shirt and I told him he could go buy another one. I told him I would pay 50 kwacha (a little under $10). It was a lot more than what I should have, but the guy was about to have to walk shirtless somewhere to find a new one! There was a stand down the road that sold shirts so I told him where I was headed and I would meet him in that direction.  This way he would at least be a little closer to where he could buy a new shirt. I was so afraid when I drove off that I wasn’t going to see this guy again. After we finished our work at the school I headed out to find my guy. When I turned the corned back out to the main road he was waiting for me! He gave me his shirt! I was so excited. It was definitely a hit at the party and is said to be a requirement to be back for the trade next year! It was a great night of celebrating Jesus and reminding me that God always surrounds us with His love!





We got the most amazing Christmas gift on the 23rd, the container with all of our things arrived!! We couldn’t get everything unloaded the first day, but enough to start making my room feel like home! It could not have been better timing! 

Monday, December 30, 2013

training...

On December 16th and 17th we held a professional development for our teachers. We did a training for all of our new teachers and our returning teachers worked on curriculum alignment for next year. This was new for our teachers to have multiple schools follow the same plan, but it was exciting to see how excited they were and how hard they worked!


 

We followed two days of training with 2 full days of interviews, but the good news is, we could potentially be fully staffed by January. We have offers ready for almost 70 teachers and now we will just have to pray they will accept and we will have enough teachers for each school starting in January!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

a new kind of december...

December is one of our busy seasons over here. We have been preparing for so many different things... the end of the year, the beginning of next year, thousands of new students joining our schools, teacher trainings, Dream Camp coming and so many other projects! 

One of the projects I have been working on along with hiring is uniforms. This might seem like a simple task, but ordering uniforms for almost 10,000 kids and sizing each of them for shoes is a little crazy! We ordered sample shoes for each of our schools so they could size their students. After packing shoe sizing boxes and printing spreadsheets for all of our students, all of our new students and all of our students who attend government school, it was up to our Discipleship Leaders to hunt down all of their kids and get them sized in 2 weeks. Some schools have almost 1,000 kids they had to find and size!


The last few weeks we have been going to our schools extremely frequently to deliver assessments, pass out paperwork and to check on projects. With one of our deputies away, it was time for me to head out in my own direction and drive in the compounds. Driving in the compounds is very different than just driving on the roads. I have become better at driving on the left side of the road and the right side of the car, but compounds add a whole new set of challenges. There are "markets" that line the roads with people everywhere and pot holes that are almost like playing a video game to try and avoid. This is just on a normal day. When it rains it is it a whole different challenge. Can I make it through the water without getting stuck, is a question you ask yourself very often. Webster, one of our Zambian deputies, told me the key is to wait and follow a car through or look for tire tracks on the far side to see if there is proof a car made it out. Needless to say, there have been lots of prayers as I drive through "puddles"! You never know when you will get stuck.


This weekend we finished up the  shoe sizing at Chelston. Chelston is our transitional home for our very newest students. These precious kids had their first week of school last week and they were so excited about EVERYTHING! Little things we take for granted mean the world to these kids. The house moms have to start at the beginning with them and teach them everything from how to use a shower to cooking. We spent the morning with these precious kids and even helped them put up a Christmas Tree. It brings me such joy to see their excitement!


This December definitely has already been so different than any other. It is amazing how many things I have always deemed as important during this time of year that truly only distracted me from the real meaning of Christmas.  I am so thankful to be serving a God who loves me so much and reminds me daily in the little things. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

home for the holidays...

Thursday was the end of Term 3, basically the end of the year, for our students. We completed assessments and sent the kids off for holiday.  Now we are preparing for our 3, 000 new students we will assess next week, continuing to look through CVs for more teachers to interview, getting supplies and uniforms ready for next year, preparing buildings to hold all of our new students and interviewing as many people as we can! This past week we found 28 new teachers to join our team and I received my official work visa! Praise the Lord! We still have a long way to go before we will be ready for Opening Day in January, but I am so thankful to be a part of an amazing team!


End of the term means holiday for our kids. Most of the kids at Tree of Life have an aunt or grandmother or someone who they will go stay with for a few weeks. I was talking with one of my students this week about going home and I asked him what he would be doing while he was away. He looked me straight in the face and said, "share the gospel of Jesus to anyone who will listen." Isn't that exactly what our prayer is? These children will be spread out over all the compounds the next two weeks being a light for Christ.

The hard part is there are still some who have no one to go visit. I knew yesterday would be hard for those kids who were left behind after watching everyone else excitedly packing and leaving all day. I went out to the Tree of Life during the afternoon to hang out with some of our kids who were left.

One of my grade 6 kids and I went around and tried to find any kids left we could. Many were hiding in their rooms sad, but we would convince them to come play. We spent the afternoon playing soccer, running around and just enjoying everyone else being away. I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult it is for the kids to stay around after everyone else is gone. Some kids waited by the front gate hoping someone would come get them only to find out there was no one coming. It just breaks my heart! The amazing team at Tree of Life has planned activities for the kids over the next 2 weeks. Hopefully we will keep them busy and they will understand how loved they truly are!


Pray for our sweet kiddos over the next two weeks, both those who are left behind and those who have gone home. For those who have stayed pray they will know Jesus more during this time and will feel overwhelmingly loved. For those who are away, pray safety and protection for them as many go home to difficult situations. Pray they will know Christ more and will share his love while they are away!


Monday, December 2, 2013

james...



During this season of thankfulness, I am reminded of how blessed I am to have the opportunity to serve in Zambia. These last few weeks have already opened my eyes to see even more of the greatness of our King.  

Today I had the opportunity to see my precious James be baptized. What joy to know I will get to spend eternity with him! James was a blessing brought to me this summer…

I felt led to sponsor a Tree of Life kid even before I headed to Zambia this summer.  I thought it would be really special to sponsor a kid from one of my classes I was working with. As I started to look through the unsponsored kids, there was only one of my students on the list, James. James had been in my Grade 6 class and was extremely quiet. I could tell James had been through a lot, because he was much older than the other students in his class and had a limp when he walked because of something that was wrong with his leg. I has not had much interaction with him and just wasn't sure if he was who I should sponsor. That night I prayed about James and watched him the entire next day at school, but still wasn't sure if he was the right one. 

On Thursday nights during camp, the Americans all come to the Tree of Life and the students show off their houses and school. This is also a night were students who are not sponsored wear green bandanas in hopes of finding a sponsor. As I walked closer to the group of kids I was overwhelmed with certainty that James was who I wanted to sponsor. I went to tell the girl in charge of sponsorships so James would not get taken. She went and told James that when the other green bandana kids start running, he needed to just come see her. Of course James asked why. She told him she had a surprise for him and she said his face just lit up. When the kids started running I saw James go to meet her. She told him I wanted to sponsor him and he came as fast as he could across the field. He had a HUGE smile on his face, it was the first I has seen all week! I hugged him tight when he got to me and my hand felt his heart beating SO fast. I said, "James, your heart is beating so fast!" He responded, "it's because I am so happy!" 

I got to worship with James and the other kids for a while and when they dismissed us, James grabbed my hand and said, "I want to show you my house!" As we were walking to his house, James said, "Auntie, I have been praying that God would send someone who could love me, but I wasn't sure He was going to answer me." It took all I had to get the words out, "James, it looks like He answered your prayers!"  I spent the rest of the evening with them, rejoicing in the blessing that God had sent to me! 

This week I found out that my grandfather passed away. Being away from family during a time like this is always difficult, but it is so confirming that God has me exactly where I am supposed to be on days like today. James, along with 150 of our other kids were baptized on the hilltop. I could not have celebrated my grandfather in any better way than worshiping with all of these kids and celebrating lives taken out darkness and now shining light for others to see.


As God is teaching me so many things and stretching me each day, I am realizing how little I need the things I think I need and how much more I need Him. We all have so much to be thankful for during this Thanksgiving season. I could not be more thankful for your prayers, financial support and encouragement. I am blessed that you are joining me one this journey and could not do this without you!  

Saturday, November 30, 2013

granddaddy...

I received news yesterday afternoon that my granddad had passed away. Granddaddy was 96 and lived an amazingly full life. I had the opportunity to visit him right before I left and I would not give anything for each of the memories I have with him.



 

I don't believe there was ever a man who loved his family as much he did. If you ever spent 5 minutes with him he would tell you what amazing kids he had and not a bad grandkid in the bunch either. He always saw the good in people. Granddaddy always did for everybody else his entire life. He had a heart of gold. I cannot remember a trip home from the station that we did not stop by someone's house just to check on them. He was selfless and lived with integrity. I have no doubt in my mind that when Granddaddy got to heaven he heard, "well done my good and faithful servant."



My last night I spent with Granddaddy and my dad, we had some bar-b-que, sweet tea, coconut pie and watched the Alabama game. All of Granddaddy's favorites.  I hold each moment I spent with him close to my heart, because I know many of those moments helped mold me into the person I am today. The lessons I learned strawberry pickin' and fishing with him are more important than any lesson I learned at school. There are very few people in life who live an example you desire to follow. Granddaddy did and I am truly blessed to be a part of the legacy that he has left behind. 

"The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him." Proverbs 20:7



"Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever. Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice. Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever." 
Psalm 112: 1-6

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

rains and rainbows...

The first big rain of the year fell Thursday and AmCom got flooded! Because it is has been so dry here, when the rains came the ground couldn't absorb the rain fast enough!

We heard that some of our houses were flooding but we finished up our meeting at work before we headed home. We got to the top of the hill by our house and traffic was backed up. When we turned the corner we realized the streets were flooded outside our house. As we got closer we realized that a truck was parked in our driveway so we pulled to the side to figure out what we could do. As we waited we watched people trying to pass through. Some people jumped into the back of a truck, others tried to walk through and some waited to the side to see what would be best!



We finally got word that the gate to our house could not be opened. There was no way in, but we were hearing that one house had been filled with sewage water and the whole compound was flooded. 


We waited it out and a couple of hours later we received word that the gate could be opened. Our guard pulled the gate open as we pulled up and poor thing had water over his knees and water still just running in! Everything was covered in water and the guys who were inside AmCom had tried to block the water from going in to the houses and break holes in the back gates to drain the water out! We had two sewage lines bust in the front yard and it was a mess!

After the craziness that came on Thursday, it was a blessing that AmCom planned to celebrate Thanksgiving in Mazabuka this weekend. Some families  left Friday, but we headed down Saturday  morning. It was a beautiful drive down and an amazing day with friends! They roasted turkeys and guinea foul and there was a spread of all things American for lunch! 


We all made ourselves sick trying to eat everything! We could not have asked for better weather or a more beautiful place to spend the day! 


On our ride home we saw a rainbow! After another eventful week, it was so comforting to see the rainbow as a reminder of God's promise! He is always faithful!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

normal...

After an adventurous first day, the rest of the week was figuring out what normal would look like for me over here! Webster was the perfect tour guide to not only all of our schools, but to help me learn the history of Zambia and its traditions as well! I can't even begin to share all he taught me!

Webster covers the west side of our district and takes care of 8 schools: Kanyama 1, Kanyama 2, John Leing, Matereo, George, Chaisa, Lusaka West and Chawma. We made campus visits to these schools this week and observed teachers! Each school is so different and located right at the heart of the compounds they are in!


One school we had the privilege to visit a few times this week was Chaisa. This school was once a night club and brothel that was known as place so out of control, often, people were found dead. We did interviews this week with children there and saw how this place has been transformed from a dark place in the compound to a light where Christ is shared with hundreds of kids every day. One student I spoke with at Chaisa told me how he was so happy he gets to learn. He told me about his friends who do not get to go to school and how much they want to. He kept telling me how his life is going to be so much better now!




view of Chaisa Compound from the top of the school

Classroom observations are something that I have become pretty familiar with over the last few years, but this week my view from the back of the classroom was a little different. We are still looking for the same instructional strategies and classroom management as we would in the states, but it is refreshing to observe thousands of kids getting to learn that would have never had the opportunity before!



This week we are registering about 3,000 children to start school in January. Each school we stopped by we witnessed hundreds of kids with their mothers lined up and excited about getting to go to school for the first time. I spoke with kids and parents at the different schools we visited and the joy they have about getting to come to school and be fed a good meal everyday shines on each of their faces. In the picture below there are 5 girls I spent time with at Kanayama 1 this week. They are registering for school and excited does not even begin to describe how happy they are they get to start school in January. Judith on the far left is the 2nd oldest of 9 kids. She has 4 brothers and sisters who will get to join her in school this year. She will be in grade 7 and told me how she knows this opportunity will change her life. I have no doubt that God is going to use Judith for great things in the future!


This week has been filled with so many opportunities for me to meet amazing new people, embrace Zambian culture and foods, and see of glimpse of why God has called me to be here. Please continue to pray as I try to figure out "normal" here in Zambia for me and learn to trust God more and more every day!