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! 

Friday, November 15, 2013

all in a day's work...

Monday was my first official day at work in schools. This week I am traveling around with our Zambian Deputy Superintendent, Webster, to visit different schools and identify areas we need to focus on. We set out early and dropped off two new teachers who reported to work for their first day. After getting them to their correct schools and meeting the staff in these schools, we headed to pick up the Head Teacher at Mtendere School.  A teacher at this school had passed away this past week and we were going to the funeral to represent Family Legacy.
           


As Webster, the Head Teacher, our Zambian Human Resource Director and I headed off towards the cemetery, we realized none of us knew where the actual grave was located. We drove around a few different parts of the cemetery until we spotted someone we could ask. We headed in what we thought was the right direction and noticed a funeral.  Funerals in Zambia are a huge gathering. Everyone in the neighborhood comes to a funeral along with family, co-workers and friends of friends. It is not uncommon for people to be at funerals of someone they didn’t even know! As we drove towards the funeral the roads got muddier and muddier.  We got to a huge mud puddle and the Head Teacher got out to direct us through. We got about half way through the puddle when we spun around and covered the Head Teacher in mud. He hops in back car and doesn’t even clean any of it off! As we pull up, there are hundreds of people. The work truck next to us had the entire back end loaded with people and people hanging off the sides! We parked and sent the Head Teacher to gather information. When he returned we found out the funeral was over and it was the wrong one! As the trucks pulled out with hundreds of people we followed them back to the main road. As soon as we hit the main road we noticed all of the trucks were pulled to the sides and there was a body in the middle of the street. One of the men had been hit by a car. I did not see a driver in the car and was informed that he most likely had been pulled out and was being beaten. Four guys lifted the man up and threw him in the back seat of the car that hit him and drove off as quickly as they could with 2 guys hanging out the sides trying to help clear the roads. The hundreds of people from the funeral were now gathered on the streets screaming and crying. We finally broke through traffic and pulled in to another part of the cemetery. We parked and waited and after about 45 minutes another group of trucks and vans loaded with people pulled up. We watched as everyone unloaded and then we saw the casket. We started walking towards the grave when Webster told us this is not the right funeral either! We headed back to the car and waited again. After another 45 minutes we see another group of trucks and vans pull in. This time we saw the name of the church so we knew it is correct! We followed everyone out to the graveside winding around all of the graves. There is no structure to the cemetery and very little space between graves, so you step wherever you can. We found seats in one of the very few chairs under a small tent and our Zambian Human Resources Director told me we needed to take them because it is hot and this was going to be a LONG service.            



Traditionally in Zambia, women wear chitangas to funerals as a sign of respect. Since we did not know we were coming, we did not have our chitangas with us! We tried to hide so no one would notice, but about an hour into the service, after the body had been buried, concreted in so no one could steal the coffin, covered and roots planted for plants to grow over the grave, they started calling people to place flowers on the grave. They started with the immediate family and then friends and then people from her job. We could not get up, because we were not appropriately dressed. Being the only mzungu, white person, at the funeral everyone stared in our direction. We felt so bad we could not go up! It is so crazy, there were hundreds of people sitting on graves all around and we were the disrespectful ones for not having the proper skirts on! As soon as the last flowers were placed we felt a huge gust of wind coming. This meant that rain was close! The songs continued and then all of sudden you saw people hop up and start taking off across the cemetery. The rain had started. We stayed for a little while longer waiting on Webster to speak and then he came and got us and said we needed to go. By this time it was a downpour. The four of us headed towards the car, hopping over graves and cutting through the cemetery as fast as we could. When I got to the car my pants were covered in red dirt from the knees down and my feet too! We were all soaking wet. Webster looked over at me and said, “After the day we have had, you are officially initiated!”
 


Leaving the funeral, we headed back to the office and went through applicants for the 66 teacher openings we have to fill in the next 2 months! We are adding about 3,000 students to our 17 schools starting in January, doubling each of our schools! We are so excited about the growth, but have lots of work to get done!



I realized today how much I am going to have to trust God for each step as I live here. There is not a single event that I can control or even predict. When I think about it,  I don’t think there is a better way to live! If this is what my first day on the job looks like, I better be ready for anything!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

a one way ticket...

I have arrived in Zambia! My flight left Monday around noon. After a mini luggage crisis at the airport, lots of tears goodbye and 14 hours, we arrived in Dubai! What a beautiful city!


Our last leg of the flight was 8 hours and then a few extra just trying to get past customs! But we made it with all of our luggage and a sweet welcome from our new leaders and the AmCom families! Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement during the last few weeks! There was not an email, text, card or prayer that did not make a huge difference. I am so thankful to be surrounded by so many amazing people!


I have lots to learn as I transition here! Already this week has been full of firsts and there are so many more to come! Friday we started our first day at work by unloading a container of textbooks that had been shipped over from the United States. We took all of the books off the container, sorted them and divided them between our schools. Since it is summer over here, this was a hot day at work! After we finished, I did get to make a stop by the Tree of Life and see my sweet students. When I walked in the classroom, they could barely stand up to greet me properly because they were so surprised! How refreshing to see their smiling faces! 



When I boarded the plane on Monday, I sat down and waited for the person next to me to board. I started to think about that one question you usually ask that person who sits next to you on the plane, "Are you headed home or taking a trip?" I didn't even know how I would answer this question. Which way am I headed? Miriam Adeney I think describes it best when she says,

"You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place."

Saturday, November 9, 2013

the beginning...


If you have not had the opportunity to read it yet, I have attached my newsletter that shares the journey God took me on this summer, shares the about the work I will be doing, and invites you to join me as I take off on this new adventure. 
Just click on the picture above to open my newsletter!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

simply the best...

As I sit on the plane during the 14 hour flight to Dubai, I can't help but think about how hard it is to leave. The more I have time to process everything, the more I realize that it is so hard to leave because God has blessed me with the best...the best friends and truly the best family. 

This past week I have continued to be showered with encouraging letters, texts and messages and blessed by support from so many different people in so many different ways. I truly can't remember a time in my life where I have felt so loved.


The last few months I have been able to spend pretty much everyday with my family. This time has been so special to me because it is time I would not have had otherwise. I loved getting up in the mornings and walking with my dad, meeting him for lunch or playing a round of golf! Time in the store always is special because I get to see the lives that my mom touches everyday. I don't think anyone can leave that store without feeling the love of Christ! I tagged along with my older sister, brother-in-law and nephews as we hit up almost everything there is to do in Fort Worth! I can't even begin to tell you how many amazing memories I got to make with my two precious boys! My younger sister and her husband made the trip from College Station almost every weekend just to spend time with me and do anything I needed! It doesn't get much better than that! 


When I tell you I am blessed with the simply the best there is, I am. My family has sacrificed for me over and over and have loved and supported me through every step. Not only do they cover me in prayer, but they love me unconditionally. Their strength has helped me through so many days and just knowing they will always be there makes my heart happy. I can not even begin to tell you the love they have showered on me the last few weeks and I could not be more thankful for each and every one of them!