Sunday, November 30, 2014

maegan...


Today we celebrate MAEGAN! I have truly been blessed with the most amazing younger sister anyone could ask for. She has a heart of gold and does everything for everyone else around! I am so thankful for her example each day and the impact she has made in my life! I hope that she feels extra special today and everyday! Love you Maegan!  


For there is no friend like a sister in calm or stormy weather; To cheer one on the tedious way, to fetch one if one goes astray, to lift one if one totters down, to strengthen whilst one stands.
Christina Rossetti


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

celebrate...





On October 24th Zambia celebrated 50 years of Independence.  This jubilee celebration had been building up for months with shopping areas decorated, commemorative chitenge being sold and celebrations planned all across the country.

At FCA we had a week of celebration for our kids! Each day leading up to the 24th, our students learned more and more about their heritage and the history of Zambia. We celebrated with hats and decorations around the school, and then ended the week with a day of performances and a Jubilee Football Tournament between the classes. 




On Independence Day, the kids headed up to hilltop for a full day of fun! Everyone from the house moms to the kids put on performances about Zambia. It was a day packed with a movie, bounce houses, soccer tournaments and dancing! 



Independence Day was truly a day of celebration for Zambia and for all of us Tree of Life Children's Village! What an incredible country filled with some of the most amazing people! Our kids are going to change the next 50 years of Zambia!

With Love from Zambia, 
Kenley

Sunday, October 26, 2014

parliament...

 

Back in February, I visited one of the top schools in Lusaka and noticed their plan for field trips, or school tours as they call them here. When I returned to school I asked some of the kids if they had ever gone on a field trip. They quickly said no, but of course started asking if we could take one.

Our school and kids have been blessed with everything they have from people back home. At this point in the year, I was working hard to give our kids the understanding of taking care of what you are given. We were learning the best way to say thank you and show appreciation is to take care of what you get because someone had to work hard to pay for the items they receive. So when our kids asked, I told them we could take a field trip, but I wouldn’t ask for the money, they would have to earn it. From there our grade 7s created a leadership team, wrote a business plan, waited on approvals to go through every level and started a business.

Their business was titled Blessed Products and all of the FCA kids participated. After a rush order of canvases from South Africa, we had our older students paint a picture and our younger ones did a handprint. Every Sunday during market our kids sold their handprints to raise money. We sold out after the third week and did another rush order where the kids all painted another one! It was an amazing experience for our kids to see the hard work behind preparing and selling and to watch them earn money for something they wanted! So many lessons could be taught during this time!

 


A few weeks ago, the Grade 7s took their first field trip to the Parliament Building. Because they had worked so hard to earn this opportunity, they weren’t going to let is pass without taking full advantage! Our Grade 7 teachers did an incredible job of getting our kids prepared. They went over all of the rules and reviewed everything they needed to know about the Zambian Government before we left. When we arrived we sat through a session of Parliament and then our kids were able to ask any questions they had. After a while we had to cut them off, because there was so much the kids wanted to know!

The next day I was invited to sit in on their discussion of what they had seen the day before. Kids' hands were all up in the air and I truly cannot remember a time I sat through a lesson where both the teacher and students were so excited about what they were learning. I was amazed at our kids naming every person at Parliament the day before and what their position is. Their knowledge amazed me and their excitement was overwhelming. 
 


At the end of the lesson, Dennis, our head teacher at FCA, told the kids that their trip to Parliament was the first time he had ever been. This man has taught for many, many years and had never had the opportunity to go. When he finished up his lesson, he reminded them that the chance to go to parliament was an opportunity not everyone received and how thankful they should be for the advantage it would give them on their exams


As I left their classroom, I just stood for a moment, taken back. The children sitting in that classroom, talking over each other in excitement from what they had seen, were not too long ago the same children sleeping in ditches and used by their families only as a source of income. These same kids who used to run the streets, are now are fighting for high marks on their National Exams and holding conversations about what the Minister of Health said in the last session of Parliament. How can you not see how much our God loves His children when you see Him pull them from darkness and give them a new life. WOW! What a mighty God we serve!   
 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

lessons...


This past week we held teacher training for our 140 teachers to prepare them for Term 3. While this week was intended to teach our teachers new things, God used it to teach me.

Each morning we start our training out with worship and prayer. Usually our teachers lead this time, but this week I brought some of our Grade 7 students from Faith Christian Academy to lead. The group of kids who came on Wednesday was not prepared. I had only told them right before bed on Tuesday and they had little time to decide what to sing and to work together. We said a quick prayer before they started and then the teachers began to arrive. They teachers started singing and a few were moving their feet but not many were really worshipping. About half way through, my head teacher, Dennis, came over and said he had some songs to request. I told him they had a list they had prepared for the amount of time we had, but maybe next time. I put God in a box. I wanted him to fit into the time schedule we made. After another song, some of my teachers in the back were starting to dance a little more. I told them to grab a friend and head to the stage. They went running! As they danced they continued to tell the kids new songs to sing! Some of our teachers went to the stage and started drumming and others started dancing AROUND the room!

Our 15 minutes of worship time turned into an hour of our teachers dancing, singing and praising our Father. I clearly heard God say, “don’t put me in a box.” Man, what an amazing time of worship and celebration we would have missed if the teachers had not listened to their hearts! I started thinking about how many times I have most likely missed something God wanted to do because of my own personal agenda.


On Friday, we did a bus tour like we had done last term. This time I was stationed at Chaisa LCA. I knew Chaisa had been a bar before we bought the property, but I had no idea how bad it was. With each group that would pass through, our Discipleship Staff and myself would introduce the school. Every time the Discipleship Staff would tell the teachers this place used to be a bar called, Kalingindi, you could hear the teachers gasp and start to talk amongst themselves. Our school had not only been a bar, but a brothel and one of the most well-known across Lusaka because of the awful things going on there. Thousands are people are said to have died from that place and even more contracted AIDs. The teachers recognized the name of the bar because they had heard of the evil going on there. There are many students who attend Chaisa LCA who lost their parents because of Kanlingindi Bar and Brothel. How amazing is it that a place once filled with so much sin is now spreading the gospel. Chaisa is special because from our school you can hear the music of the bars and clubs in the compound. When you walk out the front gate of the school there are thousands of glass bottles lining the streets that are sold and filled with liquor and beer. Even one of our students at Chaisa LCA was out there selling with her caretakers when I was there. The contrast from the outside of the gate to inside the school is an amazing difference. Chaisa LCA is a safe place for the children and a place where they can see a new life. God opened my eyes to see nothing is impossible for Him. From destruction, to new life, He can make all things new!
 

As we prepared to open school again, God taught me even more than he taught our teachers. I am so thankful even though God doesn’t need me, He allows me to do His work and that He continues to teach me as well!

 

rescued...


This summer over 7,000 kids had the opportunity to come to Camp LIFE. For some, it was chance to escape their every day life. Others, were rescued from a life filled with abuse, neglect and mistreatment. Since camp started in June, we have had 115 kids who have found a new 
HOME. The precious faces in the picture above are our newest children moved into Chelstone within the last few weeks.  Each child who is moved into our full time care is rescued from a life where they are not seen as any value. They are beaten, shunned and left to survive on their own. Everyday I am in awe of our amazing God who protects his children and orchestrates plans beyond our imagination. 
Ireen, James, Rebecca, Mirriam, Benjamin


 
The oldest of these five children Ireen, attended our LCA in Chaisa. Our field workers in Chaisa discovered that Ireen and Mirriam had been being abused by their stepdad. The stepdad had been placed in jail after there was proof of the abuse. The man was able to find a way to bribe his way out of jail. After prayer and persuasion, our staff was able to keep the stepdad in prison. The mom is a drunk and prostitute and was begging for our team to take her children.

Our team was able to rescue 5 of the 6 kids in the family. What a miracle day is was when we celebrated that this family is now safe! 
Isaac (Esau) and Israel (Jacob)

Esau and Jacob were rescued the second week of camp. Some of our fieldworkers in a compound named Chaisa found Esau and Jacob sleeping in the drainage ditches. These boys had been living on the streets for months. When the field workers went to their house they found their parents. When they asked the boys’ family what happened they said they didn’t want them. They had chased all of their kids away from the house. Esau and Jacob had been surviving on their own. When they found the boys, Jacob had been beaten with a pipe on his face trying to steal food for him and Esau.

The parents handed the boys over to us the same day and they came HOME! One of my best friends decided to sponsor the boys and renamed them, Isaac and Israel. New names in Zambia symbolize a new life. Isaac and Israel have not only a new life, but a brand new future! 
Jane


Jane came to camp this summer for the first time and was placed in a group of 10 little girls. On Wednesday, Jane was taken to the medical tent because she had been burned badly Tuesday night. Although Jane would say very little and kept saying it was an accident, they knew the burns were purposeful.  With only a little information, there wasn’t much that could be done, so Jane was bandaged up and sent home. The next day Jane came for community day bent over and unable to walk straight. Over night the burns had opened and gotten infected.  They went to Jane’s home around 11am and found her father, already drunk, there with her brother, Festos.

Jane and her brother Festos were moved into our care on Thursday night. Friday morning I took them both to camp. When we arrived, our first stop was the medical tent for Festos. He had broken ribs. We walked up there together and waited for the doctor. As soon as the doctor came in Festos started yelling, “No! No!” and started backing away. The doctor told me Jane did the exact same thing when she saw him. They were both scared of men.

Jane and her brother were being abused, in multiple ways, by their father.  Their mother would leave them and run to protect herself when he was abusing them. Jane is strong and independent and Festos protects his sister. These 2 precious kids now have the opportunity to play and have fun instead of just surviving. 


Poulina
Poulina was brought to camp by one of our field workers early in the summer. Her knee was completely opened and was the size of a large grapefruit on very skinny girl.  It was unlike anything I have ever seen. She came in with her grandmother. The grandmother told our doctor that Poulina had been very sick so she had turned to “traditional medicine” which meant a witchdoctor. The witchdoctor told her to take ground up bone and sprinkle in on the knee for it to heal. Of course it didn’t and Poulina continued to get worse. The infection in her knee was so bad when she ate food; it was basically going to her knee. She wasn’t getting any nutrients, no matter what she ate.

Our doctor immediately knew what was going on (and used all the medically correct terms that I won’t even attempt) and started getting Poulina help. She was moved into Tree of Life immediately and has already had one surgery with even more help coming.

The Friday after Poulina moved in I went to pick her up to take her to camp. When I carried her to my car it was like I was carrying a baby. She weighed nothing and had no strength. She smiled big smiles at camp all day, but she was sick and you could tell. This morning when I went to visit Poulina, less than 2 months later, she was sitting in her bed coloring and laughing with the girls in her house. She asked me to carry her outside to sit.  When I went to lift her, it hit me; she is getting healthy. I quickly said, “Poulina, you are so heavy, have you been eating extra? You are getting so big!” She looked at me and smiled, “I am.” The joy on this precious girl’s face when she sat outside this morning and played overwhelmed me. Our God is the great healer and he doesn’t forget about his children.


Catherine and Beatrice


Catherine and her sister, Beatrice, moved into Chelstone the middle of June. When Catherine moved in she was quiet. She wouldn’t run to come see me like the others when I visited and stuck right by her sister. When she started school we couldn’t get her to go to class. She would eat lunch and go play, but when it was time to go to class she would sit in the dirt and scream and cry, for hours. Nothing would keep her from crying. We tried everything we could think of and nothing worked. She wouldn’t stop crying. Finally, after days of not being able to do anything with Catherine I realized it was Beatrice. The only time she was apart from her was when she was in class. Beatrice, her 8 year old sister, had been taking care of her.

After loving on Catherine and separating the two sisters for a little while, Catherine started coming to school. For Beatrice, being at school was the first time she didn’t have to be “mother” to Catherine. She had a chance to be a kid. Catherine had to learn to trust others and to believe that we would take care of her. That is tough for a 3 year old.

Many of our kids who have been around a while or are moved in because of camp assessments, I don’t know their stories. The same was true with Catherine and Beatrice. I knew they were from Bueseko Market, one of the worst parts of town, but I didn’t know why they were at Tree of Life.  This week I stumbled upon a picture and story our Vice President had posted.



This was Catherine, last summer. Our team had made multiple attempts to get Catherine and Beatrice. They were born to a teenage prostitute who did not see either of them as any value. They had been sleeping on a huge pile of trash along a busy road that huge trucks used everyday and Beatrice has been suffering from painful STD’s.

This past weekend when I went to Chelstone to visit, Catherine was the first one running out of the house, with a huge grin. She ran into my arms and gave me a huge hug. What a mighty God we serve!


These are only a few of the hundreds of stories from this summer. I am overwhelmed when I think of how powerful our God is. Not a day goes by that I don't understand how blessed I am to be able to serve here! 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Friday, September 5, 2014

gena...


HAPPY BIRTHDAY GENA!



I am so thankful for my older sister, Gena. She has been an example for me my entire life. I have been encouraged by her and loved unconditionally throughout the years! I could not be blessed with a better older sister! 

I love you so much, G, and can't wait to celebrate with you when I get home! 


An older sister is a friend and defender - a listener, conspirator, a counselor and a sharer of delights. And sorrows too. - Pam Brown


Monday, July 21, 2014

home...

This summer Family Legacy has opened 8 different houses. Families from back home have fundraised, planned and prayed over these houses for months and even years! Each house is named by the family who is opening the house and it holds special meaning.  The day before a house opening our kids at Chelstone are told who will be moving in the next day! They pack their bag and have one more night before they get to move in to their new home. On the day of a house opening, our kids are picked up from Chelstone, say their goodbyes to their friends and head to the Tree of Life! 


When they arrive at Tree of Life they wait on the bus until it is time for the family building the house to come get them and take them to their new home! When it is time, the family opening the home comes and gets the kids! They walk the kids to the front of the house where all of our kids at Tree of Life welcome them with singing and dancing. The new kids are told the story about who their house was built in memory of or what is stands for. After worship and prayer they kids are taken in to see their new home!





This summer we had 84 kids move into the Tree of Life. It has been an excited summer to watch kids who have been pulled from ditches, removed from abusive parents, or lived on the streets be able to find a home! 



The first houses to open this summer were the new Life Vision Homes. Two for our older girls, Ganny's and Legacy, and Jacob Logan's for the boys. The Life Vision Homes are for our older children who can now take on leadership responsibilities and are able to have a little more freedom! 



The same afternoon the Life Vision Homes were opened, Treasure House opened! Some of my sweet precious girls I have had the opportunity to love on at Chelston the past 8 months got to move in!

After Treasure House opened each kid who moved into a Life Vision Home took a new child to move into their room in their old house! What a sweet afternoon seeing our older kids lead in our new ones and 12 new girls to be at home! 



Next came Amen House, a few weeks later, opened by 5 sweet families. They have opened two other houses together, Glory and Hallelujah. 12 amazing boys had a new place to call home! 


Della's house was the  next to open and 12 more girls so excited about a bed to sleep in and a new family! 


The next week Richard's House opened! This house opening was so special because one of my sponsored kids, Elijah, moved in with his 2 brothers. This house of boys is extra special to me because they were some of the first boys to move into Chelstone after I moved in! We have been on this journey together the last 8 months! 



The last house to open was Kyle's House! 12 more boys found their home! The twins rescued from Chaisa in June got to move in along with other boys who all moved in while camp has been going on! How special to get to see these kids rescued and now at home! 



During the second house opening one of the girls who had just moved in came and stood next to me and asked if any new girls had taken her spot at Cheston since she moved in. I told her, "of course, you know we had new girls come." She asked me to find out who was in her old room. I asked her why it mattered it to her because she had a new house now. She looked over at and said, "well that is where the first bed I ever slept in is. I want to make sure they know how special it is!" I squeezed her tight and realized this is the first home many of these kids have ever had, let alone one complete with everything they could imagine! 84 kids have new house this summer thanks to the heart of these families! What a blessing! 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

teach one...

During weeks 3 and 4 of camp, we had our first Teach ONE trip! Teach One was my first experience in Zambia this time last year so it is very dear to my heart! This group worked at Kamanga LCA, our newest school. They did a phenomenal job loving on our teachers and pouring into them!


During the two weeks that they were here we had an opportunity to go to Chimanuka on a mini safari. They were so generous to invite the education staff along! We were able to enjoy the day outside and even got to walk cheetahs!


It is amazing how God calls so many different people to come and serve and I am so thankful that I get to see how God uses each of these people here. My roommate on Teach ONE last year, Ashley, came back for the first Teach ONE trip. What a joy to work with her in Zambia again! She has such an amazing heart for these children and truly a blessing to all of those around her!


I cannot even begin to describe how much it means to have people from home over here! I was definitely blessed by this team during their two weeks!

Monday, June 23, 2014

faith...


Camp LIFE is in full swing here in Zambia. We have already had over 400 Americans travel over to love on the orphaned and vulnerable kids of Lusaka. Camp is the heart of what Family Legacy is all about. Americans get the opportunity to come over and meet a group of 10 kids who they love on and pour into during their week at camp. Each American ambassador then goes back home and finds sponsors for these kids. After a kid is sponsored they get to go to school at our Lifeway Christian Academies, eat a warm meal everyday, and know that they will be cared for. These kids get to experience Christ's love.


 

Week 2 of camp I was able to have a group of 10 girls who are already sponsored! These ten girls lit up when they talked about going to school this year and what they have learned! Our week was filled with dancing and singing and sharing about Jesus! These girls played so hard and learned all about having FAITH! Kids here have to endure a lot... Many do not know where their next meal will come from and when will it come, if they will beaten when they get home, or even what tomorrow will hold for them. For these kids, having FAITH, means trusting him for so much more than we can even imagine!


On Thursday the girls took me to their home in Bauleni. We walked through the compound sharing all they had learned this week about Christ and how having FAITH meant trusting God even when you can't see Him! 
 

The kids we serve here are the future of this country. One day they will be doctors, lawyers and teachers. Maybe even one day one will be the president of Zambia! This year Zambia celebrates 50 years of independence. In honor of this celebration, all 500 of our kids at the Tree of Life, 6,000 of our kids at our Lifeway Christian Academies and the 4,000 new kids who will be at camp this summer are being challenged to do great things during Zambia's next 50 years! 
 

These kids ARE THE NEXT 50 YEARS OF ZAMBIA!  

On the last day of camp each child was given a balloon (keep in mind most of them have never touched one before) and each child was told to dream and to believe that God has big plans for them. As they release their balloons they watched them fly high. These kids will do the same! They are going to soar! With new opportunities and FAITH in Christ, they are going to achieve great things for the nation of Zambia!
 



This summer God is doing amazing things in the hearts of hundreds of Americans and thousands of Zambian children. Matthew 17:20 says, "I tell you the truth, if you had FAITH even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it would move. NOTHING would be impossible." What a POWERFUL God we serve!



FAITH to Move Mountains
Camp LIFE 2014