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,
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.