Children’s Hospital Visit

Sorry to everyone following.. we have not been good about posting. between the very slow and spotty internet, and our overwhelming amount of things going on in the day and night, we are often unable to post or too tired to get to it…

(as is the case now, so I apologize for our briefness)

Today we went to a Children’s Hospital in the area. And this was by far the hardest things we have done thus far. The condition of the building would make it condemned in an instant in the US. everything is broken down, decayed, dirty, and old. While they do the best they can to make it clean, there is no way that place is sterile. The rooms are incredibly small, fitting between 4-6 beds/cribs in each room. Each is up against one another and most block  the door from being opened or closed all the way. Its absurd.

we visited 2 wards, the “high cost” ward which was apparently the nicest/most expensive part of the hospital, followed by a low cost area. And it was just so sad. We went with a group of young adults and youth from Remmy’s church to bring them toys and fruits, and I was fine, until I was asked to pray in one of the rooms. Each room we visited we would all pile in and give out what we brought and then pray. I prayed in the high cost area once, in one of the less cramped rooms, where kids about to be released were staying. However, the next time I was asked, I made the mistake of opening my eyes during the prayer and looking me straight through the heart was this child who had some sort of deformation or tumor overtaking his head. I couldn’t even tell how old he was because the rest of his body was so thin and malnourished, so I suppose it was a tumor taking all the nutrients from his body… I am not certain. But I would guess he was between 2-3 years old and his head was at least 3 times the normal size. His poor little face was being squished by the mass engulfing the top and back of his head. And I am trying to pray for healing and health and restoration, and I open my eyes and see this child staring right at me… who obviously has very very little chance of survival, and I just lost all ability to say anything worth saying. How could I stand there and say these are God’s children who will be protected and healed in his name, when it was clear that this was not possible in this life? God it broke my heart. I was speechless mid prayer and had to manage to mumble something else out and close the prayer because I was in a room of about 20 people and 5 beds crammed into a space no more than 10 feet wide. I kept it together until when we were exiting the room Sarah looked back at me with tears in her eyes and that was when I couldn’t hold it anymore.

I hate that I will never see those kids again, and that it couldn’t have been more than just a few moments of interaction. But I am helpless. What can I do? I am not studying to be a medical professional, i don’t have access to funds to change the situation or status of that hospital or the people in it… all I had was lollipops, crayons  and a couple balloons and prayer.

Ah. this was so challenging. I’ve had a hard time the rest of this day feeling myself. But its only 4:30pm here and were responsible for dinner tonight.. so pray that we can move past this emotionally, spiritually and physically draining morning and early afternoon. And pray for those mothers. Each and everyone was by the bedside of their child.. I pray for their continued need of strength, and spirit to help get their children and themselves through this difficult time of life.



We’re in Zambia!

We’ve officially passed the halfway point of our stay in Zambia, and we’ve yet to send a single update! I think a blog post is definitely in order.

If you’ve been sitting on the edge of your seat waiting to hear all the news, you can scoot back and make yourself comfortable. I’ll try to dish things out as painlessly as possible. If you just want a seven second version, we’ve got you covered. Scroll down to the bottom of this page for a couple pictures that give a quick glimpse of our time so far.

First of all, we’d like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who has supported us financially and prayerfully. It’s because of you that we are finally here in Zambia — and what a place this is!

Even after a week on this continent, there are still moments when we find it hard to believe we’re in AFRICA.

Our team consists of Ryan Miller, Rob Wheatley, Sarah Gross, and myself. We represent the Economic Empowerment group, which is part of Messiah College’s Collaboratory (an organization for research and project-based learning). We’re accompanied by Ron and Irma Herr, both of whom have lived and worked in Zambia. They’ve been super helpful in getting us accustomed to the culture here, and we appreciate their help with overseeing the rest of the trip.

Here’s a rundown of what we’ve been up to:

After a fifteen hour plane ride (complete with airplane food and plenty of neck cramps), we made it to South Africa! Another plane brought us to Zambia, where we kicked off the trip with a stay in Livingstone. What a place! For our first taste of Africa, I think it was the perfect start. We experienced shopping at a traditional market, eating all kinds of foods, meeting the locals, and visiting a church. As part of our learning experience, we also visited a local Microfinance institution. All of us have at least read about microfinance, but talking with practicing professionals gave us some added insight and firsthand exposure. We’re all about that!

On one day, we assumed the role of tourist and went on a safari, where we probably took too many pictures of giraffes and got overly excited about the African warthogs (who doesn’t love a Pumba sighting?). After that, we hiked around Victoria Falls. That was incredible and indescribably beautiful — such a picture of God’s unmatchable wonder! I wanted to build myself a hut right there and live at the falls forever. However, God didn’t just give us a beautiful world to enjoy — He also gave us a sense of purpose! And with that purpose in mind, we left Livingstone and headed north to Ndola. We’ll stay here until the end of our trip.

Remmy Hamapande, our Zambian host, picked us up at the station after we disembarked from a twelve hour bus ride. Whew! Talk about getting the full African experience. Thankfully, our trip was safe and fairly uneventful. We even got to enjoy the sights along the way. There were plenty of grass huts and villages where small vendors lined the streets and women with loads that looked too large for their heads sauntered casually along the paths.

The people here are wonderful, and I think the members of our host family are some of the best. Remmy and his wife Irene have shown us around the city, given us super comfy beds, and fed us delicious Nshima, the staple food here in Zambia. Best of all, they’ve been instrumental in planning and organizing our Community Savings and Loan Association (CSLA) workshops — the reason we came to Zambia! This week and next, we’re hosting three-day sessions to train people how to facilitate the formation of these savings groups in their communities.

Yesterday was our first teaching day, and we had a strong turnout. More than thirty people attended, and we were so happy to see most of the same faces again today. I think we were all a little nervous at first (or at least I was), but we made it through the first few lessons without anyone fainting or students walking out. Also, we’re very encouraged that the majority of those in attendance are close to our own age. Some of them are even college students or recent graduates. We also have some pastors and teachers who make discussion time highly interactive. It’s so much fun, and we’ve been blown away by the intelligence and thoughtful comments the students are bringing to the table. Prayers for lasting impact and effective communication are coveted! Also, Rob and Ryan are troopers. Both of them have experienced some sickness in the last few days, but they’ve taken it in stride…hopefully the worst is behind us. We appreciate the prayers for health as well!

I’ve already written too much for one post, but I haven’t even scratched the surface of the experiences we’ve had in the last nine days. Thanks for reading! We’re truly blessed to be here in Zambia, and we’re thrilled to be teaching our CSLA curriculum. We hope the material will be taken to heart by those who hear it and will serve as a catalyst for sustainable financial improvement in the Zambian communities we’re getting to know and love.

To God be the glory!

To be continued…