Africa Stole My Heart

     Although my trip to Zambia was over two years ago, I remember everything, even little things such as getting blisters from corn. I know that sounds like a goofy memory, but after you’ve felt that pain, you can’t ever forget it. The pain was right on the tips of our fingers… but I loved it. I guess I should explain a little: we stopped at a house during one of our outreach hikes to visit a family. It’s not like visiting a family in the US, though. In Africa, you can just walk up to someone’s house and they will treat you like one of their own, even though they’re strangers. They cleaned places for us to sit, and simply talked to us like we’ve known each other for longer than just two minutes. Then, we ask how their family is and if they need help doing anything. Since we went out on these hikes closer to supper time, there was usually something for us to do. At some houses we would help them carry water from the pump to the house (It’s a good mile or so walk, by-the-way).  At one specific house they were taking dried corn off of the cob to prepare it for dinner. This wasn’t just a couple ears– it was a ton of it. Ear by ear we peeled corn off, not caring about the blisters coming on. After the corn was off the cob, they would put it in a bowl type thing (like we would use to grind spices, but much larger) and smash it until it was powder. They would then make shema out of it. Now, shema was something special. Not really. But it became one of my memories. Shema is like eating grainy, white, tasteless, mashed potatoes, it doesn’t taste very good plain, but when you add the special red sauce they made for us, it tasted amazing. We had it a lot for dinner. This family spent most of their evening with us; chatting, playing and cooking. It was one of the very first houses we went to. I think I can say, most of the team had blisters after that.

     That is only one memory. I also remember the bus rides very well. We took two buses everywhere we went. There were 25 missionaries on each bus, plus the drivers. We were on our way to church, and everything was awesome. The buses were running great, but church was even better. It seems that native people in foreign countries move you so much when they sing together in unison. I loved worship, but I will have to share more about that later. We were driving the buses home from church and our bus overheated. One of our team members gave his water up to help cool the engine. We fixed it up and continued on our way, but that’s not the end of it. Multiple times throughout the week our bus broke down more. While our bus was breaking down, the other bus ran smooth; perfect, actually. So one day we ended up switching buses for some reason. It started nice… until it broke down on us. It seemed like whatever vehicle we took, whether it was a good one or bad, it ran nicely for the other half of the team, but liked to break down on us. Even though we had bus breakdowns often, it never stopped us from singing bus songs. Especially the Betsy song…

Betsy was a mighty fine cow,
She was a friend of mine.
Oh Betsy, a friend of mine.
Betsy made mighty fine cream,
Milk and cottage cheese.
Oh Betsy, a friend of mine.
And one day we couldn’t find Betsy,
We looked all over the town.
Oh Betsy, a friend of mine.
And one day we found Betsy,
Selling for 5 a pound.
Oh Betsy, she’s really DEAD!

     This is what we sang on our bus rides. I know it sounds graphic, but if you would have been there, when everyone is singing, and the guys have a different part than the girls– it was awesome!

     Africa was amazing. We stayed in an orphanage compound called Every Orphan’s Hope (EOH). We did a bible school for them one week. We also did outreach, or hut-to-hut, like I mentioned earlier. We got to play with the children, this was my favorite part, we got to love on them, and sing with them. It was so amazing yet overwhelming. The amazing part was that they all had such big hearts for the Lord, no matter what their situation was. Half of the orphans didn’t have shoes on, the other half didn’t have families, or homes; no mom or dad to love on them. This makes you want to love on them all the more. It was so encouraging to see such small kids with such big hearts. I fell in love with it. I fell in love with with country in general! The overwhelming part was that I didn’t quite know how to process it. How can someone with no family, no home, no proper source of food, have such a heart for other people? They have next to nothing. This is what stuck with me the most. Every person you come in contact with will offer you everything they have, even if it’s ALL that they have. They’re very sincere about it too. They really do want you to have it. They don’t care if it’s all they have, they want you to have it. For example, before we got into Zambia, our leaders told us there was a possibility that we wouldn’t have showers at all; I wasn’t expecting them. When we got there, they had built us showers and bathrooms. Now, for those of you who don’t know, this was huge. Water for them is so scarce, so hard to get, and so valuable. Yet they gave it to us to use for showers. We take so much for granted. Going to Africa made my eyes more open to things like this and made me more aware of how blessed we are. This trip made me have so much more of a heart to want to give to them. It’s overwhelming. It’s eye opening and it’s wonderful all at the same time. Now I don’t know if these words make any sense because its hard for me to come up with words to describe my feelings in this way, but I hope that they do. I hope that these stories give you a little insight about what I did and what I felt while I was in Zambia. Trust me when I say there is a whole ton more that I could say about my trip. So please feel free to comment and ask questions.

God is good, all the time.
And all the time, God is good.

Tirzah