What a day!
I hardly know where to start.
In fact I've been sitting staring at that last sentence for 20 minutes. I guess the best place to start is the beginning.
Becky and I didn't exactly wake on time due to my journey fatigue brain dimming; I set the alarm for English time, Doh! We did however prove that women don't take forever to get ready and we were both showered, dressed and almost compus-mentus at breakfast in 20 minutes. Go us!
Pastor Peter and Martha Temfwe picked us up at about 8am to go to the Jubilee Centre for morning devotions. I had no idea what this would be like but crazily imagined it would be a cross between morning prayer and a team meeting. All I can say is - let's make our team meetings more Zambian 😄
The devotions start with singing, then prayer, then more singing. After this it was over to us Brits; Becky prayed, Nico prayed, Neil shared the bible reading of the unclean woman touching his cloak and being healed with a reflection. Then I led prayers; everyone took a cross and wrote on it someone they'd like to reach out to Jesus, they are now a colourful and prayerful addition to the prayer space at the centre. To end we sang again and Neil blessed us before we went on our way.
Today's visit was to the furthest compound which jubilee centre supports; Chibuluma, past Kitway from Ndola. It took an hour to drive there and that's when the real Zambia started to be seen. As we drove there were people selling what they could on the road side; others were walking to school and work or towards the hope of work. There were termite hills galore with wooden shacks between them. Occassionally I saw some children playing on a piece of ground that looked fun, and I saw many women washing clothes.
In the town of Kitway, a large mining town, we experienced the joy of an African market; all life together to buy or sell for the best price on the roadside. Fruit, veg, fish, meat, hats, clothes, shoes, maize, corn, sugar, pots, pans and everything else you could think of including shiny mobile phones. It's the mix of chaos, activity, productivity and purpose that makes these markets so wonderful. There's hope there.
From Kitway it was about a 15 minute drive to Chibuluma. We arrived at the evangelical church and were welcomed by the pastors from all the local churches and the volunteers of the home visiting scheme. We prayed, we sang and then we divided up into our groups. Actually let's back pedal...... We prayed and we sang; I have never experienced anything like the open and trusting prayer and joyful spirit filled singing that we enjoyed; wow!
In groups of two or three we went with volunteers to visit a family who is house bound and supported by the jubilee centre. The family we visited were amazingly hope filled and joyful; but their physical situation was worse than I can possibly describe. It took me at least half an hour to get over the shock of a family devastated by HIV/Aids living in a one room shack with a holey roof and no furniture or any comforts at all. Suddenly our gift of a blanket didn't feel so inadequate. Or the teddy and friendship bracelets and some sweets. Yet it also felt like no where near enough.
We spent over an hour with this family, getting to know them and their daily lives and their needs. How tempting it was to offer a house and a couple of beds; and how impossible that really is. I will never forget that family or the words of the most seriously ill daughter/mother "I never thought a white person would touch me". Tonight I ask God that that be enough; that our visit has increased hope and blessings on their lives.
I bet you're thinking that's the end of the day's story; yet we're only half way through. We returned to the church and spent the afternoon in a workshop on mentoring with the church leaders which was encouraging and brought new learning for me.
Whilst the workshop was going on though all I could think of were the 50 or so kids outside and the women's choir practising next door. I felt shoved by God and I let myself be pushed; out the door for a couple of hours of fantastic fun, beauty and wonder. I played and sang and laughed with the kids; I told them the story of the lost sheep (with translation help), prayed with them and had endless cuddles. We all went to see the choir practising and feel the presence of God in their praise and worship. Joy, joy, joy.
The hardest point of the day was saying goodbye, done over my first taste of Sheema with greens (yum). I had to say bye to these kids who had touched me so deeply, knowing I'd done so little and yet felt so needed.
And I said good bye to a young woman who is a spirit-sister; Jess, a volunteer for the care and compassion team and a God called woman if ever I've seen one. We had spent the day together and it was mighty hard to part, but I know that we'll stay in touch; God will find a way.