Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Answer to my prayers

1 Peter 3:12b “and his ears are attentive to their prayer.”

This past Sunday was my father’s last Sunday here in Zambia. As usual, I called the taxi, padlocked all the doors and front gate and then drove the taxi to church. After finding our way to our seats, I reached for my handbag to turn off the volume on my phone but it was nowhere to be found. I quickly recalled that I had set it on the hood of the taxi when I was locking up the gate. That meant that it was somewhere outside my gate or on the side of the road near my house. I used a friends phone to call the taxi that had just dropped us moments ago; after calling about 14 times I realized I would need to walk a few blocks to find a taxi to rush me home. As I walked quickly down the road my lips were full of prayer, which I continued until, I reached the front of my house. I got out and surveyed the area….nothing! I continued to pray and looked up and down the street to see if anyone was around who might have seen something. My spirit was drawn to a young man in a maroon shirt about 5 houses down on the opposite side of the road, he was standing talking to someone in a guards uniform. He began walking down the road in my direction and when he got near I called him over.  “Excuse me sir, I was wondering, have you been on this road for long?” He informed me that he had not. I then explained that I had dropped my phone and have not been able to see it anywhere around. I then asked if I could use his phone to call mine and that maybe I would hear in ring from in a bush or something. He hesitated and then stated, “ Well, actually I am the one who has found your phone.” I was excited to hear such news. He then said, “ Well, what are you going to give me for it?” I chuckled and said well all I have is 12 Kwacha (just under $2.50)” He told me, “that amount is too small” I then said to him, “ Well, you know that the phone belongs to me and for you to try to get money from me is corruption and it is not the right thing to do.” I informed him that I could take him to the police station and that I was certain they would make him give e the phone and he would get nothing. At that comment he quickly said bring the money at which I replied let me see the phone. He produced the phone and I produced the money. The exchange was made and I thanked him for being honest and told him that the Lord would surely bless him for choosing to do the right thing. He told me that when he saw me come to the house he turned the phone off and put it back in his pocket. As I began walking back across the street to the taxi driver I stopped and turned and asked the young man where he was going. He stated that he was heading into town, which is where I was going so I told him I would give him a lift. He was quite surprised I must say, as was the driver who had been standing nearby and overheard our entire dialogue. As we drove to town, I again thanked him for his honesty and told him about how I had been praying the whole way to my house, how the Lord had led me to talk to him and how he had answered my prayers. I asked him his name; he told me it was Dave. I asked, “Dave or David? “ to which he responded, “David” I said, Oh, David..what a good name and then talked a little about David in the Bible and asked him if he went to church. He said he goes sometimes, so I asked if he was going just now. He said he wasn’t going to church; he was going to see a friend. I told him that he should come visit my church; I tried getting him to come with me but he said he had a program he needed to attend to. So I gave him my phone number and told him to call me sometime and we will go to church together. The taxi driver missed the turn to where my church meets so we ended up near the main bus station and David and me went our separate ways. I spent my brisk walk back to church praying and thanking God for answering my prayer and just in awe of his goodness and faithfulness to me in spite of me. God is good and his goodness does not depend on us in anyway. I am thankful for this “divine moment” and anticipate getting a call from David one of these days…that is what I will pray for. His heart is soft and the fact that he did the right thing encourages me so much. So, be encouraged, The Lord hears our prayers and answers us and at the same time teaches us how much he is intimately involved in every detail of every day. Each life he as orchestrated and to see how our lives are so beautifully intertwined in a sweet melody to bring his name glory and praise. I stand in awe.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Blessing's Story

Known Background
It was early October of 2009 in a nearby city where concerned citizens brought a woman into the police station after they had found her wandering around in the streets with a baby not more than 2 months old. The woman was unable to communicate and not able to feed or care for the baby in any way. The police immediately contacted social welfare and social welfare realized the woman was not mentally stable and unable to care for the child.  She was unable to answer the simplest of questions, including her own name. It was at this time that the baby was taken to a nearby hospital and the mother was placed under the care and supervision in the psychiatric ward of the hospital.  Shortly after, the mother left the hospital, her name and whereabouts unknown, even now almost 4 years later. The nameless child was sent to an orphanage in Ndola, Zambia where he has been to date.

He was given the name “Blessing” and all his documents with social welfare refer to him as “baby Blessing”. After speaking to the director of the orphanage and observing Blessing at the orphanage, I soon realized that he had trust issues with visitors. This of course wasn’t much of a surprise to me being that pretty much everyone in his life thus far has been transient. I remember thinking how the idea of family, love and a sense of belonging must be such an unknown concept. The thought of that broke my heart. I wondered how he must feel as he sees other children have family visit them or take them away from this place. I knew that even at the age of 3, he must have been starting to question his identity and even sense of belonging. The place where he stays is more of a transitional home but unlike many of the children he had no one to claim him. And out of all the children in the home, he is the only one that doesn’t have any known family and the only one available for adoption. 

As I began to visit more often we quickly formed a bond. It happened much quicker that I expected and it was a powerful thing, hard to even explain in words. In the beginning he was very possessive of me and didn’t want to share my affections with any other. He use to cry uncontrollably when I left the orphanage and that would break my heart. No matter how many times I told him I’m coming back, he didn’t believe me.  He would cling to my neck or leg until one of the workers pulled him off me. Uhhhh!! The agony of those moments for us both was nearly unbearable. How I wanted to just take him with me…. Home….where he belonged. How I wanted to comfort and reassure him, but it was impossible. Days, weeks and months went on and he finally realized that I was not one of the visitors just passing through. He realized that I was coming to see him, that I loved him and that somehow we belonged to each other. When I visit now, as soon as he knows I have arrived he runs with all his might for me, laughing it pure delight and excitement that I have come for him again. I lift him into my arms and he buries his head into me, squeezing me tight and then looks into my eyes with the biggest smile and then hugs me even harder as if he is realizing I am not just a figment of his imagination.  Now, my heart just longs for the day when we are forever together. When I can shower him with hugs and kisses, every moment of every day. The day when he finally realizes that he has a forever family where he is loved and belongs. I am amazed to see how God has been working in this whole process. How he has been preparing us both for that day and how he has orchestrated events so perfectly. It would be easy to look at the “hiccups” and disappointments I have walked through, even in this process but I know that God is intimately involved and his timing is best. According to social welfare, Blessing should be with me next week. I am so excited to see what God has in store but I am also scared.  I am sailing in what is uncharted territory for me but the One at the helm knows where he is taking me and I can rest in the fact that even if I face rough seas, He will get me through to a place where he has destined me to go, a place of paradise…and the journey is necessary in order to reach the port of call. Lord help me, I need you now it what seems like more than ever. Help me keep my eyes on you and trust you in all things.  Thank you for blessing me with this little “Blessing”.  Our story has just begun!!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

My little man :)

My Blessing (Beginning of the adoption journey)

Well I figured it is long overdue to write something about my “to be” son. After doing all the initial paperwork the end of last year, social welfare informed me that they had identified a child for me and that I could go meet him. It was an orphanage I had already visited and I had in fact seen him there before. I went to the orphanage and almost all the children swarmed around me fighting for my attention and affection. There was a young boy standing in the corner just observing all that was going on but he didn’t approach me. I went to go talk to the workers and ask about this child that social welfare had sent me to see. I told them his name, “Blessing” and they pointed out the child to me, it was the boy that had been standing in the corner just moments ago. I went back into the other room and there he was standing, sucking on the middle and ring finger on his left hand. (Something he does when he is tired and when he just wakes up) I just sat in the chair across the room from him and when the other kids went out to play, I called him over to me in Bemba (his language) and he came. I just held him for a while and talked to him even though I knew he didn’t understand most of what I was saying. I could tell he was guarded and probably reluctant to trust someone. But my goal that day was just for him to feel loved by me and to find out more about him if possible. As I prepared to leave, I hugged him and said I would come back to see him tomorrow. How I wished I could communicate adequately to him how happy I was and how much I already loved him.  The reality of this all was hitting me: soon I am going to be a mother. I was excited and terrified all at the same time. My mind was bombarded with so many thoughts! Can I really do this? Raise a child…a son at that as a single mother? How are we going to even communicate? Is he going to attach himself to me or remain distant? Am I ready? My mind was having a battle within. Because on one hand I had these thoughts bout on the other I knew that this was something God was calling me to do. I have known since I was 12 that I was called to adopt. And God so faithfully reminded me of the verse in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “ My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And boy am I soooo aware of my weakness!! I needed those words of truth! And I was also reminded of a couple of quotes I once heard. The first, “God does not always call the equipped, he equips the called.” and “ God gives the grace to do what he has called us to do.” So, I was forced to look at what one of the most important questions:  “has God called me to do this?”
ANSWER: YES!!!  Sooo, that’s what I need to focus on. God has called me to adopt Blessing so his grace is sufficient to walk me through it all. In every moment of fear, every moment of struggle, in every moment I don’t know what to do, in every moment of joy, every moment of our language barrier, in every tear, in every hug, every kiss, every laugh…in every moment of every day…he is there.  I am not alone in this!! Thank you Lord!!

P.S. More Blessing stories to come J

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Trusting the artist

Many a days I sit back and look at my life here in Zambia and think, how did I end up here? I am left with nothing but marvel at the hand of God, the master artist who has painted each stroke with purpose, precision and patience. I am but a canvas, chosen to become what the artist deems fit, chosen for a specific purpose and as the artist picks up his paint brush he does not wonder what I will become, he has decided what I will become. No stroke from his brush is a mistake and with time the masterpiece, what the painting is destined to become begins to make sense. Who am I to question the artist? What may make no sense to me makes perfect sense to him. Vivid colors full of life and passion are stroked across the canvas and are seemingly overshadowed by the deep, the desolate, the dismal colors of darkness. With time the canvas, when looking up only saw the darkness that covered and seemed to suffocate it. No longer could canvas see the artist at work, its gaze was focused only on the despairing suffocation of the darkness. The canvas could no longer feel the gentle strokes of the skilled artist ‘s brush. Had the painter abandoned his work? Had he given up on his visions of a masterpiece?  Days turned in to weeks, which turned to months and then years. The once eager heart of the canvas grew dull. Doubt replaced hope and sorrow superseded joy.   Then the day came where the canvas in a state of desperation called out for the painter. Have you forgotten me? Have you given up on me? Are you still working to make me into a beautiful masterpiece as you had promised?  Then the still small voice of the artist spoke gently saying,” I have never stopped working to make you into that masterpiece and I will never stop until you have become what you are destined to become. I am ever working. Your focus has been on the paint not the painter. The paint is merely a tool in my hand to make you into what I desire. You must trust me. Let me show you what I see” At that moment the artist lifted the canvas to a mirror and for that moment the canvas saw through the eyes of the artist. It was given a new perspective. The colors, even the dark despairing hues began to make sense. The canvas was not complete but was beginning to see the beauty unfold. It was becoming a masterpiece. In anticipation, the once dull heart of the canvas grew eager. Hope replaced doubt and joy superseded sorrow. As time went on there were times when the canvas was tempted to believe the artist was no longer at work. But was quickly reminded of the words of the artist and the glimpse it was given of what it was to become. Looking back on that moment now liberates the canvas from the chains of deception and false perspective that once enslaved it. Remembering to look through the eyes of the master artist and to trust each stroke of his hand, even when he chooses to use the darker shades to enhance the forthcoming masterpiece. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Seeing the fruit of my labor

One thing that I am is busy!! But nonetheless it’s important to let my supporters see at least a glimpse into my everyday life here in Ndola, Zambia.  I am sure every child struggles with being truthful when telling the truth means they will be punished. Over the past 6 months one of the lessons I have tried to instill into my babies is the importance of telling the truth, even if it means you will get punished. I have tried to help them understand sin and how when we do something wrongs we are not only sinning against that person but against God. I had been seeing a pattern of lying in some of the children and wanted them to understand that even if I don’t know if they are lying there is someone that does, God.  There are days when I will stop teaching the “planned lesson” to take advantage of a teachable moment. One day we spent a good 30 minutes talking about how God is everywhere and how he sees everything we do and knows even our every thought. As I was talking and looked around the room many of the little faces were fascinated and even surprised at the concept of this. Hands went up and questions started flowing. Can he see even if it’s dark? How can he see what I am doing and also what someone else far away is doing? I sat on the edge of one of the desks, put the text books aside and we had ourselves a practical theology lesson. After the questions had been satisfactorily answered we got back to our science lesson.
A few weeks later I was in the other classroom talking with one of the teachers and heard some commotion out in the hall.  When I peaked out of the door I saw the groundskeeper scolding some of the children from my class. I walked over and found they were arguing with one another. Apparently, after I left some of the boys were running and sliding on the freshly polished floors, something they are reminded on a daily basis not to do. They know that doing this will result in punishment. When I asked who was sliding on the floor they all of course were telling me each others names, not their own. So I stopped them all and after reminding them of the conversation we had some weeks ago said, “ Ok, I am going to give you each a chance to do the right thing and tell me the truth. Remember that even if I do not know if you are lying God knows.”  There were 6 boys, one by one I asked them ok (insert name), were you running and sliding on the floors?”  5 out of the 6 boys admitted they had if fact disobeyed and were sliding on the floors. I thanked them for telling me the truth and said they had done the right thing and God was happy that they choose to tell the truth even though they knew they would be punished. I gave them each a hug as they said,” sorry teacher for lying” and had them go sit down in their seat. The 6th boy refused that he had been sliding and when he did this there was a loud outcry from the class saying, “Teacher, he is lying..he was sliding!!!!” I held up my hand, signaling them to stop talking then said to him, “Your friends are telling me that you were sliding and you are telling me you were not. Someone is lying. I don’t know because I was not here but I want you to do the right thing and tell me the truth.  So, I am giving you one more chance to tell me the truth. So, if you need to change your answer go ahead and do that now.” His reply was, “ok, yes teacher I was sliding.”  He apologized, I hugged him and thanked him for telling the truth and then he went to his seat. This dialogue took a good 15-20 minutes as I recapped what sin is, how God sees everything even if I do not and the importance of telling the truth even when it means you might get punished. I had been over near the door to the classroom talking with the boys about this and once I was finished it was time for morning break. I walked back to the middle of the classroom and we prayed for the snack and then they lined up to go outside. As they were lining up one of the girls came up to me crying. I leaned down close to her, as it was difficult to hear her through the tears. I told the rest of the class to go ahead outside and then asked her what was the matter. My thought was that she wasn’t feeling well or someone had hit her. Through her sobbing she said, “Teacher, I have come to beg for your forgiveness.” I said, “Ok, what is it that you need to ask my forgiveness for?” She said, “Well teacher, remember that time when we were still in the other building and you had asked me if I ran around the building two times when I was only suppose to run around once?” I said, “Yes, I remember.” “Well,” she said, “I told you that I had only run around once, but that was a lie, I had run around two times. Will you please, please forgive me? “ I just embraced her and rubbed her back as her tears and sobbing continued. I had been oblivious to the fact that she was listening to the conversation from clear across the room as I was speaking to the 6 boys about truthfulness. I was so touched and grateful that God used that conversation to convict her heart for lying to me that time, nearly 5 months ago. Thank you Lord for allowing me to be part of this precious moment. I thanked her for coming back to me and telling me and that it made me very happy and that even God was happy that she decided to come tell the truth, even though it happened so long ago. These are the moments where I see God at work in the hearts of his dear little children, the moments that fill my heart with such joy to see them choosing the path of righteousness and repentance. My prayer is that God will continue to use me to help shepherd their hearts. It’s such a privilege to see them grow in this area and I know he is faithful to complete the work that he has started.  Give me the patience and wisdom I need to lead them closer to you!