Friday, July 30, 2010

A Week of Smiles

June - June, 2010

A smile needs no translation! Our team went to Serenje, Zambia during late June and early July to love and serve at the Hope Children's Center. Although Zambia may be a poor country economically, it has a wealth of smiling faces.

However, we weren't exactly smiling when we arrived at Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C. fifteen minutes after our plane had left for Johannesburg, South Africa. Our flight from Chicago had been delayed for two hours because of bad weather. We then waited in line for nearly five hours to learn the outlook wasn't good for all 11 of us to find another flight to South Africa anytime soon. But God was good and our courteous and creative ticket agent "miraculously" got all of us re-routed on a flight to London the next day. We would have a 14-hour layover before we could continue on to Johannesburg and then on to Lusaka, Zambia, but the team did not seem too disappointed about an unexpected stay in London.
John, Amy, Stephanie, Allison, Susan, Becca, Michael, Jessica, (front) Stacey, and Kay at Tower Bridge, London.

Despite being almost two days late, we got off to a great start with the children on Monday morning. God answered our prayers and provided four translators to help us interact with the children on a more personal level. The Hope children attend the local school and are taught English, but their knowledge is still limited and they are reluctant to speak it. We studied the Holiness of God, Obedience, Prayer, and Evangelism (HOPE).
The children arrive at different times during the day at Hope, so our team was either teaching or playing with the children most of the day. The games always produced lots of smiles.

In the afternoons, we also taught the children gardening techniques. The children help care for the large community garden, which provides food for their noon meal each day. But we also helped each child prepare their own individual garden, which would be totally their responsibility. They loved the idea of having their own garden.

Near the end of the week and after the children finished planting their gardens, they were each given sunglasses. This, of course, brought many smiles and laughter, and occasionally an "attitude!"
Hope also has large fields for growing maize and peanuts. A bountiful crop was harvested in April consisting of 205 bags of maize - nearly 11 1/2 tons - and 600 pounds of peanuts. This will help feed the children at the Center during the coming year.
Pastor Navice Kalunga had been praying that the children at Hope, and the churches at Teta and Kamena, would get Bibles. His prayer was answered when the 180 youth group at Cornerstone helped provide the funds to purchase the Bibles. These were the first Bibles the children had ever received and most likely the first Bibles in their house. We came to Zambia with 165 children's Bibles and what a joy it was to place their first Bibles in the hands of these children.

Our week culminated with a trip on Sunday to the Teta church (about 7 miles outside of Serenje) where we distributed dry beans, fleece blankets and children's Bibles to 13 orphans. The fleece blankets were made by the 4th grade D-6 class at Cornerstone and the gifts brought many smiles.
Then we traveled to Kamena church (Pastor Navice's home church 22 miles from Serenje) where we worshiped and handed out Bibles to 87 orphans or children-at-risk, and gave each 15 pounds of dry beans to supplement their diet.

Almost as quickly as it started, our trip to Zambia was over. It did include some frustrating moments, but our firm conviction that we were where God wanted us to be never wavered - we had a wonderful opportunity "to look after orphans... in their distress" (James 1:27). The team of young men and women who accompanied us were faithful workers and smiling servants, and they were rewarded with the priceless smiles of precious children.

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' " Matthew 25:40

Kay & Marlin Rice

Monday, July 19, 2010

Juny 2010

Just another beautiful Zambian child that we are privileged to serve through the Hope Center!

A team from Cornerstone Church (Ames) just returned from another fantastic trip to Serenje. There were flight delays, luggage was lost, and any number of other hurdles, but there is not a one that regrets the sacrifice. It is a privilege to serve alongside our Zambian friends.

One of the highlights was seeing the first ten students graduate from the Bible training. These men were ecstatic to receive a gift to commemorate their accomplishment: a bicycle, a backpack, and a new leather NIV Study Bible.
They were thrilled with all the gifts, but when the Bible came out things went crazy. All our Zambian friends started to dancing in joy - like a scene out of the Old Testament! Jeavers (pictured) graduated and already brought two more students into the next freshman class.

This is Martin (one of Jeaver's young leaders). We asked him to read a passage during a training session and realized that he stammered due to the fact that he only owned a King James Version Bible. It was treasured by Martin - but it was extremely difficult for him to read. Like many on our team, I was able to exchange Bibles with Martin, giving him an NIV. Oh, the things we take for granted!

These children are being cared for - and they care for one another! It is beautiful to see older siblings watch over their young ones, helping them eat and carrying them all over the place. It is a joy to help people who are already serving and helping one another!

The crops are doing great! And now the kids are helping with the task. Marlin Rice (our chief ag leader) plotted out a spot for each Hope child to have their own garden. Having fun and learning to take care of themselves - that's HOPE!

The team was fantastic and gave of themselves with joy. Continue to pray for the Hope Center and all the people being affected by the work of God - on both sides of the ocean!