A Camping we went!

A few weeks ago my husband and I, Megan, and one of our fearless staffers, Kochelani packed our cars and took all the Arise Home kids camping.

This trip had been in the plans for months.  With the generosity of many Arise Home sponsors who helped fund the trip we are able to make it happen.  We had strategised how to purchase and get 9 sleeping bags, headlamps, tents, life jackets, and many other camping supplies to Zambia.  We had borrowed items from generous friends in Zambia too. It was a pretty big undertaking to pack in itself! Megan wrote out and categorized every single item we would need for food and the grocery store trip took two full carts.  It took many hours of planning and packing.

I quickly learned that my theory was like a boy scout, which was to be prepared, FOR ANYTHING.  Let's be realistic, we are going camping in the bush in Africa with NINE kids. You need alot of stuff when camping and you need to pack things you could even possibly need. I don't care what happens, even if Zombies come, I want to have planned for it.  Megan and Asher are minimalists when it comes to camping.  They didn't want things like ZIP LOCS!  People you can't have enough zip locs on a camping trip.  During the packing procedure I found myself secretly sneaking in things that I was concerned we might need.  And when they found one of these items they would snarl and make fun of my over packing.  I was told I was a hoarder, and many other mean words. I  was teamed up against them multiple times but I didn't let it phase me. I knew the joke would be on them when we are in the bush needing a shovel and I had packed it. 

We started the staging area of all our supplies at the house we were staying at. 

Here is Megan and Asher probably unpacking very necessary life saving items:

Asher worked with our gardener, Moses, to pack the roof rack on the Land Cruiser.  We needed as much space inside of the car because we had 13 people going.

After our packing we went to the Arise home and picked up all the kids.  They were ready! 

For SOME reason, our house moms, mamma Dailes and Mamma Aqualine, were very excited to see us go!!  They had all the kids packed and waiting when we got there.  We all said our goodbyes and I asked them to not throw any parties in the Arise Home during our vacation.  No Keg stands you hear?!

During our drive we encountered many things the kids wanted to ask about.   I think every single adult answered about 100 questions.  In Asher's and my car we talked about the different factories we passed.  The kids were excited.  We had Texas country music blaring as we cruised through southern Zambia.  The kids learned Robert Earl Keen's "Merry Christmas From the Family" before I caught on to change to track. We learned about how to count kilometers and how far we have gone.  We learned that unfortunately somehow someone had donated a book of riddles that has been in the library in the Arise Home.  Fred has read this book of riddles from cover to back about a thousand times and has every single one memorized.  EVERY SINGLE FREAKING RIDDLE.  For example try to solve this one:

Question: The person who buys me doesn't need me, the person who makes me doesn't want me, and the person who uses me can't appreciate me. What am I?



think about it...






wait for it...







do you know it?....





We also drove on a particular part of the road that went up in the mountains and then low in the valley.  The kids had never felt their ear pressure and we found ourselves trying to teach them how to pop their ears.  We also saw many wrecked trucks on this stretch of road which made the driving a bit stressful!

The last part of the road was a 12 kilometer dirt road that was brutal.  It was in bad shape to say the least.  Megan drives like she has lived in in Zambia for ten years, (because she has!) and is being chased by the police which makes keeping up with her, well bumpy and uncomfortable, no actually BRUTAL.  At one point we had gone three kilometers on the road and I asked Mukonda how far he thought we had gone and he said nine.  We all groaned and laughed out loud when I told him only three.

We finally got to the lodge and camp grounds.  My tailbone was aching.  The kids piled out of the cars and ran straight to the river.  One of them looked at us and said, "I never thought I would get to see something so pretty like this in my life." (then our hearts melted and I possibly got a tear in my eye)

We worked on setting up camp as fast as possible to beat the setting sun.  We had a boys tent, a girls tent, and then a two person tent that Megan and I gladly took.

Alliness, Dorothy, and Nelly outside their tent:

Boys being awkard in their photo for the boys tent, I promise they like Asher:

 After we had our tents set up we ran up to the main lodge to watch the sunset.

Megan and the kids:

Armon and Asher discussing life:

We also learned to use binoculars. Stella and Mukonda.

It is hard to not thank the Lord for all our blessings in life when you see this

That night we made a quick dinner and hit the tents for some shut eye.  Megan and I got in our tent and quickly realized that camping is loud at night.  We had guinea foul nesting in the trees above us and they are the most annoying animals ever.  Luckily I was prepared, due to Asher's snoring at night I have earplugs with me at all times.  I popped those puppies in and left Megan wide awake wishing she had packed some.  Be prepared Megan, just be prepared. 

The next morning we woke up to many guinea foul kackling and monkeys everywhere. The boys were throwing frisbees to keep them away from the food.  Asher quickly came to our tent to tell me how terrible he slept.  He asked if I had heard the loud music playing across the river?  Nope.  What about the guinea foul that are awful? Nope. What about the car that started at the main lodge at 2:30AM? Nope.

We got coffee and food going for the adults, because well they were struggling for good reasons.

The river had steam rising off of it which was really pretty:

The kids got the campfire going and heated up the syrup.

Then we hit the river to go fishing. The kids had never been on a boat and LOVED it! We had two boats and great guides. (or so we thought!)

Asher and Kochelani's boat:

Our boat with Enny, Alliness, and Fred:




Unfortunately the fishing was not good.  Nobody caught anything!  The only person who got a bite was Megan.  The kids were great about it but started losing interest, who can blame them?  We headed back and had a late lunch and hit the pool for the afternoon.  We don't have any pool photos because I slept in a lounge chair and was thankful nobody drowned.

After an afternoon of hanging out we hit the water again on a big boat all together for a sunset cruise.  We were so excited to show the kids some wildlife. We grabbed a cooler of sodas and life-jackets and were ready.

They were tired of me taking photos at this point:

We saw tons of hippos:

And elephants:

I think it goes to say that Freddy does love him some Fanta:

And then we saw the most incredible herd of elephants swim across the river right in front of us! It was awesome!

Asher, Alissa, and Fred:


Megan and Kochelani:

Armon and Asher:

Hope, Enny, and Asher:

We ended our river cruise with another incredible sunset:

We made it back to camp and got working on grilling burgers for dinner.  We had an issue with the charcoal and suddenly realized we needed a SHOVEL to transfer coals from the campfire to the grill.  hmmm sure glad we had that!!  I was very humble and didn't rub it in at all :)

We brought some glow sticks and glow in the dark balloons which everyone loved.

Dorothy and Enny:

After dinner we hung out around the campfire and played with the balloons:

We went to bed that night with full stomachs and hearts.

There was a proposal made to me of possibly sharing one ear plug with Asher.  That way each of us could have one ear plugged and the other smothered on the pillow.  I thought about it briefly and decided that we had only been married for 6 months and I didn't feel it necessary to sacrafice so much that early on in the marriage.  If it had been like 5 or 10 years, maybe the story would be different. 

The next morning Megan and I woke up to Asher in our tent asking us how we slept. I explained I slept like a rock.  He was not impressed and began to describe his night.  Apparently Fred is quite the cuddler and likes to spoon with you.  Asher said he woke up in the middle of the night to find Fred asleep with his face inches from him. Fred had on his glow in the dark glasses and headlamp glaring in Asher's face.  It was time to go home!

We got the cars packed and used many ZIP LOCS to bag the extra food.  The kids begged to stay longer.  The adults were ready to get home!  We jumped in and made the drive home.  And every single adult answered 100 questions again. Fred worked on his riddles a bit more and drove me to the point to pay big bucks to use my American cell phone and google search for new riddles for him to learn so we didn't have to hear the coffin one again. 

This trip reminded us of how far our kids have come.  They were polite and listened to us.  They said please and thank you constantly.  That is a big testimony to how incredible our Arise Africa staff is. Megan and our house moms have worked so hard at raising them and it showed!  They were literally "bug eyed" at all the new experiences and things they were seeing.  It was SO thankful for this time and opportunity to expose them to their beautiful country. Being with our Arise Home kids and getting to watch them experience "normal" things like all kids should, is priceless.  They didn't have these positive experiences for many years before moving into our home.    

We take it for granted in America how much our kids get to see and experience growing up. I never thought twice about going to ranches, lake houses, vacations, and beaches as a kid.  Our Arise Home kids only get this opportunity if we have folks who are willing to financially and time wise help us make it happen.  We are so blessed to have supporters who see the need for this and help us make it happen. 

Thank you to all who made memories and a trip of a lifetime for our Arise Home kids!

- Alissa, Asher, and Megan

Interns day 1

A note from our 4 summer interns...

We arrived in Lusaka last night with no luggage to a country without electricity.  Feeling out of sorts, driving on the left side of the road, we arrived to the place we call home for the next three weeks. 

 We finally put our heads down around 1am and woke up to a phone call from Megan saying she would be there to pick us up in 5 minutes.  Feeling completely jetlagged yet excited, we got a jolt of adrenaline and started our day. 

We thought we would be taking it easy our first day, but little did we know, we had a fun filled exciting day full of new experiences and new friendships.

With the help of a coffee at the local coffee shop, we left to go to the Arise Home.  We arrived to a new shipment of kids Bibles that were donated to Arise Africa for their sponsorship program.  We sorted them and got them numbered and repacked and delivered to the two community schools Arise partners with.   These Bibles will be used in their weekly Bible clubs. 

We left the Arise Home and started off for the compound, or slum called Matero.  We didn’t know what to expect.  The roads were bumpy and had massive, crater like holes.  There were markets full of people really trying to sell their goods to make their daily wage and women balancing a baby on their back and a basket on their head.  Through the hustle and bustle of it all, we arrived at Destiny Community School.  We were met with huge hugs, smiles and a flurry of energy. 


The kids were all different ages.  All running up to us and we all felt completely overwhelmed with love.  

Today we got a taste of what we will experience over the next three weeks.  We are so happy and excited to be in Lusaka to serve the Lord!

We got home and had dinner and chatted about our day and got the phone call that our luggage arrived! 

A 4th perspective

I feel like our country currently wants to fight more than solve issues or problems.  The supreme court decision last week made individuals either very excited and made others think the world was coming to an end. Social media blew up and almost every post I saw about this issue (from both sides) had terrible comments from someone with a different opinion.  It was ugly.  We can't even seem to disagree as a country anymore and show respect to other's who have opinions different than our's.

Let me remind us of what we do have in this great country:

1.  Freedom of speech - In Zambia there isn't freedom of speech.  We have watched the lack of free speech over the past few years as presidents have changed in Zambia.  People who speak out for change or in an effort to hold the Zambian government accountable get jailed, deported, or worse.  Newspapers are run by the government.  Can you imagine if we didn't get to publicaly speak out about our concerns? 

2.   Electricity - Right now the Zambian government is struggling to provide power to their country.  The one and only power plant, which is run by the government, is hydro electric and there have been droughts that has effected the output capacity.  Most areas of Zambia have forced brown outs where power is cut off for 8 - 12 hours a day.  Our staff doesn't have power at home most of the time. They spend 3 - 5 hours an evening trying to get home on busses because no power means no traffic lights.

3.  Opportunity - You can most likely get a job in America if you want one.  It might not be exactly what you want but you can find something that will pay you.  I am reminded of a woman I met in a stone quarry years ago. She is a widow, her husband died a while back.  She spends ALL day breaking rocks that then can be used in mixing cement.  Her kids also work and help her.  She is just as committed to her children's future as we are in America.  Can you imagine going to a rock quarry everyday and splitting rocks in the sun to only make $5 a day?  Be thankful for America.

4.  Health care - OK I don't want to argue about Obamacare and if everyone has health care.  But right now if you were in a car accident and taken to a hospital you would be treated.  There would be qualified doctors to treat you.  The lights would be on. There would be machines and medicine and blood and IV bags for you if that was what was needed.  You might have flown by helicopter to get you there faster.  Or the ambulance would have had gas in it to drive you. Some friends of our's have a non-profit that provides ambulances to remote villages in Zambia, you want to see what that looks like:

  You have access to some of the best health care (if not the best) in the world.  I have been reminded of this as a friend of mine is battling cancer.  She is having a "minor" brain surgery next week to remove a lesion on her brain. The surgery takes 8 minutes and lasers go through her temple.  The doctors told her the entire procedure will take an hour and she will be home by the afternoon and will be ready for dinner in the evening.  I thanked the Lord at that moment she is in America and has access to this.  Given her aggressive cancer, if she were living in Zambia she would not be on this earth but in Heaven. 

In early June we had some of our Zambian staff with us in America.  I can't even begin to tell you how many times our guy's jaws dropped at all the things we have and have access to.  They LOVED that the electricity never went out in my home.  Hot water in the showers was a treat.  They thought wireless internet was awesome and that it was so fast you could stream videos.  They were introduced to Starbucks and thought a coffee shop open that early in the morning with good coffee and even food was awesome.  They couldn't get over ALL the food choices we had.  They never had been introduced to seafood or mac and cheese!  They were shocked that you couldn't bribe the police and that they were honest. (I don't want emails from some of you telling me the police aren't honest) They thought a store like Wal-Mart where you could get almost anything was so cool.  They loved that there were biking and walking trails by my house that I could get on any time and not be worried about getting mugged. I am not worried about muggings but passing out because of the heat and my lack of fitness.  They thought that a postal system that brought things straight to your door everyday was shocking.  They were more blown away by Amazon Prime, Solomon, screeched like a little girl when the phone he ordered showed up 24 hours later. They told me I was blessed that nobody took packages off my front doorstep. They loved that we didn't have to have 8 foot tall cynder block wall fences around everything.

I say all of this out of love for our country.  Take a moment to thank the Lord for the access you have to so much.  You drive on roads that are paved.  You can get food at a grocery store and droughts don't cause famine.  You aren't scared that you will never be able to find a job.  You have a bank that is open right now, Greece doesn't! You can tell the president that he stinks to his face and he can't throw you in prison. 

We have all of this because so many people fought for our freedom.  Through the Lord, our military and those who serve and have served in the past have made this great country available for us to live in.  

Can we try as Americans to put things in perspective?  We might support or not support the supreme court ruling last week.  We might like or not like our current president.  We might support or think the global warming concern is ridiculous.  I could go on forever. 

But we need to remember to love one another and discuss our differences in a loving manner. The one thing that made America is now tearing us apart.  That is that we are a melting pot of different cultures and backgrounds and people.  Don't hate immediately just because the other person has a different opinion.  Don't attack, and don't judge. And on the flip side be able to take criticism and don't flip out on someone.  Just listen and can we all understand that we won't all be on the same page about everything?  Sometimes we need to agree to disagree with someone.  You still love them though.  Let's remember the bigger picture and what is important.  What does God want you to do on this earth?  What is our mission while we are here?  And how are we supposed to handle ourselves when there are differences? 

Take a moment to love someone you might not have thought of today.  Maybe it is saying something nice to a clerk at the grocery store. (if you are headed to the grocery store today I already feel like you need prayers yourself!) Send a text to someone.  It can be anything. 

We are blessed to be in America.  When you are hanging out with friends or laughing with family this weekend remember that.  We might have our own issues but look at the big picture.  We are blessed for this country and spending the weekend angry about our issues and wanting to argue with people on the other side of an opinion aren't going to get you anywhere.  Take a deep breath America, be thankful, thank those who fought for your Freedom, and love well. We so blessed, thank you Lord for my freedom, my country, my friends and family in America and in Zambia. 

Don't worry we are letting the Arise Home kids celebrate our American holiday in the best way possible, fireworks:

- Alissa


Dear Armon(d)

Dear Armond,

This letter is long overdue, I should have written you much earlier but you've been on my heart ever since I visited in April.

I have been wanting to tell you how proud of you and how much we love you for a long time. I know I tell you this when I see you, but I want you to read this letter. 

On Monday December 17th 2012 you moved into the Arise Home and we were so excited to be allowed to care for you. 

Here is a photo of you then:

I will never forget picking you up at Destiny School that day in the compound. Your grandmother brought you to school and she was so excited and proud of you too. 

Don't forget that.  She loved you, I could see it in her eyes. She was excited for your future.  She gave you a big hug and you piled in our car with the other kids.  We went straight to the social welfare office where we were blessed to get full custody of you!  I remember we bought you an orange drink from a lady outside the office and we then rode to the Arise home.  You were excited to see your bed and dresser, you couldn't believe it was only yours to sleep in.  You were intrigued by the refrigerator and outside play area.  

You were a little guy at the time.  But you had alot of energy!  The first week we had you I remember spending quite a bit of time trying to help you learn your ABC's sitting at the kitchen island.  You were ten and should have known them but you hadn't had a quality education. I was shocked at how far behind you were but your willingness and desire to sit for a hour with me to learn your letters. You were driven.

As the months went by we learned more about you and your past.  Armod you had to go through quite a bit at too young of an age.  You lost your mother to a violent act by your father. You saw and dealt with things that no child should ever ever experience.  You were mistreated and didn't have food most of the time.  You were left alone to fend for yourself for months. Things were violent and you had to take the beatings and see things that we wish you hadn't been there for. You were sometimes angry because of your past and we didn't blame you.  Anyone would be angry.  You sometimes struggled with all the change in your life in the Arise Home.  And I don't blame you for that either.  It was quite a bit to get used to.  You life had completely changed and that is difficult to handle.

But we also started to see change in you.  Our house moms were patient and loving with you.  And the past few years you've become such a great servant of the Lord.  Armond you brighten up all of our days!  You inspire me to help more children like you, I couldn't be more blessed to watch you grow up.  You are no longer a little guy anymore, as much as I hate to say it you are a teenager.  We figured this out when our staff decided to make an Arise Africa music album and we realized that when you sang with all the other Arise Home kids your voice was rather low!  It sounded like a man was singing with small children and it was kinda creepy.  That's why we moved you up to sing with our staff! 

I've watched you learn to trust us, and especially Uncle Chipa and Uncle Kochelani.  You are honest with us.   You admit your mistakes.  You tell me thank you all the time.  You wiped down wet chairs for our visitors when we went to the market.  You are becoming a great man and a man who loves the Lord.  You are tender hearted.  God has changed your heart. 

I also love how strong you are.  I learned this past trip that you really don't like the "d" at the end of your name.  You don't want to be Armond you want to be Armon.  You have told me this for years and I have resisted because our social welfare papers had your name spelled with a d.  I admire your persistence and I am going to listen to you finally!  Armond, you can officially be Armon within our family.  Now when it comes time to get your registration card or help you get your drivers license that might have to be spelled with a d!

So Armon, I know that we have gone back to the compounds looking for your grandmother and we cannot find her.  I know you would love to see her.  I wish she would have shown up for the visitation days we have had.  We try to call her and even offer to pick her up. We do our best to try to find her but we never have been able to.  Armon please know how very sorry I am that she is not around.  It breaks my heart that you haven't been able to see her because I know she would be proud of the man you have become.  But Armon I hope you know you have a HUGE family within Arise Africa. We love you more than you will ever know and we will always be here for you.  You will always be able to find us.  You will not be able to hide from your house moms, Auntie Megan, Uncle chipa, myself and Uncle Asher, and Uncle Kochelani!  You have more family now than you will probably want! Just wait until you start dating girls and we all have opinions about her. 

Armon I am so excited to see what the Lord does in your life.  I am so proud of the work you have done in school and personally.  I love reading books with you and playing soccer in the back yard.  I love driving around Zambia with you and letting your drive on the back roads.  I love going to get ice-cream and pizza. I love your smile.  I love how you are willing to help us out with anything.  I love it when you grab my hand and say thank you for things. I love how you treat others in the home.  I love how the Lord has changed you into a great and respectful young man.

Armon, you need to dream BIG for your future.  Because you can do anything.  And we will be there, right by your side supporting you every single step of the way. We will love you Armon and will not leave you.  I will be that annoying mamma and you better bet so will Auntie Megan and Auntie Aqualine and Dailes.  When you need something or need to chat your aunties and uncles are right here. 

I kinda get sad to post a photo of you now because you are SO BIG!!  I know you've told me it is because of all "the white person food" we feed you. 

Thank you Lord for the gift of Armon.  Thank you Lord for allowing us to be a part of his life!  Thank you Lord for giving Armon great sponsors who support him.  Thank you Lord for your love and faithfulness. 


- Alissa

A trip of a Lifetime

Two weeks ago Arise Africa had the opportunity to fly over four Zambian staff members to the USA.  With the financial help of Park Cities Presbyterian Church our crew got to come over here to participate with PCPC at their Vacation Bible School.  Words cannot express the generosity and love that PCPC showed us throughout the visit. 

Sammy Joe, Kochelani, Solomon, and Megan were the lucky ones to make the trip.  Megan chaperoned and made sure the guys got here since they had never been on an airplane and they had a 21 hour layover in Dubai!

We were so encouraged and excited to work with PCPC at VBS all week.  The theme was "Go Wild" this year and it was about missions.  They used our staff to teach kids about missions and Africa.  Our guys spent everyday teaching kids in America the songs that our kids in Africa sing.  They spoke about how the Lord is working in Zambia and caring for kids.  They taught kids here what kids in Africa eat or the games they play.

(showing this little one a catapiller that kids eat in Zambia) 

And they worked so hard with the VBS staff.  It was an absolute blast and a great partnership.

 After the week of VBS was over we got to have a mini reunion with so many previous mission trippers:

Then we decided to have a bit of fun and expose the guys to as much as possible!  

The guys got to go tubing at the lake,

shoot a gun at the ranch, eat every type of food possible (BBQ, seafood, and Velvet Taco were the hits), visit Six Flags and ride roller coasters, go to the movies,

go to a Lecrae Concert (that was a 6.5 hour car drive away!)

learn to swim better,

have backyard BBQ's with neighbors, go to a Rangers vs. Dodgers game, visit the aquarium, look inside a police car at all the gadgets, shop at Wal Mart (three times),

ride in a convertible,

shop on Amazon prime, and many more experiences.

After spending two weeks in America our Zambians came up with a list of the

20 most Interesting/Crazy things they experienced in America:

1.  The drive thru at the bank and the tube you put money in

2.  The pedi bikes (rickshaws) at the Rangers vs. Dodgers game and that fact that Americans think where they park is "far" from the stadium and they actually pay for someone to bike them there

3.  The portions of food

4.  The "drink mixer" at Pei Wei

5.  The fact that you have the choice of Pulp, some pulp, or no pulp, in your orange juice

6.  Americans refrigerate their eggs

7.  The driving on the right side of the road

8.  Nobody walks anywhere

9.  Amazon Prime and the postal system delivers things to your doorstep so fast.  And nobody takes the package off your porch.

10.  Roller coasters

11. Blowing up tannerite at the ranch

12.  The jet skis... they go so fast and you have no breaks

13.  BBQ ribs are so tasty and cooked for hours and hours

14.  America's drum sticks are very different than Zambia's

15.  the HOV lanes and highways that have very very tall ramps

16.  The police cars and the technology in them.  You can't bribe them either.

17.  Plastic money (credit cards) and the visa gift cards seem odd and fake.

18.  There are some candles that are not real but look real and turn on with a remote control.

19.  Water dispensers for the dogs have water barrels that are upside down but somehow the water doesn't pour out.

20.  The mechanical bulls

We were so blessed by this trip.  The guys were amazing and taught so many things to kids and adults here in the USA.  Thank you everyone who helped pay for this trip and helped us host the crew while here!

- Alissa


Africa Freedom Day - A message from Zambia and Megan

Megan and the Arise Home kids, (L to R - Enny, Hope, Dorothy, Megan, Armond, Stella, Nelly, Alliness, Fred, Mukonda)

As many of my friends and family spent their time this weekend remembering all of the men and women who laid down their lives for our country, we here in Africa are celebrating African Freedom Day and celebrating those who fought for the freedom of so many countries on this continent.  

As I reflect over the past 12 hours, I can’t help but think that Arise Africa is raising some of the next leaders of this nation.  There are so many different philosophies on how to help this nation, but here at Arise Africa we are doing our best to bring up God fearing, well-rounded individuals.  We are working to help them walk in the ways of the Lord, love others well, and learn to function in society.

Today was no different.  Being that it was a holiday, we took the opportunity to spend some time as a family and have a fun day out.  We took the morning and went to visit the local elephant orphanage.  We got their rather early, so of course a game of football (soccer) had to happen. 

Armond, Mukonda, Dorothy, and Fred

After hearing about the elephant’s development we left and started off for lunch. 

We happened to drive by a field of freshly bailed hay.  Being the girl from a farming community in Illinois, we had to get out and have a fun go at the hay rolls.  We have a visitor from Texas, Steve, and he was teaching the kids how to walk on the rolls.  As we left the field, I asked the kids if they ever thought that they could have such a good time on a bunch of dried grass and they giggled and said “NO WAY!”. 

Steve, and Fred helping Alliness

Dorothy and the white elephant (our car in the background!)


Alliness and Dorothy


 We proceeded on and spent the afternoon having lunch at a restaurant called Mint.  You need to understand that our kids come from places where going out for lunch was never an option. They had never ever been to a restaurant when we got them in custody and had never even had pizza.  We have been working very hard on our manners and what better way is there for our kids to learn their “pleases”, “thank yous” and menu ordering that practicing in an actual restaurant.  They did great!  We divided the kids up into three tables.  Each table had an adult with them and they each were given a menu and had to order on their own.  


Uncle Chipa and Aunt Katiba's Table (Stella, Nelly, and Hope)

Uncle Chipa and Aunt Katiba talking with Hope

Alliness with her food

Dorothy's burgers

Our Nelly, who is the shy one, at first would not order.  We had the waiter go on and take everyone else’s order.  I told her that if she couldn’t order her own meal then she wouldn’t be eating.  She finally did it!  I was very proud of her.  Coincidentally, in our home we have a box of questions that we go through on a regular basis, so we brought those along to help with dinner conversation.   Nelly’s first question out of the box was “What helps you to have courage?”  I told her that something that builds your courage is trying new things.  I asked her if she was nervous having to order her lunch from a stranger and she said “yes!”.  I went on to tell her that the next time it won’t be so difficult, and it wasn’t…she was great ordering dessert for her table! (I don’t know if it was her actually being courageous from experience thirty minutes prior, or if it was the Oreo Sunday that made it easier!) 

All that to say, in raising our kids at Arise Africa and in the Arise Home we are doing our best to give our kids real life experiences, real life situations to expand their horizons, and real understanding of the real world. 

 We are raising the next generation of leaders and what not a better way to do it than to show them than through God honoring, life changing moments.  We are doing our best to be intentional with the choices we make and the life lessons we put before them.  Arise Africa wouldn't be able to take out 11 kids to a nice restaurant without generous donors who specifically gave to this day.  Thank you to those of you who helped make this possible! You are helping us raise leaders for this great country in Africa!


- Megan

Easter at the Arise Home

This past Easter was especially fun for me since I am usually not in Zambia to celebrate the holiday. 

Without really thinking about what it involved, I invited any and all staff or friends to come to the Arise Home on Easter Sunday for lunch.  Before I knew it we had 30 people coming which means you need to prepare a meal for all of them!  Suddenly I was in over my head.  I went home a bit panicked, considering my cooking skill aren't stellar and I consulted with experts that know what they are doing more than me.  After discussing with the Zambian housekeeper that keeps me organized whom I stay with when I am in Zambia, Susan, helped me see that I could pull it off.  Well Susan and Megan and others really helped me.

Susan and I, she is a saint to me in Zambia:

I had a plan.  She helped me make the grocery list and I ran out the door telling Susan I was "going to dominate" the meal and prove to others that I could actually feed the masses. 

    After getting the groceries Megan came over to help me cook.  I couldn't have done it without another set of hands chopping up 9 whole chickens, cooking 5 pounds of spaghetti, and shredding 12 cups of cheese.  It was controlled chaos I would say.  At the end of the day we had spaghetti chicken casseroles everywhere:

Right about this time there was a huge storm and the power went out.  We crammed the casseroles in the freezer and prayed for power to return. 

The next morning still with no power I went to church with the Arise Home kids. I learned that the Arise Home also did not have power.  Hmmm how do you cook casseroles?  After church I headed to the market for some last minute purchases we needed with Lucy and the Arise Home boys.  The Arise Home girls went home with Dailes to help set up for Easter lunch. 

Megan went to pick up the casseroles which weren't frozen but luckily the freezer was cool enough overnight to keep them at a good temp.  Megan then drove across town to a house that had electricity to use the oven.  She got all seven casseroles cooked and made it to the home just in time for lunch!

We had a great Easter with friends, staff, and staff's kids.

Uncle Chipa and aunt Katiba's Table:

(Chipa was shocked and so excited when Armond poured a glass of water for his wife, yea manners!)


Mamma Dailes and her kids and Susan and her kids. (of course Susan was invited she made the whole meal happen!)

Lucy's and Mamma Acqiline's table:


Fred, Alliness, and Dorothy:

Nelly and Mamma Acquiline:

After lunch we had some awesome cupcakes that I did not make, I mean I can only do so much. :)

Then we had an egg hunt which I would say went well, we have some competitive kids!

Alliness proudly holding her eggs:


You know it isn't really and Arise Africa gathering if the fake snake doesn't show up somewhere:

After the egg hunt we all got to hang out which was a perfect way to end the day. 

The boys played alot of basketball with the new hoop:

Easter was a great celebration for the one who gave his life for us.  For all of us sinners who fail and are selfish everyday, God gave his son! 

What not a better way to spend Easter with than with those you love and a staff that try to serve the Lord and kids everyday.  What not a better way than to spend Easter at the Arise Home with kids the Lord has blessed us with to love on and care for!  What not a better way than to spend Easter with staff member's kids whom we love so much and are privilaged to watch grow up.  And what not a better way than to Spend Easter with friends we have in Zambia who love us and support Arise Africa, even enough to bake cupcakes for us and let us steal casserole dishes.  It was a day that the Lord reminded me just how blessed and lucky I am for ALL he has given us and the ultimate sacrafice on the cross.

 "I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me."  Proverbs 8:17




Learning to carry the burden better

"Carry each other's burden, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2

Arise and Nikao staff with a random monkey

For quite some time I have known that our staff needed more training on how to work with kids in the difficult situations we face in Zambia.  Just as the scripture above tells us, we carry MANY burdens personally and with the kids we serve here in Zambia.  This is a broken world, but the Lord provides help for us and "tools" on how to care for our kids whom are in extremely broken envrionments.  I have prayed for our staff to have more of these "tools".   I wanted them to know how to do their jobs in a more effective way, while not getting burned out themselves.  This past week our Arise Africa staff went through training facilitated by Nikao Counseling Center from Dallas, Texas.  Martha, Liz, and Rachel, came to Zambia to teach us how to dig in deeper to the hearts of the kids we serve.   These three incredible women gave our team the knowledge and resources to lovingly lead our kids through healing and helping them to know and trust the Lord even more. 

Rachel, Liz, and Martha:

We spent the week learning about grief, emotions, trauma, boundaries, choices and consequences, sex, burnout, and self esteem.  Our staff was so eager to get more information on how to do their jobs better.  We got to ask questions about particular situations and how to handle really difficult environments that we work in daily. 

Before we could learn about how to help our children more, we had to look at our own hearts first. 

For as Ephesians 4:31-32 teaches us, "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you."

I have never been more proud to be a part of Arise Africa. For most of us, expressing our emotions and feelings and learning about them was all brand new territory.  It can be uncomfortable.  I watched our staff open up about their own trauma and pasts.  We talked about our anger. We talked about guilt and things we have done ourselves in the past that we were not proud of.  We spoke about our struggles within our work place and at home that we all have.  We talked about our families.  We were vulnerable.  Watching all of us come together and support the other as they told such difficult stories or admitted to struggles they had was such a powerful experience.  As one staffer texted me later and so perfectly put it they said, "Once I shared I felt a weight lifted off my chest that I have been carrying for a very very long time." 

We learned so many great "tools" about how to handle and work with children better.  We learned how to help them go through grief and the stages of grief and how to have empathy.  We learned how to have positive support and encourage kids.  We learned how to dig deeper and get to real heart issues.  We learned how to build up self esteem.  We learned how to be honest and have difficult discussions about death or HIV/AIDS.  We learned to love deeper and serve better. 

We learned how to trust each other more, even if we didn't want to!

We learned to problem solve and communicate better:

Nikao was great at not only wanting to help teach us how to help kids but see themselves where and who we work with.  We were able to spend time at the Arise Home and in the schools we partner with:

          Martha, Sammy Joe, Liz, Lucy, and Rachel at Grace School:


         Lucy, Brenda, Martha, and Susan at Destiny School:


 We also taught the counselors a few things of our own.  They learned about chongololos (millipedes):

We taught them where to find Mexican food in Zambia:

We taught them how to ride on the roof rack with the Arise Home kids:


And oh boy did we ALL laugh!!!  We had so many great and intense moments in training but we sure did laugh a lot too. 

Solomon learned that the prize bag at the end of the day isn't always a good thing and had to jump in the pool:

After the week of training was over, we decided that we needed one more team building activity and what not a better way to end a week of learning about trauma and grief than go to play paint ball together!!!


We shot the crud out of each other, and loved every moment of it!

For those of you who know her, you won't believe this is Brenda below in the red:

We are so blessed to be a part of Arise Africa.  But we are more blessed by those who love us well.  This week Nikao carried the burden with us.  And they have been working the past 10 months as they spent over 200 hours preparing their teachings and the training manuals we were left with.  They helped us care for the widows and orphans.  They helped us learn to care for each other. We will be forever grateful.

We are also so blessed by Highland Park United Methodist Church, who funded this entire project.  They believe in loving and serving others well.  Thank you HPUMC global missions!  (by the way, for the record, I personally paid for the paint ball war, don't worry!)

As Easter weekend is upon us, I am humbled to call myself a Christian.  I am humbled by the people God surrounds me with and puts in my life to help Arise Africa.  I am humbled by Christ's ultimate sacrifice for someone like me.  Thank you Lord for all your many blessings and fellow believers who I get to do life with.  And thank you lord for every single child we get to work with in Zambia!  Thank you Lord for the gift of your son! 


In Him,





It is all about the numbers... or is it?

      I was sitting in church a few weeks ago and Matt Chandler (Village church in Texas) was preaching about how we are not awesome.  And for whatever reason it was this moment of me realizing about how non – profits like to boast about how awesome they are by giving their numbers and recruit heavily on “how many” they are feeding, saving, curing, sponsoring etc.  Don’t get me wrong we do this too, to an extent.  If you made a donation to Arise Africa in 2014 you got our end of year letter giving you the year “2014 by the numbers” which has many of these stats.  But we don’t do it often and for whatever reason it has always rubbed me wrong with other organizations who talk “numbers” all the time. 

      I think it goes back to when I supported a non-profit and it was all about “how many” kids were being saved or run through their programs.  Although those numbers are awesome and staggering it made everyone strive for quantity over quality.  The end result was always the number.  How much could be raised?  How many kids could be reached?  How many Americans participated?

         What makes me so frustrated was that the quality of work gets diminished when this happens.  You are so focused on getting as many people as possible to “sign up” or “give” or kids to “save” that I wonder what the end result is. 

         The reality is that EVERY SINGLE number is a real child.   A kid with a heart and emotions and personality.  It is a human being that needs nurturing, love, constant care, and for us to constantly shepherd.  This child needs discipleship, and not a “one time saving.”   They need Jesus in their heart everyday, and that takes years and years of time and love to help them see that and grow it.  They need a parent because their’s are gone or don’t care or cannot provide.  Don’t get caught up in the numbers or whatever else, get caught up in the children themselves!  That is what you should see staggering, are the kids who’s stories are getting changed through the Lord.  The numbers can be deceiving. 

            We struggle with this in Zambia all the time.  The fact of the matter is there are so so many kids that need saving.   And the Arise Home could have more bunks in both the boys and girls room and places for those kids to live in.  We could physically go and save more kids tomorrow.  But our staff has always wanted to focus on the quality of the work we are doing and children we are raising.  I am not saying this is right or wrong, I lay in bed at night wondering if we should be saving as many as possible and not devoting as much time to each child.  But this is how we have chosen to operate, is quality over quantity.  One example of this is the low ratio of children to staff member in our child sponsorship program.  For every 30 children sponsored in our program we have 1 staff member assigned to them.  They are in charge of those 30 children ONLY.  Most programs run on much much larger child to staff member ratios, in the hundreds.  We did this for multiple reasons.  First, I wanted to be 100% sure we knew and could account for every single child in our program.  If we are telling you that you are really sponsoring that ONE child than we better know that kid and make sure they are in our program and showing up as school and eating on your dollar!  If you have been to Zambia and see where we work you would fully understand how easily it could be to lose track of a child and why we need a low ratio of adult to children.  Second, how do you disciple and shepherd and teach the word of God when you have more than 30 kids you are watching after?  It becomes more of a management program than an actual personal relationship with the child.   The most important thing is teaching these kids about Jesus and how much the Lord loves them! 

            So I ask you as the donor and supporter of Arise Africa or any other non-profit to remember this.  Even if a charity’s “numbers” aren’t as staggering as another, look deeper.  Because they could be making more of an impact than the “big number” groups.  Ask yourself what is most important to you too.  Ask any charity you invest in the hard questions.  Do they seem so polished and slick that it is too good to be true?  Because it probably is!  Third world development and working to eliminate poverty is complex and messy.  That’s why it hasn’t been fixed in thousands of years.  Try to investigate the quality of programs they are running and how they are doing it.  If you sponsor a child how often do you get updates?  If it is only every 6 months or even more, I would wonder how much that child you sponsor actually gets attention and is being cared for.  Make sure to know what that overall goal is of the charity and “feel them out.”   You can get a sense of a charity’s “M.O.” (mode of operation) real quick. 

Don’t get caught up in the numbers.  Gat caught up in investing in a child’s heart. 

- Alissa


A word from Megan...

At the Arise Africa home, our goal is to raise these kids as apart of a larger community.  They attend a local school as well as attend a local church.  Our hearts behind having a home is to make sure that our kids experience life and not confine them to institutional living.  This means that our kids go to Sunday School each week and as our kids get older they start attending youth groups.  Because of this, our kids have grown to love the body of Christ.

With that comes responsibility and involvement that goes further than them just  receiving.  Last week at church, our pastor requested that people come and help plant trees and plants on the church grounds.  What better way for our boys to start connecting and serving at the local church.   Instead of going to their weekly football game, Abraham who many of you know and love, picked up the boys and took them to church to help out. 

Of course the boys were a bit bummed out at first when they heard they were not going to their football practice.  However, once they got there and started helping out, they began to see that other people were giving of their time and they jumped right in.  Armond loves gardening, so I think he actually liked this more than football!

The boys worked really hard and gave it their all, so what better reward than pizza and ice cream! 

As we sat there, they were tired and dirty, but I could see that they had enjoyed giving back and had a sense of accomplishment.  When there was one slice of pizza left, I asked the boys who deserves the last slice?  Armond, the shy one that he is didn’t have much to say.  Fred said, “I deserve it because I worked hard at planting trees” and out of nowhere Mukonda replied, “I deserve it because I am a better dancer than both of these guys!”  They decided to share it as good brothers do. 

It makes me so proud to see these boys living as brothers.  To see the changes happening in their lives and in their hearts is such a miracle from God.  All I can say is…get ready world because we have three young men who are destined for greatness!


- Megan

It's beginning to look alot like...


This month we are hitting the road and taking the Arise Africa Christmas Catalog party to Dallas, Midland, Houston, and Austin.  Well to be honest with you I meant to write this blog post a few weeks ago because Dallas and Midland have already happened.  Sorry if you are late to the party for those.  We had great success in both cities and can't wait for Houston on December 3rd and Austin on the 7th. Food and drinks on us!


Please join us for those parties if you live nearby:


Houston                                                                        Austin

Wednesday December 3rd                                             Sunday December 7th

St. Arnold Brewing Company                                         Contigo Restaurant

Investors Pub                                                                  6 - 9 PM

7 - 9 PM                                                                          2027 Anchor Lane

2000 Lyons Avenue


If you are unable to make it to a Christmas Catalog Party we STRONGLY encourage you to shop with the catalog we sent you in the snail mail or online

Jesus is Better

Note: this blog post was written by one of our 2014 summer interns, Ellen Taylor

I have been back from Africa for some time now and I am just now getting around to writing this post. I guess it takes that long to process through a trip like the one I had the opportunity to experience. A life-giving, life-changing trip. A trip that shook me to the core and taught me lessons that I am still learning almost three months later. It was an unforgettable month.

Exhausting. Hard. Good. Draining. Eye-opening. Incredible.

These are just some of the words I have used to describe my time in Lusaka, Zambia this past summer. Whenever people ask me about my month there, these few, simple words are all that I can usually muster up. It’s hard for me to even start describing my experience because it was one that was completely different than I could ever have pictured. It was a day-to-day humbling, uncomfortable, but incredibly life-changing month.

For those longer conversations with good friends over coffee or a shared meal, I tell them stories. I tell them about the people that I met and the pure joy that overflowed from them despite all the hurt they had been through. I tell them about the beautiful, precious kids I got to know and the determination many of them have to overcome the obstacles they face for a brighter future. I talk about the antics that went down when you throw 5 college-age girls together for a month and the sweet community that happened with these girls whom I had never met before our trip. I talk about how my internship changed me and challenged what I want for my future. And most importantly, I tell them that Jesus is better. That He is better than anything that this world can offer or supply. That our circumstances should not define our joy and limit our Savior. That Jesus is better today, and He will be better tomorrow and every day after.


The media and the Western world tend to shape people’s view on Africa. I know it did for me. They paint a picture of a broken, hurting, poverty-stricken continent that is full of desolation and in desperate need of our resources and occasionally our help. They tell us that we must fix their symptoms through tangible resources instead of fixing their deeper needs. Yes, I saw hurt and heartache. I walked through dark streets and had my eyes opened to a life that is completely different than the one I live here in Texas. But, what the media and Western world leaves out, is that these are hurting people. People like you and me. People who have a deep, abiding, unending amount of joy. Who do not let their circumstances define them and steal this joy away. I saw Jesus clearer in these people than I ever have before. Time and time again, they taught me what James commands us to do in James 1:2:

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.”

To simply rejoice. To give all the glory to God, no matter what life throws at you. My friends in Lusaka live this out daily and taught me that I still have so much to learn when it comes to trusting my Savior. I learned by watching them live their lives for Jesus that we were made to know Him. And to make Him known. When something good happened to them, they gave all the glory to God. When something bad happened, they still gave all the glory to God. They knew that they were loved and known by Jesus. I only hope that one day I can be as half as loving, grace-giving, humble, and generous as them. I look up to them for their strength, courage, and compassion. And most importantly, I look up to them because they understand that Jesus is better than what this earth can supply us.

I could go on and on about my time in Zambia. I could fill blog post after blog post about all the lessons, big and small, that I learned from my time there. I am so thankful that the Lord sent me there this summer to meet and get to know the people that I did. I am forever changed by them. Jesus is greater y’all. And so much better.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” // Ephesians 3:20-21


- Ellen Taylor


Meeting Colliard

Just over a month ago, my family of five returned from a life changing trip to Lusaka, Zambia with Arise Africa.  While I could write pages and pages about our amazing expedition, I was asked to condense my words for this post and focus solely on meeting the child we sponsor through Arise Africa’s child sponsorship program.   This is like asking someone who’s been to Disneyworld to report on just one ride in the park.  Seriously?  But because I’ll hear from Alissa if I don’t follow the rules, I will do my best to stay on task.

A little over a year ago, My husband and I decided to sponsor a child through Arise Africa.  I wish I could say it was a decision that came from the heart, but it was honestly because Alissa point blank sent me an email with a picture of a sweet little boy asking if I would sponsor him.   How could I say no to that?  Or to Alissa?  Don’t get me wrong, I was NOT guilted into doing it.  It was just not something that was on my radar at the time.  Because, well, life.

When we agreed to sponsor our child, Colliard, I had no idea I would eventually be in his home one day or that my children would be playing soccer (futbol) with him in his ‘front yard’.    What a difference a year makes.

Our first introduction to Colliard, 13, was a hand written letter and a 4x6 photograph sent to us from Arise Africa.  We tacked the letter and photograph to a bulletin board in our laundry room as a reminder to pray for him each time we saw his face. 

Even though I knew what we were doing was a good thing, it was hard to make a heart connection simply from a picture.  I couldn’t hear his voice. I couldn’t see him smile.   I didn’t know if he was shy.  I didn’t know if he had a sense of humor.   I just trusted that somehow we were making a difference by ‘sponsoring’ him.  What did that even mean?


Fast forward 365 days and my family was on a plane (or four) to Zambia.  We were told we would be able to meet Colliard once we arrived at his ‘compound’ (similar to a neighborhood, but not at all.)  When we drove up the dusty road to the compound and parked the car, my youngest said, ‘There’s Colliard!”  I think I laughed out loud because I assumed he didn’t have the first clue when it came to identifying one specific African child in a literal sea of African children.  (It turns out, however, there’s a reason he’s in TAG and I was not.)  It WAS Colliard!  Of all of the (what seemed like 10,000) children that were swarming our car, he was standing right in front of us.  And my kids recognized him from a 4x6. 

There’s something so surreal about going from praying for a child who you’ve only known from a photographic image to actually meeting him in person.  No description I write could ever do it justice.  I could literally see my children’s brains connecting the dots that THIS is the child who we are helping.  This is the child who’s handwriting is on that notebook paper in our laundry room.  This is the child for whom we have been praying.  My heart almost couldn’t take it. 

We brought Colliard an FC Dallas jersey as a gift from our family.  We wanted something that represented our city, but also something to which he could relate. 

(Have you ever noticed that soccer somehow speaks the universal language?)  He immediately put it on as we awkwardly hugged him one by one.  I say awkwardly only because my husband and 2 of my children have personal space issues and to hug them is akin to embracing a porcupine.  And really, because what is not awkward about 5 white people whom you’ve never met jumping out of a vehicle excitedly greeting you as if you’ve just reconnected after years of absence.  It was like a scene from a high school reunion gone wrong.   


After recouping from the overly anxious meet and greet, we accompanied Colliard back to his ‘house’ where we met his younger sister, Vida, and his older brother, Gift.   We were struck by the visual images that filled our minds on that journey.  There were kids everywhere.  And kids holding kids.  And more kids. 


It was unbelievable.  I’ve never seen so many beautiful little faces in such a small space.  As we approached his modest cinder block home, we were pleased to find a small garden of vegetables that his family had planted.  (Of course my kids had no idea what THOSE were, so I just told them they are a delicacy only grown and eaten in Africa.) 

Colliard invited us in by pulling back a piece of fabric that acted as a door.  I was struck by the darkness of this tiny dwelling, and it took my eyes awhile to adjust to the lack of light.   Once inside, the five of us sat on whatever furniture we could find.  Colliard’s brother, sister and cousin all joined us along with two Arise Africa staff members for translation.  We asked several questions and learned more about this precious family that was quickly starting to feel like our own.   It was then that I heard Colliard’s voice.  It was then that I saw him smile.  It was then that I learned he is shy.  And it was then that I learned he does have a great sense of humor.   In those moments, he went from being an image on my bulletin board to being a part of my family.

After a natural break in conversation, my children asked Colliard if he would like to play soccer outside.   We then watched as they quickly integrated with the other children in the compound and played various games with the soccer ball.    We were also able to go visit his classroom that day, as well as feed he and his classmates a nutritious lunch.  It was by far one of my favorite days on our trip and one I will never forget.


We also were able to write in and leave a Bible for Colliard.

What does sponsorship mean?  It means so much more than writing a letter and sending a check each month.  It means touching the life of a child who is in need of education, spiritual guidance, food and hope for a future where the cycle of poverty is broken.  The Arise Africa staff has a personal relationship with each child it sponsors.   These kids are followed and cared for by loving people doing the work of the Lord in Zambia.   I saw it first hand, and pray that this post urges you to consider helping just one child.   You may never have the opportunity to meet this child, but I promise you have the ability to change them forever.   


- Jamie Kraus

Are all donations really a good thing?

Recently we have been contacted by a few organizations that want to help ship food and other items over to Zambia in an effort for us to be able to help and feed more children.  Although this sounds like a home run for us, you might be surprised that although the offer is very generous, we typically say no.  And let me explain our philosophy.   


I want to first of all say that in no way am I trying attack people and organizations that are doing this.  But I do ask people to really look at the big picture before they get involved with helping others. 

Arise Africa has spent countless hours learning about boosting the economics of a third world country.  If we are really focused on ending poverty and helping people have lives that God desired for them than we have to attack poverty on all fronts, right?  When unemployment is 70 – 80% at times how do we boost the economy and not hurt it?  A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with a man by the name of Robert Doar who is a Morgridge Fellow in Poverty Studies at the American Enterprise Institute.  Let's just say he studies poverty for a living and has been for years.  Robert kept encouraging me in what we were doing in Africa and continued to say to me "Alissa if you can help their economy and provide as many jobs as possible that's the key to ending poverty, teach them to provide on their own and get them to tools to do that and you are doing great!"

How do we help increase more jobs to people in these countries that hopefully one day the exact children we are helping have jobs?   

We feel this is a prime example how: Arise Africa strives to purchase food and other items we need with local men and women and farmers who sell these items in their stores, markets, and farms in Zambia.  Let’s just take food for an example.  What this does is not only provide food for the children we are helping at our schools or elsewhere but it also provides income which is food for the people selling it.  It provides them a job, it keeps their job secure, and it keeps them from being jobless and having to beg for food themselves.  Local women in the markets we buy from use our money to feed their own children and pay for their kids to go to school.  If we were to ship donations in from organizations, we would wipe out an entire economic level of people who benefit from us.  We have a farmer who we get all our chickens and eggs from, and we are some of his biggest sales weekly.  He can count on us, we are always there and needing meat.  Through Arise Africa purchasing food locally it provides jobs.  Not only the farmers themselves, but the people who work for them.  How can we expect the economy of Zambia to improve if we aren’t purchasing local?   If we want to encourage individuals to be self reliant and sufficient, we have to provide the opportunities too. We are trying to teach people how to stand on their own two feet. 

Let me be the first to say that Arise Africa doesn’t buy everything we need in Zambia.  If you were at my house a week ago you would have witnessed me packing a massive box that was getting shipped to Zambia on a container ship. 


 What was in that massive box I was packing was a brand new basketball goal for the kids in the Arise Home (it is a secret don’t tell!) for Christmas.  In three months after crossing the Atlantic Ocean and going through port in Namibia the goal is for the goal (get it goal/goal ha ha I digress so fast) to make it to Zambia.  You might ask why I went to ALL this effort to get a basketball hoop over there that cost me 4 times as much as the goal itself to ship?!  Because they don’t sell basketball hoops in Zambia and can you imagine the looks on the kids faces when they see they have one?!  And we have had quite a few made by welders over there, and let’s just say they are sub par.  After purchasing the goal I then opened it and filled it with other items we pack and take ourselves over to Zambia, which in this case were books.  Yes heavy Christian books.  See, when you ship stuff there is no weight limit, just a size limit, so I stuffed that box with everything I could.  Books in Zambia are rare and about three times the price they are in America and Christian books are nowhere to be found.  Therefore we make exceptions to our “buy local” rule.  DISCLAIMER:  yes if you look closely at the photo you might see fireworks in there that were purchased in America.  I have no comment about the illegally packed fireworks other than I strongly feel every child in the world deserves a proper New Years, which involves fire works in my opinion. (This is a personal opinion not an Arise Africa opinion)

Arise Africa makes exceptions for things that also are not made well in Zambia.  For example we have learned that door knobs are imported from China to Zambia and are terribly made.  Imagine how much wear and tear a door knob gets in your home.  Now imagine the Arise Home, there are at least 24 hands in that home, grabbing the door knob and our kids are kids, they don’t treat things very “lovingly” at times.  The Arise Home door knobs don’t last, like not even a week.  It looks like our children have chain saws as hands if you saw our doorknobs. They are broken in half, torn out of the door etc… (don’t get me started on the toilet seats in the boys bathroom, that’s a whole other blog post)  Therefore we have decided to replace our door knobs with American made doorknobs that can withstand the brutality that the Arise Home provides.  We really should be a durability product testing lab for companies, we could make major money because I promise you our kids can destruct anything in ten minutes. 

When the Arise Home was getting built, we were offered by a company in the USA to ship all the furniture over there on containers.  Once again this was a very very generous offer.  We choose to hire a carpenter and welder to make all of the furniture in Zambia.  We gave them work for months and months.  They had never had someone come to them and ask for ten metal bunk beds to be made!  They were able to increase their shops and staff because of us.  They had enough profits to purchase better equipment which in return gave them the ability to make things quicker and better and boosted their business forever.  We hired local women in the markets to be our seamstresses and make all the kid’s bed spreads and couch cushions.  We provided labor and jobs for so so many people.  The sad thing is folks, these people were BEGGING for work, and were beyond grateful to us for using their services. 

The cost that people spend to ship food and items across the oceans is astronomical. To ship one basketball goal was $536.  How much is an entire 20 or 40 foot container?  We are talking $15,000 - $30,000 easily.  That doesn’t even factor in how much the items in the container cost that you ship. Now imagine how much food you could buy in Zambia and the kids you could feed with the shipping costs alone and what that would do for their economy?  Is it really smart to use hard earned dollars to pay for shipping when the item you are shipping can be bought in the place you are sending it to?  If your aunt lives 500 miles away and she needs food and cannot afford it herself are you going to go buy heavy rice and food and package it up and pay to ship it to her?  Or are you going to write her a check and put it in the mail? 

In theory these offers seems like a no brainer right?!  Get as much food as you can to feed kids.  But we feel that to make a long lasting impact and help the country of Zambia stand on it’s own two feet, this isn’t helping them, in fact it is hurting them.  This is a hard pill to swallow for some Americans, and we understand that.  But everyday I try to look at the bigger picture and am working to put myself out a job. That happens when poverty doesn’t exist. 

There are some areas of the world where shipping food or goods in makes sense.  Maybe there is a drought or floods that have wiped out all the local farming.  Maybe there was a war and it wiped out all the available shops to purchase from.  Look at Haiti after the earthquake, they needed many many things brought in.  Maybe what you are shipping just doesn’t exist in that country.

We want to be responsible and aware of our impact in Zambia on ALL levels.  We want to improve the standards of living for all.  And we don’t want to spread materialism issues or hurt their economy any more than it already is.  That is why we are so very careful to take on any project and closely evaluate the impact we have. 

We don’t do everything right, in fact I know some would argue that this exact blog post isn’t correct.  And that’s OK.  We appreciate the generous offers, we really really do.   This isn’t to say organizations that are doing this aren’t making an impact.  We have chosen to not partake in this.  That’s not to say we are trying to point fingers at those who do.  I get many questions about this and wanted to express our side on the issue, that’s all. 

- Alissa

Continuing Education

         For years our staff in Zambia have always loved any books or manuals I can get them that helps them do their jobs better.  I love taking over Bible Studies, books and sermons on all sorts of topics such as depression, anger, loss, grieving, healing from physical or sexual abuse, how to work with children who have been abused etc... Unfortunately in Zambia those resources are not available, it is something that we take for granted in America.

      This year in an effort to help us grow and have deeper of an impression Arise Africa has decided to go more in depth in educating our staff on how to do their jobs to have the biggest imapct.  Even though food, shelter, and education is at the top of our list to help these kids, the bottom line is we want to impact their hearts and teach them about the Lord's love for them.  If we aren't training our staff how to work with children in really difficult situations, than we aren't working to our maximum ability.

      Furthermore, we have started the Arise Home and thrown children in a living situation they have never experienced before.  They came from living on the streets, living with distant relatives who didn't care for them, and their lives have had major trauma and abandonment.  The transition to living in our home isn't easy, and they had to learn the basics of living.  They didn't know how to use running water in a home and the toilets were new.  Figuring out what goes in a refrigerator was a new concept.  Everything was new to them.  Imagine how hard the change was for the kids in the home, and now imagine how hard the jobs are of our house moms!  They are helping 10 kids figure all of this out!  They are helping with school work, and cooking, and dealing with every single part of that child's life - times ten!   It isn't fair for Arise Africa to not fully equip and train our house moms to know how to deal emotionally with children they work with.

      Arise Africa has partnered up with a Dallas Counseling practice, Nikao,


to work on manuals and plan a training workshop for our staff.  Nikao has been very very gracious with us in this process and their counselors are working hard to make manuals that our Zambia staff can use for many years down the road.  We are meeting regularly as these manuals are made and it is awesome to see how in tune Nikao is to learning about the culture in Zambia and the children we work with.  They want to know about our staff and working situations and every aspect of how we operate and reach out to children in Zambia.  This is a daunting project that they have fully embraced. 

        We are also planning to go to Zambia in 2015 for a week of training with three Nikao counselors to fully educate our staff.  Words cannot express the excitement that both our Zambian staff and myself has over this!  This will not only help us minister and help reach kids on a deeper level, but also help Arise Africa as a ministry work together and grow in a positive and healthy manner. I just hope Nikao knows that they are getting themselves into when you put all Arise Africa staff in one room together! 


In Him,



Megan Megan she's our girl!

Today is a very special day for Arise Africa because we are celebrating Megan's Birthday!

 Happy Birthday Megan!

For those of you who haven't been to Zambia you might not know Megan.  Megan is our (ONLY!) American living in Zambia and does just about everything you can imagine on the ground.  From chasing kids down who are in trouble to handling finances and running mission trips she can do it all.  If you were stranded on an island you would want Megan with you because she has done just about everything you could ever need to do already!  (and she is a good cook) Megan has lived in Zambia for 8 years and has been one of my best friends since 2008.

I am not sure Arise Africa would still be in existence without Megan.  YEARS ago as I dreamed about Arise Africa and when we started, Megan was my "sounding board."  She worked for another ministry at the time and we met through friends in Zambia and always chatted about my ideas.  As time went by and I dreamed and bounced thoughts off Megan, she was always quick to give advice and listen, two things I desperately needed.

Fast forward a few years and Arise Africa was up and running and Megan was ready for a new ministry to call "home."  She threw out the idea on a visit to see me in Dallas and as she remembers we were standing in my garage at the time.  I really didn't know what I was doing when I said "yes" that Arise Africa would love Megan to come on board and the massive impact it would have.  There is NO way we would have grown or accomplished so much in such short time without Megan!  The only way this story could have happened was through the Lord.  Without him how does a girl from Chicago even get along with a girl from Texas?!  The blessing Megan has been on Arise Africa is immeasurable.  And personally the blessing and advice and support she has been for me as a friend is priceless. 

Megan puts up with alot from me and I don't deny that.  Heck she is from Chicago and deals with Texans on every single mission trip.  She might make fun of how we have everything monogrammed and are obsessed with Texas A&M and love fireworks and guns and Mexican food but we know she loves us deep down.  Megan deals with me when I am stressed on the phone or have an absolute crazy idea.  She has a way of telling me "no" in a way I need to hear.  She will do anything when I ask her even as far away as I am.  She is ALWAYS looking out for others and willing to serve. 

Megan is willing to do the trust fall with kids she barley knows when she is deathly afraid of heights:

She is the one that thinks up all the kids Bible Camp Curriculum and comes up with fun ideas like dressing kids up in aluminum foil as soldiers of the Lord:

God put a friend in my life when I needed one most.  As I started out on this Arise Africa "venture" I never dreamed it would turn into the ministry it is today.  And there is no doubt the Lord had a plan for both Megan and I and all who have been involved.  God has used Megan within Arise Africa in ways we all can tangibly see on earth, just imagine what it looks like from heaven!

Megan as you celebrate your birthday I hope you know how much you are loved by ALL of us within Arise Africa.  There is no doubt that hundreds of children are being helped daily because of your efforts.  You are selfless, loving, motherly, a best friend to many, a servant, a Christ follower, a leader, a great sister, a great aunt, a great daughter, and an incredible person on this earth.  You make Arise Africa what it is and we thank you for ALL you do in the Lord's name !  WE LOVE YOU MEGAN!


Alissa and ALL of Arise Africa staff and Arise Home Children

Ebola Outbreak

In the past week I have received quite a few emails from individuals asking about the Ebola virus and if it is affecting Arise Africa.  We currently (Thank the Lord) are nowhere near the Ebola outbreak.  In fact, from what I have heard it isn't being discussed much in Zambia mainly because most people don't know it is going on in Western Africa due to no news and lack of communication. 

Our staff however does and Arise Africa is watching the outbreak very very closely. 

Here is a map to help you understand where the outbreak is compared to where Zambia is:

Although we currently are not in harms way it hurts us so much to see this outbreak happening. And it is scary enough even as far away as it is!  It hits close to home for us in that the community of Americans serving in Africa is close knit and we know and have ties to both US aid workers who have contracted the disease while working to help stop the spreading. You can read more about them here.

We ask you to join us in praying very hard for this disease to be stopped and controlled.  Pray for the countries in direct warfare with Ebola right now.  Pray hard for there to be supplies and clinics to not be overwhelmed.  Pray for the people of that country to become educated as fast as possible in understanding how this is spread and the precautions that need to take place.  Pray for Dr. Brantley and Nancy Writebol to recover and for their families right now during this difficult time.  Pray for the aid organizations who are trying to evacuate their missionaries and aid workers before they are affected.   (Samaratians Purse, Serving In Mission, etc...)  Pray for those who have Ebola and are in isolation that they feel comfort from the Lord. 

We will continue to monitor Ebola in West Africa and try to be as ready as possible if it were to spread towards Zambia.

I can't imagine if this were happening in Zambia right now what we would be doing.  I know we would be in trouble and I ask you to pray for all the aid organizations and people who are trying to help in these affected countries.  They need our prayers right now! 

 In Him,


Alissa's Turn...

Hey everyone!  Wow what a month in Zambia we had!  I wanted to write a blog post of my own since the interns took control of the blog for June which was a major help to me. 

So this blog post is all about our interns. ha ha ha I bet they are scared right now reading this!

I was hesitant to start the Arise Africa intern program because of concern of taking care of college kids for a long period of time in Zambia.   Boy I am so glad I took the challenge and had the interns with us this month. It was amazing!  They were awesome!

From leaving DFW airport with them over a month ago to now it has been such a blessing in my life and Arise Africa's.  We couldn't have had a better group of girls to do life with over there.  Although they didn't know one another beforehand (or very little) they all instantly bonded and were willing to work together for anything.  They fought through not feeling great at times, anxiety, pressure, fear, confusion, and many other things to work to selflessly and hard for those around them. 

So here is MY list of lessons learned from having interns in Africa:

1.  Malaria medicine can cause anxiety, take someone off of it if this or any other weird things are happening to them!

2.  Taylor Swift is apparently a really good song to sing to while on a road trip in the middle of the African bush

3.  Leggings and super big extra large t-shirts are the total fashion statement right now. In fact that is all you need in your wardrobe.

4.  If interns live on Nutella and coke and goldfish for the entire month, they will be fine!

5. Don't forget to remind them when going to Vic Falls and on the game drive that large African men wanting to take them on a walk to see rhinos with AR 15 rifles is actually normal and nothing to be concerned about. 

6.  Explain on day 1 that all water sitting in compounds could be sewage and to avoid it

7.  Disney Movies are great, no matter what age you are

8.  Everyone can all talk at once and somehow hear every conversation happening and still keep talking

9.  They are really good at organizing donations and doing child sponsorship letters

10.  They will make friends with everyone

11.  Having 5 American college girls in your car in Africa draws attention and you get to be known around town as "The Landcruiser with the Texas A&M bumper sticker and hot girls."

12.  Do not trust them with Remy the night guard

13.  They can't cook at the beginning of the month, but they will learn and take care of themselves!

14.  They are willing to help in any way, including manual labor, holding babies that pee on you, coralling kids at Bible camp, cooking and many other things.

15.  Hand them over to your Zambian staff at 6AM and say good luck and don't worry about them until night.  They will manage the mini busses, compounds, and everything else just fine!

16.  When you ask them if they have talked ot their parents back home and they say no but the parents are fine with that, the parents are actually not fine with that and I should expect an email!

18. They are pretty good drivers, even in Zambia!

19.  You can beat them in a NERTZ card game any day so make sure you make them do ridiculous things for losing.

20.  They have hearts of gold and are great Godly girls!!


I am so thankful for their help with our staff and Bible camps and everything else.  We were able to accomplish so much this month and the interns were the reason why!  I had so much fun seeing the girls work in new environments and trust the Lord on a daily basis.  I loved watching the Lord's work be done through them.  They were calm and patient when needed and were willing to work so hard. 

To our 2014 summer interns, you guys did GREAT!  You have no idea how much God used you this past month and how thankful we are.  God has a great plan for each of your lives and has uniquely made you, just hold on and keep going after Him! We love you and Arise Africa is always here for you! Don't be a stranger!

Oh yea and I've paid for Millie/Annie the dog to be shipped to America, who wants her?!

In Him,



Final Words from your favorite interns

Hey y’all!


Wow, we cannot believe that the end of the month is here! It’s been an incredible month and it is very bittersweet to say goodbye to the country and people we love so much. We have experienced and learned lessons that we will never forget. Thank you to everyone who supports Arise Africa; whether it’s through the child sponsorship program or other ways, we have gotten to see firsthand the impact Arise is making here in Zambia. We have seen God work in powerful ways and have experienced His abundant faithfulness during our time here. As this is our last blog post, here are a couple of lists that we wanted to pass on to our favorite audience!


Funniest moments of the month:

-Paying our security guard, Remi, to fill up water balloons for bible camp

-When Ellen and Hailey lost a bet and had to go across the cold pool in a raft

-Laine telling a little boy she likes his pants… which means underwear in Africa… oops!

-Eating the entire supply of guacamole at Taco Hut

-Successfully putting all 5 interns in hammocks in one tree

-Hailey touching the electric fence


Things the 2015 Interns should do to prepare:

-Learn how to text on a Nokia 80’s phone

-Accept taking cold showers

-Start liking Coke

-Accept limited resources in the grocery stores

-Don’t bother bringing a watch, you’re on Zambian time

-Hope you like eggs…

-To prepare for your first mini bus experience

a. don’t shower for a week

b. cram yourself in a cardboard box

c. blast reggae

-Find the dullest knife you can and start cutting vegetables with it

-Start stirring cement to get used to stirring nshima

-Get used to turning down marriage proposals

-When someone tells you the price of something immediately start bargaining from half that price


-Avoid eye contact with homeless men at your car window

-Download the sound of a rooster and listen to it every hour of the day

-Look up the word “muzungu”…. that’s your new name


Thank you so much for all of your prayers! In the wise words of one of our favorite movies, aka Frozen: “OKaaaayyy bye”.

The Summer 2014 Interns

Last Week as Interns

Howdy y’all!


We have been busy over here in Zambia! This past week we went to several different ministries all over the city. We loved the chance we had to see how these organizations impact the people in this city!


This past Tuesday we went to Cure Hospital, a worldwide organization that provides first world healthcare to third world countries. They gave us a tour and then we spent the rest of the morning coloring pictures with kids who were currently inpatients. That afternoon we went to Mother Teresa’s, a local orphanage here in Lusaka. We played with some precious little kids who showed us what it looks like to love selflessly. This visit impacted all of us a ton and our hearts broke for the kids who are in desperate need of homes here.


Wednesday, we headed back to Grace and Destiny schools to finish up sponsorship letters and say our goodbyes to the kids. A few of us had the opportunity to visit the families of some of the kids in the sponsorship program. They were so genuine and thankful for what Arise is doing for their kids, but most importantly, how the Lord is using Arise to change hearts.


Friday morning, we attended our last staff meeting here in Lusaka. It was bittersweet, as we had to say our goodbyes to a lot of the Arise staff. They have taught us so much about what it looks like to love well and serve with our whole hearts. They have shown us how to be generous with our time and patient with people, no matter the situation. The impact they have made on us will not be soon forgotten and we are returning to the States with full hearts.

Lastly, Friday night we gave the house mom’s at the Arise Home a break and spent the night at the home with the kids. We played games, cooked dinner, help them finish their sponsorship letters, popped popcorn, and watched their favorite movie, Spiderman. We loved getting to hang out with them and see their day-to-day lives.



It is crazy to think that we are leaving here in only a few short days. We are so thankful for our time here so far and know that the Lord still has much to teach us with our time left.


In Him,

The Interns