Wednesday on This Side of the World

Dear family and friends,

It’s Wednesday night in Zambia. We had another incredibly beautiful and surprisingly dry day here in “rainy season” Zambia. The Lord has been kind to give us the best possible atmosphere to love on these kids at camp. We even talked about Noah on Tuesday…and the rains didn’t come!

Here’s a little window into camp today. We roll into Destiny School on our big bus, and the kids are already waiting for us. Remember, it’s about 7:30am. They’re waving and hollering, so excited to see us. Some of them even try to get on the bus when the door opens, and we have to tell them to get off so we can file out and greet the crowds. All the Zambian children are looking for their American counselor. We know we’re here to love these kids, but their love for us has moved us all.

(Leslie Catherine Wrightsman with a couple of her campers)

As we round up kids in each of our groups, counselors and their Zambian partners catch up with the kids, play games, dance, laugh, etc. The Zambian children are so excited about memorizing their Bible verse each day that many students have the day’s verse memorized before we actually “introduce” it in the large group meeting around 8:30 or 8:45.

(John David Newman teaching the kids his new dance, the "wop.")

(Allie Fersing with one of her little girls)

The students march into the Destiny church building (where we worshiped on Sunday). The more groups we get in there, the louder it gets. The cheers and songs fill the place, almost like someone took the top off a Coke after shaking it really well. The energy just explodes. The Americans do their best to learn and sing the Zambian songs, and occasionally we get a song or verse in English, which is great! After singing, we have a daily lesson on faith and we introduce the day’s memory verse. So far, the kids have learned Hebrews 11:1, 2 Corinthians 5:7, and Romans 10:17. During today’s meeting, a number of students came to the front, recited all three verses, and received great encouragement and applause.

After the large group meeting, the rest of the morning consists of small group time, outside games, and inside activities like drawing. We take a snack around to the kids during the indoor activities, and we have another large group meeting before lunch. The second large group consists of more singing, some fun competitions, and a skit performed by the Zambian leaders. The kids get a real kick out of the skit, but the Americans aren’t really sure what’s going on, which is funny, too. The skits are in Nyanja, so we just enjoy the ride!

After the second large group, kids sit in their groups and have a great lunch that they really enjoy. Sitting with PBJs and a nutrient-rich drink, the kids have a chance to hang out and talk more with their leaders. Lunch breaks pretty quickly, though, as kids are excited to get back into their games at Destiny. The play continues until we have to call it a day, and the next challenge is trying to figure out how to say goodbye and shut things down. Truly, we could go until sundown and these kids would still be going strong.

(Our team after camp at Destiny today)

As camp winds down, our team spreads out to different places where we serve in the afternoons. Ann has already mentioned Mother Teresa’s orphanage and the Buseco Market. Today our group went to “The Midge,” an affectionate name for another school in the area. We spent three hours in that area today. Some girls read to students in the three-room schoolhouse. Some boys played soccer out in the small yard, but the potholes and other obstacles didn’t slow these little guys down. The Americans had trouble holding onto the ball as all the Zambian boys ran circles around them. Megan, our friend who works for Arise Africa, gave us a walking tour of the city, but we were not alone. An army of little kids followed us the whole way. Many of the children grab an American hand and hold it the whole way. I had a little guy on either hand, and though I never felt in danger walking through the city, there’s something powerful about having a couple little boys escorting you around.

(Walking the streets with our little army)

Our friend Patson runs “The Midge,” and before we left, he shared the story of the school with us. Patson told us that he had “failed” in his education, but that he longed to help others to get an education. About ten years ago he tried to start by helping adults pursue an education. Again, he said he failed. He committed to praying and asking the Lord to give him a sense for what he could do. The Lord gave Patson a word. “You can’t change the past, but you can change the future.” Patson turned his attention to the next generation and has been helping children get a better education for eight years. In the most recent turn, his school hosted 78 students in the three rooms. If you think of Patson tonight, pray that God would provide more resources to hire new teachers and pay current ones. He’s doing a great work, and we were encouraged to hear about it.

(Robert Cannon at "The Midge")

I know this is a long entry, but hopefully it paints the picture. Thursday will be our last “normal” day of camp. Don’t tell the Zambian children (wink), but on Friday, Arise Africa will bus them to the new Olympic training facility in Lusaka. There we will try to give them the most fun field day they could ever imagine. Considering the fact that they’ve probably never even seen a beautiful turf field, I think there’s a good chance we’ll have an amazing time. On Thursday afternoon, our team will plan out all the activities for Friday.

Please pray that our team members would know how to encourage the kids in their group as they have conversations on Thursday. We would all love to give them the world, but we know the best we can give them is Jesus. We are so grateful for your prayers.

Grace and peace,
Robby Higginbottom