Interns are here and we have had a fun and busy week in Zambia. Their first week started with a staff meeting and interns instantly fell in love with Arise staff. We start every staff meeting singing Zambian praise songs together. It’s one of my favorite things about being in Zambia. It’s so refreshing to see the Zambian staff praise our Lord with so much passion and excitement. I look forward to this time every Friday.
After the meeting, we split into two groups. A few interns went with the staff to buy supplies for camp next week and my group went with staff to shop for food for our feeding program. It was fascinating to see where they get the food. We had to stop at four different places all over town. Our first stop was a huge, crowded open-air market. While there, a local tried to convince Solomon to let him carry me to the car! Solomon assured him that I was capable of walking on my own and he eventually gave up the battle. The girls and I thought it was hilarious.
At our next stop, another man offered Solomon one goat for each of us. I’m sure four goats was a tempting offer, but thankfully Solomon declined. This sparked a fun conversation in the car about about dating and marriage customs in Zambia. We learned that trading animals for a wife is tradition and is still common in the villages outside the city. The type of animal that is traded depends on the tribe they come from. In the city it is still common to pay a dowry for a bride, but it is often done in cash because transporting animals is too challenging. We were also surprised to learn that a daughter’s parents often don’t know their daughter is dating until they come to them and say they are getting married. This blew our minds, but our married staffers confirmed that this is how they told their parents. We had a great time learning more about Zambian culture and laughing about how many goats we were worth.
We have also been spending lots of time with the kids from the Arise Home. On Saturday, the older kids came over to help us work on the complex. The boys gardened with our gardener, Kennedy, and the girls teamed up with an intern or two and finished setting up rooms together. This was precious bonding time and we all LOVED it! When the kids come to work on the complex, they are able to earn money, which goes toward their church’s VBS fee. The kids are very excited for VBS and we love that we can help them get there while also teach them the value of hard work.
Most days the kids come to the complex after school. Clara provides math tutoring for Hope, Mukonda, and Shadrick. The rest of us help the others with their homework. It’s extra fun when they get to stay for dinner too. One night an impromptu dance party broke out. We had a blast dancing together! I even saw one of the quieter kids, Armond bust a move. Life is more fun with the Arise Home kids around!
I got to spend a little extra time with the kids one day when I accompanied them and mommy Dailes to the clinic for their regular shots. Some of the kids were nervous to get a shot, but I was so impressed at how calmly they carried themselves. They are so well behaved. I have also been so encouraged to see how the kids treat their two new little sisters, Mary and Christine. Throughout my three weeks here, I have observed them loving each other well and seen the warm and safe environment they’re providing for Mary and Christine. It's a huge testament to our house moms!
During the day, we are in the schools helping child sponsorship officers. One group spends the day at Grace school and the other group at Destiny/Dotroda. Most days we take the public transportation with an Arise staffer. We get to the schools by taking a ride in a minibus, which is a van filled with as many people as is physically possible. It’s an experience to say the least. Our staff takes a minibus to and from work every day and the ride time ranges from one to two hours. It’s cool to step into their world and travel the way they do every day.
One of our tasks at the schools this week was to get an updated picture of every child in sponsorship – that’s 367 photos yall! After my first day in the schools, my cheeks were sore from the huge smile I had on my face all day. The kids light up in front of the camera and their smiles are so big and beautiful that I can’t help but smile with them.
At the schools, we’ve also been going on home visits with staff, helping them edit reports, helping kids write letters back to their sponsors, and passing out shoes to kids that need them. I got to pick up the shoes with Brenda and Faith at a local shoe factory. One of my favorite things about Arise Africa is the way they do everything they can to not only support the children in their programs, but the nation as a whole. One way they do this is by buying local as often as possible. It was fun to see behind the scenes of how they buy locally and then to be involved in handing out shoes to the kids.
Another highlight from being in the schools is time spent with staff. The Arise staff surprises me every day with the new things I learn about them. For example, yesterday we learned that one of our Zambian interns, David, is an amazing songwriter and rapper. He performed a song for us on the spot and our jaws literally dropped because it was SO good! I would buy a CD today if I could. Also, several staff members have visited America so we get to have conversations about what they thought of America and how our cultures compare to one another. Here we are in the office for Dotroda talking and working on reports.
Another highlight of my week is getting to do Bible study with the interns. In our first meeting we discussed Philippians 2 and what it looks like to be a servant leader. We talked about how Jesus’ humble example can encourage us as we serve in Zambia and enable us to serve with a joyful heart as serving for the Lord. It was a great time of fellowship and learning that helped put me in the right mindset for the next few weeks which will be all about servant leadership. Now we have started our three week study of the book When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. Bible study is one of my favorite parts of the week because I love learning with and from the interns. It's cool to see the Holy Spirit at work in all our lives in different ways.
That's all for week 1 of the internship program. I'll write again soon and share about our week with Park City Presbyterian Church (PCPC)!