2016: A Year for the Books!
Written by: Faith Gregg, Child Sponsorship Director
The best part of starting a new year, in my opinion, is getting to see all God did in the last one. It's easy for me to forget in the midst of projects, construction, and craziness who the real Architect of life is. Alissa always says, "hindsight is 20/20." I believe that. Psalm 135 states, "For I know that the Lord is great. and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps." Its near impossible when you sit back and dwell upon the goodness and sovereignty of God not to see His fingerprints all over the past. So, look back with me on what God had written in His book before any of us were here. Chapter 2016 is a good one! Here are our top 10 favorites (in no particular order):
1. The Complex
"I think it would be a good investment to build a headquarters in Zambia for our Arise offices, trainings and workshops, a place where Megs can live full time and mission trippers can stay. We should build it out of shipping containers.. Ya. That would definitely be more cost efficient. Okay I need to make some calls." -Alissa
*Cricket noises* -my brain
Not a lot of time passed before Megan sends us photos like this:
In the summer, after the hard work of many people, especially Megan, we show up to this:
If you're as baffled as me, you have the right to be. Its incredible and such a God given gift. You can see more under our "Complex" page on our website.
2. The Arise Home 2
We are incredibly blessed for many reasons. A huge reason: Kershaw's Challenge. Clayton and Ellen Kershaw, as well as their incredible team (I'm speaking of the one off of the field), raise money to put on projects for many different organization including Arise Africa. Lucky us! This year, they built us our second Arise Home. This Home now houses all of our girls in full time custody. The boys stayed in the original Arise Home. Because pictures are worth 1,000 words I'll save you from mine and leave you with these:
Thank you Kershaw's Challenge, we love you!
3. Arise Christian School
This year, we bought land for the first ever Arise Africa Christian School. With the help of our staff, our Arise Kids, and some handy mission trippers, we made an existing house on the property a school for our Child Sponsorship children in Ng'ombe Compound. We cannot begin to express the hand of God in this. The location, the opportunity, everything.
4. Taonga School
This year we got to partner with Taonga school. It is run by our dear friend, Abi. She came to Zambia from England some years back thinking she would only stay a little while and help tutor a few students. Well, its been years and she runs a full school with over 130 students! God's plans always prevail and amen for that, we love Abi! Not only did we get to bring the children into our sponsorship program, but we got to start construction on new classrooms and start a feeding program.
5. More Arise Home Children=More Joy!
If we were going to put these in order of favorites, this would OBVIOUSLY be number one. I think its' safe to say for all full time staff that getting custody of these four children in 2016 changed everything. They make Arise Africa more joyful. They make their Arise brothers and sisters laugh more. They make all of our staff's (especially our AMAZING house moms) hearts more full of love and care. We cannot get over how blessed we are to God to have entrusted us with these four gifts. They are loud, tireless, think the solar power generator is a ghost at night (sorry house moms), and they are perfect for our crazy little family. Okay... I'm going to post the photos now before my eyeballs sweat anymore.
6. Custody of 4 Children and 2 Dogs
Number 5 told you that we got custody of 4 new kiddos. We also somehow got custody of 2 new doggos to keep our Arise Home kids company. We got our black lab, Malasha (which means charcoal in Nyanja) during the time when the Complex was under construction... she was a huge help to our builders:
Everyone loved how much of a help Malasha was with the Complex so we hired a chocolate lab, Muqua (which is a type of wood in Nyanja), to help move our Arise Home girls into the new Home:
She did such a good job keeping the babies company that the boys decided to let her live in the Arise Home 1 with them:
Now Muqua and Malasha live with Arise full time and help out whenever they get the chance!
7. Arise Goes to University
This year, with the help of Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, Arise Africa got to send 4 incredibly diligent and hard working students to Africa University in Zimbabwe! In August, we put them on a bus with their bags packed and for most of them, this would be the first time they had ever left Zambia.
Before we knew it... They were the face of the Africa University website:
It didn't take too long before we noticed on their social media that they weren't having a good time at all....
JUST KIDDING! They are having a blast AND studying hard. We couldn't be more proud of these four and are looking forward to what the next 3 1/2 years hold for them.
8. Mission Trips
This Summer, Arise Africa had the privilege of hosting two weeks of mission trippers. Week one was full of our good friends from Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas. They put on Bible Camp for the children at Taonga school. They taught the kids about John 3:16 as well as facilitated a game day. There was tons of singing, dancing, and laughing! It was a blast to have them.
Week 2 was a mix of people from all over! We had mission trippers all the way from California and Washington! This week was all about construction! (Go figure.) They helped with everything from building a basketball court and eating porch at our Arise Home 1 to painting the girls rooms at the Arise Home 2. They invested time and energy into loving on our full time custody children and we couldn't be more grateful for that!
9. Chebo and Maggie
This year we got to see some ASTOUNDING, life changing surgeries performed by Cure International on two of our Child Sponsorship Children. Chebo came into our program with clubbed feet, barely able to walk. Maggie was found by Alissa in Ng'ombe compound with hands that had been badly burnt at a young age. Her skin melted together and trapped few remaining fingers underneath. After noticing these fingers may be saveable, Maggie was taken to Cure Hospital. With the love and care of our staff, lots of meetings with both children's families, and amazing doctors, Chebo can now fit both feet comfortably in shoes and RUN (that is huge) and Maggie can hold a pencil and write! These are both incredible stories in detail. I would encourage you to read the blog Alissa wrote on the full Maggie story!
10. Swag Bags
For the second year in a row, Arise Africa provided every single child in our Sponsorship program with a personalized Christmas gift from their sponsor. Items from sponsors were packed into a bag for their specific and prayed for child and sent on a 5 month journey across the world to Africa by boat. Once on the coast of Africa, the bags were taken from the boat’s shipping containers and put into a large truck. After being driven to the country of Zambia, 400 Christmas Swag Bags were dropped off at Arise Africa’s head quarters in Lusaka. Our staff then distributed the bags throughout various schools to each individual child in our program. After lots of laughter and excitement, photos were taken of each child and sent to their sponsor. It was an absolute blast and we can't wait to do it again this year!
I think it's easy to see that God is working through every single person involved in Arise Africa for His good purposes. But then again, hindsight is always 20/20!
(If you would like to know more about any of these stories in detail, make sure to look back at previous blogs or the albums on our Facebook page!)