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,