Good evening from Lusaka!

Wow! What a great day it has been. We started out bright and early on the bus, heading towards the brand new Olympic Training Center. Arise Africa rented the facilities out for camp today. The children were SO excited about the adventure of riding on a bus to the training center. Some had never even been on a bus before, so this was a big deal! As they pulled into the parking lot, you could hear them coming a mile away: singing, singing, SINGING!! What joy.

Our American team prepared an entire morning of games and field day activities for the kids. To spice up some friendly competition, we divided the camp into four teams, complete with matching headbands and flags for each team. The kids thought this was hilarious—they rallied around their team and had a blast. After some chanting and cheering all together, we enjoyed playing net ball, volleyball, soccer and basketball. These sweet kids are fun to watch—they are athletic and gifted, no doubt!

After a few rotations, the entire camp gathered on the track field for an organized field day. I was so proud of our American team—they had every detail organized. Field day included an egg/spoon race, three-legged race, sack race and a relay including hopping, crab walking and spinning. Big and little kids alike thought this was so much fun. You could hear laughter and singing in every direction. The Lord really blessed our weather. Rain here and there, but followed by blue skies. From start to finish, camp has been fantastic.

By far, the hardest part of the day was saying goodbye to our precious friends. We all enjoyed lunch together and a chance to talk and pray one more time. But as the blue buses lined up, we had to hug our friends goodbye. The beauty of this week is that relationships grew fast and deep. Collectively, we have become attached to these precious kids. As a result, goodbyes are never easy. After seeing their lives and understanding their stories, it is sometimes hard to watch them leave. But we trust that the Lord will continue the work He began in each of them. At the end of the day, they belong to our Lord. Knowing that He stays with them is a beautiful and comforting thought.

Some of our team visited a cultural market after camp and enjoyed some authentic shopping. After that, we all gathered back at the Baptist Mission for a sweet time together as a group. It was awesome to process the past week together. Some moments have been incredibly sweet and others have been more difficult to process, but by God’s grace, we have been in it together. Going home is the next step and it is reassuring to remember that we take that together as well.

As a farewell and celebration of camp, we had a “fry” (or barbeque, as Texans call it). The dear Arise Africa staff joined us. What a delight to finish the week with people who are now our dear friends. We were treated to a performance by a very talented Zambian a capella group. They were phenomenal and serenaded us with beautiful Zambian songs and classics like Hakkuna Matata. We have been so blessed by the Arise Africa staff. Each and every moment of this past week was carefully planned and we are so grateful. They surprised each of us with a hand carved wooden plaque with our names on it. It is something that we will treasure for a lifetime. We introduced them to the greatness of s’mores. I think they were a hit!

When goodbyes are hard, it is evidence of a sweet friendship. Our friends here in Africa are dear and it has been an incredible week serving by their sides. As we return home, we go with our friends in our hearts and prayers. We spent a week with these children, but these leaders spend day in and out with them. The potential for impact is huge and we are encouraged to believe that the Lord is using them in tremendous ways.

Tomorrow our team will divide. Ann Carolyn and Ben are leading some home to America and the rest of us are heading to Victoria Falls! It’s sad to see the trip come to an end. What an incredible journey it has been! Friends and family, we are grateful for you. Please continue to pray for us—for travel mercies and grace to finish well. We can’t wait to tell you all about it soon.

Love from Zambia,