Saturday, June 28, 2008

I lost my heart... and my stomach

We've been in Zambia just over a week now, and somehow I've lost my heart to the people here. More specifically, the students of the Bible school. Over the past week, we have spent every day at the Zambia School of Biblical Studies, and we have had the priviledge of getting to know the students. They each have a unique story that is so inspiring, and I have been learning so much about true sacrifice.

ZSBS is a school that trains men to become ministers of the Gospel. The students live at the school, eat at the school, and have all their studies at the school for two years. They have all left behind family and friends (some come from long distances) to learn more about God's word.

Here are the stories of two of the students that I've gotten to know over the past week:

Martial is 23 years old, the oldest in a family of many boys. His father, who is not a Christian, is a polygamist (this is very common here). When Martial was very young, his father decided to take a second wife in addition to Martial's mother. However, the family was too poor to support another member, so Martial was sent to live with an Uncle to make room for the new wife (!). While being bounced from family member to family member, Martial worked any job he could find to put himself though secondary school (school is only free through the 7th grade in Zambia). Each day, he would work all morning, and attend class all afternoon. He graduated from secondary school last year, at the age of 22. Upon his graduation, he made the decision to attend ZSBS, but his family was very much against this (and the Bible altogether). Although it was a difficult decision, he chose to attend ZSBS against the wishes of his family and has now been cut-off from his family because of it. His love for the Lord is evident and he is determined to remain a faithful Christian regardless of how his family reacts.

Another student, Cedrick, is 22 years old. He is the youngest of 9 children (large families are very common here) and is also the only Christian in his family. Although they are very poor, his father smokes and drinks heavily, making his upbringing very unstable (his words). He began searching for peace and joy in his life and became a Christian during his teen years. His family was also very angry about this, and made it difficult for him to remain a faithful Christian. He worked his way through secondary school, then made the decision to attend ZSBS. His parents had told him that they would help him with travel costs to go to college, but when they discovered he wanted to attend ZSBS, they refused to help him. He lives 1600 kilometers from the school, so travel costs to get here are significant. At first, he was sorely disappointed, but realized that he wanted to learn more about God's word badly enough to do whatever he had to do get here. So, he began making dining room chairs (by hand, of course) and selling them in the local market. He did this until he made enough money to pay for his travel costs to come to school.

I know these stories are long, but they were very touching to me so I wanted to share.

I taught a women's class this week. It was a great experience! Women here are not educated much at all, and many of them do not speak English. Because of this, my class was translated into Tonga. It is difficult to teach through a translator, but this was complicated even more by the fact that about half of the women in my class are illiterate as well. We studied about the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, and despite the illiteracy and language barrier, this was something everyone related to. The Bible is amazing like that.

I still don't have any way to upload photos, but I can't wait to share them with everyone!

I've decided that I must be the whitest white person any of these Africans have ever seen. This is their winter, and it has been very chilly in the mornings. One morning at breakfast, one of the girls that works at Kwesu (the guest lodge we are staying in) said to me, "Maybe if you come in September (their hottest month), you could even get a little color on your skin". She's not the only one who's made comments like this to me. The African sun makes me look even whiter because it is so bright! I look like I'm glowing in some the of pictures, haha!!!

Today, Dad and Chris went to the bush to preach a special meeting. I woke up with food poisoning last night, so I couldn't go. I was extremely disappointed!!! I'm feeling fine now after vomitting a good part of the night. Everything is very dirty here, and we've all had some type of stomach issues. We will probably go to the bush tomorrow, so I'm looking forward to that experience!

Love to all!


The Family of N said...

Good stuff. Glad you are a part and I know that you are blessing to their lives as you are to mine. Sickness seems to go with international travel. Yes, you are white and I heard there are tanning beds in OK. Hint!

Angie said...

Those are such amazing stories! Very touching. I am just so happy that you have been blessed to have this experience. How amazing! I am sorry to hear about the tummy troubles. I am sure that the food is one thing you will not miss there! LOL

Joy Lin said...

Amazing that the only thing Cedrick has to say about his upbringing is that it was "unstable". The Lord has obviously done a good work in him to give him such peace and forgiveness toward his family.

Tracy said...

You are making a difference in their life and it sounds like they have made some for you as well. I hope your tummy hangs in there. The food liiks a little scary. I'm proud of you for putting your best foot forward through the tough times and enjoying all the good times.