Saturday, October 20, 2012

Messages from Mulenga

 Today is the first  full day off I've had in a couple of weeks. I'm not complaining, I'm actually very thankful for the place I'm at right now. I am transitioning out of my job at the Pier and into the new position with the *ahem* church. Yes, I'm still having difficulty with that word but I'm starting to see that it is my issue, so, unfortunately, I'm the one who will have to deal with all that goes with it.

The past few weeks, I've been getting up early and heading into the store for 6 am to get things organized and merchandised for the Christmas season. While I agree that it is far to early to be thinking about Christmas, the gurus of all things retail disagree, which is why I find myself condensing displays of Halloween glittery things in an effort to make room for the Christmas glittery things. Again, I love the work that I have been part of here and making things pretty. It's a good time to walk away from the job when everything is shiny and pretty and I can say, "There you go...have fun with that!"

In the midst of the busy days of leaving one job and starting another, is a constant concern for the kids and care workers we work with in Africa. Particularly, the care workers and kids in Zambia and Zimbabwe are on my mind even while I play with glittery reindeer and try and find monthly parking in the city near our new office.

This morning, I had a message from Blessings, one of the men that serves the northern area of Zambia so beautifully. I could write books on Blessings and how he deserves his name for the way that he gives of himself to the people of the Copperbelt region. He is incredibly humble and giving...clearly a man that loves Jesus and lives out his life as close to His teachings as possible. In the years that I have known Blessings, he has become such a dear friend to our family. Definitely, the last month and a half of our time in Africa, having spent it working daily with him around Kitwe, we're definitely attached to this young man.  It's not unusual to get a text or two from him but this morning, he was with our friend, Kennedy, in Mulenga. I had asked Blessings a while back to greet Kennedy for us and let him know that we're thinking of him and praying for him. I asked Blessings particularly to ask Kennedy if he was attending school and to encourage him to do so. The message I got this morning was Blessings, with Kennedy, saying that Kennedy was there with him and thankful that we remembered him and prayed for him. He also said that he would do his best to get to school on Monday. I'm hoping he does. Praying he does. Kennedy is that kid that stands out in a crowd for his vivaciousness and energy. He's charismatic and charming as anyone who has met him will tell you. At least, he was. He's hardly a shadow of who he was when we first met. Back in 2009, he was full of life, mischief and energy. In 2010 when I met up with him, he was recovering from malaria, and had been hospitalized. He was slower and less energetic but still incredibly charming and charismatic. This past trip, it's as if instead of growing up into a man, he's grown into himself, becoming smaller and skinnier. Life is harder. Choices have had consequences. He's hardened in some ways and yet still so vulnerable and when he would hold my hand or walk with me and the boys, I could hardly keep myself from begging someone, anyone, to let him come home with us. Today, I feel as if I spoke with him, through Blessings. I wish there was a better way to communicate to him daily, to encourage him and to guide him in his choices...choices that no boy his age should have to make in order to eat and survive.

I miss our kids.

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