All posts tagged "Africa"
Queen, a recent widow and newfound friend of mine: at first impression, she is seemingly shy and reserved. Take another look and you’ll find she is spunky and a fighter. She wears the scarf of one who has lost her husband. She is grieving. He was the sole provider of their family; now leaving her the sole provider of her eight grandchildren. She is burdened. Zambian law gives rights to her husband’s family, not including his widow. She is being told that their land is no longer hers, because it belongs to his family. She is alone.
I would like to say we have easy answers and a quick fix for Queen. We don’t. The issues that Queen is up against are complicated, cultural, and multi-dimensional, and if we want to help create an atmosphere of empowerment for Queen, more and more, we are finding that being encouragers and a support is where our role should be. It’s hard. It’s messy.
I am reminded of a song that Dan wrote… (Abridged version)
Take my love to the Nations…
Show them I care…
Show them I’m there
Take my light to the dark places of this world
Show them I care…
Show them I’m there
Watch their faces turn bright when they turn on that light
And they see that I care
and they know that I’m there
Take my healing to the broken hearted orphan child
Show him I’m there
Show her I care
In her darkest night
I will work for her with all my might
Show her I’m there
Show him I care
Cause if you don’t go
How then will they know?
That I still care
That I’m really
You’re my hands and my feet
You’re my message to this world
To show them I’m there
To show them I care
We ask for prayer and wisdom in finding ways to partner with Queen and her family… for provision and long-term solutions to take care of her and her grandchildren.
It’s so easy to think on the life changes we have seen by coming here to Zambia. I often times recall all the things we left behind or the people we miss. That’s not a bad thing. I would like to think it’s actually quite normal and healthy. I’ll be the first one to tell you that I miss my mommy. I’m a momma’s girl for sure. We used to talk on the phone everyday. About everything. I miss that.
Our life has changed dramatically. Too true. We went from a comfortable life in the Pacific Northwest, where we had friends and family, great jobs, and community with our church; we went on dates to our local pub, we ran on the river trail by our house, we volunteered at the local community center, we knew our postman.
These days, we still have community. We have a group of people that all love serving the poor, who serve Jesus first and foremost, and who are passionate about seeing people’s lives improved, both by seeing life in Jesus, but also by tangible things like clean water, orphan care and empowerment. We are a multi-cultural group, which I love. We are friends. We have partnered with some of the most salt-of-the-earth kind of people, who we share life with. We watch movies here, we talk about life and dream together.
Life is much simpler here– simpler than the fast-paced-United-States, sense of the word. We walk a lot. We hang our laundry on a line, we make most of our meals… yes, even I cook. And yet, we are faced with more challenging scenarios and situations than I have ever been faced with before. A woman’s son beats her, a woman’s husband beats her, a woman has just been diagnosed with AIDS, a father must pass down his demon spirits to his son because it’s tradition… the list goes on. Alcoholism, rape, abuse, AIDS, oppression, fear, poverty… How do we handle it? How does one Jesus-loving group tackle these things?
Here’s my hope… Monde. A little girl, once vulnerable, once abandoned, once left without food or care. Now, living in a safe, loving environment. Once unable to walk because of neglect, now walking. Once only knowing tears and crying, now laughs.
For all the things we don’t know, or for all the things we don’t feel equipped to handle, we have been commanded as Christians to care for the poor and the widow, to show justice and mercy, and to be love, as Jesus loved us. So we press on. We ask for wisdom and grace. We ask for support from you, family and friends. And we ask for prayer to continue to seek what’s right and advocate on behalf of those who can’t.
Children of Zambia
“…if you spend yourself on behalf of the hungry, and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” Isaiah 58:10
With the demeanor of a meak and quiet spirit, with just wispers in his voice, Oliver sits beside me as I teach him English colors and read him some Bible stories. At age 9, Oliver (shown directly below), has been identified as a vulnerable child here in the villages. He and his younger sister, Monde, were both found with no food, in a home with no roof, in a village where they were unwanted. Even by their own mother. Love’s Door for All Nations, the organization we serve with, gladly welcomed them into their Children’s Home with a caring widow, named Hilda who has taken them in amongst her own children. He now has food, shelter, clothing, and school fees, but most importantly, a chance at life, and hope.
Home In A New Land – Livingstone Zambia
Sitting here on the banks of the Zambezi River watching the mist rise in the distance from Victoria Falls, completely in awe that we’re actually here! It has been quite the journey getting back to the place where we feel led to live and serve. We’ve been here in Africa now 6 days, finally getting over the jet lag and feeling a bit situated. Of course, how situated can one feel when the language is completely unknown and the local people are still strangers. I guess the situated I speak of for now is learning the money (the exchange rate, the different colors of the bills, etc), learning simple “hello and how are you” in Nyanja (the language used in town for business), learning our way around the house and re-connecting with new and old friends, whom we will be serving beside. Missy and Jeremiah, our friends that we met in South Africa have especially been a blessing. We live with them at the house in Livingstone and they have been so generous with showing us around and teaching us so much about town and the work we are apart of. We left so many wonderful and dear friends in the states, so having Missy and Jer here has been a true God-send.
We had our first day in the village on Saturday. It was exciting and scary to me all at the same time. Excited for the possibilities of those we would meet and be serving, and scared that we wouldn’t be accepted and wouldn’t know how to relate to the Zambian people. Once we arrived, we got a tour around the land and the progress of our awesome team who have been faithfully serving there for some time now. There is an Orphan Home built to house a handful of orphans and a widow who will care for them, a garden and chicken coup (still needing to be filled with chickens), a meeting area with a thatched roof and benches, and a beautiful tree house (courtesy of Luke Martin-great job Luke!). The people were all very welcoming, especially the children, of course. They were the ones who sat down with us to help us learn some Tokaleya terms (one of the main native languages of the villages here). We also had the awesome opportunity to be canoed out on the Zambezi River by a few of the older boys to watch them fish. It was scary at first because we knew of the ever-present crocodiles and hippos who live in the Zambezi and the boat was made out of a carved out tree trunk with holes. Hmm.. .This doesn’t seem like one of the most safe ideas! ….So… we got into the boats, and were taken to the middle of river to a sand barge to watch the boys fish for tiger fish. Just ahead of us was a view of Zimbabwe. I stood there on the sand barge and thanked the Lord that we were there. Such a journey, such a new life, but such joy and reward in the obedience. Baby steps. We’ve only been here 6 days, but it’s been a wonderful.
Thank you for your prayers and your support! And thank you for reading.
Welcome to All Things New, the personal website of Nick and Paula Watts. We will be blogging here regularly of our experiences and stories from Africa. But until we have real Zambia-sourced posts, here is our story thus far..
A Short Story
Beginning from Bend in January of 2008 Paula and I (Nick) started out on a 3 month trip around the world. Our planned points of destination were: Thailand, Cambodia, India, South Africa, and parts of South and Central America. We planned on this being a mix of adventure, research, and world-education all in one. It was that and much more. While in Thailand, Cambodia, and India we saw great opportunities for us to get involved in church work and justice initiatives. On our fourth major stop we had arrived in Cape Town, South Africa. Our initial experience within South Africa was such that we decided to simply scrap the rest of our planned trip which would have taken us to South and Central America. In its stead for the remainder of our time we stayed in S.A. As we began to fall in love with the work we found ourselves in, what began as a 3 month trip turned into 6 months in total. We spent those months in South Africa assisting in disaster relief in a community called Red Hill, the southernmost informal settlement “township” on Cape Peninsula. The residents of Red Hill had just suffered from a wildfire which had burned down hundreds of their homes. We moved in and took part in the rebuilding process. We shared our labor, friendship and our Love for Jesus with many of the people there. It was in one word, Amazing.
A Bigger Story -All Things New
While our own story is one of a growing passion for community development initiatives and justice issues around the world, we have found that our personal stories are getting caught up within a much bigger story than our own. We have been captivated by a Voice telling a bigger story.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does Yahweh require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
This bigger story is the narrative that God has been telling. The story begins with life and beauty. The middle chapters have involved separation, pain and death. But the end of the story speaks of all things being made new.
“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’Rev 21:5. This Voice we have been listening to is telling a story where all things are being made new, and a story where we are invited to participate. This Big Story is resounding in our minds and hearts and imagination.
Making New Things
After our trip, we came home to Bend and have been enjoying living, working, and playing with great family and friends -old and new. As much as we have loved our days here, at night our dreams have been of Africa.
Yet the time has come and we are now able to relocate to Livingstone, Zambia where we will be joining up with a Christian Non-Profit called All Nations, working in a rural village called Singanga. We will be the hands and feet of Jesus:
- Teaching the Way of Jesus in discipling communities
- Resourcing the many orphaned children due to the AIDS epidemic.
- Planting sustainable gardens
- Starting micro-finance business loans
- Raising awareness through the art of Photography