It’s crazy to think that we are half way through April. Lately, when people ask me how long I’ve been here, I’ve been saying 6 months, but I just realized that it’s been 8 months! Where has the time gone? I literally never look at the time here because there is always something to do and see and the days just fly by.
The past 8 months have been filled with excitement and anxiety; there have been tearful days, joyful days, frustrating days and the list can go on and on. No day is ever the same (which can be exciting and a little scary) but the one thing that I am reminded of is that God has continually proven Himself to be faithful as my provider and source of strength day after day.
The past month has been a whirlwind of problems. I’ve dealt with mildew issues in my vehicle, leaky air conditioners, fixed air conditioners (and then leaky air conditioners again!), expired road tax on my vehicle, plumbing issues, and I’m sure some other things that I’ve chosen to block out of my mind. You’re probably thinking – Melissa, get your act together! But now that those issues are dealt with and over, I’m thankful for those times. Yes, they often make me feel ready to lose my mind, but they also continually point me back to Jesus. Reminding me that following Him doesn’t mean I’m free from troubles, but instead, allowing me to be with the One who I can go to for guidance, direction and comfort.
The past month has also brought be so much joy. I have been able to travel to Livingstone and Kitwe with friends, have a special visitor from home, focus on work, and spend time with the kids at the village. Within the past month, I have also met a bunch of kids on the street – either selling things or asking for food and money. One little boy that has stood out to me, and who I have been able to see often is Leonard. My first encounter with Leonard was about a month ago, and I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I would drive and look for him. Now, whenever I see him, we talk for a bit, or wave at each other, and he is just the cutest little thing! It’s not uncommon to be driving, or stuck in traffic, and see children and some adults walking up and down the lane ways on the road between cars. They often have things to sell, but will normally come knock at the car window and ask for food or money.
The day I met Leonard, my friend and I were stuck in traffic and he passed by the car selling brooms. They are your typical “Zambian” brooms that you see here. They look like a wad of hay joined together on one end with some duct tape, but everyone here uses them. I’ve always wanted one for some reason and that day I saw Leonard, my friend and I bought two from him. He seemed so surprised – these two white girls wanting these brooms! Because we were stuck in traffic we were able to talk to him for a couple of minutes. He was polite and quiet, but as soon as we asked him his name, he had the biggest smile and his demeanour changed. Since that day, that boy has been on my mind. But also since that day, all of these kids that I drive past have been on my mind. It’s difficult to know how you can help. Is giving money ok? Is it better to give food? Do you help every single person that knocks at your window? It can be tough, and it has been something I’ve really had to pray about because it’s not possible to help every single person you see on the street. However, there will be times when you just know you need to give that kid your banana, or you need to give that mom your water bottle you just bought. I pray that I never get to the point where seeing people walk up and down the road would just become scenery to me that I wouldn’t notice over time. I asked that God would really tug at my heart when I should roll down my window and help, and when it was best to keep driving.
Meeting Leonard, and any other person I meet on a daily basis has reminded me of my purpose here. I know I am here to volunteer with Village of Hope, and I am enjoying it greatly. However, since very early on, I have felt that a large part of my ministry was to build relationships with the people I see daily. The lady selling fruit at the market, the kids weaving in and out of cars, my little neighbours that knock at my door, and the list goes on and on. It is a constant reminder for me that serving shouldn’t be loud, in your face and for anyone else to notice. Serving in simply making time for the people and the needs that they have, and sharing Jesus’ love for them in the process.