Thursday, 11 May 2017

Post-Zambia Musings...

I decided not to write a blog again when I was out in Zambia, and I was quite glad I decided that as our time there was quite busy and I don't know when I would've found time! It was an amazing time and though I don't want to waffle on for too long, I will try and summarise the main things we achieved.

The first thing was that the school was in danger of being closed down by the government because of poor lighting and ventilation. The extension they had been given to get this sorted was actually after the Easter break, and we went during the break, so the timing was perfect! We paid for 8 new openings with louvre windows, plus 6 new strip lights and 3 large fans. The school is an amazing thing to be able to give to as it caters for a large number of vulnerable children, including those from the orphanage (up to grade 7), and the lighting and ventilation will definitely make a huge difference!


First of five openings to provide better lighting in the School
The next thing we set out to do was to give the Internet cafe a boost. Ritesh was taking classes each day, and he also trained Vincent, who is going to take the whole thing forward. We also paid for the next internet installment, and for a sign board advertising the cafe, school and English classes. The English classes are still happening and going well, and Ali was able to give Agnes some training on her new laptop (which we also bought), and this will facilitate communication of easy exchange of teaching resources.

New sign should hopefully bring lots of people in!
My personal highlight was the final thing we gave to, and that was for a bore hole to be dug. The work men drilled over 50 metres underground to reach water, and the Centre will now have fresh, running water 24/7! It was so exciting to watch and wait for the water to come up, knowing that it will make a huge difference to the lives of the children living there, and everyone who works at or visits the Centre 😊

The bore hole being dug
They were the main things that we used the money we raised for, as well as other little things like hair clippers and food. Something we want to put in place now is to help to provide the children with food, clothing and school/college fees, so watch this space as we get it set up. Once again, thank you so much to everyone who donated or helped with fundraising in any way, without you none of this would've been possible!

I really enjoyed spending time with the children every day and teaching them to play some games that we took over, which they loved! The family we stayed with were really lovely too, and very hospitable. It was definitely less of a culture shock going back this time, and it was so lovely to see old friends again, and make new ones also. The hardest bit was definitely saying goodbye to the children, it's so heart breaking to leave them behind, I wanted to pack them all in my suitcase! 😉  

Teaching some of the children to play Twister

A lesson that I learnt/something I felt God speaking to me about was gratitude. I just realised again how much we have and how much there is to take for granted- running water and an ample supply of food & drink being two of the main things, as well as many more luxury items that they just don't have. I just felt that I should be so grateful for all I have, not just materialistic things either, but also my amazing family, friends, church, a job to go to etc. Their love and trust in God convicts me too, because although they have so little materialistically, they have so much in the Kingdom and their love for God, and need for Him and His provision is so genuine. Makes me think of Matthew 5:3 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.'

I'll leave it there as I still haven't fully processed everything, but basically it was an amazing time and I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to go back. God is good.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Return to Zambia!

Three years has passed since the last time I went to Zambia, and I'll be heading back again in just under two weeks! It feels quite different to last time as that was the first time of going there, as well as properly abroad! Therefore I felt quite nervous and didn't really know what to expect, but this time I feel excited about being reunited with the children at the orphanage and other good friends I made when I was there in 2014, I can't wait to see them all again! :) 
Ritesh is coming this time, along with Len and Ali, and it will be his first time in Zambia, so I'm excited for him too! 
The team has been busy doing lots of fundraising for the projects we will be involved with when we're there. This time Ali will be continuing to support the Literacy Project and training Agnes (the literacy project tutor) in use of ICT, so that communication can effectively take place on our return.  Ritesh will be helping with the IT Project, and will be setting up an accounting system and developing a business plan with a guy called Davies. Len will be involved in maintenance work around the ophanage and school. And I will be involved with youth work with the girls, and will be taking small groups of children from the school and orphanage into the Internet Cafe for tuition. All rather exciting!!
Finally, Just to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who has donated towards our fundraising or been involved in the fundraising events! All your help has been invaluable, whether you ran a race, helped to organise the fish and chip quiz night, made a donation for the raffle, did a sponsored silence, baked some cakes, knitted some blankets... the list could go on and we are massively grateful for everyones efforts!
Thank you also for the prayer support, please continue to pray for the projects and for protection for the team, and a productive & successful trip! :)




The 10K Running Team!

Thursday, 19 January 2017

About time for another blog!

Wow, I've just realised the last blog post I wrote was in 2014 - oops!

I got re-inspired about poetry again this week, and decided I'd give it a go, as it's been a long time since I've written a poem!

Here it is :) ...




Faithful God, my Father
Unchangeable, You are.
You are my hope, my strength
Your light, my leading star.

You direct my path, God
In You I put my trust.
You bring joy in the morning,
And shake off all the dust.

You restore hope when lost,
Assuage my fears, bring peace.
Promise joy - a new day,
Cause the darkest storm to cease.

You love where there is hate,
Release grace upon grace
You wipe away the past,
So we can see Your face.

You are all this and more God,
You restore all that is lost.
Thank you for who You are,
And for paying the great cost. 



Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Amazing Grace

I haven't written a blog since I went to Zambia, which was in February earlier this year... so when someone asked me the other day to write another one, I agreed it probably was about time!

The only thing I can think to write about is how recently I've just been amazed again at God's grace.

At church we sing a song, and the chorus goes like this :

Now my debt is paid, it is paid in full
by the precious blood that my Jesus spilled.
Now the curse of sin has no hold on me,
whom the son sets free, oh is free indeed!

Every time we sing it, I just think WOW God!

It came as a bit of a wake up call the last time we sang it (Sunday just gone), and I was reminded again that it isn't about what we can achieve, it isn't about striving to be good, it isn't about what we can do for God... I was reminded that we can't ever be good enough for God, but that really isn't the point.
God loves us and has set us free from the curse of sin, and the only way we can live in the completeness of this is to stop with the striving and trying in our own strength... and to simply call on God's amazing grace. So often we feel we need to be 'in the right place' and have everything sorted before we can approach the throne... we forget that our debt has been paid because of the huge sacrifice made for us on that cross, and although there is no way we can ever deserve God's love, He has already paid the price for us.
It is, after all, all about God... sometimes it's just too easy to forget that, and that's, I guess, when it becomes all about us and our efforts to please Him.

This bible verse says it much better than I ever could, in much fewer words :)

Ephesians 2:8-9

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Zambia- Final Blog!

Tuesday

Sanchie kept telling me she will miss me loads today- the feeling was mutual!
It was sunny again today, after all the rain yesterday! Sunshine for our last day :)
We began the day with giving out certificates to the I.T class and English Lit class, this was great!
They were all dressed up and very excited about receiving their certificates!
In the afternoon we gave out some more lollies to all the school children, whilst saying goodbye to every class! We then popped into town to exchange our left over money and get the family we stayed with some chocolate! We also picked Gladys up, who had been shopping for our leaving meal that evening- in a carrier bag she had 3 live chickens! She put them in the boot of the car, and I couldn't help jumping every time one of them squawked- needless to say I couldn't wait for dinner time ;)

For the rest of the afternoon, we spent some really lovely time with the children. Malama and Suzen disappeared, and came back with a letter for me- telling me how much they love me and will miss me. So lovely!
Another of the girls, Lilian, gave me a bracelet which says 'God bless you.' Such lovely girls. We shared the last of our sweets out with them all, and they were very happy!
When it came to 7 pm, George arrived to collect us. The goodbyes were the hardest thing! All the children walked with us to the car, and little Catherine started crying and whispered in my ear "I will always remember you Auntie Hannah". I couldn't stop crying after this... and Ali was really upset too. Eventually, after hugs all round we got into the car and went onto our next destination- our leaving meal at Glady's house!
We turned up a bit late and most people were already there and waiting for us. The gathering was basically all the Pastors and their wives, all just wanting to thank us for our work there. It was a lovely time- and the chicken tasted good too ;)
After this we said more goodbyes, seemed to be never ending and really hard!
This night we didn't get much sleep as we wanted to stay up and be with the family for the last time. In the end we went to bed and got a few hours kip before getting up to travel home!

Wednesday & Thursday

We said goodbye (more goodbyes!) to the amazing family we stayed with, and said we hoped to see them again sometime... and piled into the car at 8 am.

Next we picked up Farayi and James and George and Yvonne came with us also to the airport (Yvonne was going to make sure George stayed awake on the way home!)
A long, bumpy drive to the airport and we were finally there! We said our goodbyes to George, Yvonne and Farayi who was staying on for a few more days.
Finally, we arrived in Kenya where we met Len... it was good to catch up with him and hear all his stories... we had a 7 hour wait in the airport, so it gave us plenty of time!
After this we travelled back the UK, which took about 9 hours. Then we waited in Heathrow airport for another couple of hours... then finally headed home! (27 or so hours later).
Got in about 10.30, and was very happy to see Livs and Esther coming to greet me... it was so good to be home!
Went into my room and there was a big welcome home banner and lots of yummy food on my bed... happy days! Have spent the last couple of days just catching up with people and it's been great. Been very busy though and haven't had any time to just sit and process anything yet- time for that will come though :)
It's been an amazing two weeks, and it's good to be home :)





Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Zambia Part Three

Sunday

Today started with church. This week we went to George and Yvonne's church- it's a pioneering branch off of the main All Nations Harvest Church. There were about 10 (ish) of us at the service... bit different to the 100 or so last week! Still, it didn't make a difference. There was still masses of life and I really enjoyed the service... 'when 2 or more are gathered...' became evident... it's not about the numbers but the hearts.


Waiting for the church to be unlocked

Yvonne asked me to open the service with a prayer, next she called Sanchie up to lead the intercession and prayer- this was very powerful and well led, next Yvonne led the worship- no microphone or instruments... just voices, it was beautiful. After this Ali was asked to share her testimony, and this she did very well! George then preached about the church being a team and everyone needing to know where they are corporately going together. He also touched on ministries and gifting, saying everyone has a part to play and is needed. After this we had a little response time... he called people forward if they didn't know their ministry in the church, and asked Ali and I to go and pray for them... thrown in the deep end much! It was fine though- I prayed for a girl named Bertie and had a wisdom picture for her of her gathering people to her. God was saying He has called her to be a gatherer of people and this will grow the church. I told her this and she said she is very happy and encouraged, as she used to love to invite her friends, but got disheartened when they didn't come. She said she now knows she's got to persist and trust God in this. Thank you Jesus! 
We were called to give an offering by another guy after this, and he shared his testimony of how last Sunday he gave the little money he had left, and the next day he found a house, which he has been searching for for a long time- and he could afford it which was a miracle- he gave all he had and God met him in his need. So inspiring to hear. After this I was asked to say the closing prayer and then we went to the Hungry Lion for a take-away (chicken and chips) yum.

The afternoon was pretty chilled after this, lots of sitting around and catching up with George and Yvonne at home. It was such a hot day, hottest so far, and I was very grateful when running water came at 5.30 pm!

After this we had some cow's heart for tea, was actually nice! And then we had a Skype call to Heart, was good to see some familiar faces and weird at the same time, thinking that this was going on in England while we're sat in Africa!

Monday

Farayi and James joined us again this morning, which is nice. The team is back to four :)
Been at the church again today, and it's raining- what a relief after the hottest day yesterday!
First thing in the morning we visited the babies class, and saw them playing with the toys we had bought them and did some filming... this was lovely :) 
The baby class!

One little girl, Precious, cries every time she sees us... think she's scared of white people hehe.
After this we had a really healthy lunch, which consisted of tropical juice, crisps and chocolate! 
In the afternoon we gave out the paintings which some people back in the UK had painted to send over... this was lovely- the children loved them. 
We also presented Catherine (the youngest girl- aged 9) with a blanket which Doris knitted in England to send over, bless her. Catherine was very happy! :) 
A fairly slow day today- we seem to be flagging as a team... two weeks is probably about right we have decided :) 
Farayi is just taking a meeting for married couples at the moment and then we can go home for some dinner, yay... it's 7pm here! 

Later- 
we got home about 8.30pm and enjoyed some lovely rice, chicken and vegetables for dinner! Then we had a hot chocolate and sat around chilling... then for an early night, busy day tomorrow- last day at the Church, it's going to be sad!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Zambia Part Two

A fairly chilled day today, and a chance to update my blog from where I got to last…

Tuesday

Today was different to most days, as I had to go to the Zambian hospital this morning! Turns out I’d had an allergic reaction to a bite of some kind, and had a rash developing all over my face. George took me in, and we payed 120 Kwacha (about 12 quid) to register me, then went straight into the doctor’s room- much faster service than back home, but I get the feeling maybe George jumped the queue as some people were sitting patiently outside the room… oops!
The doctor diagnosed me as having an allergic reaction, gave me 2 injections to take away, a pack of antibiotics and some cream! We went to pay for all this, and I was thinking it would cost a fair bit… however, it was only 90 Kwacha (about 9 quid) so that was a relief! Next was the first injection… that wasn’t very fun, but hey, it helped!
We took the second injection away and I was told to return with it that same evening as it contained a sedative, and having it first thing wouldn’t be too clever!
After all this George dropped me at the school to join the others. On the way though we stopped to get some petrol and the guy at the pump asked George if I was his wife! He later explained the reason he asked this was because I’d had my feet on the dash board… and here, only the wife of the driver can do that- oops!!
I spent the morning counting all our literacy books we’ve sent over, so Nathan and Steven know if any have gone missing at any point! Then, after a very filing (not) lunch of biscuits (we didn’t mind though as it was so hot, so we weren’t massively hungry) I went in to teach a class of school children how to use the computers. It was crazy... about 30 students all crammed into this small room, and the power was down too, so the fans were out of use- it was very hot and stuffy! Despite this I really enjoyed taking the lesson, I thought it would be quite difficult teaching 30 students, being as I’m not a teacher ha ha, but I kind of just blagged it and it seemed to go well. The children didn’t know how to switch the computers on, so we began with this, and then logging in and finding their way around the computers. I decided they would probably enjoy paint, so I showed them that, and sure enough they loved it… success!
After this the school children went home and I taught the children from the orphanage the same… by this point we were down to about 4 working computers, as the power was still out! It was good though, the children loved it, despite having to take it in turns to use the last few working computers!
After this I decided to go outside and get some sun, as I’d been inside all day. Peter and Francis were outside, so we ended up chatting- they both shared their amazing testimonies with me… and then I shared with them about Christian Community… was a good time.
After this it was back home for some food… this was welcomed very well as we’d obviously missed lunch! Over tea, George was sharing his testimony with us of how much God has provided for him… very inspiring.
After tea, George, Ali and I headed back to the doctors for my second injection…and I enjoyed a Skype call to home (Living Light) in the car on the way… so lovely to see them all! Waited a while for the injection, but it was fine, then home to bed we came!


Wednesday

One day later and the rash is already beginning to clear… so glad!
I felt sleepy for most of today though, I think it was the sedative they gave me in the injection last night… knocked me out a bit… but, was just glad it is working!
I taught the same lessons today as yesterday- still focusing on the basics, but they’re picking it all up quickly! One of the girls, Chilli, was practicing typing on Word, and she wrote ‘I love you Hannah, you are so good.’ So sweet… wish I could bring all of the children home with me!
The day passed slowly, I think because I was feeling so tired… but, eventually we went home and I skipped tea and got an early night.

Thursday

Feeling much more awake today, thank God! We started the day with a trip into town to get some toys for the babies at the school. They were well received!
Then back to the Centre and taught some more I.T lessons. This time I taught the children Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing (a DVD I brought from home), which is very good… and the children loved it as it has some typing games on it also! After teaching the children, the teachers wanted me to give them a lesson… I guess it will be good for them to know for when we’ve gone.

Went outside and played with the children from the orphanage after this. They asked me to teach them some games we play in England, so I taught them POLO, what’s the time Mr Wolf and bulldog… was great fun.
In the evening we had Sharon and her children over for tea. Sharon was hosting James, and she was missing him as he travelled to Lusaka today, so she came to us instead. She’s lovely.
George’s sister and children were also here, so it was a full house… felt like community, it was lovely.
I whipped out the hot chocolate and chocolate biscuits I brought from home and we ended the evening enjoying these together.

Friday

Headed into town again this morning, but on the way George got stopped by the police! Turns out he didn’t show enough signs of stopping at the stop sign, and wasn’t wearing his seat belt. So, into the car came the police woman… and off to the station we drove! We waited in the car while George went in, and didn’t wait too long before he was done. He got fined 300 Kwacha (about 30 quid), and this was more than he had, so he was going to drop us off and try and find the money, before picking us up! Bless him.
Anyway, eventually we got into town and George helped us to bargain with the market guys! Normally they rip white people off, but George helped us to get good prices. He’s a great guy, so glad of his help on this trip! 
When we were walking around town people were shouting 'white, white' at Ali and I which was quite amusing for us and George :P 
After town we went back to the Centre, and on arrival were greeted by a pile on hug from all the children… so sweet! Honestly don’t know how I’m going to manage to leave them next week!
After this I taught some more classes again, Mavis Beacon on request. Then again chilled and played some games with the children in the sun. It’s so hot here!
Also, I filmed some of Ali’s literacy students and some of the children about the I.T class. Then Ali and I had to interview each other about the week!
On the way home it was very quiet in the car and I took some time to think about everything… time to think has been sparse! We’d been told today that when Sharon, the orphanage secretary, goes home the children lock themselves in and sort themselves out. Same in the morning before Sharon arrives. It’s crazy, such independence at such a young age. They are looking for someone to come in and be there full time and stay with them… but it’s working out the finances that is the tricky bit for them. I hope and pray they work something out.
I was thinking about all sorts in what felt a lifetime in the car… how happy the children are, despite how hard their lives are, how I’ve never heard one of them complain… and trying to figure out how we can continue to support them when we have come home.
Had to switch off from thinking when we arrived home, and go to my bedroom to compose myself as I suddenly felt a bit emotional about it all.
Gave it to God and I guess that’s all we can do… and pray for his wisdom with how to realistically further help them!
Came out of the room to a lovely dinner of chicken and chips… yum! Sanchie is an amazing cook… and we still haven’t had fish… woohoooo! 

Saturday

Today was meant to begin with a Women’s meeting at the church. We arrived, and a wedding was about to take place! Seems the Women’s meeting is no longer on the agenda. Ali and I sat around, waiting to find out what we should be doing, and eventually Gladys came and found us, telling us all the women were waiting for us in a small school classroom! The meeting was ok, Ali spoke very well about Community and commitment etc. She did well to shout over the noise of the wedding music in the next room!
After this we were rushed out of the room and into our rest room, and served Fanta and biscuits for lunch! It felt strange to be rushed out once Ali had done her bit, as the meeting was still going on. We would’ve liked time to talk to them afterwards, but it seemed it wasn’t to be.
We didn’t really know what to do with ourselves for the next hour or so before we got picked up, as none of the children were about. So, I went out and sat on a wall… the grass isn’t safe to sit in, too many insects and lizards about! I enjoyed a few minutes of just sitting and thinking… very rare to get this opportunity out here! It only lasted a few minutes, as one of the girls from the orphanage came back and came and sat with me on the wall. I hoped she wouldn’t get into trouble for climbing the wall… but no one came to tell her off! When we were chatting, Catherine, age 9, said to me “when you go home, take me with you.” So heart breaking. I just told her I would love to, but it wouldn’t be possible. She’s asked Ali and I a few times now to take her away. It’s been amazing seeing the change in her since we first arrived though. When we first got here she was incredibly shy and sad… now she runs to give us hugs and is all smiles most the time. She loves the computers, bless her!
This is Catherine :) 

After this, Catherine went off somewhere with Hannah, one of the older girls, and I was left alone in the blazing hot sun for a few minutes before Peter arrived to keep me company. Peter, 17, asked to take me for a walk down the road to show me the area…so I agreed and went for a walk. We met Lilian on the way so she joined us too. We just walked down the road, as I didn’t want to go too far off the premises! On the way back a guy from across the road shouted us and insisted we talk to him… he came over the road and started to ask me how England is and how I’m finding Zambia etc. He then decided to be really forward and ask for my number… I quickly blagged that I didn’t know it and made a swift exit with Peter and Lilian. We had a good laugh about it on the way back. The culture here is funny!
Got back to the Centre and just sat around for a while with Ali, watching the children play footie. Then into the computer suite with the children again… then home!
It’s been nice to have a slightly slower paced, more chilled day. Just waiting for dinner now… it’s 7.30pm and I’m marving!
Also managed to get myself pretty sunburnt today… oops!
That’s all my ramblings for now, will update some more days when I next get the chance!