(A year seems like a really long time.) Six months ago I returned from Zambia. I can hardly believe that so much time has passed so quickly. My brain is still so very full from that experience. I have so many things yet to process and share about the time I spent there. And now, it appears that I will be going back. In a year. Perhaps not so long afterall.
(This is a picture of the little TV in the back of the seat in front of me that I took when we were just minutes from landing in Lusaka, Zambia, this past summer. Look at the names of the cities…Mumbai, Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam, Athens, Islamabad, Lisbon, Milan, Beirut, Athens…a whole world of places I have now only flown over, and can hope someday to see. And then there’s Lusaka…Zambia…)
There are places I’ve been to that I never care to go to again. Like Pittsburg, Florida, or (pick any) Mexican border town. And then there are places that I dream of returning to. Like Papua New Guinea, Ireland, and Zambia.
And it looks like I’ll have the opportunity to go back to Zambia. What a thought. Connie’s friends and family, and some people she never even got to meet, have donated nearly $20,000 thus far towards “Connie’s Heart“. “Connie’s Heart” is the name of the orphan rescue unit that is dedicated to her memory. Just a few days ago, we heard that the rescue unit has been built, and is up. There is enough money for a well, a grainery, and a church, with plenty “left over”. There is money for ongoing support of the unit and, if we (her family) so choose, we could possibly even build a school! This would be the first rescue unit school. How fitting, since Connie was a teacher herself…
We have the opportunity as a family to put together a team of adults (and they’ll even let us bring the kids) to come to Zambia to work at “Connie’s Heart” next February or March. While there, we would be able to officially dedicate the unit. I doubt we’ll have a hard time finding 12 people who want to go. I imagine limiting it to just 12 will be the hardest part. Imagine, my family and friends, in a very remote region in the bush in Zambia, all working at “Connie’s Heart”. I have thought of little else since getting the word a few days ago.
This is Simon. He was the facilitator at the “Elizabeth Light of Hope” orphan rescue unit in Chiwala, Zambia. He will be the facilitator of “Connie’s Heart”. I had the pleasure of working with him when I was in Chiwala with Teen Missions this past summer. He’s an incredible young man. If they would have let me choose who I’d like to run “Connie’s Heart”, it would have been Simon. He will be partnered with a young man named Wilson. (I wonder if Simon even knows that the Connie of “Connie’s Heart” was Mama Lou’s best friend and sister-in-law.) Simon himself was left orphaned by AIDS. He was left to raise a large number of younger siblings with just the help of an elderly grandmother when he was only a teenager himself. That Simon not only survived, but thrived, and is touching the lives of hundreds of other orphans now is a testament to the saving power of Jesus Christ. I can hardly wait to see Simon again.
Here are portions of a letter my sister Diane received from Teen Missions/AOSC (AIDS Orphans and Street Children) about “Connie’s Heart”
“I am excited that I have news on Connie’s Heart – the unit is up!!!
The village is called Funda, and I am going to copy you the
information that I have from Doug’s last two e-mails so that you have
some good information for your donors.
“Funda is about 30-40K’s west of Katembula (where our first Matron’s
unit is located), south of the Kasempa road. Simon Katima and Wilson
Muke will be the facilitators. They have not yet started registering
orphans as the work crew has just completed the unit. Oscar has said
that the unit has great potential both in terms of the numbers of
orphans and various developments that could happen there. Oscar has
requested these facilitators for this unit because they are both very
dedicated, called and hard workers. He believes they will be able to
bring into being what is possible for this unit. It is remote. This
location is where the late chief, Chief Shimkunami said with her last
breath should be given to Teen Missions. The people have been
patient waiting for Teen Missions to come and are now very excited
seeing the unit up. There is no public transportation on the Funda
road – the facilitators have to travel 33 k’s (20 miles) to get to
any transportation. People in that area walk those distances if they
have to get out.” Right now Joseph is staying at the unit until
Simon returns from helping to put up some of the other new units.
Hope this will help you. It sounds like a wonderful place, but
transportation is very difficult in rainy season. Kathy has asked me
to have you send an e-mail or a letter to Mr. Bland regarding your
desire to send a team over next year indicating the potential numbers
and the dates that would be possible for the group. He will also be
interested in knowing how many young children will be going.
Hope you had a great time with your brother. We continue to have
funds coming in for Connie’s Heart – at least a couple of donations a
week. It is so encouraging, and maybe you will want to hear some of
the other things that Doug and Oscar envision for the unit before you
decide if you want a second unit. I know some of the areas out there
are in need of adequate schools – I do not know if this is one of them.
God bless you, and thank you and your family and friends for all they
I will share information with you as it comes in. Truly, God is turning ashes into beauty.
There is a special place in God’s heart for orphans…