Friday
Jul102015

Interns day 1

A note from our 4 summer interns...

We arrived in Lusaka last night with no luggage to a country without electricity.  Feeling out of sorts, driving on the left side of the road, we arrived to the place we call home for the next three weeks. 

 We finally put our heads down around 1am and woke up to a phone call from Megan saying she would be there to pick us up in 5 minutes.  Feeling completely jetlagged yet excited, we got a jolt of adrenaline and started our day. 

We thought we would be taking it easy our first day, but little did we know, we had a fun filled exciting day full of new experiences and new friendships.

With the help of a coffee at the local coffee shop, we left to go to the Arise Home.  We arrived to a new shipment of kids Bibles that were donated to Arise Africa for their sponsorship program.  We sorted them and got them numbered and repacked and delivered to the two community schools Arise partners with.   These Bibles will be used in their weekly Bible clubs. 

We left the Arise Home and started off for the compound, or slum called Matero.  We didn’t know what to expect.  The roads were bumpy and had massive, crater like holes.  There were markets full of people really trying to sell their goods to make their daily wage and women balancing a baby on their back and a basket on their head.  Through the hustle and bustle of it all, we arrived at Destiny Community School.  We were met with huge hugs, smiles and a flurry of energy. 

 

The kids were all different ages.  All running up to us and we all felt completely overwhelmed with love.  

Today we got a taste of what we will experience over the next three weeks.  We are so happy and excited to be in Lusaka to serve the Lord!

We got home and had dinner and chatted about our day and got the phone call that our luggage arrived! 

Friday
Jul032015

A 4th perspective

I feel like our country currently wants to fight more than solve issues or problems.  The supreme court decision last week made individuals either very excited and made others think the world was coming to an end. Social media blew up and almost every post I saw about this issue (from both sides) had terrible comments from someone with a different opinion.  It was ugly.  We can't even seem to disagree as a country anymore and show respect to other's who have opinions different than our's.

Let me remind us of what we do have in this great country:

1.  Freedom of speech - In Zambia there isn't freedom of speech.  We have watched the lack of free speech over the past few years as presidents have changed in Zambia.  People who speak out for change or in an effort to hold the Zambian government accountable get jailed, deported, or worse.  Newspapers are run by the government.  Can you imagine if we didn't get to publicaly speak out about our concerns? 

2.   Electricity - Right now the Zambian government is struggling to provide power to their country.  The one and only power plant, which is run by the government, is hydro electric and there have been droughts that has effected the output capacity.  Most areas of Zambia have forced brown outs where power is cut off for 8 - 12 hours a day.  Our staff doesn't have power at home most of the time. They spend 3 - 5 hours an evening trying to get home on busses because no power means no traffic lights.

3.  Opportunity - You can most likely get a job in America if you want one.  It might not be exactly what you want but you can find something that will pay you.  I am reminded of a woman I met in a stone quarry years ago. She is a widow, her husband died a while back.  She spends ALL day breaking rocks that then can be used in mixing cement.  Her kids also work and help her.  She is just as committed to her children's future as we are in America.  Can you imagine going to a rock quarry everyday and splitting rocks in the sun to only make $5 a day?  Be thankful for America.

4.  Health care - OK I don't want to argue about Obamacare and if everyone has health care.  But right now if you were in a car accident and taken to a hospital you would be treated.  There would be qualified doctors to treat you.  The lights would be on. There would be machines and medicine and blood and IV bags for you if that was what was needed.  You might have flown by helicopter to get you there faster.  Or the ambulance would have had gas in it to drive you. Some friends of our's have a non-profit that provides ambulances to remote villages in Zambia, you want to see what that looks like:

  You have access to some of the best health care (if not the best) in the world.  I have been reminded of this as a friend of mine is battling cancer.  She is having a "minor" brain surgery next week to remove a lesion on her brain. The surgery takes 8 minutes and lasers go through her temple.  The doctors told her the entire procedure will take an hour and she will be home by the afternoon and will be ready for dinner in the evening.  I thanked the Lord at that moment she is in America and has access to this.  Given her aggressive cancer, if she were living in Zambia she would not be on this earth but in Heaven. 

In early June we had some of our Zambian staff with us in America.  I can't even begin to tell you how many times our guy's jaws dropped at all the things we have and have access to.  They LOVED that the electricity never went out in my home.  Hot water in the showers was a treat.  They thought wireless internet was awesome and that it was so fast you could stream videos.  They were introduced to Starbucks and thought a coffee shop open that early in the morning with good coffee and even food was awesome.  They couldn't get over ALL the food choices we had.  They never had been introduced to seafood or mac and cheese!  They were shocked that you couldn't bribe the police and that they were honest. (I don't want emails from some of you telling me the police aren't honest) They thought a store like Wal-Mart where you could get almost anything was so cool.  They loved that there were biking and walking trails by my house that I could get on any time and not be worried about getting mugged. I am not worried about muggings but passing out because of the heat and my lack of fitness.  They thought that a postal system that brought things straight to your door everyday was shocking.  They were more blown away by Amazon Prime, Solomon, screeched like a little girl when the phone he ordered showed up 24 hours later. They told me I was blessed that nobody took packages off my front doorstep. They loved that we didn't have to have 8 foot tall cynder block wall fences around everything.

I say all of this out of love for our country.  Take a moment to thank the Lord for the access you have to so much.  You drive on roads that are paved.  You can get food at a grocery store and droughts don't cause famine.  You aren't scared that you will never be able to find a job.  You have a bank that is open right now, Greece doesn't! You can tell the president that he stinks to his face and he can't throw you in prison. 

We have all of this because so many people fought for our freedom.  Through the Lord, our military and those who serve and have served in the past have made this great country available for us to live in.  

Can we try as Americans to put things in perspective?  We might support or not support the supreme court ruling last week.  We might like or not like our current president.  We might support or think the global warming concern is ridiculous.  I could go on forever. 

But we need to remember to love one another and discuss our differences in a loving manner. The one thing that made America is now tearing us apart.  That is that we are a melting pot of different cultures and backgrounds and people.  Don't hate immediately just because the other person has a different opinion.  Don't attack, and don't judge. And on the flip side be able to take criticism and don't flip out on someone.  Just listen and can we all understand that we won't all be on the same page about everything?  Sometimes we need to agree to disagree with someone.  You still love them though.  Let's remember the bigger picture and what is important.  What does God want you to do on this earth?  What is our mission while we are here?  And how are we supposed to handle ourselves when there are differences? 

Take a moment to love someone you might not have thought of today.  Maybe it is saying something nice to a clerk at the grocery store. (if you are headed to the grocery store today I already feel like you need prayers yourself!) Send a text to someone.  It can be anything. 

We are blessed to be in America.  When you are hanging out with friends or laughing with family this weekend remember that.  We might have our own issues but look at the big picture.  We are blessed for this country and spending the weekend angry about our issues and wanting to argue with people on the other side of an opinion aren't going to get you anywhere.  Take a deep breath America, be thankful, thank those who fought for your Freedom, and love well. We so blessed, thank you Lord for my freedom, my country, my friends and family in America and in Zambia. 

Don't worry we are letting the Arise Home kids celebrate our American holiday in the best way possible, fireworks:

- Alissa

 

Wednesday
Jun172015

Dear Armon(d)

Dear Armond,

This letter is long overdue, I should have written you much earlier but you've been on my heart ever since I visited in April.

I have been wanting to tell you how proud of you and how much we love you for a long time. I know I tell you this when I see you, but I want you to read this letter. 

On Monday December 17th 2012 you moved into the Arise Home and we were so excited to be allowed to care for you. 

Here is a photo of you then:

I will never forget picking you up at Destiny School that day in the compound. Your grandmother brought you to school and she was so excited and proud of you too. 

Don't forget that.  She loved you, I could see it in her eyes. She was excited for your future.  She gave you a big hug and you piled in our car with the other kids.  We went straight to the social welfare office where we were blessed to get full custody of you!  I remember we bought you an orange drink from a lady outside the office and we then rode to the Arise home.  You were excited to see your bed and dresser, you couldn't believe it was only yours to sleep in.  You were intrigued by the refrigerator and outside play area.  

You were a little guy at the time.  But you had alot of energy!  The first week we had you I remember spending quite a bit of time trying to help you learn your ABC's sitting at the kitchen island.  You were ten and should have known them but you hadn't had a quality education. I was shocked at how far behind you were but your willingness and desire to sit for a hour with me to learn your letters. You were driven.

As the months went by we learned more about you and your past.  Armod you had to go through quite a bit at too young of an age.  You lost your mother to a violent act by your father. You saw and dealt with things that no child should ever ever experience.  You were mistreated and didn't have food most of the time.  You were left alone to fend for yourself for months. Things were violent and you had to take the beatings and see things that we wish you hadn't been there for. You were sometimes angry because of your past and we didn't blame you.  Anyone would be angry.  You sometimes struggled with all the change in your life in the Arise Home.  And I don't blame you for that either.  It was quite a bit to get used to.  You life had completely changed and that is difficult to handle.

But we also started to see change in you.  Our house moms were patient and loving with you.  And the past few years you've become such a great servant of the Lord.  Armond you brighten up all of our days!  You inspire me to help more children like you, I couldn't be more blessed to watch you grow up.  You are no longer a little guy anymore, as much as I hate to say it you are a teenager.  We figured this out when our staff decided to make an Arise Africa music album and we realized that when you sang with all the other Arise Home kids your voice was rather low!  It sounded like a man was singing with small children and it was kinda creepy.  That's why we moved you up to sing with our staff! 

I've watched you learn to trust us, and especially Uncle Chipa and Uncle Kochelani.  You are honest with us.   You admit your mistakes.  You tell me thank you all the time.  You wiped down wet chairs for our visitors when we went to the market.  You are becoming a great man and a man who loves the Lord.  You are tender hearted.  God has changed your heart. 

I also love how strong you are.  I learned this past trip that you really don't like the "d" at the end of your name.  You don't want to be Armond you want to be Armon.  You have told me this for years and I have resisted because our social welfare papers had your name spelled with a d.  I admire your persistence and I am going to listen to you finally!  Armond, you can officially be Armon within our family.  Now when it comes time to get your registration card or help you get your drivers license that might have to be spelled with a d!

So Armon, I know that we have gone back to the compounds looking for your grandmother and we cannot find her.  I know you would love to see her.  I wish she would have shown up for the visitation days we have had.  We try to call her and even offer to pick her up. We do our best to try to find her but we never have been able to.  Armon please know how very sorry I am that she is not around.  It breaks my heart that you haven't been able to see her because I know she would be proud of the man you have become.  But Armon I hope you know you have a HUGE family within Arise Africa. We love you more than you will ever know and we will always be here for you.  You will always be able to find us.  You will not be able to hide from your house moms, Auntie Megan, Uncle chipa, myself and Uncle Asher, and Uncle Kochelani!  You have more family now than you will probably want! Just wait until you start dating girls and we all have opinions about her. 

Armon I am so excited to see what the Lord does in your life.  I am so proud of the work you have done in school and personally.  I love reading books with you and playing soccer in the back yard.  I love driving around Zambia with you and letting your drive on the back roads.  I love going to get ice-cream and pizza. I love your smile.  I love how you are willing to help us out with anything.  I love it when you grab my hand and say thank you for things. I love how you treat others in the home.  I love how the Lord has changed you into a great and respectful young man.

Armon, you need to dream BIG for your future.  Because you can do anything.  And we will be there, right by your side supporting you every single step of the way. We will love you Armon and will not leave you.  I will be that annoying mamma and you better bet so will Auntie Megan and Auntie Aqualine and Dailes.  When you need something or need to chat your aunties and uncles are right here. 

I kinda get sad to post a photo of you now because you are SO BIG!!  I know you've told me it is because of all "the white person food" we feed you. 

Thank you Lord for the gift of Armon.  Thank you Lord for allowing us to be a part of his life!  Thank you Lord for giving Armon great sponsors who support him.  Thank you Lord for your love and faithfulness. 

 

- Alissa

Wednesday
Jun172015

A trip of a Lifetime

Two weeks ago Arise Africa had the opportunity to fly over four Zambian staff members to the USA.  With the financial help of Park Cities Presbyterian Church our crew got to come over here to participate with PCPC at their Vacation Bible School.  Words cannot express the generosity and love that PCPC showed us throughout the visit. 

Sammy Joe, Kochelani, Solomon, and Megan were the lucky ones to make the trip.  Megan chaperoned and made sure the guys got here since they had never been on an airplane and they had a 21 hour layover in Dubai!

We were so encouraged and excited to work with PCPC at VBS all week.  The theme was "Go Wild" this year and it was about missions.  They used our staff to teach kids about missions and Africa.  Our guys spent everyday teaching kids in America the songs that our kids in Africa sing.  They spoke about how the Lord is working in Zambia and caring for kids.  They taught kids here what kids in Africa eat or the games they play.

(showing this little one a catapiller that kids eat in Zambia) 

And they worked so hard with the VBS staff.  It was an absolute blast and a great partnership.

 After the week of VBS was over we got to have a mini reunion with so many previous mission trippers:

Then we decided to have a bit of fun and expose the guys to as much as possible!  

The guys got to go tubing at the lake,

shoot a gun at the ranch, eat every type of food possible (BBQ, seafood, and Velvet Taco were the hits), visit Six Flags and ride roller coasters, go to the movies,

go to a Lecrae Concert (that was a 6.5 hour car drive away!)

learn to swim better,

have backyard BBQ's with neighbors, go to a Rangers vs. Dodgers game, visit the aquarium, look inside a police car at all the gadgets, shop at Wal Mart (three times),

ride in a convertible,

shop on Amazon prime, and many more experiences.

After spending two weeks in America our Zambians came up with a list of the

20 most Interesting/Crazy things they experienced in America:

1.  The drive thru at the bank and the tube you put money in

2.  The pedi bikes (rickshaws) at the Rangers vs. Dodgers game and that fact that Americans think where they park is "far" from the stadium and they actually pay for someone to bike them there

3.  The portions of food

4.  The "drink mixer" at Pei Wei

5.  The fact that you have the choice of Pulp, some pulp, or no pulp, in your orange juice

6.  Americans refrigerate their eggs

7.  The driving on the right side of the road

8.  Nobody walks anywhere

9.  Amazon Prime and the postal system delivers things to your doorstep so fast.  And nobody takes the package off your porch.

10.  Roller coasters

11. Blowing up tannerite at the ranch

12.  The jet skis... they go so fast and you have no breaks

13.  BBQ ribs are so tasty and cooked for hours and hours

14.  America's drum sticks are very different than Zambia's

15.  the HOV lanes and highways that have very very tall ramps

16.  The police cars and the technology in them.  You can't bribe them either.

17.  Plastic money (credit cards) and the visa gift cards seem odd and fake.

18.  There are some candles that are not real but look real and turn on with a remote control.

19.  Water dispensers for the dogs have water barrels that are upside down but somehow the water doesn't pour out.

20.  The mechanical bulls

We were so blessed by this trip.  The guys were amazing and taught so many things to kids and adults here in the USA.  Thank you everyone who helped pay for this trip and helped us host the crew while here!

- Alissa

 

Monday
May252015

Africa Freedom Day - A message from Zambia and Megan

Megan and the Arise Home kids, (L to R - Enny, Hope, Dorothy, Megan, Armond, Stella, Nelly, Alliness, Fred, Mukonda)

As many of my friends and family spent their time this weekend remembering all of the men and women who laid down their lives for our country, we here in Africa are celebrating African Freedom Day and celebrating those who fought for the freedom of so many countries on this continent.  

As I reflect over the past 12 hours, I can’t help but think that Arise Africa is raising some of the next leaders of this nation.  There are so many different philosophies on how to help this nation, but here at Arise Africa we are doing our best to bring up God fearing, well-rounded individuals.  We are working to help them walk in the ways of the Lord, love others well, and learn to function in society.

Today was no different.  Being that it was a holiday, we took the opportunity to spend some time as a family and have a fun day out.  We took the morning and went to visit the local elephant orphanage.  We got their rather early, so of course a game of football (soccer) had to happen. 

Armond, Mukonda, Dorothy, and Fred

After hearing about the elephant’s development we left and started off for lunch. 

We happened to drive by a field of freshly bailed hay.  Being the girl from a farming community in Illinois, we had to get out and have a fun go at the hay rolls.  We have a visitor from Texas, Steve, and he was teaching the kids how to walk on the rolls.  As we left the field, I asked the kids if they ever thought that they could have such a good time on a bunch of dried grass and they giggled and said “NO WAY!”. 

Steve, and Fred helping Alliness

Dorothy and the white elephant (our car in the background!)

Fred

Alliness and Dorothy

Nelly

 We proceeded on and spent the afternoon having lunch at a restaurant called Mint.  You need to understand that our kids come from places where going out for lunch was never an option. They had never ever been to a restaurant when we got them in custody and had never even had pizza.  We have been working very hard on our manners and what better way is there for our kids to learn their “pleases”, “thank yous” and menu ordering that practicing in an actual restaurant.  They did great!  We divided the kids up into three tables.  Each table had an adult with them and they each were given a menu and had to order on their own.  

Armond

Uncle Chipa and Aunt Katiba's Table (Stella, Nelly, and Hope)

Uncle Chipa and Aunt Katiba talking with Hope

Alliness with her food

Dorothy's burgers

Our Nelly, who is the shy one, at first would not order.  We had the waiter go on and take everyone else’s order.  I told her that if she couldn’t order her own meal then she wouldn’t be eating.  She finally did it!  I was very proud of her.  Coincidentally, in our home we have a box of questions that we go through on a regular basis, so we brought those along to help with dinner conversation.   Nelly’s first question out of the box was “What helps you to have courage?”  I told her that something that builds your courage is trying new things.  I asked her if she was nervous having to order her lunch from a stranger and she said “yes!”.  I went on to tell her that the next time it won’t be so difficult, and it wasn’t…she was great ordering dessert for her table! (I don’t know if it was her actually being courageous from experience thirty minutes prior, or if it was the Oreo Sunday that made it easier!) 

All that to say, in raising our kids at Arise Africa and in the Arise Home we are doing our best to give our kids real life experiences, real life situations to expand their horizons, and real understanding of the real world. 

 We are raising the next generation of leaders and what not a better way to do it than to show them than through God honoring, life changing moments.  We are doing our best to be intentional with the choices we make and the life lessons we put before them.  Arise Africa wouldn't be able to take out 11 kids to a nice restaurant without generous donors who specifically gave to this day.  Thank you to those of you who helped make this possible! You are helping us raise leaders for this great country in Africa!

 

- Megan