Thursday, July 26, 2012


What does it mean to be blessed? That question has haunted our team this afternoon and evening. As we drove through the roads of Kabanana District - a very impoverished community north of Lusaka- we were once again overwhelmed with the poverty and human need. People rolling barrels of water; washing clothes in small wash tubs filled with brackish water'; men mixing concrete and making blocks; children running beside our bus , wearing dirty clothes and barefoot; and people walking everywhere make up the teeming human landscape that swirls in slow motion among the small shacks, vendor stands, taverns and ramshackle stores that make up this area. When we arrived at Healing Place School. the first person I saw was busa (Pastor) John and his wife Thenny After warm hugs and tears of joy, they began to show us around the property that is known as Healing Place. The two most obvious features (besides the excited children) were the completed classroom building and the water tower that supports the 3.000 litre water tank. Underneath the tank was a phalanx of blue water barrels waiting to be filled to serve a local family's water needs. A young girl was patiently drawing a small stream of water from one of he two spigots. The water was clear,fresh, and life-giving but hardly flowing enough to provide the needs of all those who will come to draw water. We soon found out that our first task would be to pull the300 feet of pipe out of the well and make repairs to the pump. That is another story all together. After a great deal of debate about how to fix it, and a welcome ceremony by the students that included poetry, songs and dance, the pump was fixed. Just in time to realize that a government enforced rolling blackout had turned of power to the area and so water could not be drawn until power was restored. Sigh! John and Thenny endure incredible obstacles. Not only do the shepherd a congregation that is growing and is made up of local people who have many needs, they have taken on main responsibility for the school and the well. That means sleeping in the well's guard house while their own children plus others they care for sleep alone in the family;s house about a half mile away. Such are the sacrifices they make on behalf of the entire community. Tomorrow (Friday) will be a difficult work day as we begin the building the toilet building. First order: moving blocks, sand and gravel from the piles where it now sits to the site where the 10 foot deep hole is. Then it will be mixing concrete and laying the foundation. And of course, don't forget the children. Which brings me back to my original question. What does it mean to be blessed? You see, one of the children - John and Thenny's son - bears the name blessing. He lives in a small 3 room house and sleeps on the floor. He has no running water. He wears the same clothes day after day and watches over his brothers, sisters and many of the other children. He has little of what we in America have and would call blessing. We often associate that word with financial comfort, peaceful secure lives, roofs over our heads, and abundant food to eat. If that is what it means to be blessed, then is this boy - Blessing - not blessed? His life and the lives of so many others who live in abject poverty would say God has blessed them and I cannot disagree. Blessing for us means prosperity, power, and possession. But Jesus defines blessing differently. Don't believe me - read the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes. Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who are meek, who hunger and thirst to experience God's righteousness, who are merciful; those who seek to make peace among others and who, in spite of difficulties "bless" others including those who persecute them and revile them. We have so much to learn from our friends here in Zambia; not the least of which is the lesson of knowing what true blessing is. I pray that when I am tired and hot and my muscles are aching from work and the intense sun is bearing down that I may be reminded of the many ways that I am being blessed by the lives of these sweet innocent children and by an inner spirit that we have seen in so many Africans. People like Chimwewe whose very name means "joy," by the young man Blessing or by George whose quiet, radiant faith shines through in all he says and does. These are the blessed. They are blessing us. Thank you Lord for this reminder of your reality. May it finds its truth etched in my heart as I remember the three toddlers perched contentedly on my lap as I gave them "horsey rides, the look of joy on Pastor Johns face as he greeted me and spoke with genuine thanks for all I had done for him. May I see real blessing in the lives of those who will line up for water today. May I in some way bless others as much as I am blessed. I apologize for the fact that blogger is not allowing me to post my pictures. I will keep trying but in the mean time, you can see some at my Facebook page or Lauren Hardman's

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