ZamSquad16 - The Take Away
Its been a month since the ZamSquad left Lusaka to return home. Like any trip across the world, the 10 days in Zambia defied time - simultaneously flying by and lasting an eternity. Since returning home, I like many of my fellow Squad members have been reflecting on our time and asking the age-old question, what's next?
This post serves as a way for the Squad to share what we learned during our time in Zambia - what we learned about ourselves, about our future, about the world, about God... whatever it may be - this is our take away:
"It was awesome to be able to paint while I was in Zambia. But the crazy thing was to see how appreciative and proud the community was that their church or chicken house now have identities through my paintings. I definitely didn't expect for my artwork to have that sort of impact."
Watching Chris work was truly a privilege. His passion for creating is evident to all that meet him. I enjoyed watching everybody "take in" Zambia - but watching Chris may have been the most fun. On close to the last day Chris says, "wow. I just realized I'm in Africa." His unique perspective and easy-going nature was exactly what this list-maker and planner (me) needed in a team-mate. More than anything, I appreciated Chris' ability to think outside-the-box and be a dreamer. He catches on to other people's vision and does his utmost to encourage and motivate them towards that vision - which I think is a remarkable and unique gift to have in a world full of comparison and jealousy. We can't wait for Chris to come back... so much so, I'm pretty much willing to arrange our entire next trip this Fall so Chris can come with us :)
Tony and Carol said this about Chris: "Chris was truly a pleasure to be around, he was always gracious and is avery humble person. He is very flexible when changes occur. We look forward to him coming back to help us on our next project - painting murals on the walls in the orphanage."
"I was blown away how appreciative the Chicks Empowered women were about the 4-foot wall we built. It wasn't that impressive to me - but the women were so thankful! Finding out later they saved money to have the wall and door installed made me even more astonished."
David and Gavin have been good friends since they were in elementary school. Gavin was a groomsmen in our wedding and so I didn't expect to learn much about Gavin - but boy was I wrong. I think Gavin and I both went from being friends Via David to just friends, period. Which was fun and unexpected. Gavin, like the rest of the team, was flexible and easy going when it came to unexpected changes (which happens a lot in Zambia). He was essential in building the dividing wall in the chicken house. And almost all the inside jokes of the trip were inspired by Gavin and his hilarious antics. :)
Tony and Carol said: "Gavin, what can I say about Gavin? Gavin is very talented, he picked up a little drum like they use in the village and in not time had the "rhythm" going. He helped put up the black wall in the chicken house. Wathcing him and the other team members gave me so much pride as he confirmed that fact that we can do ALL things... with little (only a high school course in masonry) knowledge of block laying, Gaving quickly picked up on what to do to build the wall and demo a block wall! What fun to watch him. Gavin is funny, talented and highly intelligent and we also look forward to his next visit. Can hardly wait til we see those amazing knee caps again, hurry back Gavin!"
"Nothing is too big for God to do. This trip will always be a reminder of that for me"
Convincing Noah to come on this trip was a bit like pulling teeth. We knew we wanted Noah to come, we knew God wanted Noah to come, and we knew Noah wanted to come but somehow Noah was still a little hesitant! :) Before we ever took off from Boston in May, God had Noah's back when his fundraising WAY exceeded his original goal! It was incredible to be able to walk alongside as Noah stepped out in faith and trusted God to come through. On the trip itself, I was amazed at Noah's maturity, stood in awe at his natural talent in music, and appreciated his insightfulness during our evening discussions. We're sooooo excited for Noah's first album, The Garden, to come out soon - its going to be amazing!
Tony and Carol said: " "The youngest of our team, Noah, was an absolute pleasure to be around. Noah is a very insightful young man. Noah helped on the construction of the chicken house but his talents were put to use in playing with the kids. Noah is very gifted in music, he can play guitar and harmonica at the same time , he sings as well as he plays. The kids in the village loved watching him and playing games with him, (forget the language barrier) fun is fun! One evening Noah blessed us all at a home group by playing and singing for us. One of the things I really like about his music before he performs he tells us what was happening in his life at the time when he wrote the song. He is truly a gifted and talented young man and has a heart to serve. Thanks to his parents for raising such a great young man, we believe we will most definitely see Noah again! Thank you for being you, polite, helpful and a pleasure to be around."
"My big take away is to step up and step in unreserved, unrestrained, and overjoyed to minister to God's people. Enter into the heart and life of one individual at a time."
Hannah, as most of you know, was a LAST minute addition to our team. Hannah called me just 4 days before we left on the trip to talk about the possibility of her coming. I told her, my husband graduates from Law School tomorrow and we have a big and busy weekend AND we leave in 4 days - BUT if you can find a way to get to Zambia from Uganda then come on - we'll make room for you! Basically all on her own, like so many other decisions in Hannah's life, she didn't need any hand-holding to come to Zambia! You may have noticed that people in the Western world have a tendency to lump an entire continent into just one place - Africa. But Hannah can tell you - Uganda and Zambia are not the same - they have different cultures, landscapes, food, languages, and ways of life. We loved having her unique perspective and experience join our Squad! Her current journey in Uganda is coming to a close but we know its not over - we can't wait to see what/where/how/who she'll touch in the years to come!
Tony and Carol: "Unlike the boys, Hannah didn't stay with us - so I don't feel like we got to know her as well as the guys! But I was so impressed with Hannah's bravery to come to Africa all on her own and find her path and purpose God has for her! So excited to follow her journey in the years ahead!"
David & Bethany
To be honest, David and I are still working on our take-aways. Prior to this trip - I didn't see the point in taking a team to Zambia. After the first couple days, I knew I had let fear of the unknown cloud my vision for possibility.
One quote the Squad said over and over again on our trip was - "life is about these risks" and even though we said it in a joking manner - theres definitely truth in that statement. Love Abounds took root when David and I took a risk, quit our jobs, and went to Zambia for the summer. I'll never forget how scary it was to take that leap and yet none of this could have happened without it.
One thing this trip taught me - running an organization like this requires you to constantly be taking leaps. Which isn't easy for someone who calculates and analyzes every step she takes. We're finding ourselves on another launching pad and its scary - I find myself asking questions like - how is it all going to work? what if we fail? what does this mean 5 years down the road? how will this affect my life personally? Its impossible to answer all those questions with certainty. But thats when David says to me, "babe, life is about these risks!" and I nod my head knowing exactly what he means.
Last Thursday, I came across this picture and thought back to this time last year. We took a risk on a group of ladies who quickly became an extension of my family. This group has come amazingly far in a years time. Love Abounds has come amazingly far in a years time. Looking at this picture gives me courage to leap. I think in July 2017, I'll pull out a picture of the ZamSquad and think to myself - wow look how far we've come since this time last year.
We're so excited to continue taking "risks" and pursuing our mission to share love - stay tuned on the blog to leap with us!