"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him." 1 Corinthians 2:9
God gave us a singularly unique day in our lives today. After getting the kids up at 5:45am and eating a hot breakfast, we worshipped as a group singing Stronger, None But Jesus and others. Already at the end of ourselves, we now could rest in Christ and trust Him to show up. And He did!
While busing put to Chongwe Village (40 minutes) we sang some worship songs in the local language to prepare for camp. Upon our arrival we broke up into teams to pray over the property and ask God's favor and protection on the kids as they walk from 4-10 miles away.
God really blessed both the construction teams and the camp with success and abundance.
The construction team got much of the outer walls built today and is ahead of schedule on the new home that will house 8 orphans and one widow "Mama" - Every Orphan's Hope's eleventh. Our team made so much progress that the roof may be able to go up this week too!
Camp Hope was totally amazing too. We do not have a final count yet but kids were still arriving as we were finishing up for the day. Children walked for more than 4 hours to come to get meals, minor medical attention, spiritual care and participate in our program called "Truth, Hope, Faith & Love". Because the turnout was so overwhelming and they came from so far away, we decided last minute that we must allow at least 70 children to spend the nights at camp all week. Please pray for these kids as there are not mattresses or blankets onsite. Please pray for the volunteers that are caring for them all night. Much ministry will need to take place as these little ones require much care in the evenings and through the night. This will make for incredibly long days for many of the EOH staff and volunteers. But will also provide tremendous opportunities to serve these kids.
Holly: I just love the kids God gave me this week. Mostly 5-6 year olds, they love Lex and adore Saili and are so sweet and listen to everything I say as though on the edge of their seats with mouths and eyes wide open. As far as I can tell, they have never been told anything I have shared with them. My translator is just awesome too. She is the perfect fit for me. She didn't have a name tag with the Camp Hope logo and asked meekly if I could possibly get her one. Lex (my co-teacher) ran quickly and got her the square piece of paper with the logo on it to slide into her plastic name tag holder. She was so pleased. She then quietly asked if I would write her name for her. She was truly thankful for what was like a treasure for her. Very humbling. I can't wait to get to know her better this week.
My kids smile and hug and love me and I can already tell that this is going to be an unforgettable experience. I am so sad that many of them are sick with HIV. Some are malnourished and have bloated bellies and bald spots on their heads. They are all weak and were too tired to play football in the afternoon with the others. But through our lessons, crafts, songs and play time, little-by-little I am making real connections with each child. Due to the additional children that arrived late in the day, I am told my group of 12 will grow tomorrow. Thankfully Claire will be joining my group in the moring to help out. She and Lex and Tommy and Saili are all having the times of their lives and have said today in different ways and at different times that they can not imagine leaving next week. Thank you so much for your prayers.
Will: my group of 8 boys and 2 girls is perfect for me. I am co-leading with Benjamin, a 16 year old from our church back in Frisco that's a great guy and really talented. It's been fun working with him. Our translators name is Paul and we both love this guy. He completely understands our desire to draw out these boys' and girls' hearts and gives his work 100% of his effort. He is amazing with the kids and they trust him.
Tommy is our assistant teacher. The boys really like having Tommy there. Especially Elvis. All but one of the kids is pretty small for his age. Elvis is 12 and A few inches shorter than Tommy (7) but boy did they hit it off. It was sweet to see them paling around like they had been friends for years. Elvis only knows about 5 more words in English that Tommy knows in Nyanja . But no matter.
My heart broke again and again for these guys today. My two girls are Mwendabai and Agness. My boys are Steven, Tonasha, Eustace, Lukas, Elijah, Alfred, Elvis and Evans. HIV and other diseases and illnesses are gripping many of the kids at camp. It would be hard enough to suffer from serious illness and extreme poverty with a loving and active mother and father at home. But these orphans have distant relatives, a brother or sister, or no one to really care for them. And they are so sweet and joyful!
My favorite moments were when
1. tommy was leading us in singing bible camp songs on the way down to get lunch;
2. watching the kids wide eyes as they were given a heaping plate of shima, chicken, veggies and sauce piled 4 inches high;
3. Playing football (soccer) with my boys against another team and laughing;
The hardest moment was when one of my boys tapped me on the shoulder and said "you will be my daddy?" in his broken English. It was all he said in English to me all day.
Thank you for your prayers. They have made a huge difference.
Holly & Will:
Tonight we worshipped and prayed for our kids. Of all the teachers there are only 3 men parricipating. There are a couple of dozen men here on the construction team and because of the need, 3 additional men decided to switch from construction to Camp Hope! This is going to be a tremendous help for the rest of the week as many of these kids are boys and are going to love getting to be with these fatherly, strong men.
Lastly, here at camp this week there is both a professional Photographer and a man shooting dozens of hours of footage for a documentary. We saw some of the photos today and can't wait to share them. Words cannot describe how beautifully they capture the essence of what God is doing in the lives of these children. Can't wait to share some of them!