Zambia #7

Our last day of ministry was a mixture of joy and sadness…saying goodbye is always hard. 
Final surgeries, baking projects, patients, bible stories and hugs. We handed out “get well soon” cards made by our Woodmen kids. We prayed with families and took polaroid pictures to hand out. They loved having pictures to take home!
We were hosted for dinner by the spiritual director and his family. It was so nice to sit in a home and debrief the week. Our host had only positive things to say about our group from the entire staff…that we served well, loved well, and got along well with each other. Our team bonded quickly and we have enjoyed great fellowship. The Lord has blessed us greatly.
We were asked to describe the trip in a word…here are some of the words we used: amazed, exceeded, humbled, welcomed, reminder, rejuvinating, among many others. Please ask us why we picked our word!
As we get ready to return to the states, we will continue to process what God has been doing in our hearts. Please pray for us… may we never forget the love we have felt and also given. The Zambian people have left an imprint, not soon to be forgotten.

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Zambia #6

Pastor Josh has joined us for a few days of ministry and led the morning devotions for the staff. What a beautiful time of worship, singing and studying God’s Word before pouring our love on the patients and their families.
Today was an exciting day in therapy. Several members were able to help a patient take her first steps in over 6 months. She had broken both legs and is just now starting to walk. The few steps she managed are the beginning of a long road ahead. We are thankful to be able to encourage her as she starts out!
Several of us in the medical field were able to observe neurosurgery (treatment for hydrocephalus and spina bifida). It was a great learning opportunity for us and a chance to build relationships with the people who work in surgery (they call surgery “theater”).
Because patients are admitted the day before surgery, we are able to prayerfully send these children off to surgery and also play with them on the ward afterward. These parents (usually mom) have very little support while in the hospital, and some have come long distances. They will not see their families for possibly weeks. It is a special treat for us to share Bible stories, songs, crafts, and hugs with them each day. (Tonight we had a popcorn and movie night with them!)
We have a team baker who has been teaching the hospital chefs how to bake bread, cookies, and cakes. The staff says this is the first time a volunteer has helped in the kitchen, and they are so grateful! Friday the staff are celebrating birthdays and they wanted 3 cakes made to celebrate. This is a great opportunity for them to use what they have learned, and the whole staff will be able to enjoy it! 
This trip has been an amazing example of how God uses our varied gifts for His glory! Our ministry days are rapidly passing us by, but leaving us with God moments that we will take home in our hearts.   

Zambia #5

Another full day of ministry today. Many people were able to switch around and serve in a different area. The staff has expressed great thankfulness for our service and teamwork. A new area today was serving on a mobile clinic that goes into schools for ear, nose and throat screenings at a local school. They screened over 200 kids in just a few hours.
Tonight we shared the stories of people we don’t want to forget…from the children to the staff to other nationals we have met. The stories are full of hearts of service, joyful hearts and the impression they have left on us forever. Relationships are growing across language and cultural barriers with smiles, hugs and acts of service.
Dinner was an outdoor BBQ held in a hut that represents the rural villages. Several nationals shared pieces of their culture and history. Zambia is full of over 70 tribes and different cultures. The diversity here is broad but their hearts seem equally welcoming and loving.
Our hearts are full and our minds are brimming with memories to carry with us forever.

Zambia #4

We have spent the last couple days getting to know the staff and ministry at CURE, but today was our first real day of ministry. Due to the diversity of skills on our team, we were able to serve multiple areas of the hospital – from maintenance to baking to medical to teaching. It was a blessing to see how each of our backgrounds could be practically used here to love on the nationals.

Our day was concluded with a very special Zambian meal prepared by Patricia, a Zambian staff member. She made several delicacies: shima (a corn paste staple), chicken, small fish (eaten whole), cooked pumpkin leaves, okra, and fried caterpillars.
After dinner, we shared our favorite moments of the day:
* teaching a mom how to watercolor for the first time
* singing worship songs with the staff and patient’s moms
* Serving alongside Zambians within the same area of training 
* loving on the children and their moms (cuddling small babies and telling bible stories)
* blowing bubbles for patients as they waited for doctor appointments…. among so many more.
The day was full of so many blessings. We lay our heads down exhausted but with our hearts full.

Zambia #3

Today we were able to go to church with the spiritual director at CURE and his family. They had 3 separate choirs singing during the service. The electricity wasn’t working this morning so the keyboard didn’t work. It didn’t slow them down at all. They sang , clapped and had a large African drum keep tempo. Although the main language in Zambia is English, the service was primarily in a tribal language. The pastor did her own translation and gave her sermon in both languages! The community of 120 people were very welcoming to our group. At the end of the service, we were lined up outside the door for the whole church to shake our hands and welcome us individually.

After church we had plans to have lunch with some staff from CURE…but the church graciously fixed us a typical African meal, which we ate with some of the church staff. They were such gracious hosts.

This afternoon we were able to do some shopping at a local craft market. So many beautiful handmade goods! After a long afternoon, we headed back to CURE for a small dinner and to rest before our first full day of ministry tomorrow.

Zambia #2

Today was our first day to look around the Beit CURE Hospital grounds. We met with the staff for orientation and tour. After lunch we were taken on 2 home visits. These are families of children who were already treated at CURE.  We met with both families in their very humble homes and were met with great hospitality and warmth.  They shared their transforming stories and in return we were able to bless these families with gifts of food.

The first family has a little girl treated for clubfoot almost 18 months ago. She is doing very well and is starting to hit major milestones. The family gives praise to Jesus for her healing and treatment at CURE.

The second family has a 16 year old who was treated for chronic ear infections and bilateral hearing loss back in 2006. She was treated in 2008 and immediately recovered full hearing. Her mom calls herself an ambassador for CURE because she often tells families about the resources at CURE.

It was a great day meeting Zambian families, hearing their God-stories, and a special beginning to this week of ministry at CURE.

Peru #5

It was our last day at the center where we have grown to love so many and to feel so loved! We knew it would be hard to say goodbye, so we planned a special activity…a carnival. These children have seen carnivals come to town, but don’t have the means to enjoy the games and rides and special treats. Today it was all provided for them, free of charge. We had face painting, frisbee toss, bubbles, ring toss, jump ropes, balloon animals and bucket ball. Of course everyone was a winner and got candy! There were also rides and activities brought in, like foosball, a merry go round, a bounce house and a giant slide.

I expected the children to race around and “grab for all the gusto” because they might perceive it as their only chance to cash in on such an experience. But no, they stood in line, they took turns, they shared, they lingered. And even more than the candy, I think they enjoyed the adult attention, the eye contact, being told they were doing well at the games. Even some of the staff and parents joined in the fun!

So I come away with a lesson learned from the children. They know how to receive a free gift without struggling with pride. They know how to receive praise without brushing it off in false humility. They know how to be in the moment without worrying that they are missing out on something else. They know how to give and receive love without uttering a word.

It was still very hard to say goodbye, but we left with joyful hearts from sharing much love and receiving even more!

Peru #4

What an amazing day!!

We returned to Sullana to meet 36 mothers and their babies/toddlers. We were able to worship together and share hope. In small groups we reflected on God’s gift and hope; we heard sharing from deep in their hearts about struggles, challenges and the assurance of faith. We heard of God’s healing power in relationships and in body.  These women opened up to us and we all realized that we have more in common than we have differences. A highlight today was visiting the homes of a few of the moms and being able to take a lunch to share with them. What a sweet time of fellowship! When we asked the mom we visited what we could pray for, her first answer was “enough food for us.”  We certainly lifted her up in prayer and will continue to pray for her family.

It was our second afternoon with the children and we are all becoming more comfortable. It was a delight to see a room full of children singing a rousing “Hallelujah” or “God is stronger.” Oh how they love to sing. Such joy!!  And they love to laugh and play. As they learned about Jesus providing lunch for 5000 from only 2 fish and 5 loaves we saw a glimpse of wonder and confidence. These children know their Bible and they love Jesus.

What a joy it is to minister to one another!!!

Peru #3

We were in Sullana today, a small province of Piura, serving at another Compassion project center. The way we are welcomed at these places is just such a beautiful example of having the mutual connection that is Jesus, even if we are in different situations. Today, I saw pure joy.

As I walked by people, I just felt their outpouring of love on me; their sweet smiles and soft giggles made my day end with sore cheeks from smiling too much. I think we all appreciated their sly glances at one another and peals of laughter when we tried to say something complicated in Spanish or when Rich walked into the kitchen singing in what we think might have been Italian.

Today, we got to love and be loved. We served food, washed dishes, played games, sang songs, did crafts and taught a Bible story.

I am thankful for the bonds between teammates and the bonds we are building with these kiddos, translators, facilitators and directors. I am thankful for how Jesus knows best and how He always has the most perfect plan for each day of our lives. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And today, in Sullana, I know so many people, North American and Peruvian, got to hear and see and feel that truth.