We’ve come to the end. We left our village for good on Tuesday and in a little over a week we will be leaving Zambia. It feels strange, sad, surreal, exciting… The weirdest part was that moment when everything’s packed up, you’ve taken the last picture, and now all that’s left is to say goodbye and get in the truck. And although you feel like you should say something profound, encouraging, or even reassuring…all that you can say is “bye”. But that’s okay because you’ve already said everything else and leaving really does feel right.
We had a wonderful last 50 days in the village. 50 days straight in the village and we didn’t go insane…which is rare. But the whole time was very blessed and we felt really content. Our church threw a Farewell party for us on Sunday, Feb. 24 and it was a “good bye-bye”. They really went all out and made it a huge event, especially for the village. They organized and funded it all on their own, which when you live here you know it means a lot. There were around 300 people that attended and they made enough food for everyone. They bought 30 kg of rice (buying rice is a huge deal), made two giant tubs of beans, killed 8 chickens (which we claim as our final revenge on the stupid birds), and even made cake. They worked all the previous day and night just preparing all the food. Not only did they make a ton of food, but they decked out the church in white sheets, colorful wraps, lacey doilies, and even hung up a banner that read “May God Bless U the Castles”. He certainly has.
The day itself was a mixture of overwhelming blessing, odd speeches, hilarious moments, dancing, singing, and just all-around good fun. We soon found out that Farewell parties are run pretty much like weddings. First of all, the week before the event the “matron” taught us various dance steps so that we could dance to the front of the church which is where we were stationed for the event. Then they also had a young girl in a horrible wig dance up a knife (yes quite dangerous indeed) so that we could cut the cake and feed it to each other. They even made us matching outfits and had me carry flowers down the aisle. All of this was quite strange but very fun.
However by far the best part of the day was when Stephen did a song and dance number with our Zambian father. He brought the house down!! People were laughing and cheering like crazy. Then we all started singing and dancing together in the middle of the church. It was great!! It got even better for Stephen (and me who was watching) when our friend MR Konongela decided to give him a big bear hug and keep dancing at the same time. Let’s just say it was a very awkward cultural moment…and we got it all on video tape. J
They also gave some people an opportunity to speak a bit about us and also a chance for us to say a few things. The most touching moment though was when one of our friends gave a little message to the congregation. He talked about Jesus Christ being the foundation of your life and how everything you do springs from His Spirit within you. Good works are nice but are meaningless if they don’t come from the Holy Spirit in you. He then tied us in as examples of seeing Christ reflected in people. Then he talked, not about the physical things we had done, but about the people we were and the way we had loved the community. At the end he had us stand as the congregation sang “God will take care of you” to us. We felt so blessed and were moved to tears as we realized the Grace, Providence, and Goodness of God. I don’t really know how to explain what we felt….we were just overwhelmed by His love and in awe of the way He uses His children to bring Glory to His Name. It reminded me of Gal. 5:6 which says the only thing that matters is faith expressing itself in love. We really felt as though the things we prayed and asked God to do through us had been accomplished and it was very humbling.
So after two years in Zambia we are positive that God brought us here and it was His will that we live in Kang’ombe. We have seen new aspects of God and learned so much more about His character. He has led us, taught us, and challenged us. He has given us wonderful friendships and shown us the church as His Body. We will always cherish our two years here and remember it as an instrumental time in our lives. Because of Zambia we have learned so many valuable lessons.
We really should be quick to listen and slow to speak
In our own strength we can do nothing
We shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously
35 people really can fit into a 18 passenger vehicle
You’re never too young or old to poop your pants.
The ways God wants to use you may be different from what you’ve expected
Man looks at the outside and un-eternal but God cares about the heart.
We can’t change people, we can only do what we’re called to do. The real change
comes from God.
True poverty isn’t necessarily a reflection of the amount of money one has.
There is a big difference between luxuries and true needs.
Chickens and goats can be better bus companions than the smelly drunk guy.
It’s hard to believe we’re flying out in just over 1 week. We really do appreciate all of your support and prayers these past two years. We believe they’ve been answered. Don’t remember if we wrote this last time but we arrive in Detroit the evening of April 3rd. Our home base will be Stephen’s parents house so feel free to call there and we can set up to get together. The number there is 810-648-4844.
See you soon!
Heather and Steve
P.S. We will try to put photos on here once we get back to the states so if you're interested check them out.