The last week – orphanage and debrief

Okay! So! Sorry for the delay; very soon after getting to South Africa I went on a hunting trip with my family, and have only just got access to a computer with internet.

So. The last week.

On Saturday (the 8th of June) we visited the Friedrichs’ orphanage, home to Brave, one of the peer educators at Scripture Union we’ve been working with. We were extremely unprepared, so as we drove there we prayed as a team for God to work through us despite our lack of preparation, and He did!

After playing some volleyball with the kids (about 26 ranging from around 5 years old to late teens) and checking out the boys’ home and the girls’ home, we all sat down in a big circle in the main house – Mr and Mrs Friedrich’s home, where some of the kids stay as well – sang some songs with them and began sharing testimonies.

Now, as far as we could scramble together a plan, we were expecting to do one testimony – mine – and sort of finish up there. But after mine, Sarah wanted to share. After hers, it was suggested that both Caitlin and Jenny share, to which they agreed. By the end of the night, everyone – whether on our team or living in the orphanage – had shared something about their life, often with courageous honesty and tears from sharer and listeners alike. Testimonies from our group prompted those from our hosts, and their testimonies inspired the last of our’s. It was a very emotional, inspiring night, and the highlight of the whole trip as far as I’m concerned.

The next day, Sunday, was also a big day. Most of us went to Daniel’s church at about 7am for the first service, and then helped with Sunday School during the second service. The kids loved to play with us and participate in what we asked them to do. That afternoon we had all the Scripture Union team join us at Lucky and Dorothy’s for a last farewell – volleyball, singing, prayer, and goodbyes. It was a long day, and emotional, again, for many.

Then on Monday morning we packed all our things and got on a bus to Livingstone – with the assistance of some of the team we’d said goodbye to the day prior, so we had more goodbyes. The bus ride was long, and many of us slept on the bus, so we weren’t completely ‘there’ as we collected our bags and piled into two taxis to get to the backpacker’s lodge. Once there, we realised Jenny’s walker was missing, so the owners of the lodge offered me a lift back to the bus station where I was able to retrieve the walker without too much trouble, thank God.

That Monday and the next few days were mostly resting, exploring the market, an elephant ride for Allison, Stacie and Sarah, and a hike around the Zambia side of Victoria Falls for everyone once Dorothy and Lisa joined us on the Wednesday, as well as some discussion on how we were doing as a team. Oh, and most of the team went on safari and saw giraffes, zebras and rhinos – it was apparently quite good, but Sarah and I skipped it to try and find somewhere to get internet access and resolve some complications regarding our departure from Zambia.

On Thursday we travelled to Lusaka where we had our last team debrief with Dorothy and Lisa, and stayed the night before going to SIM on Friday. There we were given some instructions and suggestions as to how we should handle getting back into Canadian life, and how to be most respectful of those we interacted with in Zambia as we present our experience to others. Following that were emotional goodbyes with Lucky and Dorothy, as well as Lisa and the others at SIM, before we piled into a van, then into a plane, and parted ways in South Africa as the girls flew to Canada and the US, and I met up with my family here in South Africa.

It was an amazing experience. It was tough to say goodbye to my team, and I won’t see most of them for at least the whole Summer. It was also tough to say goodbye to Zambia, where we’d spent a month working together and building friendships. We thank God for such an amazing experience, that He used us in all sorts of ways we hadn’t anticipated, that He stretched us and grew us for what He has for us in the future, and that He protected all of us in every step of the way.

Zambia’s a beautiful country full of lovely people. If you ever get the opportunity to travel to Zambia, especially on mission, consider it prayerfully and seriously. It was a life-changing experience for everyone of us on the team. Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and financial support throughout the last month!

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