A picture is worth a thousand words and moments…
And these say it all.
I’m a little bit toast from today and not sure I can put it all in words…(I’ll have to really process and write more about each of these later!)
…walking through the compounds to see Beatrice’s family…
…spending a day at school with Beatrice and Laney getting to meet one another…
…holding lots of sweet loves that I ruly love as my own…
…spending time in classrooms…
…laughing with our older students…
So much in so little time as we pack so much in.
And I’m left with the question on my heart tonight, “Why?”
Why does the Lord give us deep desires for something yet we only get tastes and glimpses of those dreams.
If you are a dear friend–you know I always felt called to be a missionary…that works with children. Yes…yes–I know what some of you are saying…that I get to be one as a mommy to my kids. But overseas is always where my heart has been pulled–but here I sit…just flying back and forth visiting. All are called to love these children in some way…but do you ever want to stomp your feet because your heart longs for a different ways.
My head tries to make sense of it. And my heart wrestles. While I hope one day–I grasp and look for ways to make sense of it. Maybe I’m just called to support and visit so I can help share their dreams with those called to sponsor…I don’t know–but my heart…oh how it longs to just be right here.
I know He calls us to places so He may be more glorified–so I’m holding on to that truth tonight while resting in thanksgivings for all that I have gotten to be a part of must just today.
I hope one day we will be full time goers…but for now we just listen and follow…visiting and planting ourselves…committed in these relationships and not giving up no matter how the storms might come and discourage or distract.
I’m thankful that while my heart longs to be here–that I get to come and visit and be reminded why we can’t give up…and let their dreams reignite ours instead. Once again reminded that we really need each other.
Signing off tonight with a full heart. Sponsors–thank you for supporting these kids. I wish you could see them in person–I treasure this privilege and gift and just want to relay to you…God is doing great things in the lives of these children! Pray with us for these loves and more to join us in loving big!
(I chicken pecked this from my phone so please ignore any typos;)
So much has happened since our first day here–that writing it all in just one blog post is impossible.
We have worshipped with our brothers and sisters across the world. Hearing them sing words only our hearts knew were to our same Father in heaven.
We have held hands with the hurting—ones we know well enough to know their hurts because we have relationships that we keep coming back to…that bring so much understanding why we are called to come visit…
…which makes me sit and soak up what it really means in James to “visit” and to “look after” orphans and widows in their distress. I think the most amazing part is what hugs that verse in James 1:27. Chew on that…let that soak in. So good.
I’ve been thinking a lot about who we visit and who we look after. Do you think of strangers? To look after or visit doesn’t suggest something that just happens once but really—something that happens in a relationship. I’m going to visit…I need to look after…both suggest relationships that are known and ongoing. I knock on a stranger’s door–but I visit my neighbor and friend. And I’m beginning to learn what it means to REALLY be friends with our friends in Zambia.
You see–looking after and visiting orphans and widows…this is never easy…especially when you have some what of a “normal” life. Sure we all have our problems–but every day life in a typical family seems to fill our days and our time…and the enemy has really confused us (or me any way) on how the Lord wants us to spend our time. We really have to soak in everything surrounding James 1:27 before and after to fully understand it…and we have to live those verses in order for James 1:27 to be carried out in the spirit He intended. Pure. True. Faultless.
We can’t live being the victim. Or being judgmental. We have to be slow to speak and really listen. We have to hold our tongue and be watchful of getting angry.
Pure. True. Faultless.
We can’t just listen to the Word. But we have to DO IT. Not look to the right or left–but begin to listen for the Spirit–and take brave steps where ever He asks us to no matter how big or small they might seem.
Pure. True. Faultless.
This is where freedom is found. This is where we will hear from God. This is where we stop looking and comparing and worrying and little lies seep in. This is where we open our hearts and say yes to following more of Him and whatever that means.
Something different for each of us–but I will tell you…I don’t know why or how or what it will look like for you if you are a believer…
But we are all called to be involved…to stop by…to invest…to visit…to sacrifice…to love…to hold the hand of…to cry with…to walk beside…orphans and widows.
And if you shake your head or that rubs you the wrong way…read James 1 every day…soak it in…ask Him to make sense of it with you and for you. Because I’ve been wrestling with those words for many years—and struggling to live them out because I believe the enemy sees orphans and widows as some of the most vulnerable…some of the easiest to deceive…and for awhile–I thought it just meant they needed us.
The truth is–they do.
The other truth is–I need my life to be full of visiting and loving and walking with orphans and widows far more than these sacred souls need me in their life. If I don’t say yes–the Lord already has another ready to say yes and there…because I know He cares so deeply for the orphan and widow. When we say yes–He meets us right there…or rather we meet Him in a deeper way and experience Him in ways we never imagined as we hold hands together. And listen. Taking steps together. Encouraging and being encouraged.
Because what you might not know–is most orphans and widows already have a deep sense and understanding of who God is in their worlds…as many have spent years and years processing their losses and trusting the Lord to be their father and their protector and their All.
To dance and sing together…
These past few days—
Has been overwhelming.
And I’m still learning why we need each other.
Why we are called to visit.
To come back year after year.
To sponsor and write letters.
To remember each other and walk together.
It’s one of those beautiful things that no one has all the answers for.
I do know seeing these children grow up–seeing these mommas have more hope–and bigger smiles…gives me more hope…and a bigger smile too. To know their faces and their names…this is worth more and attainable to anyone who wants it.
Walking these streets–I wish everyone could experience these relationships. Almost 8 years of investing here…and you can jump in and join us (or any orphan and widow ministry) whenever you want.
We have laughed with the ladies in our jewelry program…sitting making jewelry with them for hours. They are trained at Wiphan to make jewelry–then they sell them.
We danced and made up silly songs today with the Hospitality students. Students who after program completion will get jobs at hotels and lodges. As I type this–the lodge manager at the very lodge I’m typing in was one of our former students! I’m so proud of Chris! All of our graduates have jobs now!! Truly amazing.
We watched Laney teach the children songs. Then she’d run to me and make sure I knew who Moses, Mark, Veronica and Mary all are–who sweet friends that she doesn’t want to leave in a week. She’s asking to not just visit each year–but “mommy can we please move here!?”
We walked the streets of the compound–and saw many future little students who will in the years ahead be old enough to start our kindergarden and come to school. We passed drugged men, drunk me, red-eyed men—who foolishly and shamefully look for children in the compound. And you know what–WE DO TOO. And it’s our job to get to them first. Get them safely off the streets during the day–and to make sure they have a safe place to go at night. There are many troubles that will make you want to get on a plane and be discouraged and never come back…or even in your own city forget they are around the corner too. BUT. Don’t do that. Oh no…you can’t afford to miss out on all the Lord has for you in these friendships too.
Then we ended our day in one of our Tuli-One homes. They are like foster homes where we give a foster momma housing and money for food–and 3-5 children can live in the home if they don’t have a safe home to sleep in. Today we visited one of the boys homes. A sweet, but strong 14 year old boy came in. He loves soccer. He plays front line. He loves school. He’s smart. And when we asked him about his life–one of the first things he said…
“I go to Wiphan. I don’t have a sponsor.”
Oh my heart. Because when you don’t have a family to come home to and you live in a Tuli One home too…and your heart wants a family–some times you just are brave and with his big eyes and dimples…your heart just takes a chance. It wasn’t a sad response–but a brave one from a brave boy…who I could tell has trusted a BIG God to get him this far. A boy who–although I’m 25 years older–could teach me a thing or two or two hundred–about what it means to trust Jesus and to be strong and to be okay with weakness…and what it means to trust in provision and protection.
We have 750 precious children. And they all want to be sponsored–but just over 200 are. We know it’s crazy to pray for 500 families to join us…but we are praying that God would bring 500 families to sponsor a child. I know not every family can visit their child for different reasons–but will you pray with me…if you just happen to have read this far;)…that God would raise up 500 families to say yes to walking together beside a child at Wiphan?
So much to take in–and it’s only Monday. I already can’t wait to come back. Slowing down each day to JUST BE…and be present right where He has placed me. And I’m so thankful that right now it is with women and children that have changed me more than almost anything else or relationships I have ever had. Our family, our marriage, the way we live–all different just because we said yes to living together–realizing we need each other–and even when it was hard or we wanted to give up…choosing not to…and staying right here. In one place to love…to watch grow…to grow ourselves…and to be changed. In His presence. Shedding lots of stuff so we could…all that stuff in James 1 and daily seeing more to shed.
There’s room for you too. And we would love to have you join us. Together. Oh how we need each other.
More to come…can’t wait for my Laney to meet Beatrice TOMORROW!! Years of writing one another…and tomorrow Laney gets to meet who she calls her God-sister!!! Over the moon and can’t wait for my girls to finally meet!
A little Q&A with Laney after Sunday…
What was your favorite thing about Pastor Aaron’s church at Wiphan?
Singing and dancing with the children. Praising together. My favorite song was Hosannah.
After church when we went on a walk through the compound–how would you describe it to friends in America?
I thought the compound was beautiful. Everything about it was beautiful to me. There were lots of animals running around like dogs, chickens and chicks. There were lots of mud huts with metal roofs on top. There were lots of kids my age there. I’m so happy to be here.
(We can’t get pictures to upload because of slooooooow internet. But you can see some of the sweetness on my Instagram at andreapyoung OR on my Facebook page:)
On Saturday. We arrived in Ndola where we will plant our feet for a bit. This place won our hearts many years ago…and it’s so amazing to see it through the eyes of others–especially my only daughter.
After arriving and settling in to our hotel, we went to lunch and market. The market is like no other…and you stay close to stay safe. Yet this place is full of hope and beautiful hearts (as most places are)…while your mind says walk quickly–your heart tells you to stay awhile.
While comforts and a sense of safety are stripped away a bit–the Lord also seems to do something to us, in us and for us when we are walking with Him in new places. Strangely–the God Of all comfort and the God who is anything but safe–also fills us with a sense of home (comfort)–because our hearts are His home and we are with Him–and safety abounds there no matter the risks.
So stay awhile–we did.
We walked around looking at fabric and into the eyes of the people…just to smile as if to say, “You are seen. You are beautiful. And you are valuable.” I want to live my everyday in this posture. Don’t you? To me, there’s just about going to these places (but also being intentional in doing this daily right wherever we might be) and slowing down. Normal, everyday places…and interacting–listening–seeing…just BEING.
As we flew on the last leg of our journey today, I felt the Lord remind me through Laney to just SIMPLY BE…
She was watching me flip back and forth through two different books–both on the same topic–BOUNDARIES. You know–how to say no and when to say yes. Talk about the most simple thing we have made complicated because of our own layers we are holding on to.
She said, “Mom, why do you have to read so many books on how to say no or when to say yes? You already know how to do that. You say yes to what you know you need and are supposed to do–and no to everything else.”
Thank you 9 year old daughter.
Essentially you listen and trust Him with your heart so in the daily you can also simply BE.
And the way to be present this week…and really every week of my life is to say yes to Him and no to everything else.
It means taking risks. Being brave. Loving outside of myself. Dying a lot to myself.
What does it look like to say yes to His presence…to walk actively in His presence?
What does it look like for me to be completely present…
…in a market filled with sights and smells new to me and faces and hearts that each tell a powerful story…to watch the eyes gazing my way and to listen what He might be asking me to do–grab her hands and just ask her name and repeat it until it’s pronounced perfectly and makes her smile back…
…or at the schools with our 750 orphans…what does it look like to be fully present with so many little hands and hearts before you that your heart longs to also be with…
…or what about home with my children in North Atlanta? This is where (for now) I’m called, and probably tonight what I’m most convicted about. Because with summer and homeschooling throughout the year my children are all with me. I know what being fully present looks like with them, yet living in a culture with instant gratification and constant communication…it can often be hard to slow down and set the world and its demands aside. So mommy reads those bookshop to only because I have been caught in the struggle for too long. Yet I (nor you) really need them if we would just daily come to Him and focus on being fully present and walking in His presence right where He has us.
What does it look like to be fully present right in the moment where He has placed me? Not there to capture it–or share it…but to be fully present in it? I want to know more about the hearts right around me than anything else and to be fully there wherever with whoever He has sovereignly placed me.
Make us a PRESENT PEOPLE.
I want to be fully present and just be.
Laney is right. I think it’s easier than we make it, and we lose the simplicity as adults of what we need to do…when really we KNOW–yet we have to buy books to coach us and cheer us on to just simple BE and follow with childlike faith again. Those books even can side track us though and overwhelm us and we need to also listen to a’9 year old some times remembering how simple it can be.
I’m learning a lot from my girl this trip. And today watching her walk with confidence any joy…and peace through the market–I was thankful. I realize many have hopes for their children to go far in college and career…but I just want her to know Jesus and live in His presence whatever that means for her. If that means being a surgeon to better His Kingdom and bring Him the most glory–then I pray she follows. I pray she will be fully present so her patients sense that–feeling loved and cared for and sending the presence of the One that goes with her. Or if it’s weaving a market in Ndola and stopping to just be and form relationships for His glory–then I pray she follows Him to there too.
And now–it’s time for momma to be fully present in her sleep…only jet lag is not allowing for that just yet.
We are all tucked in under our mosquito nets for the night and I’ll post this in the morning before breakfast if the Wifi works in the lodge on the hill (our rooms are separate and being winter it’s quite cold).
My heart is full tonight, and I’m thankful to see how the Lord may use this trip in my daughter’s life. Just before she crashed beside me tonight I asked her what she was filling after seeing so many things today…was it overwhelming? Was anything not what she expected? And she said she needed to think about it because some parts made her feel similar things in China. I asked her to just think about two words she felt.
While I brushed my teeth pouring bottled water over my toothbrush and as I wound the window panes closed, I thought about all the years mothering this precious girl…doing what is mommies do. Wondering. Hoping. Praying. Trying not to worry while worrying because I know He has every detail…Was 9 1/2 too early to bring her? I wonder if coming here for a summer or even moving here what that might be like–grow her, challenge her…Squash or be something wonderful?
I smiled remembering her reminder today to JUST BE. Which reminded me to worry less about what could be and to instead just be here with her. Isn’t that what our children and families and friends really need most in our relationships anyway? Isn’t that where beauty, connections, growth and healing all also happens–in walking with community and Him like this? Just be. Be here together. Invite her to BE alongside me. Hold her hand as we walk into new places and experiences. Inviting the Holy Spirit…recognizing His presence and joining Him there. YES.
And then…before drifting off…as I tucked the mosquito net around the mattress and turned off the light she said…
“Safe and comfortable.”
“Thats what I’m feeling momma.”
And I took a deep breathe. And thought there couldn’t be two more powerful words for a momma to hear tonight.
Thankful those are the words she feels here.
Because they really say a lot about a work and story I know He is writing.
It’s going to be an amazing journey…this week and forever…as together we walk with Him.
Will you JUST BE wherever you are this week with us?
Andrea (and Laney)