In August 2018, I was privileged to travel to Chisamba, Zambia, along with members of my family, people from my church and a few tag alongs. There were 14 of us altogether; only one of which besides me had ever been on a Hands trip before. With my three loves all in one place - my family, my church and Africa - it felt as close to heaven as I will ever get on earth!
Since this was my third trip to Chisamba, I was blessed to have a relationship with Peter and Cecilia, Wynifreida, who is now the head of the CBO there, and several of the other Care Workers. It was wonderful to be able to greet them as old friends and see the progress the Life Center has made during the past three years since my last visit- the flush toilet, the brick cooking house with covered meeting room, and the growth and maturity of the staff, plus the 50 children added to the feeding program. I was welcomed as an old friend and lots of questions were asked about family members who had visited in the past, but were unable to make the trip this year.
I also got the privilege of watching all of the newbies on the team seeing Chisamba for the first time; reacting to the poverty, touched by the commitment of the Care Workers, being exposed to nshima and other foods for the first time, washing dishes from tubs of cold water from a faucet; all the sights, smells and experiences that are Africa.
Then, of course, there were the children-everyone LOVED the children! I barely recognized them three years older and three years taller. We first saw their enthusiasm and joy and then began to look deeper as we heard their stories and were touched by their challenges. Home visits were a highlight of the trip and the team agreed that we would have enjoyed doing more, as that is the heart of the Hands model and what makes it unique. Another highlight was the times of praise and worship with the care workers in the mornings. It's been the part they talk about most since our return. Our session with Prag and Levy helped answer questions and put forth challenges that we are still discussing.
Our challenge now is to learn the lessons of Chisamba, to keep Chisamba always with us in our hearts and to apply those lessons to our lives here in the States. Part of my heart will always remain in Chisamba. Personally, I can't wait to go back!