I didn't mean to be silent for so long! I was able to revisit Zambia July-September of 2014 and I wanted to share a bit of my experience. It was such a beautiful time, to go back and see the City of Joy after a year and half away! Nothing can replace my love for the girls and the community in Mazabuka.
Meeting the newest girls and reconnecting with those I already knew was wonderful. I was able to see my friends in the community and spend time with the other volunteers who where there this time around. The placement overall seems to be doing well, with quite a bit more financial support (thanks in part to Calvin, Rena, and Cody who were there in 2013-14)
The girls still struggle with studies but we did our best to tutor and support them, including hiring one of the local teachers- my friend Matongo- to tutor one of the examination classes. Twelve of the girls from COJ were confirmed while I was there! I was asked by Charity to be her sponsor which was a great blessing. I still wear the beaded bracelet she made as a thank you.
My friend James provided a donation that we used to plaster and paint three sections of the outside wall. Two were trees using handprints for leaves. The center section reads "As you grow older you'll discover you have two hands. One for helping yourself and one for helping others." I thought it was a fitting message to have displayed in a place so filled with the Salesian spirit. Painting the wall was a project I was never able to complete in 2012/13 so there was some great satisfaction in doing so.
There are more stories and pictures than I could possibly fit here. In large part, I appreciated this visit because it reminded me that my beautiful second home is only a flight (well, maybe 3!) away, that life continues just fine without me, and that my friends are always willing to welcome me back with the same love and joy. I even remembered most of the Tonga and Nyanja I learned!
Naku yewa, Mazabuka. Meaning, I miss you Mazabuka.
Even though I can't always be there, I know that my caring for the place so deeply is felt and appreciated. My heart no longer aches to be there though I look forward to the time I can see the girls again.
I've found ways to become more involved with the community and needs here in Dallas, TX. I am mentoring a Burmese family through the International Rescue Committee, and recently became a Dallas CASA (court appointed special advocate) for the foster care system. It means so much to me to be involved in humanitarian work.
A high school friend and I reconnected at the end of 2013 and got engaged in January! We're planning an October wedding. Eric is such an amazing source of encouragement and strength for me. I'm so excited for this next stage of life and to have someone to share my adventures. We've talked about visiting Africa and the community of City of Joy in the summer of 2016. I hope these plans will be blessed!
With love and prayers always,