What a wonderful week last week turned out to be! Not only because it was Holy Week and Easter was yesterday, those were great, but for a couple days I was hostess to a missionary from Africa!
I first "met" Amy Morrow a couple years ago when we stumbled upon one another's blogs. Amy, her husband and her 6 kids moved to Africa 10 years ago and now run the Kazembe Orphanage in Zambia. When she mentioned on her blog that she still had speaking dates open for her fundraising trip to the United States I immediately invited her to our little SW Kansas church. I admire everything that Amy and her husband Tom are doing at Kazembe. They aren't just housing kids to be adopted out of the country but raising a family. The 22 kids currently at Kazembe will be raised and educated together as brothers and sisters until they "leave the nest." I just think that is awesome!
I have to admit that I have been a bundle of nerves for weeks. I was worried that no one would come to hear Amy speak or that we wouldn't raise enough money for this trip to have been worth her time. (We raised sooo much more than I expected!) I was worried that all the speaking engagements that I scheduled for Amy, two at school and one at church, would fall through. (We did have to do a lot of juggling but it all worked out.) Selfishly, I was also worried about what Amy thought of me. Talking to someone online can be very different from meeting them in person and I kind of worried she thought, in person, I was a bumbling dork...cuz, that's how I feel sometimes!
Amy, on the other hand, is warm, personable, funny and so very easy to talk to. Amy also was so very flexible! We drove through a rainstorm (YAY) for an hour on the way back from the airport and it didn't faze her. Of course she said that rain in the States is great because she doesn't have to worry about the roads being washed out like she does in Africa! I had to cancel/reschedule three different appointments I had planned for her...no problem....she just went with the flow.
I didn't get a chance to take too many photos during her talk at our church. Taking pictures of a slide show isn't the easiest thing to do!! But she had some fabulous photos of her kids to share with us. Every year during their trips to the States the Morrow's share an update video of what they've been up to in Zambia but being new to our area she shared clips from a few of them to catch us up on her story. You can find all their videos here.http://vimeo.com/missionaryfamily . Check out their 2008 video for some AMAZING images of before and after images of their orphanage building! I can't believe they managed to renovate anything from what they started with.
Aren't these kids adorable? With smiles like that I can tell these kids are truly loved.
During our three hour drive from Wichita back to my home Amy and I were able to talk a lot the struggles that they face in African culture. What struck me the most was the incredibly poor education system in Zambia. A "high school" education in Zambia is less that what American students are taught by third grade. Problem solving and critical thinking skills are absent. Most adults aren't skilled at any trade and those with jobs are rarely qualified for them. As Amy and I spoke I was literally speechless; I just did not know what to say until Amy spoke and said, "Yeah, you really have to see it to believe it." A life in Zambia for a native citizen isn't something I can even begin to imagine.
I know that all you readers know how blessed you are to be American or living in the West. But really, we have no idea what so ever how lucky we truly are to have what we have and the ability to do what we do. We have clean beds and clothes; we aren't hungry or in danger of starving (in fact most of us could do with skipping a meal now and then couldn't we?) We have the blessing of worrying more about how our kids are doing than worrying about where our next meal comes from. In Zambia they are still living for survival and don't have the time to worry about nurturing. We are so blessed with college education debt!! Yep, we are because our kids have the opportunity to be educated, truly educated with the bills to prove it, where most Zambians don't.
Despite all the words I just wrote about Amy and her orphanage I still feel speechless. I still feel as though I was given a great gift in meeting her and hearing her story. I don't feel obligated or guilted into helping Amy and her orphanage but rather, I feel truly blessed with the opportunity to help.
I don't always say, or type, the right words to express how I feel about things and this post is no exception. I rather feel I've bungled it up but I hope you get some sense about the work Amy and her family are accomplishing. Take a minute to check out one of her many sites, help them out a little with few dollars. If we can all do a little, great things will happen.