June 13, 2011

where YOU lead: the village people

the past few days have been incredible. on friday we finished therapy for the week and celebrated that night with a party thrown for us by the staff here at namwianga. we ate nshima, chicken, and rice and drank bottled cokes. our cook, leonard, has baked us about 10 cakes in the last week, and we have graciously eaten them all.

on saturday i went back to choma with mark and tyler and a couple of the girls, and we filmed part of the documentary there in the market. we bought some more souvenirs, had a picnic lunch, and went back to the museum. when we returned to namwianga, mark and tyler interviewed me for almost an hour and a half and asked me questions about speech pathology and life that i had never thought about before.

whenever i step back and realize what exactly we’re doing here, i am overcome with emotion. the fact that we are learning and growing as clinicians while saving and changing the lives of 70 children is overwhelming. realizing the personal fears and limitations that we have conquered in choosing to live and work here is empowering. and staring into the faces of those little people whose whole worlds we are changing is one of the most unbelievable feelings i’ve ever felt.

sunday brought a whole new meaning to the term “the village people.” we woke up and drove out to a village in the bush called kasibi which can only be found by following the correct land cruiser tracks in the dirt road. we piled into our land cruisers and off-roaded for about an hour in order to get to this tiny church where leonard is an elder.

worship was excellent, and after it was over we were serenaded by 2 groups of kasibi singers. we then sang for the church in tonga and were cheered for like none other. they told us that no group has ever learned and performed songs in tonga for the people here, and they were completely overwhelmed that we would do something like that for them.

but it was after the worship service that the village people truly came to life. we walked up to leonard’s house where he had prepared a meal for the entire church. his house was surrounded by tiny huts which enclosed the animals that he breeds, kills, and prepares for the food that he cooks. and it was after eating the lunch he had prepared that the party started.

leonard’s band set up in the middle of the yard and began to play their music, and soon children, one by one, started coming up and dancing. and before we knew it, there was a whole circle of people rotating around the band, the africans legitimately breaking it down and the americans flailing about in our best attempt. but honestly, my celebration with the village people was one of the happiest experiences of my life, just another lesson proving that true contentment is rooted in simplicity.

today i had to finally say goodbye to my friends from the pharmacy program as they are heading back to america a little earlier than we are. i must say that i have sincerely enjoyed every moment i have had with them and have loved getting to know their hearts. seeing my friend justin’s ability to take things as they come and go with the flow, always with kindness and steadiness really encouraged me to keep calm and enjoy whatever comes. seeing cameron’s passion for what she does and her willingness to be the only girl in a group of guys and go wherever she was needed was always inspiring. and seeing brian’s love for GOD and people, which is so contagious, made me love the people here even more, and i know that this experience would not have been the same without him.

tonight we had share time where we discussed many things as our time here is about to come to a close. it is crazy to look back and realize everything that GOD has done through us, and it’s exciting to know that there is still some time to continue our impact. i am going to be enjoying every second of my final 9 days here. we leave for livingstone on wednesday, return to namwianga on saturday, and leave for america next thursday. i may never realize the difference that my time here has made, but i know that because i knew zambia, i have been changed for good.

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