I have been going to Zambia, Africa for the past 5 years. I take part in Family Legacy Missions International's annual summer camp called "Camp LIFE." During camp, each American is given a group of 10-12 Zambian children from compounds who are orphaned or vulnerable to be orphaned. This is such a POWERFUL week. Hearts are broken & lives are changed all in God's name. My mom is on staff with Family Legacy so I get to stay some extra time and help with our schools and full time residential homes in the Tree of Life children's village. Yes, there are a LOT of terrible things that happen in Zambia. They has the highest orphan rate in the world. One of the lowest poverty rates and the average income is less than $2 per day.. There is poverty. There is death. There is pain. BUT, where there is pain, there is a loving Father who can take it away. And as someone who has been there for more days than I can remember, I can assure you that things are improving. And instead of making this article about all of the terrible things that happen in Africa, I'm going to share the AMAZING things that happen in Africa.
1. You fall in love.
You fall in love with the people, with the country, with the way you feel when you are there; with everything.
2. You have the most amazing conversations with people from all over the world of all ages.
Each year I am blown away at the ease two people can connect purely because of Jesus. There is nothing more pure than a friendship based on the love of our Savior & the goal to simply love on orphans.
3. Nothing matters except love.
The thing that still gives me so much hope for Zambia is the way these people love. Kids can come from the most horrific background of abuse, neglect & heartache and still all they do is love you. It doesn't matter if you're old or young, tall or short, fat or thin; the children and people of Zambia will love you if you allow them to. They will love you with the purest of love that changes things. The type of love that Jesus loves with. Its powerful & nothing matters except love.
4. You will make the greatest friendships with the locals.
Each summer when I return to Zambia I am always attacked and tackled to the ground by hundreds of kids whom I love, but each time as soon as I get up, I am given a huge bear hug by my sweet Zambian friends who are my age and older. Teachers, house moms, Camp volunteers, and discipleship leaders in the compounds. These people are what make Family Legacy. A lot of them grew up in compounds just like the kids we work with did and they are so passionate about their country and the orphans within it. I have formed so many close friendships with these people and am so grateful for them.
5. Jesus will be SO present.
Wow. I cannot stress this one enough. If you ever are feeling like Jesus just isn't there, I can GUARANTEE you will find Him in the heart of an orphaned child. Here in America, with the hustle and bustle of everyday life we tend to forget Jesus. We place Him on the back burner and wait until we are about to fall asleep to shoot Him a quick "thanks" before bed. In Zambia, it is ALL about Jesus. We are alive, thank you Jesus. We are happy, thank you Jesus. We are together, thank you Jesus. Zambia is changing, thank you Jesus.
6. Your heart will break in the best way.
I still vividly remember, the night before I met my Zambian kids, I was sitting on my bed praying. I prayed, "Lord, break my heart for what breaks Yours. Amen." That was it. With that sentence I allowed myself to be completely wrecked for His cause. I was angry, too. I was mad and prayed, "WHY, God, would you let this happen? WHY are kids dying? WHY are their parents dying? WHY don't YOU do something about this, You are God after all?" And as I cried these words into my pillow I realized, He is doing something about it, through me. If God didn't care about orphans, I wouldn't have been in the compounds that day. If God didn't care about orphans, I would have never written this article. If God didn't care about orphans, my heart wouldn't have broken for His kids.
7. Names, faces, and stories will be sewn into your heart.
I have had the same group of boys since I started going to camp and I can tell you each ones biggest fears, dreams, prayer requests, who they live with, and even more.
8. You see your family change.
The first time we went to Africa it was just my mom and I. I convinced my dad to come with us the next year and my younger siblings also came. My dad said he went thinking, "okay, I'll go once so they stop bugging me about it" and left thinking "I can't wait to be back next summer".
9. This could happen.
10. If you take a 30 minute plane ride, you will see this.
11. You learn how to truly be thankful.
I shared a story with my boys about how hard high school was for me and how I thought I had it tough. (Which I HATED myself for saying because of their situations). And instead of saying something about how they have it so much worse in Zambia, they asked if they could pray that I would never go through a hard time again. And they prayed for me as I wept thinking about how thankful I was for those hard times because it led me to those boys in Zambia.
12. You will learn that everything is "just ok".
In Zambia, the phrase "just okay" means "yeah it's great!" And according to them, it's all "just okay."
13. This could also happen.
14. But this definitely will happen.
There is nothing harder than saying goodbye to these kids. Especially when it's this kid whom I have been sponsoring since I first went there and I refer to as my Zambian son.
15. You will NEVER be the same.
For more information on what my family does in Zambia and how to get involved please visit: