Kathy and I have been very fortunate to travel twice to the Village of Hope. Our first trip was in August of 2017, the dry season in Zambia. It hadn’t rained there since April, everything was brown and the air seemed to always have the smell of smoke. The cattle herd was trying to graze on pastures that had little or no grass.
In 2017 we helped mix cement and lay cinder block walls for the School of Hope library building. We were proud of our various accomplishments, many blocks were laid, chairs were manufactured and assembled, curtains were sewn, all to be used in the library and other buildings at the village. After our day’s work we were always rewarded by spending time with the kids. In the evenings after supper we all went to the various cottages where the kids live. We would play games and chat with the kids. Kathy and I shared our evenings with a cottage of boys that were 12-15 years old. We played games with them and one evening helped them write letters to people that they had never met, but had provided some financial support for the Village kids. We read many of the letters they wrote and were amazed at the sincere content and their thoughtfulness for the financial help. With that said, one of the boys struggled a lot to craft a legible letter. It was obvious that he was out of his comfort zone, lacked writing and spelling skills and showed little confidence in completing his letter. He seemed to be liked by all his roommates and they watched out for him and all accepted him with love and kindness, as much as teenage boys can. I remember thinking that this boy is going to struggle in life.
On our recent trip in January of 2020, the rainy season, we looked forward to seeing the kids, seeing the library and what other things that were new at the village. Our primary project was to work on playground equipment for the village and the school. The Village of Hope is about an hour and a half from the airport. As we traveled on the bus to the village everything was green and lush. Trees were full of green leaves and flowering. As we arrived at the Village, traveling down the long very bumpy village road from the highway we saw their planted cornfields with a new pivot sprinkler that is just being installed, observed the solar panel field that is also in the process of being installed. We could see a couple of new structures beyond the cornfields for housing unwed mothers and college students. By the way, I believe the corn grew a foot or two while we were there and was just starting to tassel by the time we left the Village. As we entered through the Village gate we could see the cattle herd, the goats and chicken pens. Numerous banana trees were growing along the fence line and the vegetable garden was filled with various green and healthy plants.
After our arrival we went on a walking tour to the school. On our way we traveled by the hog pens which were now occupied with many hogs, passing by the two new housing structures that we observed from the road, the solar field with the line of power poles that were also being installed to carry the power to the village. Just before we got to the school grounds we walked by a structure that was under construction. This structure will provide space for teaching and training skills like automotive repair, wood shop and welding. As we entered the school gate, we saw the new school administration building on the left across the road from the library. The finished library was beautiful. I couldn’t believe how good it looked inside and out.
All these changes were truly inspiring. I thought to myself that God is truly working miracles at the Village and School. The various new buildings, the solar field, and the sprinkler system are wonderful additions to the village but the miracles don’t stop there. God has provided many additions to the staff that bring various skills to improving the village infrastructure which will mean sustainability. The staff is truly led by God.
Now back to the kids. They are the highlight of the mission trip. They are kids who have experienced various life issues but are truly loved by the staff and each other. They are kind and loving and just want to be loved. A couple of things that were very special to me. When we attended worship services with the kids on Sunday, the little children would come to us, the mission team members or the older children and crawl into your lap and just want to be held and loved. Many of the older kids lead the worship by joyously singing numerous songs. You could see the love of God in their faces as they sang out. I was especially surprised to see that boy, from our visit in 2017, who I thought was going to struggle in life. He was up front singing, smiling, and enjoying his life. To me that was another miracle, this boy had been transformed at the village through the love of his village family. God is truly working miracles everyday at this special place.