Near the end of the time we were in Zambia I was asked if the experience at the Village of Hope was what I had expected. My answer was that, in spite of the attempts of veteran team members to describe the journey, I really did not have a clear picture in my mind of the mission of the Village. So I guess I entered the experience with “let’s see what is going to happen” mentality.
The picture became much clearer the first morning as we listened to Benedict and Kathleen explain the mission, history, current situation, and their plans for the future of the Village. It became so obvious that the kids were what it was all about. It is often said that “kids are kids no matter where you find them.” This is true on some levels. However it was amazing to me to observe them as one big loving family who care for each other. The respect for their elders was a quality which has been instilled in them. To be addressed as “uncle” or “auntie” was at first a bit unusual, but as the time went by I could see how it was a significant part of the way Kathleen and Benedict viewed their goal of teaching respect. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the whole week was observing the faith that has become such a big part of their lives. Coming from the economic, political, and family situations, any one of which we would consider almost unbelievable, I found it inspiring to witness their expressions of their Christian faith not only during the worship experience (where they received communion for the first time – thanks Suzi and Aaron for your guidance there) to asking us to pray with them as we left the houses after our evening hour of games. It made me stop to examine the quality of my faith.
Another part of the experience was to observe the staff which serves the Village. Here are individuals who are serving with one purpose in mind – to make life for not only the children of the village, but for many more children of the surrounding area, a more secure path to adulthood a reality. Each of them in their own specific area – house mothers and fathers, medical providers, construction and maintenance workers, and so many others – all work in harmony to make the best situation become a reality. The level of cooperation is exceptional. We could all learn from them!
We need to do whatever we can to keep this ministry alive and well. Asked if I would go again, my answer has become if the body is able, I would do it again.