Most of you know I went to Africa, but many have no idea why or what I did. People keep asking, “Hey Lindsay, what’d you do in Africa?” So, here’s by best attempt to explain.
I went to Lusaka, Zambia to work with orphans through Family Legacy. There are more than one million orphans in the country. In the summer, Family Legacy puts on a program called Camp Life. Last summer 7,000 kids came. Every American participant is paired with 10 orphans, so 700 came last summer. From what I understand, you get to know your kids really well. You get the chance to sit down with each individually and hear their story, what home is like and actually share the Gospel with them. The hope is for that American to become the advocate to get those 10 kids sponsored in the Father’s Heart program. This means the kids still live at whatever home looks like for them, but they now get to go to school. School in Zambia is expensive and somewhat corrupt”…this is the only chance these kids would have to be in school.
As the program grew, the need for schools did too. Family Legacy now has 18 Christian schools in the compounds of Lusaka for these kids to attend. The schools are close to home and staffed with highly qualified teachers. There are currently more than 7,500 kids in the Father’s Heart program.
Back to Camp Life. The stories of these kids are heard and the most vulnerable are identified. Situations vary, but abuse, rape, HIV, malnutrition, abandonment and neglect are far too common stories. More than 400 of the kids with the most horrific stories from the ages of 2 to 17 now live in the Tree of Life Village. This is where I spent my week.
34 houses have been built. 12 kids live in each with two Zambian house moms. The vision is there would be 50 houses, 600 kids. Then, that 11 more villages just like it would be built. The need is THAT great. I can’t even begin to describe Tree of Life adequately. It’s the best. A haven of hope. A refuge of orphans. A nontraditional setup turned home.
We were there to put on “Dream Camp‘ for the kids at Tree of Life. They were on holiday from school, so we got to give them a chance to learn new things and encourage them to dream. Each American taught a class. Baseball, cooking, photography, Zumba, crafts, volleyball”…you name it, it’s possible. My class: games!!! If it’s a game, we probably played it. Initially, I was going to do basketball. Then they found out about my camp background”…I told them I was up for anything, so games it was! Kickball, balloon stomp, limbo, dizzy bat relay, water balloon egg toss, solleyball (game I invented at K-West!)”…you name it, we played it. And it was SO much fun!
I had three classes each day. My first: 6-9 year old boys. My next two: 13-18 year old girls. I’m so glad I got to do both, but it was really fun to see my age strengths affirmed even across the world. The Lord has wired me to work with young girls. My boys were awesome and taught me a ton, but I couldn’t work with elementary kids consistently. Their attention span is no different than American 6-9 year olds”…it’s zero. But we laughed a ton, I learned to be more flexible and they stole my heart. I’ll elaborate on the girls in my next post because they play into my biggest takeaway so far.
So after the classes, each afternoon had a different special activity.
Activity 1: Cookie decorating and crafting
Activity 2: Movie day
Activity 3: Field day
Activity 4: Splash day
What a week! I basically got to do camp in Africa. I am passionate about summer camp and what I get to do in America. Getting to do what I love and use my gifts in Africa took it next level.
I could tell story after story and show pictures galore, but without context it would never make as much sense. Without knowing how the Tree of Life kids ended up there, I would never have known the vivid picture of death to life I witnessed. In every sense of the phrase, these kids have gone from death to life. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. Before they were likely abused and malnourished. Now they are healthy and safe. Before they were emotionally lifeless and didn’t have much joy. Now they get to be kids who dream while their laughter fills the air. Before they were surrounded by death, witchcraft and hopelessness. Now they literally have life, joy in their eyes and eternal hope. These kids know the Gospel. Most of them genuinely know Jesus. They challenged me in my faith and because of them I will never be the same.
So, what did I do in Africa? Honestly, I didn’t do much…but the Lord did a whole lot in me and is continuing to do so.
Praying for the Lord to continue to bring the dead to life in Zambia,
***If you ever have any desire or even a slight stirring to go, I HIGHLY recommend looking into Family Legacy. I was beyond impressed by the mission of this organization and the vision they are moving forward with. It’s expensive, but you’re going to Africa, paying for the program the kids get to participate in and the things you will learn about provision are unreal. The Lord is at work in Zambia, and I believe He’s using Family Legacy. Look into it. Pray about it. Ask me your questions. Take a step of faith.