A few months back, I wrote about Kurt and Jessie going back to their village. As is routine, I went out to visit them when they’d been home about a month to see how they were adjusting and make sure all was well.
We found the kids to be happy, healthy, and thriving. You could tell they were eating plenty and genuinely loved being together and with their parents. It was also immediately evident how hard their lives are. Wind and Charity, their parents, are unable to work because of their blindness, and so they have very little. Their four kids living with them, Lushomo, Choolwe, Kurt, and Jessie, are 8, 6, 4, and 2. These kids do everything for their parents and have grown up fast.
When you live in a third world country, you get very accustomed to seeing need all around you. As much as possible, I've learned to no longer compare how people live here with what we have in the States. It’s not the same and won’t ever be, nor do I think it should be. There is beauty in the simplicity of life here, in functioning in a world with little excess or waste. When I first visited different places in Africa, I would look at one-room mud huts and no plumbing and no latrine even and be shocked at how little people had. Now I don’t see the lack of material things as much as I see the family, what kind of animals they have around, what kind of community surrounds them, how close they are to a water source, etc.
But even after years of village visits and seeing former kids of ours living in pretty dire straits, I was shocked by seeing Kurt and Jessie’s home. Most people don’t believe me, but it gets COLD here in Zambia in our winter. There are even mornings where there is frost on the ground. So my heart just hurt as I saw their house with unfinished walls leaving too much space for wind to whip through and make them cold at night. There was no door on the house. Because of the cold, they were sleeping with a fire inside the hut with a grass roof, a recipe for disaster for so many reasons. The clothes we had sent them home with not a month before were already nibbled through by rats. There was plenty of love in their home, but it isn’t how people should have to live. They needed a door and finished walls and a place where they were safe from fire.
They worship at the Tara Church of Christ, and the preacher happened to be the man who had ultimately helped me find their house that day. We talked a lot about their need and how the church is already helping them in many ways. I told him I really wanted us to help do something about their housing situation, and he said he’d pray that I would. I talked with my interns about it on the way home, and I got home and talked to Kathi, Jason, and Cintia (Kathi’s son and daughter-in-law who are the house parents at Eric’s House. More on them later J) about it, too. I just couldn’t get that image out of my mind, and I didn’t want them to spend any more nights cold.
|The interns, Coco, Kamri, Kelly, and Hanna. I have trouble looking directly in the sun :)|
I’m kind of a dreamer. I can see something I want to have happen, I can even start making some plans towards that end, but when it comes down to it I’m not the best at executing. I knew I wanted to build them a house, but didn't even know where to begin. Jason said he’d go out there with me to survey it a bit, and from that point on it was his baby. He gathered his troops, he got all the boys working on it when they could, and he made happen that which had been on my heart and mind. I’m forever grateful to him for that
|Jason and George on a working day|
|Kathi hanging curtains Cintia made.|
|Cintia's job was a little harder than mine!|
We met with the headman in their village, and he did so much to help us. Many members from their church family and community came and joined us in our work those two weeks. The first day we cleared the land and dug and laid the foundation. After that, the walls slowly came up, the roof was put on, and then the floors were laid. The guys worked tirelessly, while us girls went out every few days or so! We had a little meal for all those who had joined in our efforts, and we planted two trees, a mango and an avocado, that we hope will bear fruit for their family forever.
|Clearing the land|
Laying the first brick
Working with Agnes, a fellow church member
|Florence helping me plant the mango tree|
|Praying over the avocado tree|
I can’t tell you how great it was to see how many people came together to love and help this family. Wind has called me so many times since they moved in thanking us for the gift, and their gratitude is completely humbling to us. We who have so much must find ways to keep helping those who don’t have enough.
|Michele Broadway got to come help one day!|
|A prayer of blessing for this family and their new home|
|A beautiful family with a beautiful home|