Off & Running
a Blog of Life on the Run

October
09,
2014

Women of Worth Conference: Zambia - Day Two

A Retreat for the Women of Zambia

Adventure is doing something you've never done before without expectations or a plan. It's my first international mission trip and it's most definitely an adventure in every sense of the word. 

After having a pretty solid breakdown at breakfast yesterday with my team due to being a newbie, being overwhelmed and realizing just how much I didn't know before coming, I settled in to a rhythm. Taking photos of everything that was happening, picking up the 3-year-olds who were my shadows, and smiling at every woman I met. It was easier today. Easier to love on these women, snuggle with the kids, and walk around feeling accepted.

The Women of Worth Conference Day 2 started off with Sandy Ergott, our team leader, teaching the women how to dance to Shakira's Waka Waka. The joy in their faces and focus on the moves was too good not to capture. "It's time for Africa." (If you don't want to get it stuck in your head, don't watch the videos - also at the end of this post..)

 

Christine and her daughter, Dorcas, sang us a song before Christine spoke about being strong as a woman who can support herself no matter what happens to her husband. Christina's strength touched so many women. Women gave their testimonies, shared their lives, and were prayed for throughout the day. Our Amanda shared her touching testimony of the last 12 months and how her marriage came out stronger than it ever could have due to rough times they endured because of God's help. 

One of the biggest things I'm learning through this experience is that God should be praised no matter what. I have a tattoo on my arm that says "This too shall pass" but until I listened to these women share their testimonies, I definitely didn't understand what it meant. One woman will share about how her child and grandchild were both born partially paralyzed. Another woman will encourage her with a story about how God used her because of something horrible that had happened to her. Then we pray for the first women. 

Prayer is the one thing that sustains them. They praise God in the midst of everything. EVERYTHING. You know when we in America say "first world problems" - it really hit home here. The next time I even THINK about complaining, I will remember these women and how they praise God and encourage each other through everything they're dealing with.

 

 

And then there are babies. SO many babies and little children. Mothers don't chase their children around nor do they have to reprimand them during the conference because they're so well-behaved, even when they're walking around. The children sleep on the rough floors under pews and when they eat bread, their mother doesn't worry about them picking up the crumbs off the floor.

Babies are wrapped onto their mothers backs so they have two free hands - and they do this by tossing the baby onto their back and bending over to wrap themselves. Boobs get pulled out of shirts for breastfeeding and no one blinks an eye. Many of these women have 3 to 14 children. Some mothers are only 15. Most of the women look 10 to 15 years younger than they are. Almost all of the women are taking care of orphans alongside their own children. One woman wasn't blessed with any children and cares for 6 orphans. Many of these women traveled from far away leaving the rest of their children at home while bringing their little ones in order to attend.

 

 

 

 

The little girl in my arms above - her name is Happy. She followed me everywhere. She must have known how much I needed to snuggle.

The women at the conference sleep on mattresses without blankets or pillows on hard floors with women from their communities. They wash their clothes in pots of boiled water and hang it on a line to dry. They cook Nshima (their staple food) in a pot and eat chicken feet for lunch and dinner over coals on the ground behind their sleeping quarters. They have a bathhouse to shower and are the happiest of women. The way they are treated here - being provided for, given food to eat, given cookies and sodas for snacks, and having a safe place to sleep - is far and above what they get at home. This is a retreat for them. A blessing.

I am loved here. We are loved here. The women here - it's so easy to love them. They have such big hearts and yearn for affection. They want to touch you and be touched. They want their photos taken, they want to see what they look like. They love being at the conference away from their lives for a few days. 

 

  

 

 

 

Our last day is tomorrow, Thursday. And it's going to be emotional for us and for the women in attendance - at least that's what I'm told. It's been a long few days but so filling.

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