What is the Lord asking you to surrender? He gave His life for you. To live, fully LIVE, we must give Him everything in return as we follow Him. Our future, our dreams, our expectations, desires, family, and friends. Our pride, our service, our money, our time. He wants it all. We get life in return. We get Him more fully because there's less of us and more of Him in our life. But we hold on so tightly. We don't want to give up our dreams, our safety nets, our families. Letting go is so hard. And painful. Yet we experience life and freedom when we do.
It's been a hard year so far in many ways. The Lord has been continuing to work in my heart. Showing me areas that I am in desperate need of His grace and His work. Leaving me broken so that I'll surrender and let Him rebuild me. His work in my life is hard. Good, but hard. I have found comfort recently in reading Isaiah 53 that describes Jesus as a man familiar with sorrow. It comforts me to know that our Lord understood emotional pain. He left His family to minister. He experienced a lot of rejection. He didn't have a wife or kids. His closest friends often didn't understand Him and many even deserted Him in His greatest time of need. He knew what it felt like to be alone, and yet He also knew He was never really alone. He was resting securely in the Father's hands. He knew His life had a purpose.
My Lord understands when I feel alone. When I feel rejected. When I feel misunderstood or unseen. He gets it. So I give Him those feelings. I give Him my dreams and disappointments. He fills me with truth. With healing. He reminds me of who I am. My identity is found in and through Him. Not in anyone or anything else.
But while my life has been challenging here, it has also been filled with many blessings. And I am privileged to carry the message of hope and life with me as I seek to serve and tell the beautiful people here of the love of Christ.
We have had a lot going on in the last few months here at New Life Center. We've had several teams doing everything from teaching and preaching to painting to VBS to participating in our many other daily activities at the Center. The latest group was a team of youth from Ocala. They were a lot of fun, and jumped right into all that we do here. They also did a GREAT job putting on a VBS with 150 kids from five churches in the area. In addition to the many teams, we've had two college interns this summer. One just went back home after two months here. The other will be here until early September. They both have done very well here. They jump right in with all our activities, are willing to try anything, and have embraced Zambian culture.
Construction on the new PET building continues. The water line has been added and we have a new well dug. Fifty PETs are being still being built there in the meantime, and hopefully we'll be able to double that in the near future.
The feeding program is still going very well and is a highlight for the weeks when I am able to go. One of the interns and I also visited a new feeding program across the river with some of our Zambian CHEs to see how the program was going. It seems to be going well though we still have to work out some of the normal kinks a new program has when it first starts.
Grade 9 students are taking their mock exams right now. Some of them are prepared but some are not. We will have just about 6 weeks with them after August to go over any remaining material before they take their final exams in Oct/Nov. As is true for most teachers, some days it seems like the students aren't learning anything but other days I'm encouraged by their progress even though it may be slow. I am enjoying getting to know my students better and better. They are a joy even in the midst of their typical teenage rambunctiousness.
We've also been able to visit several churches with the teams and see some of the fruit of the sister church program. One sister church dedicated their new building while their American sister church team was visiting. This was a lot of fun to be a part of.
We have the annual youth conference coming up in just a couple weeks. I missed this conference last year and due to immigration issues in Lusaka, I may have to miss it again. It's a time for a lot of encouragement, worship, and teaching for the youth in Zambia. This is also the first year that we are able to offer a college scholarship to a Zambian youth.
After the youth conference, we will be traveling to Malawi for a large PET distribution. We will likely stop at South Luangwa game park on the way back home for a couple days of rest. I have also booked tickets to visit friends and family in Australia and New Zealand in Nov and early Dec. Since my time in the US is often not the most restful, I'm looking forward to those five weeks for some R&R and some spiritual renewal with a great sister in Christ.
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