Monday, December 5, 2011


The past couple of days have brought a lot of reflection.  I has made me think of the things I am thankful for.  Here is a no particular order...of those things:
1. For the time we have had in Zambia and the friendships we have made.
2. For the time we have had in the villages.  The villagers are amazing examples of what it means to have joy and generosity in the midst of difficulties and poverty.
3. For our supporters (both in prayer and finances) who got us here, got us home and got us back again and have been following our journey, learning with us and encouraging us.
4. For Chipo, Velina, Dorcas, Lushomo, Belinda, Miriam, Ruth, Masho, Masije, Elisha, Amos, Jonathan, Nick, Gift, Vivian, Sammie, Arthur, Charles, Doro and Twambo. Twenty of the most beautiful children that have loved me even when I didn't bring sweets!
5. For the staff at WHI Zambia and their patience as we learned how to do things in true Zambian fashion.
6. For my friend Angela, who shared her life with me.
7. For the cold season...I didn't know how great it was until the hot season arrived.
8. For rain, so the farmers can plant their crops.
9. For the smell of flowers along Mochipapa Road after the rain.
10. For the teams that came - the generosity and love they showed to the villages they partner with was overwhelming.
11. For the way Zambians sing!  So passionately.
12. For how God has changed our hearts in Zambia and given us a new understanding of His love and has been patient with us as we have wrestled with His goodness.
13. For the Zambian sunrise - so bright and orange and filling the sky
14. For our friends and family back home...we will see you soon!!!

Zambian sunrise
(photo by Jerilynn Spring)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Final Moments

Today, we had a lot of final moments, at least for a while.  Our final moments in church as we said goodbye to our Mochipapa church family.  Our final moments at Joshua and Angela's as they had big smiles with hopes that we will meet again soon.  Our final moments with Richman, thanking him for all the amazing work he is doing with the arts in Choma.  Our final moments with 20 beautiful children, writing them notes and spelling for them as they wrote notes for us.

As we were saying goodbye to the children, Chipo started singing a song, "Dear Auntie Ellen, please do not forget us, we will not forget you.  God is great."

He is great.  He has placed people in our lives here who will forever be a part of who we are.  They are why we fell in love with Zambia.  We will NOT forget them.  We will remember each of them by name.  We will think of and pray for them every day.  

We will trust too, that our great God will not forget them.  That whatever challenges they face, whatever joys they have, they will know He is their helper, their physician, their friend.

We will trust that our paths will again cross.  So, it is not "Goodbye," that is too final.  It is (as my mother would say), "Goodbye for now" because we know that this is not the end and our goodbye is not forever.
Dorcas, Velina and Lushomo
(photo by Jerilynn Spring)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Three Days

Three...the number of days we have left in Choma.  It is strange to think that we will be leaving our Zambian home too.  It's a strange mix of emotions as we pack, say goodbye to friends and wrap up our work at World Hope International Zambia.

Yesterday, we spent a lot of the afternoon at the orphanage.  We know our time with them is coming to a close for a little while.  The boys had freshly shaved heads and the girls were getting their hair "planted" in preparation for the World AIDS Day event they were singing at this morning. 

Jon spent some time taking video, photos and hanging out with some of the boys.  I sat by Auntie Betty for most of the time, holding children as they would come over to play and talk.  After I had taken Ruth inside for her bath, I heard Lushomo crying at the front of the house.  I went around, picked her up and we were buddies for the rest of the afternoon.  We sat on the swing for a while, she would climb up on the bars, hold on, lean back and say "Auntie Ellen, watch this!"  She would climb down, lay her head in my lap and stretch her tiny legs out across the seat and just relax.  She is smiling so much more the past few weeks as she adjusts to life in House 2.  She is the newest family member there and is starting to love her new family and you can tell her new family loves her.

So, three more days.  It just doesn't seem like it's enough when I think about the friends and children we will have to say goodbye to.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

World AIDS Day

Tomorrow, December 1st, is World AIDS Day.  "It is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died." (  

Tomorrow, we will remember our friends we have met who are living with HIV.  Four children we know well who live down the road at a small house, surrounded by Aunties.  

We love these children.  We love holding them, we love hearing them laugh, we love seeing them smile.  I have to be honest though, every once in a while, as they are playing with my face or trying to get their fingers in my mouth (ahh, the joy of making kids laugh with a fish face...), I get worried.  What if one of them has an open sore on their hand, what if I have a cut on my face or my mouth...what could happen?

After a short moment, this fear melts away.  I know they are positive, but their status is not what defines them, nor should it be.  My love for these children is not conditional.  I will never love them less because they have HIV.  They had no choice in their status.  It was inherited, passed on to them mostly likely from a lack of knowledge of HIV and how the disease is spread. 

So, tomorrow, as we observe World AIDS day, let's not think about orientations, place blame, pass judgements.  Let us, instead, consider how we can remember, how we can educate ourselves and others, and how we can be a part of the fight against HIV so that children like J, A, R, and D can grow and live full lives.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Paints and Smiles

On Friday, we spent the better part of our day at the orphanage.  It was one of the best days!  After watching them drum and dance for a while, we played outside.  The children were excited because they knew we had come to paint with them.  They saw all the supplies in our bags when we got to the house (they also saw the lollipops...).

After we played for a while, we got set up in one of the classrooms and brought the children in two at a time (so we could have a little one on one time with each of them) and painted.  The many little artists chose their own shapes and colors to paint with.  The little ones sat on our laps as we guided their tiny hands and taught them how to use the brushes.

It was an amazing day and brought lots of smiles to their faces and to ours.  Incredible what a little paint can do!

Playtime before painting
Masho (top) and Amos (bottom)
Jon & Charles 

Masho and his orange hand

Chipo...focused on her artwork!

Masije - incredibly excited to paint!

Lushomo and Erin

Dorcas and her creation

Even Auntie Betty helped out with the rest of Gifts' painting

Friday, November 25, 2011


A moment is something that comes out of nowhere and it’s only there for a very brief amount of time and then it’s gone.
There are some moments that you never forget. Moments that change you, inspire you, and give you a taste of the fullness of joy and life. The night my dad prayed with me when I was in the third grade as I asked Jesus to come into my life. The night I sat on a hillside in Jamaica with tears in my eyes and told God I’d follow His leading in my life and go into full time ministry. When Erin walked through the doors of the sanctuary with her father on our wedding day. These are moments that put you in a place of awe, they make your heart beat faster, and they reassure you that life is so much bigger and beautiful than you could ever imagine.
This morning I had one of those moments that completely steal your heart and you wish you could live there for just a moment longer. Erin and I went to the orphanage to work on a painting project with the kids and before we got to painting we watched the kids dance, listened to them sing, and then we went outside to play. My little buddy Jonathan ran up to me and I quickly scooped him up into my arms. Jonathan and I have hung out a lot over these last seven months. He is one of the most extraordinary people I have ever met. He doesn’t talk a lot, but through his eyes and his gentle spirit, he has preached to me the most powerful sermons I have ever heard. Today he just wanted to cuddle and laugh. So I started making funny noises and he was playing with my face and then I pretended to drop him and caught him on the way down. He exploded into laughter and I just kept doing it.
What made it such a special moment was that when I would catch him he would give one of those deep belly laughs that you know is coming from the very core of who he is. His laugh was so funny to me that it brought out one of those same belly laughs in me. It was a moment of pure, genuine joy that he and I got to share together.
When moments like these happen, enjoy them completely. When the moment is gone, remember it with a smile and thank God for it. Then keep loving and letting others love you because more of these moments are on the way.

Time Flies

We have been back in Choma for over 3 weeks now.  Time is flying by as we wrap up our time in Zambia.
Everyday, I would think to myself..."I need to share this..." but would get home, crawl into bed and sleep, get up the next morning, and head back to the village for another day.

It has been an amazing three weeks back...

On our return to Zambia, we headed (almost) straight to the village of Sinanjola, about 2 hours north east of Choma, with Sheridan Wesleyan Church.  Sheridan has been partnering with Sinanjola for three years and it was exciting to see the relationship they had with this village.

The people of Sinanjola were incredible!  The team worked with them on some church renovation projects and spent some time celebrating the villages' graduation from the program.  They are now self sustaining with cash in the bank to start a new project to support the orphaned and vulnerable in their village.
Darrell (pastor from Sheridan) praying for a man and his
cousin at a home visit.

Greeting EVERYONE after church in Sinanjola

Two days after Sheridan left, a team from College Wesleyan Church arrived from Indiana.  This team of four had a packed week, visiting 4 different villages.
In Siamanzila, we went to church, met sponsored children and shared a meal with the community.

In Sinamoono (where we spent two days), we were able to dedicate the school that College Wesleyan provided funding for and visit an orphaned child and a person with HIV.
Part of the School Dedication - everyone surrounded the
building and prayed.

New Football Uniforms for the school team!
(Thanks to Highpoint First Wesleyan Church)
We were also able to take a gorgeous three hour drive through the mountains to Sinafala - a remote village north east of Choma.  There, we talked with the Village Committee, visited 2 community homes and ate lunch with the committee.

Fishermen casting off into Lake Kariba by the village of

Our last village visit was to Sialubala - a place I have grown to love.  We visited the Headman's house and talked about the village, the challenges they face and how they would like to see their village develop over the next three years.

It has been a busy three weeks. But, to finish it all off, we were able to spend 2 full days in Livingstone with College Wesleyan and 21 nursing students and their professors (that group has been in Zambia since September 9!).  We not only got to take our last walk through Victoria Falls with this group, but finished our weekend with an early morning game drive through Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park where we ran into a herd of 200+ elephants!  An amazing way to end our time with them and an experience that cannot be described.

A small portion of the herd...