What an emotional roller coaster I have been on in the past two days. I have honestly had some of the most joyful as well as sorrowful moments of my entire life packed into these past two days. I will begin with yesterday.
Yesterday was already going to be a hard day since it was our last day in Namwianga and with the babies. We woke up to a wonderful breakfast of pancakes, which was a delight as always. We then walked to the Haven and picked up our little toddlers from Eric’s house. Whenever we arrived to Haven 3 for therapy I went to see if I could persuade any of the troublemakers to come to therapy with me on the last day. Surprisingly I got Emma to come sit with me in class, which I was excited about. So Emma and Lee shared my lap today while we sang all of our songs and did our therapy. After therapy I took some hilarious pictures of Emma, Katy, and Linny that are too precious for words. Lets just say I am so glad that I brought sunglasses with me because those pictures might be some of my favorites I have taken. I was so happy that those 3 girls were in a good mood and wanted to play with me because they can be completely precious. Unfortunately that time went by too quickly and it was time to take the boys back to Eric’s house. I carried Kritz back one last time and took a picture with him because I knew the afternoon would not go as originally planned. Ben, Lauren, and I headed to our next language therapy in Haven 1. I had to lead again but I was ready to do so. Like clockwork, I yet again put Reuben to sleep during our table time. Dr. Weaver and Dr. Tullos get a kick out of this and always document. I do not see how he can fall asleep when I am making up amazing versions to the Busy Bee book. Just like the other session, this one was over too quickly as well. I decided to film our walk back so I could always remember it; I am so glad that I did. Ben and I ran into Dr. Tullos, Reagan, and Shanna waiting for cows to pass on the path; it makes for a very interesting addition to the video. For lunch we had everyone’s favorite meal, fried chicken Ba Leonard style, plus pumpkin cake. I was excited about the pumpkin cake, I must admit though, I am very sad I did not really experience his apple cake due to an illness the one time he made it. Guess I will just have to come back next year :)
The afternoon was one of the hardest times I have had in my entire life. A funeral for Andrew, one of the toddlers we worked with while here, was this afternoon. Instead of doing therapy for our last afternoon we attended his funeral behind the Havens. I have never been to a child’s funeral before so it was very emotional and hard. There were so many Zambians that came to remember that sweet boy including all of the Aunties that work in the Havens. It was really moving to see how loved he was by all of the people there; there was not a dry eye anywhere around. Although all of us were mourning and will never forget Andrew, I know he is now in a better place and no longer in pain. This is a time of my life that I cannot adequately describe in words over a blog but has impacted me for the rest of my life. I will never forget this day as long as I live. While back there we saw the graves of all the children that have passed away over the years from the different Havens. It really puts your life in perspective knowing how short it is and to always remember what really matters. Meagan talked about Andrew’s life and we all stood around while the Aunties sang as he was buried. It was a very emotional experience and I ask that everyone continue to keep us in your prayers as we continually deal with this experience. In addition please keep Andrew’s family and everyone associated with the Havens that knew and loved him in your prayers as well. After the funeral, we were not asked to do therapy any more and could just go love on the babies. Everyone was really sad and I was not sure how I was going to move past mourning the loss of Andrew when suddenly one of my favorite children was seen. A little clumsy boy named Nathan was standing in the doorway with dirt and mud completely covering his face. As soon as all of us saw him we could not help but laugh. I honestly believe it was a gift from God that he was like this snapping us back into the moment and remembering that these babies need our love. I absolutely love this little child; I call him dinosaur because I think he looks like a little dinosaur. We all chitanged babies to our backs and loved on them for as long as we had left. We then had to say goodbye to all of the little ones and leave the Haven for the last time. Honestly, this has still not hit me yet. I love all of those children so much and will never forget their faces and how they have changed my life forever. Like before, a lighthearted moment was given in our sad moods as we took funny pictures on our walk back. We arrived home for dinner and then had to begin the packing journey.
After packing all of the CSD stuff, Ben and I went to Mrs. Mono’s and then to find Mark before leaving. I am so glad we were able to find and talk to both of them. We talked to Mark for a while and he continually told us how sad he was we were leaving; he is one person I will also miss but I am glad to have the opportunity to talk to him thanks to technology. Then Lauren and I went to find Grace another college student to say goodbye to her. I honestly love all of the people here; they are so sad to see us go. Even the people I have never met before say they are sad and always wish us a good journey. Grace’s last words to Lauren and me were “God bless you” and I know she meant it with all of her heart. I wish I could have gotten to know more of the college students better over my time here. Finally it was time to head back and hang out with Justin and Webster one last time. A group of us sat around and ate some leftover Shema with them. Although Shema is not my favorite, I took part in the shema party and they taught us how to eat it Zambian style. They are so funny. There were many pictures taken, and sadly tears. I just keep telling myself I am just going to have to come back next year. Finally around 11:30 I began packing for home, always the procrastinator. I have not written in great detail all of the emotions I have felt today but I honestly think it is not possible to completely portray it. All I know is today is a day that has significantly changed my life and I will never forget it as long as I live.
Sadly the day to leave Namwianga came this morning. I have been dreading this day for a while. After eating homemade biscuits one last time we all piled into the lovely van (which getting it is a story in and of itself) and was ready to travel to Lusaka. Ben and I sat in the back with the Tullos’ again. This ride was quite different from the first time. It was a lot quieter. Honestly most of us are worn out from the past few days here. I was able to nap a little bit but mostly enjoyed seeing the different terrain of Zambia. We stopped at Tudors for lunch and I had chicken and chips again. After lunch we piled back into the bus and finished our journey. It has not really hit me still that I am leaving; only once in a while do I realize it and get sad. Upon arrival to Lusaka we unloaded and went to our rooms. Then Liz, Lauren, Ben, and I walked around the shopping center a little figuring out what to do tonight. We found a little café to eat dinner at and tonight are going to see Pirates of the Caribbean at the theater by our hotel. So for my last night in Zambia I will be going to see a movie. Ironic? Maybe a little. Hopefully it is good.
I still cannot believe I have been blessed to experience this opportunity and I praise God daily for the blessings I have been given. I have loved every moment of being in Zambia and could not love the people here any more. Zambia will forever more be placed on my heart and I will be looking for any chance I can get to come back to see all of the wonderful people in this country. I thank everyone that has supported me through this trip and thank you for all of the prayers. Please continue to pray that we have a safe journey tomorrow as we continue our way home. To God be the glory for every life we have touched while being over here and I pray his work continues in Namwianga and in Zambia.