Shining Through the Clouds
Growing up in small-town Kansas you count your blessings often. Embarking on the cross-Atlantic trip to Zambia I have seemed to quickly fall back into my old roots. There truly is no overstating it—we are extremely blessed in the States. Driving through the crowded streets of the capital Lusaka will keep any New Jersey driver on their toes. From the uncountable number of cars, pedestrians and to the city workers cutting grass with machetes, it was a sight to behold. As we made our distance from the city I quickly began missing the wheat fields of home. Cramped in a small SUV with bags packed to the ceiling full of donations we continued onward towards the village. After weaving through a clay road we arrived at the gate of the Zambian Rafiki village. At that moment any thought of home passed and as the gate slowly creaked open I saw a new page in my life opening.
After eight days of staying in Zambia we accomplished our first goal of being able to manage seventy-seven children. The love and interest in anything new is truly inspiring. Never before have I seen anybody enjoy basic basketball drills to level of these kids. They had humongous smiles dribbling from the baseline to the free throw line while cheering for one another amongst their peers. Just imagine the smiles and fun when I finally brought all the fundamentals into use and introduced knockout. Never before have I seen Children enjoy a game to the level of them.
The strength of the mommas here in the village is incredible. It constantly reminds me of my own grandmother who would care for me to the end of the Earth. For these mommas it is a job, it is their occupation to nurture their cottage of ten or so children. As my grandmother says- I raised my own, to them let it be. These makeshift mommas cannot do that. They all have families outside here and then to spend their workweek nursing to orphaned young children is something that has struck home with me. These women are stern, enduring, soft-spoken yet they carry a big stick. I only pray to one day have some of the same attributes these amazing women have in raising up future leaders and children of God.
Moreover, I believe I already have found the almighty takeaway from this experience—the power of a smile. A smile is the universal sign of peace, love and comfort. The first day we came we met a ten year-old boy literally named Happy. However Happy really was not happy—talk about irony at its finest. Today we introduced American football and how to properly throw. Initially teaching how to catch and then to throw. Happy was a pure natural throwing the ball, solid form and even a tight spiral. We had him step out in front of his peers and show just how well he was doing. At that moment Happy was—happy. He had a smile from cheek to cheek and practically skipped back in line after he threw the ball. I was astonished witnessing the joy of Happy and the smile on his face all thanks to the wonderful game of American football. After spending all week with him and never seeing him enjoy his surroundings and for something so simple to almost flip his emotions completely is special.
God’s love is evident in all parts of the World. It is evident in all walks of life—no matter your color, wealth or Earthly possessions. It is an immeasurable love that I will be forever thankful and gracious for.
Shane D. Maloney, Kansas State University