Returning back to the chapel after a long walk to and from the Dipalata Mission Hospital, I geared up to teach my second computer class with Kyle and Nolan, to a group of forty eager individuals. For the members of the small community of Dipalata this class was the first time, and realistically maybe one of the only times they would get the opportunity to see and actually touch a computer. I cannot begin to express their excitement as they craved to know anything and everything about this revolutionary tool. These were the only two classes we would teach in Dipalata, and although it was amazing to be part of the experience and see the community members in awe of the piece of technology that I take for granted every day. By the end of the second session, I found myself somewhat discouraged. As everyone departed from the one room church I was teaching in, I sat on a long wooden bench where I began to reflect. My mind churning fast, I found myself asking questions such as “how am I supposed to make a difference somewhere like this in two, one hour sessions?” “Why can’t I give them all the information they so desperately want to know?” Sitting there in a daze, I was quickly awoken by a shout from someone outside saying, “We are going to go explore and watch the sunset if you want to come.” Reluctant to go, I decided to follow the mantra, “just say yes.” As I stepped outside, several children immediately latched on to my hands, yearning for the slightest bit of attention. As I walked and followed behind the group, my heart felt heavy. There was great passion and desire in the eyes and hearts of these simple villagers. This was not something new for me to see in the Zambian people, but in this small boma with no running water or electricity, a thirty-kilometer walk from Zambezi, the nearest larger village, Africa began to feel real to me. I felt hopeless. I paused on the path, and stared at the sunset wondering why it had to be like this. I soon was interrupted by the familiar sound of a guitar not too far off, accompanied by soulful voices. I walked over behind the chapel to find choir practicing for Sunday’s mass. I sat on a rock and just observed as the music poured into my heart. My somewhat melancholy mood quickly changed. Curiously, moving to a closer rock I realized that this familiar sound was actually my backpacker’s guitar that I had brought with me. The choir director had his eye closed and was finger picking a beautiful tune. I did not question how he got it, but sat there and listened with a grin from ear to ear. The other instruments were handmade but the sound was powerful when combined with the rich voices.
We were graced with their choir’s performance two more times before we left Dipalata. That night, after indulging in a feast, which was somewhat uncomfortable due to visible lack of food and resources in community, we gathered around the campfire. Once again, I found the choir director, Pepytex, with my guitar. He had somehow made his own pickup and attached it to a very old small boom box. As the night grew darker, the fire grew brighter, but not just the fire in the middle of our wooden benches, but also the fire in our hearts. The amplified guitar, which will be given to Pepytex next week, began every song with individual notes, followed by the rich decedent voices of the African choir. The first song that was played that night and the next morning in mass had the lyrics of “Welcome, Welcome, dear visitors, we are all happy today.” This was a reminder to me of the feeling when I had arrived in Zambezi, 12 days ago.
Two themes have been present throughout my time here in Africa, the overwhelming joy and love, as well as servitude. Through the music and dancing in Dipalata the paradox of Africa was revealed to me in a new and impactful way. During our time in Zambia, I have noticed something different about the people that I am still struggling to put into words. The closest I can get is to say they are free. The sobering experience in Dipalata exposed the way that most of Africa lives. Each of us were pushed outside our comfort zones as we slept on the hard ground, with no electricity or running water (no bathrooms). However, we were also privileged to share the life and joy of the people as over two hundred children and adults gathered around the fire, dancing and singing with more life than a newborn. They were proud of what they had, even though it was little, and they were elated that they got a chance to share it with us. Those in Dipalata, as well here in Zambezi have served us with wide hearts. Their happiness and joy was something that came from deep inside. Although this simple joy was especially present in Dipalata, I have also found it as I talk with Gladys, Naomi, and Lisford for an hour after Computer Class everyday, or when I help Benson with his homework as he teaches me Lunda and Luvale. On a previous blog post, someone had mentioned that in Zambia, they had never been so happy with so little. Especially after Dipalata I can agree with this statement. Although we are here to teach and to serve, we are truly being served and learning from those around us more than we could have ever imagined.
The people here crave to know. The people here love with wide hearts despite the narrow road they walk on. The people here are free.
Whether they be small or big,
Pitch Black or snow white,
These worn hands yearn to be held tight.
Some aged with wrinkles
Others leathered and rough,
The embrace of a single hand can be more than enough.
Every time we step outside
Little hands reach up in the air,
Searching for another hand to cling to with care.
Other times we shake the hands
Of a new friend saying Musana Mwane, hello
This simple sign of respect can cause a heart to overflow.
Every single crack and crevasse
Has its own story to tell
Each unique feature in God’s glory we revel.
But no matter what a hand may look like
The same things it can do,
These hands united together as one, no longer two
Because when we are holding hands
It is eye to eye we see,
And through this we realize we can Be Free.
Class of 2012
P.S. Mama, Daddy, Jess, and Grandma! I miss you all so much. Mom you would love it here, everyone is so friendly. I have been reading Jesus Calling and thinking of you! I love each and every post! Dad-the music is unbelievable. I have been trying to record as much as I can for you. Also, as I mentioned the backpacker will have a new home next week as Pepytex will walk here to pick it up and it will be put to good use as it ministers to the community. Jess-I have so much to tell you and so many pictures to show you. Try looking up Dipalata on google maps…good luck finding it! Grandma-your verses you sent me have been encouraging and I can feel your prayers everyday! Give Dipstick and Piper a kiss for me
P.P.S. To the rest of my friends and family! I miss you all so much! Thank you for reading the blog and for the support. I have so many stories for you. To my girls-I can’t wait to be reunited, and don’t worry I will bring plenty of colorful chitengis!