May We Never Lose Our Wonder

“May we never lose our wonder. Wide eyed and mystified, may we be just like a child.”
– Hillsong United

When I reflect on one of the many reasons I chose to come to Zambezi, I am reminded of my initial desire to escape the “real world” and be reminded of “simple truths.” In my time here, I have found there is no world that is more real than another, and there is no such thing as a simple truth. Every simple truth is just a complex one in disguise.

Each moment of this trip I have found myself in wonder. I stop, look, listen, breathe, and try to just be. I try to sit in the moment. However, I could never have expected how hard sitting in those moments could really be.

In the past three weeks, I have been challenged to change my perspective. Putting these experiences into words is hard for me because I feel as if they are lessons I will never stop learning. Earlier this week the health team traveled to Lishipa to install 24 Biosand water filters. We were working with Seeds of Hope, an organization focused on raising awareness about sanitation and providing clean water for families in Zambia. While there, I had the privilege of working with a man named Samson. We spent the morning teaching about the filters we would be installing, and then we did a brief lesson on waterborne illnesses. We laughed and told stories as we began the installation process under the unforgiving sun. (And, yes, I got burnt again just in case you were wondering, mom.)

Seeds of Hope was started by a couple who live outside of Zambia and is funded by international donors. Samson and the other Zambians who work for the company are at the mercy of donors from other countries to continue their work. They have appealed for government funding, but so far there has been no substantial assistance. Samson’s passion for the communities that go without clean water is not enough to fund the work that he does. Yet at the same time, Samson is involved in life-changing work that is transforming many families in Zambia that did not previously have access to clean water.

Along with working for this organization, Samson has just completed his education to be a primary school teacher. He wants to reach young children to instill in them a desire for education, advancement, and the importance of health. His goal is to build a school where all of the teachers who work there value educating the students more than their paychecks. Samson said that a lot of the reason people choose to teach in Zambia is because the government pay is good. He told me that he wished more than anything he could change the future of Zambia by changing the educational foundation for children.

I felt so conflicted when I ended my time with Samson. Here was a man who wants nothing more than to see Zambia thrive, to see the country rid of illness and corruption and to improve access to education. Yet because of the situation he was born into, he faces many obstacles. Because of the situation I was born into, I have been handed so much. I simply don’t face the same challenges.

In the story of Samson and so many other individuals I have had the pleasure of meeting, I am struck with a deep sense of the importance of storytelling. I am reminded that I am called to listen and receive, to meet people where they are, and to share this with others.

We live in a broken world full of broken people, no matter what geographical location we find ourselves in. This brokenness manifests itself in many ways. We often find ourselves in the world of our narrowed perspectives until we choose to step out of them. It is an active choice to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. It is challenging. It calls into question our identity, our purpose, our calling, and so much more. However, if we can look past the discomfort and lean into the wonder, everything starts to change. I was struck by the resilience of Samson and so many people I have had the pleasure of walking with in my short time here.

As we prepare to leave Zambezi, I am faced with the truth that I am conflicted in many ways. In my time here I have found, there is never one side to any story.
There are no easy answers. Behind every simple truth is a complex one that follows.
We are going to fail. Maybe that means we were finally curious enough to try.
It is a choice to enter into this confusing and formative way of thinking. This isn’t something that only happens once. Each day it is a transformation that we get the privilege of entering into. We get to choose to see the wonder in the world and let that transform us. I’m not sure it’s enough but one day I hope it will be.

Wakuzanga,

Alyssa Groscost

P.S.
To my CLC and my fearless leaders, I miss you and talk about you everyday. I can’t wait to hear about everything that I’ve missed. Praying for each of you and sending you a huge hug from halfway across the world. Big soccer kicks, T!
P.P.S.
Family and friends I miss you guys. Ryan, I hope you survived Vegas, and I can’t wait to hear about your summer so far. Can’t wait to eat my body weight in sushi with you when I get home.

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8 Responses to May We Never Lose Our Wonder

  1. Ashley Osler says:

    Greetings beautiful Zags!

    I never went to Zambia during my time at Gonzaga, but somehow every summer, I make my way back to this blog. Thank you all for allowing me to have a glimpse into your incredible journey these past few weeks and for reminding me to continually be present with others and check my privilege back here at home. Safe travels to Livingstone and back home!

    P.S. Special shoutouts to Lexi B and Hannah: you inspire me!

  2. Michele E Morrell says:

    Good morning from Portland Zags! Thank you Alyssa for sharing the wonders of Zambia and your new friend Samson. I don’t have many regrets in life, but one that still haunts me is passing up an opportunity to study abroad while I was in college. I was so worried about being behind in the nursing curriculum and looking back, who cares? I have always regretted that. So cheers to you all for taking this leap of faith and opening your hearts and minds to all that is outside of our little American bubble.

    Safe travels to Livingstone! Big hug to Olivia! Seven more days until I see you. Going to FMES tonight for Ava’s moving up ceremony. All is well here. Anxiously awaiting your return. Stocking the fridge with all your favorites: Egg and Rice, Pork Chops and Applesauce, Acai bowls, Pasta, Steak, Corn on the Cob, and Oregon Strawberries!
    Love you my sweet girl!

    Love and prayers to all of you,
    Michele

  3. Katie Polacheck says:

    Thanks for your reflections, Alyssa. So good to hear Samson is doing well & that Lishipa has 24 more filters! I’m also glad the health team got a chance to learn from Samson. He’s someone special.

    Zags, as you say goodbye to Zambezi, remember that this *is* the real world, just a different part of it. Zambia can feel really far from home, but remember that we have the privilege to get to escape one life and jump into another, and that’s a privilege most people in Zambia and America don’t have. It’s a big responsibility, but try to use that privilege in a way that honors those you’ve met and loved in Zambezi. As Alyssa wrote, we can only hope that’ll be enough.

    Love to you all as you leave that special place and travel to another one. Eat something good for me please. I’ve been eating from the same pot of rice and beans for three days 🙁 sos.

    Kisu mwane,
    Katie

  4. Rachel Bohan says:

    I was silently hoping that your photo for your post would be a selfie of some sort and was slightly disappointed when that did not happen. Its ok though because when you get home there will be a million selfies from me all over your phone of everything i have been doing in these past three weeks. I miss your ability to speak to my soul and the depth of your words. You have the most beautiful ability with your words and reading about Samson and your time in Zambia I couldn’t help but be amazed. I have been reflecting a lot about this past year since i got home and how much we together have grown and now you are in Africa and soon to be Switzerland. You are making happen what we were once so afraid of. You and i were once those who never left our comfort zones. We did what we needed to fit in and to be loved by those around us and then were stuck in this hole fighting to get ourselves out. And now look at you. Changing the world with your brokenness and accepting yourself for who you are. You are leaning into discomfort instead of turning your back and because of this you have changed the lives of so many individuals. I can promise you from hundreds of thousands of miles away Samson will never forget you. Theres something about that obnoxious laugh and big heart that makes a conversation with you such a blessing. thank you for being a part of my journey and letting me be a part of yours. You are doing incredible things and i cannot wait to hear about everything when you get home. I will probably end up flying to see you when you are back and giving you the worlds greatest hug. I love and miss you so much!!!!! Jojo sends his love as well he just is stupid and will never go on this blog. Come home soon so I can start complaining to you about when i overeat and feel sick. Or send you pics of the sunset. Or just to rave about the wonderful things that God is constantly doing in our lives. Or just for the selfies. Ok bye i miss you a lot. Im really glad you posted because to be reeally honest i wasnt sure if you were alive.

  5. Kathy Schindele says:

    Alyssa and ZamZags,
    I find myself sitting here wishing I could meet Samson. He sounds like an amazing person to know. I completely agree that there is No simple truths just as there are no simple people. The world is complex and we all have our own struggles no matter where we live. Helping others with their struggles is what Christ asks us to do and you all have risen to the challenge.

    My favorite prayer be with all of you:
    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    Courage to change the things I can,
    And wisdom to know the difference.

    Love and prayers,
    Mama Schin

  6. Shellie & Don Groscost says:

    To by beautiful and amazing Baby Girl,
    Your words brought tears to my eyes. Sampson sounds like an amazing man who will make a difference in many young lives. Maybe I can find a way for my school to send them some school supplies or start a pen pal correspondence. I am so happy to hear that you are safe and sound (even if you are sunburned and without a phone). We miss you so and can’t wait to have you home to hear about your trip. Daddy even asked me to clean your room so it will be ready when you come home.
    Know that you and the ZamZags are in our prayers!

    Love,
    Mom

  7. Don Groscost says:

    Hello Alyssa Marie! It was wonderful reading your words and hearing about your experiences. You are very insightful about those experiences, and you bring to life the wonder of your travels and the people like Samson you have walked with along the way. We love you and miss you, Daddy

  8. Rita Groscost says:

    Dear Alyssa, I am very glad you chose to go to Zambia this summer. I’m sure you have made an impact on the young girls. I wish you a safe and healthy trip and I pray for you every day. Please come to California when you are finished with your travels. You are always welcome. Enjoyed my trip to Spokane and Ryan’s graduation. God Bless You! Good luck and know that I am thinking of you. Love and hugs, Grandma

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