About the Author: Heather Emmons has been a Visionledd donor for over ten years and wanted to see for herself the impact our work made on the field. This February and March, she accompanied us on a Vision trip, where we visit several communities to monitor projects and interview people in community.
The first part of that well known verse keeps playing over and over in my mind; “suffer the little children to come unto me………..” Matthew 19:14. When I think of this verse my thoughts go to our first community visit in Malawi and we entered the community centre where the little primary children were waiting for their morning meal and for some, their only meal of the day. I saw beautiful innocent faces waiting patiently for this fortified porridge in a small cup. I struggled not to let my overwhelming tears show as I handed out the treasured food to these precious children. There were over a hundred little ones quickly gobbling up their meal but to my right I saw a few who weren’t digging in as eagerly. When I inquired from our hosts the reason, I was told that some of the little ones didn’t like to eat when their older brothers and sisters were not with them, so the workers needed to work a little harder and coax them. I saw Jesus in that room as children ate. That first impression never left my mind for the rest of our two weeks in Africa.
As our journey took us on to Zambia one of the visits we made with home-based care workers was to a community just on the outskirts of Kabwe. The first person we visited was Salome, a young women of 29 who was very ill with HIV. I thought I was prepared for sickness but as I walked into this small dark room I did not at first see a frail image of a woman lying on the dirt floor. We gathered around to comfort her and then my eyes saw just how thin and sick she was and I struggled to find comfort in what I was experiencing. This young mother was now a widow having lost her husband to HIV and was now needing her sister to care for her three children as she lie dying. My gaze focused on her youngest child standing near by who was only two. I could see the troubled look on this little ones face. I can only imagine that she was wondering why we were there. As we prayed for this woman I found myself angry that this scenario was still happening in a world as rich as ours. That back home healthcare and medications are so easily available. I think the most troubling things to me was that this very sick young woman was lying on a piece of cloth the size of a small bath towel. All I could say was, “This is wrong and we must do something to change this.” Our parting words to this sweet little mother were, “What was she thankful for?” And her response was that she loves God. I wondered if I would say those words if I was faced with dying.
It was the day of my first WOW Christmas party and I was so excited. As expected we were greeted by beautiful singing and dancing by the women of the community and I was right in the middle of it and loving it. The school children sang and recited poems to show their appreciation and the chiefs greeted us on behalf of their villages. The gifts of school supplies were laid out and the small plastic bags were handed to the children ready to collect their treats and new uniforms. This was an amazing sight. As we played with the children and I learned a new game along with the kids the women of the community were cooking a celebration meal for all the school children. It was time to eat and as we took our places to serve the food I was asked to take the first spot at the large kettle of rice. It looked as if the whole community had turned out for this event, many more children than the anticipated 400 had come and I was wondering how all this rice was going to feed everyone. Calling to mind the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with just a few loaves of bread and fish, somehow, we managed to ration so there was enough to feed all the children. What struck me was how some of the children, who could have enjoyed their nutritious meal all to themselves, took their little bowls back to share with their younger brothers and sisters. Small children who didn’t yet attend the school, weren’t old enough to receive the WOW Christmas gifts quite yet, taken care of by siblings just a few years older.
Yes, the tears began. When all had been served I wondered around to watch some of these families share that meal. I saw a young widow with three children all eating out of one little bowl and another mother putting rice into a new born’s mouth. I felt heartache but I saw joy. Yes, Jesus visited that day.
These are just three of many stories but what repeats over and over in my heart and mind is we have to do more. We think nothing of spending some change for coffee or going out for lunch or dinner and so we should as we are a blessed people to live a a country of plenty. These children should not have to worry if they will eat tomorrow and those so desperately ill should be comforted that health care is available.
I’m anxious to go back to theses wonderful people who demonstrated the love of God to me but more important I want to share my heart with those here who can make a financial difference.
To read more stories about what Visionledd staff and volunteers personally discover on the field, check out our Revelations from Africa blog series!
If you would like to know more about Vision Trips, please contact Cheryl Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 905-319-8834.