Today has been somewhat hectic. We drove to Kitwe last night to stay with very good friends from the years when we lived here, Susanna and Abdul. Their eldest daughter, Diana, and Aiden were and still are very good friends going back to their days at Lechwe International School. The complete drama of the month of international GCSEs is indelibly marked on our memory, and Susanna and Abdul were so much part of that with us.
The occasion this time was our mandatory pre-travel covid tests. We had to travel a further 60km to Ndola, to the Tropical Disease Research Centre, for the pleasure of the tests. We were kindly given the choice of throat or nose, and so we happily plumped for throat, and were out in about 10 minutes. We just have to wait for the email now, and if it doesn’t come we’ve got a phone number.. happy days.
We then drove on to a pre-arranged rendezvous with a very special member of our CiCA family. Rehoboth’s mum, Judith was very dear to us. She worked with us and for us and was the absolute backbone of the Lunzuwa operation. She was married to one of our best friends in Zambia, Andrew Mwape and together they had a baby son, Rehoboth. 14 years ago, while we were back in England for 7 months and we had suffered the loss of Erica’s dad, we were having the memorial celebration for him when we got news that Judith was sick in hospital. Things deteriorated very quickly and within just a few days she had died. It was heart-breaking, not least because of the helpless baby left behind.
Imagine our joy then to meet a tall, handsome, 14-year-old Rehoboth, growing and flourishing in life, happy and well cared for. Today we saw something that was unimaginable as we grieved, and asked all the questions about why these things happen, but here we are… plenty to be thankful for.
We then returned to Kitwe to visit the CiCA team there. They had prepared a lovely lunch for us, even though we were nearly three hours late. It was such a lovely time together, but always in the background the reality of struggle and challenge that always carries the potential to destroy. Yet somehow, they keep going with smiles and laughter. One of the CiCA children who has just finished her grade 12 exams yesterday, and so technically has come to the end of her sponsorship, had composed a poem of thankfulness which she recited by heart for us. A deep, heartfelt psalm which summed up what the kindness of sponsorship had meant to her and her life chances. A moment of thankfulness, pushing back against the avalanche of challenges that come every day.
We then set off for Mufulira, looking forward to an evening of rest to get over the not inconsiderable stress of driving for the whole day. As soon as we arrived, we were told that we had been invited out for dinner. We had been invited to one of the Lordsway Pastors, Pastor Jeff Mulenga’s house. Jeff is a great friend of ours over many years. He has at times hit the lowest of lows and faced almost certain death from sickness, and the crushing effects of poverty. But today he invited us to his house, built and owned by him and his family. Every day they, along with countless others, face unanswerable problems, but as he said as we stood outside in his garden, we have to remember how far we’ve come, and that encourages us for the day ahead.
While we sat in his living room eating our supper, the TV news was on in the background. The Zambian news editing priorites are often fascinating, and the news ticker reel, reported the escalating tensions in Ethiopia, the fact that Gareth Southgate has signed a new four-year contract, and that ‘gravediggers are bemoaning the low death rate amid COVID-19’
It struck me then that our chosen viewpoint is everything. Gravediggers have a grievance because of a low death rate. From any other viewpoint that situation is good news. But for disgruntled gravediggers it’s the worst possible outcome!
Everybody we met today had the opportunity for grievance, but in their own way they have chosen to look at the bigger good news story, rather than the narrowness of their own circumstance. As a result, they have found strength to continue, motivation to live, and reasons to celebrate.
It’s been a good day.