Now I understand why I had writer’s block and couldn’t bring myself to tell this story before now. It still needed a happy ending.
All I wanted for Christmas this year I received last Thursday.
It all started with an encounter with this boy whom I had the blessing to meet “by accident” on the Moyo countryside 2.5 years ago during my first mission trip to Zambia.
Born with paralytic polio, at the age of 19, Levincent is smiling in the sunshine because he had recently received his first ever wheelchair enabling him to get outside and see his own community. Seeing the joy on the face of a boy so much less fortunate than anyone I’d ever seen, let alone met, was life changing.
Ever since the day I met him, whenever I’m in a bad mood, feel like complaining or I’m feeling a little bit blue, I remember Levincent and just the thought of him makes me smile. Ever since then, the simplicity of his contentment gives me hope and renewed strength in everything I do.
Returning to Moyo this past October and leading the trip for my church was another amazing experience. The chance to spend more time with my sponsored child (Beene) while others were visiting their children, left me speechless but filled with joy to see her progress since May 2010.
While visiting Beene’s community garden, we’d learned that the children carry buckets of water from the bore hole to the garden to water it.
Needless to say, this garden the size of three large rooms in an “average” sized US home wasn’t exactly thriving in the hot African sun.
I asked about the possibility of a hose connecting somehow to the bore hole spout and John (WV translator and friend) told me that Beene’s mom had said she would dance if she had one. I made a note to self.
After two hours we had to say our goodbyes (not easy when you don’t know if/when you’ll ever be back) and continue our drive through the community. The next stop was to check-in on Written. He is the sponsored child of a friend whom I traveled with on the first trip.
Like Levincent, Written is also in a wheelchair. It was both a blessing and a sad thing to learn that he had just recently and narrowly cheated death by bee stings. A cow had wandered into his community and got tangled up with a beehive causing Written and his little sister to be stung all over – except his sister could run away.
Thankfully, she was able to run and get help in time for Written to be taken to a hospital (many hours away) where he stayed for 3 days to recover. Seeing the scars on his arms from the stings was so sad and yet seeing him alive and doing well again after what must’ve been such a horrible experience, was a Godsend.
With each community visit we made, the progression down the countryside became a bit more challenging to witness and a lot more emotional.
Due to the expanse and terrain of Moyo, it was not a given that there would be enough time to visit Levincent during this trip as he is not even in the WV sponsorship program (another story to be told some other time).
But to my absolute delight, World Vision came through. My WV friends announced that our next stop would be Levincent’s community (versus the countryside where I happened to meet him the first time). If you could see and travel across the Moyo countryside, you’d know this was no small request so I was feeling very grateful for this opportunity. Frankly, it’s hard to fathom how they know where to find anyone at all in these hills.
I was so excited to see Levincent and tell him how much his smile has meant to me over the past couple years that I could hardly wait to get there. But I wasn’t prepared for what I saw when we arrived. In hindsight, it was naive of me to necessarily be “expecting” to see that infectious smile on Levincent’s face and yet I was – But instead, I was seeing him like this.
I asked why he was laying on the ground and with the help of his father and the WV translator, we all learned that his wheelchair broke. The one and only thing he had that got him off the ground and out to see “the world” was his chair and now he no longer had the use of that either. That’s all it took for everyone present to be in tears (including the World Vision staff and Levincent’s father).
All we could do was fight back the tears, be strong for him, pray with him and then leave. Let me tell you, it’s a very hopeless feeling to walk away knowing there’s nothing you can do to help. At the end of the day, the two hour drive out of the area was a lot quieter than the drive in that same morning which started with the joy of seeing Beene.
As we sat in the SUV on the bumpy ride back to town, you could see that everyone in our vehicle was feeling rather deflated. It was almost like John knew exactly what to do to change the tone of things. With all of us in the SUV he headed straight to town to try to find a hose!
Imagining Beene’s mom dancing, was exactly the image we needed to end that day. So somehow we found a place that sold hose (another not so easy feat) and with John’s help I bought 40 meters.
The hose was not only a solution to a problem, it represented hope.
I certainly did not expect to have the tremendous opportunity to see Beene twice in one trip, but it sure made everyone’s day to watch her mom dance for the hose when we all went to deliver it to her the next day!
Since I’ve been back, all I could really do is pray and stay updated by World Vision regarding their progress tracking down a wheelchair for Levincent. I soon after learned that all the wheelchair donations in the Gift-in-Kind program had already been issued within the area with no idea when/if any more would be coming.
Many calls by World Vision to get quotes and one long trip to Lusaka later, my prayers were answered. I received an email from my dear friend Potipher (another WV employee), saying that they had not only found and purchased Levincent a new wheelchair but also a new bed.
All I wanted for Christmas this year just arrived in the face of Levincent!
Selfishly, I only wished I was there to see that smile again in person when Potipher delivered the chair. Many, many, praises to the people of the World Vision ADP in Moyo, for all they do for God’s children in Zambia!
If you think sponsoring a child doesn’t make much of a difference, think again – but not for too long. And then please, do not hesitate to ask me how.
May your Christmas be blessed with child-like joy and the new year filled with impact!
Principal Coach, Consultant and Trainer
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