Varugu* with Vatema*
Where do I begin? I guess I should start with the obvious, and not so obvious… God is so good. Some Sabbaths ago we went to a church in town and the Pastor told us about the name of God and that He is I AM. The Pastor talked about how that name shows that God is enough, God is all things to all people. God is the healer. God is the provider. God is the miracle-worker. God is the Father. God is the friend. God is the Prince. God is love. God is so good.
This whole experience has changed me. It’s changed how I see the world. It’s changed how I see myself, not only in what I see myself doing career-wise, but what I see in the mirror. It’s changed the way I see God. I’m currently at Kuda Vana Children’s Home in Zimbabwe which is right above South Africa (that’s a country, NOT a continent). I am a co-teacher Monday-Thursday and an Auntie every day. I play with our little babies in the nursery who are usually malnourished and always under-loved when they first get here, and I have funny and heartbreaking conversations with our pre-teens and teenagers. Our campus is set up with 5 homes: Nursery, House 1, House 2, House 3, and House 4. I eat supper at every house and listen to their family worships at night. We play soccer during playtime and I make sure the kids don’t fall off the see-saw. I’m asked how I’m doing every 5 minutes and the appropriate answer is, “I’m fine, and how are you?” I help plan church service and teach the kids new songs. I push them on the swings and let them teach me new games and new Shone words.
I am working with 2 other amazing SM’s: Carrie and Kaylan. Before I came here I honestly wanted to do this trip on my own, but God has shown me that I couldn’t have. It has been incredible getting to be with these ladies, growing with them and experiencing this place and these kids with them. The 3 of us come from different backgrounds which has been crucial in showing God to these kids; which is truly the only thing worth doing.
Our kids have gone through Hell. Some have been found in pit toilets, some have run from home, some have lived on the streets, some have been sexually assaulted, some have experienced death first hand, and most of them haven’t felt their birth parent’s love. But I see every one of them smile and hear every one of them laugh every day. God is so good. Yes, they have their bad days. Yes, our babies bite and throw temper-tantrums. Yes, our kids fight and go too far with their humor. Yes, there are days where I don’t like them all. But yes, every day I love them, and I wouldn’t trade any of them for the world.
I felt that I was very prepared for this adventure (it’s more than a trip and I always call it an experience, so I wanted a different word). Pastor Rich’s class does a great job reminding us to stay safe and give our all to our kids while still having time to ourselves to re-charge. But, now that I am over half way done here and am looking back on things, I realized I was completely prepared for things that haven’t happened and completely not prepared for things that have. I don’t feel like I have been put in a dangerous situation (minus the government turn over but even then, I felt safe), and we really haven’t been rudely harassed in town (except once at the very beginning). I was prepared and knew ways to handle and avoid those situations. What I wasn’t prepared for was teaching (EVERYONE TEACHES SOMETHING IF THEY GO OUT AS AN SM) or being a child’s confidant about nightmares and his past when he hasn’t opened up to others about anything (luckily Kaylan and I got to share that and talk it through how we could help him). But being unprepared has made me see God work in miraculous ways.
This adventure has been life-changing in all the cliché ways plus more. For those who are looking into being an SM, do it. You might be scared, you might think you’re not enough. But that’s the whole point. God is enough, and He wants to show that to you in ways you probably never dreamed of. Plus, these kids are the cutest things in the entire world, trust me.
I love you and miss you all dearly and you are all in my prayers!
*Varungus (vah-roon-goos) = many white people
*Vatemas (vah-teh-mahs) = many black people
Keelia Trively is a student missionary in Zimbabwe.