Day 1 of Africa 2015

” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed but to those who have faith and are saved.” Hebrews 10:31

The plane landed in Zambia and from the window I saw miles and miles of tall dead grass mixed with tall trees that had a little green on the top. It was not quite hot season but the effects of being closer to the equator were not hard to see.  Red dirt ran miles and miles with dust storms showing little pockets of the stronger winds seen in August and September. The pilot greeted us on the intercom and we were told to exit the plane. We were in the middle of the run way it seemed and several tourist stopped to take pictures of the small airport. I on the other hand was worried because I never could find a pen to fill out the immigration form. The stewardesses when I asked to borrow one let me know there wasn’t one on the plane. Could it be that pens are even scarce to find here? Finally I found a pen and made my way through the line to buy my visa, get my luggage and move on through. The doors opened and “Papa Wes” was there hand in hand with a beautiful African beauty. Her name is Cynthia– next I met a woman named Elizabeth- I decided since my best friend’s name in the states is Elizabeth that indeed we were made to be friends. She seemed okay with that as well. Next was a young man names Francis. With a handsome smile lanky body and IPad in his hand. My first thought was– I’m going to be fine here…they brought me the preteens 😉 ( For those of you who do not know, preteens hold a special place in my heart)
In Elizabeth’s arms was one of the newest members of New Day Orphanage…with her stoic look, chubby cheeks, hands and legs– Baby Emma had my heart from the start.We jumped in the truck and headed out for a couple hour drive to New Day. Along the road I noticed we were few and far between any other vehicles on the road, but there were so many people walking along the red dirt. Scattered among the grass were round huts with grass roofs, women with big bags or baskets on their heads and many with babies tucked securely in the cloth around their backs. Little boys played with big sticks, old tires or trash among the grass.

The journey became mile after mile with eventually the road changing to a red dirt road. The tires spun several times as we missed dips in the road, drove around cows, and spotted more of those huts mixed with buildings built with red bricks, or sticks and mud.

The final turn led us to a gate and after opening the gate we drove a little more on a red road. Up ahead I saw a circular area made from concrete with an opening all around to see out, completed with a grass roof. Many heads turned our way and it didn’t take long to see them begin to move toward the truck. I could hear Papa Wes! Papa Wes! and knew we must be here. The children were covered in red dirt with snot hanging from many noses, but their clapping and singing is what caught my attention. They were singing a song of welcome to me and lined up to give me a handshake… the handshake felt much like a secret handshake– remind me to show you when I come home.

From the beginning, I could see the twinkle in the eldest ladies eyes, nervousness from the children, and a strength from a country I would call my home for the next three and a half months.

These people remind me “They do not belong to a people who shrink back… but to those who have faith and are saved.”

God protect, bless and multiply the work of the Christians at New Day – for His glory.

Fellow servant  and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ,

Shannon Pannell