Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

August 6, 2006


Reflections on Zambia and some of the people we met


          Adam was lonely so God made Eve for him. Walter was lonely and God made Dean for me. Together we have traveled to five of the world’s continents. We have met wonderful people everywhere we have visited, but none more charming than the gracious people of Zambia.

          Dean has a vivid imagination. She sees things other people miss. She expresses her feelings well in poetry and prose. I hope you will enjoy reading a few of her observations about our recent journey to the African nation of Zambia. Here are her reflections:

          It would be redundant to repeat what has already been said about Zambia. Yes, it is halfway around the world; it is a poor country. AIDS is a very serious disease that is killing more and more people every day. Dust and wind choke your breathing passages to the limit, but all these facts fade away when I think of some of the people who made an impact on my life while in Zambia.

          Catherine is Alfred Kalembo’s sister. I was made aware of her existence a few years ago when Alfred shared a little about her life with me. She is a single mom with one daughter, Linda. I didn’t ask a lot of questions about why she was single, but I felt a strong desire to help her. Several times I sent her boxes of clothes and later I sent her some money through Alfred.

          When our team arrived at Alfred’s home on the outskirts of Lusaka, the first person who greeted me was Catherine. We both held each other for a long time. There were no words because she does not speak English. Over the nine days I was in Zambia Catherine became more precious to me. Linda is a shy seven year old whose education is limited. She cannot read and is not on a par with Alfred’s seven year old twin girls.

          Why was my heart so touched by Catherine’s plight? I discovered that she had birthed seven babies over seven years. Yes, she had a husband, but when she could not produce a child that lived, he deserted her and got a divorce.

          She was left to care for herself as best she could. With no education there was little she could do. Alfred helped her open a little restaurant in Lusaka. Soon it was clear that she was in deep depression and someone had taken advantage of her. She was pregnant with Linda.

          When she gave birth to Linda she needed to be with Alfred and Muumbe. He and Muumbe took her into their home, where she has been since that time. She needs a home of her own and she may soon have one thanks to the Frazer Sunday School Class at Saint James. The class has sent her a little money for several months. With that money she bought a small lot and has built a concrete foundation for what will be her first home other than a village hut.

          I stood on this foundation with Catherine, Alfred, and one of her friends and prayed over this land. I had a vision of this house being completed. A well was dug by hand and it furnishes water to the people around Catherine’s lot. Where water gushes from the rock, I believe God is there.

          Catherine held on to me for as long as she could. When it was time for us to go to the airport, she got into Alfred’s car and sat beside me. She walked as far as she could with me and when I looked back she was wiping tears from her eyes and so was I. I will not forget Catherine. I plan to continue helping her until I know that she has a home.

          Alfred’s life began in a rural village named Siansowa. His mother, Maria, and sister, Catherine, gave up everything for Alfred to get an education. It is no wonder that he is trying to help them in every way he can. Maria does not speak English so I had someone say to her that whenever Alfred is in America I treat him like a son. Like Catherine, Maria bonded with me instantly.

          She loved our son Matt when he came to her village five years ago. There were those times when Maria and I could say nothing but love each other with our eyes. There was a knowing look that was like looking into eternity. We stood side by side when the well was dedicated. The overflowing well that we prayed would never run dry is a great blessing to this village. The well was installed with funds donated this spring by the Frazer Class.

          When we got on the bus to depart, Maria got on board to hug me once again. We both knew that we would never see each other again on this side of heaven, but Maria is a survivor and I know she will be all right even in that impoverished village.

          Who would ever think that you would meet a boy named Anxious? We met him at the school where he is in the 11th grade. Walter gave him a new name -- Perfect Peace. Anxious is one of the orphans being supported by the Frazer Class. AIDS robbed him of both his parents. We were delighted to see him and learn that he is very bright. He has dreams of being an engineer and I have no doubt that he can achieve what wants to do. His teachers gave us a good report on him. I plan to stay in touch with this young man and encourage him in every way I can.

          Hannah became my interpreter during the time I shared with the women in a three-day conference. She had such wit and wisdom. It was a great blessing to meet a lady who lives among the poorest of the poor and still continues to give her time and energy to the church. She was the pastor’s aide.

          She copied my poem, “I’ve Done my Share,” for all the women and made me feel very special. On Tuesday night when we had our last service, she gave me a gift – a piece of crochet. The note read, “Whenever you look at this crochet, please remember me.” That will be an easy task, for Hannah,

like several others, will be in my heart as long as I live. + + + +