Girls’ Home – a journey of faith; experiencing God

It’s February 2017 (a year and a half ago) and I find myself in a dark, lonely place.  A spiritual valley, if you will.  I thought that God had led me somewhere, and now, I’m not so sure.  In fact, I’m not in this valley alone….Dennis is there with me, and we’re struggling, wondering if we could have misunderstood what we thought God wanted us to do.  You see, God had given us a dream to build a girls’ home that would provide over 20 very poor and under-privileged girls with the opportunity to be raised in a safe, clean, and loving environment.  We were so excited to see how God would bring this dream to fruition. Initially,  we were on the mountain and it felt so good, but we didn’t anticipate the obstacles that would come our way.  And they came.  Some thought that the idea would never materialize, which left us feeling discouraged.  In the middle of all of this, we were doing a bible study together called, “Experiencing God” by Henry Blackaby and on the 2nd of February, 2017, we were on Unit 7 and Day 3 which is entitled, “Encounters with God are God-sized.”  The second paragraph of the lesson says this; “Some people say, “”God will never ask me to do something that’s impossible.””  On the contrary, if the assignment I sense God is giving me is something I know I can handle on my own, I assume it probably is not from God.  The assignments God gave in the Bible were always God-sized.  They were always beyond what people could do in their own strength because He wanted to demonstrate His nature, His strength, His provision, and His love to His people and to a watching world.  That is the only way the world will come to know Him.”   In other words, the endeavor to build a girls’ home on our own and in our own strength was impossible.  BUT.  God had different plans.  You see this was a God-sized assignment, and we had to wait to see how He would display His strength, His purpose, and His plan.  And what were we to do?  Well, wait and see what He would do, and tell you all about it, of course!  That way He gets the glory, and we rejoice in the fact that we had an opportunity to experience Him.   I guess what I’m trying to say is that the world doesn’t get the opportunity to experience God because His people lack the faith to experience things that only God can do.  If we only attempt things that make sense to us, then we are relying on our own ability and strength.  We implement our own plans and accomplish only what we can do.  Then we ask God to bless our plans, and we promise to give Him the glory when He does.  Yet God is not glorified by making our plans succeed.  He receives glory when His will is done in His way.  God demands that we depend on Him rather than on a method or plan.  He wants to demonstrate His power.  God knows that we can’t do whatever He has laid on our hearts to do.  That’s the whole point!  He wants to be able to do it Himself through us!  He just needs  someone willing to look past themselves, and enter into the realm of the impossible – an area where He thrives.  Luke 18:27.

So, having said all of that, it is my honor to share with you that the dream has become a reality!

Just over a year later, we welcomed 22 girls into Lifesong Harmony Home.  God provided, and we REJOICE!  I hope you enjoy the photos that follow (please read the captions as they tell the story):

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Getting a full medical before moving in…….Dr.Phil checking their eyes.

 

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Dr. Robert Day – physicals were done for each girl.

 

Drumroll please……

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TA-DA!!!!!

 

 

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The girls arriving at the home for the first time – YAY!!
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Home……sweet home!

 

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A look inside……

 

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The kitchen…..

 

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Each girl was given a cosmetic bag and the clothes were donated by a group of missionary homeschool mommas.

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Not the best picture quality (that’s ok because I was having a bad hair day…..:)  From left in front: Patricia (house mommy), Adrian (the guy with the construction skills), Dennis, Moi, Cornelia (house mommy), and Dr. Day (behind Patricia)

Just a side note – Adrian Acs (I mentioned him in a previous blog entry) hails originally from Hungary but lived in the U.S. for a number of years.  He is a member of the Vista church in San Diego.  I know that he wouldn’t want me to write the following (SO SHHHHH….don’t tell him) but KUDOS to this 25 year old young man who put his faith in God and responded to a calling on his life.  He left family and friends and lives in Africa helping the poor and underprivileged.  Please pray that God would protect him as he endeavors to please the Lord by serving in this capacity.

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Showing the girls around for the first time….(again, sorry for the bad picture quality 😉
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Dennis welcoming the caregivers on Dedication Day – praying for a blessing over the home.

Please continue to pray for the girl’s protection, along with the house mothers.  Some of the girls do not have parents, and the house mothers have a lot on their plate.  They not only provide for the girl’s physical needs, but for the emotional and spiritual ones as well.

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Kenneth delivering an inspiring speech to the caregivers….
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One of the grandmothers…….

Life after the opening….

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This picture brings tears to my eyes – many of the kids here count reading the Word of God as a privilege…..
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Eating every day….one of our teachers commented on how this little girl’s family hadn’t eaten in 3 days when she last visited them in the compound.  Now this little girl can eat at school and enjoy dinner at home every night.  Thanks again to those of you who contribute to this cause……Job 29:12

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Cornelia – one of the house mommas – with some of the girls.
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Cornelia with Patricia – please pray for the house mothers who tirelessly provide for the girls.  Day in and day out.

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Safe at last…..

Thank you for all that you are doing for the ministry……and for joining God in His work. What an honor and a joy to be used by the magnificent God of the universe!  The bible says that God measures the universe with His hand……what an amazing thought!  I can’t even mentally grasp how BIG He is, yet….the bible says, “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”  God’s love for people – especially the underprivileged – is indescribable! I’m sure you’ve heard people say, “Why does God allow suffering?”  Well, I personally believe that He allows it for a reason.  He gives us plenty of resources so that we can reach out to our fellow human being.  He is relying on us to do that. He won’t come down to earth – no, that’s why He created you and me.  Let us not harden our hearts or deafen our ears to the cries of the poor.  Don’t you notice?  They are all around us for a reason.

 

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The weather outside is frightful….

…….but the fire is so delightful….ok, not quite, but winter IS coming to Zambia and we absolutely LOVE IT!  The temperature still rises to about 30 degrees Celsius but it’s so pleasant because it’s not humid.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year….well, besides Christmas of course, but ENOUGH with the Christmas song references! On to more serious business, I want to just back up a bit and talk about something I mentioned briefly in another blog entry.  Remember that I told you about a group of men that came out from Canada to visit the ministry earlier this year?  Well, when they came, they also brought 30 computers that were donated by one of the ACC churches!  The kids at school now have the privilege of learning how to use a computer for real!  Whoop! Whoop!

 

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From left;  Adrian Acs, Doug Savin, Peter Friesen, Kenneth Makondo, Gary Tomic, Louis Jahn, and Bob Ritzmann.  

At the end of April we closed school for the month.  I may have mentioned this before, but the school year is different on this side of the globe.  Par example, January, February, March school is in session, and then off for April.  Back to school for May, June, and July, then off on break for August.  And lastly, September, October, November, and off for December.  At the last day of the term, the parents come to the school for an “interview” with the teachers.  I’ve included a couple of pics.

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Caregivers meeting with the teachers for an “interview” .

We also had the great pleasure of hosting two amazing individuals, Sylvia Holtzhausen and Bobby Waite.  You may have heard me talking about Dr. Bobby.  He is a Lifesong educator out Dallas, Texas, and visits our school from time to time.  This time around he was sharing teaching techniques with the teachers – his visits always encourage and strengthen us!  Sylvia, on the other hand, is the founder of a program called the Genesis Design.  This is an amazing curriculum designed to guide our students to a correct understanding of God’s purpose and plan for sexuality and marriage.  The traditional African worldview on marriage stands in stark contrast to the truths found in God’s word (to be honest, our Western mindset does as well). Hence, the Genesis Design was introduced to our team, so that they can be empowered to teach our students the truth based and founded on the principles found in the Scriptures.  Overall, the staff had a great time!

 

Last but not least, Dennis and I started a bible study with our teachers and their spouses on Wednesday night.  We are going through Gary Thomas’s book called, Sacred Marriage (no, not Gary Tomic’s…..it’s a long story but when we did this study in Richmond Hill a number of years ago, my father-in-law thought that Gary Tomic was the one who wrote the study.  He was impressed!).   Anyway, we had a number of teachers show up.  We had a great time of fellowship (thanks to those of you who prayed for us) and exchanged thoughts about our differing cultural expectations of marriage.

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Well, that’s it for now…..stay tuned for some super news!!

 

Till next time!!

A local friend’s thoughts…..

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Frederick Douglass, abolitionist and statesman

A local friend came to visit the school and was pleasantly surprised to see how different the younger kids are compared to the older ones.  You can really tell the difference between having trained teachers and faithfully feeding the children, compared to how the school was before.  The classes were crowded (over 60 kids per class), and of course, they were not eating.  So sad.  Eunice, a Grade 8 student, recently recalled how supper – if, and when she had it – consisted of some tea and bread.  My point, I guess, is just to say that there is so much to be grateful for.  We are witnessing, first-hand, the many positive changes taking place right before our very eyes.  Now, I’ll insert a prayer request.  We have been intentional about meeting the physical needs of the children of Lifesong Harmony School, but it’s time to go deeper.  Deeper with the gospel…..deeper with the message found in the living word of God.  There are so many emotional and spiritual needs.  Please pray that we would be able to reach the hearts of the children with the truth….so that they can truly be set free.

Soooooooo, you know how excited we are to have the Grade 8’s at the school?  I guess the reason that touches my heart so much is that it’s a picture of hope and progress.  The kids are benefiting from the ministry, and the fact that they’re moving forward is so exciting!  It was so fun to go and pick the material for the new uniforms!  Dennis wanted to go for a Scottish-style of uniform and I think he succeeded!!  Whaddya think?  Don’t they look GREAT?!?   We are so proud of them!

 

Brand spanking new uniforms!  YAY!

Backing up a bit….when we first arrived from Canada, the first thing that the teachers and staff did for me was gather together as a group to hear the details of my dear father’s passing and about the funeral.  Some of you may be aware of the fact that I have the tendency to go on and on (and potentially bore people)…..:) but that’s not the impression I got with my friends here in Zambia.  Needless to say, I was so touched.  After the meeting, I sat with a few of the teachers and I showed them every single picture of the funeral, and I mean, every picture, and they sat there listening intently and, you know, I just felt like they cared.  It was therapeutic.

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Gathering in the cafeteria to give me a chance to talk about my dad’s funeral

Lastly, we have had the pleasure of having a Canadian team come to visit….it was Doug Savin, Bob Ritzmann, Gary Tomic, Louie Jahn, and Peter Friesen (a friend of Louie’s). We enjoyed having them here, and showing them all that the Lord has been doing on this side of the globe!  We also welcome Adrian Acs out of San Diego (Vista Church).  He is working on the Lifesong Harmony Home, and he is determined to finish the home as quickly as possible. Below are some images of the progress…I’m just adding a couple of pictures to whet your appetite for the great unveiling.  Stay tuned!

 

Sneak peek of Lifesong Harmony Home
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ADRIAN!! (said in a Rocky Balboa voice 🙂 and the team

 

THANK YOU – From the Delic Family

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Dear Lifesong donors, supporters, and followers,

Well, may we begin by simply saying… thank you!! We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, without your faithful support none of this would be possible. What specifically are we referring to, you might ask? Listed below are the details:

  • Over 500 children are FED, EDUCATED, TAUGHT THE LOVE OF CHRIST, AND HAVE A SAFE PLACE TO PLAY!
  • A HIGH SCHOOL BLOCK (WHICH INCLUDES A WASHROOM BLOCK WITH A TOTAL OF 14 STALLS – 7 FOR EACH GENDER) HAS BEEN BUILT!!
  • A GIRLS’ BOARDING HOME HAS BEEN PURCHASED AND IS IN THE PROCESS OF BEING RENOVATED! THE HOME WILL PROVIDE 25 LIFESONG GIRLS WITH A CLEAN, SAFE PLACE TO LIVE, ALONG WITH LOVING DISCIPLESHIP AND CARE.
  • A FULL-SIZED LIBRARY WITH ABOUT 5000 BOOKS!! SIDE-NOTE – THERE ARE NO PUBLIC LIBRARIES IN KITWE TO OUR KNOWLEDGE SO THIS GIVES LHS KIDS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY!

And that’s just to mention a few! So, can you see why we are so grateful and excited? We often get asked, “Why do people from across the world care so much?” To that we can only proclaim the truth – and that is because Christ cares, and people are being used as His hands and feet! Richard Stearns in his book “The Hole in our Gospel” says it well: “Our charge (as believers) is to both proclaim and embody the gospel so that others can see, hear, and feel God’s love in tangible ways. When we are living out our faith with integrity and compassion in the world, God can use us to give others a glimpse of His love and character”. In other words, when we support the “least of these,” we in turn are demonstrating God’s love in tangible ways. Stearns goes on to say that “(when we) live with generosity toward others, love and care for them unconditionally, stand up for the defenseless, and pay particular attention to the poorest and most vulnerable, we are showing Christ’s love to those around us, not just talking about it”. The point then is clear, Jesus always cared about the person as a whole; providing for both spiritual and physical needs. So, once again, with thankful hearts and praise on our lips to our Heavenly Father for his bountiful love and grace…we say, THANK YOU!!

PEACE ON EARTH + GOODWILL TO MAN!

With grateful hearts… Merry Christmas to all!

The Delics, in Zambia.

Delic Family Update | September 27, 2017

8 weeks!  That’s how long I was away from my dear family.  When I think of it, I can hardly believe that we managed to survive being without each other for so long.  First of all, I am so grateful to Dennis for being Mr. Mom for so long… for bearing the responsibilities of both parents, and doing it with grace and love.  A missionary friend of mine (Mandy Smith – a great friend and faithful pray-er) commented that this was a testimony of how much Dennis loves his family, and it was evident that God was his support the entire time.   Also, I am so proud of my two girls who helped share the load of doing the cooking for the family!   Leaving my family back in Canada was heart wrenching, but when I heard that Grace wasn’t doing well (she had a stomach bug), I knew that it was time to get back home.

A number of great things happened while I was away, one of which is that Jackie and Dean came to visit!!  I can’t believe that I wasn’t here, that made me so sad.  Dennis and the kids were so excited!  Jackie helped Valarie (the school administrator) in the office (organizing the students files, teaching Valarie how to print labels), she organized the supply room, and helped in the library.  Dennis told me that he was so proud of his sister… the fact that she’s so industrious, and brave!!  I would be remiss to mention the fact that Jackie and Dean helped to lift the spirits of my family here… making life a little easier and fun!  Dean, was helping at the school building shelves, and preparing for future construction work at the girls home.  Thanks to both Dean and Jackie for making the effort to come out and for officially being the first family members to set sail to the seven seas and visit us here!

School was out for much of the time that I was away; however, the Grade 7’s did sit for their mock exam in July… we received the results back from the Ministry today!  Many of our students passed the cut-off point!!!  Off to Grade 8 they go… oh wait, they don’t have to go anywhere!  Why, you ask?!?  Because LIFESONG HARMONY SCHOOL WILL HAVE GRADE 8 NEXT YEAR!!!  Thank you again, donors (we really like you guys!!).

We are so excited to announce that one of our pre-school teachers (Marian) got engaged! Her fiancé came to the school and surprised her with the ring!  Congratulations Julius and Marian!!

In closing, I read this quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald that I could relate to when I travel back to Canada from Africa.  It reads, “it’s a funny thing coming home.  Nothing changes.  Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same.  You realize what’s changed is you.”

Until next time.

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Hi everyone! We’ve heard that there have been some issues with email notifications when we post a new blog. This is a test post – please comment and let us know if you received a notification in a timely manner. If you prefer, you can email us at andrew.sulja@lifesongfororphans.ca and let us know. Thank you!

July 3, 2017 | Zambia Update

Hello all! We are just checking in with an update of what’s been happening at the school lately (and not so lately).  First of all, we welcome Ashley Tomic, who came to visit us at the end of May and will be with us for the next couple of weeks.  We had a need to update our sponsorship photos for our website, and Ashey filled that particular need perfectly!  She’s done an AMAZING job of taking beautiful photos of each and every child.  She’s been working diligently (kudos to Dan and Corina for raising such a responsible young girl!) at her post and as of last week, she has completed the task!  She will continue working to update the bios of each child as well.
Another new development at the school is the Kachimfya program.  It is an after school program that focuses on life skills that our Grade 5 – 7 students may find helpful when they graduate.  The truth of the matter is that not all kids are strong academically, so the Kachimfya program provides opportunities for these kids to succeed in other areas… more specifically,  agriculture, computers, and sewing.  The program lasts for 3 terms beginning with theory.  A little background – the Kachimfya (which means “I am an overcomer”) program was started by a young single woman by the name of Amy Singleton.  She originally hails from Miami, and came to Zambia about 7 years ago. When arriving here she felt that there was a need to empower the youth.  The following is a quote from the Kachimfya website: “When Zambians graduate high school, most cannot afford post-secondary education or trade school. Attending the Kachimfya Program allows students to learn new skills, it restores their hope, and teaches them to become self-sufficient.”
We are looking forward to having work teams visiting this summer.  As we speak, the educational team has arrived, and we anticipate further help as the weeks go by (maybe even some family!).