Of the many things I will miss about Zambia, I will miss her friendship the most.
Having been taught nearly flawless English from her father, the village teacher, Muvianna sought to befriend us instantly. It was such a pleasure to be able to carry on a conversation without needing translation!
Especially with this vivacious sixteen-year-old.
She walked with us to each hut, arms looped through ours, laughing and asking all kinds of questions about the States. She eagerly explained cultural practices so that we could share in her appreciation and love for her village. She once rescued us from making a cultural faux pas by reminding us to bow deeply as we greeted the village headman.
She confessed that while most young girls her age get married, she did not wish to do so. She dreamed of attending college in Lusaka and becoming a journalist!
She laughed much and loved greatly.
And each day as she walked with us, she translated and listened to the gospel.
Out of the corner of my eye, I would watch her receive our words or bow her head in prayer. I would pray silently to myself that truth was taking root in her heart.
Then the day before we were set to leave her village, Muvianna begged us to follow her to the river. She gushed about it’s beauty and insisted that it was not far away.
Now, if you’ve ever spent any time in Africa, you know that it’s right to have a healthy fear of rivers.
I mean, CROCODILES, folks!
Despite the headman’s assurances that the witch doctor had given the crocodiles charms years ago, and that there had been no attacks since, we were reasonably unappeased. Still, I could not resist Muvianna’s persistent request, so we decided to trek out to the river on our own.
A Memorable Walk
The walk to the river was breath-taking. Our feet crunched through the broken straw and the dirt of dormant farm fields. A peaceful silence was broken intermittently by children’s laughter. They followed us at a distance trying to catch a glimpse of the mukuwa – white person!
Muvianna and I talked of many things from farming practices, to national politics. Then Jesus. She explained that most people in her village held to mystical traditions. Having visited developed cities, her family swung to the opposite end of the spectrum. They rejected Jesus and his redeeming power. Then I asked a pivotal question: “Who do you say Jesus is?”
Her answer left me with goosebumps and happy tears –
I believe that he is the Son of God and that he came to save us.
We reached the river. My fear of crocodiles lessened by our awesome conversation.
And, it did not disappoint!
The day we left was a difficult one. My friend came late to say goodbye – putting off the inevitable. All morning, I debated giving her my bible. Since she could read English, it would be an incredibly valuable gift. We still had a week left of our mission and I just couldn’t seem to commit to the idea.
We exchanged tearful goodbyes and promised to get connected on Facebook if she ever got access. Then – she asked me for a bible. Suddenly I felt so silly that I had debated the issue at all! God clearly wanted me to leave my treasured possession with a sister that needed it far more than I. After writing a love note on the inside cover, over the one that had previously been written to me, I handed her my bible. Her eyes were big as she reverently received it with two hands. My joy was so full.
As we pulled away, I watched Muvianna sit down and begin to read her bible!
I get excited when I think about the work the Spirit will do in her heart as a result of the word. My prayer for Muvianna is Ephesians 3:16-19:
That God may grant her to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in her inner being, so that Christ may dwell in her heart through faith – that she being rooted and grounded in love, may comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, and that she may be filled with all the fullness of God.
I can’t wait to see her again and hear the stories of her faith. Until eternity, my friend!