Here is the second part of sweet Emma’s story! Click here for Part 1.
Saturday morning came, and I was the first one out the door and on my way to go pick up my little one! I was SO excited and praised God that this day would be the first day of the rest of Emma’s life! My friend Paul accompanied me, and when we got there, I realized that Joy’s assessment of Emma was extraordinarily accurate as she almost looked “enslaved”…she wouldn’t look up at me, and who knows what kind of evil she had been exposed to in the dark hours of the night just hours before. I picked her up, sat her in my lap, and whispered quietly in her ear, “we’re coming to pick you!” Her little hands grabbed my right arm which was circled around her waist, and she squeezed it so tightly…it was like she was silently screaming, “oh, please, oh please…if only this could be true…” I think she was scared that her mom wouldn’t let her come, but no sooner had my friend Paul explained to her mother that we wanted Emma to come to our boarding school, than her mother just said, “yeah…take her…I don’t want her.” Emma lept off my lap and went behind a torn sheet to separate part of the room, and came out in her “best dress”…(I was still dumbfounded that a precious child like Emma had to hear those horrid words come out of her own mother’s mouth)…Anyway, Emma quickly grabbed my hand and said, “lez go, Auntie Holly”! We walked out, and she didn’t even as much glance at her mom or say goodbye…nor did her mom say anything to us as we left. With Emma’s hand in mine, she led the way down her street and out of her compound to where our bus had parked. I remember these three old ladies sitting outside next door to Emma’s house, and as we passed by they started smiling and clapping! One of them even gave us a “thumbs-up”! Clearly, even the neighbors knew that this “household” was a wretched place for a child to live. In fact, in talking with Emma’s mom, it was clear that she was completely drunk, and it was only 8:30 in the morning…also, I noticed that Emma’s little one-year-old step-sister had horribly burned skin covering her head. I later found out that one night when her mother was drunk, her lighted cigarette had caught fire to the sheet hanging up, and burned the baby’s head while she was sleeping on the floor. It’s times like this that I wish all the countries in the world were as blessed as ours to have agencies like Child Protective Services.
When we got in the bus, Emma’s smile stretched from ear to ear and she kept saying over and over and over, “Auntie Holly! Tha Lawd eez My Shepahd! Uncle Paul! Tha Lawd eez My Shepahd! Tha Lawd eez My Shepahd!” I’m not kidding you, she must have said, “The Lord is My Shepherd” at least 50 times, she was so excited! Our driver took us back to Mulungushi Village where we were staying, and I ran into our house where all the donations were, and I went in and found some new clothes and some other blessings for Emma. Then we went back to our house, and first things first…it was bath time! She was elated when she saw the nice, clean, white bathtub with running water coming out so fast. For a minute I looked at her, and it was as if she was confused as to where all that water was coming from! Oh, she was so cute!
Emma took her clothes off, and my heart just dropped…raised scars covered her little body, as well as large, dark bruises. I prayed in my heart, “Lord, thank you for rescuing this precious child of Yours!” I poured in some bubble bath, and I think this was one of the most fun moments of her entire life…I began bathing her with a washcloth, and immediately, she kicked up her little feet on the side of the tub and said, “Auntie Holly, my feet ah duhty”. What a privilege! I would have gladly spent the rest of my day cleaning this little girl’s crusted, cracked, over-worked, under-appreciated, precious feet…After she was fully bathed, I let her play in the tub for awhile and just be a kid. About half an hour later, I went into get her and wrapped her in a nice, warm, pink towel. I dressed her in the cutest little blue skirt and top, and Emma was thrilled to be wearing that skirt! She instantly began twirling around, and when she finally stopped, she just looked into this full-length mirror and could NOT stop staring at herself…all the while, she had THE BIGGEST smile on her face! I’m telling you, this by far makes the list as one of the greatest days of my life! I ushered her outside to show everyone and she wanted to show off to all my friends how she could twirl. Everyone loved watching Emma glow! I then prepared some food for her, and Emma got to play with Kaleigh (our director’s 8 year old daughter…they look the exact same age, even though Kaleigh is 4 years younger!)
Soon, it was time to go, and my friends Joy and Stephanie and I loaded the bus to take Emma to her new home. I wrapped her up in a nice, soft, new blanket, and on the way to the LifeVision Boarding Homes, Emma fell asleep in my arms. I just kept stroking her little head and praising God in my heart for allowing us to be a part of changing this precious little girl’s life forever. I am constantly amazed at His goodness. We finally arrived at the Boarding Homes, and we took her inside to meet her new big sisters and house parents. They all of course welcomed her with open arms and Emma fit right in! I even introduced her to a little 10 year old girl named Paulina who was staying there in a “holding pattern” as well…
You see, Emma and Paulina are going to be Child #1 and Child #2 to live at Lahema’s House at The Tree of Life Children’s Village!!!! The grand opening is in June…only 6 months to go and Iam literally counting down the days! This vision for Lahema’s House came two years ago, and now the building of her house has spurred others to give money for 6 more homes…and so, in just 6 short months, 7 houses will be ready for 84 children to move in…and Emma and Paulina are the first two kids on the list! I am telling you…if you want to have the experience of a life-time, join me this next summer for a week of Camp LIFE and then come see the grand opening of the Tree of Life Children’s Village and watch as the most precious children enter into “Heaven on Earth”!
On my recent trip to Zambia in October and November, I thankfully got to see Emma all the time because she lives in our LifeVision Boarding Homes…She has never had braids before or “plats” (as the Zambians like to say), and so for her birthday, I was able to give her house mom some extra money to buy some braids for her hair…so cute! Here is a current picture of my sweet Emma…she is thriving in her new home!
All I can say is thank you to each of you for reading this story and for praying for these children…I pray that each of you have the most blessed and Spirit-filled Christmas with the ones you love!
Standing in Awe of Our Savior and HIS Redeeming Love,