I went to Africa expecting to see the things Ive read about and seen in documentaries. I had done my best to prepare myself for the poverty and the sickness, the things people may share with me. However, on one of the first nights in Zambia, I asked God to "break my heart for what breaks his". (WARNING: DON'T ASK FOR THAT UNLESS YOU ARE SURE YOU WANT IT!!) Trust me, he did. The biggest way was through a little girl, Rita.
In Zambia, for one week we did a out reach camp, "Camp hope". One day while my team members were playing games with the rest of the kids, I grabbed our translator and asked Rita to sit and talk with me, in a more personal setting then the whole group. I asked her a simple question, just small talk.
"Do you have any brothers or sisters?"
"No, they all died."
She then proceeded to tell me her story. She had used to live in the city, in Lusaka. She used to have brothers, a big sister, and a mom and dad. A happy family. Her brothers died a long time ago. Then one day, her father was walking home from work when he was hit by a car. He was in the hospital for a little while, but didn't make it. Then one day Rita was with her sister, when her dress caught on fire and burned up to her chest. She was scared but could not do anything as she watched her sister burn to death in front of her.
At this point, Rita started to cry. She quickly wiped the tears away and looked in the other direction clearly embarrassed. As I assured her it was OK to cry she continued talking. Her mother was still alive, however she had been diagnosed with AIDS. The AIDS had gotten very bad recently, and the Doctor didn't expect her to live throughout the week.
When Rita was finished talking, I told Albert (the translator) he could go if he wanted. (I was told later that he had walked away with tears in his eyes). And I just sat, and held Rita in my lap.
As I continued to go over her story in my mind, my own eyes began to water. Rather then wipe them away, I pulled back, wanting to remind Rita, that it is okay to cry. She looked up at me, and smiled, a real smile, and reached up to my face and wiped off my tears as her own spilled down her cheeks.