It’s late, the rest of my family sleeps. An occasional rustling of pages cuts across the silence. I sit at the end of my bed with my Zambian photo album on my lap, devouring the pictures, reliving the memories. As I turn the page, a particular photo catches my eye. I’d know that smile anywhere, sweet Idah! Hers is just one of the many faces I’ve come to know and love this past year, and with each face comes a flood of memories.
I look back in fond remembrance on my time in Zambia, but the thing I remember most about my two trips was the feeling of belonging. From the first day I met them, those amazing kids immediately took to me and claimed me as part of their family. They made me feel like I was home. Within the first week, I had become “Auntie Shelbie” and each of “my” kids (yes, I call them mine and love the younger ones as my nieces/nephews and the elder ones as my dearest friends) had earned a special place in my heart.
Throughout my time in Zambia, we bonded in ways I’d never have expected. Whether we were walking to church, playing soccer, or cruising the market, they always made me feel like a member of the family. They didn’t care that I wasn’t one of them, they loved me for who I was and accepted me as an “official white Zambian.”
I’d always felt that they were part of my family. Then a few weeks after I got home from this last trip, one of our older boys asked me if he could call me his family member. That’s when it hit me, it doesn’t matter what color skin we have or what language we speak, we are all family. Though from separate cultures and continents, we are all united through the bonds of love. We are one big multinational family, and every intern, missionary, staff member and sponsor that has ever been a part of Every Orphan’s Hope is a part of our family.
We are ONE in Christ.
– Shelbie Ney
Shelbie Ney spent several months in Zambia as an intern for Every Orphan’s Hope.