Hi there! My name is Erin Gabreski and I’m from Buffalo, NY. I’ve been on this God given planet for twenty four years. The college I attended was in Rochester, NY and my major was graphic design and photography. After earning my degree I worked for almost two years. My first time to Zambia was with the Wesleyan Church of Hamburg the summer of 2016. Our team came for ten days and helped run a camp for high schoolers in Livingstone. I learned about the internship and felt God telling me back to Zambia, so here I am! These are a few things that I love: hand lettering, dogs, ice cream, mangoes, meeting new people, ice breakers and laughing.
My time here has been one of growth, learning and self discovery. There have been many highs and lows. I’m not sure why I’m in this internship but I’m trying to be patient and not look to far ahead.
I’ve experienced some culture shock since I’ve been here, which I wasn’t expecting because I’ve been here before. I went on a walk through Mwapona with Uncle Jack, Izzy, Meg and Kelsey as a part of the knitting ministry. My job this afternoon was to take pictures of Kelsey for the Poetice intern spotlight on Instagram. We encountered a homeless man who was the thinnest man I’ve ever seen. He was an older man who sat on the ground. The most shocking thing was that I could see his ribs. If I had any food I would’ve given him some. A few steps away was a woman who looked like Grandmother Willow from the movie Pocahontas. She sat on the ground just like the man did. Her eyes were so sunken in and her high cheek bones protruded out. This woman was so happy to see us and shake our hands. Joy exuded from her. She was so overly happy that it seemed like maybe something was wrong with her mentally. I felt sad after seeing them.
On a different day some of the interns, including myself, and a woman from an Immersion Trip went into Mwapona to tell people about the community night we had coming up. Some kids followed us; we talked and played with them. After inviting two woman to community night we decided to head back to the base. As we were walking we passed a teenage/twenty something aged guy and one of the girls from earlier. I turned around and saw the guy beating her with a big stick very forcefully. The girl was probably twelve or fourteen. I turned back with a deep sadness and fury inside me. I cried all the way back to the base because of what I’d just seen. This wasn’t okay! It’s one thing to know abuse is something that happens but to see it first hand is a completely different story. I’m realizing that we are doing a lot of good in forming relationships with people from the communities here but there is still injustice everywhere and something needs to be done about it.
Something that’s been a challenge is not having a close friend on the base. I’m friends with everyone and I do have fun but there isn’t one intern I feel like I can have a one-on-one conversation with about something personal. There is so much to process because of what we are doing here and I feel like it would just be good to talk to someone. The staff are great people to talk to because a few of them have been interns before and they understand what we’re going through.
The situations where I feel love is when I’m with children or praying for someone. At Kids Club the kids just cling to me and want to hold my hand. I try to do this while I’m taking pictures but it’s hard. The kids also love when I take pictures of them and being able to see the picture afterwards. Another moment that touched my heart was when I was praying for a woman at her home after talking with her. She has many children and her husband works but they still don’t make enough for all her kids to attend school. She wanted prayer so I prayed while I held her child’s hand. My eyes were closed and as I prayed the woman reached for my hand. I felt love from a complete stranger in the world, which doesn’t happen often.
Abby taught us that our whole self is made up of body, soul and spirit. We are three in one like the Trinity but fully one; you can’t separate them. Spiritually, I’ve learned that I need to practice listening to God. Here I’ve discovered my conversations with God have been very one sided.
Lastly, the biggest challenge during my time here has been my OCD. I expected to struggle in my long distance relationship with my boyfriend or with what job I’ll have when I go home. However, the enemy has gotten to me another way. I’ve struggled with OCD since high school but it’s changed forms and comes to the surface in different ways. This is been the biggest distraction from God because I often feel like I have to get something done before I can sit in front of the Lord and listen to what He has for me.
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erin Gabreski • 2017 International Immersion Intern