I sat behind the door sobbing, feeling depressed and lost. Either the change of environment or realizing that I was far away from the rest of my family, my marriage was far from good and I was insecure sent me into spasms. It did not look like there would be easy solutions to our marriage upheavals that had started a few years back. So, as the children played around with their dad, free of care, my world was falling apart around me. I squatted behind the door in the spare bedroom, facing the wall and cried helplessly.
There was a knock on the door and in came our friend, Sydney. He was a cheerful and bright person who Pastored a young church in the Baldwin Borough of Allegheny county in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Their congregation met in the basement of one of the members’ townhouses.
“Hello family,” how are you?
There was commotion as my husband and children hurried to receive and greet him into our house. My eyes were red from crying, I did not want to walk out there and have everyone realize that I had been crying. I planted myself behind the door even as Sydney began to call out for me when he did not see me walk out to greet him, like a good Zambian wife would. He walked into the room when my husband pointed out I was in there.
“Hey Isabella, how are you this morning? Come on up.”
By then, I had wiped away my tears and feigned a smile. He was not deceived because next, he announced that our house needed prayer because there was a spirit of depression. I grunted knowing that the spirit must have very well been emanating from my psyche. I was the woman of the house, I was depressed and down, why would the entire house not feel depressing? Was I not the sunshine of the family? Did I not bring sunlight into our home with my smiles and music with my stories and songs?
Sydney went ahead and prayed for the house before he got down to the business of what he had come for, which was to pray for our first-born daughter who had a seizure disorder that my husband believed would be conquered through the prayers of saints. Sydney looked at me and said he felt the need to pray for me, not my daughter that day.
“You and your wife sit down, I will pray for you.”
So, we sat down and Sydney began to pray for us. When he touched me, I fell over and that was the beginning of my own spiritual and emotional “breakthrough.” For the first time in my life, I opened up and began to speak whatever it was that came to my mind with regards to my relationships, how I felt people treated me and I felt free to vent however I wanted, whether it was in disjointed stories or proclamations, I did it. I yelled, whispered and hollered as much as I felt I needed to do, (I wish hospitals would let their patients with nervous disorders and the like do the same and not try to restrain them with medication and restraints). When it was all over, I felt new and ready for a new start. As far as the language of spiritual warfare is concerned, I had been delivered. I felt free to be who God wanted me to be. Sydney would return several times to talk with me, ask me questions about myself and encourage me. His Puerto-rican wife became my best friend in that community, we were alike in so many ways. She became the link to the things that would happen in my family’s life after that.
When Sydney and Becky learned that I had applied to study for an accelerated degree in Psychological counseling at Chatham College for women, they suggested I study Temperament Therapy which was Christian Counseling and at par with Psychological Counseling. They invited me to join them in New Jersey for the International Pastors and Ministers Conference at Faith Fellowship World Outreach Ministries. At that conference, I met the people who would help us as a family get into Bible College, as we had dreamed most of our lives.
We had to relocate to Lehigh Acres Florida from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania to get into Bible School in Fort Myers, 21 hours drive away. The people we knew and who helped my husband in the time he lived int he USA were all in Pittsburgh. Our sense of security and belonging was amidst the Zambian community in Pittsburgh, there we were safe, cared for; even if those people were not our immediate family, the community they had built felt like family to us and to our kids. However, the fact that no one had come over to see us off that evening somehow reminded me that this was not my real family, just a community of people who needed one another to survive the rigors of living in a distinctly different larger community, America. On our last day in Pittsburgh, we navigated the hilly county of Allegheny as we left Baldwin, the red brick blocks of apartments that had become home, Food Land where we shopped and the familiar children’s parks where our children played with other Zambian kids. As I drove without looking back, I thought about the three awesome months we had been there. I had spent most of those three months fasting and praying and trying to make sense of things around me. I took long walks in the morning on the flawless walk ways, rolling with ease and climbing with minimum difficulty the undulating landscape characteristic of the area. I loved every bit of the time I spent there even if I missed my family and life back home. Pittsburgh was a place of waiting, of uncertainty but filled with hope that things would be fine eventually.
It was raining sheets of rain and the roads were relatively slippery as we headed out of Pittsburgh onto I 95 south on our long journey to Florida. The time was slightly after 8 pm, darkness was all around us. Neon lights flashed and beckoned close and far away from us. Traffic lights led us out of the city on September 22nd, 2006. I remember the day very well because my youngest daughter turned three that day, I believe that at the precise moment we started off from Baldwin, Kuwunda was born in a Zambian private hospital known as Care For Business clinic, three years before. Three years before, I gave birth to a baby girl; now I was birthing an experience that was different from everything. My husband and I were taking our children to far away Florida, to a land we knew little about to pursue what we knew was a calling of many years, to enter full-time ministry as ministers to God. Some in Pittsburgh were skeptical,
“People come to America to find jobs and make money, they are going to a Bible School and taking their kids along. They will have no jobs there, no money to look after their children and even a house to live in. Who does that in America?”
They were right to think the way they did, but there were many things that both them and us were ignorant of regarding what happens to those who dare to do things differently. Those who risk all to reach out for what they see as better things. Oblivious to all that, my family and I drove into the cold, wet darkness and headed to a place where we knew no one and no one could say they knew us. Between us and the forever that lay in Florida, we had slightly over $3000.00. Some of that money would be used on gas, lodging, eating and to pay for our accommodation while traveling and when we arrived in Florida.
I was driving a Toyota Sienna, our favorite minivan, hired from Hertz, while my husband drove a Mazda saloon in front of us. The Mazda was bought from monies I realized from selling our business minibus back home. The Mazda was the only asset we possessed at the time, the rest were everyday items we would need to use in Florida. People in Pittsburgh gave our kids shoes, clothes, and we acquired various household pieces from thrift stores, yard sales and the curbside for our use. Besides that, we trusted God would provide the rest of what we would need.
As we accelerated onto I 95, we were soon surrounded by dark formidable forests, the dark sky above us and only the lights of passing vehicles and our own headlights illuminated the night as we made headway south. The darkness of the night seemed to call back to us as our engines echoed across the massive miles of grayness. My children were tired from packing and cleaning all day, soon they were all asleep and I remained running the engine and accelerating as I followed the tail lights of the Mazda. Three sheets of paper with the Mapquest directions sat on the dashboard, I would be looking at them often. It is almost impossible to believe that I had never heard of the GPS then, and smart phones were not that smart or common. In fact, my husband had his phone disconnected just before we left. We were without any other means of navigation. I slid a CD in the player and began to sing along to some of the most beautiful gospel songs. We were headed with Jesus into the unknown.