A few weeks ago I had a lovely chat with a friend who loves and supports Little Zebra Books and our community reading programs. Hilda even uses Little Zebra Books in a Sunday School program at her church here in Tete.
Our conversation turned, as often happens these days, to our impending exit from Tete. "Are you really going? What will happen to the programs without you? We need you here."
"Yes," I replied, "we are going to leave. It is for the best. It has always been planned this way. Others are already running things. There are a few things I can help with from a distance if needed, but I trust my teams."
"But it isn't the same. You do everything with love!"
I got teary, as often happens this last year in Tete. "Hilda, so do you! You show such love to the kids. So does Veronica! You all do! You can love them even better than me, because you know them better."
There is a reason that I'm not in all those pictures. Mine is not the face of Little Zebra Books to any of the kids or their parents in Tete. The love they see comes from Jesus shining through Hilda. Veronica. Isaura. Cesária, Ilda. Jona. Nico. Matilde. James. The list keeps growing!
"We need you," she said.
I answered with an analogy this time: "For now, they do need me for some things. But remember that when you carry your baby on your back in the capulana, you will not carry her forever. You must put her down and hold her hand. She will start to walk with you. She will fall and you will help her. But if you don't put her down, she will be very big, and she won't learn to walk, and it will be strange! It would not be good for your daughter and not good for you!"
I am so glad to have carried them for a time. I am even more excited to see them walking on their own. My role changes. I can keep the books coming! For now, our groups cannot develop the
materials or afford to publish or ship it on their own. I will do what I can to teach them to be as independent as possible. I will hold their hands on that part. I hope many of you reading this will reach out to help with what you have. We do make a great team stretched around the world like this!