q&a with aby from give life

Today’s q&a is with a special friend of mine, Aby Nelms.

She’s one of those friends I just “click with” and I am so thankful that God has brought her in to my life. Even with her being on the other side of the world for half of our friendship, there has always been a special place in my heart and prayers for Aby (and her sweet family).

Aby and her husband, Stephen, live in Zambia, Africa with their four (almost five) beautiful children. I will let you read her story as to how they got there below…  But, if you can head over to their website after this interview and learn more about the Give Life Project and how it is changing lives.

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Tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Aby Nelms and I was born in Caracas, Venezuela almost 32 years ago.  When I was 7, my parents moved to the US as church planting missionaries.  Having been in the U.S for the last 25 years, I can safely say that although I have stayed true to my culture in many ways, naturally I am a gringa!  I married an amazing man who was crazy enough to want to travel the world and have as many children as I did.  We said 8, but of course that number has been dwindling down for a while now!  We currently have 4 children who bring us joy daily. Emma 6, Josiah 5, Joannah 2.5, and Eva 8 months.  I love art in the form of photography and painting. I totally enjoy cooking and sewing and things like that. Being outside when the sun is setting and everything has an orange glow is my favourite time of the day.  I try to always be reading a book, I despise mosquitos with a passion, I like tattoos and I believe in spanking. I love traveling, great food and adventures!  I recently learned that I am WAY more left brained than I was 10 years ago and I’m ok with that.   I am sensitive, I am honest, I am fiery ( I am spanish after all). I know and love Jesus, but I want to know Him and love Him more and more!

What brought you to Africa?

Since our very first date, we brought up the fact that in our hearts was a desire, a longing, a conviction for ministry abroad.  After a very short engagement we were married and immediately began a church plant in a neighbouring community.  We knew that was the opportunity God had for us at that moment, yet there remained a restlessness. Fast forward three years and two children and we came to the point of knowing it was time to take that step of faith.

We both shared a love for travel and culture, and because of various trips we had made individually, our eyes had been opened to the tremendous needs and burdens of much of the world.  One of the places Stephen had often visited was Zambia.  Having many relationships there and understanding a bit of the culture, it seemed like God was leading us in that direction, where we were to begin the Give Life Project.

What’s your biggest challenge being a mom in a foreign country?

To be honest, it is a little hard to pinpoint only one challenge.  I really struggled through a lack of community and friendships for a long while.  I think also not having a lot of the things which make mothering so convenient; things like a dryer, a park, a bike trail, a dishwasher, the right ingredients available, or a Target!

I have been stretched, broken, stretched all over. I have cried and been angry at God. I have been lied to, criticised and judged. I have acted indifferent and apathetic, I have wanted out on many occasions.  I have also repented and grown in everyone of these challenges and have recognised that a large part of why God brought me to the other side of the world was not only to change it but to change me.

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What’s the biggest blessing?

 The most rewarding experiences I have had is to see changed lives.  It’s been to start something from nothing for the Kingdom and to watch somebody understand the Love of God.  Sometimes very slowly and simply, but real.  Sometimes it has been someone else and many times it has been myself.

I’ve definitely had those days when you wake up and then it goes downhill fast.  When your kids don’t want to sit still for school, your already potty trained 2 year old has 5 accidents that day, and you burn your beans!  I’ve had days when you come home from teaching a Bible study in the village and 2 women showed up because there was yet another funeral. Maybe it was another small child that suffered a ridiculous accident because of negligence. I see lots of those days and so it’s easy to overlook the blessings sometimes.  The blessing of being able to spend so much time with my children, of teaching them and caring for all their needs; the blessing of daily provision; and the blessing of simplicity in faith.  I get to sit on a reed mat under a mulberry tree in the middle of an African village surrounded by barefooted women sharing together and learning together! All this while looking around and not seeing any strip malls or buildings blocking my view or any other distraction. To strip down to the naked faith is a tremendous blessing.

Any new adventures you are currently involved in?

Our most current project is a preschool we have in our town Chongwe. It’s about 40 Km east of civilisation also known as the capital city, Lusaka. We currently have 50 students enrolled which is exciting because we started with 8 in our back yard.  We need lots of help in every way.  Interns, supplies, teachers, teacher training, everything.  Like all new beginnings, it’s exciting but also hard work.

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If you could tell moms in the states one thing, what would it be?

Go through life as a “learner”.  It’s sometimes easy to think we have “arrived” after feeling pretty successful in whatever area if you naturally fit the role of the “teacher”.  This is such a dangerous place to be since we are called to humility.  Only in practising humility will be be willing to learn from others.

Embrace the season God has you in.  From the very beginning I knew my role in our home and ministry.  But as our family began to grow, my roles began to change and I could no longer do everything I once did.  This was painful because being in Africa and being a missionary came with a sort of job description in my head.  I struggled through guilty feelings of not doing enough. I was drastically missing the point and it was not until I embraced the season God had me in, that I was freed. I saw ministry and family and even God’s love for me in a different light! It was life-changing.  Seasons change and in every one there is beauty and joy, enjoyment and specific things to be accomplished.

 Here are some other images from Aby’s time in Zambia over the past 4 years.

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