Thursday, December 31, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
In Africa, sometimes you come across problems because the people don't always know how to plan ahead with their money, they don't know how to save. But is this ALL bad? They don't hoard. They don't know how to be selfish. As I was discussing this issue with Vincent about whether or not to give the money to Calvin, he just said "If you have it, give it." It was just so simple. Is $100 going to put me out? No. But even if it was, im still not sure I shouldn't give it anyway. Aren't we called to serve the 'least of these'? Do I take in more children and just trust God to provide? Or do I continue to trust in my own devices? My hope and prayer this Christmas is that we can all learn to just let go a little of our own sense of understanding. And out of reverence and obedience GIVE even when it's scary or maybe even hurts. Then the King will say, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me...."
Search your heart....ask Jesus where the line is for you. I am asking Him the same thing everyday.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Sorry its been a few days! Sometimes I feel so exhausted by my fantastic life and then I read the blogs of people with four, five, six kids and I think hmm I need to pull it together! But then again, I live in Africa. J I can play that card, right? But seriously…my favorite internet café (favorite because it’s the only one under $5 an hour that actually works) has been closed down for some reason. I am desperately trying to figure out how to get internet at my house, but its so expensive! I think Vincent might have found me a deal, so if it works out, communication will become a whole lot easier for me. In addition, my car windows have an ongoing condition where they keep getting stuck. Either I roll them down and they get stuck which is not so good in Arusha during Christmas time where thieves are rampant! Not to mention the short rains are here. If you came to my house, you may find my car covered in a big green and white striped shower curtain covering it from consistent downpour. Then if they get stuck while they are up in the middle of the day, I think im seriously going to suffocate. Yeah the air conditioner definitely doesn’t work. Poor Neema and Pray the other day, I looked in the back seat and they both had sweat dripping down their faces. Bless ‘em. So ill be making my THIRD trip to the garage today where I must try my level best to explain in Swahili that they are STILL broken! So that will consume my whole afternoon. Not exciting. In between trips to the garage, I have been on an endless wild goose hunts for whatever my bushmen guards are currently in need of. I love them but man oh man are they needy! “Mama, natakasucari, mafuta, mboga, dawa, etc.” (Mama, I want sugar, oil, vegetables, medicine, etc.) Always something! But they literally never leave the house unprotected, so it’s the least I can do. The fact that I am often buying the same things for Mama Kimaro at the TAWV house has helped because now I have been trying to just do one BIG shop once a month….ill get it down eventually.
This week I took Jumanne, Rehema, Miriam, and Fabien to the school they will be attending in January…HOPE NURSERY AND PRIMARY SCHOOL! It is very close to their house and it’s an up and coming private school in the area. It is not as big and showy as some of the other schools I visited, but the Headmaster really won me over. He seems to have a sincere interest in the well-being of the children. I visited a couple of the classes with him and I could tell that he interacted with the classes on a regular basis. The children were extremely responsive when I spoke to them, and even 1st and 2nd grade were speaking English exceptionally. Im so excited for my kiddos! I wish they could start TOMORROW! But for now they are enjoying their Holiday, playing football (soccer) outside, helping ‘Bibi’ (Mama K) cook, and waiting for my blue Suzuki to pull up in hopes they will get to come on some outing! J
Recently there was an Islamic Holiday here known as Ed, there are 2 Eds a year, and this one was to celebrate the lives of those of have already passed away. As three of my four babies come from Muslim families, they wanted to celebrate Ed. So Bibi made them a traditional celebration dish known as pilau (spiced rice with meat) and they got to each have a soda. (A Fanta orange in a bottle - Always a special treat!) Then that afternoon, I thought it might be nice to take them home to surprise their families and let them celebrate the Holiday with their siblings and neighbors where they got to eat again with some of the village elders. They were tickled pink!
I of course would never deny them a celebration of a Holiday they have grown up celebrating but it is so important to us that they hear the good news of Jesus Christ! The other day I went for a visit and Jumanne had gone to prayer time with Bibi – I love that! He just wanted to go. He really loves church and at 8 years old I think he is beginning to ‘get it.’ Its so fun to see the scales literally like falling off his little eyes. J I can’t wait until they learn English! Or until my brain expands and I can finally become fluent, and we can talk about how GOOD He really is!
Sunday, November 29, 2009
I went to the service of Kelvin Andrea (the boy with the burns) yesterday. We arrived around 10am to their home where a large tent had somehow been set up out of a tarp, some tree limbs, and a bucket. I saw people sitting on broken down benches and writing in a book. Vincent told me it was a donation book that they were passing around in order to pay for all the service fees. The family was able to pull together 70,000TSH (1,000 shillings is a little less than a dollar) The village raised 100,000TSH and they needed 40,000TSH more to cover everything. (mortuary fee, casket, sodas, food, etc.) When the book was handed to me I looked inside to see a long list of names by each name was the amount the person had contributed and across from each name read amounts like 1,000 or 1,500 a couple of 2,000 amounts. But because so many people gave, those amounts had added up to over 100,000TSH. It was such an amazing example of how when everyone gives a little it adds up to a lot! And these small amounts (in my eyes) were probably actually big sacrifices to some of these villagers. Sacrificial giving…this is a concept that God has really been laying on my heart lately. Not only with my money but with my time, with my life. I had never met this little boy, I don’t know his family, but I soon discovered that during occasions such as these, the men stay outside and the women inside. After making my contribution I was taken inside to express my sympathy to Kelvin’s mother and female relatives and friends. I was then told to sit there inside with them. I didn’t want to. I didn’t know a single person and I didn’t know how long I would have to be there. And I didnt understand anything anyone was saying. I knew I would have to sit there until one of the boys came to get me. It was awkward and uncomfortable but this was about being Jesus to these people who have never met me. God has brought me to Africa to be His hands and feet. And with that comes a responsibility, a responsibility to get over my own comforts. So I sat on the floor in this dingy little room on the only cushion in the house because they insisted I should have the best place. There was the mother who was lying stretched out on the floor surrounded by three of what I guess to be her best friends kneeling around her. Then I sat next to a very elderly woman whose toes were covered in something black. I couldn’t tell if it was caked on dirt from walking a few miles to get here or if she too had been badly burned at some point and they were just cooked off. With my limited understanding of Kiswahili I sat and listened as the mother cried and explained to me how it happened. And then we all just sat in mourning, no one said anything for awhile until another mama came in and poured everyone some chai. I couldn’t help but wonder what that was like for the mother of Kelvin to watch the pot of boiling hot chai with no lid being cooked over an open fire knowing that was how she lost her baby. But we all just drank in silence no one wanting to acknowledge the irony.
I know everyone was wondering who I was and why I was there. I wanted to tell them and to explain I had heard about Kelvin and his burns and how I wanted him to see these European doctors and how I wish I could have done more, but just none of it mattered anymore. He was gone. And there was nothing I could say to ease that pain. In Judaism there is a tradition called "sitting shiva" and basically it means after a death the immediate family gathers in the home of the deceased to receive visitors. Its a time of grieving and mourning and that was all I could do.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
We sang and danced, drank hot chocolate and ate mondazis (African donuts) and then they went to Sunday school. They don’t understand much because my church is all English, but I discovered today they just like to come with me because they get free food! Because when I went to pick them up again this afternoon to take them back to their relatives for a visit I found that they had gone to church again! Since they didn’t understand anything at Vineyard, they wanted to go to Kiswahili Church. This is not enough that 4 children under 10 actually want to go to church twice but with the exception of Fabby, they all come from Muslim families. So to come live in Christian home, be exposed to church, and learn all about Jesus is an awesome opportunity to witness to their families and neighbors and they are truly loving hearing more and more about this man who would die for them! Blessed be your Name!
A conversation we had in the car today translated by Vincent, one of Neema’s uncles and my partner in this Takes A Whole Village house, went something like this. Through him I told them I can’t wait for them to go to school and learn English so we can talk to each other. Jumanne said he was going to try to learn so fast because he had so much he wants to talk to me about. Vincent stressed to him that this was his opportunity to learn and to take advantage of it. Rehema said she too wanted to learn. And then cute little Miriam said “I cant say anything in English!” But Vincent said they are so eager to learn so we can all communicate. I’m also desperately trying to learn Swahili so I can speak to them in their own language and its coming but ever so pole pole (slowly). I figure they will learn a lot more quickly than I, so im waiting on them. Probably so American of me to expect them to just learn English…
After dropping them at home and experiencing such a day of rich blessings with them, I came across a couple of situations that were not so wonderful. First, I was introduced to this tiny boy who was in raggedy clothes and filthy. Apparently he has a twin sister and they just roam the streets all day long looking for money and food. Their parents are alcoholics and not only refuse to take responsibility for them, but they are also beaten and starved. I asked how old he was and was expecting him to say like 4 or 5 but he told me he was 8 years old. I was shocked. Jumanne’s age but he looked more like Fabien. He has obviously not developed at a normal rate most likely due to malnutrition and possibly exposure to drugs and alcohol when his mother was pregnant. His twin was not there but I would be interested to see what she looked like and how she was doing. Oh how I wish I could provide homes for more of these children im constantly meeting but as of now I must continue doing my best for these four.
Next, there is a 4 year old boy who pulled a pot of boiling chai down on himself severely burning is whole left side including his face. He is at the hospital but his parents cant afford the medication needed for reducing his pain much less any procedure which could prevent the skin from growing together improperly. Fortunately, I happen to know a girl coming from Norway at the end of this month and she is bringing with her a group of doctors who work on third degree or worse burn victims. They already have over 30 operations lined up, but I am going to go and take this baby boy to see them tomorrow and see if they can squeeze in an appointment for him to see one of the physicians. It is so hard to see these children in such pain and no one being able to help. Either they can’t help because of finances or addictions or maybe because they are just so tired of living the hard life they don’t care, but these are helpless children who must endure the pain. But I remember… “Blessed be your name on the road marked with suffering…..”and I just have to choose to trust him. For we know that He is good. His sovereignty remains. All of that being said, I believe it is our obligation to do what we can. To do our part. What are we doing to contribute to the Body of Christ? Sometimes we can become so comfortable in our own realities that we are never brought face to face with such suffering but let me just tell you, it is all around. Not just Tanzania, not just Africa, but everywhere. And in meeting someone’s needs you might just find your own needs being met.
This is sweet Aziza who cries every time we leave her. Today she snuck in the car trying to come with us. I want to take her with me so badly.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I am sad to report that I didnt take my camera. I was so bummed when I realized I had forgotten it. But if you can just imagine the smiles of trying on something new. Maybe the first new thing you have ever had! The first thing that you could call your own. It was those kinds of smiles.
They each got a couple of new pair of pants, some shirts, a sweater, and pajamas! We were there for over an hour and by the time we left all the vendors knew their names and were calling out to them....they felt so special. On the way to the car they all said "Thank you Mama" as they were running and skipping through the rain drizzling from the sky.
I told them that I loved them so very much but these new clothes and their new house and the beds where they sleep are all because of Jesus. That his love for them far exceeds anything I can give them. May they always see Jesus as their Savior...
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
When we went to get the boys they told us Jumanne had been ready to go for hours. He was so excited! A few minutes later Fabien walked over in his best outfit, im sure. He was quiet yet poised for the departure. As we walked to pick up Rehema and Miriam other children I have come to know in the village joined us until we had a pack of little followers.
We all met by my car where Rehema and Miriam were dressed in their Sunday dresses and their little coats each with a tiny book bag containing what was most likely their only possessions. It is an exciting beginning for these four, but the moment was bittersweet as some of the other children began crying. At first, I was thinking Oh no, im breaking up families and friends, but then I realized they were not crying for the loss of these children, but they were crying because they were being left behind. It broke my heart to have to leave anyone in the kinds of living situations these innocent children are experiencing on a daily basis. But I know there is only so much I can do and I have to focus on the task God has presented to me and that is first and foremost caring for the four he has entrusted me with.
During the goodbyes, four year old, Fabien walked over to his father and just matter of factly said “im leaving, ill never see you again.” I was quick to correct him and assured him and his father that of course they will see each other again!
As we were pulling away, Jumanne informs me that his mother has told him to now call me ‘mama’ and the other children all agree that they have been told to call me ‘mama’ too. My heart fills with joy but in all honesty, fear sneaks in too. What an incredible responsibility. I am taking these children from the poorest of the poor and to these relatives, it is seen as a promise for a bright future for their children.
Tomorrow we are all going to the big second hand market here in Arusha to buy some new clothes, pajamas, socks, shoes, etc. I will try to post some pictures afterwards of them in their new digs. ☺
Thank you to everyone who purchased an item or simply donated for the benefit of the TAWV children. Your contributions helped us raise enough for all four to start English medium school in January! I know its cliché but God really does work in mysterious ways and I’m in awe of how he continues to encourage me through His grace that I see in all of you! From the bottom of my heart, thank you!
Thursday, October 29, 2009
(excerpt from last year)
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor. (Luke 14)
Friday, October 23, 2009
This is Jumanne. I met him a couple of weeks ago around 8pm outside the grocery store. It was dark and he was all alone. I was getting out of the car when this sweet face looked at me and in swahili he asked me for bread. Unfortunately I see street kids a lot and i never give to them because all it does is perpetuate the problem of begging. But for some reason God granted me His compassion for this boy. I bought him some bread, milk, and water and then insisted we take him back to his village. The next day I went to his home. If you have seen Slumdog Millionaire, that is what you can picture as his house. Complete slums. He is 8 years old and has not seen his father in three years! He lives with his mother who is a street sweeper and his three sisters. Being the only boy he is now the 'man' of the house. He is 8. It is now his responsibility to provide when his mother's $1 a day salary runs out. He is 8. He is in 4th grade but its nearly impossible for him to do any homework in this tiny shack with no electricity, no quiet, no supplies. He would rather be out playing soccer with his friends. He is 8. But his little sisters need baths, they need water to be fetched, their needs to be food. He is 8.
I could not get Jumanne off of my mind and my heart. The situation while there are so many like his was just weighing on me so heavily. There is an African circus in town this month so i decided to take him. We got there had sodas and popcorn and i watched Jumanne more than the show. He was mesmerized by the lights, the sounds, the entertainers. He was clapping and cheering! It was pure delight! After the circus we ran into his two younger sisters at the same grocery store where I met Jumanne. They were filthy dirty as usual and in the same muskybrown clothes I had met them in. We decided to pile them all in my car and take them home for dinner. (we told another kid from the village to tell their mother)
We got home and I couldnt wait to give them all baths! Afterward the water was a murky
brown color. But now they were clean! I smothered them in lotion and pulled out some of Neema's clothes and dressed them in freshness. We then fed them some rice, beans, and veggies and they ate and ate. Jumanne said they had eaten nothing but chai all day. I sting just thinking about it.
On Sunday they showed up at my gate at 7:45am. All four of them. I quickly threw on a pot of coffee (for myself) and started making some oatmeal (for them.) I took them to church and it was a sight. Neema in one arm and Umi in the other (good thing they are little.) Jumanne can read english so he really enjoyed singing the worship songs and Hadija the oldest was good at keeping eye on everyone. They went to sunday school and colored pictures of Jesus and
children. Jumanne wrote on his "Jumanne sitting with Jesus." The morning had been nothing short of complete chaos! Oatmeal everywhere.spilled juice.fighting over toys.getting everyone in the car in time. Getting to church. Getting everyone quiet for prayer. But my heart was overflowing with love.
After we dropped them off at the village and I walked in my door I took in a deep breath. But then I missed the crazy.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
One day we visited the home of my friend Calvin’s grandfather. He is probably in his eighties and lives in this tiny mud hut no bigger than most our walk-in closets. With four of us in there, he couldn’t close the door. He was cooking his lunch (maize and veggies) on an open stove. He spoke very little english but it was one of our absolute favorite memories. We prayed over his house and just spent some time with him. It might seem awkward to sit with someone in silence when you dont speak the same language but it’s not. Jesus totally fills the gap.
Another one of my favorite memories was when Calvin and his friend Vincent cooked dinner for us. We hiked around the village to gather all of the ingredients...avocados, bananas, rice, tomatoes, peas....yummmm. Then we went home and the two boys in their young twenties prepared for us a delicious african meal. Just as we were about to sit and eat there was a blackout....TIA. So we lit some candles and gathered around the small table and feasted in the dark. In Africa, its typically better to be home before dark or at least don’t be traveling on foot. However, this night the dinner went a little later than expected and there was no easy way for a taxi to get to us so we had to walk home. This meant traversing through rocky dirt roads, crossing a river, and hiking a path all the way back to the main road via the the little light our cell phones could provide. After dinner we prayed for safety and off we went...But as soon as we stepped outside I felt like I was in a movie...it was not nearly as dark as I feared. The Lord had lit the sky so brightly with the moon and stars it was amazing. My little heart was so content and full of wonder. I looked around and Calvin and my dad were holding hands (a sign of friendship in Tanzania) Neema was on the shoulders of Calvin’s best friend Vincent and I was just taking it all in. It was a moment of God’s faithfulness and his beauty...not just the surroundings which were magnificent, but of the bonding in true brother and sisterhood...relationships forming that will last into the Kingdom.
Anyway, my dad and I had many many incredible moments like the ones mentioned above but these were just a few highlights. I am so thankful that he got a true glimpse of why I love this place. He truly experienced the Holy Spirit and was moved by the hearts of those who have little yet give so much!
This week I have started work at Lohada and boy do I have my work cut out for me! Today the all the adaptors were missing, the computer caught a virus and just keeps turning on and off, and the printer wouldn’t work. We could not find pants to fit one of the children so he just runs around holding his pants up, and two days ago a little boy about four years old was just dropped off at our gate. His feet are deformed as they did not develop properly and he has open wounds all over his head. But he is safe now and his tummy is full so we are thankful for that. We are understaffed and need volunteers desperately but where we are weak He is strong!
Thanks for reading!
Saturday, May 23, 2009
We have visited Lohada and met the director and we plan to go to the second campus which is where the school is located next week. We have also already been out to Cradle of Love to see those babies and it was amazing to see how they too have grown so much! it was so fun to see all the sweet nannies who i had grown so attached to! The new infant facility is done and there were so many preemie infants, very tiny and sick. It made me so sad.
Last night Dad and I went to a restaurant called Blue Heron to see some of my friends from church play guitar and drums. It was a big reunion among a lot of our friends from last fall. It was so good to see everyone again. Life in Arusha is wonderful. The weather is perfect (about 70), the people are so lovely, and the Spirit is alive and well here!
I hope you all are doing great! I miss you!