Monday, February 28, 2011

day away

bliss. 24 hours celebrating my man's birthday with just us. It was well..... amazing. God's creation is beautiful and when you take time to slow your pace you really notice, appreciate, and breathe it in. all of it.
more soon but for now....
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..yeah, it was that good.
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Saturday, February 26, 2011

cooking lesson

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One of Jason's best friends here invited me for a cooking lesson at his neighbor's house last week. After stopping at the fish market to buy some of that morning's catch from the sweetest older fisherman we headed out with our newspaper wrapped fish, bought some coconuts, and gathered cooking utensils from the neighbors we started the epic cooking. It was a LONG lesson but I finally learned to make coconut bread.
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The ingredients are flour, yeast, coconut milk, coconut oil, and sesame seeds. Sounds easy but it is a lot of work! It is so delicious but after whacking (seriously NOT kneading- you hit it so hard) it for almost an hour I do not think I will be doing it much at home. My wussy Mzungu upper arms were sore after 10 minutes! Yep, I'll continue to buy it from my neighbor. We also made fresh fish curry, juice, and sliced some mangoes and enjoyed eating together. I am constantly humbled by the kindness of people and their willingness to teach and spend time with us.
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Friday, February 25, 2011

kutoa shukrani

To provide or give thanks. A really fabulous exercise. Especially when you are struggling some days to see all that is Blessing and Abundance.
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I have been having vivid dreams lately which I think is one of God's way of speaking to me. At least I am quiet in my sleep, right? But last week I had one crazy dream about a craft project. Now, I know that is weird and does not fit the typical vision but I awoke feeling Anni and I should tackle it and with Anni having two weeks off from school (with one day notice to us...argh!) we have plenty of time around these parts.
Gratitude. Simple, yet needed. We made Thankful Trees. I am positive I ripped this off from my childhood or some faint memory of a Thanksgiving day craft involving turkey feathers but whatever, we loved it. I also have been reading through Exodus and have seen in new ways the importance of marking things, of remembering, of ceremony. That and living in a culture where these things are very important has given me more time to think about what we do and why we do it and how to help the girls remember all He has done in our family. After breakfast we quickly got to work. In my dream the trees were oak trees but when I started drawing a sketch to plan the project Anni announced "Mama that is not what trees look like." Fair enough in her world trees are coconut trees. So that is how we rolled. Lusi joined us and we made quick work of filling the palm leaves with all we are thankful for; umeme (power), friends (near and far), shells, family, this journey, working together, beautiful colors, Mambo Ice Cream, creation, swimming, the playground, Anni's bunk bed (ok that was totally her idea) to name a few.
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She came up with everything on her own and then for the past 2 days we have been adding to it. She is pretty impressed with our work as I catch her touching or staring at the trees at random points throughout the day. And if you come over you ARE going to see our trees with explanation in English or Kiswahili depending on your linguistic needs from one proud Annikah Joy. Our Miti ya Tunamshukuru Mungu (Trees of us thanking God) are now hanging in our front room and have already received some curious pokes from watoto and questions from friends. They are there as a reminder and a simple paper and marker memorial of how very grateful we are.
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Happy Bday J!!

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It is J's Birthday today! Swedish pancakes, homemade cards from his girls, and a searched out, pricey, and rare box of Froot Loops wrapped in newspaper....pretty rock on!
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and it only gets better.....

J, I love you. You are the best partner ever in this life for me. May this next year be filled with adventure, peace, rest, joy, and love. We love you! xoxo, your girls.

these moments

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but the amazing thing is in all these moments I know He is there. For Sure. We are feeling so comforted by Him. We know that although we may be hurting He is there amidst it, even more so. I think in taking the time to process, evaluate, and dig deep into everything we are finding clarity. Sometimes you need discomfort in order to move on what is in your heart. He is meeting us in this space. We are sensing the swirling debris and many moving parts coming together, settling, and giving us a blurry but beautiful vision of what is next. But for now we pray, wait, and breathe a bit.

...and we are encouraged by so many of you. People we know, family, friends, and those I only know through cyberspace.....although we have never shared couch space, a coffee date, or even eye contact, your words have touched my heart more than you know. Asanteni. Thank you. So much.

*no Evys were harmed in the making of this post. Nope, she is just learning the fine art of "the drama" from none other than Miss Annikah Joy. Seriously she cannot stand to be left out.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

1st Basic English Class...tayari!

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We finished the first official English class at Pamoja! The plan was for it to last 3 months.... we started November 8th and just finished this week...but alas that is much of life here. My students finished their speaking, writing, and reading exam last Thursday and Friday. There were many discussion on the grading scale since I insist they have a 70% or better to move to the next class. Because of this I join the ranks of Mwalimu Mkali (like J) but they also know I want them to succeed, to learn, and to reach their goals. I am crazy wicked proud of my students! For the most part they really learned, grew, studied, and had a blast. I learned so much from them as well. And we laughed a lot. Despite my current weariness they are a constant reminder of how opportunity, kindness, attention, hard work, dedication, and love impacts people. They were so happy to celebrate and get their certificates on Monday and when I threw in some sumbusas, juice, banana muffins, and picture taking it was a full fledged PAR-TAY! They came dressed up and ready to sherekea (celebrate)! I could not stop laughing at all the pictures they insisted we pose for...."Mama Annikah sit here with me (snap) Mama Annikah give him his certificate (snap), Mama Annikah take one of us eating (snap) Mama Annikah hold your water bottle (snap)" Seriously it was hilarious! But here are a few of the bunch....
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the ladies of Kozi ya Msingi ya Kiingereza
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class clowns
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dang, Am I really that tall?
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Yeah for my English students!!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

seeking revelation

Truth be told I am not doing great. We are not doing well. We are hurting. It is not one thing. More like the culmination of hundreds of moving parts making me feel sick to my stomach, light headed, and emotionally worn thin. I awoke this morning and prayed for peace, some relief, and much needed fresh perspective. I need to be honest. I have felt this way with too much frequency lately and both Jason and I have sensed something is on the horizon. But it leaves me overwhelmed, out of breath, and off center.

Like the world is askew.

But I sense and see and feel and know the light breaking through.

I am reaching for peace, for solace, for some sense of center but it feels more like grasping through an ever winding path with blurry vision, rubbed raw, and exposed from the trek thus far. This morning I woke up before the roosters, neighbors, noise, and chaos started and I opened His Word. I was commanded to love, to sing, to worship, to focus on Him not me. That helps. So much.

We are sick. Again. Not terribly but enough to make my mind reel again about how we deal with this here and wonder if I can take anymore. And when I realized yet another cycle of sickness was making its way into our home I felt my heart beat so loud in my chest. Fear. I remember in my 'less chill days' the feeling of a panic attack rising in my body and I just sat and cried. It is just too much. But tears are cleansing. They can be the beginning of uncovering pain and ushering in healing.

Last night I was folding laundry when Anni came running down the hall and said "come now, Papa is crying." My heart sank and I quickly rounded the corner of Anni's room to find my husband shaking and crying. His grandfather passed away yesterday. And we are here and everyone who we need is there. I read the email on Jason's phone and just sat on the floor holding his hand...silent. We knew this would happen. We knew we would be here and those we love would be there. In our needs. In our joys. In our grief. We chose it. But it is a high price to pay. I started crying and Anni quickly followed suit as did Evy fearing she would be left out. A chorus of crying. Then the power cut. Poetic.
And then something I never want to forget.
Annikah, through her confused tears said "hey, why are you crying? He gets to be with Jesus now! So I don't want to hear any more crying. Oh Dear!" (The Oh Dear is a recent addition to her vocabulary that she uses with increasing frequency that instantly made us all laugh). We smiled through tears and knew with complete certainty she is right. With limited ability to understand everything going on she can comfort and love and point the way. This is blessing. Poured out for us.

Another 5 minutes and a "hodi" came at our door. I was still teary eyed but went to greet a neighbor and friend who came by to make sure I had gotten the gift of a mango she had dropped off earlier in the day while I was at work. I did. I said thank you and then I explained my tear stained face. I told her we were sad because of our loss but that we rejoice and know he is with God in heaven because he followed Jesus and loved and lived for Him. All of his 97 years worth of days. That moment was such a stark contrast for me. A moment ordained from above. We are here. Lots of days it sucks. To be blunt. But we are here because we really want to see Jesus glorified and lifted up. By us; His beaten down at times, broken but redeemed, and imperfect saints. By everyone; every tribe, every nation, every tongue who has not heard about His glory. His peace. His Abundance. And somehow that made the pain of not being there have less sting.

The same-ness and lack of personal space here gets to me. No seasons, not much "new", not much travel, always surrounded by people, needs, and constant noise. We work, we study the language, we visit, we make goals and plans, we do our best to respond to the 'in need of immediate attention' problems, and we have visitors. A lot. I some how always feel like I am behind in life about a week with no hope of ever catching up. Like a lot of days I am only reacting to that which is swirling around me.

But even though I am surrounded by people there are so many days I am lonely. And we cannot continue like this. But I am so torn because the part of me that wants to put up boundaries and step back also knows that the most amazing learning and growing has occurred for me when I have been stretched past what I knew to be comfortable. Past what I would chose for myself. Right now we are living with the "what-if's," with the unanswered questions, and without the plan or clear path we want. But that is life in this space. And I know for sure we want to see Jesus. In all of it. And I do know I am learning a lot about what really matters. I don't think I'll ever look back at my life and wished I had spent more time dusting. But I could be biased because I hate cleaning even in moderate temperatures and will make any excuse to not do it. But I do know for sure I cannot let opportunities pass me by to share, love, be with my family, and others. In Kiswahili one word for time is nafasi and it also means "opportunity, space, or chance" and I think that is pretty perfect. We only have limited nafasi. All of us. What will I choose to do with it? And this is life and we are trying to find our way through it. This blurry, winding road somewhere out there in the distance. To still maintain some semblance of family time, space, and time to breathe. Not easy.

But worth it.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

And maybe He reveals things in His time for His purposes. No definitely. Trust. I took 20 minutes today to hide in our office and blare some Third Day songs to drown out the noise outside our front door. And it was needed. The words brought me to tears because of the rawness that exists in my soul right now.

"If I run to you will you hold me in Your arms for evermore?
I'm dying out here on my own, long before I am ready your arms are wide open waiting for me to come home.

give me revelation, show me what to do, because I have been trying to find my way but I haven't got a clue
I've got nothing without You."

Yeah, something like that. We are struggling but it is ok. It requires revelation that only He can provide. It forces us to depend on Him and we are clinging and waiting. We are asking "Lord, what is Your highest use of our lives?" and then begging for the courage to live that out.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mambo Ice cream...Oh how we love you!

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The same-ness of life here sometimes gets to you. I actually just sat down and journaled over an hour about the issue and it has me feeling all discombobulated. Actually I think life lately has me feeling like I am swirling and cannot catch my footing and actually sitting and thinking has me realizing just how much is ready to spill over. More on that soon a but for now I will just say we struggle a lot to find new, fun, and santity saving things to do here. And these things are needed. Like desperately craved.
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But we recently found a treasure, a gem, a special little fabulous duka that sells locally made and cheap ice cream. We call it "our ice cream duka" and it sorta feels that way. The guy that works there knows us and when we pull up and pile out he always greets us. Two small freezer cases with taunting pictures of ice cream never sold in Tanzania hold whatever was packed into little paper cups or wrapped in newspaper that morning and as long as there is power they have something. The prices range from 8 cents to about 80 cents for the BIG cup so somedays we we feel like big spenders allowing Anni to pick anything she wants! Last time we were heading out a neighbor and her daughter....shoeless and all hopped in and joined us but with those prices we can even treat! There are a group of older men that sit outside the duka next door and they just love seeing our family. Annikah alwasy greets them and they respond with white flashes of teeth and "mtoto mzuri" (good child) declarations. They are always there. That is sort of same-ness I love here. Makes me feel like what I envision small town America used to be like. Everyone knowing everyone's name and caring about what you are up to. Guys sitting outside the hardware store for hours talking. Their smiles and sweet comments about our girls warm my heart. We enjoy our 1-2 dollars worth of ice cream with many onlookers and then head out, back to the chaos of life.

Dear, Mambo Ice Cream we love you! You rock! The banana ice cream is our fav! Don't ever change...except maybe start making chocolate...one little girl would love that :). We are so grateful for you and we will be back...many times.
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

another day off

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Today we are all hanging out. And praying the power stays on long enough to get a load of laundry done, pump enough water to fill our tank, and answer some emails. That would be a good day after this week. Sometimes it takes very little. Yep, we are all at home on a Wednesday morning.....weird. The result of what we like to call "last minute holidays" since we usually find out about them the day before. Darn moon tends to work like that. Sort of annoying since my English class was scheduled to have their final exam today. Oh well. Plans foiled again. Flexibility required. And already had my first student visitor this morning who is worried about the exam and is hoping for some tutoring at the teacher's house. Looks like class will stretch on yet another week. At least it is a bit windy so less sweltering today. In other weekly news, our house has become the place to be for all your water toting needs since the storm last week knocked out the government water in our neighborhood. A bit exhausting with the formality required for greetings every guest no matter what you happen to be doing at the time but also great opportunity for some portrait practice with some adorable kids.
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check out his ingenius way of carrying his water jug.....I LOVE this little boy!
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Monday, February 14, 2011

no power but lots of friends

So the power has been off and on since the storm. And by off and on I mean mostly OFF! It really kicked my butt on Sunday when we invited friends over for lunch and the power went out just as I put bread dough in the oven. Sigh. We made it work and no one even commented on the lukewarm pasta bake and barely cooked bread. Luckily, they are Africa dwellers as well here to get some business done in town so they were happy just to have a free meal and talk to some Wazungus:). Easy to please folks like us I love them! Anni adored having some Wazungu friends that all spoke English (American English even!) and we had a quick treasure hunt and then we all escaped to our team leader's house (since they were running a generator...can we say fans!! HOLLA!). This brought the official kid count to 10 for zip lining, bubble blowing, and cookie eating. We may not have power but we are thankful for friends, great converstaions, fun time for the kids, and encouragement.
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oh, and the girls got to wear their new matching dresses...sewn for less than 2 dollars each!
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ummm, zip lines RULE!
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just ask these watotos
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ready to take the treasure hunt by storm!
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hunting in the shamba
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sweet rewards....red vines we were saving for such an occasion
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Yep, Evy loved the bubbles!
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Thursday, February 10, 2011

wind, rain, chaos, and a little bit of music

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There is a pretty big music festival happening on our island right now. We have been here for more than 2 years but have never attended. Sorta like the people who live in Chicago but have never been to the Mag mile or Sears Tower (which I know is now called something else but will always be the Sears to me). Because really it is more of a tourist thing and since the dominant religion here forbids music it really is not a "cultural" festival, East African culture for sure, our island not so much. So being busy with life we have never checked it out. But something that is free and new is always a welcome change to the day to day so I decided the girls and I would head up to check out the opening celebration and parade. After teaching yesterday I raced home grabbed the girls (Anni insisted on matching party wear since she thought she was PART of the attractions) and then picked up a Canadian guest that is staying here for a couple weeks helping at a local school. We headed into town and made it just in time to catch the end of a parade through town. We then headed into the Old Fort here along the water and watched some performers, musicians, and acrobats. It was really an impressive festival put on to attract tourists here in the hot season since really banging your head against a brick wall is as much fun as coming here right now (ok, sorry, that is my 'I have had no fans since yesterday' self talking...please still come and visit :).
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parade
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We were waiting for the next act to begin on the stage and Evy and Anni were making fast friends with everyone when crazy winds started (you can hear the wind starting in the end of the video). Like whipping dust and debris in our faces. The sky changed and within 5 minutes the rain, wind, and chaos was insane. So we were at the festival for a whole maybe 30 minutes (but I still managed to take a tons of photos of course) before having to make a mad dash home. We ran for it (as much as you can run with 2 little kids through a crush of people) and luckily stumbled upon Doro allowed our wet and bedraggled selves to pile into her already packed car to escort us to our car.
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As we drove we quickly saw how much damage had already been caused; corrugated steel was strewn on the roads, grabage everywhere, many trees were down, and people running through the rain and wind. We made it back to our car and headed home but the drive back was very stressful as we had to take 3 detours through dirt roads and over rocks and through tiny spaces (our car has war wounds to prove it). People were out using machetes to cut apart the fallen trees and everyone was helping direct traffic so we went with the flow.
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machete neighborhood clean up!
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the road to our house

We have never seen a storm like this since living here! We arrived home after a much longer than normal drive to no power; of course, and two hungry and tired girls (make that 3!). Although Anni was so pumped and excited about everything. Yep, I was shaking from the stress of driving and worrying about the storm and she was dancing and telling everyone about the wind and trees and people and how "it was so cool!" Jason soon returned from teaching and even told us his class watched a coconut tree that fell 10 feet from one of my English student's head. Thank you God, he was unharmed!! But still Crazy. AFfer the storm stopped everyone was out and about 'telling the tales' and surveying the damage (we lost a banana tree in our shamba that has been a major attraction) but no people we know in our neighborhood were harmed and for that I am so grateful. No power since the storm yesterday (using precious generator power right now) but the girls and I had a great time listening to some music and we even we survived a tropical storm...at least it is never dull!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I'm in...what about YOU?

.*
I watched our wedding highlight video yesterday at the insistence of Miss Anni. She loves watching it but is still is a bit "irked" she was not invited and explanations of her non-existence seem to do little to sway her feelings about being overlooked and slighted. She did however pointedly tell me "well, Mama, I will invite YOU to MY wedding." Well, then.
As I watched I realized that almost ten years have passed since that shiny, special, and awesome day. I am glad (well, in the interest of full disclosure I do wish for those pre-nursing boobs and wicked buff arms) but seriously I love J more now than I did then. Because we know each other more. We are more of a team. We have been through so much and that has deepened our commitment and love. We have precious little watoto. And I cannot wait for see where life's journey takes us next. Yep, lots of reasons.
But I was also convicted. Many days I take him for granted. Many days I find things to pick apart instead of build up. And "yes" he has things he can work on but so do I. And I was convinced I need an attitude adjustment in this area. I want to be the woman written about here (well, except maybe the selecting wool and flax part since that may require a whole skill set I do not posses) . This part specifically has really been challenging me:
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Pretty high calling, eh?

I read a friend's blog this morning and she wrote about the same thing-(thanks Kim) God has been doing that a lot lately in my life. Teaching me something only to have it confirmed by something or someone else. Maybe He knows I need a swift and firm butt-kicking to act. Point taken. I want to love better not so I can "get something" out of it but so that I can learn to follow Jesus more closely. It is J's birthday this month and I think a pretty great gift would be a more loving and encouraging wife.
So I am gonna dive in and try DO the 30 day Husband Encouragement Challenge-(http://www.reviveourhearts.com/pdf/30DayChallenge.pdf) Here is the link if you want to try it with me! We can share stories and encourage each other! Let me know if you are in!

* a rare dinner out with some team mates embracing our FULL wazungu-ness....mostly shaven J, hair down me, and pizza!! It is oh so good!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

girls..

I love having girls. Even on the days I have to remind myself of this because the tears flow freely and the drama abounds (I shutter to think of 10 years from now). But I just stinkin' love these girls. They are special, unique, hilarious, brilliant, beautiful, goofy, and God has entrusted them to us.
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blessings.

less than perfect

.....does not even begin to describe my baking skills. So when I know how to bake something I tend to stick to it. But I guess that living "closer to the earth" has stretched me to find new ways of actually feeding my family without drive thru's or prepackaged bread but still some days I am still so far from that hard core, apron wearing, butter churning, back to the prairie, domestic super hero woman notion I have in my head that one must be to live in Africa. Case in point.... I got up early this morning and decided to make cinnamon rolls. I stole the recipe from a woman who much more fits the above description than me and Jason loves them so I thought this would be a nice treat. For me this is a bit of work (as is anything that requires kneading, rising, rolling, from scratch, etc) but I took one for the team. Only half way through Evy was crying and grabbing my skirt, Anni was whining because she was "starving," and I opened a cabinet to get fresh cinnamon out only to have the dried basil drop out and spill into my dough and ALL OVER the counter. Sigh, I persevered and they actually turned out pretty great (even with a little basil) as it evidenced by the fact very few remained after about 5 minutes. I am working on the whole "Culinary Hard Core African Wilderness Women" thang and thank goodness my family gives me much grace and is pretty easy to please.
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Saturday, February 5, 2011

beware....

....of asking God to break your heart for the things that break His. He has been faithful to answering that prayer in my life recently but some days; like yesterday, I just cannot stop crying. I melted into a sad and snotty mess right there under the dusty mosquito net squeezing my pillow and willing myself to stop. But I wasn't crying in a depressed, feel sorry for myself, kinda normal for me way but rather because I feel like I am exposed, raw, more real than ever before. In a way that drives me to my knees. The more I get to know the people here, the more I listen, hear their life stories, challenges, and struggles the more I desperately want them to have peace, love, healing, joy, and abundance in their lives. The more the pain, struggle, and sin here digs, burrows, and settles into my soul causing me to live differently. Causes me to work out my own salvation in new ways.

The first year and a half we lived here I was just taking in everything, struggling so much with language and culture, and everything was so new. I was lost many days in the different-ness of this place and it was easy to only see that which was new or culturally interesting or the charming aspects of life here. But over this last 6 months God has been showing me the darker side. I usually do not write about this much because I love the people here. So much. And I want to share their beauty with you all. To allow others to glimpse what I am so privileged to live amongst everyday. And for me to allow anyone to stereotype or "write off" the people here causes my heart to ache and my soul to shutter lest we ever forget the command to love all people. But lately God has been breaking my heart for the pain, suffering, and sin here. And after many tears, processing, and praying I felt I need to share. The side you may not see in smiley cute pictures of watoto I often post.

Yesterday some girlfriends told me about the 10 infants found in a trash pit wrapped in a hospital sheet. 5 Girls and 5 boys between 1 day old and 7 days old. Murdered and dumped in a disgusting, dirty, vile, garbage dump. I have to admit this makes me sometimes wonder "God, where are you? Why did you not stop this?" and then I am reminded of how black our sin is. All of it. How fallen and evil and crying out for redemption this earth is. That sin is what held Jesus on the cross. But still it makes me so sad. What really made me lose it was then listening to 4 different women (separate from each other) tell me that they know this happens "all the time here." I was expecting some "those mainland people are the ones who do stuff like that not us" commentary. That is more the usual fare I get regarding anything formidable, dreadful, or criminal. But no, they just admitted in a matter of a fact way it happens "all the time." I then sat on the mat and then listened to stories of desperate women having babies and bribing doctors to "get rid" of the baby, women drowning their own newborns in laundry basins, and then putting the lifeless bodies into plastic bags and throwing them away. I retold the stories to make sure I understood and then I just started crying. Like all within me was being offended. They explained that women do it because they don't want to raise a baby, are too young, too poor, or feel so much shame about being pregnant out of wedlock. But in my judgement I was reminded that yes different methods, different culture but this exists everywhere. This all served to further convict me that adoption is something we are called to do and even when it is hard it is what God wants. A way to express some of God's love in such a tangible human way. That taking in as your own someone who is "outside, unwanted, or forgotten about" is a picture for what our Savior does for us. That if there is a child here that makes it past these odds to being here and he or she needs a family I have to act. Really, what other choice is there? I felt God assuring me He will use our adoption story in Big Ways.

A few weeks back I went to a funeral with all the neighborhood women. It was a neighbor's uncle's 22 year old daughter who died. Because she was vomiting blood for weeks. After the body was brought out 4 women started running into the crowd of us all sitting on mats trying to share small amounts of shade from the banana trees. They were thrashing and wailing and screaming. They were bumping into and climbing over us and tearing at their clothes. It was freaky. No really scary. I just sat with my friends and prayed and prayed. My friends explained that they were "demon possessed" possibly because they were part of or knew who 'cursed' the girl who died or because of their deep sorrow for losing her. Women pushed them back, yelled at them, or ran away from where we were all sitting. Or they just stayed where they were, stared, or laughed. I learned a lot about how people see death and how they explain it and deal with it. I am not sure exactly what was going on but I clearly saw and felt intense pain. In all of it. I shared with one women who literally fell on top of me that God comforts the broken hearted. I tried to hug her and she sat up and held both my arms and calmed down, it was amazing. So many people live in fear of evil it dictates much of their life. I think the pain for many people is so intense with no ability to understand it, see purpose in it, or see any hope. And hopelessness is oppressive.

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished


I so want to "fix" things but I realize over and over again I cannot fix anything, that I have limited understanding but that God breaks my heart nonetheless. Why? For me, I have felt He is showing me the desperate state we are in without His love. That I indeed am "one of the scoffers." This is not some simple "all we need is love" answer to the complex and distinct problems in the world. But there is something profound about showing real Love. His kind. It changes the make-up of a person. It has for me. There is brokenness and sin everywhere. I pray the Lord always helps me in my pride to remove the plank in my own eye before I point out the speck of dust in someone elses. We all need this prayer because our planks blind us, robs us of valuable learning experiences, and keep us frozen from showing mercy and love and compassion because of our apathy. It is sorta like I am desperately searching everywhere for an emotional first aid kit that can bind up these wounds, these hurts, this pain. But I am realizing over and over again I do not posses this within myself. None of us do but we can change the world in working out our own salvation and demonstrating Real Love. People can be more fully who they were created to be when they have freedom that comes with knowing they are loved.

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds Psalm 147:3

Jason had a conversation with a friend this week while sitting with him at his store and shared that it is written that "God is Love." This was surprising to his friend. That the God of the universe loves His creation, loves him, loves us. This further broke my heart that people live and die without feeling this love. I am so profoundly grateful I am loved and I know it. Not because of who I am, or what I do, but because He has a plan to bring many sons and daughters to Himself.

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

But time is needed. God does not work they way I think He should and can I get an 'Amen' for that since my solutions are short sighted and pathetic. I need to remember not to take myself so seriously and to pray that He continues to disarm my grip on "my plans" for my life or anyone elses'. Not to think for even a minute that He who created the heavens and the earth and all of us depends on me to save the world. I am grateful He sees fit to show mercy to me, to redeem me, to love me, to change me, and to use me in this world but it is about Him. Not me.

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom"


I still am working through everything but I am thankful He sees fit to reveal to me the pain here as well as the beauty. Because it does break my heart but in a way that drives me to my knees. In a way that demands me to go deeper with Him so I can pour out Love to people. No definitive answers for sure but I am so grateful for the way God is sorting these things out for me. He gives me day to day what is needed to challenge me, teach me, comfort me, and increase my own brokenness. So that I better understand how powerful His love is. How deep is the Father's love for us. All.

Friday, February 4, 2011

photography for wapumbavu (fools)...like me!

I just finished an online photography class for beginners and it was still above my head. That makes me sad, huh? But alas I am committed to learn more and grow in my ability to document my beautiful family's journey and the amazing part of the world in which we live. So, I try even in my complete imbecile-dom and apparent mind block in learning all photography terms (can't I just say it looks "pretty":) It will take me months to really learn everything in the 4 week course and I have yet again upped my weird Mzungu stock (is that even possible anymore?) by toting around my notes from class and searching through them as I try to take pictures. My last assignment was fun as I had to document and photograph the words "red" and "happy." It was also great to have a theme...try it and report back! Here are my favorite shots.....
Red.
kids outside, red pics 022.jpgedit
red meat, doors, and kanga (by the end of the day the meat is more grayish to be fair)
kids outside, red pics 029.jpgedit
tungulay.

Happy. them and me.
pratcice pics- watoto 012.jpgedit
pratcice pics- watoto 028.jpgedit
pratcice pics- watoto 046.jpgedit
kids outside, red pics 006.jpgedit
and then just some ones from yesterday. A crew of screaming and excited watoto could not wait to show off the crab they found in our backyard. It was BIG people.
kids outside, red pics 004.jpgedit
kids outside, red pics 002.jpgedit
here is to more happy shooting.....