Thursday, September 27, 2012

Week 3: Even if the healing doesn't come.

September 6, 2012

            Today has been the hardest one yet.
            We woke up, had class, ate breakfast, and went to chapel. The singing touched me so much today. They sang “Joy to the World” but the way they sang it was different and it was SO beautiful the way it sounded. We also sang “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” except to the tune of “Balikuli” which is a song we’ve learned here. Such a humbling reminder.
            We got back from chapel, sat down to have Mission Anthropology and Jeremy started off class by telling is that Adam, Christy’s baby, passed away last night. He had ear infections, and they think he could have contracted cerebral malaria. And since he had HIV, his immune system was extra down, unable to fight it off. He kept having seizures and then went unresponsive.
            Once we all heard the news, I felt my heart and my lungs, and everything, drop. I mean, it felt like someone had just taken all the air out of my lungs and I couldn’t get it back. Little Adam, the little boy that was always into something, pulling off couch cushions, stealing other kids’ food. Little Adam who was FINE two days ago is gone. We were all just so confused. Why? What is it we can gain from this, Lord? Something, I know. You wouldn’t just let something happen and there not be a reason or a way to make anything of it. You’re a God of order, not chaos. But why here? Why him? Why now? Things I may never know.
            We had class, which no one paid attention to, had a break, and I went to study for our midterm tomorrow. Which was hard to focus on. My mind was just in shock.
            We met for lunch and after that I went to the Havens until dinner. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity after that news. I just wanted to hold my babies. I dozed off with Aaron on my chest and then held Joel the rest of the time. It just made me realize how fast these babies can go. They can be here, perfectly healthy one day, in the grave the next. It sounds so harsh, but it is the reality here. Harsh. Disease doesn’t care about age. Neither does death. I just want to spend as much time at the Havens as I’m able to.
            It’s hard not to shed tears at injustice like this. It’s only been 2 weeks but our hearts are involved. Of course, not like the Aunties. Not like Meagan’s. But as much as we can be at this point, we are. The rest of the day was kind of cloudy and nostalgic. Everyone felt the damper of reality. After dinner I went to take a shower and then went to girls’ devo. Ironically, Christy was supposed to lead it. What she had planned to talk about was what our weaknesses are here and what we are trying to build up in ourselves. It fit today perfectly. Something that Meagan Hawley said at the devo really stuck with me. She said her prayer for us is we come out of this on the other side, clinging to the truth that God is good. That we don’t forget that and we hold to that until the end. I know He is good. It’s just hard trying to figure out why Adam. Why that way? Why today? It’s something that can be worked through with trust. But that’s not easy either. We’re processing it the best we can and we will be OK, I just have to trust that God knows what He is doing.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord. He gives and takes away.
Know His power in quietness and trust.

            After devo we were all hugging each other, and I walked up to Meagan and just hugged her for a long, long time. I can’t imagine feeling like this ever again, nonetheless every month like she does. While we were hugging I just started crying. She’s such a beautiful soul.
            Afterward, I just went to my room to study for our midterm tomorrow. It’s so hard to be motivated to study and to concentrate on memorizing this stuff.

God, we don’t understand. We don’t understand what the reason is that Adam died. Because of sin, I know. I mean why Adam though? It’s so confusing. Teach us to trust. Protect each person in our group from turning away from You. Let this make us come closer together and to You. I’m so sorry that our sin has made this happen to Your children. I can’t imagine how You must feel. You experience this everyday. Seeing Your babies die from preventable things. We love You. I love You.
 Use our group to be an encouragement to the Aunties, to Meagan, and to each other. We need You.

 September 7, 2012

            Today was such a blessing after yesterday. We woke up, had class, breakfast, chapel, and then finally our midterm. I studied all day up to the test and I feel like I did well. After that I let Addie trim my hair. Soon after it was time for lunch and then our group piled in the bus and went to a place called Twin Fountain Farm.
            The purpose of the farm is to provide Zambian men and women education in agriculture. The man who runs it, Klaus Mueller, is from Germany and moved here over 30 years ago. He only planned to stay for a visit, and ended up moving here. He said on his visit when he got into the cab, the driver said, “Africa is very dangerous. People who come to visit end up wanting to stay.” Klaus said that he thought to himself, yeah right, but now he’s here. I thought that was funny. And so accurate :)
            The purpose of Twin Fount Farm is to give students real life experience in farming, and the business side of the trade. He teaches them how to manage their own money that they make from what they sell. He gives them a piece of land and then schools them on the best way to use it. One thing he said that stuck out to me was that he doesn’t support or approve of students who are sponsored. He said those students don’t understand the importance of hard work to earn money to pay for the schooling Klaus gives because they already have it paid for. Klaus said, “If it’s worth anything, it should cost you something.” The total profit that the students make on their crops is matched when they graduate. Every month the farm gives the students a sheet of all the costs of things the school is paying for like food expenses and such. He says he tells his students, “We’ll give you whatever you want to eat for lunch.” And then when they see the bill at the end of the month, they change their tastes in food. I thought that was funny, but so neat. It teaches the men and women lots of foundational things and I thought his approach was pretty cool. We walked around and he showed us the big garden that the students have to work with. I thought it was a really awesome place.
            We came back to the Mission and hung out for about an hour until dinner. Petra and I took a shower since were staying at the Havens tonight! We asked Meagan if there was anything we could help her with since the situation with Adam has happened. She said we could stay at the Havens to give the Aunties a break and some rest. So we are! :) :) :) I am SO EXCITED.
            We had dinner and then Petra and I took about an hour nap to try and get some rest. We woke up and all of us went to sing at the Merritt’s. It’s always so good to go there. After that, Meagan brought us to Haven 1. She introduced us to all the night shift Aunties and we got started right away with folding clothes. Lots of them! It really makes you appreciate just how much laundry they so on a daily basis! I changed and fed Aaron and then Petra and I just laid on the floor with the babies that were still awake. Princess and Prince (yes, they’re twins), Lisa, and Sofia. They all started getting sleepy one by one until it was just Prince awake. I rubbed his back until he went to sleep and then I put him in his bed.
            After we finally got everyone asleep, Betty, the Auntie that speaks the best English in Haven 1, told us that there wasn’t anything in particular for us to help with until about 4:00 AM. She said that is the time when they’ll start washing bottles and doing laundry. So I went to lie down to take advantage of everyone being asleep. I slept for about an hour and a half and then woke up to some babies crying. So I came to one of the rooms and found Petra with her Bible talking with Betty. I came in and sat down and listened. Betty was asking Petra about things like polygamy, having church on Sunday vs. having it on Saturday, the Lord’s Supper and why it’s every week, if it’s wrong for a woman to preach, hard questions like that. Really, really, good questions. Petra did a really good job of explaining them to her and using the Word to show what she’s talking about. Betty then asked me my life story. I told her about the things I’ve been through, which sounded like nothing compared to things I’m sure she’s witnessed. But I told her that I’ve found that being a Christian doesn’t make life easier, but it does give me hope in the bad times. And I makes it all worth it. After that Aaron started crying, so I fed him and then brought him to the couches to lie down and hopefully get him sleeping again and we both ended up falling asleep. How is it possible to love something so much? After about 2 hours (around 5:00 AM) I got up, finished feeding him, and then Betty and I washed bottles. LOTS of bottles. I then helped her wash clothes, blankets, and nappies in the bathtub. I know I probably slowed them down, but I’m learning! Then I rocked Aaron and some of the other babies. I was talking to Aaron and he smiled at me twice! What a feeling.
            A few minutes later it was about time to go, so I put him down, got my stuff together, and then Petra and I sat with the babies that were about to eat breakfast until Jeremy got there to pick us up. It was a great experience and made me realize how much the Aunties must love those babies to do that every night. I appreciate their job so much.

God, thank You for the blessings that come after pain. It makes me realize the blessing of the good times. Thank You for people like Klaus and the people that make up the Namwianga Mission. To see them actually living out their faith is such an example to me. I hope I can do the same. Thank You for the Aunties at the Havens and their selfless sacrifice for those children. I just love what You’re doing here, Lord.
 Use me up in whatever way You can while I’m here and once I get home. I love You.

September 8, 2012

            Today has been an emotionally exhausting day. There is nothing left to say but that.
            After we got back from spending the night at the Havens, Petra and I slept for about 30 minutes and then it was time for breakfast. After breakfast we all went to Adam’s viewing.
            We got there and immediately after we got out two women came outside wailing. I’ve never experienced that before. One of the women kept repeating the same thing over and over and it sounded almost like a song. It was heartbreaking but beautiful. Hearing these rock-solid women who have gone through more than I ever will, wailing from pain. We stood outside for about 15 minutes and then a man told us we could go inside and view the body. We went in and the moment I saw him I started crying. He was in a small wooden casket in some of his clothes and blankets. He kind of looked like himself but not really. The only thing going through my mind when I was looking at his face was why. Why. Why? The Aunties were all crying as so was our group. We just walked around the casket and then walked out. Once we got outside everyone broke. As soon as I looked over and saw a couple of our guys crying, I started crying even harder. The realty of death hurts. But the death of a child, it’s almost unbearable. It makes me ask, why God? I mean, what was the point of Adam even being born if he was just going to die so soon? Is it to teach us something? Or is it just simply showing the reality of sin? I was just standing there, having absolutely nothing to do too make it better. Watching our group in tears. Hearing the wailing. There wasn’t an escape. We had to deal with this. There was no running away or blocking it out. But that’s what I love about Africa. There is no escape here. There are no distractions of technology or phones or friends or anything. We’re FORCED to face things we’re scared of. We can’t look away or act like it’s not happening. We have to see it, hear it, and feel it.
            We left and then pulled up to the Havens for the burial. There we saw Adam’s family and some interns that are working with a doctor here for a few months. All the Aunties stood around his casket while all of the visitors walked by to look one last time on our way to the graveyard. Walking into that graveyard, seeing close to 100 stone heads was so overwhelming. To think that this whole process has happened over 100 times. All I could do is cry. The injustice. The overwhelming sadness. We all stood around and the Aunties carried the little casket to where a man was digging the hole They were singing all the way there and the whole time they were digging the hole. Finally the hole was finished and a man spoke a while in Tonga. Then, some of the Aunties went and put some things into his little casket and then some men carried and lowered it into the hole. There were about 6-8 men who took turns putting a few shovel-fulls of dirt into the grave. Once it was covered, the man who spoke prayed in Tonga and it was over. We all walked silently back to the bus and came back to the Mission.
            I came straight back to my room and typed my journal for about an hour until lunch. We ate and then I came back to my room and just slept until dinner. I’ve been so tired from last night and emotionally tired from today. I needed to give my brain a rest. Kaitie came and woke me up and we had dinner. We cooked out hamburgers which was nice, and then we had processing as a group.
            We all came to the Hamby and sat in a circle. We talked about all that we’ve seen and experienced today. Lots of people here are just hurt and confused. Trying to find God’s love in it all. Where is it now? In this moment? His love was in all of those Aunties loving on Adam while he was still here, but where is it now that he’s gone? I think we’re all trying to sort through thoughts and questions. Jeremy called on me asking what I was thinking and I started saying what was on my mind, but I just broke down. I try not to in a large group of people just to save people the awkwardness of tears but I couldn’t stop it. I talked about how just seeing his face at the viewing, all I could think was why. And how today at the funeral home when the ladies came out wailing, it triggered a memory from HUT this summer. One of the cultural experiences we had was that we had to care for a “baby” (a water balloon) and ours popped one day. So we had to have a “funeral” for it, which included us having to bury it and being required to wail. And I distinctly remember one of the staff girls monitoring our “funeral”, as we were wailing telling us, “You need to wail louder.” Remembering that today at the funeral home, actually HEARING those women wailing out for something, anything. For healing. It made me SO angry remembering that from HUT. Just the fact that that girl was basically making the art of wailing in this culture a spectacle for an “experience” a few months ago and speaking of it lightheartedly. Being told to wail louder? That is these people’s reality. And hearing it carelessly being thrown around as a joke is not right. I know what she said came from a place of ignorance, and at the time I didn’t think anything of it either, but after experiencing that in real life, I was just really upset by it. Of course this doesn’t reflect the HUT program by any means. I’m just talking about a comment made by one of the girls working. It’s something that had been on my mind all day.
            After the meeting I came back to my room to write everything down so that I wouldn’t forget anything and just to get some things out. I pretty much stayed here the rest of the night, journaling and checking e-mail. I’m still so inwardly confused, but I know God will heal. As I was journaling, I put on some music and the song “Even If” by Kutless came on. It was absolutely perfect. One part of the song that really stood out said, “Even if the healing doesn’t come and life falls apart, You are God. You are good. Forever Faithful One. Even if the healing doesn’t come.”

God, I don’t know why injustice like this happens. This is the first time I’ve ever experienced the death of a child I know, but You go through this everyday. You see Your own children dying everyday unfairly. How do You do it God? Heal our group, Lord. I know it won’t ever make sense until we get Home, but all I’m asking is for Your peace and Your healing. Blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering.
We need You. God, I love You. You WILL be able to use this. Use us and this experience for Your glory.

September 9, 2012

            Today was such a good day. We got to sleep in until 8:00! We woke up and got dressed for church, had breakfast, and then some students from the basic school came to our place with Ba Sumafuta. They taught us a song “Muchingolo” and then we left for church.
            Today, the church was only 15 minutes away which was nice in itself. We got there and walked in and the church was packed! We sang a lot, Phil preached, Jeremy did the Lord’s Supper, and a couple people prayed.  The last hour and a half of the service was people singing and performing for the church. It was so cool! The songs they sang were so upbeat and SO beautiful. I love how it’s a near yell when they sing. You can feel the heart in their praise! The service lasted over 3 hours but it really was enjoyable. After church we formed a greeting line and then left for lunch.
            We came back here and had what ended up being a 2:00 lunch. So I ate and ended up coming back to my room and blogged last week’s entries. After that I went back to the Hamby House (the place where we eat and have class) and just sat and talked with some people until we had to leave for church tonight.
            We walked there and stood at the front and taught a whole auditorium full of people some songs. We sang “How Deep the Father’s Love”, ‘Magnificat”, “Mighty to Save”, “Let God Arise”, “Awesome God”, “The Greatest Commands”, “Do Not Fear”, and “He Is Wonderful”. It was SO hot, but so worth it. By the end of some of the songs they were singing along with us, which made it less intimidating. They absolutely loved it. But that’s something I still don’t understand at all! They love our singing, but their singing is SO much better!
            We came back to the Hamby for a late dinner and after dinner Seth, Meryl, Sarah, and I were in charge of dishes which was SO fun. We found these old lady glasses, which was HILARIOUS because they magnified your eyes when you have them on. We laughed so hard. After we finished and put everything away I came back to my room and got ready for bed. It was a much needed, relaxing day.

Thank you God for today. For the joy of the basic school students this morning. For the encouraging church service. For the laughter that today held. Thank You for being there through the steady times as well as the rocky ones. I felt Your presence and healing today. Thank You. I know more difficult times are coming and I pray that You be there.
 Use us up, Lord.

September 10, 2012

            Today was a good day. We had Tonga, Humanities, and then breakfast. After breakfast, Meagan Hawley, Petra, Kaitie, and I went to a doctor’s appointment with a little baby named Ginsen. Ginsen is one month old and only 3.7 pounds. She won’t drink any formula and her head shakes a lot. Her fontanel is majorly depressed and she’s been on meningitis meds, but it hasn’t helped very much. The doctor referred her to the Zimba hospital to be admitted. It was so sad to see something so little trying so hard.
            We came back to the Havens all the way until lunch. Little Aaron was asleep, but I played with Prince and a couple other babies. I left Haven 1 and went to Haven 3 to see Joel. I tried some new things to make him smile and laugh. He didn’t do either, but he is showing more and more personality every day. He was actually playing with a toy car I put in front of him by turning it upside down and spinning its wheels. I know he understands. It’s just getting that to come out. I’m not giving up!
            We came back to the Hamby for lunch and then I answered e-mails and read until dinner. Then it was Family Meeting time at the Calder’s home. We sang a little bit and then split up into groups of 3 to share something we were thankful for, as well as something on our minds. Petra, Parker, and I went onto the containers and shared our praises and our struggles. We met back and sang a couple more songs. Afterward, Jeremy told us about the positive report he had gotten from the Aunties about us! It made me so happy to hear that we are helping. Sometimes we feel in the way, but to hear that they are relieved and excited for us to come, is amazing news. We left our meeting and went to the Hamby for Tea Time. River, Aubrey, Bridget, and I talked at the cabana table about relationships and our future. It was really cool getting to know those girls even better.

God, thank You for the hope of Your salvation. I pray for Ginsen. Please heal her. Whether it is on this side of Heaven, or by bringing her home, I pray You do it quickly. Give Meagan strength to carry on, as this life can wear her down. Refresh her spirit and give her comfort and assurance. I pray for our group and staff. Thank You for Your faithfulness in spite of our fickleness. I’m sorry for falling short so frequently. I pray You find a way to use my failures as something that brings honor to Your throne. I love You God. So much.
 Here I am Lord. Use me.

September 11, 2012

Another great, but long day! We woke up, had Tonga class, Humanities, and then breakfast. After that our group split up. A few of went to the clinic while others went on Measles outreach. The rest of us went to chapel. Something that stuck out to me that the speaker said today was, “God fights for His children.” I really liked that. It’s something I’ve heard lots, but it registered in a new way today. Because of Adam I suppose.
            After chapel a few of us girls went to the Havens. I started in Haven 2, the toddler house. Those little things are so excited all the time! I held two little girls the whole time. After about 30 minutes to an hour I went to Haven 3. BIG progress today! I massaged Joel and then put him belly-down on the couch. I let his little legs hang off towards the ground and let him slowly and gradually slide down until his feet were on the floor. Every now and then he would try to fold his legs back in, but I would hold his feet down and massage his legs to keep them straight. So, I mean, he wasn’t standing on his own since the couch supported him, but he got to see what it felt like to have weight on his feet! I let go of his feet and let him sit like that for a full 5-10 minutes so he could see what it felt like. Then, I let him sit cross-legged on the couch and I sat on the ground and threw this little cloth rattle toy up on the air towards him, let it graze his face, and then fall back on the floor. I kept saying, “Uh oh!” And then after a few times of that I would throw it up in the air and let it fall on his lap to see if he would do anything with it. After a while, he took the toy and threw it off the couch back on the floor where I was! It made me so happy! We did that for a while after he realized that he was playing! It was so beautiful to see him finally come through! Also, I held my hand out to him and he would put his hand back on mine, clap it once, and take it off again. He just kept doing it too! I think the key with him is repetition. Which solidifies Meagan’s guesses of autism. It was such a good day with him!
            I left there after about an hour, and went to Haven 1. Aaron was asleep so I played with a couple little girls there, Virginia, Nicole, and Lizzy. I couldn’t stand it anymore and just had to hold Aaron before the day was over. So I went and got him and held him until we left. Then we walked back, had lunch, and then I answered some e-mails.
            A group of us decided to go play soccer, volleyball, and Frisbee with some of the college students! I played volleyball and it was so much fun. We were so bad and I felt bad for the Zambian guys playing with us! We kept launching the ball every which a way and had to keep running after it. After over an hour of playing and laughing and running all over the place to get the ball, we came back for dinner. We ate and then I journaled a little and took a shower.
            Then, it was time for singing with Prince! We finally got to see him again after the first time at the Merritt’s! He taught us a ton of harmonies and it was so beautiful. After singing, Petra, Bridget, River, Parker, and I talked to him until curfew. We just talked about what we do in the States vs. here, music, tattoos, friends, marriage, pretty much any and every random thing! He is such a funny and neat guy. We all love him a lot.

Thank You God for the Zambians. Thank You for our differences. Thank You for our similarities! Everyone here makes me feel so at home and I love it. Thank You for the progress I’ve seen in Joel. I know he is Your angel. I pray that little Aaron keeps growing into the healthy baby he should be. I love You, God.
 Use me in any way possible. Through my words, actions, anything. I’m Yours.

September 12, 2012

            Today was such a blessing. We had class, breakfast, and then went to the Havens! I went to both Haven 1 and Haven 3 and both of my babies were napping, so I went to Haven 2 to play with the toddlers. They’re so much fun just to play around with. Runny noses, wet diapers, and all. I left there and went back to Haven 1. Aaron was awake so I held and fed him. We worked on Tummy Time and he has made SUCH improvements. He is able to hold his head so up well. I am so proud of him! We had to leave shortly after that so I didn’t get to see Joel today, but I will see him first next time!
            We came back to the Hamby for lunch and then Meryl, Bridget, Chris, and I went to town with Jeremy. I got some money out of the ATM and Meryl got some zitenge (skirts). I love walking through the market. I just feel right in the culture. We left the market and came back to the Hamby where I just sat and talked with people until dinner. We ate dinner and then some of us girls decided to go for a walk.
            We walked around a small part of the Mission, met some children, and then came back. Petra, Kaitlyn Plachy, Parker, and I decided to play Spades and then Prince came and joined us. We all really enjoyed his company. We played Spades for a really long time and then it was time for the ones who wanted to, to go to choir practice. I wanted to go to meet people and see what it would be like! It was really fun, but I was exhausted to the point I couldn’t hold my eyes open so I ended up leaving early and walking back by myself.
            I came back and planned on going to bed, but I ended up talking with Bridget about how she is and we talked about things we’re wrestling God with. I told her about my understanding of what she feels and talked with her about all my fears too. I don’t know what’s coming for my life. I have so many unknowns. I need God to send me discernment to know. Bridget and I talked about everything until curfew. She encouraged me and made me feel so much better with putting it in God’s hands.      Tonight for some reason, after talking to Bridget all these thoughts and questions have really began to affect me and I don’t understand what I’m supposed to do. I know, trust God, but why is it so hard? After that I came back to my room and talked with Kaitlyn Leonard and Meghan Laible about all of it too. They also really encouraged me by reminding me that as long as I dedicate my life to God, God will use whatever I decide. If what I choose doesn’t contradict Scripture, and I am seeking Him in everything I do, I am in God’s will for me. I just need to keep trusting. WHY IS IT SO HARD.

God, I don’t know why all of these thoughts are hitting me tonight. I don’t know what to do. Talk to me. I need Your answers. Mold me through this.
 Use me Father.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Week 2: He has been mindful of His servant.

August 30, 2012

            Life is starting become more regular! Today, we woke up for breakfast, had Tonga class, and then went straight to the Havens. We got to stay there all the way until lunch! I LOVE my time there. I CAN NOT say it enough. I wish there were words that I could communicate everything that happens and all the experiences and emotions, but it’s so hard. You really just have to be there. I started at Haven 3 today since I spent all my time at Haven 1 with Aaron yesterday. Joel is still silent and not moving. It’s so hard doing things with him because nothing brings out any emotion. So I spent about an hour and a half there and then went to Haven 1. When I got there a lot of our nursing majors were in there giving the babies shots. It was so cool to watch all of them in the beginning moment of doing what they want to do forever! Seeing them experience giving a shot for the first time and how proud of themselves they were was so great! I didn’t give any shots, but I helped them right when I got there with putting on Band-Aids :) After Aaron got his shot I held him the rest of the time. He is doing so well on his Tummy Time! He is making so much progress in his neck control and sitting himself up on his little elbows. He ended up falling asleep on my chest. It’s the most fulfilling feeling in the world to have a tiny baby fall asleep on your arms, able to feel its little breathing on your chest. All I could think about was how much I love this child.
            We left the Havens, came back for lunch, and did some singing. We’ve learned lots of songs and even Ba Sumafuta said he was impressed with us compared to previous HIZ groups!
            Today after lunch I asked Meghan about Joel’s story so that maybe I can understand him more and approach him better. She told me he comes from a family that has many mental problems. His mom was mentally troubled, and those kind of disabilities run in their family. Meghan thinks he may have autism and/or mental disabilities. But she’s not sure what contributes to what. Hearing that made me understand a lot more of why he might be the way he is. Now I understand that he’s not just quiet because he’s stubborn or because of me, but simply because he doesn’t know how to be. I’m so glad I asked her.
            After Tonga singing we had our Mission Anthropology class and had our first quiz over a pretty long reading we had. After class I went back with some of the girls to the Mann House to read for a quiz we have tomorrow while some other girls did Insanity. We had dinner and then after that I just started to feel really bad. I just felt nauseous and lousy. I was hoping and praying that I wasn’t getting the sickness everyone else has gotten. But I went to take a shower, hoping it would make me feel better. It did feel better to be clean, but I still felt weird. Some of the boys made a fire in a place we call “The Catacombs” which is basically just ruins of a deserted house that’s close to here. We stood around it only for a minute. Then all the girls went to our girl’s devo. Tonight, Aubrey talked about fears we all have about Africa and not about Africa. She read this little children’s book about Grover, the Sesame Street puppet, and the whole book he’s scared because “he heard there was a monster on the last page” and at the end of the book there ended up not even being one. And basically Aubrey said that a lot of times in life we have fears, but God knows our whole story. He knows what’s really on the last page, and a lot of times we forget that or choose not to really believe it and we worry. Which is something I really needed to be reminded of! Then we went around and some of us shared our fears we have in our lives. It was cool to see everyone open up. I was feeling really bad during it because of my stomach, but it was still so encouraging. After devo, we all just hung around and talked about girl stuff. Meghan and Louisa were there and it was so fun to have them there, seeing and listening to them talk and laugh with us. A lot of the time it’s easy to forget that although they do amazing things, they are normal people. Anyone can do what they do. Well, anyone who takes initiative and accepts the call, is what I mean. It’s so refreshing to have the constant reminder that being a missionary doesn’t mean you’re sentenced to a life of solitude and seriousness.
            After devo we went to Tea Time and I journaled some and REALLY started feeling bad. I just sat there on the couch. I didn’t even feel like talking. It was time for curfew so I came back to the house and started getting ready for bed and FINALLY got sick. Afterward, I felt SO much better. Mrs. Bingham came over and gave me some medicine for nausea and it’s supposed to knock me out soon, so I’m going to try and get some sleep!
Thank You God for the blessing of friendship while we’re here. For designing this life in a way where community is the way Your church works best. Thank You for really cool things You’ve created. Things like medicine to heal us, and even though this sounds weird, things like getting sick. It’s so neat that You’ve given our bodies a way of getting rid of sickness on it’s own! It’s just proof You’re on our side! :) How can anyone think there isn’t enough proof? You are TOO cool. Thank you for my babies. Please keep them protected by covering then in Your will. I pray You be with my Tonga tutor as they are getting back to school soon. Thank You for Your thankfulness. I love You.
 Use me however You want. I’m all Yours.

August 31, 2012

            So today was the hardest yet. I woke up at about 1:00 AM and threw up again. And I thought I would feel better this morning, which I did a little bit, but once I got dressed and went to class I started feeling bad again. After Tonga class I went and sat on the couch and read a little.
            Today it was my group’s turn to go to clinic orientation. Clinic orientation is where we go to the Mission’s clinic and tour around and see what all they offer to the public for free! It was truly amazing. They have an x-ray machine, an ultrasound monitor, a labor and delivery section, and best of all, free medicine. Once we got there and started looking around I started to feel worse and worse. I kept getting spells of feeling really drastic temperature changes and dizziness. I finished the tour, but Jeremy had to come get me with the Land Cruiser on his way back from town. The group was walking back and I was not able to do it. Once he picked me up, we came back here and I laid down, slept through lunch, and when I woke up I felt a little better! I guess my body just needed a break from trying to both fight off whatever is in me, and trying to function normally. I went to Missionary Anthropology and Tonga singing class and then I read some and checked my e-mail. Reading all of my e-mails from family and friends made me feel so much better. Mrs. Bingham made the sick people some chicken noodle soup and some toast for dinner. I didn’t want anything too heavy, and since I hadn’t eaten since dinner the night before I decided that maybe if I got something into my system I would feel even better. And I did!
            I decided to get up and go take a shower and then go with a small group of us that wanted to go to the Merritt’s to sing. On the way there our van decided to sing Christmas carols. We’re a special group. I’m telling you. It was hilarious. All the laughing just made me feel even more back to normal. We got there and sang some songs from last week that our group really enjoyed. After about an hour we decided to come back and some of the girls decided to have a dance party. That also made me feel even more recovered :)
            So, as of now, I still get really weird hot flash-ish things and my stomach feels strange still, but the day ended MUCH better than it started. I am so thankful.

Thank You God for healing me today. Thank You for Your promises that we sang about tonight at the Merritt’s. Never let go, Lord. Please be with the others that aren’t feeling well, I know it’s no fun. Thank You for Your love and Your mercy.
 I love You God. Use me.

September 1, 2012

            What a blessing it is to feel healthy again. I feel 100% better.
            I woke up and went to breakfast, and then we all piled on the bus to go to the market. The leaders gave all of us a few kwacha and a slip of paper with something in Tonga written on it. Our job was to find the object on the piece of paper, bargain, and buy it. I had a word that I had no clue what it was. So Petra, Parker, and I went into a bakery and asked he cashier what our papers meant. She told me mine meant “spoons”. She also told us where I could find them, which was so helpful! Petra and I had found what we needed within 5 minutes, so we had over an hour left to just walk around and look at everything!
            We saw so many little shops and looked through lots of people’s set ups of the most random things! People selling used plastic bottles, zitenges, shoes made from straight rubber, pretty much anything possible. Petra and I walked around and found a couple of really cute zitenges (African wrap skirts), so we bought a couple and then went back to the bakery and got a drink just as a small “thank you” for how helpful she was. *Sidenote: This bakery had PEPSI. Whenever I can get my hands on a soft drink it’s always a Coke, which is ok! But to finally get a Pepsi was such a pleasant surprise. It sounds so silly, but you’d be surprised at how happy you can be to see the little things when you’re without.
            So we all piled back into the bus with our objects. Plates, soap, kapenta (small dried fish), carrots, chickens, and so much more! We made it back in time to catch up on some reading and eat some lunch.
            At lunch I sat with  Meagan and some other girls and just asked her about practical ways she got where she is. She said what she did was visit the Mission for short periods of time and basically just earned the people’s trust here. So when she was ready to come back for a longer period of time, the Merritt’s and other people here that help run the Mission felt comfortable with it. So that was one thing. Another thing she said was that she kept in touch and followed up on how everyone was doing. She told us where she receives her support, and just little details like that. It was so good to talk to her! Another blessing of my day.
            Right after lunch, a lot of the girls went to the Havens since it was a free day today all the way until dinner. We all went and we played all day. I spent some time in Haven 1 helping the nannies fold and crushing some corn for the babies’ lunch of shima. These ladies know how to crush some corn! There were two of them and one of them gave us her huge stick and tried to teach us the rhythm of the pounding. We had passed the stick through our whole group, all of us out of breath, and the other woman was STILL going. Put us to such shame.
            After we helped (or tried to) I went and got Aaron. He was super groggy and as soon as I picked him up he was out cold, so I ended up going to Haven 2 for the first time since our tour the very first day. Those little things are FULL of energy and I just love it! Meagan was in the middle of their language class when I walked over there, and they were singing songs and playing games. It was so much fun! All you have to do is just sit down on the ground and you’ll have babies crawling all over you. It’s great.
            I left there after about an hour, wanting to spend some time with Joel and I had such a successful day today as well! I laid him on his back and just massaged everything. From his face to his toes. I really focused on his legs though, trying to loosen them up so we could work on standing. After working from his little thighs down to his toes, his legs were completely stretched out straight by the end! It made me SO happy! I think that’s what I’ll do for about a week and see how well he does and then go from there. It was so encouraging to have some success.
            We all left the Havens and on our way back, Jeremy met us with the bus asking if we wanted to go to the Benson College’s soccer game, and of course we all did. We went and watched for about an hour. It was so cool! They were so so good! I tried to understand the rules of soccer since I’ve never played, and I think I got the jist of it.
            We made it back to the Mission just in time for dinner. We roasted hot dogs! And they weren’t bad! Zack found this little chameleon that looked just like Pascal off of Tangled, so of course all the girls were loving that. After cooking out I read some more for class, and then River, Petra, Molly, Aubrey, and I sat outside under the thatch-roofed cabana picnic table, just talking about weird fun girly stuff  :)
            Then I came back to the house and got ready for bed. The days seem SO SO long here. Every night it’s hard to believe all that we do fits into one day.
            We have a wedding  to go to tomorrow! It’s supposed to be a ways away, so I’ve got to get some sleep.
            In case I forgot to mention, I love it here.

Lord, thank You for all of the blessing that came with today. Thank You for how much better I feel.  I pray for all the people in the market today. And really, anyone, anywhere. Give them Your peace. Don’t let any of us rest until we find You. Lead us back to You. Thank You for Your Son. Because of Him, we have hope and a purpose. Thank You.
 Use us however You can, Lord.

September 2, 2012

            Today was such a great day. We had to wake up SUPER early to get to church. We ate breakfast and then left at around 7:30. It took us almost 3 hours to get to the church and the road was BUMP-Y. But, I did get a lot of reading done! Last night even more people became sick, so we didn’t have everyone, but I think we’re all on the road to recovery!          
            We FINALLY got there and we were greeted by only a couple of people from the church. Barely anyone was there. We all piled inside and gradually people started to trickle in. By the end of the service the room was packed. Today, our guys were in charge of the service. Jeremy led singing, Luke did a prayer, Greg said the Lord’s Supper, Chris preached, and Parker also said a prayer. I thought our guys did fantastic! After that, they asked us to sing for them, so we walked up to the front, sang a few songs and one American song. Then we all went outside and formed a greeting line. It was LONG! But so cool. It’s where everyone goes down the line and shakes each other’s hand and then once they get to the end of the line, they stand there, and the line gradually gets longer, but everyone greets everyone! I wish we did that back home.
            After that, we got back in the bus and headed to the wedding. It was another hour down the road, but we FINALLY got there. When we parked, before we could get out, a drunk man greeted us at the window, smiling and asking our names. We knew it was going to be an interesting day from the start. We all got out and a lady ran over to us and was dancing clapping, singing, and yipping out of happiness. We all walked over to an open area and some men, women, and children all gathered around and the men started playing their drums. OF COURSE we all joined in and started dancing along with them. Later we found out that the song we were dancing to was about a woman from their community (that wasn’t at the wedding) who cheated on her husband for a poor farmer. And when we found that out, we thought it was so funny because the song was so upbeat, but it was asking, “Why? Why? Why did you do that?” I thought that was super interesting, because if anything like that happened in America, we wouldn’t even bring it up to talk about, none the less SING about. And at a wedding!  But anyway, we were dancing with them at least 30 minutes when we were interrupted because a wildfire has gotten right up on us. They decided to move our bus because it was right next to all the brush where the fire was headed. Our driver moved it and LITERALLY 15 seconds after he pulled away, the fire engulfed the dry brush where our bus was. It was CRAZY.
            After that blew on through our group just kind of stood around waiting for he wedding to start. After about 45 minutes of waiting, the ceremony started with dancing and singing. Two lines were formed, guys in one line and girls in the other. They danced a certain dance all the way to the house where the groom was, danced all the way back to get the bride, and then danced the both of them all the way back over to where the couple was going to have the actual ceremony. It took a while for them to do all of that, but it was so fun to see all the dancing and celebrating! The guests follow the two lines around, singing and dancing if they want to join in. They finally got to the table and chairs where they sat down. All the guests stand in a circle around the bride and groom where more dancing happened. Then an older gentleman started to talk. The couple was given little communion looking pieces of bread. Someone said it may have been tiny bites of cake, but I’m not sure! The whole thing was in Tonga, so we had no idea what was going on. The couple took the pieces of whatever it was, ate it themselves, and then both walked over to each set of parents, and kneeled in front of them to let them have some too. Maybe it’s the equivalent to our unity candle? I’m not sure. They went and sat back down and the man leading the ceremony said a prayer in Tonga, and apparently after that they were considered married! We were told after the wedding that there was supposed to be a preacher type person like we have in our weddings, but someone didn’t do what they were supposed to and didn’t ask a minister to be there. So they settled for this guy who wasn’t ordained or anything. But you never would have noticed that. No one was upset or anything. Also, in the middle of the man talking in Tonga, the same drunk guy that came up to our van window was walking back and forth from one side of the circle to the other. He was talking and laughing and yelling at kids to scoot back. It was so strange because no one seemed to notice or even care. He was being so disruptive but no one said anything! It was so weird because if something like that happened in America, it would ruin the whole day. But the only emotion these people paid any attention to was their joy. After they were married they continued to sit in their seats while each gift from each individual guest was presented in the middle of the circle in front of everyone. A couple of our guys went in the middle of the circle to present our gifts of plates, silverware, the 2 chickens from the market yesterday, and a couple other things.
            Something different about this culture is that on their wedding day, the couple getting married is not allowed to smile. Throughout the whole entire ceremony until they are together alone, they must keep a straight face. When I first heard that I thought that was so terrible! To not be able to smile on your wedding day while everyone around you is laughing and dancing out of excitement? It seems so terrible. But later Ba Siaziyu explained to us why. The bride is supposed to keep her head down the whole time and must be solemn out of respect or her parents to show them that she is sad that she must leave the family. The groom is not allowed to smile out of reverence to the bride’s parents, to show that he is serious about the marriage. After it was explained it really makes sense, but I could not imagine it!

            We left after we presented our gifts because we had such a long way to go and some people had gotten sick while we were there. Bridget, Parker, Petra, Aubrey, Zack, and I rode in the Land Cruiser and the whole ride back we talked about the most random things. Like what we think the perfect date would be, lots of “Would You Rather”s, and I Spy. Haha, lots of girly games, but it’s ok. Our guys are such good sports :)
            We finally made it back and I went to the house to start on my cultural report that’s due tomorrow. My dad e-mailed me wanting to figure out a time to talk on the phone, so I hope we get to!
            Class is at 6:30 AM tomorrow. Woof.

God, thank You for our team. Thank You for all the different kinds of people and the bond we share. Keep Your hands over us, revealing truth to us by taking off the veil that our culture is so good at putting on. Thank You for diversity and that You love to bless us with these kind of eye opening experiences. They show us that there are more ways than our own and that ours is not always the best. Please protect Joel and Aaron. I love You.
 Use me however You want, Lord.

September 3, 2012

            Today was another day full of blessing. It was our first day of what our normal schedule will be like. We had Tonga class at 6:30 and Humanities with Mr. Roy Merritt at 7:00. Today Mr. Merritt talked about the history of the church in Zambia and the Mission. It was super interesting. We had breakfast at 8:00 and then chapel at 9:00. It will usually be us and the students of George Benson Christian College, but it was just us today since the students aren’t back yet. We just sang some songs and then meditated on Ephesians 3:14 through chapter 4. It was so encouraging to read. It’s so nice to be reminded God’s truth. Whenever I read things like that it makes me realize how distracted I can become and how many messages other voices of the world give all of us.
            Some of us girls decided to go to the Havens after chapel and I got to be there all the way until lunch! I started in Haven 3 with Joel and we made HUGE progress today. I massaged his legs and stretched them all the way out and I figured that would be all I would do therapeutic wise, but he found a toy he really liked and scooted on his bottom over to it! That was THE first motor movement I’ve seen him do. So I put him on his belly in the crawling position and walked a couple of steps away with the toy, and he crawled to me! It was so cool and made me SO SO happy. Such fulfillment flooded me! I don’t think that’s the first time he’s ever crawled or anything but it’s huge progress with me! I made him crawl only a few feet and then I let him play the rest of the day. I don’t want to frustrate him or make him feel so stimulated that he shuts down, so that’s my progress with him! I know we’re going to get far by the end of three months!
            I went to Haven 2 after about an hour and sat with the toddlers for the rest of their language class with Meagan. The way those little ones laugh and just roll around all over the place gave me such joy. Something Meagan has taught them is when she says, “Who made you?” They answer with a resounding, “GOD DID!” It is so beautiful.
            It was “Shima time” after language class which everyone was VERY excited about. I fed two of the boys and then it was bath time. I couldn’t help much since the Aunties have their own bath system, so I left and went to Haven 1 to be with Aaron the rest of the day. He was asleep, so I just caught up on some reading with him on my chest. I ended up dozing off and Meagan came in and told us she would give us a ride back, so we left with her. After lunch, I read some more and fell asleep until class at 4. We had Mission Anthropology where we talked about worldview and then ate dinner. It was MAC AND CHEESE TODAY. SO. GOOD. After dinner, my dad and mom called me from his cell phone, and it was SO good to hear from them. It’s so crazy how much I miss them and how just hearing from them can put me in such a better mood. I came back to my room, took a shower, and then set up our living room for everyone to come over tonight since Family Meeting tonight is here!

God, I’m still so thankful to be here, able to do all the things that I am. I am so thankful that You have strengthened me through everything, keeping me at peace instead of allowing me to go into a frenzy of missing home and Alex and everything in between. I love You.
 Use me up God.

September 4, 2012

            Today was another busy, yet great day. I had Tonga class at 6:30 and it went well! Sometimes I get confused with all of the words and conjugations but for the most part it’s really not too bad! Today for our Humanities class we met our new teacher, Dr. Kapaale. As soon as he walked into the doorway where we have class, all I could see was Big Daddy (my dad’s dad)! It was the strangest thing. He is about as tall as Big Daddy was, and he was wearing an EXACT outfit Big Daddy had. He was wearing a white shirt with navy plaid-ish squares, shoes like Big Daddy had, a sweater, and glasses just like Big Daddy’s around his neck. I don’t know why my mind jumped straight to that, I suppose it was because of his outfit and his height. But it made me smile.
            We had class, ate breakfast, and then Petra, Bridget, Kaitie, Sarah, and I went with Meagan to take a couple of the babies to get casts for their clubbed feet. We drove about 30 minutes and when we got there the waiting room was full of people. I thought it was going to take over an hour just in waiting time, but we went straight back. The babies did so well. Only 2 tears! The room we went back to was like a Physical Therapy type room and it was a lot nicer than I was expecting. We all held the babies’ hands and legs while the girl was putting the casts on both of Caleb’s feet and one of Paula’s.
            We left there and right before we got back to the turn that leads us into Namwianga, Meagan wanted to stop by one of her former Haven babies, Daisy’s, house. Daisy went back to her family about 2 years ago and Meagan hadn’t seen her in over a year. We pulled up and it was exactly like a scene from a movie. Daisy was standing outside with some other older girls and as soon as she saw it was Meagan that had pulled up, she started RUNNING. Arms flailing, tongue nearly out of her mouth she was smiling so big. Meagan threw the truck in park, jumped out, and ran to meet her. When they met they just hugged and hugged. Naturally, all of us girls in the car were tearing up. There was such fulfillment and joy in that moment. After Meagan talked to both Daisy and the young ladies Daisy was standing with, we left, got back to the Mission, had lunch, and then some of us girls walked to the Havens.
            It was so good seeing my boys. I worked on Tummy Time with Aaron, and held Joel for a bit. Time FLIES when we’re there it seems. We had to leave for Mission Anthropology class, then had dinner, and headed over to Meagan’s for singing. We all had so much fun singing everything we could think of. Aubrey and I sat by each other, each of us taking turns holding little Helen. Just looking at her tininess while we were singing about the power and might and gentleness of God really gave me a different perspective of the Lord. It’s just incredible. Some others and myself stayed a little after and just laughed and played some games with Meagan for a few minutes. Meagan had to leave to give a baby at the Haven an IV, so we left and I went to the Mann House to take a shower since out water was out again.
            The rest of the night I’ve just finished blogging from last week, and journaling. I am SO tired! I can’t wait to get some GOOD, hard, sleep.

Jesus Christ, I’m in awe of the way You show Yourself. There are so many dimensions of You. You reveal Yourself in a different way every time I experience Your presence. It shows me just how great You are. I can’t wait for everything You have lined up for our group. Show us something new we’ve never seen before about You. May we let You be big. I’m so blessed to call You my Father and so humbled that You call me Your daughter. I love You, God.
 Use me. I’m all Yours.

September 5, 2012

            Two weeks of being here! This second week definitely went by faster than the first! We all woke up for our 6:30 Tonga class, had Humanities, breakfast, and then went to chapel with the George Benson Christian College students. They’ve just gotten back from their break! We sang “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” and it really, really, touched me. Just the images of the song I’ve never paid attention to, and today I really thought about it while I was singing it and it was so comforting.
            Afterwards, Bridget, Meryl, Morgan, and I went to the Havens until lunch. Joel was sleeping today, so I held and played with Mercy. She was SO smiley today! I left Haven 3 and went to Haven 2 to spend some time with the toddlers. I ended up staying about 30 minutes, having little babies CRAWL all over me. I had 5 babies sitting on my legs at one time. Best feeling ever. I LOVE the toddler house because they are able to interact, talk back, and sing songs with me. I left there after a while and spent about an hour in Haven 1. I got there and Aaron was awake, so I got him out of his bed, fed him his bottle, and then dozed off with him. I was woken up with everyone saying they were ready to go, so we walked back in time for lunch.
            Then we had Mission Anthropology and I studied for the midterm on Friday all the way until dinner. After dinner some of us girls went back to the Mann House to do homework.
            River, Molly, Bridget, Aubrey, Petra, and I all decided to go lay on the storage bins to look at the stars. They are BEAUTIFUL here. I’ve never seen so many stars. We all laid there for a few minutes and then we started talking about out lives We talked about things we struggle with and what we are hoping to learn from this trip. While talking, feeling the cool breeze on my face, it just felt so amazing. It literally felt like God was there with us.
            After sharing everything we all got down (which was hysterical) and went to Tea Time. We (all us same girls) went to the cabana table and talked about fun girl stuff. I love these girls so much. The way we’re able to cry and laugh with each other is so cool. I love it. And am so thankful. After that I came back home, showered, and am FINALLY ready to sleep. Tomorrow should be another long, but good day! I’ll be studying a lot for the midterm that’s on Friday I’m sure. Oh well! Lord, please be there to help me!

God, thank You for all of the girls You have blessed me with here. Our group is so unique. It’s only been 2 weeks, and I can tell these are the kinds of gitls I’ll stay friends with forever, Thank You for that. It reminds me that You’re taking care of me hile I’m here. Keep showing me people through Your eyes. Hive me the words and the right mindset. Purify my heart and everything not pleasing ot completely holy in me. I love You.
 Use whatever part of my You can find that might help in any way. I’m here, wanting to be used as much as You’ll allow me to be.