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.