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.