Learn this lesson well my friend
There’s a time to rejoice and lament
Every season will find an end
All will fade and be made new again.
Being deaf to the voice of the Almighty One
Spirit illuminates the dark like a fire
Revealing the way that was hidden but is higher
Now we must travel on the wings
That will never grow tired
Of searching the mysteries of God.
- Josh Garrels
July 13, 2014
This morning I woke up at 5:00 and was totally unable to go back to sleep. Luckily, Daniel was awake and we were able to Skype for over 2 hours. It was so great finally getting to talk to him unrushed and at ease.
Once everyone woke up and got ready, we left for church at the Johnson this morning while Meag stayed home with Mercy since she’s still sick.
We came back home from church and all made breakfast for lunch, complete with waffles, eggs, and bacon. So yummy. People were coming in and out of the house since more and more people are arriving for ZMM. Today’s the day we bring a baby home from the Havens to spend special time with them and since the ones each of us are wanting to bring back nap until 2:30, we decided to play some rounds of Hand and Foot to pass some time. It’s just fun to live here with Meagan. Life is just brighter with her around.
We went to the Havens to get the babies after their nap and I decided to get Joel since there’s only two more of these kind of afternoons. It’s blowing my mind how quickly this end is coming. We chitenged the babies on our backs and walked back to Meag’s house. The walk is so beautiful to me. It seems so dry and dead at a glance, but when you take the time to stop and look at it in light of the sun and how the horizon compliments the sky so well, it really is beautiful.
Joel and I spent the afternoon reading some books and I was able to FaceTime with Mom and Maggie and they were able to meet him for the first time. We also took some crazy pictures. The only thing better than Joel is a frog-eyed Joel.
|The ugliest yet cheesiest and best Photo Booth effect|
The last hour or so, River, Petra, Aubrey, Biggie, Joel, and I all sat on the front porch sitting with the kids and talking to each other. Joel was lying on my chest still as a stone. I couldn’t help but hold him and wonder what is to come of this child. What he’ll be like when he’s older. How he’ll learn to talk. How people will treat him. Who in his adult life will love him the way he should be loved.
We walked the kids back to the Havens before dark where Meag and Lou picked us up. We helped them look for some hemoglobin machine the ZMM people needed and then came back and made this awesome homemade dinner of chicken, mashed potatoes, cauliflower, and cheddar biscuits. So. Yummy. And such a treat. It’s neat how living simply makes you appreciate things like eating yummy things. After dinner Lou and Dan came over and started making caramel popcorn. It’s so fun being all together. They’re so silly and just fun to be around. Listening to them joke and sing and quote movies and talk about funny stories from a long time ago. It’s such a fun time whenever they all get hyper.
Today really highlighted this panicked feeling I’m getting about leaving Joel. Not because I think he needs me by any wild stretch of the imagination. And not because I think he won’t be ok here. I think this is the very best thing that could have happened in his life. This place has gotten him walking and doing things that he would have never done otherwise. I think the anxiousness is coming from thinking about what his life might be like post-Havens. Disabilities aren’t treated anywhere the same as the States. People with severe physical, and especially mental, disabilities become ignored beggars more times than not. Who will accept him and his disabilities? Who will take him in and who will teach him? Who will stand up for him? I have full confidence in Meagan and the Aunties’ love. But when his family comes for him there’s only so long they can love him. His family has the rights to him and he has to go back when they say they want him, and from what I know about his family from Meag it makes me so incredibly nervous. For him.
Tomorrow begins our last full week here. I’m at Haven 2, which I’m so so excited about now since I’m feeling more rested and healthy.
July 14, 2014
This morning we somehow all managed to find it within ourselves to run. It’s been a few days since I last ran and it felt pretty great making time for that part of the day.
For language class, Chimuka borrowed a Grade 2 book from Meagan. We each took turns reading a page in Tonga out loud and then tried translating it into English. It was a lot of fun. I kind of wish we had been doing this the whole time because it made learning new words much easier.
We went to the Havens and I instantly was greeted by Ella wanting to learn. We read some books in Meagan’s language classroom when we were greeted by the rest of the Haven 2 kids coming for language class. It’s so much fun being around little people who understand you and who you can finally understand. Joel was a wild man in class today. He was singing and screaming and joining right along with everyone. At some points he would get so excited, all he could do was shake and grab his face, grinning ear to ear. Meagan had to leave to go prepare for the ZMM tour coming through that morning so she left the rest of the class to Ba Clenice, a Haven 2 Auntie. Towards the end of the class, a huge group of ZMM people came in, led by Meagan, just to see all the good things about this place. They seemed impressed and it was fun to see Meagan show off all of her hard work and diligence in helping things run the way they do.
After language class we walked back to Haven 2 for nsima time. The kids can feed themselves (except for Vera) but I still like to help feed them. It gives me some extra time to interact with them. Today I was feeding Deacon and when he finished he turned his little bowl over and made it into a drum. Now that I know a little more Tonga I understand more of what the kids say to each other. They started singing and drumming to this song all the kids dance to. Each child’s name can be put into it and whenever the kids hear their own name they dance. So Deacon started drumming to my name, I started dancing, I sang it to him, he started dancing, Biggie wanted in on the fun, so he started dancing. It was just a good time. They’re starting to know who each of us interns are too, which is sweet. They’ll call us all by our names without any kind of reminding which is a special thing.
After the tour, the ZMM people went over the Eric’s House for lunch. We followed close behind them to help serve food. After we ate, we left with Meag for town so we could renew our visas. We thought we were late on this (woops) but thankfully we realized today was the exact day it expired.
We came back to the Havens and I started doing more one-on-one time. During my time with Joseph this Zambian guy walked up to the veranda and started asking me all these questions about myself. When the first question is, “Are you married?” you know it’s about to be a lively conversation. Seeing that this happens quite often here, I have to say the boldness in some of these men will never cease to both amaze me and creep me out. I would say it never gets old, but it does. It really, really does.
A few minutes later Aubrey came to get me to tell me Maya and Marissa were at Haven 3 visiting. I was so so excited to get over there and see what they look like now. Maya and Marissa are twins that weren’t even able to crawl when we left here in 2012. Since they’ve gone back to the village, now they’re walking and talking and smiling little ladies. I loved seeing Aubrey so happy knowing that the little ones who have her heart are healthy, safe, and sound.
We left after a few more minutes and went with Meagan to drop them off at a bus stop in town. In this part of Zambia (and in all parts I would imagine) there are chickens and animals that run across the road all the time. Well, on the way to town we came up on some chickens. Assuming they would run out of the way like they always do, Meagan continued but ended up running over and completely pancake-ing this baby chick. She was screaming, I was laughing, there was a clueless African grandma in the back, it was great. We stopped, got out to look at it, and then Meagan waved this lady down that was driving by. The whole scene was just hilarious. The Zambian lady driving by on her motorcycle stops and Meagan says in her best Zambian sounding English, “Hi! Ma’am, I think I killed that chicken lying there.” Silence. “That chicken back there, I think I ran over it. What do you think I should do?” She told us maybe see whose it is and talk to them. I had to cover my face the entire time I was laughing so hard.
We came back and made a Mexican meal for dinner. It’s so fun thinking of meal ideas we can do with the limited range of ingredients we can find here. After dinner we all sat around in the living room for a few hours and talked to Meag about Kailey. She wanted to know how and where we all are with it. All three of us are in completely different places but it was beautiful hearing Meagan give us wisdom from her own experience with loss and grief. She told us the best thing we can do is name what it is about the loss that makes us sad rather than letting sadness engulf us. She told us to think to ourselves, “What about this specifically makes me sad?” instead of allowing the reality of the sadness of the world take over. Acknowledge and name the grief, and then put it in its proper place. Never letting it succeed in having control over you. We all prayed together and it was just really special.
Some of the blessings from today:
- God reminding me in language class by Joel’s excitedness and ability to learn new things that he will be in His hands.
- Feeling like the kids have accepted and grown to trust us.
- Seeing another successful reconciled family through Maya and Marissa’s visit.
- The joys of life that can be found, even in squishing a chicken flat.
- Today was the first day Tracy didn’t hesitate to come with me to one-on-one time (she’s been totally against the idea of coming with any of the interns for learning).
- How the comfort others have received from God really can be used to comfort other people like the Bible says it can.
July 15, 2014
This morning River and I ran the usual trail before having language class where we read more out of the grade 2 book. It’s been really beneficial and instantly applicable right when we get to the Havens, which is so helpful.
I managed to get to some one-on-one time before language class. Language class has become one of my favorite things about being here. It’s great being able to see each kid shine in their own way. They each add something different to the group as a whole. And even being gone from Haven 2 for two weeks now, I’m able to see improvements in some kids’ accuracy of colors and animals and counting. The last 30 minutes of language class we broke into centers and Meagan and I went outside with the older kids to do some matching bingo animal game. She named off the kids she wanted to come outside with us (she chose the older ones that could understand the game really). She didn’t choose Joel even though he is one of the older ones. And when he realized she hadn’t picked him to go, he started crying like crazy. I’ve never seen him shed tears due to his feelings being hurt and Meag said she hadn’t either. But that’s exactly what happened. It made me sad obviously but also kind of happy at the same time because it means he’s finding ways to express himself outwardly to communicate what he feels on the inside. Good, good signs. Meag let him join in our game by letting him be the one to hand me the cards.
After our game, we left for nsima time. It cracks me up that every day I go into Haven 2, there’s WWE showing on the TV with at least two Zambian men watching. I ask myself why. So after nsima time I experienced Joel’s second fit (both of the day, and ever) I’ve ever seen him throw. I fed him his nsima and he finished, so Bina Sankwa told him to go to toilet time (all the babies are lined up on these plastic toilets completely naked and are told to sit there until they go, and yes it is the most precious sight in the world) but Joel didn’t want to. She stood him up and starting walking with him and he just lost it crying. It sounds weird to say I’m proud of him when he’s acting sassy, but I am. He’s developing in new ways and I’m proud of that.
I began my one on one time soon after bath time and I managed to get through all but 2 kids today. The time flew by because I’m able to do activities that last longer than just a couple books like in Haven 1. I’m able to do cards and then match plastic letters and numbers to the cards, do sorting and grouping; it’s just a fun break being able to teach and have some kind of reciprocation.
Seth (Sessa Boy) has started joining us for our intern lunches. He doesn’t eat with us but he loves to sit beside us and play with our hair. So today he was sitting there and then decided he needed to go to the bathroom. So he walked to a tree that was beside River, turned his back to us, and pulled down his pants. Well, he got this bright idea to turn around and then spin in circles…all while peeing. Boys will be boys? It brightened our day but still. Help.
I got to sit outside with some of the Aunties out at the buundus. The Haven 3 kids were out there playing with the Haven 2 kids and I noticed Kent sitting and eating his snack. He looks so much better it’s unreal. They shaved his head to try and get the cream for his ringworm on his scalp better and to also see if it would help his hair grow back more healthily. His skin seems to have cleared some too. He looks so so much better.
Meag went home early to take care of Mercy so we walked back with the sunset. We got home and made a homemade dinner of this broccoli salad stuff and fried okra. I put my Smoothie King skills to good use and made everybody some fruit smoothies before playing some cards.
It was such a great day of being with the kids. I realize how smart they all are when they surprise me with how much they know of the alphabet and shapes and being able to speak two languages for crying out loud. They’re just bright kids that love life. I love learning from them.
July 16, 2014
This morning was our last day of language class with Chimuka. I got up and made some blueberry muffins for us all. Aubrey woke up feeling pretty sick so she forwent the day, but it was a great last day with her. We read from a grade 3 Tonga book and it was so hard! Nearly all of the words were new to us.
Today is Joel’s birthday so it was a party at the Havens. We sang to him and I made sure to hug him a little tighter. Meagan had to meet with a lady at the clinic and wasn’t able to be there to do language class, so Chimunya had to take over. It was a COMPLETE disaster. None of the kids would sit, all of them had toys in their hands, they were all talking, and at no time were all of them paying attention. It was so awful I felt sorry for Chimunya. We struggled through the hour and a half before going to nsima time. It’s kind of good to see them like that on occasion though because it keeps me having the perspective that they’re just kids. They’re not any more angelic just because they’re African. They can be (and are) just as bratty and ornery sometimes.
Today, Seth could tell me every letter, color, and animal I showed him with 100% accuracy. So. Cool.
One of my favorite things about these kids is how much of a family they are to one another. They’re constantly sharing everything. Clothes, food, rooms, everything. They’re always with one another and treating each other like brothers and sisters. One thing Ella always does in our time together is whenever we read a book, she’ll without fail find people or animals on a page and label which of the Haven 2 kids they are. Today we were reading a Dr. Seuss book and there was a page with a lot of crazy looking animal/people things and she started rattling off everyone’s name. “That’s Ella. That’s Maureen. That’s Biggie. That’s Deaco.” It’s the sweetest how much they each consider the others in everything they do.
Since it’s Joel’s birthday, I jokingly said something about him coming home with us for a birthday party and Meagan totally was for it. We didn’t have a party but he did get to come home to spend the night with us! We left the Havens with him and came back to make some dinner. It’s Mercy’s birthday today too so when we got home Meag put them both in these cute little outfits. We made dinner and ate before the girls came over for Bible study.
Tonight we talked about Nicodemus and how being born again relates to a passage from Ezekiel. Some of the girls asked some good questions about baptism. A couple of them are really deep thinkers and it’s really neat to observe Meagan’s dynamic with them.
I knew bringing Joel home was a bad idea. Not because it was a bad idea, but because now I love him that much more. It’s just painful honestly thinking about saying goodbye. I got to ask Meag some questions about the status of his family and the most current situation of what the plans are for him. I wish he was mine so badly knowing about all the options for his special needs along with the amount of love I have for him. It’s going to be a struggle coming to terms with the truth that I’m leaving here without him and accepting that he may not have the quality of life I wish he could have. Not because African life isn’t good quality life. It’s not a matter of nationality. It’s a matter of having access to the kind of stimulation and care for special needs. And he won’t have that where he’ll grow up. But he will have his family. And he will be relatively close to Meagan so that she can drive to check on him. I just want to believe that he’ll be taken care of. And I think he will. But I want him to be more than just taken care of. I want him to be the best he can be and to feel loved every day of his life.
July 17, 2014
This morning the plan was to wake up and be at the Havens by 7 so we could drop off Joel and walk to the village to spend the day there cooking lunch for our host families and hanging out with them one last time.
I woke up early so I could check on Joel and see if he was sleeping well through the night and my stomach was feeling upset. I ended up getting super sick. I was planning on still going to the village so I could cook lunch for Bina Mbombo, but I just felt awful and the village is the last place you feel like being when you’re sick on any level. All morning I just kept getting sick over and over again and spent most of the morning on the cold cement floor with a blanket. I really can’t remember the last time I was that violently ill. Definitely a low point. I imagine it was pretty pitiful looking.
I spent all day in the bed feeling incredibly nauseous and trying my hardest to sleep it off. Lou gave me some Phenergan, which helped me sleep for a while, and left me waking up feeling much better. I was able to manage some soup for dinner while Meagan and River went to help serve the ZMM team their Mexican meal. Lou stayed at home with Aubrey and I since Lou’s mono is starting to flare up again. We were joking about how this house is just full of sick people! But it was really nice because Aubrey and I had a really great talk with her about Dan, her life, their life together, and just a lot of good things.
I’m super sad the day didn’t happen like I thought it would and even more sad that sickness is just now happening at the end of our trip. It’s just frustrating to me because last night I felt totally fine and then today I couldn’t stop getting sick. But I definitely am more appreciative of good health now that I’m not throwing up every hour.
Tomorrow’s my last day in Haven 2 so I really really hope I wake up feeling good enough to finish as strong as I want to.
July 18, 2014
Thankfully we all woke up this morning feeling healthy and ready to take on the last day of this week. We got ready and went straight to the Havens. When I got there I found Bina Mbombo and talked to her about how sorry I was that I was sick. She seemed to understand and I was able to give her the basket I had gotten her as a gift of thanks. She really loved it.
Language class was special today because we celebrated Joel’s birthday. We made some cupcakes a couple of nights ago and the kids loved them. It was so sweet seeing the kids dote over Joel and celebrate him. He’s so great at being in the background and encouraging other people, so to see him praised makes my heart happy.
After language class, it was nsima time like always. I helped feed and then helped Ba Susan in the kitchen with the dishes and the sweeping while the kids were taking their bath. Even in small things like doing the dishes, I feel like I’ve found a small place with the Aunties. Not because I’m doing a job but because they actually talk to and joke with me now. Ba Susan told me she would be sad that I would be leaving. It’s kind of comforting to feel like you’ve managed to find some kind of place in all of this.
After lunch I got started right away with one-on-ones. Pretty soon Emmett showed up to take us on an adventure into town. We caught a ride, ran some errands he needed to run, browsed around, and stopped at El P for a cooler before walking back. We sat at El P for a while talking with Emmett about his week and the classes he’s been guest teaching at the college. He’s been talking about the teachings of Paul and told us a lot of the guys had questions about disciplining their wives by beating, discussing whether or not it was appropriate. It’s interesting to see how different the issues are over differing cultures.
|Emmett and the 'terns|
We decided to be trailblazers (in the most literal sense of the word) and find a shortcut back to Namwianga. It took us about an hour and a half, so we cut off a little time. It was an incredible walk. I mean we were walking through plains and plains of nothing but Africa as far as your eyes let you see. There were trees and brush and gardens and we even came up on this huge rock thing that was like Pride Rock from Lion King. It was surreal realizing how special this experience is and understanding just how cool the things we’re doing really are.
We got back to Meag’s house and fixed a quick dinner before going out to the Merritt’s for our last night of singing. We stopped by the Havens so we could each bring someone with us. I picked Joel naturally, and he was a champ. He was talking to me all throughout the night.
We got back to Meag’s and played some cards before the power went out, not so surprisingly, and we called it a night.
Health is one of those things you forget to be thankful for until you don’t have it. Or someone you know/love doesn’t have it. I’m so grateful to be feeling so much better and that I’m able to live this last week with 100% of me. It’s weird realizing that I need to go ahead and say goodbye to people I run into since it may be my last time to see them. It feels too soon to be saying goodbye.
July 19, 2014
Our sleep in day is such a highlight as it marks a week of hard work completed. Aubrey and I woke up around the same time and worked on Meagan’s birthday present since it’s coming this Wednesday. The day before we leave actually. Kind of depressing really if you think about it too much.
Once Meag got up we played some card games before walking to Wasawange. We wanted some quilts made so Meagan brought a lady to us a few days ago that could make them for us. I gave her all of my chitenges I’ve ever worn while being here both times and am having a couple of quilts made from them. We walked to Wasawange (where she lives) to check on how they were looking and to give her some backing and batting for them. I had this HUGE roll of batting chitenged on my back. I couldn’t have fit my arms around the whole roll if I would have tried. We got to her house and they looked SO great. I’m so excited to get them.
We walked back by Eric’s House to get a couple of things from Jason and Cyn’s gift shop before walking back to Meag’s through the paddock and making this huge Mexican feast for dinner: guac, homemade tortilla chips, fajitas complete with bell peppers and onions. It was so much fun all cooking together.
We went to the Merritt’s for a game night and played with Kathi and Cyntia. It’s so fun being a part of their talks and jokes. I’m grateful for these moments.