Wednesday, September 3, 2008

33 hours to go...

I have now spent the last 3 weeks in the Western Cape of South Africa. I have spent time with the hardest gang on the streets of Cape Town. I have been to the southern most point of Africa, seen penquins and snow (in two separate locations!), fed the homeless, walked the streets with "street-children, " taught classes in an industrial size trash container, held countless orphans, played soccer and rugby with random strangers in the street, ate some of the best tasting meat grilled on top of a trash can with my bare hands...

I've been dolled and dressed up to see a high school senior off for her "prom." Been bled on, spit on and loved on! I have been treated with dignity, respect, honor... and also been seen only as a dollar sign and easy target! I have cried, laughed and prayed with strangers. I have been given one of the greatest gifts of a life time.

I have seen the face of Jesus in the eyes of a child. I have seen my own face in the oppressor and the oppressed. And I am growing to see how Jesus died for both of them. I struggle with how it is all supposed to make sense! I don't get how God has it all figured out! How is it fair that so many have too much and WAY TOO MANY have nothing?

I pray for both; the oppressor and oppressed alike!

It is a strange sit here, knowing I only have 33 hours left in Africa. Six of those I will spend sleeping, two I will spend driving, and two I will spend at the airport. So really, I have 23 hours left of LIFE in Africa, until I return home!

It is a strange feeling!

This is one of the moments in life that I can truly attach the word, "bittersweet." I miss my family and friends very much. Not in the way that it has taken away from my experience here; not in the slightest. However, now that it is becoming closer and closer to getting to see them; I can't wait!

As I get closer and closer to seeing them...I get dreadfully closer to leaving what I have come to love! I don't know how it is possible just yet, to go back to a place that I have many people whom I love, and still have my heart in Africa. These children have stolen my heart. As I lay awake at night; their faces, their laughs, their stories, keep running through my mind. I dream of how I can come back and be with them again. Their little hands in my hands. Their faces pressed up against mine. I am scared the day will come when I can't feel that anymore! I am convinced; their is nothing in this life, like the heart of a child.

I wish I could put into words the strange feeling that it is to leave this place. I am so fortunate to have come here. I have experienced a life amongst the "least of these" and found my heart amongst the greatest in the Kingdom of God. These children are the greatest in His kingdom. And my heart breaks as I think about leaving them behind... I want to scream out, "it's not fair!"

Beyond a doubt; we are loved by God. By loving these children, they have shown me the love of Jesus. It is weird to think about; but God showered His blessings upon me through the heart of a child... over and over! I am blessed! I only pray, that I have been a blessing to them!

...32 and a half hours left...

tears... lots and lots of tears...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Last update from Africa...

Hi all! This may be my last email before I head back in three weeks!

Things have been completely unbelieveable! I am SO BLESSED! The last few weeks I have been able to do so much! After I emailed you last time I had just returned from Witvlei (I can never remember how to spell that name, forgive me) and from there I went back to working at the center and prepared for my weekend trip!

Over the last two months I have become really close with one of the girls here; she's 19 and doing the teacher training here at the center. She invited me to go back with her to her village and spend a weekend! So that is what i did! Her village is only about an hour away, so saturday morning we boarded a crowded mini-bus and headed toward her village! As soon as we got off the bus, I knew we were in for some fun! Everywhere I went-everyone stared! For one, I was white...and I was new in town! All the people wanted to know who I was, where I was from... and when they found out...they said, "take me with you." Everyone was so incredible warm and welcoming! We walked around, met all her neighbors, went on a donkey cart ride, and horse ride, and just saw the sights and met the people! On our walk, we got invited to a 21st birthday party! So of course we accepted! That night we all sat around the fire and ate the wonderful dinner her mother prepared, shared one cup of water and her mother then prepared the bath for me! HA! What an amazing experience! That night we went to the party, met lots of people and did about 4 hours straight of dancing! Oh it was so fun! I got shown how to do their traditional "African Long-Arm" dances as well as just how the young folk dance in Africa! Oh it was so great!

Sunday I went to a Damara speaking church, where I didn't understand a word!!! We said our teary goodbyes and headed back for home!

Then the next weekend... we headed to their little german influenced beach town: Swakopmund! Loreta had been there only once, she's never been on a plane or the internet! So we at lease had to take care of one of those things! So in Swakop we went right on the internet! I got to show her pictures of my friends and family! It was so great! We also went sandboarding!! Sandboarding is almost like snowboarding except on sand! And Swakopmund has the largest sand dunes in the WORLD! HA! It was a little scary at first... but I just did it! It was SO fun! And the guys we met were incredible, they are all from the townships there in Swakopmund and after work they take the kids from the townships out for an afternoon of sandboarding (of course for free) and they give back so much! They were great guys! We came back and went for a long relaxing walk on the beach...out to dinner and then met up with a bunch of people (like 20) that we had much and hung out til after 3 in the morning! Oh they are such great people!!!

Then sunday came time for us to head home... so we boarded another crowded mini bus and headed back to windhoek! I was then to prepare for my last few days with the kids... how was I supposed to prepare for that! School was to end on Wednesday and I had three days to say my goodbyes! I couldn't handle it! Too sad! I had about three days of straight tears! The kids didn't understand why I was crying, except that I would miss them! They prayed for me, told me thank you for playing with them and loving them, they said they would miss me too, then a few started crying! That was the hardest part!

As I have to keep this a little shorter than I would like due to time... Let's just say...

The people here of Namibia have made a great influence on my life! They have left their impression on my heart! My life will never be the same! The beauty that God places in the face of a child, in the face of an auma (grandmother), in the face of people...everywhere; is amazing! God commands our worship when we look into the eyes of each other, believer or not! He created us...and He has the power to bring us back! We are so blessed for having an opportunity to be loved and to love our Creator! Those children, my Namibian friends...they are blessed by God, in so many ways I have only begun to understand! I will miss them, and pray for them! They will stay in my heart and I hope to honor them with my life!

I love you all! Thank you so much for allowing me to bring the love of Jesus to these people! And in addition, they brought me the same!

Friday, August 1, 2008

WOW!!!! Time is flying by...

Time has flown by! I can't believe I have already been here a month and a half! I am loving it here! The children are amazing! As I get to know them more and more; they are really trusting me and showing me their true colors! They are beautiful children! I have been teaching a lot, as well as doing the regular duties of running the center!

This past weekend has definitely been my favorite time here so far! We spent a weekend in a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere! We spent our time playing games, singing and dancing and basically just loving on 126 children, ages 7-17. The children that we spent our time with were bushman children! Which means, their parents (if they are still alive) are nomads in Africa and there is nowhere for the children to go to school unless they live at a sort of boarding school, called a hostel.

The sad facts about these kids:
A large percentage are orphans
These are the poorest of the poor
Most don't have underwear, socks, or even shoes
No towels or even toys
Most rarely see parents, even on weekends where they can go one comes for them
No vaseline, lotion, soap, toothpaste, pads (for the girls)

Yet they are well-behaved, caring, beautiful children! All they have is each other!

We spent the weekend with them...holding, singing and loving them! It was one of the best times of my life! I will remember them and think of them always!

This is Cruzero...isn't he precious!

and of the "tough" guys!!

I am teaching a class here! Sebastian, Herold, Sakkie and George! We are doing paper mache...

Some of the girls...getting ready to start paper mache!

Celestine and I on the way home... we take her home as it is very far from the center!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

New Update!

Matisa (good morning in Afrikaans) Aloha everyone! Oh I miss you all and love you! And I am so glad to be sharing this journey with all of you! I hope you all have been receiving my emails and pictures! These children and staff are such a joy and truly amazing! The kids here amaze me with their capacity to love and be loved! They teach me a great deal every day! This last week I taught the preschool training for a day and a couple of the preschool classes! I lead worship with the kids and am teaching the preschool a bunch of new songs! It is so awesome to know that I am being used here and that I am helping; even if it's in a small way! This last week I got pretty sick with a cold/flu and had to stay home friday... but have been sleeping a lot and hope to be better this week! This last week also got a lot warmer so it was nice to walk around in a t-shirt during the day!

my favorite barber shop here!

the view of the dam on base... one of our favorite places to be alone with God

Tinzino and me...

some of the young boys of youth!

playing a game with the youth!

anyway...hope that shows a little of what i am doing here.. upcoming... next weekend we are heading to a village about an hour or so from here to do a camp with about 100 youth/teenagers! it will be a 3 day camp and I am super excited! we have a whole dutch team or 18 people helping and it will be so great! I will definitely fill you in on it when i get back... full of pictures and all! please pray for it will be much colder than it is here! and just safety! also... i am going to a village in a couple weeks with one of my friends here... she has welcomed me into her home so I will be staying with her and her family! exciting! gonna go fetch water and everything! and we are also looking into going sandboarding... it is about 20-30 us dollars to go... and the highest dunes in the world are here! :) crazy! please also keep zimbabwe and south africa in your prayers... plenty have been killed and go hungry and homeless... xenophobia is terrible and they are in desperate need of assistance to get their lives back together... love you all and miss you much!


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Update #1 ...from Africa

where i sleep! kind of luxury!! a sleeping bag and blanket have never felt so nice!!

these are the some of the tent houses... with a contrast to the more expensive ones behind!

patty and tenzino!!! his little potbelly... we are praying for this little one constantly... also trying to give him all his daily vitamins... his is so mal nourished at home... it is scary to send him home for the weekends...

the beautiful kidz at play!!

Emilie, Luke and Celio!! some of the workers here!

the little ones... :)

ladies doing what they do best... doing each other's hair

the kids are praying for one another... laying hands and praying for the upcoming year (it is their birthday)

So here in Namibia I am in constant joy!!! The people I have come in contact with are amazing... they are so different from me in so many ways yet are the same as we all are... God's children. They love Jesus yet all show it in different ways... We all worship God as an outpour of who He created...
The children here are hungry... they are hungry for love and affection...
At home the children are treated as adults (having to run errands, cook, clean, watch over their younger siblings). This is also a pretty violent area and aggression runs full swing at home and at school between the chilren...
At school all the children desire is hugs and kisses... and everywhere i constantly hear, "look, teacher... teacher, look" as they run and jump and try anything to get a "good job" or a "wow!" they need all the affection I can give and also a sense of order to their lives...
However... they are constatly showing me new ways to be content...
People here live in a different kind of poverty I've ever knows... however, it points out the kind of poverty I have been in my entire life... yet was blinded to! The US is so infected with a kind of poverty that is escapable... a poverty that is: loneliness and discontent... because we are so independent (I earn this money, I bought these things, I can do it for myself... etc, etc...) we miss out on the beauty that Africa is in the process of teaching me...
Cooking meals is a community event; one person does the potatoes, another the pumpkin (squash), another the carrots, another the meat... then they come together to dine as a family (many many people at once).., they are content with sports! And I'm not talking about mega dollar video games or the latest and greatest... but they can play for hours with a simple soccer ball (old, new, used, constructed from random doesn't matter) ... as a group they find joy... they are not perfect... but they are never alone... they realize they need each other... as we sometime forget...
I am learning and loving... and doing my best to do as God asks! I love you and will write again soon!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008