Sunday, June 6, 2010

{Africa. Day Seven.}

Today has been a lovely day! I slept in until 10 *which is the latest I've slept in since starting school last fall*, laid out by the pool and listened to the Ted Decker book "Black" on my Kindle, talked on the phone with my dear friend Jasmine, came inside and made homemade mayo to go on a tasty lunch wrap, and now I'm sitting in the library sopping wet from the swimming pool. (how's that for a run-on sentence?) I've spent the last 30 mins swimming, and trying to teach my annoying dog Riley to stop trying to drown me. He thinks it is pretty comical to pounce on my shoulders while I'm in the water and watch me submerge in the water, only to scramble to the surface -gasping for air- and starting the cycle all over again. My solution for this: hold onto his hips and let him drag me around the pool for 30 mins until he's too tired to mess with me. Just another day in the life of an Alpha She-male! haha Totally kidding :) Moving on!

Friday May 21 ~ Day in Chetemba (pronounced CHA-TIM-BA)

5:45 came bright and early. I suppose now would be a great time to tell you about the sunrise. Ah! Talk about beautiful! When the sun comes up, the sky was fiercely orange, which provided a gorgeous contrast to the intense blue skies. In addition to that, we woke up every morning to birds singing AND tropical weather. I'm not typically a morning person, but for some reason, waking up early was effortless when I knew what was waiting for me outside my window!

We arrived to the Somebody Care's headquarters around 7:30 (as usual) and took part in "Team Building Activities" instead of devotions -- it's a Friday tradition, apparently. Let's just say that our team lost (unfortunately) in a game comparable to Taboo. For the record, I don't really see how it's team building because it seemed to be more of a catalyst for division than unity... but I ate my share of humble pie along with Steve and Keta and all was well. :) After losing by 2 points, we loaded up in the car and headed for Chetemba ~ Theresea's village (she's a chief there).

The drive out was beautiful as usual, and the welcoming committee we had was the largest one of the entire trip! Hundreds of people lined the road, all ready to greet us! It was lovely. After singing and dancing for a while, we began pulling out the glasses to jump start a vision clinic.

Ever since I had first stepped foot outside of the van, I noticed one girl in particular. She was likely 10 or 12, had a slender build and a pretty purple dress on. She was cross eyed, and in a severe way. I can remember pointing her out to Jeff and telling him that I really wanted her to be seen. He agreed.

(Driving up to the village)

Our of all of the villages, Chetemba was the scariest for me. Up to this point, I hadn't had reason to be fearful, but in this village, my heart definitely went pitter pat. I had survived my time in the slum and even though I was told not to be more than a step away from the group at all times, even there I wasn't fearful. This village seemed chaotic to me. One reason for Chaos was the glasses themselves. You see, up to this point, we had always had a contained (and typically indoor) setting with which to store and dispense the glasses, but in Chetemba, we had to set up the glasses outside -- among the people. Admittedly, I didn't know much about what was going on outside, because I was helping Jeff inside of the Chief's hut. My job was to be the muscle. Ha, i know, I laughed when he told me that too! "I'm just a little white girl" was my response!

(Welcoming Committee)

My job was this: to keep the room dark (with the help of blankets and what not) and to regulate the flow of patients. Simply, I would crack open the door, fight off the crowd of people that were now on the porch and wrapped in a line around the main part of the village, and let only ONE person in. It was hard! But I did it! It's called being assertive, and it is one nursing character trait that I have NOT had the best luck with. So, slowly but surely, we began to make a large dent in the line and were able to help a lot of people! We took a break for lunch, which consisted of nSima (pronounced ZEE-MA), greens and chicken. The chief of the village was so kind as to prepare the meal for us and we even got to eat in his house (the same place we were using for vision assessments). It was a 2 bedroom hut, and the main room was LOADED with tobacco plants. I thought that I was going to get high off of the fumes (they were so strong), but I survived!

(Kathryn was one of my favorite Somebody Care workers! She is a widow, has 5 children -- all grown now, and asked me to come back to Malawi when I have my first baby so that she can teach me how to tie it to my back with a chatingi!)

After lunch, the crowd outside the door became rather rowdy. I soon began to notice that those who were next in line prior to lunch, were no longer on the porch and were replaced by a handful of younger, stronger men. I then began to watch as younger men would muscle their way to the front of the line -- pushing aside, and away the frail and the old (who could really benefit from glasses). I became irritated and can remember thinking, where is the justice in this? I found myself loathing and detesting these men, the more the appeared. Towards the end of the day, Jeff gave me the heads up that we could only see a few more people, so I opened the door, resisted a young man who tried to force his way in (I may be small and scrawny, but I'm not to be messed with ;)), jumped off the porch, grabbed the girl in the purple dress by hand -- as well as an older woman, and escorted them past the front of the line and into the hut. My heart was pounding. Pitter pat, PITTER PAT, and as soon as I closed the doors behind us, all h-e-double-hockey-sticks broke loose! Evidently, I had upset the young men and it was then that I realized how foolish I had likely been. They could have easily jumped me, or at least overpowered me... they could have hurt me, but soon after the craziness on the porch, the chief stepped and settled them down. I was happy to leave the village, I was glad to climb in the car. I was shaken from the fear that had since caught up to me, but helping the girl in the purple dress was well worth it.

On the hour drive home, I was silent. I leaned against a window and thought about justice. Justice is getting what you deserve. I replayed the day's events over and over again in my mind and decided that the young men, who intimidated their way to the front of the line, they didn't deserve to be seen over the elderly and the ill who had been waiting for hours. They didn't deserve it. And then I remembered... if I were to get what I deserve, if God would grant me that much, I'd be forever removed from Him. Jesus didn't just come to give me mercy -- not getting what I do deserve, He brought me grace -- getting what I don't deserve. For the remainder of my car ride home, His grace held my mind captive. How fortunate am I that my creator foresaw my failures, saw me in the midst of my ugliness, recognized that which I do warrant (eternal damnation) and then chose to give me that which I could never deserve -- for free. How great is our God? Lesson learned: delivering justice isn't always bad, but the power lies in dispensing mercy, and grace if you're able.

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