My oh my! So much to say :) I just got back from the Farmers Market on Power rd and can I just say that I had a blast?? Pick your own peaches AND fresh kettle corn equals too much fun for one Saturday morning (Kevin didn't happen to think so... but he was being a stick in the mud! lol I hope you read this Kev)! Mmmk, moving on to Africa!
Thursday May 20th ~ Our day in nMgwangwa (try saying that 10x fast!).
Our Thursday morning started the early like the rest, and it also included devotions at Somebody Cares. After our precious time of singing, praying and dancing, we loaded up in the vans and headed for the remote village of nMgwangwa (the N is silent)! On our way there, we stopped and purchased more sugar can -- talk about a party in your mouth! After an hour of munching on this stuff, we arrived in the village -- buzzing with energy and a case of the giggles. When we arrived, the widows were in the middle of a Widow Empowerment meeting (a weekly support group) and the young children were all in class -- to give you a picture of what their classroom looked like... it was outside, on the side of the building, with a half circle of 80+ kids trying to sit in the shade of a large African tree. The teacher was going through their ABCs and somehow held all of their attention ~ impressive!
(To give you a glimpse of how many glasses we had...)
So, with this in mind, we were asked to try and sneak by, so as not to be disruptive, and set up our vision clinic. This village had a community center as well and we were able to utilize 2 rooms -- 1 for Jeff to do vision assessments and 1 for spreading out all of the 3,000+ glasses! Soon after setting up, we had a line that going that filled up the (Ramada like) community center and then wrapped around the building! Us 3 girls and Steve (funniest guy ever -- I called him stretch master Stevie because he's finishing up his PHD is exercise and wellness) took on the task of hunting for the glasses, once given a prescription. We soon discovered that we didn't need that many hands for finding the perfect pair, so we would go in shifts, we'd tag team helping with the vision clinic and playing with the kids. Talk about fun! I ran races with the children (they were so fast!), accidentally lost control of my skirt at one point and caused a leg scandal (I was thoroughly embarrassed), and taught them all the chicken dance AND patty-cake!
One really neat story (on the vision clinic side) was centered around an elderly gentleman. He was blind in one eye and nearly blind in the other eye and we found him the perfect pair of glasses (they were pink and slightly feminine, but they were a match!). He put on the glasses and his entire face lite up -- like Tempe Town Lake on the 4th of July -- and he began shouting "I can see! I CAN SEE!" He then proceeded to shake each one of our hands (the 3 of us girls were manning the room) and he broke out into dance -- which isn't common for the men! All 3 of us girls watched him walk away and tell EVERYONE of his new-found vision. Every time her would pass someone, he's stop them and tell them of what we had done, and then he'd point the person in our direction.
(Our team posing with Sun City Specials)
All 3 of us girls began sobbing. It was so touching! AND it totally reminded me of the story in John where Jesus spits in the dirt and makes mud that he later puts on a blind man's eyes. The blind beggar soon could see and he went home telling everyone of what Jesus had done for him! So special. How great is our God?
(The Widow's Empowerment Group)
Another special moment came during one of my breaks from the vision clinic. I had swaped with Kelly and left our room for some fresh air and hopefully some relationships. Boy did I find both! After the widow's group hand ended, most of the women dispersed into the vision clinic line, but I found a small group of them still sitting in a makeshift circle, in the community center. I approached them and introduced myself to each lady. While shaking one woman's hand, she took my hand and placed it on her stomach. Unsure of what she was doing, it soon became clear to me that she wanted me to pray for her. Feeling honored, I knelt down to her level and laid hands on her stomach. Unsure of her difficulties, I prayed to the God of creation. To the God of life. I prayed for restoration of hers and petitioned for healing over her stomach. After finishing our prayer -- side note: isn't it funny to think that Amen is a universal word??, every other woman in the circle then took turns placing my hands on some broken portion of their body. I prayed, even though words felt inadequate, and beckoned God to come, pleaded for Him to heal in ways that only He could. As I approached the last woman, she placed my hands on her back in the most gentle way. I prayed, soon realizing that the groans of my heart were more powerful and offered more justice than my words, and when I finished, this woman stood up (with a baby on her back) and broke her sugar cane -- the one thing she possessed -- in two and gave me half of it. I was blown away! For someone who has next to nothing, to offer me half of what they do own, merely as a sign of gratitude... that made my heart open in a way that I have yet to experience. Again, it reminded me of the poor woman in the temple who tithed all that she had. Jesus saw that as beautiful, and for the first time in my life, I understood why.
The day ended with a looong drive back, in which we watched a man place a wheelbarrow on a woman's head -- because he was tired of pushing it down the long dirt road. We then got back to the lodge, showered and dined at the Copper Pot. Which I lovingly deemed as Porcelain Pot later. Figure that one out... :) I was wiped by the end of the day and slept heavily that night. Oh Africa.