Friday, June 25, 2010

{Africa. Day Twelve.}

(My favorite orphan... it really does take a village to raise a child)

*Written on Tuesday, but I JUST got back from the mountains today!*

Hi hi hi  I am currently up in Pinetop – likely one of my favorite places in Arizona! I’m in the backseat of my grandparent’s Jeep on our way to Hannagan Meadows. We’re currently chilling (waiting on road construction) RIGHT next to the sunrise ski slopes. Oh how that brings up stressful memories (me + skiing = baaaaad idea!). Anyhow, It’s about 65 degrees and gorgeous up in the mountains, and we are just about to leave the asphalt for some fun on the dirt roads! I love it. Moving on…

Wednesday May 26th ~ Early morning and day in Chikudzulire.

One of my most special memories happened this morning! No, I’m not talking about squatting in the African bush, nor am I referring to waking up at 4 am after having only 5 hours of sleep, I’m talking about what happened after we woke up and emptied our bladders... We gathered again under the ramada in the Community Center and began praying until sunrise. It was so special. I had Godbumps (not to be confused with goosebumps) about the entire time!


Each prayer would begin with the Youth Leader announcing a topic (salvation for the village, revival in the hearts of the villagers, pursuit of holiness for the youth in the village… and the topics went on), we would then sing a song of thanksgiving and praise, and then we would all begin praying – collectively – for the designated topic. It was beautiful, and it was such a special memory we got the pleasure of making with the youth. I tell you what, I had yet to hear such fervent prayers – these youth were passionate! It was as if they knew that all they had came from God and their prayers were prayers from desperate people. They were desperate for Him, for His presence in their lives and in their villages. It was truly a privilege.

Once the sun rose, we broke into groups and began doing the “morning chores.” I was designated to the sweeping team and that was a hoot! A handful of us used their brooms (they’re really just brush bound together – with no handle), bent over and swept the entire community center. Another group collected firewood, still another mopped (after we had finished), Kelsey’s group cleaned dishes and Chris’ group made breakfast. It was fun and forget the whistle, we sang while we worked!

For breakfast, I joined Dorris, my eating partner, for a special treat of white bread and sweet tea. Both are delicacies in the village, and both are only enjoyed once a year on Christmas morning. Our sleepover was grounds for celebration (at least that’s what Dorris said), so they were generous enough to provide us with the best. As for the tea (it was thick like syrup), they boiled tea bags in water and placed a few stalks of sugar cane in for the sweetener. And the bread, well each set of eating partners received an entire loaf to split (this was bad news for me because I was still full from the night before!). Again, I was lucky enough to have Dorris, because I only had to eat 2 pieces of bread, and drink ¾ of my tea. I was SO full but didn’t want to offend anyone by not finishing my meal. Dorris laughed and excused me. Boy was I lucky! Some people on my team had to finish an ENTIRE loaf. I’m pretty sure I would have been sick!

(Isn't JP the cutest?)

After breakfast, we all cleaned up and headed over to the girl’s secondary school to do some repair. The guys were able to build screens to hang over the open windows and thus help prevent further cases of malaria! In Malawi, the majority of the schools function in a manner resembling boarding school. The kids are sent away to school, live in the dorms during the school year and go back to their village during breaks. In the case of these dorms, the girls (50+ of them) live a building about 2/3 the size of a QT (I was trying to think of something to compare it to and this was all that came to mind… ha!). In other words, there were a LOT of bodies smushed into a decent size space. Their bathrooms, well… I’ll just post a picture of their bathrooms to give you the full effect.
Picture this: A decent size building with concrete floors, no electricity, no running water or functional windows (that can close). Then put over 50 girls ages 14-18 in this and stack them in. The room was crazy! The girls were loaded with smiles and giggles and it was then that I remembered how well I have it. They didn’t understand why Americans sleep on alters (beds). They asked why we had to sleep lifted up and my mind was so boggled! I slept on the concrete for 1 night (last night) and was in dire need of a chiropractor, yet these girls are so full of cheer because they are privileged enough to come to school! This was a crazy change in perspective for me! Camping would have been more comfortable than their living arrangements. I am digressing…

Our team was able to build screens which keep the mosquitoes out, but still allow fresh air in, and we were able to hang over 50 mosquito nets in the girls dorm! They were singing with excitement! I spent the last small portion of our day just sitting and watching the kids. I have come to LOVE the village life. I really think (if it weren’t for the bathroom arrangements and concrete floors) that I would almost prefer their simplistic lifestyle. The children all play until just before dark, the women sit in the shade of trees and simply share life; the men sit under the ramada and play a game with dice and beans and there is no agenda, no where to be, no pressing duties. They are free to be and THAT is beautiful.

(Note the spider)

As we pulled away from the village this afternoon, I was exhausted but more than that, I was full. Yes, I had feasted on bread and tea AND nSima, stinky fish and greens, but that was definitely not what I mean. My soul was satisfied. The kind of satisfied in which there was nothing lacking in my life. I was full. I am full. Do you know the Jesus? Do you know that He can be your portion and satisfy you in a way in which nothing – not even the remote villages of Africa – else can? How great is our God?
We ended the night with a wonderful dinner! We cleaned up at the lodge and headed for The Four Seasons in Malawi. We ate well and had such a wonderful time as a group! Sleep had never been so sweet.

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