Sunday, February 21, 2016

Not quite what I had in mind.....

Yesterday I had a clinic day with the kiddos we’ve been working with. I wish you could be inside my head and see all the plans and hopes I have for these kids.  BIG plans.  BIG dreams.  I want them to know how loved and precious they are to Jesus.  I want them to FEEL loved.  I want them to know that they have some people in the world who will go to bat for them, who will fight for them and who will encourage them. I want to teach them to read, to be educated and to make a difference in their country! I want them to KNOW JESUS!!! I want them to spend their lives being utterly amazed by His Grace and to pursue Him with everything they have.  And I want them to love people. They are the most vulnerable of the vulnerable.  They have no possessions and no “inner circle” of people who care about them the way a mother cares.  But Jesus uses the weak and the broken to minister to His people and I want them to GET THAT!!!

So many dreams. So many desires for these precious kiddos.  And it plays out so well in my head!  It’s embarrassing to admit, but with my rose colored glasses fully intact I was envisioning myself as a younger, more robust…..Mother Teresa.  “Take that Malaria!!!  You shall not have this precious child because I will vanquish you with my Artusunate Combined Therapy and Healing Touch!!” I will lovingly stroke every fevered brow while inspiring a deep devotion to Christ as they sense his Love through said Healing Touch.  And to be honest, the first few clinic days it felt like that!!  Malaria be gone!! Scabies, you’re outta here!!”

 But then we went yesterday.

And it was hot.

And the kids crowded around me so tightly I thought I was going to vomit.

And I made the rookie mistake of asking who wasn’t feeling good and got 90% of the hands raised.

And the malaria is still there even though in my mind it be miraculously cured by the new bed nets we gave them.   

And that stubborn rash is still there and I’m not sure what else to do for it.

And I had a conversation that went like this:

            Kid: Auntie, give me your sunglasses.
            Me: No, I’m using them right now.
            Kid:  Give me your sunglasses!!
            Me:  Um, no.
            Kid: You promised me you’d give me your sunglasses!
            Me: What?! I did not!
            Kid: Yes you did! Give them to me.
            Me:  No!         
            Kid: Ok, give me an egg.

As I  poked what seemed like the 100th kid to check them for malaria, the thought crossed my mind that “this isn’t quite the romantic scene I’d envisioned.”   It’s like the malaria and stubborn rashes don’t even know about my Healing Touch!!  This is getting kind of monotonous.  Malaria, malaria, rash, malaria, abscess, malaria, malaria.  

But as I put another bandaid on another foot I realized (again….for surely I’ve learned this lesson before and just forgotten) that this is real life. This is real ministry.  There will probably be moments of pure bliss and excitement, but those will be well hidden among a thousand moments of day to day faithfulness.  Monotony.  Faithful in the little things.  Faithfully  and tenderly treating tummy aches and headaches and every other ache that kids can come up with.

Lord, help me to be faithful in the little things.  Help me to faithfully love these little ones, not just when it is convenient or feels good, but daily.  Faithfully.  I want to be compassionate because You are so full of compassion.  And when my compassion fails, help me to love these kids because I love YOU and YOU love these kids.  And when I don’t FEEL loving toward You, help me to faithfully love these kids out of obedience to You. 

One day at a time.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

It Was An Accident!!

My three biggest fears here are snakes, car accidents and blunt force trauma to the head with no available neurosurgeons.  That’s it.  I’m being forced to face these fears as last week my husband gallantly saved us from a snake that was crawling in our gutter and a couple days ago Nicole and I were in my/our first car accident in Sierra Leone.    (I’m really hoping I don’t have to face the “closed head injury” fear but…..I am raising a boy.  Oh dear.) 

For those of you who have been here, you know that the driving is just…..crazy.  There are very few rules and what ones there are aren’t really followed.  Except for the “no driving in flip flops rule.”  They’re sticklers about that one. 

Nicole has been driving around our “neighborhood” but I had to go to town for a meeting so she came along and we decided she was ready to tackle driving to Freetown.  As we were driving and she was enjoying the customary honking at people (come on Nicole…you told me you love it) I told her that every time I make it back home from Freetown without an accident I thank Jesus! Literally.

Five minutes later, it happened.  We were driving down the main highway towards town when the car in front of us stopped suddenly.  Nicole did awesome and was able to stop, but the motorcycle riding our bumper wasn’t.  His head broke our back window.  I felt a wave of panic as the reality of what happened hit me.  I looked in the rearview mirror and saw that the driver was wearing a helmet and that all three people who were on the bike climbed off.  Ok.  Everyone was alive.  Thank you Lord.

One of the reasons that accidents are in my top three fears here are because of the things I’ve seen happen AFTER the accident. Things can just escalate very quickly here.  I heard about two ex-pats who were travelling up country.  Their driver hit a person with the car and then fled the scene.  The two guys he had been driving were trying to figure out what to do when a mob gathered and carried the guys into the bush and beat them up pretty badly.  Another friend of mine, a Sierra Leonean, got in an accident involving a pedestrian and a mob immediately gathered.  The policeman that came told my friend that he needed to go with him directly to the police station because he wasn’t safe there. 

So that, combined with the lack of adequate health care, makes me really, really nervous about accidents.  As I watched the people climb off the motorcycle, I sighed in relief that they were ok.  Now what?  You would think I’d have a plan for when something like this would inevitably happen but….I was at a loss.  I knew that if I showed any sign of weakness the whole thing would turn out to be my fault so I put on my “angry face” (kind of like a Mrs. Potato Head) and got out of the car.  I slowly walked to the rear of my car and gave a big “sigh” when I saw that my window was shattered.  I gave the driver a quick glance.  He was definitely shaken.  He had a tiny cut on his hand and said his head hurt (no kidding) but looked ok.  The passengers had already joined the small crowd that was forming, so they seemed to be ok too. 

I had so many emotions boiling up at the same time.  I was shaken by what had just happened.  I was thankful that no one had been hurt.  I was afraid of the whole thing escalating.   And I was angry at the motorcycle driver. I am so so so tired of the recklessness.  He not only put his own life at risk but the two people who he was carrying and every other person on the road.  I didn’t know what else to do so I did what I’ve come to do any time I don’t know what to do.  Call the hubby.  My knight in shining armor.   Or more like shorts and a t-shirt. 
So this isn't a picture of him actually coming, but this is what he looked like in my head. So tough! :)  Especially with Marie's picture riding shotgun........
Peter arrived and we exchanged cars so Nicole and I could make our meeting.   I was so relieved to get out of there.  We left for the meeting and every time I had to brake I watched my rearview mirror in fear!

When I got home later I asked Peter what had happened.  It turn out the guy had no license, his motorbike wasn’t registered and the next day his friend told Peter that he was smoking pot right before he left the house and was listening to music in his earbuds while driving.  Grrrr…..  We were promised a new back window by that evening.  That was a week ago and no window yet.   I’m not holding my breath….. J

Monday, February 1, 2016

It's All About the Shoes Daaaahling.......

When I came back to Sierra Leone in September, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do. I a few  ideas in mind but wanted to give it a couple months in the country before I committed to anything.  I wanted to work on figuring out my new role as “wife and mom in Africa” before I took on anything extra. I wasn’t sure what Peter’s job would entail and how I would need to help him.  Well, I think I’ve found what I’m going to be working on. And I’m really excited about it! J

When we were in the States at the height of Ebola, a pastor friend of ours e-mailed to tell us about a group of kids that he needed help with. Their parents were victims of Ebola and they needed help. At that time there was SO much fear in the country that a lot of relatives didn’t want these kids because they were afraid.  The idea of starting our own orphanage was thrown around in America but we could never get the funding to start it.  Peter and I sent some money over as we were able and Marie and I printed out their pictures and hung them on the wall in our house so we could pray for them every night before bed.  We told our friend that we couldn’t get the funding together so f he could find anyone else who could take care of these kids, he should definitely hand things over to them!  We got word a month or two before we came back that he found someone to support the kids.  Awesome!

As we got back to Sierra Leone and got settled, we went to check on the kiddos that we had been praying for. I wanted to see how they were doing and I really wanted Marie to see that the kids we’d been praying for were REAL kids and were going through REAL heartache.  (I think this is one of the biggest blessings in living the life we’ve chosen).  After meeting with the kids and the leaders I found out that yes, they had been receiving help, but it was kind of a hodgepodge of people supporting the kids. One man agreed to pay the salaries, one group was paying for the feeding, one woman paid the rent, etc.  But there were holes.   School was about to start and the kids weren’t going to be able to go because they didn’t have any way to pay their fees, let alone money for their uniforms and school supplies.  They also didn’t have any money for medicine.  My ears really perked up when I heard that. J

Before we left, my dad received a grant from rotary for $3,000 to be spent on “orphan care.”  When we arrived we weren’t sure how we wanted to spend that money but a plan began to formulate.  My amazing husband met with three schools that were near where the kids live and they all agreed to waive their school fees “as their Christian duty” to help. 

We calculated what we would need for uniforms and school supplies. Then my hubby went to town and spent 12 hours……shopping.  He took the orphanage director with him and wouldn’t let Nicole or I go because as soon as they saw our skin color they would jack up the prices.  The uniforms were being made by the school so they didn’t’ have to buy them but they did need to find the supplies, undershirts, socks and shoes.  Shoes.  Shoes were the biggest problem.  You can’t really take 50 kids with you into a big city to buy shoes.  Imagine 100+ mini Goodwills with everyone selling their used clothing.  Except in this case you have to negotiate every price and have multiple people yelling at you to come into their store and shoving their goods in your face.  SO not my idea of fun. J 
Taking 100 random shoes and trying to find all their matches

But my hubby is a trooper so he left the house at 6am (because apparently you get better deals early in the morning) with traced, cardboard outlines of every foot and came back with 50 pairs of black school shoes.  There were quite a few “this won’t do for me” comments during the distribution (all from the girls mind you).  One poor girl with “feet like a man’s”  giant shoes still didn’t fit.  Might have to import those from the States. 

Anyway, after being about a week late getting to school, it was so fun to go there on Sunday night and see all the girls’ hair all fancy for school. J  LOVE getting to be involved in this kind of ministry!

We had 50 bags with each bag having the kiddo's shoes and school supplies

P.S.  I didn't include any pictures of the kiddos in this post since I mentioned that they were orphans.  Friends of mine who have been working with orphans tell me that the government doesn't want us posting actual pictures of kids if we mention in the post that they're orphans. Just so you know. :)