Monday, August 23, 2010

africa-day seven

july 22, 2010

peace, love, safari! woot, woot! today we went on the safari and we got to go shopping at the candle factory and market! it was so fun and well needed! we slept in a little and headed to the safari ground. i went with kelli and amber! we of course had a blast! we saw lots of animals. about twenty min after we were out our jeep got a flat tire! our driver was calm as a clam (i don't know if that is a correct statement. ha). but before he changed it he jumped on top of the jeep to see if there were any deadly animals around! then he asked us to be on the look-out! although it was quite hilarious, it was pretty scary. 

saw impalas, antelope, elephants, rhinos, hippos, vultures, warthogs, and giraffes! we actually got to get out of the jeep and get real close to the giraffes! it was awesome. God made some gorgeous animals!

sweet friends <3

after the safari we went to a market and the swazi candle factory! it was awesome! all the candles are hand dyed and sculpted! they were great!  there was an open market right outside of the factory too! the day was awesome and a perfect "relaxer" from a crazy week, but sitting still for six hours was not my thing, right kellie?! tomorrow is litsemba! yayaya!

africa-day six

july 21, 2010

wow. as i sit here and write this it is hard not to cry. today was tough. let me first explain it was our last day at "our" church. before i talk about that let me explain how much i adore my team (random, i know). oh yeah. i am a little obsessed.  they are so fantastic and i have made great relationships with them that will last a lifetime. 

attempting to carry the bucket full of avacodos.
you can just figure out if it worked or not:)
okay, back to my journey. we went to the church today knowing we would be giving away clothes as well as food in the community. best group leader ever (sandra) went to the store and bought some food and we took it to our community. rafael and president took my group (kelli, megan, brandon, and i) to four homesteads. homesteads have a few TINY buildings where a family lives including their extended family. my heart broke during this time because all of the pictures you could imagine came alive right before my eyes. i have never experienced a need and poverty like this. the homes were squares of cement "brick" or mud and sticks made by themselves. the roof was made of thatch. trash was everywhere. wild dogs and cats, chickens and cows roamed the area and it was completely unsafe. it was hard for me to imagine allowing my family or children to stay in a place like this, but this is all these people know. the people were amazing. everyone pulled out mats (rugs) for us to sit down on. we sat and read the Bible to them, prayed for them, and gave them their gifts. i have never seen someone so spiritually and physically hungry. they were so pleased to hear the Bible. the Bible is a luxury in this country. only churches have them (makes me thankful for the countless copies i have under one roof). all these precious people wanted was to have God's word read (if only more people were like that). many wept and some even gave us gifts. yes. you heard me. they went to their beautiful gardens and gave us their prized possessions. 

when we got back to the church we got bible school ready. the kids started coming so we turned on their new favorite song and danced to "happy day." (as soon as i can figure out how to upload a video i'll share) as we danced and sang i looked over only to see this precious boy who looked sad. i am a fixer, so i went up to him grabbed his hands and started dancing. he just looked at me with his little sick eyes and was silently crying out for help. when he opened his mouth he looked like he had just eaten a red sucker, but much to my surprise his mouth was full of blood. tears started pouring. i wanted to know his story so i asked and he wasn't afraid to talk. as he started to talk that precious boy gave me more than i could ever have given him. he asked me if i knew the scripture. after answering yes, he went on to recite more scripture than i know. he told me he was born with aids and his mother and father were dead. he didn't have any money to go to the hospital, but Jesus was his comforter and he was being taken care of. chills? yes. tears? yes. i couldn't contain it. what do i have to complain about? nothing. my heart was ripped out and is still there. i can't believe people in our world live this way and no. it. is. not. their. fault. 
the kids at worship.
lindee is in the blue sweater in front.
i wish i could say we were able to take him and make him better, but that wasn't the case. when we left the kids were hugging us and telling us Jesus loved us. as i was crying (yes, i do believe my tear ducts work just fine) i couldn't believe what had happened that day. we took lindee (the little boy) home. forty minutes later we arrived at his home. he walks that far to and from school on a daily basis. how blessed are we in america?! lindee is on my mind and i won't ever forget that precious little prophet. the Lord just continues to break me and fill me up. i don't know if i can take it anymore.

Friday, August 13, 2010

africa-day five

july 21, 2010

overslept this morning! oops! after eating breakfast we went back to our church. the numbers had multiplied(just as we were promised). people were waiting next to the garden eager to start. they couldn't wait to put the seedlings out. as i walked towards the garden two little girls walked up to kelli and i. they were touching us and holding their arms up. they wanted some love (something we all take for granted). while kelli and i took the role of caregivers (don't let me fool you, we loved it). we found out that the two girls parents had died, leaving them as double orphans. i couldn't help but tear up. these precious babies were sick and dirty and the only thing they asked for was love. and yes, i definitely asked if i could bring them home with me. 
our child care service <3
my precious "spikey"
love this baby girl with all my heart
our group that planted the garden. 
planting hope.
as the kids came at two i had music playing and i got to lead worship. i was so honored. i had an ipod and ipod speakers(best. invention. ever.). i played "happy day" by fee. the kids adored it. i taught them some hand motions and by the end of the day they were singing to me. after we sang that song i taught them "Jesus loves me" and they loved it. they all learned it and sang it in english
(time #2 i bawled). 
our circle. singing jesus loves me.
we taught about zaccheus today. the bible study was great. we split the groups and i had the privilege of being with duck, duck, goose. although the children didn't quite understand they loved it. about fifteen min in brandon stood up and asked the children who wanted to invite Jesus in their heart. he asked them to come forward if they wanted too. after every child stood up, brandon asked some questions to see if they truly understood what we were asking them. they answered all the questions in both english and siswati. i got the chills. brandon then led them in prayer. as i stood and listened to forty children pray in our language and their own my heart was filled with joy. it was now that i started the shoulder shaking, tears pouring, ugly cry. i contained myself while the kids were around because i didn't want them to think i was sad. it was by far the most amazing thing i have experienced. the days just keep getting better. God is so alive in this place. i see Jesus in all these precious people's faces and smiles. God is working in swaziland.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

africa-day four

july 19, 2010

today was the first day in the community. wow. that is all i can say (well you know me i might have a little to say). the experience was awesome, heart-wrenching, humbling, and a blessing. i cried a few times for sure. it was hard to take in, yet so exciting to start. we traveled an hour to what might have taken 20 min to drive here in the u.s. the roads were terrible(scary. dirt), but we made it there nonetheless.  
we were greeted by two men who helped us get in the church. the church's name is The Church of God of Prophecy. it is a one room church that is absolutely charming. this church has got it goin' on let me tell ya (i have a southern accent here).  people started coming out of their homes with tools in hand ready to help us plant a garden for their community. as we were placing the poles in the ground i saw a girl running down the mountain. yes, mountain. it's gorgeous. as she made her way to me we did "the" handshake and i asked her what her name was. after saying it she realized her new dumb american friend (that's me) had no clue how to say it, she said "you can call me princess." oh how i adore her spunk and yes she did rock that name alllll day long as i am sure she will tomorrow.
Church of God of Prophecy
working on the garden with rafael and travis
all of the girls from the team with princess(to the left of me) and her friend
captured this while working on the garden.
does it steal your heart, because it does mine. 

i have away every piece of my lunch because these people only have one meal a day. maybe two. i have been reminded, yet again, i have never experienced hunger before nor have i ever experienced need. ever. the children started running down the fields at two when school got out. they were stoked to be there. we did our bible school and got to bless them (and when i say them i mean me) with a few gifts. we tie-dyed shirts with them, gave them each a silly band, fed them a snack, and shared the love of our Savior. wow. i have never experienced a more rewarding day. the Lord filled my empty spirit and all i want is more time with them. 

when we left to head back "home" we took the pastor to his home. he walks to his church on a regular basis and it is atleast 15 miles away. he walks. i can't imagine anyone in america doing that (sorry if that is judgmental). overall, the day was great. i am so thankful and can't wait to go back. 

africa-day three

July  18, 2010

 the bus ride today is five hours. kill me now. i do not do well sitting still and after being on a plane for 18 hours, this is the last thing i want to do. oh well. it's all in the process of getting to where i want to be. for anyone who knows me, i can make anything fun, and with britt along it will be a breeze. we had to get out of the bus when we got to the border. it was crazy. we walked thru "no man's land" until we reached the border of swaziland. it was a fun experience. 

on the way to swaziland.

we finally got to the hotel and it is soo nice. too nice. i can't believe i get to stay in something this nice when children here are sleeping outside. tonight we had an orientation. they briefed us on a lot of different aspects of the trip. i was happy they did this. one of the things they told us was that at dinner and breakfast we could eat as much as we wanted (we are in a starving country) but we could no leave anything on our plates.  wow. i don't even know how to grasp it and i am still in the comfort of this hotel.   i have learned so much today and i haven't even left the hotel. the culture is so different, i am grasping a new appreciation for where i am from. tomorrow is the first day of camp litsemba! i cant wait to see the kids! 7:30 am.....here i come! 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

africa-day 2

july 17, 2010

weird to think it's now day two and i am still on the plane. the plane ride is tooo long. i was not meant to sit still for this long. we are staying in johanesburg for the night and the hotel is beautiful. we are eating pizza tonight and sleeping. tomorrow we will leave for swaziland. i can't wait to get there. as i sit here and write this i am so thankful for everything i have. i take advantage of the fact i can sit in a warm/safe building (it is cold here) and eat great food. i am so blessed. i haven't even seen poverty and i can honestly say i have never needed anything. my life is so great. we leave tomorrow morning at 6:30. we have a five hour bus ride :( oh well. it will be soo worth it.

africa-day one

july 16, 2010

leaving home wasn't too hard. i knew i would have contact with my mom and i was so excited to get there. i spent the night with britt so we wouldn't have to get up so early. saying "bye" was much easier than i expected. the plane to d.c. is TINY. i am setting next to this adorable girl! of course, i don't meet a stranger so we started talking.  she is a flight medic which was so interesting to learn about. she definitely inspired me.  we got to talk for a while. it definitely helped calm my nerves (if you are reading, thank you). while talking she old me she wanted to go to africa so i got to share what heart for africa is all about.  it was great! i gave her my blog address so she could read my journal entries, so if you are reading hope you are doing great! after arriving in d.c. britt and i ate at chipotle and goofed around for a few hours until our plane started boarding. as i got on the plane "freaking out" would be an understatement. i am sitting right above the wing. the plane is huge. i mean, big as africa huge. even though i am freaking out, i am definitely excited. i have always loved the traveling, airport, plane feeling. i love feeling like a jetsetter. ridiculous? maybe, but i am okay with it. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

missing africa.

i am home. it was definitely a bittersweet trip. i could have stayed for 10 more weeks. i have so much to share and i can't wait to upload, but at this point i am experiencing a case of jet-lag. hope everyone is doing great. i am going to take the night to start the processing. i will start tomorrow! talk to you soon!