21 December 2009
Have a little extra time on your hands? In need of great entertainment? Fun Adventures?
Check out my friend Justin Colvard's blog: www.lifeofawanderer.com
Justin is going back to Cameroon for an entire 6 months to love the children there, learn about the culture, and encourage them to grow in the Lord. How cool is that?! Join me in reading about his adventures, supporting him financially, and most importantly: Praying for him!
Because 6 months is a long time to go without milk products or air conditioning or a television or his family.
AND because God is doing some awesome things through him over there!
Justin updates his website all the time with fun pictures, educational information, and really neat stories of things hapening over there. He lets you know the things that really need prayer, things that the money you donate is working towards (current plans are for a kitchen bigger than a closet and not sharing a water source with the bathrooms...), and encouraging things that happen. Plus, you get to look at adorable pictures of the precious children at the orphanage!!
Check out his website: www.lifeofawanderer.com
Or Subscribe to his feeds:
The Next Step: "feed://www.lifeofawanderer.com/MyLife/Cameroon_2010/rss.xml"
24 September 2009
But while I'm here I'll do what I can.
Our PA class of 2011 goes to a Christian Center (a retirement center/ assisted living facility/ orphanage all rolled into one) to speak with the elderly patients. We ask them about their social and medical history.
I used to hate old people. They scared me! They're so fragile. I'm not good with fragile. I've managed to break countless things that should be foolproof...
Don't believe me? Check out my tupperware... (2 broken lids and a newly broken mixing thing. Seriously. Its not like I'm forceful. But I might have some pent up frustration)
Old people used to make me so sad. No one would listen to them. No one would smile at them. No one wanted to hang out with them.
But now I think they're adorable and wise and worth listening to! I mean, who wouldn't want to listen to someone who's been there before, who has seen life and experienced things, who is old and fragile but still able to smile and speak kind words?
Speaking of old people, not a day goes by when I don't think about Africa. (In your mind, did you make the mental connection like I did?!..............that's because there is no connection.) I'll be thinking about something normal, something school related, and then Wham! Africa. I know I really want to go back. The question is, is God calling me back?? Pray with me about this :)
While I can't be in Africa, I can still hang out with some cool kids! I get to volunteer in my Church's Children's ministry. This month we're learning about Wisdom. How cool! And one of the best parts: there are African refugee children that come and join us! I get to dance and play games and love them and teach them God's word. Its almost like being in Africa for a brief moment in time...
But my heart still beats for the kids in Cameroon!
31 August 2009
Today I really missed the little babies at HCH.
Yesterday I watched a PBS show about touch. (I was studying Dermatology all day and I needed a mini study break so I started watching because the opening line of the show talked about skin and touch receptors and it related to Derm…but I kept watching even though it didn't really apply to what I was studying because it was really neat research that they were doing)
The show reminded me of when I was in Africa. Touch is abundant there. It isn't a taboo thing like it is in America. It is reassuring, comforting, casual, natural, a simple way to show you care…even if that's all you can do. Kids grow up in Africa surrounded by touch: in slings on their mother's backs, holding hands on the playground, playing hand clap games, sitting side by side… I miss that. I miss them!
Mondays during lunch I go to SCF (Southwestern Christian Fellowship) meetings. Today we had a great speaker talk at lunch about a few things including the Hippocratic Oath and Obama's plan to reverse the "conscience clause." (Don't get me started on that!) He shared a quote with us:
Some seek knowledge for
The sake of knowledge:
That is curiosity;
Others seek knowledge so that
They themselves may be known:
That is vanity;
But there are still others
Who seek knowledge in
Order to serve and edify others:
And that is love. (I've seen charity here)
-Bernard of Clairveaux
I want to serve and edify others. I'm not in school for me (if I was, I'd be LONG gone by now!) Some days, I think those babies are the only thing that keeps me going. I mean, school is interesting, especially now that we're learning how to actually help people (opposed to theory and parts of the human body) but it's still hard to wake up, go to school for 8 hours straight, then come home and study until I crash into bed.
Days like that I need something to remind me why I'm here. I'm thankful for the little babies in Africa. I hope they know just how loved they are.
"Don't give up on the hope
That keeps you breathing"
-The Wedding, Song for the Broken
06 July 2009
"I feel like, I would like
To be somewhere else doing something that matters
And I'll admit here, while I sit here
My mind wastes away and my doubts start to gather"
Does anyone else feel this way when it comes to everyday life? I feel like I'm not doing anything useful. I'm just studying, learning, and trying to stay awake. And sometimes in class I feel like I'm not retaining any of the information.
"What's the purpose? It feels worthless
So unwanted like I've lost all my value
I can't find it, not in the least bit
and I'm just scared, so scared that I'll fail you"
What If I can't remember everything I learn? What if I can't pass all my classes? Why am I even here??
"And sometimes I think that I'm not any good at all
And sometimes I wonder why, why I'm even here at all
But then you assure me
"I'm a little more than useless
And when I think that I can't do this
You promise me that I'll get through this"
Relient K "More Than Useless
I've finally realized that I'm not any good on my own. There is no way I could learn everything I need to know by myself. There is just too much. But God has a plan. He knows what he is doing. I'm here for a reason. Maybe that reason is only to encourage other people and help them learn (in study groups) or maybe the reason is for me to actually make it through school and become a PA. Right now I don't know, but I trust that God knows what he is doing in my life.
I want to study hard and learn how to be a PA. But it's hard. I'm so thankful for the trip I took to Cameroon. I had to learn to rely on God so much. And now I know that with Him, I can make it through anything. And now I'm even more motivated than ever to become a PA so I can go wherever God is calling me and help provide medical care.
Sometimes, school feels a lot like the bus trip from Douala to Fundong. (If you didn't read that post, you should. It will give you a lot of insight into the struggles I'm facing…to read the post, click here) I can't get off the bus, because then I'd be in the middle of nowhere with no direction. I've never been here before and I have no idea what I'm doing. It feels like I hit a new "speed bump" every 5 minutes. I'm exhausted. But I know that in the end, the trip will be worth it.
WARNING: Don't read the next section if you are eating or you are squeamish. (Just giving you a head's up…)
This week in school they gave me a needle and a syringe and let me take someone's blood. Which is pretty neat considering I'm only about a month into school. The only thing is I had to get up at 4 this morning to learn how and then I have to go back at midnight every night this week to practice. And I have a big test on Thursday. I also got to cut into someone's head and look at the brain. And then we got to cut the head in half and look at the back of the throat. Then we got to cut the head in half the other way and look at the inside of the mouth, tongue, and nasal cavity.
And now back to the books…
12 June 2009
It's Friday night.
What am I doing??
Seriously. You didn't read that wrong, I'm studying (well, and blogging I suppose.)
But before you go feeling sorry for me (or laughing at me, whichever one you picked) Know that I am meeting up with friends for ice cream later (a good motivator). And I played basketball with some classmates after school for a while…It was really great for stress relief!
Today I got (well, really, I didn't have a choice…) to hold a dead man's hand. I get to dissect a cadaver (which is one of the coolest but most difficult learning experiences EVER!) and we had to hold the hand palm up so we could dissect it and learn all the muscles and nerves and blood vessels.
The hands I want to hold most right now are sitting around an orphanage in Africa! Not sitting in a tank full of chemicals in an anatomy lab!
But the kiddos in Africa are helping me more than they know: They are motivating me to study harder, learn more, and apply it better!
Like in Physiology the other day when we learned about Blood and we talked about Helper T cells. I want to know all I can about Helper T cells because (as I researched this afternoon) CD4 is found on Helper T cells. Doctors test CD4 counts in patients with HIV to get an idea of how far along the disease is. Before, I never would have known any of this.
If I can't be holding the sweet, underloved hand of a child then maybe I can learn as much as I possible about helping that child (or another child…or another person).
Never before have I come home from class and ACTUALLY studied (even though I've had numerous teachers tell me that it is the best way to remember things…) but now I see that it is true. I know I can't change the world, but I can do my best to do whatever I can for others.
Pray for strength and wisdom for me. Pray for the kids in Africa. God is with us. All of us!
And now, back to studying…
08 June 2009
Today I started my 3rd week of PA school. I'm finally getting into a pattern of studying, learning, reviewing, and memorizing. I'm starting to make friends and make time to exercise and make meals. It's great!
Today we had a class where we took what we're learning in physiology and applied it to clinical medicine. We took things that are black and white (facts, constants, and body functions) and applied it to people. People are anything but black and white! Everyone is different, acts differently, responds to medications differently, and has a different combination of factors to consider.
We learned that medicine is Grey. It doesn't follow a specific set of rules all the time. You can't just learn a "best solution" for everyone. There's always going to be an exception or something new to consider. Interesting! But so much harder, because you have to think hard about all the possible solutions.
Much more fun than learning the brachial plexus! (the nerves and arteries and veins running from your spinal cord down to your arm) Really, I've decided that God did a really good job making the body. It is so complex. Really!
If you've never had to memorize the brachial plexus, be glad. There are like 50 acronyms just to remember everything. It's silly.
That's where I am now. Just so you know!
03 June 2009
So, after having the time of my life loving children in an orphanage in Africa, and learning more about the world, myself, and my AMAZING God in two weeks, I returned home and started medical school.
Less than 12 hours later.
You can go ahead and call it crazy, because I think it is. Or was. But God definitely worked out all the details for me. Like getting me into my apartment on a holiday Monday. And allowing me to get some sleep so I wasn't too exhausted to stay awake at orientation. And letting me get my ID picture made. And helping me study for my first neuroscience test. Those details.
I didn't even have time to clean out the dirt from my feet or reflect on life until that Thursday night. And even then, it was only because I was relying on God's ever-sufficient strength to help me through the week.
Some things I miss about Africa: Nein's Giggle, the "never lonely" feeling, the pure and undeniable love (from the kids, the staff, from God), the rice and beans!, Koolaid at the top of the hill, holding little hands, smiles, sunshine, afternoon thunderstorms, being able to sing and dance, the eyes (the ones that look at you like you're amazing simply because you think the kid sitting next to you is important and lovely and worth your time), the bright colors, the peace…
Some things I definitely won't miss: feeling nauseous, fish with heads and bones, 4:30 am rooster calls, watching men urinate by the side of the road (you just see a back standing toward the road and a little stream of liquid), saying goodbye with tear filled eyes, the speed bumps, not having a personal bubble…
Sometimes it's HEARTBREAKING.
Ok, a lot of times it's heartbreaking.
But class started right away and gave me plenty of other things to think about (like 3 straight hours of neuroscience every morning and cutting up cadavers and completing HIPAA training…)
So far, I like school. I'm not going to say I love it, because really, who loves the pressure of tests and memorization. But I love learning about things that are pertinent to life and things that could actually help me one day.
I've grown so much in the last month. I've experienced love (for people outside my family), I've trusted God with everything (my life!, school, my apartment), I've experienced another culture, I've moved to a big city, and started dissecting a human. Wow.
It is hard to sit here in Dallas knowing how big the world is and how much help it needs. Even people around me need help! But I know I'm training right now to be able to help more people and be open to wherever God leads me next. Which could be anywhere!
31 May 2009
Here is a link to a facebook photo album of pictures.
I'm too busy to upload lots of pictures to Blogger since it takes forever!
Check them out :)
While I'm starting school, reflecting on Africa, moving into my apartment, and studying for my first neuroscience test, I discovered I can upload blogs from word to my blog site.
More to come on the end of my adventure in Africa and beginning of Med (PA) School…later.
And Thank You notes will be in the mail tomorrow!!
23 May 2009
I don’t want to leave!
Part of me can’t figure out if I will ever be a whole person without a child holding my hand all the time. But I've learned so much from this experience. So much about God and his love and trusting in him! So much about different cultures and ways of life. So much abut myself!
What a journey it has been! And today was an even bigger journey than any other day. It started with a 6 mile trek (hike) up a mountain. A HUGE mountain. Justin and I took the older kids with us and talked to them about some important things. We also goofed around a lot…
Then, I had to trek to the internet café (about a mile and a half walk each way) TWICE to sign things for school.
But I had many hands to hold each direction. Its funny how that makes things better.
Pray for my journey home and then to Dallas to start Physician Assistant school on TUESDAY!! Thanks. I’ll upload more pics and stories when I get home.
21 May 2009
I can’t think of anything more peaceful than a nap with two 7 year olds during a thunderstorm.
Well, maybe it would be more peaceful without the two 7 year olds.
But definitely not as precious.
I took a nap today with Nadine and Hilda, two of the girls. After our nap, Nadine taught me some Kom. She is very patient. They have 6 vowels in the Kom language. (Our 5 plus a “Ugh” sound that you might make if you got hit in the stomach)
“Ah,” “Ooh, “Eh,” “Ugh,” “Ou,” and “Eeh.” I think.
Like I said, she is very patient. Here is some other Kom I know:
“Too Lime A” = good morning
“Eye Yung Na” = thank you
“Wa eese ma” = good afternoon, “Ma eese my” = same to you
“Chika Jung” = Goodnight
“A sigh ah” = How are you, “Bu sigh oh” = I am fine
They use weird letters and vowels. I wrote things how you might say them.
Wednesday morning we walked down to Three Corners (what they call town) to watch a “March Past,” or parade, for the 20th of May. Today symbolizes the unity between French and English Cameroon. Only it isn’t completely unified yet (they are politically), so it is a somewhat bittersweet ceremony.
Justin took Richard, a sweet 12 year old boy. I took Nain, a sweet 7 year old girl. There are a lot of sweet little girls here. They just smile and hold your hand. Some are talkative, others are shy. All are precious children of God!
It’s not completely peaceful yet. But it is a step in the right direction.
My heart hurts.
Its funny how different cultures can be. Without me even realizing it at first.
How long have I been here? A week and a half. But it didn’t hit me until we went to visit the Fon. “Fon” is Kom for “tribal leader.” He lives in a “Palace.” (I have pictures-it looks more like a run-down compound than a palace…)
The Fon is old. He has many wives. And he has millions of rules that are normal for this culture, but not so normal to me.
For example, I can’t cross my legs in front of the Fon. But I’m always wearing a skirt!!
To him, it is a sign on of disrespect if someone with a lower rank crosses their legs in front of him. To me, it is natural to cross my legs when I wear a skirt. But most African women do not cross their legs even though they wear long skirts. They leave their legs open. That is SO abnormal to me.
Also, PDA is not normal at all here. In the US, it is generally frowned upon, but a husband and wife holding hands or hugging is definitely acceptable. Here, husbands and wives don’t even touch in public. So when Justin and I hug or anything, that is very abnormal to them. They often think we are dating. But to us, it is just a sign of friendship.
At the “Palace,” the Fon “blessed” us before we left. First, he gets a coffee mug full of the drink we presented to him (which happened to be orange Fanta that rode in the jeep with us up a very rocky/ bumpy road that looked more like a path than a road, so it was quite fizzy).
Then you kneel down with your hands together, palm up, fingers facing away from you, about nose level.
Then he takes a sip of the drink and you can hear him coughing up some kind of lung disease. Not a good sign.
Then he pours the drink down your hands and into your mouth. Except that about a fourth of it misses your mouth and slides down your chin and shirt and arms. YUCK!
Chugging a cup full of orange Fanta from my hands and then being covered in sticky mess was not on the top of my priority list.
In fact, it was not even on the bottom of it.
After I left the “Palace” I felt stupid and less of a person because I couldn’t follow all of his rules. I was very upset. I talked to Callie, the only other female team member, and started crying. She sat me down and prayed with me.
She is so wise! I am so thankful that God sent her on this trip!
She reminded me that my worth comes from God, not what anyone (the Fon!) thinks of me! I told her that was something I struggled with when I was applying to schools-not finding my value in being accepted to a certain school.
Later that night after talking about Gal 3:26 & 27 (being clothed in Christ) in devotional, Callie and I handed out skirts that Justin’s grandmother made! The girls were SO thankful.
Life is good. Some things are the same. Thankfullness and smiles cross cultural lines!!
“Use every chance you have for doing good.” Ephesians 5:16 (from my quiet time)
There is SO much opportunity around to do good. Everywhere. How can you do anything but pour out love to everyone. Are you too busy? Often times, I think I am. Are you too exhausted? God offers you strength (and a nap helps). It doesn’t have to cost too much. It doesn’t have to be much. Just do good!
Tuesday morning I woke up and my cold felt worse. It was bad Sunday, better Monday, and now worse today.
I watched some of the kids play this morning. It is hard not to play with them too much (I don’t want to get them sick!)
Justin and Emelda (one of the nurses) went to Mbingo to take some kids to the hospital. Two kids have HIV and needed a yearly checkup. Two kids needed eye exams. I would have gone with them to help, but one of our team members was gored by a bull yesterday, and he went in my place so the doctors could check him out. The nurses here gave him stitches, but it is better if the Doctors at the hospital look at him.
We are all praying for his health!
Then we took a “tour” of the orphanage. The directors of the place showed us all of the rooms here and told us what improvements they want to make and what things they need.
They are in the process of moving the kitchen to the other side of the kids dining hall from where it is now.
Right now it is right next to the bathrooms.
Not only is that disgusting, but it is also a health problem.
Also on the list are things like mosquito nets for the children, new cups and plates for the children, and another room for the kids.
They need more medicine for the clinic. Mostly, it is just the children at the orphanage that use the clinic, but occasionally people from town use it too.
If they can, they would like to add internet. Right now they pay to use the internet in town at the internet café. It costs money for each hour (about a dollar an hour to us, which isn’t much, but people here don’t have much money to use for things like internet.)
Having the internet at the orphanage would be a way to help them raise money!
Also, they want to get vaccinated chickens to lay eggs. They would be a good source of food (eggs=protein!) for the children. But vaccinated chickens cost money. And it costs money to feed them.
There is SO much need! I’ll do what I can, now and in the future.
I will never forget this place, these children, and their needs!
That’s what life is all about.
It’s amazing how a group of kids I barely know, that can barely speak the same language as me, can bond over a simple song and dance: the Hokey Pokey.
Playing with some of the small children on Monday morning, I learned some truths: Life doesn’t have to be complicated. You won’t always know the person you’re standing next to (or working with, or serving, or healing) but by smiling and listening, you can speak volumes.
We started out just by holding hands and running in a circle. We laughed and ran around until I was exhausted!
Then I lead them in the Hokey Pokey. (Remember, in Africa, I can sing and dance… See Sunday’s Post) I think they knew it, because they danced along and laughed along with me.
Then we played “Duck, Duck, Goose!” Then Simon Says.
That morning Justin, Dale, and I met with Emelda and Gilda, the nurses here, about the health condition of some of the children. We came up with a game plan for treatment/ evaluation of the children that needed the most help.
On the list are: children who need their eyes and ears evaluated, children with HIV that need a check up at the hospital, children with BMI (Body Mass Index: a ratio of height and weight) that are SO LOW that they shouldn’t be alive, etc.
After lunch Monday, we tried to irrigate a little boy (Maybe 5 years old) named Ephesians’ Ears. He was terrified! He screamed and thrashed around and had a fit! We were trying to use Hydrogen Peroxide to clean the wax out of his ears to see if that would alleviate some of his hearing problems. It was a challenge.
Then Justin and I took some of the older kids with us to “visit the internet.” (Walk down to the internet café to check email and post blogs.)
After we posted things, we went to see the Fundong Waterfall. We viewed it from a ledge. But then we got adventureous!!
There was a small, steep path down to the base of the waterfall. Justin and I had to fully cover up because there were plants that were poisonous to our skin.
Viewed from the base, with all the noise and spray, the waterfall was a majestic picture of God’s amazing strength!!
After dinner, Justin shared with us an observation. You can read it in his words in his blog post “Dirty Feet.” (www.lifeofawanderer.com). I’ll sum up what I got from it:
We, as missionaries are like a reflection of God. Justin and the team and I come from a far away place where it is very nice. The children are covered in dirt, they are poor, they don’t always make the best grades in school, and they don’t have much to offer. But we love them because they are precious children. We love them in spite of, and because of their imperfections.
It is sometimes hard to fathom how God can love me, such a dirty person with nothing to offer him, but after being here and seeing these kids, it is easier to understand!!
Church in Africa is different, but the same. Again, it is hard to explain because I don’t think I would do it justice. Also, I was feeling a little bit sick (I caught a cold! Sad!!) so the morning was a little bit fuzzy.
They had great music. And they danced. And people played drums.
I got to sit with some of the children from the orphanage. We went to the church that is next to Harvest Children’s Home.
Sunday was a beautiful day, despite my sickness. The church had open windows and was very bright and beautiful. Everyone was wearing their best clothes. It was nice to see the children in pretty dresses and clean slacks.
I took a nap after church.
Then, I woke up and had a beautiful “Quiet Time” in the field behind the orphanage. After my quiet time, I journaled.
There are some things, I discovered, that are only true in Africa:
You plan your day around the weather. If it looks like rain, you do not walk down to Three Corners (“Town”) or wash clothes and put them out on the line.
The power (Which I am VERY thankful for!) is great, but not reliable. It goes out at least two or three times a day. You can’t ever be dependent on it. After dark, you should carry a flashlight with you. Especially if you need light to eat or read your Bible or give Devotional.
At night, you can sit and hear things for miles!
It can be thundering (loudly!) and lightning, but not raining here. I think it must be raining up in the mountains or something, but I don’t know.
I can sing and dance. (Or at least no one looks at me foolishly when I do)
Your hands are never empty. There is always someone to hold your hand.
You can see God in everything: In the faces of the children, in the mountains, in the sky, in the way life works out…
Saturday, some of the team went down to Bamenda. It is a bigger city about a two hour drive south towards Douala. There is only one road that takes you from Douala to Fundong. Bamenda is on the way. We passed through Bamenda on our way from the airport in Douala to Fundong (where we are now at Harvest Children’s Home), but we were there around 5 am, and I was very sleep deprived. All I remember about traveling through Bamenda was all the lights that you could see when we looked over the edge of the mountain we traveled on.
The drive would have been two hours, but after stopping for gas in Belo, the biggest city between Fundong and Bamenda, we lost our breaks.
They just fell off the car.
Yep, we heard a “CLINK” and then a “Buh BOOM” and then we had no breaks.
Thankfully, we were traveling up a slight hill at the time so we were able to stop using the emergency break.
Another reminder that God is watching out for us!!
We were able to get a repair man from Belo to come and fix our breaks (he put new break pads on both front tires) in 30 minutes for only 3000 FCS. (Which is about 6 US Dollars). Wow.
When we finally got to Bamenda, it was a lot like Douala. I’m sure it is different, but to me, it just looked like another city. I don’t really like cities. But we were able to do a lot of shopping.
Then we met with Justin’s Friend, Roland’s, family. They fed us and gave us some things to give to Roland, who just graduated from TCU with Justin.
Roland’s Father, Thompson, asked me if any of the children called me “White Girl.” I told him I didn’t think so, but he told me that I probably just didn’t hear them.
That was the first time I felt like I didn’t belong here.
That night, after devotion at the orphanage, Justin showed a slideshow of all the pictures we had taken all week. The children were just as loving and accepting as always. Its funny how children are more open to new people and ideas than adults are. No wonder Jesus encourages us to be like children.
After devotion and the slide show, Justin and I gave out light sticks.
We gave out 10 for the kids to share. They had never seen them before! They threw them up into the air like fireworks! They asked Justin how to “Off them” (their way of saying turn them off) so they could save them for another night. Justin had to tell the kids that the lights would “Off themselves” after a few hours.
Then I got to play games with some of the girls. Picture “Ring Around the Rosey,” in another language (holding hands, running around in a circle, falling down at some specific point that I could never seam to figure out…)
Also think of that game “Little Sally Walker” where you stand in a circle clapping and one person is in the middle and dances around and then you switch when the music says to. Only, I didn’t exactly speak the same language, so it was hard for me to figure out when to switch.
Justin has pictures. I was so out of place, and yet so accepted and so exactly where I needed to be all at the same time. It’s hard to explain.
After the kids went to bed, Justin and I sat out on the porch of the school across the field from the orphanage. We talked, shared stories, and listened to each other’s feelings. Sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, sometimes just sitting. I shared with him my fear that after I leave, I will be nothing more than a memory for these children.
And I want to be so much more than just a memory!
I want to be here for them, to help them. To let them know they are all valuable and precious and loved by not only God, but by people too. To sit with them. To share with them. To laugh and to cry with them. To heal them when they are sick. But I can’t do that all now.
Justin reassured me, repeating a line that Emmanuel had said to him last year, “We are leaving more than just shadows here.”
God is showing me that the world is bigger than just the United States. There is SO much need. I am only one person, but I will do what I can.
Friday afternoon I climbed a tree. In a skirt. I haven’t done that since I was a little girl!
Think, elementary school little.
Every day after elementary school, I would go to the park after mom picked my brother and I up. Instead of playing on the swings, we would climb this huge tree. We could climb so high that we could touch the top of the street light nearby. We climbed on the branches that sway in the wind. To get out of it I would swing out.
Climbing this tree in Africa reminded me of being little. Justin and I hiked up the road about a half a mile. We took some of the older kids with us and talked all the way up to the tree. When we got to the tree, some of us climbed up to get mangos.
The mango tree was easy to climb. There are great pictures! There is even one of me swinging out of it! Funny stuff.
Too bad the mangos weren’t ripe yet.
Then, two of the boys climbed a huge tree (think oak tree huge) to get “pears” (we would call them avocados). They climbed up really high! Then they dropped pears down to us.
One almost hit Justin on the head. Thankfully, it missed!
We packed our bags full of pears and the children were able to have them with dinner. They don’t get to eat a lot of fruit and vegetables.
Friday night, since the Children didn’t have school in the morning, we watched a movie with them. Justin brought Enchanted and we sat with the kids to watch it.
I had never seen it before, but it was cute. It was even cuter to watch as the children sitting next to me started to fall asleep in my arms.
It made me tear up thinking that when we leave, I won’t be here anymore to love them. I want to be more than just a temporary comfort to their life.
God is calling me to bigger things…
Am I brave enough to listen??
Maybe with His strength.
18 May 2009
Life is Big (Friday)
I felt a lot better Friday. I think I got over my sickness completely.
Harvest Children’s Home (the orphanage) is a neat place. I’ll try to paint the best picture of it I can, but no words, no pictures, nothing except being here and experiencing it, will do it justice.
The temperature is usually between 60 and 80 degrees. Beautiful.
The orphanage is a “U” shape. One side of the “U” is a small building with guest rooms, a lecture room, and the clinic. The “bottom of the U” is where the children stay. There are 4 rooms (one for each combination of young and old and boys and girls). There are about 20 bunk beds in each room. The last side of the “U” is a guest house (where we stay), kitchen, and the kid’s dining hall. The kids’ bathroom is off to the side of the guest house.
Behind the guest house/dining hall is a huge field. From the field you can see the primary school that the younger children attend. The field has a path to walk around it (that I often slip on when walking around…) and a football/handball goal on each end. Looking out on the field is beauty. There are mountains in the distance. You can see for miles and miles. One of my favorite things is to watch thunderstorms moving across the mountains on the other side of the field.
Each of the buildings at the orphanage has a porch made of cement with a roof. There is a trench around the porches for water/trash. The courtyard (in the middle of the U shaped buildings) is mostly packed dirt with markings all over it for hop scotch and “elah” and mankala. There are 3 swings that are in the process of being repaired on one side.
The children at the orphanage just run around and play games. There are usually some swinging on the swings and some playing hop scotch with rocks. Others sit around talking and hanging out with Justin and I. It is always loud and happy.
Occasionally, one of the kids will put a music video on the TV in the dining hall. The kids love to dance around to the music on the videos.
The clinic is about the size of a small bathroom or a walk in closet. It took three of us (Justin, Emelda, and I) an entire afternoon to take all of the children’s BMI and Blood Pressure. (Emelda is a staff nurse who is at the clinic a few times a week)
BMI is calculated by taking the child’s weight and dividing that by the child’s height squared. A “healthy” BMI for American children is between 18 and 25. Out of 63 children, 42 were underweight.
TWO THIRDS of the children here are not at a sufficient weight to be healthy!
Even more frightening are the six that have such a low BMI, they shouldn’t be able to function. But they do! Some of these children are remarkable!
I got to practice taking BP on the children. It is hard to get a child, let alone a child who doesn’t understand you, to stand still enough to have a machine read their blood pressure! I had to read about 15 of them manually because they were either moving around too much for the machine or had arms that were too small to use the machine!
Some of the children are SO small! (Less than 15 Kg!)
This week Justin, Dale (A team member who is an RN), and I are assessing some of the health problems the children have.
My descriptions are inadequate to describe everything here. There is so much that I can’t express in words. I hope that what I have written allows you a small glimpse of what goes on here!
17 May 2009
Sorting Life (Thursday)
Thursday I felt a lot better. A lot a lot! Praise God!!
Justin and I opened our four bags full of things and sorted them. We had a lot of girls clothing and some miscellaneous items like toys, books, animals, etc. That took us most of the morning.
At lunch time, some of the little children came home from school for lunch. (You can see their school from the back of the orphanage.) I got out bubbles and we let the kids play with them. It was so fun to see all the little kids running around in their green uniforms. (the older kids wear blue and the oldest wear tan) They were content with popping bubbles and playing hop scotch. It was good to run around with them!
Then we went down to visit BIST, the theology school that some of our other group members help teach. It was about a 5 minute walk from the orphanage, and some of the kids went with us. They won’t let you go anywhere alone, or with an empty hand. Here, there is always someone ready to hold your hand!
The kids returned to school while we took pictures of one of the classes. Right before we left, it started POURING down rain.
So hard, it was hard to hear anyone talking. But classes resumed, so Justin and I left. We were hiding under the overhang of the school waiting for the rain to slow down, when the Provost of the school invited us in. We chatted with him for about 20 minutes until the rain slowed down. Then we left for the orphanage.
After lunch, I had some time to sit and have a “quiet time” with the Lord. I read a lot about thankfulness, because I have been so thankful for a lot of things lately!
Then, during the kids dinner time, Justin and I made KoolAid.
We couldn’t taste it, because we can’t drink the water here (which presents a whole slew of interesting consequences, one of which being you can’t tell if the KoolAid is sweet enough).
The kids were SO excited!! They stood in line like we were giving out candy. I’ll make sure to post pictures. They are good!
That night I lead devotional for the kids. At 7 pm, the children listen to someone, usually Esther, read from the Bible and share wisdom with them. I have spoken in front of people before, but I was terrified to speak in front of all the kids.
What if they don’t understand me?
What if they aren’t listening?
Well, I shouldn’t have worried, because God is always in control. Sometimes, I think He puts me in specific places to remind me that He is there. Because, obviously, I tend to forget things like that.
They didn’t understand me. Esther had to translate into Kom, their language. They all speak English, but they don’t pronounce some words the same. And I tend to talk fast when I get nervous.
We opened Devotional in prayer.
Then we sang. The Children sing beautifully! I think Justin might have some video on his blog. Check it out. You don’t want to miss it!!
With God and Esther’s help, I spoke about thankfulness. I read Psalm 107:1 “Thank the Lord because he is good. His love continues forever.” And 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances.” Then I had the kids share things they were thankful for.
I was thankful for all of the prayers from people that I got when I was sick because God reminded me that I won’t always be healthy, but He will always be with me and right now there are a lot of people that care about me.
Thankful. (Tuesday and Wednesday)
We got into town on Tuesday morning and slept/hung out most of the day on Tuesday.
The first time I met any of the kids, I felt like that new kid on the playground that just wants to know everyone and play around, but is terrified to make that first move.
What if they don’t like me?
What if they think I’m weird?
But not to worry! Within seconds after Justin introduced me, I had many hands to hold and kids to smile at. They all speak English, but I tend to talk to fast and pronounce things different, so it is hard for some of them to understand me when I speak. But love doesn’t know a language. It was enough to smile at them and hold their hands and be with them. To let them know they are incredible and loved and a child of God. Because they are precious.
Then Wednesday hit. I was awoken at 4am to the sound of a rooster. I went back to sleep for two hours before the sound of children woke me up.
I got up, showered and got dressed. I didn’t feel very good, but I assumed it was just jet lag.
I ate breakfast and then Justin and I got ready to “go to the internet,” or walk down to the internet café. It is about a 25 minute walk into town from the orphanage. Emmanuel went with us and told us stories on the way there. He is a very wise man. On the way down, I was feeling slightly nauseous, but ok. We got to the internet café and started answering emails and updating blogs. We were about 40 minutes into it when the power shut off.
The power does that here.
And sometimes it happens when it is terribly inconvenient. Like during devotional at night. When someone is reading the Bible.
We left the internet café and started walking around town looking for spoons and honey. I really felt nauseous at this point. So bad, that Justin offered to carry me back. We left immediately for the orphanage. When we got back I slept and took some medicine. I felt terrible. Like my stomach and all of its contents wanted to jump out of my body. Dale, one of our team members who is an RN, looked at me. He told me to start medicine and rest. I didn’t eat lunch because I felt too sick.
I emerged from my room around dinner time. The team prayed over me before dinner and I ate a little bit. Dale walked me over to the clinic where he and one of the nurses, Emelda, asked me a bunch of questions about how I felt. They thought I would be fine after I slept. Then they prayed over me before I left. The kids were asking about me, and Justin told them I was sick. A lot of them offered to pray for me. What a sweet thing!
The next morning I felt a lot better. Dale said it was probably food poisoning. Yuck, but I’m thankful it wasn’t anything worse! I am also thankful for everyone who prayed for me to get better
15 May 2009
LOVE: a strong feeling of affection, loyalty, and concern for someone –My NCV Dictionary
I’d like to think of myself as a very loving person. But nothing can compare to the love I’ve seen in my short time in Cameroon. Love of the staff for us, for our well being, for our health. Love, sweet unconditional love, of the children for us.
The trip to get here was hard. I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever had to rely on God so much. Anyone who has traveled overseas might have a good picture of what it was like. We left on a Sunday afternoon. I had NO IDEA what to expect. We flew for a long time….
10 May 2009
Packing took hours. Seriously. Tonight, we (Justin and I) packed clothes, toys, food, necessities, etc. for about 3 hours. What fun! We mixed in some good music, interesting conversation, and photo-ops.
I have no idea what's coming next. God does. I just have to have faith. :) I think I can handle that!
This is Justin. He is Brilliant. God put him in my life to help me get to Africa. Seriously, I might have forgotten toothpaste or deodorant or medicine if it wasn't for him...
To read his story too, follow this link :)
08 May 2009
07 May 2009
"Drowning just as fast as I can
But don't throw me a line
Don't reach out your hand
Cause I'm on the brink of something beautiful
And I want to sing about it
But I don't know where to begin
Write a letter
But the words don't come out right"
Mae "Ready and Waiting to Fall"
Packing. For Africa. For Med School.
Who would have known God would move so completely? Just a few months ago, I had no idea I was going anywhere. And now I'm not only leaving the country, but also going to Physician Assistant school.
First, packing for Africa. Some things on my list: my Bible, a flexible attitude, toothpaste, bug spray with deet, malaria meds, skirts, ketchup, children's clothes, toys, journal, sunscreen, etc...
Next, packing for PA school. I'll be in Dallas (At UT Southwestern!) so If I forget something, its not the end of the world. Some things I'm packing: My whole bathroom, clothing, bedding, pillows, reference books and notes, basically everything I could ever want or need is coming with me :)
I'll let you know if I figure out a way to pack everything, work 55 hours, finish my quilt, and sleep all in the next 3 days... Hopefully God will work everything out for me! I'm just a little stressed :)
02 May 2009
Lately we’re running out of time.
Aren’t we crazy for running all the time? M-M-M-M-Maybe
Let’s forget we’re running out of time
I’m off like an aeroplane
I’m licking your postage stamp again
I’m using my right brain and I’m praying that we don’t crash
Who knew I’d come so fast?"
Jason Mraz, "Clockwatching"
Wow. Less than 10 days till I leave. Who knew it would come so fast?!
This song reminds me of my life right now! "Aren't we crazy for running all the time?" Maybe! Between work, trips to Dallas looking for an apartment, trips to College Station, volunteering at a triathalon, and photographing weddings, I'm not sure when I'm going to find time to pack...or sleep for that matter! Less than 10 days till I leave for Africa...then I start school the day after I get back!!
Time has flown by. I put in my two weeks notice at work the other day. I've been a lifeguard (and now management) for 6 years, and this is the first time I have ever put in a two weeks notice. I'll miss my summer job!
Pretty soon I'll be "off like an aeroplane" to a far far away place...I'm looking forward to all God is going to do in Africa.
Please pray for God's glory to be shown, our safety on the trip, and my sanity.
I'll keep you posted on my progress :)
12 April 2009
"I will keep calling you to see
If you're sleeping, are you dreaming
If you're dreaming, are you dreaming of me
I can't believe you actually picked me"
"Calling You" by Blue October
Is God Calling you anywhere? Apparently, he is calling me to
I've had friends travel to
Looking back, I can't believe how I put God in a box like that. Of course, He wants me to help out people where I am. But He also talks about loving ALL of his people! I'm reading/ journaling through Ephesians in my Quiet Time right now and a few weeks ago I read this verse:
"That is why since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God's people, I have not stopped giving thanks to God for you." (Eph. 1:15-16)
God not only wants me to love and care for the "convenient" people around me that need help, he wants me to love ALL of his children!!
God is weaving all the pieces together for me. I would never have been able to pick myself up and travel to
08 April 2009
I called the Dr.'s office and got an appointment THAT DAY! Wow. Then, they were able to give me a yellow fever shot on the spot. No waiting or re-scheduling. It was pretty sweet. AND it was just one more step on the road to Africa!
"And it all seems so helpless
And I have no plans
I'm a plane in the sunset
With nowhere to land...
...Let me know that You hear me
Let me know Your touch
Let me know that You love me
And let that be enough"
Switchfoot "Let that be enough"
Right now, I have very few plans of my own. All I am, all I'm going to be rest's on God. He is the only reason that I am who I am today. All I know for sure: I'm going to PA school in the summer/fall, and I'm going to Africa. I'm trusting God to figure out all the details in between.