Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I've Never Done This Before

To be honest, I'm quite the newbie blogger. I can make my way around the deep chasms of the blogging world very safely from the top of the depths looking down. *gulp* I follow several blogs and plenty of them I've discovered by browsing other random blogs. I wasn't aware of how many transparent Christians there are in this blogosphere. But I'm very happy to have found them :)

I cannot even remember how I came across Aspire, but I've stuck around and have enjoyed reading Hannah's posts. She is very real and open, plus she delights in the little things in life, those things usually bring the most joy.

Speaking of joy, I also, through Aspire found out that Hannah's mom, Rachel, has a blog titled Finding Joy.  Mrs. Rachel encourages me because of the happiness that she finds in her everyday life. Transparency is showing who you are at all times, the good and the bad. That is what I appreciate about these ladies and of all the other people I follow.

I was reading Finding Joy, and I found out that Mrs. Rachel was having a link up Sam with the challenge to find your favorite photo of 2011. Like I said in the intro, I'm not to sure on how to do much around here; I don't even know how to post the cute button that was made :P I do have my favorite photo with out a doubt.



I worked for family friends and cared for their little girl this past spring/summer. Her name is Lindsay and she was such a fountain of happiness! We spent a lot of one-on-one time together and this picture was taken after the family came home from vacation. In the background, you can see balloons and a "Welcome Home!" sign we made. I have so many fond memories of this girl, she was very intelligent although she could not speak. She was full of love and the best way for you to feel that love was through her tight, squeezy hugs. Lindsay conquered life with her handy-dandy purple wheelchair. Most may want to express pity to the family when he or she finds out that Lindsay had a chromosomal disorder. But to that response  those of us who knew her, we would have probably smiled because we knew the real Lindsay. "Chromosomal" refers to the intricately chosen alignment of the chromosomes that God predestined. "Disorder" refers to what may happen when you leave a dish close enough to Lindsay : a broken dish, but many laughs. Or it may refer to what happens when you leave the wipes container by her bed: she pulls all of them out. Her insides may have been a mess, and Lindsay could pull the "hot mess" and "sassy" attitude sometimes, but at the end of every day with her I never had a bad day. Every time I was with her we had some new adventure together. A new opportunity to make a memory. I have many memories stored up; I'm very blessed to have been able to spend time with her. September, 2011 she experienced several complications that caused her to be hospitalized, she came out of the hospital the first time, and the family had high hopes to resume "normal" life. Several days after that, Lindsay needed to be taken to the hospital again. And because God's sovereign plan is so much higher and different than ours, He decided it was time for Lindsay to arrive at her new home. I chose this photo because of the enormous impact that Lindsay had and still has on my life.

{Due to checking on permission to post this, this was my new year reflection, just a little late :) }

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Grandeur of the Grand Canyon

Doesn't that sound like a cheesy title? A title that took agonizing over to come up with? You know...the same kind of agonizing that a writer goes through for a thesis statement. {{those can be toughies}} But, believe it or not, when dwelling on the Grand Canyon, it isn't hard to use the biggest most best words in my word bank to describe that place. This national landmark is a sight to behold. After visiting the park for four or so odd hours, I kept looking at the canyon thinking, " Is this really real?" Well, let me tell you, I came into contact into with the canyon in an up close and personal way.

This was at the first sight-seeing spot at the Grand Canyon, I was stunned.

We began the day by walking around the South Rim of the Canyon. It was pretty icy and snowy. Which, by the way, means it was potentially one of the most dangerous places for a natural disaster to occur to a human being. My stomach was caught up in the narrow passages of throat for a wee bit, I mean please, it was a Grand, massively large, intricately carved, wonder of the world. I was in awe. The day was going along very pleasantly. The weather was pure and crisp. We stopped on the side of the road of near the Canyon to throw snowballs down the canyon wall, throwing and enjoyment was had by all.




My Mom, the crazy nature/science/state and national park junkie that she is, wanted to walk down into the canyon. Once she found out we were "going down" she kept saying, " We're going down, We're going dooowwwwwwn!!" As a group of eight with the age range of 7-45, we tackled the " Hermit Trail." It began with a clear path and slight obstacles like rocks to walk around, up, over and dodge.  The sun was shining and the silence was deafening.We walked down the trail a bit and then came into contact with snow along the shady part of the canyon wall.

 I cautiously and slowly walked through the snow. whew, glad I got through that. ahem. So I thought. Around the next turn, there was a sunny patch of land with dry ground, and around the next corner was snow, again. Kennedy said, " You're walking slowly and you look scared, are you nervous?" I replied calmly with a smile," No, I'm fine!" The next moment in time, as I replay it in my mind again comes to life in slow motion; I slipped. I slipped on ice onto my butt. I was really shaken. At first, I just sat in the cold snow as it soaked into my jeans. [ at first lasted maybe... five seconds] I cried plenty of tears. "I slipped because Kennedy made fun of me," I sobbed. The rest of the entourage moved on while Dad stayed behind. After some ((reluctant on my part)) coaxing, I attempted to go on farther down into the canyon. I was a feeble wreck! My entire legs, from each femur to the tibia and fibula, were ridden with the shakes. As slow as a sloth, I walked, crawled in some spots, and side stepped down the trail. We didn't go all the way down into the canyon because that is quite a feat, for it takes several hours one way. We eight, assuredly did not have that much time. But I did make it to our stopping point and back!


After I made it down to the stopping point, I cried again. 





I DID IT!! :D

{{just couldn't resist the chance to release my inner hippie ; ) }}









Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fully Loaded

Fully Loaded because :

  • We're a big family and that's the only way to do it.
  • This potentially could be a once in a lifetime experience. {hopefully not, I'd like to come back}
  • Fully loaded trips are the most memorable :)




Monday 12/19: We went to Walnut Canyon. The reason why I think it is named Walnut Canyon is because you would've been a nut to live there! The fact that people even lived in a canyon is quite the daring feat. These people lived in the depths of rock that was carved *cough* coincidentally just for them. Indians were very resourceful and incredibly smart. Indians were pliable individuals, they had to be to survive. Out here the roads move with the land, in the same way the Indians weren't set out destroy the land but to use it  as the renewable resource that it was. They used the land for sustenance and they also used the land for their homes by adding to what was already provided to them, such as the Canyon.


 Later that night we went to hear a Navajo Indian, Brian Benally. He was really funny and he reminded all of my family of Brian Regan and Tim Hawkins. He gives Indian tours in Sedona for Red Stone. Brian enlightened us with many facts and explained that the text books don't have a lot of the Indian story right. He said that only 10% of Indians actually came across the Bering Strait. Also, did you know that the Apache and Navajo Indians are both the same people with different names? True story. Brian told us when he gives his tours to the Hopi Mesa he said the Hopi can tell when he arrives, "Wait-- is that a Navajo? Hurry! Lock the refrigerators!"

Common Indian Questions and Brian's responses :

  • Do Indians still eat buffalo? "Yes, but only the wings!"
  • " Most Indians now days have cell phones and drive cars, my Dad just bought a yellow corvette. People ask if we still ride horses. *cough*  There's 250 horses under that hood." 
  • "If you want to know how to make an Indian blush ask him where his loin cloth is... I don't have one."
    {The Navajo cultural clothing requirement is to not show anything but one's face and hands.}
As soon as I get a better, faster internet connection I'll post about the Grand Canyon. That was quite a scary adventure for me. But don't cry 'cause I lived :D

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"I must scream it to the world, my excitement from the top of someplace very high!"

(why, yes, that quote is from Cars :D )


Yesterday, I read Ezekiel 20.


 Um, Wow!


The first half of the chapter talks about the history of past Israelite rebellion, and how even though they had to experience the wilderness, God punished them in that way for his namesake! Isn't that just mind blowing?! Literally. I had to scoop up my feeble, human mind after reading about this. God. God of the universe God chose to deliver the Israelites out of captivity because it brought Him glory. God takes his worth seriously, He knows when we try to be fake with him. {note the word try} God detected that in the Israelites. (Ezekiel 20:30-32) I can't ever pull off serving two masters. It just doesn't work like that. I can choose to serve the world, or I can serve the Lord.

In the second half of the chapter, the "good" part, God rewards them because of His name. He has standards and rules; if you obey them, you will love and reap the benefits of blessing. If you disobey, you will feel God's wrath, as an Israelite that is. But now I have Jesus! The wrath removing sacrifice who "always lives to make intercession."[hebrews 7:24]

And I, I want to be real
there's to much at stake and I'm tired of faking
I just want to be real

With that said, yesterday was also amazing because we went sightseeing around the Flagstaff AZ area. Flagstaff in general is quite the quaint western town. By quaint, I mean slightly laid back while also maintaining  a modern edge. We first went to Sunset Crater Volcano, hiked up a mountain and stopped for lunch at the top. Pictures are fun, but unless you visit anywhere out west, the pictures don't give justice to the incredible beauty. After some hiking, we piled into the car for some driving. We drove to Wupatki National Monument, which was 20 miles away from Sunset Crater. At Wupatiki there are pueblo homes to observe and trails to walk down. Everyone kept saying how surreal everything was. For example, we were standing where history was made, where real Native Americans lived. All I wanted to do was sit in the silence and soak it in. The view was amazing, the history impacting, and the silence was moving. During all the appreciation that we were expressing, I kept thinking about Lewis and Clark, I mean have you seen the mountains?! They traveled over them, endured all sorts of weather, and all that for the sole purpose of exploring land. A new land, land that caused people to want to begin a new life. I also was reminded of the fact that winter was harsh for these people, and summer was brutal, how survival was what most of these people must have hoped for.

I leave thee with deep thoughts, and building anticipation for Christmas as the days slip by. :)


Saturday, December 17, 2011

texas was you

The whirlwinds swirled. The laundry room was constantly full of clothes. With everyday that lead up to December 13th, the stress level would rise one notch. Finally Tuesday, December 13th arrived. It was the longest and quickest day at the same time. Tuesday is always long because it begins at 5:45am; while it ended an hour before the regular time, it was stressful because as soon as the co-op attending part of the family returned home we all had to leave! Before I knew it we were all in the "big van" (as we call it, our 12 passenger van). There was no going back! Even if one of us had forgotten something--forget it--we'd cross that bridge when we realized what someone had forgotten ; )
The first destination was Trevor's basketball game, which, by the way, was amazing! It is always very entertaining, and well, we won, so that ended my day well and began my night with a fantastic hyper buzz. I was the first to drive, I only lasted about three hours because my eyes began to hurt really badly. Nothing to thrilling occurred between then and the next 15 hours so i'll summarize.

Dad and mom alternated driving, we stopped for breakfast, and slept (if it can be called that) in between everything else.

To some, the word Texas equates bitterness and quizzical expressions," Wait, what's in Texas?" While it is true that the land is quite flat, dry, and "boring", I find the state beautiful. Believe it or not, there is a difference between the sky and the Texas sky. Case in point? In Texas I could feel the sky, see for miles, and just think. Practically everywhere else, the population in is in a rush. Oh, no siree, not in Texas. When the world says run faster, take time to smell the roses.

How to survive in Texas :

Number 1: Don't mess with the wrong people.
Number 2: Mind your own business.
Number 3: Be Friendly.
Number 4: Keep your word. People around here still shake hands when making a promise, if you screw up, you're done for.
Number 5: Own multiple pairs of boots. (some for fashion statements, others for feeding the pigs : D )













Wednesday, December 7, 2011

there is a time

        "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven"

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Isn't that a strange concept? That there is a time for everything? Even in the small amount of years that I have lived on this planet, I have experienced many things. 
  • Death
  • Life/Birth
  • Weddings
  • Funerals
  • Joy
  • Deep sorrow
Yet, even through all of those earthly struggles, God provides me with his faithfulness and steadfast love. In the pleasant times in life, God can often be distant. Of course he is still a loving God, but he becomes a prized possession placed on a pedestal, only made "use" of when one is in desperate times. As a human, I am more dedicated to God when life is rough. God, however, is always steadfast, immovable. 

"Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have—and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up."


Giving with a thankful heart can be easy at times. It is hard to give over control, though. Sin dominates every area of life, therefore it is second nature. When God calls us to give up ourselves, and take upon us the cross daily, it can be is hard. Submission is frowned upon in a culture that abhors being dependent on anything or anyone. My relationship with Christ is completely different. I'm dependent on Him because he is my life line; He is the I.V. pumping life-giving fluids into me. Without him I would be desolate, forgotten by the world, and condemned to hell, I would face an eternity without him.

{Without Him, I would be without him.}

Recently, I've been doing a lot of emotional fall cleaning. I was under a lot of self imposed stress. College decisions were constantly on my mind, I couldn't think without dwelling on some aspect of the future. On Sunday, I was taking a math test and I couldn't remember a formula. That flicked the tip of my iceberg off. Everything downward spiraled from that point on. I began to cry, and cry, and cry. I used up plenty of tissue paper. (oops, I killed some trees) From the discussion with my parents, it was resolved that this is my first "big girl" decision. Basically, my parents will support me wherever I will be going to college. The wisdom my parents want to impart to me is this, think long term. I surely do not want to exit college with mounds and mounds of debt, it would be a step in the wrong direction after college, and would hinder me. I realized that I had been trying to hold the reigns of the horses of my life. ((which, by the way, is impossible)) God, and only God, is the one who knows all of my plans, dreams, and desires, even before I think them. How could I not trust him? It was a battle between emotions and being level headed. While I'm still figuring out where God would have me, the difference in me is I have an enormous amount of peace. I am trusting in him to sustain me, as he always does. I'm resting in his sovereignty.

After that emotional burden was lifted, I was able to babysit some kiddos that are very special to me. My weekend couldn't have began better :)















Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thoughts about where I am

Last night, after days, weeks, possibly one month, I wrote down the thoughts that were bottled up in my little head. It's only kind of stressful contemplating a future decision; this is not just any future decision, it is a decision that must involve a lot of prayer, deep study of the word, and a lot a lot of wisdom from older and wiser people.

I'm at a place of stopping,


of thinking, 
of deep contemplation.




The way? 
The path? 
His will?


Feels,
and is
so far off, yet there is no way to get far away from him.


Tension and agony fill my heart, not with fear or depression, but ache for not being sure of his will. There are "in-his-will-times", "out-of-his-will-times", and just the in-between-times, and that is where I'm at : stuck in the in-between-times. Walking into the unknown is not hard for me. At times it can seem adventurous. However, sometimes the unknown is an endless hallway, that is when situations become eerie.  When I continue to walk and don't run into that wooden door that is definitively signalling a specific answer, that is what I picture myself doing. Probing doors with one key as the doors continue to unlock is an easy thing to do. But, when that one key does not open the door, and the time lapse of critical thinking ensues before deciding which way to go, or by what means I shall proceed on my journey, that time lapse is where I am. One may describe a situation by reaching a pause and coming to a fork in the road. The term reaching "a fork in the road" just doesn't cut it for me. My fork is not a "follow the yellow brick road to the right for unending joy, and happiness" or "follow the red road to the left for gloom, doom, destruction, and utter despair." Each of my options are far, wide, drastic, and completely life changing, each path provides varied experiences and opportunities. I haven't hit the wall *bam*, my answer revealed, problem solved.


I :
cannot,
will not,
am in capable,
of ever doing it all
on my own.

"but what could I say?
and what could I do?
but offer this  heart, O God, completely to  you."


I really do know "where" I am, I'm in my room. I'm not psychologically impaired. I'm just sharing my thoughts about my uncertainty about college choices and the rest of my life :)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Acceptance and Thanksgiving

I greet thee with the best of news! I got accepted to my first college :D

My LU letter and t-shirt.

I wasn't attending because I'd already been accepted. I wasn't attending the November third-fifth College for a Weekend because Liberty was my number one school either. I was tagging along with my brother because he was slightly more interested than I was, and our friend told us about the school. My calm, confident angel was battling with my “is-this-the-right-decision?” devil as I tried to sleep on the bus ride up to Lynchburg. As a Christian visiting a Christian college, I suppose I shouldn't have been shocked by the overwhelming friendliness I experienced, but I was surprised. All of my interactions with various Liberty students were all positive. I could actually see people living in a christ-centered, christ-following manner. By the second day of CFAW I was sold on about coming to Liberty. I wanted to become a student because as a high-schooler over a short weekend I was deeply moved by the graciousness of the people! The dress code at Liberty wouldn't be difficult to follow because I already believe that I should dress in a manner that would not cause my brothers in Christ to stumble. Plus, having a curfew would help me to develop better time management skills, such as allotting time for sleep. I'm interested in pursing a Nursing major not for the money, but because I sense that I'm called to be a nurse. How many institutions would appreciate or understand being called by God for a profession? Few and far between. Not many schools, if any that I know of, encourage mission trips to help with tuition, yet Liberty does. I want to attend Liberty University because I was impacted by the champions for Christ that the university is already raising up. I want to be apart of the movement that wants to thrust strong Christians into the world. I sure never thought I would feel this strongly about a school after a taste of what the campus life was like on a random week in November. That is just how God moves though doesn't he? Mysteriously planning events and then surprising me.

 Two days--t w o  d a y s-- after I sent this admissions essay in I got an email from Liberty! And over the thanksgiving holiday they sent me a t-shirt and an official letter.

((I had a change of heart after visiting LU, I was set on *not* going to a Christian college, but we'll see how God provides))

Now to the thanksgiving prep! In our neighborhood, we have traditions such as eating together on major holidays. I absolutely love when we get together. This year I initiated everything, well--because I wanted to make sure it happened! I walked up to houses, knocked on doors, and sold girl scout cookies ; ) I expected 25+ people to attend our feast for friends. Since the meal would be outside I wanted to embellish the outdoors as much as I could. After walking around our little nature preserve outside our house I realized that there were a lot of pine cones. I decided to gather the pine cones that I needed to make a thanksgiving sign! I hot glued letters to the pine cones and hung them on a string. I also took several gangly looking tree branches and stuck them in plaster of Paris in a bucket to make a mini tree. The object of the strange creation was to liven the tree by adding construction paper leaves to it. The guests would write things that he or she is thankful for and tape it to the tree. It was lovely.{hopefully I'll get pictures up soon!}

During the day, Jared and I cooked, however it was mostly Jared making the food, I did help! We were trying to take pictures every couple minutes to make a time lapse video of thanksgiving day. It was a lot of fun taking pictures, I can't wait to see how it turned out! The Thanksgiving festivities began around four o'clock even though I told everyone to be there at three.  We all held hands and prayed over the food, the evening, and then rushed to the food line. Soon after dinner, most of the kids lined up to play knock out. Its a basketball game where constant free throws are shot in the hopes of knocking out the person in front of you. I then sat on the driveway of our neighbors house and we talked for several hours. After a neighbor friend, who was up from Word of Life, left with other friends, his brother came over and we played apples to apples and scategories for two hours. Thanksgiving day couldn't have been more memorable. I was blessed to have a fantastic time.

I saw this on a blog I follow : http://manyrandommusings.blogspot.com/
things I'm thankful for : a-z

africa, adventures, apple crisp
brothers, babysitting, boggle
church, christ, chris august, chubby baby fingers, catchphrase
dinner as a family
earth, eyes, esty
frogs (especially the little green tree frogs)
goat cheese
hugs
ice cream
jokes
kids 
lemonade, little hands
memories with the best of friends
newness of life in christ
opportunities to learn more about God and his word
popcorn, John Piper's preaching
quiet mornings, quest
rest
singing and smiling
talking, tenth avenue north, tubs
unity among believers  
vacations
water
xenon--the element from the periodic table which means stranger (i'm thankful for all the new strangers that have become friends)
youth group
zoo

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Ups and Downs of a Diverse Family


Approximately four and a half years ago, the number of kids in my family doubled overnight. Five years ago my parents decided to do something cross cultural; they adopted three kids from Liberia, Africa. Adoption had been something that was implanted in both my parents minds as kids and young adults. A magazine, “Above Rubies”, highlighted four Liberian orphanages that caught my Mom's attention. Soon after seeing the magazine article, my parents began to consult friends and family about adopting, but most importantly, they were praying that God's will be done in their family's life. After a lot of paperwork was filled out, a home-study completed, and easily a hundred pictures were emailed, we chose the kids we thought would best fit our family. Valentines day 2007, my parents received their travel dates to go get the kids! My parents spent a week in Liberia, and when they returned, neither my two brothers, nor I expected the gravity of the situation.
March sixth 2007, is a day that I will never forget. It was the first day that my new brothers and sister were officially home. Kennedy was six, Mary was five, and Justino was two, everything was new and exciting. The day began with excitement and complications like a small language barrier. Sadly, by the end of the night, everyone ended up crying. Kennedy missed his family back in Africa, Mary knocked her head on the banister, and Justino was crying because Mary was crying! Eventually the three biological kids snapped and began to cry as well. It was an incredibly emotional situation because we finally all realized that we were stuck together. There was no going back, we were a family.
It was a real struggle for me, being the oldest in the family, to cope with the fact that we were different than other families. We would take trips to Wal-mart and get plenty of looks from other shoppers. First of all, a large family in America is typically unheard of, and secondly we were a biracial family. I'm not exactly sure if I don't notice the strange looks that my family may get, or if I just don't care anymore. Through this life-changing experience, though tough at times, I have grown tremendously in responsibility. Whether it's helping kids get dressed for church on Sunday, planning meals, or switching a load of laundry around, a family unit cannot function without everyone.

In this day and age, teenagers are encouraged to deviate away from the family and home life. While, I'm not with my family everyday, all day, I do enjoy spending time with them. A large family allows for a lot of fun! Before my three younger siblings came home, I thought I was familiar what “never a dull moment” meant with two brothers. I had no idea what I was in for with four brothers and one sister! This “bump in the road” has caused tears, heartache, laughter, and many happy memories. And those are the things the stick with me, all the good times. I have done a lot of growing up during these past four and a half years, and at the end of the day I am very thankful, because my new family environment helped develop who I am.
I've learned so much about how to deal with and relate to people in these last couple of years. Many arguments have been resolved, brothers pulled off each other at least a dozen times, and little ones comforted after a bike accident. Having three black children my family has made me aware that a person is still a person at his or her core. Whatever past history, ethnicity, or lifestyle, people long to be nurtured. I've grown in responsibility a lot as the oldest of the family as well. I have to take initiative, and I am the example. I never fully grasped that younger children looked up to me as much as they do. There will always be good times and always be rough times, of this I am sure. All these experiences are bricks that are building my family base. We will all look back and remember stressful days as well as the fantastically memorable days. Because the tough times made my family stronger I, along with the rest of the gang, will distinctly reminisce about the happy times. “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade”, but without sugar that lemonade would be gross. My three younger siblings are the sugar to my lemonade, and I'm so thankful for all the maturity that their arrival developed in me.

Friday, November 11, 2011

My reasoning

      It may never make sense half the time, my reasoning that is, but I do have some convictions. When a 17 year old deletes a social media outlet, most of my friends scream in amazement. I get the questions, funny looks, and even after explanation more quizzical expressions. I would have considered myself well versed in explanations. Literally 10 seconds ago I realized the best way to describe my decision to close out my facebook account. I found the reason in a bridge of Chris August's song :

And I, I wanna be real, and I, I wanna be real 
There's too much at stake and I'm tired of faking

I just wanna be real, I wanna be real.


      So, there is my logic most coherently put. I deleted facebook because it was a huge time waster for me, no sense in me justifying it as anything else. Plus I had beyond done with faux personalities. 

Yes, you may have a facebook.

No, I'm no hatin' on you.

No, I'm not saying you have a faux personaility. 






p.s. sorry for the weird formatting/text highlighting.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Well, I, uhhh...did the unthinkable...

I ran over a squirrel. 

Yes, I added a picture of a baby squirrel to add guilt to the reader ;)

In case you just missed that...


I ran over a squirrel!

The weather couldn't have been more picturesque. My windows were down, the radio was turned up, and the cool air filled the van. I eased off the gas pedal while approaching a traffic light, it was still green so I preceded to drive on. 

and then...

All of the sudden... a little squirrel was running across the street. "oh no," I thought, " keep running little buddy!" This poor squirrel was running across the street to the left, saw my car speedily coming towards him, at the last minute deciding to turn and run to the right, oh wait--"no, back to the left we go," thought the squirrel. On the way back to the left side of the road, I hit the sucker right in the head.

crackle
bam
goodbye

Now, this sounds like it took some time. And, it did. However, it was like 20 seconds maximum! After the chaos had happened I just started laughing! 

{{hahahahhahahhahaha....did I just do that?! hahahahhahahah}}

I was caught between a small amount of pity and a large amount of joy. I felt accomplished, like I had lived. I had actually ran over a squirrel, I was experienced in many ways of life from that point on.




[[ Disclaimer: I'm not an animal hater, nor am I extremely sympathetic c'est la vie (said : say la vee)= such is life]]






Monday, October 31, 2011

If you have time, and if you dare to read :)


I took a deep breath of unfamiliar air, but still my lungs made use of the oxygen. I stepped off the bus and took my first step into a foreign country : Ethiopia. I never expected to leave the country at age 16, let alone go to two different countries in Africa. Ethiopia was my first stop before arriving in Malawi, Africa. Malawi is approximately three countries north of South Africa, and is surrounded by Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zambia. And I was going to Malawi with a group of 23 people I'd never come into contact with before. I was not very prepared for how to handle the emotional, physical, and mental struggles that I would go through. Adjusting to the culture was crucial to a pleasant trip, and it took a little bit of adjusting, but by knowing what is appropriate to wear, and being aware of some phrases in the language were simple things that demonstrated respect towards the people. I honestly did not think that I would be moved by the people of Malawi, not as much as I was. Through my experiences, I developed a sincere compassion that I wanted to share with anyone and everyone. I was most impacted and shocked, however, by the culture.
I don't know if you can tell, but the monkeys are kissing :D

The phrase “take a turn walking in their shoes” never became so personal or real to me until I was visiting Malawi. We flew into the capital of Malawi, Lilongwe, and saw a few white people in the airport. After that, save one other time, my team of 16 white girls and two boys were surrounded by only black natives. As best as I could, I tried to embrace the beautiful people and interesting culture. When my team first arrived in Malawi, two of our five team leaders went into town to by groceries and clothes. It was an important necessity to have skirts as soon as possible because a lady who wore pants was considered a prostitute. In the city, this was less of a concern, but wherever my team was, we needed them. In the summer of 2010, I, for the first time in my life, was the minority. It was a very humbling experience for me. Although, I would not trade that summer for the world! I really learned a lot from the Malawians I interacted with.


I was the one entering the country with wonderful intentions, the one serving these people, how could I be taught a lesson? Indeed, I was taught a lesson. The houses are made of mud and the roofs are thatched with sticks and hay. Children of all ages wander around their various villages most of the day; as long as the children are home by dark the parents don't mind where the children go. While the team was working on building a goat pen for the missionaries that we were staying with, we had to gather rocks to mix in with the concrete. Within 10 minutes of starting the project, several children began helping us collect rocks and place them in the wheelbarrow. I couldn't speak much Chichewa, and the kids couldn't speak much English, but we all smiled and gathered rocks together. This event was probably the highlight of the kids day. The saying, “It's the little things in life” is really true. These children wanted to help us, but while also having a great time! I was floored. The people I was with were living in the third poorest country in the world, but their joy levels were higher than mine. It was a foreign concept to me: these Malawians had less things and more happiness. The purpose of my team's trip was to wash orphans feet and give them socks and shoes, little did I know that a boy whose feet I washed would be something I'd remember forever.

 

He looked to be about 8 years old. He was cute, full of smiles, and his white teeth glistened in contrast to his skin. I washed his feet, put his socks on, found him a pair of shoes, I smiled and he went on his way. Over the next several days, we had four or five foot-washings. I gathered that this little guy lived around the area we were because he would hang around us while we were in that particular village. When he found me, he would come up to me, stop, point at his feet, socks pulled up to his calves, shoes on, smile and give me a thumbs up. We would smile, make silly faces at each other and, laugh, laugh, laugh. Justin Beiber has a song called, “Somebody to love” but that song is referring to somebody to love as a girlfriend. But I felt that these kids actually needed someone to love them. Who knew what attention or care these children received at home? I didn't know what home life was like, so I would cuddle them anyway. I wanted to spend time with the natives and show them love. Whenever I was around them, sincere love and compassion overflowed from my heart. At the end of each day, my team and I would dance, sing, and play all sorts of games. The Malawians favorite game was “duck, duck, goose!” It was a family event in all respects, fathers, mothers, and all relatives would cheer the kids on. I will always have Malawi on my mind and the memories in my heart.



My perspective about the world pre-Africa was selfish, sheltered, and ignorant. I had heard about world hunger, terrible natural disasters, and about a world in need of Jesus, but what could a teenager in America do to help the world? So easily I assumed that America was the center of the round globe and all other life on the planet revolved around America. I now see the world through eyes that have a view of life outside America. My teammates and I would tell the natives who asked, that we were from America, they would smile and nod, as if they understood. Odds were, they did not even comprehend the life of the Western world. They knew the word America, and that is about all. The lifestyle comparison between Malawi and the Western Civilization is quite a drastic one. In America, everything is at your finger tips and if you want something now, you get it when you want it. 'Life on demand'. It's sickening. In Malawi, everyone is very laid back and most everyone meanders around from place to place, in no hurry. Malawi is in no way perfect, but their lifestyle allowed my team and I to spend a lot of time with the women and children during our presentation times and foot-washings. Through this trip, I gained a deeper understanding about people. People are basically all the same; in a way it sounds dehumanizing, but at the end of the day, black or white, a person is still a person. A child in Malawi wants to have fun and live life to the fullest, filled with fun and games, just as anyone else would. I never expected to fall in love with these people; yet I did. I never thought that I would leave the country at 16, but I left, to Africa no less. I showed compassion, love, joy, cried, laughed, and gave my all into what I was doing if it could help these men, women and children. I went to Malawi with high hopes of transforming lives, however millions of people transformed mine.

 
I had to write a descriptive narrative for Composition I, and some of this info is from my support letter, but I thought I'd post it anyway :)