Saturday, June 28, 2008

Zambian Pictures

Doing the dishes.

This is what it looks like every morning at breakfast time. The kids sit outside with their "Samp" and eat. I just loved this moment so I had to capture it.

I found these little boys playing in the dirt on the way home from school one day. They were being so cute throwing dirt on each other and fighting over the sticks. The one boy looked so sick but seemed to be having so much fun. It reminded me of when Holly had her goopy eyes and nose and was still herself.

Evans, his brother, nephew, and sis-in-law (8 months pregnant), outside his house. I sure do love that boy.

Our "classroom", also the dining room where the kids eat every night. There's about ten more kids but they weren't in this picture. Love it!

Some good 'ol fashion African dancing.

This is how the kids are transported to church every Sunday. There are about fifteen of them in the back of the tiny truck. Crazy!!!

Eric and I preparing our hands for dinner. The Nschima is the white stuff and the relish was a yummy soybean something or other. Yummy!!!! Really it was super good.

Eric and his sweet little wife, Patricia. It was so fun spending the day with him. His wife is two months pregnant. So excited to see the little morsel next summer when I come back.

Friday, June 27, 2008 precious...but not our own.

Her bucket of time has been filled because she's given it all away.

What if time worked like tithing. The more we give, the more we receive. I am a time nazi. I am very careful about how I choose to spend that time but never seem to have enough of it. Last night, at our meeting, my team leader said the above quote about Josephine who is Zambia MWB staff. She works so many hours doing so many different things. She gets up in the fours to do her studies, starts working by about 6:30 AM, finishes work at about 5:30 PM, goes to school at night, gets home at about 10 PM, and then she works on whatever housekeeping things she needs to complete and finally gets to bed after midnight. What??? I thought my life was crazy. The difference with Josephine is that she never seems to be rushed. She is always so calm and happy to help us whenever we need it. She seems to have all the time in the world when we're with if we're the only person in her life. She is not the exception. Most of the Zambians are like this. They work countless hours, up early to bed late, but when I'm around they act as if I'm the only thing they have going on. They treat me like gold and make me feel a million bucks. So my question is, what if we stopped hoarding our time and didn't worry about not having enough? What if we just gave it away? Would our bucket of time be refilled? Would we end up having more of it than we started with? I've seen it work in the lives of these wonderful people. I can only imagine that I would be just as blessed.

Things are so well here. I've had a million thoughts and have a million things I'd like to say. Fortunately for all of you I don't have enough time to say them all. I just got back from the farm yesterday and this morning had my first warm shower since I've been in Zambia. It's nice to be back in civilization again. I want to give you a brief description of the life at the farm. We wake up at 5:45 or 6:00. Me and a few of the boys go for a 30 - 40 minute jog in the morning before breakfast. These kids are amazing. I need to take a picture of the shoes they run in. Most of them don't have shoe laces and they are wearing the wrong size. But do they even think twice about it? Of course not, they're just happy to be out for a run in the morning. They think it's the greatest. Some of the smaller boys usually end up walking at the end but they still continue to come. The sunsets and sunrises in Zambia are incredible. It is BEAUTIFUL here. In the mornings it's especially gorgeous. The sun rising over the African bush, running on dirt roads, wishing other passerbys a good morning, with my sweet boys. Does life get any better?

We get back from our run and we usually have breakfast...corn called samp. They eat corn for every meal just different forms. I can't believe how many different ways corn can be eaten. You'd think you were getting some different nutrients but then you realize that nope you're still just eating corn regardless of what form it comes in. I usually skip the breakfast and make myself a pp and h in my room so the kids can't see. I feel bad eating a sandwich in front of them. After breakfast I bathe. Now this is quite the adventure. Not something I look forward to. It consists of a bucket and splashing cold water on myself to try and get clean. What kind of bath is that? These crazy Zambians. After bathing we start our studies at about 8:30 AM. I tutor about half the kids in the morning and then half the kids in the afternoon. I take a break at about 10:30 and walk the boys to school at 11. The school is about a 45-minute walk. We hang out until 12 when some of the girls get finished. I say hi to my sweet boy Evans and then I walk back home with the girls. We have lunch at 1 and start studying at 1:30. There are about twenty kids at the orphanage and they come and go from school all day long. So from 1:30 until about 5:30 I sit in the little dining room and work with whoever is around at the time. It's been quite the challenge trying to teach kids from kindergarten to 8th grade. I don't have enough materials to do what I need to do so I mostly just pray that whatever it is I'm trying to do will be of some benefit to them.

After studies we have dinner, Nshima with some kind of relish. We eat Nshima for lunch as well. Lunch and dinner everyday of these people's life is Nshima. What is Nshima you ask? Corn mashed up to a thickness that is kind of like mashed potatoes but not. It has no taste. Just there for filling. We use our hands to eat the Nshima and dip it into a relish. The relish changes on a day to day basis. It comes with vegetables, beans, chicken, beef, or capenta (gross fish that I won't touch).

After dinner and dishes we play. This is my favorite time of the day. We'll sit around and sing songs, tell stories, chase the rats which there are plenty of, walk around with torches because they power has gone out, laugh, hug, chat, and pray. Bedtime is at 8:30. The kids go into their rooms at this time where they proceed to laugh and giggle for another hour while I finish up writing notes on how the kids are doing and do a little studying myself. I then crawl into my little bed, tuck the mosquito net tightly around me, pray that the rats don't get me, and thank God for yet another day in Zambia.

I wish I could post some pictures but it takes so long to upload them that I would be here until morning. There are so many other things I'd like to post about but I have a minute left so I'm going to say goodbye for now. Hope you are well. Love and miss you.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Learn from the past...Plan for the future...LIVE IN THE PRESENT...

I think President Monson mentioned that in one of his talks recently. This is my motto for the day/week/month/year/whatever. I'm finally here in Zambia and have a lot of mixed feelings. I've waited an entire year to be back here and now I'm here. The thoughts I've been having are, "Okay, so what now?" I'm a teacher, thus I crave and seek control. I like to have everything planned at all times. I like to know what I'm doing, when I'm going to do it always.

Today is a different day. Today I am living in the present. Today I am going to be what God wants me to be. I'm not going to try to plan it, I'm just going to be it. But how do you be it, if you don't know what it is you're supposed to be? That's where faith comes in. You don't have to plan to be you just be. Makes perfect sense right?

We have no control of the past and no control of the future. We have control of the present. We are powerless in the past and future but have complete power in the present. We can accomplish much in the present. We can change a life in the present. We can love a child in the present. We can play marbles with a bunch of street kids in the dirt in the present. God wants us to be in the present.

Today we visited a facility that supplies food for some of the street kids here. I asked them where they lived. They all looked at me like I was crazy. "We live in the streets," they said. Then they proceeded to describe what area of the street they stayed. I asked about their families. Some have none and some have relatives. I asked how old they were when they started living on the streets. I asked about their schooling. I asked every question I could think and the responses overwhelmed me. This is their world. This is how life is. This is what they do. When I got on the bus after talking with them I broke into tears as I do most often when we leave a village or compound or pretty much anywhere we go. I, once again, tried to make sense of it all. I can't. I don't have the power to fix it. I can't make it better. But HE can and HE will. I thought about how much I loved dancing with them, playing drums with them, playing marbles in the dirt, throwing the frisbee around. The smiles on my faces and their faces. We were happy. Do you know why???? We were living in the present. At that moment all was well. Our spirits were being fed by each other and we found joy because we chose to live in the present. Think about the times when you are happiest in life. It's not when you are thinking about what's going to happen next. It's not when you are thinking about what happened before. It's when you're chillin' on the floor next to your child playing leggos...It's when you are taking a walk in the park enjoying the beauty around you...It's when you're talking on the phone to a dear friend...It's when you're driving to the bank to make a deposit...It's when you're putting on your shoes to go for a run...It doesn't matter what you're doing as long as your doing it at that moment.

Well, that's enough for now. No pictures, haven't taken any since I've been here. Life is good. God is in charge. Let's let Him be in charge and keep a prayer in our heart at every moment so we can be what He needs us to be at that exact moment.

Tomorrow I will be going to stay at the orphanage for who knows how long. It might be a night, might be a week, might be a month. I, unfortunately, do not have access to the internet while I'm there. The only thing I will have access to are the rats that run around me while I sleep...AND my sweet wonderful kids. I can't wait to see them and be with them. It might be a bit before I blog again.

Love you all!!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

London Fun

I should be touring the British Museum right now but a sign saying "Internet Use" drew me in and here I am blogging. Just a quick blog and then I'm off to the musuem and then to the airport for Kenya and on to Zambia.

London is fabulous. I still can't believe I'm here. So much history here. It's beautiful. I've done the whirlwind tour in a day and a half. Lots of walking and touring. Some highlights...St Paul's Cathedral, London Tower, London's Eye, Changing of the Guard, Buckingham Palace, James Park, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Parliament, Thames, British Museum, Wicked, and on and on and on. Thank goodness for Rick Steves'. He sure puts on a good vacation.
The pics aren't in any order but I thought you might enjoy.

And a few more farewell pics. Just can't have too many.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I'm outta here!!!

I'm leaving tomorrow to the "other side", or should I say my second home, ZAMBIA!!! I have such mixed emotions about the whole thing. I'm so excited to see my little ones in Zambia...

but so sad to leave my little ones here...

I'm going to be in Africa for two months, okay... just seven weeks but when I say "two months" it sounds so much cooler. I'll be working for an organization called My main purpose/goal this summer will be to assess the kids at the Children's Resource Center to see what level they're at for reading/writing/math, and then I'll tutor them the rest of the time. I can't think of a better way to spend my summer than in the dirt, doing math, with my beautiful dark skinned morsels. I'm already excited for Heidi and my roommate to join me out there in July.
We've had quite the "farewell" weekend. Mostly, my sisters are excited to get rid of me so they don't have to keep having farewell parties for me. My last day of teaching and school was on Thursday. What a relief to be done. On Friday we started the weekend off with a trip to Dairy Queen to celebrate the last day of school for Connor and Abbie (pictures above). Steph and I did some shopping a little later to get all my supplies for the trip. Thanks for enduring that with me Steph.
The following morning, Heidi and I ran the Helvetia Half-Marathon. Boy did it feel good. I can only say that now because it's over. If you'd have talked to me at mile 10 it would have been a whole different story. Both Heid and I set some new PR's. It was a great race and I'm glad it's over. :)

After the race we headed over to Claim Jumper's for some delicious dessert. Unfortunately, Heidi missed out on the yummy dessert. She fell asleep and woke up a little later than planned. When she did finally get up she was in a state of delerium and in no position to drive. Drinking her contact solution may have added to her delerious state. Steph, Jake, the kids, and I enjoyed some good food.

After Claim Jumpers I ran a few errands and then the lot of us went to the Dollar Store to pick out a few toys for the kids in Zambia. The shopping trip ended with a whole lot of tears...hence the reason there are no pictures.
The rest of the night was spent playing leggos, opening a present for Emily's b-day, putting together puzzles, singing songs, Cities and Knights, eating treats, and loving life with the fam. Sure am going to miss you all.

I'm hoping to be able to update my blog about once a week while I'm gone. I probably won't be able to post any pictures until I get home but I'll have lots of stories to tell.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

So much to say...

Isn't life great? Well it certainly is in the blogging world. That's what's so great about blogs. They're always so rosy.

There's so much to report on for the last few months but I hate to write so I'm just going to make it short and sweet.
First of all... I PASSED my dreadful, stressful, lame math test. I hate taking tests. Besides ticks sucking my blood (never had it happen but I think it would be the worst thing in the world), taking tests are the worst thing in the world. I had to take this really hard (not sure how else to desrcibe it) math test to get my Oregon Teaching License. I was fully expecting to have to take the test again (after all it did take me two times to pass the Oregon Driver's Test) but I was happily mistaken when I received this letter in the mail...
The words in the upper right hand corner of this picture say PASSED five different times. What a relief. I am now officially licensed to teach in Oregon. The high school I'll be teaching at next year will be happy to hear that.
We had to go to PF Chang's to celebrate. Well...I don't think it was really a celebration for me but I pretended like it was. Dad was nice enough to pay for us all. He sure is a good man. Thanks for everyone's support.
I hitchhiked for the first time the other night. It was super exciting. Nobody picked us up so I'm not sure if it really counts as hitchhiking but it made me really happy.

Went and saw my dear friend Monica in Colorado. Sure love that girl.
Some fun pics from Utah visits, wish I had more...

Lots more to say but no more pics to show so I'll be done for now.