Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Living the life.

2 Nephi 5:27..."And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness."

My friends I am here to tell you that I have and am living life after the manner of happiness. I just spent some of the greatest three weeks of my life learning from the beautiful children at the farm. I am now back in the city of Lusaka where I will join my sister and all the other American volunteers on an expedition. I'm sad to leave my little home in Kasupe. I love these kids with all my heart. They've taught me powerful lessons about finding joy in all things. They never complain about anything. The power goes out for the entire day and we have no water and they don't complain. I have felt so much peace living with these people. They have taught me how to be calm and live life to the fullest. I've learned that living life to the fullest doesn't mean I have to do a million things in a day. It means that I need to BE...find joy in most importantly LIVE!!! They know God and trust him completely.

Thank you for your wonderful examples!!!

My last supper at the farm. It makes me cry thinking about not being there anymore so that's all I'll say for now. I walk the kids to and from school every day. On the way we pass some kids and every time they see me they start yelling "Muzungoo, Muzungoo" which means white person. I respond with my usual "Muli Bwanji" which means how are you and they giggle and laugh when the white person speaks their language. On Tuesday this little girl wanted a snap (picture) so we stopped and got a picture taken together. She was adorable. Note the house in the background. football pitch waiting for everyone to show up. After the little boys play the big boys play. It was so fun to watch them in action.
To all you parents out there I would urge you to please read to your children. I realized the other day that these precious children have never had someone sit down to read to them. My sister's read to their kids on a regular basis and the kids love it. When I got here and pulled out all my little books the kids looked like they had died and gone to heaven. They ate it up. They wanted me to read, reread, and continue to reread every book that I brought. They flipped through the pages over and over again. When I would finish one book they would hand me another. I don't even think they could understand what I was reading they just wanted to be read to. It made me cry to think about how lucky my nieces and nephews are to have good parents that will sit down and read to them. It made me sad for all the years that these kids have spent and not had one book read to them. Here's a picture of me reading to the kids. They've all got books in front of them. These are moments I will treasure forever.

This is Ms Carol Zulu that I posted about in my last blog. She's delectable. And that hair. It stands straight up at all times. Had to get a picture of it.

The other day I walked out of the house and saw Bwalia holding something in his hands. I was afraid to ask what he was holding but did so anyway. He found a bird, plucked all the feathers off, and was just waiting to cook it so he could eat it. I told him that was just gross and he smiled real big. He apparently doesn't think there is anything wrong with finding a dead bird and eating it.

This is a picture of the kids watching a movie from my ipod. They all sit on the table and watch a little tiny screen with no sound and think it's the greatest thing in the world. If only we were so easy to please.

Here's a snap of all the kids and adults living at the farm or more formerly known as the Mothers Without Borders Children's Resource Center. There are about twenty kids and six adults. They've been my family for the past three weeks and have treated me like gold. I will miss them.

Saturday's are wash day. That's a lot of wash to be done for so many kids. I walked out of the house and saw this mass of what looks like confusion. Come to find out it's a very orderly process of washing clothes. Look at the smiles on their faces. I do my wash on Friday's, let's be honest, I don't really do it. They laugh at me every time I attempt to wash my clothes and then just take the clothes from me and do it themselves. I certainly don't put up a fight. They tease me about our machines in America that do the wash for me. They think I'm lazy. They're right!

My running crew in the mornings. This is the most that have ever come with me. The numbers have dwindled considerably. On Saturday I couldn't get anyone to go with me. It was nice, however, to have the time alone with my thoughts. Haven't had very many of those moments living with twenty adorable, enthusiastic, energetic kids. On the fourth of July I told everyone that we were going to celebrate America's Independence Day. I pulled out all the toys that my nieces and nephews bought for the kids and we had our own little Independence Day. Connor, the kids loved the popping fireworks. Jaxon, Emily, and Abbie, thanks for buying the stickers, jumpropes, bubbles and other toys. They LOVED playing with it all. You guys made their day.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

God is good!

I want to tell you all about my sweet little Carol. She is turning thirteen tomorrow and is one of the most remarkable girls I have ever come in contact with. She is a very happy but very sick little girl. She is slowly dying of AIDS and it kills me to see her suffer. She is my roommate at the farm and I am so blessed to have her near me.

The other night she and I were talking. She was telling me about how she was so sick before she came to MWB. She was telling me about how her father thought that she had died and her grandma rushed her to the hospital and she received two injections and then she came back to life. She told me about how her father kept saying that his daughter had died even though she was still alive. Her father had "refused" her because she was so sick. She sang me the song that her mother used to sing her when she was so sick. It is beautiful. I have it on video for you all to see.

Then when the conversation was ending she said to me, "Sometimes I am sitting and I think God is good, but then I wonder why I can't see out of my eye. I want to be able to finish school." She has lost sight in one of her eyes and is starting to lose sight in her other eye as well. She knows God is good but she wonders why she can't see. Well Ms. Carol Zulu you are what we call a remarkable woman. As I went to sleep that night I felt that I was truly in the presence of a spiritual giant. I am living in a home with many spiritual giants. I am humbled by the capacity of endurance these souls have. I am humbled by their ability to cope with whatever circumstances they are in. I am humbled by their resilience. I am humbled by their constant happiness and joy. They KNOW adversity and trials at a greater level than I will ever experience but they somehow come off as conquerors. They rise above it. They truly are spiritual giants and I feel very blessed to be in the presence of such amazing children.

Yes, Carol, God is good. I don't know why you can't see out of your eye or why your life has to be shortened because of another's agency... but I know He loves you and He's in charge and He wants you to find joy. Thank you for your wonderful example.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy Birthday Emily!!!

It is my sweet little Emily's birthday tomorrow and I just wanted to wish her a happy one. I have done well at living in the present but every time I think about missing this little girls birthday for the third year in a row it makes me long to be home.

I miss you and love you Emily and hope you have a wonderful birthday.
Give Abbie, Connor, Holly, Jaxon, and Sage hugs and kisses for me. I love you all!!!

Life back at the farm...

I came back to live in "civilization" last Thursday and was planning to head back to the farm (orphanage) on Tuesday. Saturday night I started going a little crazy and realized that living this civilian life with warm showers, grocery stores, cars, and white people was just not doing for me. I decided to go back to the farm with the kids on Sunday after church. Boy was I glad I did. Life out here is bliss.

On Sunday's the kids practice their dancing, singing, and drumming. I was getting my things organized and suddenly heard their beautiful voices and wandered outside to listen. When I walked outside all I could see was fire everywhere. As Americans, we might have panicked at this point. Everyone was sitting around as if nothing was wrong. I asked George about the fire and what in the heck was going on. Apparently there had been several sightings of snakes in the bush or the cornfields behind the house. When this happens they burn down the fields to eliminate the homes for the snakes. The fire burned all the way to the neighbor's farm. I asked George if the neighbor would be mad about the fire and without hesitation he said, "yes, but what can we do?" I don't know...maybe not burn the whole field down. There are snakes all over the place here. The kids don't like to take any shortcuts to school because they are afraid of the snakes.
This pic doesn't do the fire justice but it gives you an idea. These two women Catherine and Fagness are making bags out of corn stalk. There amazing. I'll be bringing one of these bags home with me.

After the burning of the field and the performance practice we baked a cake. It was so fun to watch some of these kids that have never had cake before partake of the goodness. They were all amazed that I could bake. They kept saying, "Auntie Heather, you can bake!" As if they were surprised by it. Little did they know all I did was pour a mix in some oil and eggs and stick it in the oven.
Monday and Tuesday were spent with the regular studies. I decided to go with the kids to school on Wednesday to get an idea of what goes on there. I had been a few times last year but was hoping things had changed a bit. I was wrong.

Here's a little excerpt from my journal yesterday, "Right now I am sitting in a grade 5 class with almost 100 kids. There aren't usually this many kids but the teachers have all gone to town to pick up something. Bridget showed up to no teacher at 10 and then knocked off at 12. Moses is walking around like a stranded puppy because he has no teacher. This is day 2 for him without a teacher. He looks so lost. I don't evern want to think about what he's been through since his parents passed. I don't want to think about what he went through before they passed. I worry about the older kids. It's almost as if they have to become somewhat hardened to combat with the evil that is constantly in front of them. The first chapter of the grade 4 book on social development was on AIDS. The whole first chapter out of five dedicated to AIDS - how it's contracted, how to prevent it. It spoke of teenage pregancy, sex, how babies are made. Did you know Zambia has a law that you can't have sex before you are sixteen? What???? A law has been passed listing the age at which sex is legal. As LDS people we have a "law" stating not to date until we are sixteen. I just can't think about the power the adversary has here. Grade 4! I don't even want to look at what's in the grade 3 book." The school's here are crazy!

I want to mention a brief experience that I had with Kennedy (he's six and just deluctible) the other night. It was as if all barriers were stripped between us. It was as if there was no differences between the color of our skin, the language we speak, our ages, the backgrounds we've come from. It was as if our souls connected and we understood each other. I know it sounds crazy but it was beautiful.
Kennedy is the boy on the right. This is a picture of us playing UNO, our Sunday afternoon activity.
I love these kids. They are amazing. I pray every day that I might have the capacity to love them the way they need to be loved. They go without so many things but what they need the most is love. We all need that. God can and will supply us with the love we need to share with everyone we come in contact with. It's called charity and we've been promised that as we pray for it, charity will come. My prayer this week is to have a greater amount of charity so that I might give these children the love that they are so desperately seeking.

Here's a picture of us roasting marshmallows. Marshmallows???? What are those? It's so much fun to share these crazy American traditions. I've got to teach these kids how to smile when someone is taking a picture. I rarely see them without smiles.

Here's a few pictures of our walk home from school yesterday. Raymond bought us some sugar cane. Sure is good stuff. Hard to break the skin off but once you do it the inside is amazing. No wonder these people are always sucking on sugar cane.

And this is how an American carries water in Zambia. Thank goodness for bottled water.

Last story...the morning jog. Four of the boys joined me for my run this morning. I never know who's going to join me but I'm always happy to have the company. They keep me safe. This morning was unique. We ran the usually route passing the usually people along the way. There are a lot of kids that walk to school in the mornings that we pass. This morning we were running and a couple of the school children joined us in their uniforms. We passed a few more kids and they joined us as well. We passed more and soon the running pack had grown to about 15 kids. It was so funny to me. In all, there were twenty of us, 15 in uniform on the morning jog. I couldn't wipe the smile from my face.
I love this place!!!