Tag Archives: Africa

Your Red Dirt Has Forever Stained my Heart

If you dig down deep inside of yourself and find a desire to come to Africa,

Please do.

The red dirt will stain your feet.

The people will grip you in such a way that you will be forever changed.

But, I don’t want to sugar coat anything.

There will be days that you’ll cry,

Feel inadequate,

Used,

Exhausted ,

And just in dire need of an honest to goodness hamburger with real beef.

But, at the end of the day chances are you’ll experience life at such a different level that you won’t want to ever return to “normal.”

You’ll see joy in the midst of poverty.

True, deep joy.

Courage in the face of daunting circumstances.

Community in a world full of selfishness.

Yes, the giraffes walking against sun tinted plains will stir your heart, but what will really change you is,

The people you encounter.

The stories that break your heart.

The people with nothing who welcome you ready to share everything that they have with you.

 

Bring a scarf, a jacket, leggings, whatever  you need to stay warm because the African sun doesn’t always shine.

When it goes down for the night the air will chill your bones.

 

Learn to love the rainy season.

Even when flood waters block you in and force you to wade through muddy, make shift streams.

Learn to love the sound of rain dancing on a tin roof.

 

People will call you “brother,” “sister,” ‘auntie,” “mama.”

They will help you when you’ve lost your way and try to sell you everything from bananas to peanuts.

 

The languages that at first sound like music will become a complete puzzle often leaving you tongue tied and

happy to sound like a two year old as long as you are able to communicate.

But, try.

Try to break the language puzzle.

Learn some phrases and be OK with not being able to say everything perfectly.

People will love you for trying.

 

It will change your very soul in a beautifully painful way.

So if you can.

If you want to experience a world of contrast and beauty then come.

Africa is waiting.

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Filed under Contemplations, Kenya, Travel

Please Send Me to Africa…

Africa

It’s a little bit scary seeing a dream come together. Part of me is so excited it feels like a dream and the other side of me is scared out of my mind wondering if everything is really going to work out.

I’m excited about moving to Kenya and working at the Riziki Children’s Home. I can’t wait to begin working with Kenyans who are building into their communities and tackling tough problems. I don’t want to be the pushy American who thinks they have all the answers. I want to support the work that is already going on. I want to learn. I want to help where I can and be a part of something bigger than myself.

The plane tickets are purchased which is so exciting. This trip is something I have wanted to do for so long. Now it is finally starting to feel real, and that is an incredible feeling. I get to travel on the way out with one of my best friends who is coming out for a short term trip to also work at the orphanage. My friend has always wanted to do an overseas mission trip, and it’s been such a pleasure doing trip planning together. Well, except for the shots which are scheduled for a week from next Friday. That part I’m not looking forward to, but I told my friend that if she gets me through the shots. I’ll get her through customs and airport security.

So we’re going to Kenya with an eleven day stop in Europe. I’m so blessed to have friends who are willing to host my friend and me. If everything goes right we will be able to spend time in London, France, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, and possibly Germany. Even writing that sentence scares me a bit because at this point I don’t really know how I am going to pay for everything. But this is such a once in a lifetime experience, so I’m just praying that everything works out.

I’m scared because I’m the type of person who likes to have everything planned out. I budget, I write lists, I want every detail set before I take the first step, but at this point I can’t have that. It’s a one day at a time thing. Planning what I can but learning to let go at the same time which is something I’m not very good at.

So…. I especially appreciate prayers right now. Prayers for wisdom with trip planning. Prayers for finances, prayers for time management and prayer for just a sense of peace because so many times I just don’t have a clue what I’m doing.

But, as I think about going to Africa for 6 months to a year, my heart feels truly happy something I haven’t felt in a long, long time. I feel like in away I am returning home. It’s where I grew up, it’s where I feel comfortable and welcome. As they say, “you can take the girl out of Africa, but you can’t take Africa out of the girl.” I know I’m American, but a piece of me still feels very at home in Africa. Growing up, the song Please Don’t Send Me to Africa had it’s popular streak to the point of being annoying. In the song the songwriter pleads with God to honor his one request and never send him to the continent of Africa. My siblings and I wrote our own version of the song, “please send me to Africa I don’t think I have what it takes to live in suburban America I miss my spiders and snakes.”

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Filed under Travel

Is This Home?

Sometimes Facebook threatens my sanity. When I click on my profile page a little blue box with a world map tells me to, “Add your hometown to stay in touch with friends from home.” I’d love to. I really would, but I don’t really know where I’m from.

I suppose that is the ever present dilemma for missionary kids (MKs), military kids, or anyone else lumped into the third culture kids category. We don’t really know where we’re from. I stalked some of my MK friends to see what they put as their hometown. Some put the town they live in now, others put the town where they lived the longest as a child, many others just left it blank.

The oh so popular “where are you from” questions usually leaves me stammering some vague response as I try to determine if the person who asked (what they thought was a simple question) really wants to hear about the three countries I’ve lived in or if I should go with the simple solution of responding with the name of the town where I currently reside. This presents a problem when people from the town I live in now ask me the question knowing that I didn’t go to kindergarten with their grandchildren.

Where am I from? I don’t know; pick a place. I’ve move 13 times. I’d like to say Rethy, Zaire. Although Zaire is no longer a country. It is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Facebook doesn’t seem to recognize Rethy as a legitimate place it be from. So I leave my hometown blank. But, can I really claim Rethy even if Facebook did recognize it? I left when I was almost nine. My Swahili has gotten very rusty, and my blue passport clearly says American.

I don’t mind being a confused MK. My first airplane ride was well before I turned a year old. I’ve gotten to see things that some people only read about or see on TV. I have friends from six different continents (sadly no one from Antarctica yet), and I’ve gotten to eat some amazing food and meet some incredible people. Would I trade it—not for a second, but I would like to know where home is. If you are an MK, how do you answer the where are you from question? What makes you feel at home? For me it is chai, being on an airplane, or wearing a Kikwembi. If you’re not an MK and you ask someone where they are from would you suggest they give you the long answer or the short one at first and then a longer one later? I had someone tell me that MKs can be hard to get to know. If you feel this is the case, I apologize. We DO want to get to know you it’s just that sometimes we have trouble just figuring out who we are. Please don’t give up on us.Image

Self Portrait: The African Side

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Filed under Contemplations, Humor, Travel

Who Cares About Africa

“Nobody cares about Africa,” he told me after I mentioned that I had grown up in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). Not the response I expected to hear from a guy a couple years older than I who rolled his own cigarettes and looked like he would have been right at home in the 70s. I waited for him to add “but I care,” or “I wish more people did care,” but he didn’t.

“Why would you what to go to Africa” my friend’s grandpa asked me. “Only black people live there.” I waiting hoping for a sign that he was joking, but there was none. This sweet old man, who went to church all his life, seemed quite serious and a little worried that I was going to waste my life caring about people who didn’t matter.

I never know how to respond to these statements. How could you not care about the people who live in Africa? Then I think about the genocide that has taken place in the Democratic Republic of Congo. No one seems to care about that.

It has been estimated that 5.4 million civilians have died in DRC since 1996. The violence in Congo has resulted in it being named the bloodiest conflict since World War II. Yet, the world is strangely silent and has been for years. It has been estimated that nearly 2 million women have been raped during what is known as the Great African War. While this deadly war officially ended in July of 2003, the violence has not completely gone away. Unstableness continues. Millions of people have been displaced from their homes, and many survivors are left scared and traumatized. This is the holocaust of my generation, and hardly anyone seems to know that it exists, why? Is it true; do people really not care about Africa?

I grew up with kids who were later killed with machetes. Not soldiers in uniforms but children. We used to play soccer together, jump rope, and ride handmade wooden bikes. Yes, I care about Africa. I care about the people I grew up with. I care about the women who were raped. I care about the parents who lost their children and the children who lost their parents. I care about this silent genocide, and I believe that if more people only knew what was going on more people would care as well.

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Filed under Contemplations, Travel

The Weather Outside

Three days into December, and it’s hard not to feel the nippiness. I’m not a fan of winter.  Growing up in central Africa showed me that life does not have to be this cold. But I’m here not there, and every time I step outside the icy chill reminds me that winter will be here for awhile.

This week I was driving home after scraping ice off the inside of the windshield of my car (not sure how that even happened), and as I turned the corner coming into town Christmas lights greeted me. Those white lights brought my cold heart some hope. “It’s going to be Christmas soon,” I thought, and suddenly the world didn’t feel quite as heartless.

The best thing about Christmas is it’s a warm glow in the middle of a harsh season. I don’t know if Christ was born on December 25th. Chances are he wasn’t, but I’m glad we celebrate His birth in December. Lights, togetherness, hot chocolate, and colored ornaments. Christmas music, gifts, and time set aside to remember the birth of the prince of peace.

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Filed under Contemplations