Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
The past few weeks have been filled with a lot of new experiences. After 31 years of eluding cupid’s arrow, I’ve been struck hard. I used to be one of those level-headed, grounded kinds of girls and in a short span I’ve become one of those ridiculous twitterpatted girls I’ve always despised. I suppose that’s what falling in love is really all about.
Our relationship has been forming slowly over time. We’ve been friends nearly the entire time I’ve been here and yet I never saw this coming. Without my dear friend Tina’s honest advice, I may have never given him a chance. I had a gradual shift in my perspective, but being the rational over-thinker I am I was terrified to make that leap from friend to something more. I timidly stuck my toe in the water, found it quite refreshing and jumped in whole-heartedly. The more I have gotten to know him, the more I am surprised to find out who he really is and what a blessing he is to me.
I’ve found acceptance… into his life, into a village, into a family. Drastically different from my own not only in skin tone, but in culture, and yet it’s oddly begun to feel like home. “Peoples is peoples.” I’ve come to realize people are the same quirky creations of God everywhere and that is so comforting. To these people I have become sister, niece, cousin, auntie in the blink of an eye with all the rights and privileges there entailed.
Only God knows what the future holds but I can tell you this… I am one blessed girl to have this man in my life and I look forward with eager anticipation to how this story plays out.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
A year is enough time to become comfortable, even somewhat familiar with a new surrounding. The road is long and the journey bumpy that brought me to this point of finding happiness in this calling and a new life. I am certainly a different person than one year ago and maybe even a few weeks ago. I sometimes used to feel fragmented like the various parts of me didn’t fit into one person. All of a sudden I feel like all the parts of my life are converging into a whole, happy person. I feel oddly peaceful, content, unflappable at the present moment. God has put me together for such a time as this… to live among these people in this foreign land. For so many years I was discontent and searching for how to be used by God. I can look back down that road and see how his hand was guiding me, preparing me for this unique situation. Challenges will arise again, it is inevitable here. But I pray I can hold onto this peace and HIS grace to get me through.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
It’s quiet. It’s early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The world is asleep. The day is coming.
In a few moments the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day. The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding pace of the human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by the decisions to be made and the deadlines to be met.
For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day’s demands. It is now that I must make a choice. Because of Calvary, I’m free to choose. And so I choose.
I choose love…
No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.
I choose joy…
I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical… the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.
I choose peace…
I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.
I chose patience…
I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I’ll invite him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.
I choose kindness…
I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.
I choose goodness…
I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.
I choose faithfulness…
Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My wife will not question my love. And my children will never fear that their father will not come home.
I choose gentleness…
Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.
I choose self-control…
I am a spiritual being. After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule they eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek his grace. And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Nam-lish has a decided British-English flare to it, but has some of its own unique quirks. For the most part it has been easier to conform to the Nam-lish way of speaking to facilitate better communication with children and staff alike.
Feeder: baby bottle
Looking Smart: dressing nicely
Tablet: pill, medicine
SMS: text message
Trolley: shopping cart
Poly bag: plastic grocery bag
Till: cash register
Queue: getting in line
VAT: sales tax
Mince: ground beef
Tomato Sauce: ketchup
Cool Drink: soda
Coke Light: Diet coke
Ice block: bag of ice used for picnicking sold in cubes not actually a block
Keeper: Soccer goalie
Bakkie: pick-up truck
Robot: traffic light
Bonet: hood of the car, not a hat
Canopy: cap for pickup truck
Panel beating: auto body repair
Tar Road: Asphalt
Hooter: car horn
Puff: hair rubber band
Pass: urine or to urinate
Phrases that can get confusing:
No vacancies means no job openings not no rooms in the inn.
I’m coming means I’ll be right back not I’m already on my way.
Mama is a term of respect/endearment for a woman not literally someone’s mother.
Is it? means Really?
Meat is not a generic term for edible animal flesh, but types of edible animal are broken down into chicken, fish, and meat, meat primarily referring to beef, goat or game.
OK is the name of the grocery store, not an indication of agreement. This has caused more than one who’s-on-first scenario.
Achoo or acha is the sound of pain like ouch, not the sound of a sneeze.
And last but not least…
Toot your hooter means to beep your car horn. This is possibly my least favorite Nam-lish phrase.
Friday, September 5, 2008
My housemate Melissa and our new Auntie Carrie treated me to a big night out on the town. We visited Galinhas, a new cafe, but it closed at 7. Since I felt kind of pathetic going home at 7 on a Friday night and on my birthday we visited the Zambezi Lodge for dessert. Never can have too much cake for your birthday, right? So I had Malva pudding which was really good.
Happy 31st to me!!
Friday, August 8, 2008
She was only here for a few months, nevertheless I feel her absence acutely. Every time I go out to the barn, I expect to find her hunched over some leprous goat scrubbing her heart out. Or into the office photocopying till she turns blue in the face. Or in the workshop sorting out endless buckets of nuts and bolts.
May God richly bless your senior year and swiftly return you to us. T-minus 9 months, 3 weeks and counting….
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Almost two months ago, one of my housemates decided to bring home a chameleon. She had him in a plastic margarine container which he could very easily escape from. He went missing for about two weeks so we thought he had decided to go on his merry way. I was quite surprised to find him living on the back of one of our kitchen chairs. He stayed there for quite awhile before again disappearing. He was next found living in our basil plant on the kitchen table. I think he wanted to feel like he was going on safari. It’s become like a game of “Where’s Waldo?” He was last seen living under the Colgate box on the bathroom sink about two weeks ago. I’m slightly concerned that since he hasn’t been seen he’s become a Scooby-snack for Klepto.
While we were sorting this whole name thing out, Klepto just sort of stuck. Given her proclivity to steal things it seems fitting (klep·to·ma·ni·ac [klèpt máynee àk]: somebody with an obsessive urge to steal). And she seems to like it. So really there is no argument. Now she’s more X-Men than Hispanic.
Since coming to live with us, when she’s not busy stealing our socks, she is digging to Hawaii in the front yard. I seriously expect her to pop out of her hole wearing a lei and grass skirt one of these days. While she enjoys stealing and digging, her true joy really seems to come from barking at men, especially Namibian men on bicycles or playing soccer. Seeing that’s something we have a lot of around here, we’re trying to break her of that habit. She and Mordecai, the boerboel puppy that guards the school, have become fast friends and joined forces to rid our compound of any suspicious intruders. On the other hand Cassie, the full-grown boerboel that lives on the other end of the compound, has not been so friendly and tried to eat Klepto.
Right now she’s sitting by my feet looking at me with those sad-I’m-dying-of-hunger-from-all-that-digging-so-feed-me eyes. So I’m going to give her a treat before she faints. I’m sure this isn’t the end of Klepto’s adventures in Africa. Stay tuned…
Monday, June 23, 2008
On May23rd, I traveled from NYC with Becca, a short-term volunteer from PA. She was a great traveling companion and our travels went very smoothly. We arrived back at COZV on Sunday, May 25th and were warmly greeted by all the children and staff. It was good to be “home.”
Unfortunately, as life has a way of turning on a dime here, one of our older girls needed some medical attention that could only be gotten in Windhoek, 14 hrs away. So after one night of sleeping in my bed and only unpacking as many clothes as I’d need to take, I was off to Windhoek with Rebecca and two of the children. After almost a week there, I’m happy to report the girl seems too be doing much better, so we started home.
At dusk on Saturday, we were about 3 hrs from reaching Katima. We had just stopped to refuel and switch drivers. I had been driving since about 8am so now Rebecca was taking over. The little six year old girl we had with us had just been reprimanded for not having her seatbelt on not 10 minutes before life decided to take another turn on us. We came over a rise in the road to find a herd of cattle crossing. Not really an unusual sight, but one brazen black and while horned heifer decided to make a dash for the other side right in front of us. Try as she might, Rebecca wasn’t able to avoid hitting the massive beast. After quite an impact on the hood, the cow went sailing through the air like a scene out of the movie Twister. She landed on her side off the road in the grass. We quickly realized the car was badly damaged and we were stranded. By the grace of God, we had a very small amount of cellphone coverage and were able to call back to COZV for help. When I got out of the car to assess the damage, I saw that crazy cow standing back up chewing her cud looking only moderately ruffled from her flight. We moved the car off the road into a lay-by and waited for Gary to come tow us home with the mini-bus (It’s not like you can just call AAA here). After a few cable breaks and one rest stop, we made it home at 6am. I kept dozing off in the car, but one time I woke up just in time to see us passing by a HUGE, and I mean HUGE, bull elephant on the side of the road. We were very blessed the accident wasn’t worse and that God gave us safety as we towed the vehicle home.
As luck would have it, I seem to be the only one that suffered any lasting result from the impact. My left shoulder and back have been quite sore and bruised probably from the seatbelt. Since there are no chiropractors in Katima, the doctor prescribed massage treatment 3 times a week until I’m feeling better. The insurance agreed, so it is all being covered under the accident. Now some people would rejoice to get a massage for free 3 times a week. But for me, the non-touchy-feely person, it has been a bit torturous. No offense to my massage therapist. She is a lovely, professional young woman, but I’d rather poke myself in the eye than get a massage. But since eye-poking doesn’t fix my back, I will continue to endure the torture for the sake of getting better faster.
In light of that story, the rest of the month has been relatively uneventful. After returning from Windhoek, we had a team from OH join us. They were quite a blessing to us and the kids and we were sad to see them leave us.
Three weeks after our first whirlwind trip to Windhoek, Becca and I accompanied Rebecca, her two sons and two children from COZV back to Windhoek to see them off on a plane to the US. God blessed us with smooth travels and the US Embassy granted the two COZV kids VISA documents. This is the boys first time in the US, so please pray for them as they speak in a few churches and deal with culture shock. One boy will be in AR learning blacksmithing and Ferrier skills. The other will be spending most of his time in a dude ranch in TX learning to be a cowboy.
So off they flew off leaving Becca and I to travel back to Katima alone. Well… not completely alone. While in Windhoek, I adopted Bonita (name subject to change), a very loveable 1 ½ year old black and white border collie mix. She had quickly charmed her way into the hearts of all the aunties living in the East House and many of the children. Unfortunately she seems not to like men, especially African men riding bicycles or playing soccer. Seeing as those are two things we have a lot of around here, please pray that she becomes more accustomed. She had been living at the SPCA since February, so she is quite attention-starved. I’ve promised her that she’ll never be lonely living here but I’m not sure she believes me yet. She’s also quite camera shy so when I finally get a good picture of her, I’ll share.
Other tidbits of news: Sometime this month I’ve killed my first snake all by myself (don’t be too proud of me, it was a baby black mamba the size of a really large worm), COZV got a new 8-day old baby named Josiah, got tackled by a bunch of kids at Mafuta who apparently missed me while I was gone, hosted a number of British medical volunteers, and a zillion other misc tasks too mundane to bother discussing.
So as you can see, I’ve been quite occupied since returning and my head is still spinning a bit from all the excitement. I’m finally all unpacked and ready to get back to life as usual. Hehe, as I write that I’m waiting for the next bomb to drop… but you know what I mean. Part of the charm of living in Africa is that you never know what to expect.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
It is long overdue for me to say, “THANK YOU” to everyone for the many blessings you bestowed on me while I was home. In the six short weeks I was home, I can’t believe how may people I was able to see… some old friendships renewed, some new friendships made. Many people caught the vision for the work I am doing and have blessed the children here and I tremendously. So a simple thanks seems so insignificant, but please know it is from my heart!
Ways to continue praying:
~ For my continued fundraising both for my yearly ministry funds as well as extra money to purchase a vehicle (more details to come…)
~ For the few people I have met over my travels that are considering volunteering at COZV
~ For continued safety and good health
~ For the children of Namibia, the children of COZV & Mafuta, and the approx.12,000 orphans in the Caprivi region where I live
~ For a cure for HIV/AIDS
~ Praise for God’s continued blessing and provision
Friday, April 18, 2008
Saturday, April 12, 2008
I've only been home one day and I've already been to starbucks, been shopping at the mall and slept for about 12 hrs straight. Seeing that I'm only home for six weeks I have no time to waste.
Looking forward to catching up with you call. Feel free to email or call my cell.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
I've been in Namibia for over 5 months now. Sometimes it seems just like yesterday that I got here. I'm loving it! Despite some occasional homesickness, especially around the holidays, the time is FLYING by. Speaking of coming home, I guess it's time to break the news that I'll only be home for about 6 weeks and then I'll be returning here. But the good news is I'll be home in 1 week! I've changed my tickets to leave here a little early so I could be home for a little bit longer.
Now I know for most of you my plan to return here isn't a shock but it has taken a bit of internal struggle to say I'm returning indefinately. At this point, I'm not putting an end date on my commitment. When we told the kids I'd be returning, one of the boys asked me if I was staying forever. Ha! I got a kick out of that… I was unsure if he was trying to get rid of me or if he really wanted me to stay. Turns out he was hoping for the latter… who knew he cared?! Anyway, it made me feel pretty good that the general consensus is in favor of me staying. Recently an American visitor told me he thought I seemed really at home here. It was a really nice compliment! Honestly, I could see myself staying forever if I could transport my family and friends here. The biggest struggle is being away from all of you there especially my family. But for whatever reason God has me here for this season of my life and I've found peace here.
So at this point my two main prayer requests are this: 1) that the paperwork for my extended work visa goes through quickly, 2) God continues to provide the funds I need. I really dislike fundraising, but it is a necessary evil to continue this work. He SO richly blessed me for these 6 months through many of you. Please pray with me that he again provides financial resources for the future. If you know of any churches or groups that would be interested in having me speak about this work here while I'm home please let me know.
Can't wait to see you all!! (If you are in Rochester, I'm planning on coming out for the Lilac Fest with my dad.)
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
On a sad note, my AMAZING friend Nancy, that has been here since December went home two weeks ago. Nancy is one of the most genuine, encouraging and uplifting people I have ever met. Her friendship was such a blessing when I really needed to be cheered up. I was so very sad to see her leave and many times I have felt her absence. (Who will I go to town with to buy fried chicken or who will request El Shaddai at Bible Study, Nance?? )
When they were at the airport dropping Nancy off, they picked up a team of 8 people from PA/MD that were here for 2 weeks. It’s a blessing to have a few extra hands even if only for a little while. They were able to accomplish some tasks we just NEVER have time to get to. They also were able to join me at Mafuta one day and the kids really loved having visitors. They especially liked learning the hokey pokey and receiving sweets! At COZV, they blessed the kids with a campfire and s’mores (or SOME-mores as most of the kids called them). Thanks SO much for all your hard work and what a blessing you were to us!!
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
So whenever too much time has passed since you’ve heard from me, just imagine me busy wrestling kids (either of the human or goat variety… I’ve been spending a lot of time in the barnyard lately) or helping out in the kitchen or running errands in town or something.
Of course life has its normal ups and downs… some days are just “Alexander” days and all I want to do is move to Australia (read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day). Whenever I’m having one of those days all I have to do is go into the baby room. I just sit on the floor where I am immediately tackled by our 3 toddlers and some of our 3-5 year olds. It’s hard to feel blue with all those cute little faces starring up at you. Not to mention I’m usually so busy just trying to survive them fighting over which one of them gets to sit on my lap that it’s hard to have time to worry about anything else. It puts life back into perspective. All this to say, I know some of you have been worried about me lately for various reasons… PLEASE don’t be. I’m doing really well and having an amazing time. Such a good time in fact that I’m really praying about the future. I’m half way through my initial commitment of 6 months. Please pray with me for to have a clear vision of what comes next.
A few weeks ago we were very blessed to have a visit from a veterinarian from Otjiwarango (about 10 hrs away). We spent about 10 ½ hours out in the barnyard assisting him with his various tasks: getting blood samples, extracting teeth from horses, giving injections, minor surgery and whatnot. He was very willing to give our staff a crash course in how to handle many common situations we’ve been facing. He even allowed some of our children who aspire to be doctors or vets help him. He also set up a makeshift lab in one of the horse stalls and gave us all a lesson. He was extremely knowledgeable and it was quite a privilege to have him here with us.
I’m also constantly learning new things in the barnyard… add this to the list of things I never thought I’d learn in my lifetime: how to drain an abscess on a goat or how to test horse stool for parasites.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
The other day a friend asked me what my favorite memory of my grandma was. At the time it was too painful to talk about, but I’ve had a memory that has been ruminating…
May I share it with you?
Most of you didn’t get to meet my Grandma Millie. For the most part, she was the typical grandma. A bit taller than me. A perfect coifed updo. A physique slightly softened by age.
This is my favorite memory…When I would walk through the porch and into my grandparents’ house, I’d always yell, “Hi grandma.” Inevitably, I would hear the shuffle of her slippers as she’d come dashing down the hallway and around the corner into the living room. She’d be so excited to see me. I’d get a big, warm, soft hug. I’d take in the smell of Mary Kay, Aquanet, and a hint of ode d’mothball. Then she’d pull back just a bit, put my big chubby cheeks in her hands, gaze deep into my face with all the love a good grandma can muster and she’s say, “aw, there she is, my beautiful granddaughter.” Now, I’m not saying this to brag; grandma’s often see their own kind of beauty. But there are few other things that make me feel as special, as loved and as invincible; the unconditional love of a grandma.
Now, most of you that know me well, know that I don’t sermonize often. Maybe it’s finally my seminary training kicking in or I’ve eaten one to bran muffins before trying to go to sleep, but I feel a burning need to share my devotional thought on my grandma’s birthday…
I have a Jesus that can put my big chubby cheeks in His hands, gaze as deeply into my face, and say with as much love as any good grandma, “there she is, my beautiful child.”
To this day, when I walk into her house, I still half-expect to hear the slipper-shuffle coming down the hall and see her turn the corner. Some days I could use my grandma to remind me that I’m loveable. I’m sure you could too.
This hasn’t been an easy year for many of us. We’ve lost loved ones, lost direction, had broken relationships, financial strains, struggles with schoolwork and self-esteem… wondering if we’re loveable. And I want to remind you, we have a Jesus that can take our face is His hands and show us His unconditional love; the love that sent Him to Calvary for us.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
It’s quite the long drive through some interesting countryside before you arrive in a fairly modern city. We met some infamous African wildlife on the road (see above) but I’m happy to report that we had many traveling mercies. Along the road at various points we saw 2 elephants, a family of ostrich, many warthogs, guinea fowl, baboons, dik dik, roan antelope, gemsbok and a variety of other unidentifiable antelope (there seems like a zillion varieties here).
We got to eat at some interesting places including KFC but my favorite was Joe’s Beerhouse (http://www.joesbeerhouse.com/). I got an impressive African shish kebob which included six different kinds of game meat: ostrich, kudu, crocodile, zebra, oryx and (for the less adventuresome eater) chicken. All of it was quite tasty except the crocodile was a bit rubbery and a tad bit too fishy tasting for my liking but at least now I can say I’ve tried it. I was also on a mission to get my fill of the closest thing I could find to Starbucks iced mochas. Mission accomplished!!
Though it was hectic, it was a blessing to get a way for a few days. But honestly the best part was coming “home.” We arrived back after dinner on the 21st. I went into the children’s home to find the usual post-dinner atmosphere… nicely showered and pajama-clad children getting their last minutes of fun before bedtime. One of my favorite toddlers came charging down the hall like a linebacker yelling “Auntie Jessica” and nearly knocked me over when he jumped into my arms. Quite a feat for a toddler you might say… but he’s quite the bruiser. I call him Bam-bam (I kind of wonder if this was what Ken was like as a toddler.) Anyway, right behind him was one of my favorite little girls who also came running squealing with excitement only the way little girls can. I felt exceedingly loved and it was the perfect end to our trip.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
In the early afternoon, we set out from the shore in front of our property and headed out around the island that separates us from Zambia. It was a beautiful day and it was quite a relaxing ride. We cruised around the tip of the island and headed downstream. We were able to observe some hippos chillin’ in the water in a few locations from a distance. It was really cool to see them pop their heads up and then sink back down under the water.
It started to look like rain so we decided to turn back before the bridge near town that goes between Namibia and Zambia. (Also not to mention on the other side of the bridge there are some pretty strong rapids and none of us were up to white water rafting.) Just before we arrived back at our place, we spotted a huge crocodile sunning himself on the island shore. It’s a little creepy to see one so close to home. I mean we always have in the back of our mind that they are there, but it’s a reality check to see one. All in all it was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon admiring God’s beautiful creation.