Monday, February 1, 2010

World on Fire

I'm listening to a beautiful song by Sarah McLachlan. I've always liked this song. Tonight while taking a study break I discovered the music video she produced for this song. It touched me in a deep way, and I can't help but share it with you.

It mentions Tanzania at time 2:54 and the Kibera slums of Kenya (which I drove past several times while in Nairobi) from time 3:40-4:10. I almost cried when I watched this video, because I saw all that, on a daily basis. It's worth watching if you have 4 minutes. :)

Seeing all this made me want to get up and walk out of this computer lab, leave this hectic and stressful cycle of school and little sleep. It made me want to hop on a plane and go back to Africa and give all that I have. It makes me want to pick up all my babies all over again, rock them to sleep, feed them uji in the morning, change their incredibly messy diapers, and learn to sing their Swahili songs.

But I realized that while I have a lot to give now, I will have more to give if I finish the task before me. Now, all I have to give is love and time. In 2 years when I graduate, I'll have love, time, and a degree in engineering. I'll be able to rebuild their hospitals, fix their bridges....and I will still be able to love each and every one of my babies.

I'm going back someday. East Africa has stolen a piece of my heart, and I continue to ache for the place that for 8 short months I called home.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Maputo, Mozambique

Well, I'm finally here.

I went to church with the family I was staying with on Sunday morning. After church we drove straight to the airport and had lunch there. Then Nathan and Sissy left me with the final parting words, "Don't talk to any boys."

My bag was supposed to weigh 30kg, but instead it was 33kg (72.6lb). I started thinking how I would remove those extra 3 kilos. The guy asked me, "Why is it overweight?" I responded with, "It's only 3kg over. Hamna shida." He grinned and let my bag through. Woohoo!

Upstairs in the airport I had to go through security again. I greeted the guard with, "How are you?" He frowned at me dramatically and said, "Oh, not great."
"Why?" I questioned.
"Because you're leaving," he responded sadly, then he waved me through. I noticed that though he had asked the lady before me to remove my shoes, he hadn't asked me to.
"What about my shoes?" I asked.
He peered over the counter for a minute, then looked at me and replied, "They are very nice, ma'am."
Smart alec. :) I laughed.

My ticket implied that my flight would go straight from Dar es Salaam to Maputo, Mozambique. Shortly after I'd settled in and was ready for 4 hours in the air, the flight attendants came through and announced we were landing. Confused, I put my seat in its "upright position." We landed at the very small but clearly labeled "Pemba" airport. I thought maybe we were dropping off some passengers, but they herded us all off the plane and through immigration. It must have taken at least an hour.

After all the confused passengers had their visas, we got back on the plane. Once in the air, the pilot announced our flight time would be "20 minutes." I figured I must have heard him wrong. We were still in the far north of Mozambique. Maybe he said "120 minutes." Nope. Twenty minutes later we began our descent into Nampula. Surely this time we wouldn't have to get off the plane. But we did. Everyone got off and went inside. I chatted with a few other passengers as we waited for probably 20 minutes. Then we all got back on the plane and continued our journey. Thankfully that was the last stop. The next leg of our trip took us directly to Maputo. I wanted to sleep (seeing as it was dark outside) but the cabin lights were so bright that I couldn't. They fed us a meal with fish. I asked for a vegetarian one, and the guy said, "It's fish." I asked if he had anything else, and he said, "Chicken." So I ate the rice and a piece of bread.

During the first two legs of the journey, I had my row entirely to myself. Then on the third segment a guy decided to sit in the aisle seat next to me. I didn't mind, except that he had awful body odor and everytime he moved a wave would rush toward me. I turn the air conditioning on full blast to try and dissipate the smell.

We were supposed to land in Maputo at 8:40pm. I'm not sure what time we actually landed, but I didn't get my bag until 10:20. I waited as they unloaded all the bags from our flight, but mine didn't show up. Neither did the bags of the two other white guys on the flight. Another plane came in and we waited for them to unload it also. Then a third plane. Still no bags. Finally an employee thought he could help us. He walked us through a maze to another part of the airport labeled "international arrivals," thinking our bags would be there. They weren't. He chatted with a lady and then took us to a back room filled with unclaimed luggage. Sure enough, there were all our bags. Why in the world they were put there instead of with the rest of the bags, I'll never know. I'm just happy I got my bag eventually.

Justin, Neil, Janelle, and Marquelle all picked me up at the airport. It was so nice to see familiar faces!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dar es Salaam

I didn't sleep much last night, but was feeling quite a bit better this morning. The bus ride was nice, actually. It was long...9 1/2 hours. I sat next to a young woman with a 1-year-old and was able to help her out throughout the trip. I also ended up with the baby of the woman across the aisle. The bus attendant dumped the kid on me. People seem to like handing their children to me...but I don't mind. :)

At one point the baby next to me sneeze-puked all over my arm and lap. I was laying back in my chair with my headphones with my eyes closed. I didn't even flinch. In fact, I barely glanced down and went back to my reverie, totally unfazed. But the mother was so apologetic and tried to clean me up, so I took over and cleaned up myself and scrubbed her leg too.

Now I'm at my friends' home in Dar es Salaam. I am staying here until Sunday, May 24. Relaxation, here I come. Did I mention the house is right on the beach?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Outta Here!

I haven't slept in ... 43 hours. I am exhausted. I have just overcome malaria, again. And in 6 hours I'm going to wake up and stagger on board a bus headed for Dar es Salaam. Just wanted to let you know that this is my last night, my last few hours at the orphanage (my feeling regarding this: very sad, naturally). I begin my two-week travel period now and will update as possible.

Love to you all and can't wait to see you!

For those of you who haven't received the invitation to the fundraiser dinner I'm hosting in early June, let me know! I'll get one to you ASAP. The dinner will be Tanzanian fare and I'll be showing pictures of my trip. Karibuni! (You are all welcome!)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Well, I'm not convinced I didn't have giardiasis, but in addition to that lovely ailment, I also have malaria. Again.

I started medication for malaria this morning. Hopefully I'll be well by Thursday morning when I start traveling.

Keep me in your prayers!

Sunday, May 17, 2009


It's my last weekend at the orphanage and I've been out of it the whole time. I've been having stomach cramps and trouble eating for a few days. On Sabbath I started feeling particularly ill. I went to bed fairly early and woke up the first time at 2am, then at 3:30am (and fell back asleep at 4:30) and then at 5:30am, then finally at 7:30am. I just stayed up at that point. I had been in awful stomach pain all night and could hardly sleep in between bathroom breaks. My fever was over 100 F the whole night, and just recently dropped down to 99.7. At 4am I took some medicine that's supposed to kill anything inside me. I'm pretty convinced I have giardia. It was a toss-up between that and amoebic dysentery.

I went to the Vineyard church in Arusha this morning. My friends there said a "safe travels" prayer for me, and I cried. I can't believe I'm leaving! I could hardly make it through church--I felt so ill. Afterward we all went out to lunch, and even the waiter commented on how ill I looked. Rachel wanted to sit on my lap all during church, but I was so exhausted that it hurt to hold her.

I'm too tired to keep writing this blog...*chuckle*

I should be better within a day or two. Just wanted to keep you updated on my current status, even when it isn't good.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Early Shift

Last night and this morning I took over my roommate's shifts so she could go into town and spend the night with her girlfriends. Last night went without incident; I even finished changing my kids and tucking them in half an hour early.

I didn't sleep well last night; I kept waking up and had bad dreams. Yet strangely I woke up at 6:15am, ten minutes before my alarm was set to go off. I pulled on yesterday's clothes and a sweater (it's COLD here in the morning!) and stumbled downstairs.

I'm really glad all 4 of my babies are happy in the morning, because it's a lot easier to change an overflowing, over-poweringly stinky diarrhea diaper when the child is grinning up at me. Did I mention we use cloth diapers? We wash them in waist-high "Hungarian toilet" contraptions (not sure why people call them that).

Apparently I am colorblind in the morning. I dressed Hope in a pink and white onesie with white cloth overalls. Cute, right? An hour later I realized the overalls were actually yellow. Likewise, Rachel donned white pants and a pink sweater. Or so I thought. Luckily her pants ended up being pink, so at least she matched in the end. I just left Hope in her Easter ensemble.

I am learning very quickly that toddlers can be really helpful. I was sitting on the floor feeding bottles to Amina and Nina (7 months and 5 months) while Nelson (9 months) was about 6 feet away with his bottle. Amina wouldn't grasp her bottle, I needed to burp Nina, and Nelson lost his to a pillaging toddler. In one of my rare moments of brilliance, I instructed Rachel to feed Amina. I hoisted Nina onto my shoulder and burped her while striding across the room to fix Nelsons predicament. I let Rachel finish feeding Amina, and then I sent her to the kitchen with the empty bottles. Afterward she felt the impulse to kiss the babies. I love her more every day. :)

When my shift ended I headed back up to my apartment, intending to sleep (which I haven't yet done). It was ten minutes after 8am. When I came out the back door, I noticed two young guys (about my age) changing in the backyard. Yes, changing. I kid you not and I exaggerate not. I immediately looked at the ground and quickly walked up the stairs to my apartment (they really didn't pick a very inconspicuous place). When I got upstairs, I thought, "What in the world?!" Usually we don't have guys that age on campus. Especially not at 8am. So I hurried back down the stairs, still averting my eyes (they weren't very quick at changing either). I found the guard and asked him who in the world the guys were. It turns out they were working for the painter we hired. Maybe tomorrow I'll inform them that they can change in the bathroom. Or at least behind a tree.