Saturday, June 21, 2008

And It Begins.

'Mulibwanje' = How are you?
Thanks to John, he corrected me! There are multiple ways to say hello and how are you. This is one of them. :]

So after we settled into our huts, we explored. Behind our huts lies the bathroom and shower.

The bathroom is on the left, and the corner of the shower is on the right. The bathroom was a hole in the ground with a toilet seat over it. The shower was just a little room. But we had so much fun with them both. More on shower sing-a-longs later. :]

So we continued to explore, and came across a group of children near our source of hot water. We learned that these kids were the children of the women that worked at the lodge, doing laundry and cooking. They were so shy, but curious about who we were. Connee brought individually wrapped Lifesaveres to hand out, of course. These kids were her first customers, and they were very excited.

Eventually, one of the men that worked in the village shop took us around behind the dining area. He said, "You want to see more children? Come with me!" And led us around the dining area to a clearing in the trees to about 20 kids practicing dance. It was incredible, and I will admit, brought me to tears. Each one of them was BEAMING.

Everytime I look at these pictures, I can hear their voices. I feel like that guy in Amazing Grace. These children have SUCH a special place in my heart. They were already special before I met them all, but now that I can call each of them by name, it is so much more real. I can recall a voice, and instantly know whose it is.

After watching the children practice dancing, we left so they could go home for dinner. We wandered our way back to the huts, where two men were playing Baul, a game like mancala. Andrew and I instantly got excited, we knew how to play mancala! But Baul was nothing like mancala, which we quickly learned. The men gladly taught us, Nathan caught on the fastest. I was left somewhere in the first couple minutes of explaining...all the jet lag had caught up with me!

Dinner rolled around, and we had goat stew with rice, green beans, and tomato relish. For dessert we had fruit salad. Everything was so good, but I will admit that I didn't try the goat stew. I heard it was delicious. A band played while we ate, in candlelight, I might add. I could totally get used to that.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Mozabanji, Malawi!

Mozabanji = Hello in Chichewa
(I think that's spelled right.)

So we bumped and jiggled our way to Kumbali Village, where we would be living for the next two weeks. The roads were surprisingly pretty smooth, until we turned off the road the president lived on. (We literally were NEXT DOOR NEIGHBORS!) Once we hit the dirt roads, things got interesting. You hear people talk about the roads in Africa, and things jiggling that you didn't know could jiggle... it's all true! My cheeks jiggled, my arms jiggled, my lips jiggled. But the ride was so fun.
As we grew closer to Kumbali and farther away from Lilongwe, we began to drive through villages with many huts that looked like this. The way these people live began to take shape and form in our minds. Driving through these villages was extremely real- I've seen this up close and personally, not only on TV. What a privelage. What a life-changing moment.

Kumbali was beautiful. We didn't know what we were getting ourselves into, but we were so excited to be there! We met Eunice and Frank as SOON as we got off the bus. They were the most welcoming people! We met Guy Pickering (the boys on the team ADORED him) and Scott Grey (who apparently has a CD out?) after we met Eunice and Frank. Everyone in Kumbali was so excited to see us and meet us and greet us. We were already totally at home.

The huts were just huts in name. Yes, they were made of mud and straw, but where "4-star huts," as Kyle called them. Very very true.

Note the mosquito nets...the bane of my existence. Those, and propane-fueled lanterns. :]

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Maybe this round I'll acutally get to Africa.

After London, we ventured to Nairobi. It was a flight of approximately 18 days. Well, not really. More like 7 hours. It just felt like 18 days. The best part was journaling, the really cute guy in the row infront of me, (Nina, sass comments to yourself, my friend!) and waking up to a KILLER sunrise in the air, and the boys singing the opening number from Lion King. (The BAAAAAAI-YA BI- YAIIII one.) That was hysterical.

Oh, I was also FINALLY given my letter from Nina. This letter was under 3 layers of packing tape. The kind with the reinforcing yarn thing strung through it. And about 7 paper clips, and 2 envelopes. It took me 45 minutes to open and 2 minutes to read. :] Technically, I opened it while in the air over Africa. Not while I was standing on African soil. Oops.

The airport in Nairobi itself was not fun. We were all so dehydrated that I don't think any of us remember it. I do, however remember a really nice shop guy, and really mean security guys. That made me down a bottle of water in 5 minutes. Because I have a b-o-m-b in my bottle of water. Yes, that's right. But we got out of that airport, and onto a tiny tiny plane that took us to a city in Zambia and then onto Lilongwe in Malawi. I don't remember any of this flight, I was dead asleep for the entire thing. I learned my lesson about water and flights and jet lag.

We got off the plane in Lilongwe and rode a bus to the airport. There were no gates for the plane to pull up to. That was an experience! We were able to breathe Malawian air for the first time, and look around. We were amazed to see how beautiful it all was! We made it to the airport, and through passport security, and then collected our bags, and walked out to the bus (The Wheels of Champions, excuse me. Not the bus.) And we were greeted by ladies from the village.

They were all singing, and dancing. They wrapped each of the girls in a Malawian wrap. I cried. They sang. I couldn't help but think that that's what heaven will be like- nationalities fall by the wayside, and old and young alike abandon all things and worship. In the most beautiful place ever. Even more beautiful than Malawi. How cool.
Ramble Alert!
The new(ish) Jack Johnson CD is the best. Especially for the beginning of summer. :]

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Africa Re-cap Now That I'm Not Jet-Lagged.

Disclaimer: I will probably not be able to get through this blog without crying. I miss Africa so bad it literally hurts.

I just cracked open my journal. Here goes the Africa Recap. It will probably be about 50 posts long. I haven't blogged in awhile, and I need to. So here goes!

London- (On the way to Malawi):
Hillsong London was stinkin' SWEET. They meet in a theater that's been tricked out to look like a rock show. There were about 50 people in the worship band onstage. One of the girls singing was pregnant, in heels, jumping around, and STILL MANAGED TO SING. The youth group (called Wildfire, I think...) was AMAZING. The first song started, and the congregation started jumping. And they didn't stop.

Now, I am a white, Southern Baptist born and raised, blonde chick. So that equals absolutely NO rhythm. The Lord did not bless me with that spiritual gift. So anyways. These guys are all jumping, and dancing, and singing, and praising their very well dressed rear ends off. The Africa Team just stood there in awe. It was like summer camp on 'ROIDS. Even the senior pastor from my church was amazed. Our youth group gets down, but that Sunday morning service made us look like WIMPS. It was so so cool. The Lord is GIGANTICALLY MOVING through that congregation. Very very exciting.

I totally live in a bubble called Nashville, Tennessee.
A) It's in the Bible Belt. Almost everyone goes to church. It's easy being a Christian here.
B) Everyone is wealthy compared to the world's standards.
C) I literally have the world at my fingertips.

To see the Lord moving so drastically in a nation that isn't America really opened my eyes. I've always known that there were other countries over the big ocean, but I haven't actually considered that there are people over there. People that know the Lord, people that are as on fire for Him as I am. The service at Hillsong (and the whole Africa trip, for that matter) gave the song "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands,"a totally new meaning. Yay God moments!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Stranded In London.

Well chaps. Stranded probably isn't the proper word to use, because we are all giddy that we are here. (Speaking British was Emily's idea...)

So Africa is on pause. It's not over-- I'm going back. I've decided. I left a LARGE part of my heart there, and I know that's where the Lord wants me. It excites me to NO END.
On Sunday night at Zion Youth Center, we did the Everything Skit. We had SUCH a great response. It was super exciting! Kelso shared her testimony, and Kyle spoke. It was great- the TPC kids fit right in! OF course, we have all friend requested each other on Facebook. :]
Tuesday I touched a chameleon. We named him Francias. (Pronounced: Franz-wah.) He had freaky eyes that rolled back in his head. It was a very nice break from cleaning out the Adziwa house we were working on!
Wednesday I went to the high school in Adziwa and TAUGHT. I was scared out of my pants at first, but as I went on, I grew more and more comfortable with it. By the end of the lesson on plans and roots, I could have gone all day long. What a God thing!
We also FINISHED and dedicated the house on Wednesday! What a miracle. The family was absolutely precious, and I was able to meet the kids of the family a few days early. The girls were precious. During the dedication ceremony, I was told that a white dove flew down out of the sky, and straight down the middle of the house, then lifted back into the clouds again. I didn't see this dove, I was a little preoccupied with the squirmy 4 year old on my lap. But still, hearing about it blew me away. Joseph, the foreman of the house we were working on said that doves only come around when it's the Holy Spirit. Talk about God bumps!
Currently, I am listening to the hustle and bustle of London again. It's really funny to think that we were so hopeful in thinking that we would one day come back to London to see the guards (they weren't out the last time we were here) and get to go to Hillsong again. Next time in London we THOUGHT: Oh, about 5 years from now. ACTUAL next time in London: 2 weeks. Now I'm sitting in a 5 star hotel on someone else's dollar. Yay God! :]

I will have a TON of pictures, and even more stories once I get back home... this keyboard is a little quirky. :]

Neens- I MISS YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!
John- Hope you enjoyed Morocco!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Africa Update!

Wow. That's literally all I can say! This trip so far has been absolutely amazing. Currently, I am sitting in the Zion Youth Center here in Lilongwe, waiting on my fried chicken and a milkshake. I am so excited. :]
Emily and I taught the first VBS of the trip, and it went SPECTACULAR. We had about 50 kids, and we took Polaroids of them. They took them home, and then were showing them off the next day at school. The children's director said that it's always a good day when the kids don't want to leave VBS- and THEY DIDN'T. It was SO encouraging!
The numbers at VBS have only gone up, and today we tickled 100. Two boys came to Christ! God is SO moving through us, in us, and around us.
Each day it grows increasingly harder to leave the kids at 5:30 (which is like, the middle of the night in Franklin). We have learned "See you tomorrow" in Chichewa, and the kids have learned it in English. Today, the kids were all saying "See you tomorrow," and we had to tell them that we would see them Monday. As soon as the bus drove away, all the kids (all 100+ of them) were chasing our bus. I cried. (Neens, yes. I did. So sue me. ;]) It's going to be SO hard having to leave for good. Or at least until next summer!
So I'm paying for this internet time. We will be here Sunday night too, I'll hopefully blog then!

Tapita! (Goodbye in Chichewa)