Sunday, July 22, 2012

Africa - July 15 & 16

Togo rain was incredible this morning! We woke up to a very bad rainfall! Because the amount of people who drive to church in Togo is very minimal, church was cancelled due to people not being able to make it. Our team decided to have the church service in Daniels home. The 9 of us as well as Daniel and his crew of Christian friends/family...we went ahead and did our own service! What an fantastically spiritual service! We even took communion with bread and wine (crystal light.)
The pot holes in the streets are filled and Rachel and I had the pleasure of having our bedroom flood! We cleaned up everything really quickly but I must have had an unlucky moment because pretty much everything I brought was soaked! 4 fans and 8 hours later I was able to pack everything up for the trip home. We said goodbye to all the women and children (i cried) and Roger and Leah (they are headed to Ghana and Niger.) The Togo airport was quite the experience but everything went well and we headed for Paris! Once we arrived here we said our goodbyes to Niki and Kristina, who were catching a direct flight to Cincinnati. Thank goodness I was able to sleep a little on that flight because as I'm typing this I have officially been traveling for almost 36 hours with little to no sleep after that cat nap. The 8 hour flight from Paris to New York went really well and I was able to finish the book I started called Redeeming Love (Thanks Angie, it was awesome!). Arriving in New York was exciting because Rachel, Rebekah and myself decided to venture into Times Square. We took a train into the city and then walked 8 blocks so we could see all the excitement! Even though we only had an hour and a half it was totally worth it!
The second half of the trip did not go as well. As Rachel and I got back to the airport our flight to Seattle was delayed, so we decided to get Starbucks for the flight back. Right as we were heading back to our gate the door was closing...we had missed the flight. We bagged and pleated with the lady to let us in but they had overbooked the flight and only 1 seat was available. Rachel and I decided that it would be better if she went because she had a friend and her parents waiting for her at the airport. So, the emotional roller coaster of an evening began. I was able to get on 4 different stand by lists to make it home to Seattle before my connecting flight to Wenatchee. God is good because not only did I get on the first flight direct to Seatac, but I sat next to a Christian women who wanted to know all about my trip! Head wind made us arrive at the airport early and I was able to hustle through the airport in time to make my connection! Short trip back to Wenatchee...and I am home! Amazing trip, amazing friends...God is GOOD! "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

Africa - July 14

Our last full day in Togo was filled with nothing but excitement, smiles and endless amount of laughing! We got to venture to the white sandy beach at the Gulf of Guinea. We took off our shoes off and played in the water. We should have know that a large wave would come in and soak us to the waist...however, clearly we were too excited about the moment we were in to use our brains! :)
After the beach we headed into the "Grande Marché.". This was an adventure of a lifetime. Probably the most overwhelmed I've ever been before. Holding your purse to your body was necessary to prevent people from pick pocketing you. Niki in our group had a few men start tapping her on the shoulders and as she got distracted with that, someone so quickly was able to unzip her purse! Luckily she was able to react fast enough and smack the mans hand away! I was very cautious after that of everyone who was around me! As you walk from vendor to vendor, you see everything you could think of: shoes, fabrics, clothing, handcrafted wood items, whole skinned goats for eating (minus the heads), produce, live chickens and much more!
The African sales people were ruthless! They would not stop at no for an answer and were trying to get you to buy something or they wouldn't leave you alone! Even if you didnt have money or said no, they wouldn't leave you alone. Most of them learned English so they are able to talk to foreigners. I was so relieved when the barely running taxi cab came to drive us back to Daniel's house. It's amazing how safe and relieved I felt when we got home. This home even though its nothing like Wenatchee has become comfortable so fast! This evening as a group we were able to put together all the gifts that we got for the friends we made down here. We did a small thank you ceremony for the women and it made me cry! I am so thankful for the women in this house...not only did they serve us food, wash our clothes and clean up after us...they made us feel so welcome and become our friends!
One of the ladies named Yawa who I have become really close to learned how to make purse/bags the other night during the sewing session. I wanted to be the ladies first customer so I asked Yawa if she would make me one and I would pay her for it. So...I picked out the articles of old clothing I wanted and she made me an absolutely amazing bag! The outside is made out of an old torn up sweater and the inside is a McDonalds work shirt. I paid her $20 and she almost cried she was so thankful! We were told that the average person down here makes $2 a day! I felt so blessed to see her happiness in something so insignificant to me!

Africa - July 13

Our team was about to visit another small village where the CHE program is being implemented. This community not only had very little, they did not have water or a well and disease was very prominent. We got to meet with a small group from the Christian church that was just started. The Togolese in this community were very rich and new in their faith. We performed our skit for them, did our salvation bracelet presentation as well as had the children perform the lost sheep skit. Before we left we were able to fit only the men with flip flops. Apparently in these communities you cannot hand out the goods or else it causes major confrontation. The leader of the village or church will decide how to divide the material between families.
Things I learned in this community: *Eating the seeds of a papaya is a natural remedy for the children who have the worms in their stomachs. *The leader of this village has numerous wives and children with all of them. *Two women were breast feeding the same baby. They just passed the little guy back and forth. *Roads to this village are incredibly bumpy and my hips are bruised! *Even the smallest things: like 6 plastic beads on a small plastic piece of string is like Christmas for these villages. A great reminder to cherish the small things in life! *This village made me miss Daniels house very badly, which is crazy because when I first got to his house, I was pretty uneasy about my surroundings! *The smallest chair in the world exists in this village! :D
*When a man says give me beads and then flash me...doesn't mean what it would mean in the US. It means...I would like one of your salvation bracelets and then I would like you to take a picture of me! (We were all dying from laughing when this man asked me numerous times to flash him...)
The evening was spend at a nearby village where we watched another outdoor movie with the Christians. The great part of this night was that the movie had SUBTITLES!! It has been very hard to stay focused during the videos with a translator changing the language from french (I don't know) to Ewè (I don't know!) At the end of the night on our drive home, Ata (our driver) lost the keys to the car! We were all searching around in the dark for them. I told him that he should check ALL his pockets...he didn't and we kept looking. A few minutes later he got really excited and had found his pocket!!!
I cannot believe this trip is winding down the the end. It's a amazing how fast 2 weeks flies by! I would love to bring loved ones with me next time and stay for longer! It feels like I'm just getting used to it and it's almost time to head home.

Africa - July 12

After breakfast our team went to the "playground" for the final time today to play some games, sing songs and give the kids salvation bracelets. Just the littlest gifts makes these kids so excited! I wish that kids in the US would have joy out of the simpler things in life! We taught these kids: red rover red rover and red light/green light. We figured out the hard way that playing red rover with 3 year old and 10 year olds in the same group is not the greatest only took a few crying babies! :) Leah, Rebekah and myself stayed back from the evangelism at the beach today to teach the women some creative ideas of things that they could sew out of the clothes Master Provisions sent them that they cannot use to sell. MP did such an amazing thing by sending them 17 tons of clothing that they were able to get donated back in the states. Some of the clothing did not sell and so we taught them how to make little girls dresses out of large old decorative t-shirts and purses out of old worn out shirts. It was amazing to see them light up once they realized there was a vision for the items. Selling these items for the families is a way of life...
I admire the women that are around this house so much. They are here all day long cooking, cleaning, sewing, stuffing pillows to sells yet still have so much love in their hearts. While we were teaching some sewing techniques we were dancing, singing and laughing with the women. I will absolutely miss these women when it is time to go, most of them are around my same age and I have really built friendships with them. Having a language barrier I thought would be really hard...however, smiling and laughing is the same all over the world.

Africa - July 11

A very relaxed morning at the house! I felt pretty crappy for the first time this morning but thank the Lord it only lasted for a little while! Our trip for this day was to a village called Adamavo which was an hour and a half away, but on the beach of the Gulf of Guinea. The roads here (if you can call them that) are made of dirt and have huge pot holes in them because of the rain. It takes triple the time to get anywhere because there are no rules or laws to the roads...people are just driving everywhere! For the majority of the time our team has been here we have been piling 10 people into 7 person vehicle.
At this village we were able to sing songs with the littles ones, get a picture of the coolest soccer goal posts ever and experience the outdoor bathrooms (obviously Rachel is just pretending!)
I have a bruise on my booty from riding on the center console! This group is crazy just like my family and we sing the entire time we are in the car. Our translators think its hilarious! We sang "row, row, row your boat" the other day and now the driver (Dagadzei aka Ata) requests it every time we get into the car! It's the jam he says! I met the sweetest little girl today. She just walked up to me and put her arms up so I was able to hold her for about 2 hours while we watched a movie. She fell asleep in my arms and it just melted my heart!
I was chatting with Rachel a little concerned that this young of a child could not be potty trained and was a little nervous that she was going to tinkle on my lap! Just as we were talking about that the girl started talking to me in Ewe and then hoped off my lap, pulled down her undies, squatted and peed in the sand right infront of me. It was the oddest yet most precious thing I've ever seen! As the movie ended the mother who was carrying another baby on her back came to me, grabbed her baby and thanked me! That is not something that you would see in the states...letting a stranger hold your baby for hours...but I must have looked innocent to her! :D I love me some little African babies!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Africa - July 10

Woke up this morning to a great treat! Orange juice and ice cubes! It's the first time in a week that I have drank something cold! Crazy that something so simple seems like such a treat!
We traveled to an urban village called Zanguera this afternoon and were able to walk around to different houses and tell people about Jesus and let them know we would be at the church that evening singing and watching a video. We visited a house where the baby was playing in the dirt and the mother was tearing fish with her hands to put in the stew she had brewing on the front porch.
As we were walking around this village we came across two very unique and very different things. The first was a burial site of one of the most important members of the Zanguera village and the other was a Voodoo worshipping area, which made me feel very unsettled inside.
The children in this town have great energy and spirit. As we arrived at the church this young boy said to us clear and very slowly "God Bless You!". It was so cute to see that he learned to say this in English! There was a band at this village, compiled of 3 young boys (8-10ish years old) who had more rhythm and spunk than I've ever seen at that age! One little boy could bust a move and I wanted to enter him onto "So you think you can dance!" :)
The movie that we watched tonight was about this weird voodoo stuff and basically it felt like to me that they were trying to scare the unbelievers in the village into becoming Christians. It would have been a rated R movie in the states for violence and sexual content. There were little children that were allowed to watch this video which seemed crazy to me!