Sunday, November 18, 2012

Light overcomes dark

Im realizing that Ive been somewhat avoiding or ignoring writing nd sharing about life here, and Im trying to analyze why. I believe part of it is that living here is...mote likfe regular life than ever before and its harder for my mind to isolate stories or thoughts to compress into a blog post. ! The other part is that Ive had some really trying experiences and realizations in this season that I subconciously am not desiring to share. God, restore to me that love of sharing life on the Mission Field with others!
My friends, this place Has some very real darkness. It is heartbreaking. Ive had some sobering situations , challenging realizations and come face to face with yucky realities of the area that have made me feel...that I need God to be the source of my hope for change in the women and the culture I love here. Yet I know Im bringing light.

DARK:The hardest thing for me has been a realization of how deeply sexual sin affects this culture. Starting with my close friend who sexually contracted AIDS even though she has been incredibly mature and passionate for Jesus as long as Ive known her, learning more about Ceremonies, which is a non-optional (except for kids that have the blessing of getting a ceremony through Iris) time of preteen girls getting often times raped as well as taught about the "wisdom" of having more than one man in their life because of reasons like having more financial support, and finally seeing how many of the single, husband-less mothers I know are getting pregnant. People actually believe, and doctors sometimes subscribe, having sex is good for your health and you can get sick if you dont do it regularly.
I have a precious and sweet naivete in regard to these sexal issues that Im not embarrassed to have but am rather thankful for. It took me a long time to learn or believe that these things happen underneath the surface of the amazing culture and beautiful people I interact with and love so deeply. But the realization has sunk in.

Ive been wondering how My life experience can be used to affect this culture - my  mind doesnt naturally..go there or understand the level of attachment one can have in a society that's so sexual, because by God's grace Im a virgin who's never been raped or sexually abused. My world doesnt involve a struggle to stay abstinent, and my first thought is how can I speak into lives of peoplewho I cant relate to at all. But surely it would be an amazing thing for them tohear my testimony of abstinence. Im not sure if they would even believe it! Im going to pray and think about how to talk about it, please pray with me for this.
And pray for my heart that sometimes feels discourged and wonders how to know if I know what I think I know to be true about my friends and daughters here. Or if any progress is being made in our discipleship.

LIGHT!!: last saturday night I went to the beach at NIGHT for the FIRST time ever since Ive been here!! Ahh sigh it was So wonderful. I have always loved the beach at night, and somehow Ive never even thought of it as a possibility to go to this Pemb bech at night over these two years. Why? Because "you dont" go anywhere outside of your house at night. mozambicans dont either. Its actually not very wise. Some parts of the beach are apparrently where prostitutes will go to do their business after being purchased. There are "banditos" out at night (robbers). Etc etc etc. And somehow, Ive become more fearful than remembering that...I LIVE in Pemba. 
How did I get there - harvest students went in a group (of 5 or more) to have some worship. Oh my goodness, I cant tell you whwt this did for me. Its the most beutifl, awe-strickening sight to stare into the ocean at night with the moon reflecting and the waters rushing toward you, dark but very present. We didnt see any "banditos" any prostitutes, or any partyers. We BROUGHT the presence of the Lord to that place, claiming territory, we saw angels hovering over the waters, and we changed the atmosphere there, AS WE SHOULD BE, instead of hiding away in our little western style homes. By the end of the evening I felt a freedom that was bursting out of me. I started skipping along the water edge and eventually just purposely fell flat on my back, fully clothed, at the shoreline letting the dark waves crash over me. Ah! Haha! I started laughing like a crazy person and having a blast - letting go of all things that I think I "know" about life, especially how to live here in this place. I welcome more uncomfortable things, Lord. I welcome less cushion. I welcome a loss of control in this culture and life here Jesus. 

My amazing Russian friend from my Harvest School, Eugenia, is here and it's been an immense blessing for my heart. We've been talking about our last two years of life. I loved hearing about her experiences, because they were difficult just as mine have been in some ways, but her outlook hs been amaxing. I remembered the thing that so impressed me about the russian friends thwt were in my Harvest school was that they truly have difficult life scenarios and have to live with incredibly huge faith to be travellingand living the missionary lifestyle that Im also living. Everyone Eugenia knows is low income and yet they share and give to each other. I remember inmthe hwrvest school they would always give out of thelittle they had. 
Eugenia went on to tell me a story about how recently she had gotten an email from one of our Iris missionaries in the Congo who had some refugee children come to him asking for food and he didnt have enough for them. She said she only had 30 dollars at the time, but with tears decided to send most of her 30 dollars to feed these kids. She mentioned it also on a blog or something online, as well as to her other Iris Russia friends, and by the end of the week people of their own accord and out of their little also donated and they had about 1000 dollars! 
Confrontation with people who truly live in selfless sacrifice is one of the most encouraging and refreshing thing. I sometimes blame my culture that I grew up in for my selfishness and clinging to "my" stuff, but I think in reality I have the choice to include sacrifice in my life. If I truly listen to my Lord speak, He is often asking me to do things that involve selfless, uncomfortable, sacrifice. God, let me relearn how to be uncomfortable wnd sacrificing. Some of my happiest and most content times in my life have been when Ive been obedient to do something that I really didnt want to do.
Eugenia also reminded me of the passion I had in my Harvest school and reminded me of how I got a group together on one saturday to help one of my friends build her house. She had materials but no laborers, so we went and helped. I completely forgot that I had thought of organizing such a sweet event. I think of how I now work with the people that help organize work for our ladies' houses and how most of the ladies have to wait so long to have their houes built...If a harvest stuent organized doing something like that under my watch Id be so incredibly thankful and blessed. God,thank you for using me - will you help me not forget my passion that I started with! 

I visited her yesterday - A few weeks ago she was close to death and her cheeks and temples were hollow. I had been wearing myself out trying to figure out ways I could help her, wading through cultural issues eith her family, figuring out if she was getting all the medecine she needed, seeing at she was running out of hope and joy. I brought a nurse from Iris to see her a few times and we got her ome medecine for CANDIDA that was causing sores in her mouth and stomach which made her not want to eat. She hadnt eaten for four days the first time we went to visit her together. W knew the medecine would help, but My nurse friend said that coming out of her malnourishment would truly need a miracle.
I was considering getting her to  maputo hospital or paying to have live-in nurse because she was so extremely close to death. I kept thinking, if this were one of my friends at home dying in front of me! I wouldnt be satisfied until I did all I could to help her. 
Then something miraculous happened, and it truly is mirculous. I made these arrangements to bring her to  wedding of one of the Iris missionaries whom she had had a close relationship with and I felt it would really cheer her up, though I was nervous bout her getting overheted. I was finding an umbrella, finding smething for her to spit in (becuse she needed to spit every few minutes), and was going to bring a ton of ice water ne only birng her for half an hour. It was a bit of a scary but important thing I was trying to do for her. But last minute my car I had arranged fell through. I prayed and decideed the best thing would be for me to visit her insted of go to the wedding. So I bought some chicken and fries, ketchup, cookies, and brought a friends laptop that had some movies on it nd walked through the village 30 minutes to her house. I was amazed to see that she ate some of the chicken and one of the cookies. This was  huge difference for her. The nurse friend of mine had said we should try bringing her food she likes so that shell at least try to eat (she hadnt been wanting to eat and would sometimes throw up whatever she got down). After that saturday something has dramtically changed to where she has gotten her apetite back and I believe it was miraculous. A few days after I was getting messges from her saying that she was hungry all the time and wanting to eat chicken every day. She has been eating really well since then and is actually gaining a little weight! I brought a whole chicken to her yesterday and will continue doing so as much as I can. She actually has her personality and I felt like I was spending time with my friend yesterday and not  hollow shell of her. Hallelujah!
Im going to see if I can spend the night at her house next week! Im excited over the thought and she got very excited too!! Itll be my first time to sleep in the village and its something Ive been wanting to do for a long time.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Big news!

I have news. News you may have expected -Or may not have. Its something that Ive known for a while. Its a bit hard for me to tell in some ways because its bitter sweet news for most of us. As many things wonderful in life there is a sacrifice involved: I am now officially a long-term Pemba Missionary! Sacrifice being that we will continue seeing little of eachother for the next year and a half! My commitment time is basically outlined for as long as I think necessary to get the Jewelry program self- sustainable. At this point I am planning and feeling like mid-2014 is that amount of time. So Im coming home for Christmas, will return here in February, stopping in Tete, Mozambique to do a short jewelry workshop with women on the base there and every 6 or 3 months as a Pemba Missionary Ill need to renew my Visa (6 are issued in the U.S. And 3 in south africa).
The classes and amazing things happening in them do feel like they are just getting started and Im so excited to see where it all goes! 

 I will miss you guys, you dont even know. Here is something I wrote last week:
First november in my life when Ive been sweating and no need of socks. Obviously this is an intriguing and iconic difference between life here and my usual life in the U.S, but really the oddness for me comes from the lack of change. For someone so used to change, dramatic weather changes in fact, beginning to live life in one basically unchanging season leaves me feeling as if something got stuck in the clock gears and time has paused. Yet in my mind I know that things have changed. Not just the seasons but lives are changing at home. Relwtionships are changin due to little communication or understanding of one anothers' lives. 
...That is the biggest sacrifice for me. I can deal with taking bucket showers, having less vegetable choices, mosquito bites, finding bugs in any place you can think of in your house, being very hot and sandy, having perpetually dirty feet, and having very loud music playing 24/7 outside of my little house. But it's hard to feel relationships changing. I just have to bealieve and remember that me being obedient to the Lord brings blessing in EVERY area of my life including community. I do believe that. My friends and family are meant to be doing whwt theyre doing, and unfortunately that means in separate places for parts ofour lives. 
Who is my father and mother? Wasnt it...Jesus, that said that? Ha! How very aprropriate (though, I love and miss my mother and fáther, but I had to leave them for this season).