Day 29 - Maasai
Isn’t it funny how we don't think were cool in America unless we have a big house, nice cars and all the latest name brands of fashion. Well here you’re cool... if you have the least amount of stuff! Yes most people here still try to gather all kinds of things to look cool and rich. None the less in the midst of all this commotion, every now and again you would see something different amongst the crowd of people, someone who was wearing just a red kanga wrapped around them with some simple sandals and carrying a stick or knife.... a Maasai! They are known for living among the lions, way out in the bush. They don't work or wear normal clothes, they just live life. They raise their own livestock and build mud huts in the middle of nowhere. They enjoy not doing much of anything at all other than growing old, yet they seem to be the "coolest" people ever. You can tell just by the way they hold themselves high when they walk that they are comfortable in their own skin.
We don't often see them in the city, so we left the city and went into the bush guided by one of the base staff. A small group had already been to visit them and they were excited to know that a larger group of us were coming back. As soon as we arrived we were welcomed in. I don't really know how to sum up our experience there other to say it was amazing. We sat around on mats under the trees and talked through a translator while drinking chi. We talked to the midwives of the village and listened in awe of how they bring babies out of the womb with no "technology". We had many questions for them as they had for us and we exchanged knowledge and laughs.
In the misted of talking a little girl’s hand bumped my head as I was sitting down and suddenly she just stared in shock, she tried to be inconspicuous in touching it again but she couldn't help but whisper to the girls around her about my hair... in a matter of minuets I was unable to count the number of little hands on my head. It was then that I realized, being the fact that they all had shaved heads and rough hair, we brought something new! When I turned around to look they all pulled their hands away quite quickly wondering what my reaction would be, so I reached back and pulled my pony tail out, then I put it back in so they could see how I did it, then I took my pony tail out again, and handed it to one of the girls and motioned to her that she could try. I soon had a line of little girls ready to try their hand at putting my hair up. Sometimes it felt good, other times not so much, but we all had fun.
Day 30 - Teaching... well at least we thought we were.
Our team has found a way to connect with a school nearby and they welcomed us to teach there... so we did. I went with a group to teach about malaria to a class of 12-14 year olds. We weren't sure how much they would know about it so we decided to be very basic. Upon arriving we found there to be 130+ students all sitting under a tree waiting for us to begin. We got all of our things ready, introduced ourselves, played a game and then asked "Do any of you know what malaria is?" Many students raised their hands and once one was pointed out she stood up and said "Malaria is a sickness caused by the female anopheles." Even though their knowledge on it was beyond what we thought it would be we went along with our teaching, drama and song ending it with a powerful testimony and praying for all of them. And they loved every bit of it!
Day 31 & 32 - first one, but not for me.
It wasn't my turn at the clinic either day so I wasn't there, but some of my teammates got to witness their very first births. There were three births over a 24 hour period that some students were able to take part in and it has been very exciting. I was even able to go to the clinic one evening and hold the little boy, Joshua, who was the first baby of the school year. The mom was only 15 years old. I'm not sure of the details of the other deliveries but I know it won't be long before I'm writing about being part of my own.
Day 33 - same but different
Baking cakes back home is a bit of a hobby for me so when the chance came to make a birthday cake of some of the team members I jumped on it! I must say it would have made me feel a bit more at home, but with no recipes, very few basic ingredients and a fire for an oven... it was quite different. None the less I was determined. It took a lot of adding, mixing, licking and even burning this and that, but in the end we found a way! We may have had to cut off the burnt bottom and cover it in flowers to try to hide our mistakes... but like I said, we found a way!
It is now coming to the end of week four for the team here in Tanzania. The days are starting to go by faster as more and more things are being added to our "to do" list. We are often busy working on the base, preparing teachings, building relationships, interviewing women of the community, taking shifts at the clinic, learning the language and spending time with God daily as well as pressing through spiritual battles with worship and intercession.
Since being here nearly a month now, the team is starting to get over the excitement of "being in Africa". Although for some of them it has been their lifelong dream. Many are becoming unsettled as we are still waiting for our working visas to get into the hospital. In the midst of all this we have started to recognize heavy spirits from the land come strongly upon our team in areas such as disunity (most of all with leaders), lack of freedom, self-pity and fear. Some of us were depressed, wanting to go home, overly tired, restless, sick, etc... We learned that although many different forms of slavery have taken place all over Africa, taking, selling, trading, sending, beating, stealing, buying, shipping, etc. Tanzania was a country that ALL forms took place in. Tanzania was one of the biggest country's taking part in slavery. With this there is a very strong spirit of slavery over this land and we all have been feeling it.
I believe that we cannot go into the hospital until the team is unified with God and each other. Because a disunited body does not represent the body of Christ. It also makes it hard to trust each other or fully grasp what we are learning. We had a lot of breakthrough this week but the battle is not yet over, I personally believe once we take our full authority in Christ over these spirits, God will release the working visas to us.
Some prayer points:
Day 18 - a life full of color
Evangelism: How do you do that when you can't speak the same language? I mean there are the times when we are giving small health care teachings in the clinic where we also share testimonies and pray over the women... but what about the women who are not at the clinic? How can we share the gospel when we are outside of the clinic and without a translator? Well you do the only thing you can do... you ask God for some crazy idea and you go for it!
While praying for the children during intercession nearly a week ago God gave me the idea to go back into the village I had already visited a few times, but instead of going with nothing, going with paper and crayons. What a grand idea God! There are many kids in the village. We had been told by Martha (a teacher that is also my roommate) that the children do not often have the chance to be very creative, even in school they learn only to copy what the teacher is doing. So the next day I teamed up with a few other girls and we set out for the village again. The village is just across the street, but it is rather large so I tend to go to a small area that has pretty much become my favorite stop since I have been able to build a relationship with a few of them. So this area is where we went, I also took a little translator book with us.
-I'm sorry there are not many pictures of everything going on here. Many people here believe that when we take a picture of them that we are also taking their spirits to unknown places. Even if they don't believe that, it temps some to steal and others to look at us only for money.-
It was great! We went over the hill and into the village and were welcomed right away! They brought out their sitting mats and we all sat down with them. Often time the kids are shy but they didn't hid behind their mothers too long once they saw all the colors we had, and we were holding out the colors for them. Their faces lite up and they all came and sat down and started coloring right alongside us. In the meantime I pulled out our translation book to see if I could get a bit of a conversation going, I showed them how the book took English words and told us the meaning in Swahili, and vise-versa. They thought it was amazing! I ended up with a crowd around me looking at the book. They would point at a word and tell me how to pronounce it in Swahili and then I would teach them how to say it in English. We didn't always pronounce things right, but we had fun. When it came time for us to go back to base we were able to tell them that we were going home but we would one day return... in Swahili!
Day 19 - Back with more than a book
We have been working on what we call "community profiling". We talk to as many women who are pregnant or have children as we can in order to find out what the needs of the community are and how we can better meet them. The only challenge we have is the language. We have a few friends from base that help us when they are free. So the very next day I went with another little group back to the village... but this time with someone who could translate more than the book could. We got to sit back down with the women and kids, but this time the focus was on the moms. We got to talk and laugh with them about all kinds of things! It was a true blessing and I can't wait to go back again.
Day 20 - Church without the building.
What are some of the first things that come to your mind when you think of church? Big building? Dressing up? Sitting in pews? Listening to the same man every week? But when God says he loves the church... does he mean a building? Clothes? Pews? One man? No! He thinks of all of his people... together! As one body. Everyone who knows God has a part of God to share. So rather than going to a church, we learned how to "make" a church right where we were. We got into small groups of five and we all offered to bring things like, Praise, prayer, word of God, communion, and "one another’s" (a way to encourage or listen to each other) and we were to simply let the Holy spirit lead it. We Praised God by coloring pictures of things we were thankful for, we prayed out simple prayers of thanks, we took turns reading a small passage out of Matthew and sharing what we learned from it, we ate almost a full meal for communion and wrote out things we liked about each other. It was more than likely one of the best services I had ever been to. We all took part in it and it was so simple that anyone could do it... even the people in the village!
Day 23 - Seeing for myself
Answer to my prayers! I had been falling behind on getting the required amount of community profiles done due to not being able to speak the language. But on this day I was given a translator all to my own as well as two others who could help me write out the answers (as we ask a list of questions). In one morning I was able to completely catch up by interviewing five women. One just next door, two on the other side of the market and two who ran a soda and chips (French-fries) shop. It's so nice to just sit and talk with the locals here. None the less it's hard to listen to the injustice their sometimes given and the hardships they have no way out of. The first lady I talked with had had four children... but only two living. Her 10 year old daughter had passed away just five months before due to a hole in her heart. She had been sick since the age of 2 and was in a long line to receive surgery, just as she was coming close to a date of operation, she passed away. The mom had a video of her on her phone, she was one of the most beautiful little girls I had ever seen, and in the video all she did was smile. It was impossible not to think of my own nieces and what I would have done had that been them. The other child she lost was due simply to a stressful labor. In the womb the child became distressed and ingested its own meconium and passed away just before being delivered. We could see the tears in her eyes as she told us about them, but not a tear fell. The women here have to be strong and accept that it is just life.
I realized that many of us can know the problems in the world; the difference in doing something is knowing the people.
Day 25 - A hard dream
Ah the clinic again! The clinic we are working in -until we get our working visa and go into the hospital- is rather small and there is rarely a woman in labor when we go there. Sometimes there is very little we can do. But we do small teachings when we can get a translator and take turns working in the different rooms. Back when I was only thinking about doing this school I knew would have hard days, but none the less I told myself I would be thankful because I was living my dream!
This day put that thinking to a little test. I was fumbling all over feeling like I was getting everything wrong, not by much, but none the less I was wrong. I know I'm just a student with a small bit of training trying to do what these women have been doing for years, as they watch me. The day was hot and I was sweating far more then I cared to. Information was slipping from my mind and I felt a bit lost wherever I was. I finally went into the injection room where I could simply watch and learn as needles were slipped into veins and muscles. I enjoy watching them do their job as watching one patient after another come in for something. After a half an hour I felt ringing in my ears and a heaviness come over me as the room started to spin. I knew I should not stay in there as I remembered one of the students describing this feeling just before fainting... the day before. So I left and sat in the empty labor room and drank a good amount of water. It was only a minuet before I was back on my feet watching injections. It wasn't much longer before we had to leave. Walking away from the clinic after a hard day... I was still thankful. I know I'm still learning and there will be many mistakes I'm sure, but in the midst I get to be guided by those with much more knowledge, and hopefully a good amount of patience.
Day 13 - A taste of Africa.
Saturday Oct 9 2010
Ah the sight of a bunch of western girls trying to cook over a fire for 30+ people. It all started with a simple idea of thanks.
The base we live on here is run by a handful of hard working Tanzanian men and mamas. We all help them with daily work duties to help lighten the load but as a team we just wanted to do a little something extra. So we had the idea of setting up a nice breakfast for all the women. We started preparing a few days ahead by making them each a card full of words and scriptures we had received for them and we even has them translated into Swahili. We used kongas and picked flowers to dress up the classroom and some even volunteered to take care of the children. We got up early Saturday morning and started right away with the jobs we had volunteered to do. I was put in charge of making homemade chi! My favorite! Its homemade everyday here, but I had never made it. It took a lot of taste testing, but God must have heard my prayers because it turned out to taste pretty good!
Once the room was set up, the food was all made and all the women arrived we got to serve them a nice breakfast of eggs, chapatis, fruit and chi! After a bit of fellowship (although we do not all speak the same language) we called out their names one by one and washed their feet, gave them a little massage and painted their toenails as others prayed over them. At first most of them were very shy and covered their faces in a bit of embarrassment as there where laughing. The morning went very well and they all walked out of there with clean feet and big smiles.
We found out later that it was really a bigger blessing then we thought it had been. In this culture the women know from birth till death it is their job to cook, clean and bear children and that's just the way it is. So simply saying thank you by taking on their job for a morning was already a big deal. When it came to washing their feet, that was an even bigger surprise because they have very dirty rough feet and even another African would not have wanted to wash them. So for us to not only be white, but we are also considered their guest, to clean, cook, rub their feet, and paint their toenails was a huge blessing. We found out that it was the first time they had had anyone do that for them.
Here they call us munzugos. Everywhere we go we hear them calling us. We know we are no better than any of them, as a matter of fact we are here to serve them, but it's hard for them to see us that way. So we are starting to change that.
Day 14 --- Drama, Drama, Drama
Sunday Oct 10
Time for Church again! We visit a lot of different churches here so this week I was at a different one. Again, being a guest we are expected to bring something to share. So we sang some songs, shared some testimonies, preached the whole sermon and we even did a drama! This church was much bigger from the last one I attended, and upon leaving EVERYONE shook EVERYONE'S hands while singing and clapping. It was such a joy!
Later in the evening while I was writing in my journal I happen to look off to the side and noticed something that in the case of me being me, it brought a huge smile to me face! Not so much to the girl to who came to see what I was taking a picture of... but I liked it. His name is fuzzy. He is a tarantula! For someone who always loved bugs growing up I can't think of a better place to be. I have seen the most amazing colors and sizes of all kinds of bugs since being here!
Day 17 --- Being there
Wednesday Oct 13
YAY another day at the clinic! It was day of weighing babies, giving shots, doing teachings and talking with the people to learn more about the community. In the midst of the hassle and tussle there was a woman laying alone in the labor room waiting to deliver her baby, but this was not a time of excitement and rejoicing. We found out that she was only 7-8 months along, but her baby had passed away in her womb five days before. She was in induced labor. She was not allowed to get up because of the treatment she was given and things were moving very slow. I asked my leader for permission and left the area I had been working in. I made a little stop at the shop outside and picked up a couple of bananas on my way to the labor room where I found the mom, still laying down and facing the wall with her back towards me. I wasn't sure how she would react but I wanted to be there for her, so I went and placed my hand on her and said "Habari mama?'" (how are you) She turned towards me and I could see her eyes filled with tears. I showed her the bananas and she was very thankful for them. I was very thankful that she took them as well. I folded my hands and asked her if I could pray for her as well, she also was grateful that I asked. I placed my hands on her belly and prayed for her. I was able to sit with her for a bit longer and show her how sorry I was. Although we didn't speak the same language I could tell you was at peace and was glad someone was with her. I soon had to go back to my other jobs but I kept checking on her throughout the morning and soon it was time to go home. I don't know why the baby didn't make it, I don't even know the mothers name, but I do know I was placed there to care, comfort and pray with her even if it was just for a bit.
Africa, a land where its rich culture, wild animals, jungles, safaris, tribal dances and lively drum beats use to be the first things that comes to people’s minds when they hear that name…but for the last 50 years or so it seems to be known more and more commonly for the brutal wars, poverty, corruption, deaths, and many other things that are ravaging the land. Yet, with all these things marring Africa’s face, her true beauty is still there, one of the ways to see it is to get to know her... and that is what we are doing!
Day 1 ---- Unpack
We are still getting use to things here as we unpack, not only our bags, but our minds as well. Life here goes under the trees, over the hills, through the tall grass, crosses paths with crazy bugs, eats food from the garden, takes “bucket” showers under the stars, wears long skirts under the hot sun, sweeps the dirt, washes everything by hand, uses squatty potties, sleeps under mosquito nets, envelops you in a new language, eats with your hands, kicks a ball around with little children... yes life goes on and on, because that was only Day 1!
Day 5 ---- Village
We have only been here a few days but since we may have to wait a while to get our working visas, we have jumped into getting to know the community! On Friday October 1st, I went into the village with a few other women to talk with the people. In one short trip into the village we were connected with a few locals and a pastor of a “large” church who will let us come do health care teachings with all the women there. Just the opportunity we were looking for!
Soon we will begin "profiling". We will go out into the village and find women to talk with. We ask them different kinds of questions, like what food is available here to what kind of spiritual rituals they do. Our goal is to speak with over one hundred women in this area so that we can see what we are working with, what their knowledge level is and what resources are open for them. It's also a way to teach women about their health, share the gospel and give women confidence about seeking help at the clinics when it's needed. It helps that the people here are very welcoming!
Day 6 ---- Beach
On our day off so we went to the beach! We crammed into a "dala dala" (a van made to hold 12 people) with 36 people! After swimming in the very blue water; I ripped some fabric off the bottom of my skirt with my teeth to wrap my friends bleeding foot, I had to stop a girl from stealing our stuff, I got super sun burned, I carried my friend with the hurt foot across the sandy beach and up a hill via piggy back then came home the same way we went, crammed into a "dala dala". Once back home had a very late dinner of beans and rice.
Day 7 ---- Church
If you are a guest at a church here they expect you to come ready to share a song, testimony and/or preach the whole sermon. I was only with a small group but we did all of that. Then we went to a house of one of the church members to pray over a man who had just lost his father. The the kids at the house took great pride in showing us there 19 day old calf.
Day 11 ---- Clinic
Yay! The first day I was finally able to take everything I had been learning and put it into practice! The YWAM base we are staying on also has a clinic. We have been going there (a few students at a time) as a way of “easing our way in” so that we will be more prepared when it comes to working at the hospital! At the clinic I was sent to work alongside the head midwife for an hour, it was so nice to just be there and watch her work. I watched her lay her hands on a mother's huge belly and start to feel her way around trying to find out how the baby was laying inside. I stood on the other side watching in amazement when she then took my hands and quickly showed me what she was doing by guiding my hands in hers. When the second women came in, I again stood off to the side in excitement to watch her in action, but that is not what happened... She looked at me with a smile and said "Why are you over there? You’re the midwife now, you do it." She then put me up front and center and let me do the job while she just watched and waited for any questions. By the third women she had left the room and let me tell her the verdict when she returned. In the hour I was able to take women's vitals, find and count the baby's heartbeat, and palpate three women. I couldn't believe that I was actually doing what I have been waiting so long to do!
Once my hour was up I was sent to the lab where I was able to help do tests for malaria, HIV and other bloodborne pathogens. I also got to see malaria under a microscope! After that my teammate Joy and I did a health care teaching for the women at the clinic, shared the gospel and prayed over the mothers and their children.
Day 12 ---- Now
So how do I have internet? My team found a place about an hour and a half ride from our base with internet. So I may be able to come here another time but it won't be very often.
I love you all so much! Thank you for all of your prayers, encouragement and support.
I initially started this blog while working overseas to keep my supporters updated, then I did it a time as a required assignment during my midwifery school, but now I write but because I want to. So now I share my current journeys, in hopes that others can learn from them, or at the least have a good laugh.