Thursday, June 18, 2009


Beautiful girl from the Kisayhip village overlooking the new Back2Back property.

It's been interesting trying to adjust since nothing is Americanized. And I mean nothing. Well, we have a Coca-Cola bottling company but that's pretty much it. All the stores are specialized, like you go one place for veggies, another place for napkins, another place for bread, another place for eggs, etc. And since we don't have a clean water well we purify our water daily. Recently, as a 10-person household we just decided that in a couple of days we're going to buy live chickens and kill them and clean them ourselves instead of buying the ready poultry. 10% because it's cheaper, 90% because we want the experience. I'm thinking I'll opt out of the preliminary stages of the process. Life here just takes a lot longer to get things done... and I'm kinda getting used to it.

I feel ridiculous when I think about how much I struggle back home to fit God into a neat little 20-30 minute window that isn't always fulfilled. "I don't have the time" is a lie that I'm constantly fed in the states. Now, even when simple tasks are taking much longer to accomplish and I have a schedule full of internship stuff... time for God is easy, longer, and more in depth. I'm realizing that I have a lot less distractions here. Those things that are easy to overdo like internet and TV, just aren't as accessible.

Last week we visited and outreached in the Kisayhip village. All of the children in the village are super friendly and follow us for miles when we walk around and share prayers/food there. All of the children crave attention and want nothing more than to hold onto your hand. The babies in the village are without pants/diapers/underwear and are taken care of by siblings during the day, who are oftentimes, only maybe 5 or 6 years older than them. The Lord is teaching me that I am so incredibly blessed at home and that there are IMMENSE needs here. I'm convinced that if people were aware of the conditions here, they would be moved to do something.

Some women in at one of the village homes we stopped in.

Two interns, Stephanie and Tina, holding a set of twins in the village.

Playing with the million kids in the village.

Two hungry bellies in the village.

When we were doing the outreaches, we broke up into groups and would then rotate who prayed for each hut we went to. In one hut that we went to we sat inside the dark room and flies were swarming everywhere. About 4 or 5 adult women came in (polygamy is not rare) and 5 or 6 children. It was my turn to pray, and as I was about to pray a little girl that was about five ran in and dove her head into my chest and hugged me while saying some phrase in her language over and over again. Right behind her crawled in a 15-year old girl with flip-flops on her hands as she dragged her body and two shriveled up legs behind her. I think praying in that moment with that crowd of people had one of the greatest impacts on me so far. I'm really excited for the medical missions group to come in mid-July... the need is so great. There are many women with open wounds as they've been hit by the motorcycles when they go into town. (Motorcycles are EVERYWHERE and there are tons of accidents all the time because of all the foot traffic here.)

We are talking a lot about overreacting to situations and needs that just aren't well with our soul. I'm learning that God is in the process of opening our eyes and nudging us in the side when we see this broken world that He has asked us to reach out to. The small nudge that you feel when you see someone living on the streets, hear gossip, or see children begging... is an opportunity to react or ignore it. We're dialoguing a lot here about overreacting to the injustices in the world. I think that God calls us to overreact to what we see wrong with the world to attempt to bring a little bit of heaven to earth. For myself, it's easy to just be lukewarm and partially react or not react at all to those injustices and things that aren't well with my soul. I think the biggest lie that I am fed is that my small reactions are sufficient enough. I think that God does want us to do something, but how much more glorifying to God is it when we react so hugely that all He can do is intercept our actions with His plans. I'm trying to understand what it looks like to overreact so much that God can take my mustard seed volume of faith and proceed to magnify it beyond or comprehension. Not to undermine those hard first steps to simply "react" to an injustice... but I used to look at "overdoing" something to always mean that it's unnecessary or excessive, but what if it can be used for great? What if we (humans) have messed up the world so much that overreactions are just what we need to counteract those injustices? The staff parents have talked about instilling this idea into their children to show them that they CAN change the world that they live in by seeing and living in the world and overreacting to it in a Godly way. I hope my kids can be raised with that same awareness of the fact that they can make a difference. And we don't have to be in a third world country to overreact--we can overreact where we are since we are called to be in mission and reach the people God has placed in our lives.

On Sunday we went to church in the Kisayhip village that we have been doing outreaches in. The African church service was so much fun. All of the Nigerian women were in their head to toe Nigerian dresses and headwraps. A few women played an African drum and a few other make-shift instruments including a couple clay pots, it sounded so cool--I'm going to try to record a few seconds of it next time we go (in a couple weeks). They were incredibly welcoming though and I loved how joyful they were in giving. This village is so poor but they are so faithful in giving back to God. They took offering 4 times during service and every time they would dance on up to the bowls and put in another bill while singing. After the 4th offering, the pastor mentioned that a man with immense need was present and needs some help with money. He hobbled up to the front of the church and just as many people danced on up to the front again putting even more bills in the bowl next to the man. Towards the end of the service the pastor spoke directly to us and said that he was so thankful for our time and the food outreaches and told us that he hoped that we weren't just here for a vacation amount of time and hoped that we would stay here to live because now we realize the great need here.

Last week we also went grocery shopping in the market. Sooooo much different than anything I've ever done before involving purchasing/finding groceries. Picture a flea market that is ginormous and winding and full of hundreds of small shops. But picture that same flea market in a giant mud pit with multitudes of motorcycles, occasional trucks, and lots of foot traffic. The shops are all specialized and usually only sell one or two items and you barter for everything (especially since they give you an initial high price for being white). We would ask for a head of lettuce and if they give you a high price--like 100 Naira. You say, "That lettuce is not up to 100 Naira. Give me your best price." And the bartering continues.

Scenery on the new Back2Back property.

With each passing day, I'm realizing more and more that I'm a privileged white girl. Their norm meat market seems completely unsanitary to me as I observe the neatly stacked piles of miscellaneous meat that are sat out for the public (and flies!) to handle and purchase. Most of the meat I can't even distinguish what animal it came from (I also attribute that to my whiteness). Below the cut up meat were usually a few dead and stiff animals on the shelves below waiting to be cut up. Mmmm... am I making your mouth water yet? (:

We split up into two groups to go shopping. My group of four had vegetables and fruits and the other group had cleaning supplies and paper products. It took us three hours just to get our few things. Firstly, it's hard to find what you're looking for and then once you do find it, the vendor may only have a poor quality product, or only 2 when you need 10, etc. Everyone was very nice and helpful though, we had a few people shake our hands just because they were pleased that we were in their city. And we commonly hear, "You're welcome." They say it when giving you something or inviting you somewhere or just to notify that we are welcome in their city. To which we say "Thank you." Kind of backwards from US culture, but I think this order makes more sense to me now.

With the precious kids, I'm trying to figure out the balance between loving on them with all that I have and being conscious of boundaries with disease spread. Of the 20 children at CLAPAI (see previous post), two of the children are living with HIV/AIDS--but all of them have a relative that is either living with the disease or has died from it. However, no matter how much I try, I cannot begin to communicate to you how amazing these kids are and how big their hearts are. They are just full of so much life, energy, and curiosity! I can't wait to share with you some of their amazing personalities.

There are grades 1-3 for the twenty children that range from age 5 to age 11. Next week, we'll be giving their teachers a week off by teaching. We're spending this week preparing a bug/animal curriculum and trying to incorporate that theme into not just science, but also into their other subjects. I'll be teaching English all next week with another one of the interns for the three grades. Please pray that my teaching abilities will be sufficient for the week! I'm so excited to be able to show you guys what animal/bug week looks like. It will be great!

Yesterday we went on our African safari. It was a four hour drive to get to this large animal reserve. We got in our safari jeeps and saw some cool animals, but didn't spot any elephants, lions, or hippos. I think the highlight for everyone was the hot springs that we swam in afterwards. We swam in this clear, blue lagoon looking water with white sand coating the bottom. Palms and lush bushes lined the edges and a couple trees had bent over the water just enough for us to climb up and jump in.

I will be updating more regularly and adding pictures, I promise! Oh, I also posted a segment of the Shelter bible study that Back2Back is going through this summer--check it out, it's good!


mom said...

Fantastic read, Sara. Enjoyed it very much!

teresa said...

Love reading your blog Sara. Can't wait to see more. What a life changing experience you are having!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking the time to share all of this with us, Sara! Wow - that's all I can say. Reading what you're going through helps me know how to better pray for you and what to thank God for more fully.