There are so many wonderful things I want to share with you. Right now I am in the process of trying to sort them all out and figuring out how to share them in a way that will let you truly understand all of the beauty I saw while in Africa. I know that there will be posts that are more specific in the coming weeks but I want to begin to share some of the beauty I saw. It feels a bit scattered still, but seriously- the photos are so – I can’t even find a word to describe them- beautiful or incredible doesn’t really capture it in my mind…
I want you to know that it was an incredible trip to a place that I immediately fell in love with. While the trip itself wasn’t as long as I had anticipated it would be, I have no doubt that I will return there within the next year. The beauty and joy of the people there completely captured my heart and I have already begun working on a plan of my own, a plan that I feel so passionate about. I met some incredible people who both inspired and motivated me to do something. I left knowing that I was given this opportunity in order to open my eyes to the power I have to make a difference in the life of someone I don’t even know. I saw a world where daily life is a constant struggle, and the idea of material goods doesn’t really amount to much but things like food and school fees are everything. I met women who work so incredibly hard every single day to make sure that their families were cared for and I wanted to carry some of their burden. I saw children carry heavy jerry cans of dirty water long distances every day and my mama heart wanted to do it for them. I saw mothers sitting in a children’s hospital, two and three to a bed holding their beautiful but terribly ill children for days on end and I had the opportunity to tell them, face to face, that I thought they were the strongest women I had ever met; that I couldn’t imagine how difficult it must be in a hospital with not enough plasma or medication. Where most of the children’s IV ports are in their heads as their little veins are simply not healthy enough to insert them in their arms. Where each ward has upwards of 20 beds – and remember, a bed holds 2-3 children with their mamas at a time- and two nurses on staff. And my mama head thought “truly, how can this be?”. You can see a video of where I was HERE.
I visited a place where people lived in the meekest of conditions- referred to as a slum by many but I really dislike that word- so that Edwin and I could distribute water filters. Thanks to your support I was able to bring 29 water filters with me on this journey, and five of them ended up here. And while I had been warned that it would be incredibly difficult, I insisted on going. And me being me, I also insisted on interacting. So Dr. Isaac (Edwin’s brother for whom I am so incredibly grateful and excited to work with again in the future) said that I must cut all my nails and remove my ring and if I were to hug those children and hold their hands I was not to touch ANYTHING on my face until I had returned home and thoroughly washed. And I was NOT to kiss a single child’s head- this was non-negotiable. And so it was done and off we went. My stomach was in knots on our way as I was so worried that I would cry and I desperately did NOT want to cry. And then we arrived, and truly, all I saw was beautiful smiling faces. Yes, conditions were beyond what anyone should have to survive in, but they were surviving. Children were without parents in some cases, and yes, that broke my heart a little. But when I pulled out the fruit leathers, I was surrounded and loving every moment of it. It was magical- it truly was.
So I want to thank you- all of you who sent me grace, and prayed for grace. Because it worked- it truly did. There were times when I felt so – giddy is the only word I can really find to describe it, or maybe joy-filled – and I wondered more than once if something was wrong with me. I wondered why I wasn’t sad, why I wasn’t crying and feeling helpless. But then I realized- how could I be sad when those around me weren’t? Yes, their life was hard, but it was their life, and when a chance to smile or feel happy arose, they grabbed it.
I will be sharing more over the coming days and weeks as I get through the hundreds of photographs I took. Every time I see them it brings me back to that place and even though I knew I would love it, I had no idea how deeply it would bury itself into my soul.