Friday, August 14, 2009

My Last Days in Zimbabwe!

I can hardly believe that this will be my last post from Zimbabwe! As italways seems; some days here have dragged out for what seems like forever,but most of them seem to have flown by without my consent! I will leave Bulawayo early Saturday morning and return home on Sunday afternoon. I have one more day in the hospital and then an evening to say goodbye to friends, and I'm off! I will post pictures after I get home, but now, what have I been up to this last week?

I have spent this last week at the hospital and AIDs clinic as well as with friends. Monday and Tuesday were holidays here in Zimbabwe. The days are called "Heroes and Villains day" however, I have yet to hear a solid answer on what exactly these days off mean. But, regardless, they were nice days off where just about everything in the city completely shut down (kind of hard for many of us to imagine; even on Christmas Day we can usually find some grocery store open at some point!). But this gave me a good chance to visit with friends I've made here and get out into the fresh air as we climbed the hills surrounding the dams of Bulawayo.

The hospital and AIDs clinic continue to both bless and break my heart. Seeing the things that go on daily here are difficult to stomach sometimes. Caring for a set of 5 year old twins with the flu seemed pretty run of the mill, until I learned their story:

I learned that their father works at the hospital, making a ridiculous 60 US dollar a month. This is hardly enough to feed him with the country's high inflation rate on food, I thought, much less his two daughters, and now they are sick and needing medicine too!? I hoped their mother had a well paying job. As the consult continued, however, I learned that their mother had died of AIDs several years ago. Their father was HIV positive too as was one of the twins, and these girls were not the man's only children, not to mention the nieces and nephews that had begun to collect in his house as his siblings passed from the disease. Several, if not all of the other children were likely HIV positive as well. My heart burned for this family as I pictured the medical bills to keep these children on the proper drug regime,the tremendous cost of food that would incur to feed these children even one meal a day, and the heartache that loomed in this family's all too near future. How long could he provide the medical care they needed? How long would he survive as he more than likely neglected his health out of necessity to provide for his children? And what would come of the lone little girl who, by some miracle, had not been infected as her twin, siblings, and parents were? These are the questions that, as the days go on, I sometimes must prevent myself from asking.

Now I share this story, with much hesitation. Not because it is or should be hard to believe because it is happening and is incredibly real for so many all over this country and many others here, and not because I am reluctant to paint this grim picture before the eyes of any westerners; this is the truth and it is irresponsible and, plainly, stupid to ignore it or pretend it's not happening. I hesitate because I don't wish for my life or my words to be another feed the children commercial. I don't want to make you feel sorry for them and guilty about your life as you are reading this; sorry and guilty but still so far away. I don't wish to flash images across your minds of naked African children with swollen stomachs and flies all over their faces (FYI, the flies all over is really unavoidable in most parts of Africa I've been to; there just seem to be more of them here! don't let those pictures fool you; we all have flies on our faces here! You get used to them; ;-)

So then, why do I share this with you? I watched a movie not too long ago that made the statement "We each have to find a purpose in this war, because neither side is going to win." The first part of that I agree with wholeheartedly: We each must find a purpose. We are all here; all on this planet. Whether you're in what the west considers THE world, or the third world, whether you cry yourself to sleep over the heartache we find on this planet,or ignore it completely from the comfort of your own home; you are here and you must spend your days here doing something. There are plenty of causes to fight for, plenty of goals to achieve, plenty of trophies to win, and we have a choice, we have been given our free will by Him who created us, to choose as we please. The difference between the world war of this movie I saw and real life is that one side IS going to win! It seems to me that the difference in the 2nd line of this quote makes all the difference to the first. We still each have to find a purpose in this life, we each still have a choice; but doesn't it make sense to base that choice on who the winner is going to be?

And, saying that, I am brought to the reason I share my stories with you. Am I asking you to end world hunger? Cure AIDs? Send money? to all of those. I am asking each of you still reading to look around at the truth of this world, realize who is going to win the war, and make your choice. What will your purpose be? Where does your purpose lie? What does this world need of us, or rather, who does this world need?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hello again from Zimbabwe, Africa!

"The great revolutions come not by the discovery of something that was not known before. They happen when somebody takes radically something that was always there." - H. R. N.

Hello again from Zimbabwe, Africa!
This past week has proven to hold some amazing blessings! Since I've last updated, It seems He has put so many wonderful experiences and people into my life! I guess I'll start at the beginning:

After spending the previous week and a half out in the bush with a volunteer team, we had a nice weekend to relax, clean up all the camping equipment we used, and do some neat things as well. One of which was visiting a, I guess you would call it an "animal shelter" though they call it an "orphanage". But, in Africa, how different an animal shelter is! They have everything from warthogs, to antelope, leopards, lions, baboons, monkeys, owls, eagles, black mambas (big snakes), monitor lizards, crocodiles, and more! They are either animals rescued from poachers, bought as pets that got too big, found injured and nursed back to health, or taken as babies when their mothers were killed by poachers. But it was a great experience seeing His creation and some of the people here's respect for it, petting lions, and feeding baby monkeys and baboons with bottles :-)

Then, Sunday, we attended a meeting here in Bulawayo. It was a combined meeting with all of the meeting areas in the city. What a wonderful time of singing! We sang for about an hour, everything from old English stuff, to songs written in Ndebele and Shona (two of the more prominent languages spoken here), to things we sing in the states from popular artists! The passion in singing here is amazing! I loved so much being in a meeting that literally danced to Him as His word describes! We then ended up the weekend with a weekly gathering of some of the Ms here to fellowship, watch a DVD of meetings from America, and, of course, eat ;-)

Monday, we then went out to the "squatters village" which is just what it sounds like. It is made of people who used to have homes, but were destroyed when it was determined that it was an "eyesore" to the city, forcing these people to make new homes out of anything they can find in the city. Many of the people there feel much like outcasts and have a difficult time finding places to meet that are close enough that they feel they "fit in" and are accepted among. So a group goes out on Mondays to help lead in singing and to teach from His word, so the people there have a place to learn if they have never heard, or to grow as many are new to Him. It's so sweet; there is even a young woman who comes with us who leads the children in song, games, and simple stories just outside of where we meet. We often take for granted having a place for our children to go and learn while we sing, but this is one of the firsts I've seen in Africa, especially in such a rural area. The kids come, not only with their parents, but walk for miles in groups to attend, even if their parents are not interested; it's wonderful to see the kids excited about that!

Finally, starting on Tuesday, I've been working with one of the local Doctors here. She is an amazing young doctor with a passion for her patients, and, more importantly for Him. We've been bouncing around between the hospital, an outpatient clinic, and an HIV/AIDS clinic. Oh, how much I have learned from each place, and how much I thank Him for every opportunity! Not only are we able to care for physical needs (as much as possible with the very limited resources), but there is no kind of restriction on how we may care for spiritual needs as well. The Doctor I am with is an excellent example of how to both talk to Him about the patients, and to talk to the patients about Him. She never ceases to amaze me with her faith in what can be done. When it seems impossible for a patient to get the medication or treatment they need, she is ever trusting that He will find a way, as she should be! Because He always does through this servant I am so privileged to work with!

It is hard, I admit, to see the people in such great need for medical care and trapped in such limited and often hopeless situations. The HIV/AIDs rate here is staggering as are the often curable in the States, but possibly deadly here diseases that plague the people here. However, I find encouragement in His love for them and in how it is being displayed through His servants and their care. My only heartache is that there are not more here to shower His love down on these broken and often very open and searching people. But the joy is obvious on the faces of the ones who serve Him here. They are continually blessed to be a part of His harvest and delight in guiding the lost to their King. It sometimes almost makes me hurt even more for those who know Him back home, and yet, for whatever reason, never get to be apart of this harvest, of this light for Him.

Anyways, I continue to cherish the opportunities He gives and ask for continued prayer that I would do nothing but glorify His name while I'm here. I ask for prayer for all the workers here and for the hearts of those they are working on. A little more than a week and I will leave this place, and my prayer is that what I leave behind is not of me. Thank all of you again, who intercede on the behalf of the people here, your impact will never be known on this earth!

"Our service and love is not first to the harvest, it is to the Master of the harvest!" - D.S.