Saturday, December 8, 2012

Maggot Pancakes

Last night, as I was laying in bed, I heard a cockroach fly onto the top of my mosquito net so I quickly turned on my head lamp to locate the culprit. Indeed, he was right above me sitting on my net. I decided to flick it off so it would find its fate in my cat's mouth once it hits the floor. 1,2,3… flick! And then the most horrifying noise. I swear it screamed (turns out every website says they "hiss"). It made this awful sound and I was so mortified because the sound didn't stop when it hit the ground. I called my best friend here to complain and soon enough my cat either killed it or it ran outside… sweet dreams!

Then, this morning I roll out of bed around 7 am, after ignoring the rooster that has been beckoning me to greet the new day since 4:45 am. I give my kitty milk and turn to my cupboards to find ingredients for pancakes. Flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, egg, milk, oil…. I begin pulling things out and immediately decide today is an apple cinnamon pancake kind of day. Yum!

I open the flour and add the necessary amount into a plastic bowl and stare in utter disgust. Maggots. Yup, maggots in my flour. If only this was the first time this had happened! A few weeks ago, I found maggots in my flour when I was making cupcakes for a friend and all my co-workers said, "oh, boitshepo. They are food bugs!" No one else seemed concerned that I had maggots. With the first maggot sighting, I dumped my flour & bought new flour just a few days back. Turns out this one was maggot infested too… yikes. So much for pancakes!

I decide that today is a good day to do some deep cleaning, as it wasn't too hot in the morning. Another pleasant surprise… four dead cockroaches and one dead camel spider under my bed. REALLY!? I'm unwillingly sleeping with these creatures under my bed. Oh and don't forget the scorpion in the guest bed room.No thank you…Oh and three more cockroaches dead in my shoes in my closet. Fun fact: once a cockroach flips upside down, it can't turn itself over again so it dies… right there in my shoes (or under my bed… or in my bathtub… or my living room… or … or..)

OK… enough bugs. My little sisters from next door come over to color. Gao is nine years old & lovessssss coloring more than anything in the world. Ayanda is a baby who just turned one in September. I go about my cleaning and let them color at my dining room table. Not five minutes later I hear, "Uh… boitshepo!! " What do you know? Ayanda peed on my chair. So - on to my next cleaning task!

As Gao is helping me wash out the cushion on my chair, Ayanda is standing in my kitchen. She became quiet (which is a red flag for anyone who has spent time with kids) so I go inside to check on her, and there she is walking toward the door to greet me… with poop all over her shoes. After peeing on my chair, she decided pooping on my floor and walking in it would be a nice way to apologize.

Oh life… what else? This is a typical day for me. The absurdities are always creeping in somehow, and with an ounce of optimism, I'm usually able to grin and bear it. :o) I head out for my evening run to clear my mind & I'm reminded of all the beauty behind the bugs and feces I deal with on a daily basis. As the sun is going down, I'm greeted by warm smiles and people waving. I hear my name being called as I run down the roads throughout my village and I stop to check on a few of my good friends. Their children run around wearing my sunglasses, giggle and twirl in their princess dresses, and give me the Botswana "handshake" when I leave. Each interruption of my run brings a smile to my face and warms my soul…

And at the very end of my run, I come across one of my girls I used to coach at the Junior Secondary School. Despite the sweat pouring down my face, she embraces me with open arms and says, "Boitshepo! I hate when we're not in school. I miss you!" We proceed to walk hand in hand down the road (which is very normal around here) while she confides in me about her greatest struggles in life. She asks me to help her talk to her father about the dangers of alcohol and thanks me for teaching her to make good life decisions. As we walk past bar after bar on the way home, she tells me about her dream to become a nurse and the support she is giving to her older sister who is experiencing teenage pregnancy first hand.

This young girl who held my hand as I walked her home was unknowingly holding my heart as well. At such a young age, she is providing unconditional love and support to her elder siblings and parents and offering wisdom far beyond her years. She claims I helped her, but I think I simply empowered her to help herself. My heart was filled with joy as I dropped her off at home and continued running…

Maggots, cockroaches, scorpions, camel spiders, scorching heat, countless bug bites.. Whatever the complaint may be for the moment, I know that the good will always outweigh the bad. Every bit of discomfort is easily overlooked f I can make a difference in the life of just one person.

Love & Light,

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Never Alone

Unknown to all but a few of you, I have been suffering with the greatest internal struggle of my life throughout the past six weeks. I'm a stranger in my own body and often have difficulty trying to place a finger upon what's truly bothering me. I spend a lot of time in my head trying to figure things out, but each thought leads me wandering down a path of self destruction.

I knew before I set out to become a Peace Corps volunteer that times would be tough and I would face many challenges. The Peace Corps boasts that it is "the toughest job you'll ever love" and I can testify to the truth in that statement. There are moments I feel like giving up and coming home, moments when I feel like I'm not making a difference at all, and moments when I feel like I'm incapable of accomplishing anything worthwhile in my life. The moments come and go - and then I feel like I can be back in touch with my optimistic self. It's quite a rollercoaster though - and it hasn't exactly been much fun for me. It's nothing I want to write home about either..

Instead of turning to other people for help, I've turned inward like a true introvert would. Indeed, that's helpful in some circumstances, but fighting this internal battle alone is something that has left me confused and frustrated. I'm very aware of my strong support system, so why do I try to be the tough girl and tackle this on my own? It all comes down to ego. I want to be independent. I want to be able to do this alone.

But no one is meant to live life that way. And today, I had a beautiful reminder that no matter how much I internalize my problems, He hears everything. He hears my prayers. And He knows my heart.


Allow me to tell a story….

Meghan is a friend from high school - someone I didn't know very well at all. I can't tell you her parents names, how many siblings she has, or her favorite color. But I can tell you that I am an avid reader of her blog. I remember speaking with Meghan last year some time to tell her how excited I was for her adventures…. She is a part of The World Race. She is spending 11 months traveling the world, ministering to people about the love of Jesus. A remarkable way to spend some time!

I'm subscribed to her blog - and an email pops up with each new post. Today, I sat down to read her new post "Chicken and Jesus." Her posts always resonate with my soul, speak truth about the world around us, and more often than not, bring me to tears. She has an amazing way with words - and an even more profound impact on those around her. Anyway, I read her post, felt very inspired and moved by the content, and proceeded to check facebook. There, in my inbox, was a message from Meghan. And this is what she wrote:


So the other day I was sitting on a bus across Africa and Jesus reminded me of you, He said "encourage her" and I was like yes, God I would love to... but then I forgot when I got off the bus. Then the other day I met a guy in the peace corp at the border of Malawi and Tanzania and again God reminded me of you telling me to encourage you... but then I got on the bus again and forgot. But then today I set up my tent on this hillside in the middle of Malawi. He was just loving on me because I really needed it (it is hard to be from home for so long... as I am sure you can relate, especially around Christmas). His love just reminded me of how beautiful he made my heart, even if I make mistakes. And I keep on making mistakes and the older I get the more aware of them I am, and the Devil is breathing down my back telling me I am unworthy of love.

Today our host family fed us chicken, chicken in Africa is pretty sketch (I am sure you have discovered this already) so after everyone else had chosen I went for what looked like the meatiest piece that was left. Well I took a little bite of it and soon discovered it was the neck... so I put it back the plate in attempt to exchange it out but everyone saw it and yelled about how gross it was and how immature it was to put a piece of chicken back that I had nibbled on. So I said I was sorry and that could be a non-piece (those pieces that don't really count as pieces because they are feet or a liver or something) well someone took it and ate it saying that I could easily eat the meat off it. It made me feel really stupid and for that whole rest of the day the Devil has been reminding me about that stupid piece of chicken, making me feel like Hitler himself. I got so down on myself, I felt like I just kept making mistakes and that I couldn't get my act together. I felt unworthy to be his servant or minister to anyone.

So in my attempt for relief I set up this tent under a big beautiful mango tree and God just reminded me that I have big, beautiful heart. That God is absolutely smitten with me. And I felt the weight lift off my shoulders, but He didn't stop there. I got this picture of this big beautiful boat on this sunny day sailing across the ocean. He said my love for you is so deep that you could sail across it. And so then I asked how wide and He gave me a picture of these massive mountains like in the Rockies, He said that as wide as the mountains were from peak to peak that his love was wider than that. And taller that the tallest Redwoods in California and longer than the Nile. He said that is how I love you.

I sat there astounded and feeling just so loved by such an incredible God.

And then He said tell Tate I love her like that, too.

So I tell you this story because God loves you a whole lot and He won't let me forget it. Even though I hardly know you, He loves you so much that He told me.
So it doesn't matter if you took a nibble of a chicken and put it back, or if lied or cheated or whatever, it doesn't matter because your heart is just so beautiful and He is just in love with you.He wants you to know that, inside and out.

I hope that this note blesses you instead of weirding you out.
May you drown in His love....

Tears began flowing down my cheeks as I read her words. A blog post I had just read that spoke so sweetly to my heart - was also personally intended for me. Meghan and I have only exchanged a few brief words since her departure, so she isn't even aware of how closely I am following her adventures. She doesn't even know how her blog posts inspire me to walk closer to the Lord. She's unaware of all of it… and yet, here she is, going out on a limb to remind me that God loves me.

Her note really did bless me - and will continue to be with me for a long time to come. I copied down the blog in my journal so I will always remember this moment and this lesson - God loves us all more than we could ever fathom and we need to spread the message of love to others. I am more than enough in His eyes and I can't do everything alone - and today, I was reminded that I have never been walking alone on this journey.  He is always with me and by my side.

I am so grateful for Meghan sharing her story with me - my heart doesn't feel as heavy and my soul is filled with peace. God Bless You, Meghan. May you continue to spread love to people all over the world!

Love & Light,