Wednesday, October 16, 2013

a look into my life

This morning I awoke at 6:40a.m; too early, in my opinion. The door creaked shut from the morning breeze coming through our barred window. Kat, my roommate, seemed to still be sleeping contentedly, and I closed my eyes again for a few minutes. I lay there thinking of the day’s agenda:  get up, prayers, breakfast, go to work, do laundry, and cook. "I might as well get started with it all," I thought to myself. I opened my eyes to sunlight streaming through the window, and birds happily chirping the morning away.

Not actually my house, but it gives you the idea. :)
Trash is strewn along the little dirt roads that lead to Hisani Orphanage, my current place of work. Half way there we walk along the edge of a schoolyard, filled to the brim with children. Despite that they all have identical uniforms, we somehow spot three children we know. With there being so many people in Tanzania, I find great delight in seeing some that I know personally. As we near the orphanage we pass a group of motorcycle guys, each of which “love” us so much.

We are greeted by Junior. He sees us and smiles/laughs so hard his hands go in his drooling mouth and he begins to jump up and down. Some days I find his little laugh annoying, but I scold myself for such thoughts. If Junior is happy in his early years, then let it be so because there is no telling what life will bring to him as an orphan in his later years.

My sister with Junior
I sat on a cool tile floor with several children. We laughed and joked, even though we couldn't communicate very well through words. We played clapping games and sang songs. We watched baby Kulwa splash happily in a tub of water. Jackie, just nine years old, is one of the more responsible children as far as caring for others goes. When I look into her face I see a girl who’s had a hard life, but is full of determination to not let anyone mess with her anymore. She is rough and she is firm, but she is still a little girl with a hunger for love. Jackie came over to sit on my lap, perfectly content to stay there until another child comes to try and take over my lap.

Jackie found a pen somewhere and pretty soon my arm was tattooed up. When Jackie finished, Elina, eleven years old, got a hold of the pen. She wrote “Sveta anapenda watoto”, meaning “Sveta loves children,” on my hand. I was honored to have her say this because I often wonder if the children care at all that I am there.
Abram is a new child. The first day we saw him there he was hitting children, and so I sat him down to say “sorry.” When he refused, we sat quietly while I held his hands “You can go play when you say you are sorry,” I told him. After ten minutes he whispered the word and I let him go. I was sure that since that was our first encounter together he would hate me. Surprisingly it has been the opposite. At first sight of me, he runs to claim my lap first. It surprises me that such a rough six year old boy would be so content to just sit quietly on my lap.


After an hour of holding children, soothing crying children, laughing with children, getting overrun by children, and playing games we take our leave. I often scold myself for only taking an hour of my day to spend with these children, but it gets tiresome. However, leaving forever in November will be one of the hardest things I’ll ever do. I treasure the moments I have at Hisani because my one desire is to love children who have no love, and I want them to know the greatest love of all, Jesus Christ. I know that I have a long way to go, but I hope that right now there is at least a spark of Him that they can see in me. I am a blessed woman to serve “the least of these.” 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Our Crooked House

The front door won't open more than two feet, unless, of course, you push so hard you'd think it would fall over. It's a good thing we're all fit and thin. The concrete floor, in the kitchen, slopes down towards the kitchen sink in the corner. When water spills, it stays for a while; concrete doesn't usually soak up much moisture. The door frames are all crooked in some way, shape, or form. The door to my sisters' bedroom is permanently open because if you try to move it, then it'd fall over on your head. The ceilings are water-stained and warped. My sister and I lay at night thinking of the day they'll fall in on us while we are sleeping. The walls are of peeled yellow paint, with chips here and there. Welcome to our crooked house.

From early hours in the morning until late hours at night, there are African children in and out. Davie, four years old, is the faithful morning child. Usually bananas are what is on his mind. He has become an adopted child in our family and joins us whenever his playmates are not around. Shanya and Danny are two neighbor children, also four years old, who are around all day long. Shanya always brings a smile to your face with his big eyes and silly attitude. His brother, Danny, however, can be the more serious type. Although when he does smile, it's one that goes from ear to ear. Daudi and Philip, both thirteen years old, rarely miss a day to come over after school. The children come and go, knowing they are welcome at any time. Welcome to our multi-cultural home.

Smells of chapati, mboga, or other African foods often drift through the house. You can often find me sitting on a little hand-carved wooden stool as I cook at my charcoal fire. Usually one or two others are sitting on buckets, and we chat about the day as food cooks. A green counter lines one side of the room. Cabinets of slowly disintegrating wood are below it, but the only things stored in them are those hideous creatures called cockroaches. Despite this, the kitchen is a popular room. We'll gather on the floor to sort through rocky rice or to peel potatoes. The dirty dish pile seems to never diminish, and many songs are sung at the top of our lungs as we attempt to diminish it. Welcome to our kitchen, where memories are made each day.

My bedroom, shared with Kat, is a simple room with two beds, a desk, and a closet. The windows are always dusty, and barred, so as to keep the burglars out. Netting is hung over our beds to keep the wretched mosquitoes away while we sleep. We wonder how stuff piles up on the floor so quickly; my parents would most likely say it is from laziness. I say it is from little brothers digging through our stuff to find a knife. We kids often sit in this room and talk about the day. We drink chia and eat mandazi in here. We tell jokes. The little boys join us too, pretending to sleep, preach, or fight. Kat and I lay awake at night talking about how we are going to conquer the “nominal Christian world.” We talk about the future and of Africa. Many things have gone through these four small walls. Welcome to the room where the door is going to fall down because it has had so much use.

I despise the color of paint each room has: peeled and yellow. I can't stand to look at the crooked bookshelves. I miss having a couch. I don't care for the table bench that is not only uncomfortable, but also makes the loudest, most deafening screech you ever did hear. The concrete floors are ugly and impossible to keep clean. The toilet doesn't flush, the shower drain doesn't work, and the pipe leaks. The windows look weird. The ants like us too much, and when my bedroom door creaks I just want to tear it down. Despite the looks of our house, there has been so many good conversations and meals shared in it. Laughter rings down the hall. Children run in and out. Joy is bursting in the walls. “Hodi Hodi,” at the door. With a hearty heart, I say “Welcome home.”

Davie and I

Danny (aka: Marshmallow), Davie (aka: HoneyBunches), and Shanya (aka: Yo-Yo)