Saturday, June 07, 2008

I heart Pemba.

It’s amazing how much things can change in a few days. When I first got here, I admit I had a bit of an attitude about it all. The food, the heat, it not being Uganda, its my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to, blah blah blah. But the power of God to change a heart is pretty incredible. Last night I fell a little in love with Mozambique. Sitting up on the prayer hill with the Indian Ocean wind playing with my hair as I stared at the stars extending horizon to horizon. The sounds of the young orphans who now have a home getting ready for bed, a group of young girls softly singing to a guitar. The music floating gently above the night sounds of dogs barking. This compound, this little refuge amidst all the hunger and thievery, all the brokenness and poverty of body and spirit, it welcomes the weary traveler into its arms. Plazere enti conocere. Nice to meet you. A home for people who have no home. Yes, this is what I want…not here, not now, but someday… that promise of new beginnings, that promise of creating a family for those who are lost. It calls to me on the night wind and I want to dream again. To dream that its possible. 2 years. 2 years is a long time to wait and yet I’m waiting still, but this time I feel the waiting is married to an even greater expectation. I know it. I don’t know how I do, but I know it. Zion, the vision I have for it, today in our first missions school class I saw it so clear. I heard God say, “Lift up your eyes and see…” And I do. I see the circles of women with babies tucked tightly against their backs, laughing. I see them dancing. I see me dancing with them. And I see love between us all. That is what I’m learning most here…how to love.

For me the promise lives in a time and space that has not yet happened, but is so real. What is faith? What is a promise? It’s a tenacious belief holding strong against a tide of mockery.

But even sweeter than the dream, is this connection. This closeness to God, this understanding between us that yes, it is His, it is not mine and if He asked me to give it up He knows that I would. I hold the dream loosely in my open palms waiting for yet another whisper behind me of what He wants to take and give next.

Today in class, was so amazing. Only two days in and already I am learning so much. Learning that this path of servitude costs everything and yet only adds to me, multiplies on me until I feel so full of God that I would give gladly not out of requirement but out of love. I am learning so much about what it takes to do this for the rest of my life. What it takes to sustain in the middle of the world’s hardest places without losing peace, without losing joy. Even though I look like I was making mud pies for 3 hours. I think my feet will never return to their normal color, so I mine as well join a reservation now.

You know, everything is really spiritual here. Like how for 20 minutes last night our house discussed how we were going to get rid of the large log in our toilet that wouldn’t flush down—would it be by bamboo stick or hanger? Or how when I was outside talking on the phone I forgot that I had my skirt up above my knees (big TABOO here, you know, those sexy knees! J And the Mukono guard tripped and almost fell over, which made us both start laughing.

Ok quick funny thing for you to envision:
Sarita with a bucket on her head like an African woman.
I’m so serious.
Libby (my new found friend and also my bunk-mate) and I were up past prayer hill where there is a small garden that the village women cultivate. They were carrying huge buckets of water on their heads up and down the hill. So we start trying to converse with them, which looked partly like a pantomime act and decided we were going to try to help them by carrying water on our heads, the way African women do. Man oh man! They are small but those women must be strong as ox’s. One woman, Elena, helped fill our buckets with water and then wrapped her skirt (capulana) on my head like a turban, then she put the bucket on my head, precarious at best, and said “Vamos” (“we go”) I was like, yeah right. I thought my neck was going to buckle under the pressure. It was so incredibly hard. The only reason I made it to the top was because Libby was doing it and I figured if she could, I could! The women were falling over themselves laughing and clapping and cheering us on. They got a great big kick out of the whole thing and we caused quite a scene. My arms felt like jello carrying it for like 2 minutes and some women in Uganda can walk 5 miles for water. On my second trip I didn’t fill it all the way to the top. Totally cheating, but I couldn’t have them thinking I was a weak white girl.

But it was probably one of my favorite moments here so far connecting with the women, and even though they probably could have done it a lot faster without our “help” just trying to serve them was so fulfilling. It made me long for the women in the camps in Uganda who I made friendships with through shared laughter. I’m just praying this time here prepares me to love them in the ways they need to be loved.

More on my adventures in Pemba soon.
Signing off with love,

Ps—last night I slept for the first time so thank you for your prayers, please continue to pray for sleep and a fresh infilling of love, as well as health. J

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