As Crianças

One of the most common questions I’m asked is,”What’s your favorite part about Africa?” My response has been the same for the past three years: the kids. It’s hard to explain to people who have never been to an orphanage the emotions you experience while there. Feelings of anger, mostly directed towards the parents who abandon their children, feelings of sadness, and feelings of confusion abound, but are quickly overpowered by feelings of joy, by laughter, and by hope. The children in Jennifer’s home in Mozambique are some of the most incredible children I’ve ever met. They’re faced daily with huge obstacles yet have the most smiley faces and joyful hearts. They love with the purest, simplest kind of love that transcends any barriers of language or race. They work diligently and purposefully, never complaining about the hand the world has dealt them. They worship freely, purely, beautifully. They dance unhindered by the weight of the world or by the judgement of those around them. They are the reason I travel 9000 miles away to a country that is not seen by most as a beautiful one. They are the ones closest to the Lord’s heart, the ones who He speaks of when He says “pure religion.”Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset IMG_0016 Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Ilha da Inhaca

A week after we arrived in Mozambique, we took a three-hour journey in a tugboat with the kids to a tiny island off the coast of Maputo. The tugboat was cramped and, like most things in Mozambique, had a scent that was less-than-pleasing to the nose. Those things were forgotten, though, in the thrill of being out on the Indian Ocean with some of the people that I love the most in the world, heading to an island for an adventure. We hopped (literally) out of the tugboat into a motor boat in the middle of the ocean for the ride to the shore, which contrasted stunningly with the cliffs behind it. The island was breathtaking and the water was crystal clear, making it easy to spot starfish on the bottom of the ocean. The day was spent splashing, catching crabs, playing soccer on the beach, picnicking, and relaxing, and it ended much too quickly. The return journey was tiring but the picture of the sun setting over the Maputo skyline made it worth it. Words aren’t sufficient to describe the amount of fun we had or to accurately capture the beauty of the island, so hopefully these pictures will be worth more than a thousand words and will offer a glimpse into the adventure of traveling to Ilha de Inhaca.  Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with t1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with g3 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with p5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with m5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with x1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with p5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with g3 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 presetIMG_0063Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Mexico Day 4 – Tuesday

Holy cow. I’m exhausted, my feet hurt, and I smell like raw cow meat, but life is so great! Woke up late this morning and missed breakfast, but got to help mom and Rebecca in the kitchen for lunch until the butchered cow came. We cut and cut and cut at that cow for what felt like forever, served lunch in the middle of all the chaos, then cut cow some more. Then we ground it, cooked it, dehydrated it, and did it all over again. The whole process took about nine hours, but now the children’s home will have enough meat for a whole year! The weirdest part about the whole thing was that the cow was still warm on the inside, but it wasn’t too bad if you just looked at is as a very large anatomy lesson. Around late afternoon I ran to the market with Bud, who the kids call abuelo, my mom, and Rebecca to get some extra food. We got back, cooked dinner, did some extra thorough cow blood removal and cleaning, then headed back to take another cold shower and hit the hay. Hasta mañana, Mexico.

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Mexico Day 3 – Monday

Today was our first full day at the children’s home and it was so fun! I spent all day in the kitchen with mom and Rebecca cutting fruit, baking chicken, peeling potatoes, sneaking bites of brownie, and other culinary endeavors. (My least favorite part of the dorms is their lack of a kitchen.) In between all the cooking, though, we got to play with the kids! Rauil, Miranda, Daniel, Angie, all of them are so precious! We swung, painted nails, see-sawed, played tag, and went down the slide until we were exhausted. In the kitchen, though, I got to know Dulce, an 18 year-old girl, a lot more than I did last year. She can understand English and I can understand Spanish we just can’t speak them, so I talk to her in English and she replies in Spanish and it works really well! She is the sweetest. Around mid-afternoon I rode with two of the house parents to visit Siuri, a little girl who now lives with her sister, to wish her a happy birthday. She got a pair of Frozen shoes and a beanie baby, so she was super excited! We got to see her sister’s baby, and then we headed back to the home. I cooked some more, played some more, ate some food, took a cold shower, and now I’m headed to bed. ¡Hasta mañana, Mexico!

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Mexico Day 2 – Sunday

Today was incredible. Absolutely, completely, totally incredible. We went to Pastor Joe’s church for the morning service, 80% of which was singing and dancing and praise. The Holy Spirit was so present: there was weeping, and praising, and rejoicing, which is possibly the sweetest communion one can experience with the Lord on earth! From church, we ate at a restaurant in Piedras Negras that serves authentic Mexican food. I drank lemonade and ate pico de gallo, guacamole, fresh tortillas and tortilla chips, queso, chicken, and steak until I couldn’t fit any more food into my stomach. Then we went to the market, where I bought a gorgeous blanket and some ice cream with my younger sister. We went back to the children’s home for about 15 minutes, picked up some supplies, and headed to another town, Allende, to visit Pastor Oscar’s church. The service was incredible and was such a blessing! Afterward, we set up a movie and made hotdogs, popcorn, and snocones for the kids, which was so fun! I made friends with a 12 year-old namesd Gustavo who helped me carry about 300 snocones and distribute them to other kids. He was so patient and was willing to look after the needs of others and did not complain a single time, which was really humbling for me. He was so excited to hear that I would be traveling to Africa this summer and made me promise to write him all about it! Gustavo is one of those people who affects your life long after you’ve left them. We had to say goodbye, then we packed up and came back to the home. I took a shower (super cold but hey, at least we have clean water) and now I’m about to go to bed! Buenas noches, México.

a family at Pastor Joe's church typical foot picture Pastor Joe's church my ice cream! my sister's ice cream my sister being cute with her ice cream my gorgeous blanket el centro comercial (the mall) Gustavo and I

Mexico Day 1 – Saturday

We made it! After about 30 hours, we arrived in Morelos. We got detained at the border and the trailer got searched, but I guess our little group wasn’t too sketchy, so they let us across! Ah, it was so exciting to see all the kids again! They’ve all gotten so big and I can’t believe how much time has passed. 51 weeks–a lot can happen in that time. Nancy, Juan, and Siuri are no longer at the home and have gone to live with their older siblings, which is happy and sad at the same time. The six college girls on the trip–Madison, Kaley, Caitlin, Jackie, Shelby, and I–are all staying in Casa 4, an adorable little blue house in the center of the land. There’s no hot water, but there is air conditioning, there are walls, and the doors lock, so we have it better than most people in the city. This week my job is to help my mom and Rebecca, another lady from our church, help prepare meals for the kids! I love this job because I don’t really get to cook in my dorm, so I get to see the kids a lot and do something I love! Holy cow, I love these kids. They are precious, lovable, and so so fun, and it breaks my heart to think that they were unwanted or parentless. But praise the Lord for John and Paulina, the founders of the home and an incredible reminder of how Christ took us, broken and unwanted, and showed us that we are so so loved! Well, it’s time to go to bed. ¡Hasta mañana, México!

crossing the border nuestra casa (our house) jugando volibol (playing volleyball) jugando volibol (playing volleyball) el calle (the street)