cancelled contract

he is growing inside of me even as you stare and search for new cracks in my surface

even as you watch with a wary eye for the weakening of my worn heart

even as you say your hands are out to catch me when I fall

even when I see your hands are shaking

 

he is growing and I am growing with him and I will not need your hands anymore

 

I know you do not know how to love me without needing a toolbox

burn that manual that was stained with my tears and creased beneath your hands before they began to shake

throw away those nails you used to pound into my skin telling me that the blood was painful but necessary, that the healing would come in time

bury those hammers in the back yard

those hammers you would hand out to the team of healers you recruited in my honor

those hammers that blocked the light enough for me to realize there even was light I had been missing

those hammers I tried to throw right back at you

give that wrench to someone else, to someone who is still in pieces, to someone who has yet to become a home for anything other than pain

break in half that staple gun I would press to my own skin just to show you that I felt no pain, just to show you that I was stronger than anyone else, just to show you that I was so empty, just to show you there would be no blood

squeeze out all that glue you used to bathe me in when I came home at the end of night with my own body scattered between my own arms, the glue you said would keep me together long enough for morning to come

burn those tarps you and the team would wrap my body in as I lay shivering on the floor

 

I am no longer a house for you to reconstruct

I no longer have a demolition wish for myself

I stand on the top of a crane called faith and I have no fear

though the wind blow and tempt me to fall into it’s cradling, lying arms, I stand firmly rooted, a million miles above the collapsed shack I used to be

and I shout “I am no building but the forest they want to chop down for wood!”

and I shout “I am no system of pipes but the rushing river they cannot tame!”

and I shout “I am no mess of wire but the electric shiver the earth feels when the lighting kisses her cheek!”

he is growing and I am growing with him and I have long since surpassed the cage I used to need to stay alive

he is growing and I am growing with him

he is growing and I am growing

he is growing

he is

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

Journey to Tanzania–Part 1

Hello world! I have recently returned from my very first study abroad experience, and finding the right words to sum up the trip is still impossible. At the very least, I can concede that it was life changing. The OU classes themselves that I took were hardly the source of education that I derived the most from; I learned the most about the country and cultures of Tanzania from living amongst and interacting with the people.

 I was right to be excited about the homestay aspect of the journey, because it was truly the highlight of my stay in the beautiful East African country. I stayed with a beautiful little family in their beautiful little home, and was truly accepted there. My host mama Joyce was an absolute inspiration to me; her story and strength is unforgettable. 12 years ago, Joyce’s husband died in a tragic public transportation accident along with 22 other passengers. After his death, her husband’s family took everything away from her, including their home and property and all of their belongings. At the time, she had an infant son James and was pregnant with her daughter Victoria (my host siblings). 12 short years ago, she had to begin her life anew with absolutely nothing to her name but her small son and unborn daughter. 

However, Joyce hardly sees this road bump in her life as a tragedy. As a strong, hardworking African woman she simply kept surviving, and now by many standards, is thriving. She teaches Swahili at a local government school, as well as at the MS Training Center for Development and Cooperation, which is where we took our basic Swahili course and OU classes. She also tutors orphans at a local organization run by some American friends of hers, and recently picked up two part time jobs at Universities in Arusha teaching Swahili. She does this all while taking care of her two children, now 11 and 14, as well as her younger niece and her housemaid and housemaid’s toddler. 

Not only does she work those jobs and run a household, my mama Joyce is also successfully furthering her education to make her community a better place to live. She has her bachelors degree in Cooperation and Development and is currently working on her Masters proposal for Governance and Leadership. Once she receives her Masters degree, she plans on starting work toward her Ph.D.

 I couldn’t be more proud of this woman who I fondly call my mama! Over the past month she taught me so much about the world and about her country and community, I could never thank her enough. She has many lifetimes of wisdom, more than it seems I could ever learn, but I would love to try. We are going to keep I’m touch via e-mail, but I know I will return to Tanzania and visit my family there one day to continue to learn all that I can. 

My next post will concern everything (at least a short summary of everything) that my host mama and my stay in Tanzania taught me; I just thought that my lovely mama Joyce deserved a post all to herself because she’s so amazing and I will cherish her and her knowledge dearly for the rest of my life. Salama!!

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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