Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Preparing for Africa

Last night we met with others going on the trip to Africa. It was great to see who God had brought together for the trip and you just know that a special bond will be formed between us. We did not get to meet everyone going, as some live out of state, but we did meet some of our fellow travelers.

I am a planner and I like (okay I NEED) details. This meeting helped me so much. We are going to be gone for 9 days, returning on the 10th. We are only packing in carry on luggage because our suitcase space will be used to bring over supplies. I will be honest and tell you that when I first heard of this that I struggled a little bit with it. We learned about the packing a few weeks ago. I know that the supplies are desperately needed but it was at first a little hard to wrap my brain around packing for 9 days in a carry on. I get it now and I am excited about the challenge to see how much I can get in my 45 linear inches I am allowed.

The preparations for this trip have been a huge lesson in selflessness. It is not about me and what I'm wearing or what I look like. That is so opposite the message we hear in this country. I have to wear tennis shoes and socks with my skirts or I can opt for hiking boots. That is a style that I never venture out in around these parts. I was also told there is no need for makeup. They said we will get so dirty from the bus rides (red dirt dust blowing in the windows) that we'll need to wipe our faces off when we arrive at the orphanages. They shared a funny story of arriving at an orphanage and one of the children saying "look they are orange people." Their new color was all from the bus ride.

Probably the most uncomforable bit of information that I gleened was that there are no real bathrooms. Just picture more of a hole in the ground. But most of the time you just go in the wild. Ladies let that sink in for a second. I was cautioned to put bug spray everywhere! I'll be honest and tell you that tonight I thanked God for my bathroom. I am so very spoiled.

Then we learned more specifics of where we are going each day and that put everything into perspective. One day we will be traveling by boat to an island and visiting what we were told were the poorest of the poor. The children at the orphanage where we are going do not have their own rooms like my children. They do not have the luxury of sharing a room or even have a bed. These children have to sleep in the grass.

They sleep in the grass where bugs are crawling and animals are roaming...and there they lay.

I just keep asking how I am suppose to see that with my own eyes and survive? How am I suppose to see beautiful little children who must sleep in the grass and then get back on the boat and leave? How can I be concerned with bathrooms and clothes when there are children who have to sleep every night in the grass?

I do not have any answers. I just trust that God will give me the strength to survive such an experience. I know I will never be the same. How could anyone be the same?

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