Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Jacaranda...how I love thee...

In tribute to the beautiful purple Jacaranda trees here I color this blog purple. How I love Africa, let me count the ways....
1. The Jacaranda tree in full bloom, which towers across roads, yards, rooftops and into the heart of the people.It's little trumpet-shaped blossoms falling on your head like fresh snow falls to the earths' surface in winter. It is refreshing, the smell, the sensual illumination...God did it all for us, he left NO stone unturned and if we look we see perfection all around us in every moment.
2. The faces of the children who do like seeing me on campus. There are three in particular whom I am falling deeply in love with. These children have good loving parents and two of the three speak wonderful english. It is an honor to be counted in their adult friend group. They come, find me, and hold my hand while we talk. Such kindness is a blessing.
3. A hard day of work on the house and in lesson planning, that ends in a great outdoor co-ed volleyball game with a volleyball that looks like it is kin to the one Tom Hanks used as a "friend" on CastAway, the movie.
4. The early a.m. chapel. No, I don't yearn to be up and fully dressed at 7 a.m. but since that is the way of life here, I am growing into it. The fact that at 7:25 a.m. every one of the staff and college students are up and praising the Lord  in Chapel. Just brilliantly beautiful and NOT a dull soul in the place. 
5. Sunrises and Sunsets. As I get up the morning I hear the birds banging on my tin roof. Funny thing, I priced a new tin roof in the U.S> for our home in Normal. I wanted it so badly, this roof would have cost me 10K! Now, here, I get a tin roof inclusive! SO COOL. Well the birds banging on it happens daily. But after awakening I see out the window a beautiful!
To bed, I see a sunset out the kitchen window that is amazing. The yellow.orange glow shining through the purple life of the Jacaranda.,..words leave me speechless!
And to think, It is all for the glory of God..this makes it worth more than words.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bendiga, blessings...bariki, blessings

So, God gave me the opportunity this weekend to immerse myself in the culture group here known as the refugees. Who is that group? It is a set of people who have left their country to come to this country to stay for a time period and to be kept safe from harm and to have their needs taken care of by this land. Here, if you immigrate from a country as a refugee, you don't stay in the general public initially- you go to the camp. Some of my students that attend the school here are from the refugee camp and have made conscious decisions to trust the Lord for their provision. In trusting him, they have come to the Nazarene Theological College of Central Africa for a time period for education.
Why did I go to the camp? Well a few weeks back the college chaplain, Rev. Phiri mentioned he was asked to do a wedding there. As a nosy US person, I thought whoot, I am gonna do this! I said I would like to go and in so doing I was allowed.
Saturday morning I got dressed up. Dressed just like I would in the U.S. because it was a wedding.
When we arrived there was no big barrier, there were no tents, there were not people waiting in and outside the gates, it just seemed as though we stumbled upon a large subdivision. We crossed some rather rough roads in the camp and arrived at the church. A wedding of a couple I did not know and I was being allowed to go. Rev. Phiri had called ahead and so they knew I was coming. This man, Abusa (Pastor) John was to wed someone he loved, Miss Nadine! Abusa is over the Church of the Nazarene in that camp. He is a delightful man.  Then, we spent the next nearly four hours in worship, in prayer, in the ceremony of this couple. Part of the tradition here is that the bride and groom are stoic. They come in and it is more like a funeral dirge than a wedding of two people who love one another. They look so sad and withdrawn. They look forced and scared outta their minds just as they are marrying. Then as he pronounces them man and wife and they move forward to the hall they look happy!
After the ceremony we went to the house of the Uncle, I believe, of the bride. There, we went into their front room...about the size of a U.S. laundry room. About twenty five of us joined them there. The family, Rev Phiri, two students from the camp who went with us and helped me immensely with translation. Instantly, the bride was smiling. She was happy. She ousted her new husband and asked me to sit with her as her sister. She said, you are my sister. That was about the extent of the English she spoke during my time there. In that room, we were served a great feast. We had rice, nsima, fries (a big staple here, not wimpy fries either), hard-boiled eggs, set atop a slice of tomato, served on a bed of coleslaw, there was fried bird necks (maybe ducks), some sort of meat ribs, yummy tomato sauce, and ICE cold Fanta orange soda. First it is a ceremonial handwashing, they bring you a basin of water and then they run it over your hands to clean them. This is so beautiful and I think it is a kind way to welcome people. A prayer over the meal and then we shared. Oh my, never in my life did I think I would eat the neck. When it comes with the turkey I THROW IT away! But alas, it was perfectly crisp and a delightful treat on my palate. We spent so much time enjoying this meal and sharing fellowship with the company. I would have been lost were it not for my student Elysee who helped with the french/swahili translation.

Then we went for pictures. They take pictures at a beautiful place, somewhere lovely. We ended up at a school area, taking photos. It was of key importance for her that I be in so many of the photos. Really felt like the old song, I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God. I was her family for this moment in time, it was such a beautiful thing in my life. Words are not there, speechless over this...
Then, we drove to a nearby area. We were not really driving for any specific reason, other than to assess this area. The area is called Dowa. As we were about to pass a hospital I said, oh let's go in, I would love to see it. The care made an immediate turn. We walked around the wards, they are all individual buildings...we ended up in the children's ward. They allowed us to come in. The smell in the air was burnt skin. As we walked, we saw each child. The first ones we spoke with were in a roomed off area (the wards are really just 45 beds stacked in a room by disease type). This room contained two children and three women. The two children had severe body burns. The type that children do not usually live through and end up with many grafts and repairs. It was beautiful how God allowed us to pray with them and one child, Lodita, the mother allowed me to touch it's head. It was a sense of the fact we are all mankind, we speak in different tongues and we look so different, but we are all human with a heart. Our hearts beat the same way in all bodies (or they should) and it was such a moment in my life I will never forget. I do not think that child will ever forget the moment the mzungu came in and touched them either.
The reception was wonderful, I could go on for ages, but alas, I just tell you this. God is ever changing our hearts and lives. He moved me beyond words this weekend. A trip to the camp has left me with new vision for life and new passion for these people. The people of the warm heart of Africa, Malawi.
 

Friday, September 21, 2012

From Leyana: A post about Africa

Life here in Malawi is getting easier everyday. Some days we go the whole day without power and some days it is just the evening without power for three hours. But no matter what, if it is at night time we are singing hymns.
For some of you, who have never been out of the states, this would be hard with you. For us it is something we were prepared for because when we went to Senegal we went without power. I think God was thinking, "I am going to prepare them for what they are going to go through in Malawi." Because he certainly prepared us to go without power for 3-5 hours. I am grateful to God that we actually have power most of the time. And when we have power, my Mom cooks everything we will possibly need for the next few meals.
Here in Malawi we have to boil water to wash dishes. Then you wash twice and rinse. The water here isn't like it is in the states so it is not unlimited and it is also not purified. We get our water and we don't have to do anything to it in the States, but here that is different. You can not drink tap water here. 
School here is different, too. We do a lot of different subjects that we don't do in the United States.
Well, I just want to say I hope you all are well!
Leyana

Mzungu. Learn to love you.

"the little girls at the back of the bus, they used to laugh and call us names, they would talk about our hair, our clothes, and call us homemade"-Nicole C. Mullen
As I have wandered the streets of home, Area 25C, daily it has been brought to my attention that this new environment has not been exposed to the large variety of people that are in my other home, Normal, Illinois. As I walk, I hear snickers, gasps, and often outright verbal noise that says, hmmmm you are different. Mostly what I hear is, "mzungu" and then a burst of laughter. At first, it was very disheartening, because I didn't know what they were saying. Then I was told that is white person by a few people on campus. When I googled it tonight though I found something that says it truly means one who wanders aimlessly. Some children laugh when they say mzungu and so I have been praying that the word would be joy to my soul. It is my identity that I am white. It is my heritage as much as if I think African when I see the children. I am so blessed to be who God intended me to be.
"I am a promise, I am a possibility,
I am a promise, with a capital P,
I am a great big bundle of potentiality,
I am learning, to hear God's voice,
and I am trying, to make the right choice,
I am a promise to be anything God wants me to be!"
Today I was at the Blessings Centre with two of my students when I needed to go to the back house to see someone. As I rounded the corner there were a host of children who were playing. Each of these children has a special need, they are the different children in Malawian society. But they all yelled, "MZUNGU" and I looked, I said, YES! and they ran from where they were playing over and embraced me. Oh my goodness, my soul was flooded with joy! I am a great big bundle of potentiality...try not to get overwhelmed, stay calm, love your neighbor as yourself, grow in grace daily, and most of all...keep your eyes on what God wants you to be.
Jesika

Friday, September 14, 2012

Rain rain rain...


It rained here today. First rain I have seen in over two weeks of being here and it smelled good. The ground smells the same in Africa as it does in America. The water wets the pavement and soil and nature releases the fragrance of the Earth. The earth is the same here, God’s perfected creation-once flooded by the same skies that released small drops of rain today. The sun has yet to return to us but it is there, behind the clouds peeking and asking permission to return and scald the earths’ surface. Alas, I am happy for a day with cooler temperatures it brings some peace to the congested days of heat and sweat.

We are well. Leyana has learned a lot about culture here in her classes at school. The time came yesterday when she hadn’t time for her homeschooling and we talked about removing her from the school here. Never fear, our friends, there is plenty of time for learning at home. We have curriculum from the states and I don’t teach until the afternoons. So we have instituted that she will dive into serious homeschooling tomorrow after chapel and focus on completion of necessary studies. This will enable her time in the afternoons with friends and with socialization. She has developed some darling friends here, in this way the Lord has blessed us.

Internet has been down for over 24 hours. I don’t know what happened to it but it is gone and so we have spent time just hanging out. I am lesson planning, she is working on life skills. We are out in the campus talking to neighbors, friends, learning about Africa from their perspectives. We are not surrounded by native Malawians so we are fortunate to learn about ALL of Africa here.

On one side our neighbors are from Zimbabwe, they say their life was very different in Zimbabwe. And their acculturation to the country of Malawi took years. They have beautiful children who moved here in very formative phases of life, some have adapted well, others long to leave. Isn’t that the way when we move from state-to-state in the United States? Our children usually long to return to home and if fortunate enough to return find it changed and unlike their memory banks.  The thing is their native tongue is neither English nor Chichewa, it is all learning for them as well.

On the other side we have neighbors who were originally from Ivory Coast. That is a completely different world I can guarantee you. It is like being from California and moving to New York City. Very different indeed their lives have been here. Only, in the middle, they lived in Manchester, England. There is nothing similar about Manchester, England as to Lilongwe, Malawi with the exception of maybe the side of the road we drive upon in both places. Their daughters all sound British when they speak. Their formative years have been divided. Their mother is a beautiful woman and their father a very skilled preacher. The ideas that they speak are mixed with emotion of not knowing home. A challenge at times to speak positively of life changes due to all the difference in their lives. The oldest of their home has just been accepted into a national school for her last years of school and left home two days ago. She is only a young teenager and will board hours away in a school with other strangers, another change in her life that modifies input/output sensory.

We are blessed. Our time here was volunteer, the Lord hand-picked this destination for a time for us. We will return to our life in the United States, where Starbucks is down the road, Von Maur still has free shipping and wrapping, and Meijer is open 24 hours a day. Our church will still sing in English, our people will still worship at the family meal each month, and our friends will still come for dinner which will be cooked with power on and water at our reach. I observe that this will somehow change the return. I long for that change and awareness of my time here. I yearn to know what it is that the Lord has for me in this time here. After all, the Earth is the same, the smell of the rain is the same, the sun shines here as it does at home….but something will go with me. I pray that the Lord reveals this in our time here and that I am prepared to receive what it is that the Lord has for me.
Love y'all!
Jesika

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Perekani, Perekani

Lessons learned in Malawi now include things at the rural "bush" wedding. As an American we hold high to our values of a white dress and the attention being on the bride (and sometimes on the groom) and on how sacred the day is to them. Yesterday, we had the great fortune of seeing a different side of the world and how they view their day. We went about an hour down the road and we then turned off and went another hour into the rural area. It was not a pleasant drive due to the bumpiness but God was with us. When we arrived at the town, the children came to the church (we were the only vehicle in the town). Then when we got out they were in shock. One of the men later told me that Leyana was the only white child to ever visit the town (or what he said was the only child with no color).  We listened to the kids sing, watched them dance, and tried to be friendly to them. I can not imagine if I had never seen a person who was black/brown/African and then all of a sudden to be introduced. I will tell you, the babies cried. All except one, Christina, she was young enough to just stare at me and let me hold her. Funny thing, Leyana made friends with Brenda, which was the name of one of my childhood best friends who was african-american. The experience was unnerving for Leyana. She isn't sure how to react when the children laugh, touch, and possibly mock her. The language barrier for her caused her to be scared. It was brilliant to watch this out of a child who has never been scared of her shadow, I hope God uses these moments to bring her into his fullness and faithfulness. We heard the word brought by Rev. David Mosher to the children-translated by a young ministerial student from the campus, Philemon. He told them of the full truth found in John 3:16. It was beautiful. God is so real, if we listen we hear him. The wedding, well the wedding there was about telling the story of God's faithfulness. We heard the truth from the word about waiting to love, learning to love, patience and God's faithfulness in love. We watched the couple exchange wedding vows, exchange rings, and exchange their kiss. It was really interesting. They act shy and cautious, it is sweet. She had rented a very pretty white dress and veil, gloves and shoes. He had on white suit, white shoes and a great smile. She chose the color sage green for her bridesmaid (one) and her junior bridesmaid (one) and her flower girl wore white. 
It was precious.
At the end of the ceremony there is a time of dancing. The couple sat up front where they were through the ceremony and then they put down a piece of material. When they started chanting and singing, people came and threw money on the material. Then they danced away. This happened over and over with money being thrown...lots of money in fact. This is part of the ceremony. It is called Perekani, perekani, which translated means give offering. Really enjoyable watching how happy people got giving the money. The money is then used to curb wedding expenses, pay for needs, and start new life.

The rest of the experience to the reception and after was beyond words. I will say that we were treasured guests and I felt at peace the whole time, watching how the world responds and how we respond to the world. Philemon and Teresa live here on campus, would you pray for them. They are wonderful people and helped to ease any discomfort we may have experienced in our first trip to the rural area.
What if we gave and gave, what if our offerings stretched deeper into our pockets. What if perekani was a dance of happiness to the Lord, what if when we gave we danced to the offering plate and gave of ourselves? Tithe shouldn't be painful, we rejoice in the marriage of Christ to the church (his bride), what if we invested into that marriage in the same way that they invest into the marriage of new young love in the perekani celebration. God wants for us in the same way that a bridegroom wants for his bride. He wants us to have love, peace, blessing and happiness. He yearns for his bride to be happy and blessed, safe and growing in knowledge. What if we had this and more!
I say, the next time you give, try to outgive God. We can't, perekani, perekani, give offerings!
From here to next time,

jesika

Friday, September 7, 2012

Help!

I wanted to share with you an exciting fundraising opportunity. We don't normally post about these on the blog directly, but this one is a fun one that I get to do right before I head to Africa!

On Saturday September 22nd, I will be participating in a 50 mile bike ride from State Farm Park out to Dawson Lake via Downs and back, and I'm looking for people to sponsor me!

Would you consider sponsoring me 50 cents, $1, or more a mile?

The money will go towards our ministry in Africa and will go directly towards those ministry expenses.

If you'd like to sponsor me, I ask that you please post a comment to this blog entry (just like you'd sign a paper sponsorship form), or if you'd prefer to sponsor anonymously, send me an email letting me know how much a mile you are willing to sponsor.

Then, you can go online to our fundraising site, http://web.nazarene.org/goto/moore.malawi and make your donation on there!

I'm also hoping, that now MapMyRide now provides live tracking, to live track the event so if you'd like to follow me live on the map, add me as a friend on http://www.mapmyride.com my username there is "moorea7".

We are also always looking for people to join our prayer team, so if this is something you are interested in, drop me an email to anthony@love-coffee.com. You will get an email with our prayer requests on the day or days of your choosing. I've also now added a daily prayer list for those who wish to pray for us every day, so if you're interested in getting the prayer requests every day, let me know!

Thanks and God Bless!
Anthony

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Great days in the warm heart of Africa

Power goes on. 

Power goes off.
water is on
water is off
Daytime falls again. 24 hours no internet access. 12 days without a starbucks sign in my view finder.
I sleep. I wake. The birds chirp. The dogs bark.  The roosters crow. The school kids play in my backyard. The neighbors use the outside water tap and water the garden.  The people talk in the courtyard out front. Tap tap, the birds and bugs in the ceiling make noise. Leyana speaks and breaks through my silence as I contemplate life here. It is so amazing the people here. They don't stop functioning because the toilets do. They don't stop working when the power goes out. They just cope. They learn and grow and function, I gasp for two seconds, what will I make for lunch. Oh who cares, they make Nsima and beans at the food hall everyday so I am covered. In fact, I can get three squares without worry if I like. I hear that noise again, Leyana wants to play. Sure, play. I will just finish up the dishes that are waiting.
I need to do laundry. I have possibly a whole clothesline to do. Last time I did laundry the red ants bit my legs about 47 times and I had lovely laundry done and also had lovely swollen bumps. Hm. It is a trade off. Let the piles pile or tough it out. Where are the wellie boots I need! Oh, in the U.S. Ugh! Sigh. Wait, I will go for a run instead. Ahhhh, five miles of laughter. Not by me, by the locals. I must look awful when I run. They all stare and laugh. I am the only caucasian for the whole five miles. I imagine it isn't a very pretty tapestry watching me run, but I press on. I want to live healthy here. I think to myself...a cold shower sounds good right now...well I am relieved to find the water is on when I arrive home. Oh and the shower only runs at 55 degrees farenh...so I am in luck! I shower, now what! Go out, feed Leyana on her school break.
It is so fun here. People are different. The way of life is different. The peaceful times are different. Like chapel at 7:30 a.m. There is nothing quite as soul satisfying as hearing an African choir sing to you about the love of Jesus at 7:30 in the morning. All in perfect harmony and with soulful spirits. Yes, it is different here. I can't think how students would get to chapel at Southern Nazarene University if it was at 7:30 a.m. There are some who can't make chapel by 10:00.
Today, water was on, power was off. I missed chatting with my Mom before she went to China. I miss you Mommy. I hope you can read my blog while you are there. Don't forget to get me a pretty pretty. Enjoy the river.
Special times tonight... went with Rev Mosher and Marquita to meet Wellington Obotte and Helen Obotte. They are headed stateside via Kenya tomorrow and well we were pleased to meet them before they left. Just a really darling couple. They had the gardener/yard worker clear the lemon tree for us. The house smells sublime (haha sublemon maybe) right now! Had an amazingly american tasting dinner which included our first beef since coming. Wow. 12 days no beef and neither of us missed it, but we sure did appreciate and enjoy the meal...oh yes, and cheese...mmmmmMMMM! And for me, jalapenos just about made the meal over-the-top! Loved it. Time was spent with skip-bo.
Yes, we are certainly "suffering" over here in Africa. God is with us and he is showing us how to give thanks in all things. God is mighty. he is love. he is praiseworthy. he is patience. he is virtue. he is trustworthy. he is giving. we are not in need peeps. i know you all were worried for us. well it isn't a walk in the park, but we have our chins up, our dignity intact, and God is blessing us! Miss ya, but having too much fun here to realize what we are missing.
I know one thing is for sure...I am thankful for this experience.
Phew! G'night!


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

URGENT PRAYER REQUEST!

Please pray for my neighbor and his family. Ronald, the young son of the family, has just been diagnosed with Malaria. This is very serious for such a small child! PLEASE pray!!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

All you need is Marshmallows

I admit. We are marshmallow junkies. Leyana and I have explored every spectrum of marshmallows as we have traveled the globe called earth. We stick by the fact that the best ones we have EVER eaten are from the SPAR store in my Mother-in-laws town of Baslow, England. I mean that whole-heartedly. They are pink (the best) and white and there is just a particular taste to them that is impossible to replicate. Yes, I have even purchased them at art fairs, dollar stores, mall kiosks, from vending machines and of course have tried all of the spectacular flavors they come in at Meijer, a store chain in the U.S. We have tried peppermint, chocolate, green apple jelly filled, raspberry, coconut (a close second), dulce de leche, strawberry, organic, non-organic, kosher, halaal, homemade, and even we have stooped and just eaten the freeze dried version from the packet of hot chocolate mix. We are junkies I tell ya! Tonight, our junkie craze became a missions opportunity.
The power went out (I say, what's new?). We sat in the dining room and to candlelight we both went about our tasks. Then we heard our outside water tap turning on, running, turning off. Finally, I got up the courage to look out the window. Much to my surprise it was Mr. Banza from two doors down. I know he has a tap on his house so I went out to investigate. He said he needed to water the garden (which is near our back yard) and so he used the closest tap. Now, see if you are from America (U.S. proper) you are thinking yeah but not on my water bill, well here, who cares! So I offered him another bucket to fill alternating them. Out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw a fire. I asked him if someone was coming from around the house and he said no, just that the neighbors had a fire pit going. Ahhh...tell me what you think of? MARSHMALLOWS! Yes, so did I. Just then I saw the little boy sticking some sticks in the fire and went to chase him away from the open flame as any good NP would do out of nerves for a burn. I say to Mr. Banza, this would be perfect for a marshmallow. After he asked me to repeat it a few times I told him I would get him one. Yes, I packed them in the carry on luggage...muhahaha! See Junkie as described above. He came over, I got him a marshmallow from the kitchen (thank you Abby Posey for leaving that extra bag at our house, your ministry continues all the way in Africa). He touched it and was amazed at the soft texture and the smush that was resilient to touch but reappeared after only a few seconds in its normal state. I then took him and a spare for myself and we headed back to the fire pit. I asked the fella inside for a fork or something to use as a fire tong. He said he would get a spoon. So, on the handle of the spoon I placed a marshmallow. I lit it on fire, slowly turning it like a rotisserie handle with chicken cooking. Then just as the coat went black I blew it out. Giving them play-by-play instructions as I cooked it. Just gooey, it was as I pulled it gently from the spoon handle and placed it in my mouth. I could almost taste America. Is that why I am a junkie? Is this my American pull? Well, needless to say, I handed the spoon over and he roasted his first marshmallow. He was pleasantly surprised with texture, taste and experience altogether. It was amazing to watch a grown adult eating his FIRST smushy hot gooey yummy marshmallow (all the while praying he enjoyed it and didn't waste it). Then I went back inside and took two more marshmallows out for the neighbors who willingly shared the open fire pit. As they ate them it was beautiful to see their eyes light up and smiles appear. YES! Go God! Another connection-language barriers can not transcend the ability of the Lord to connect fellow believers.
Our life is much like that marshmallow here. For the last few days we have felt a smush over us, then the power comes back on and we return to our normal shape and texture. Then the water returns and we look normal again. We also look at things normal when we are not being smushed. Even a marshmallow has limitations to it though and it can not withstand without often suffering a tear in the texture and perfection. It is still a marshmallow and that doesn't change the taste when it hits your mouth! I also reflected on the refiner's fire tonight as we roasted those delicious treats. The outside got quite crispy and burnt but the inside remained pure gooey goodness and the only change was the melting part. God is so wanting our experience in Africa to get a little toasty on the outside and a little bit gooey-er (or MOLDABLE/PLIABLE) on the inside. Praise Him tonight for lessons learned through the simple bag of Marshmallows. Goodnight from the warm heart of Africa, Lilongwe, Malawi.
Thanks for your love and reads!