Saturday, September 3, 2011

Kristen, Part 2: At the Heart of the Matter

In case you missed it, last night I interviewed Kristen about the mission trip she took to Africa this summer. In part one, we talked about the simple things: day to day life, schooling, etc. Today, we'll get a bit more deep......

Tell me about your favorite kid at the orphanage.
Efua. At first sight, I mean you can tell she is the 'bad' kid. I'd heard horror stories when I got there....the biting, the pinching..... I mean, she's four, but I guess it was the first day we were there, I spent some time with her and just the little love and affection I gave to her just calmed her. She was getting that love and individual attention that she never gets. She just had a draw to me. Her dimples were like craters. Her voice was high pitched....mainly screaming. But she could also be so sweet. I'd hold her and pat her on the back, and she'd pat my back too. We'd play patty cake but an African version. She'd sing it in her village language. Normally she doesn't talk to people. When she got to the orphanage, she couldn't walk because she was so malnourished. But after a couple of meals, she started livening up. For a year at least she was on a walker because her legs weren't strong enough to support her weight. It was just so clear that she needed that love and attention. She just acts out because she is so desperate for that attention. She is the brave little girl who is beating up boys who are older than her. But when she went to the ocean, she was terrified. I did get her to go in once with me, and then she fell asleep in my lap.

What did you learn from this whole experience?
That we are so blessed. To have a country that values education, to HAVE an education. I mean, that we're able to better ourselves in that way and that we are able to do more with our life than sell goods on the side of the street. I'm thankful for my family. I'm really thankful that I know God and who He is. I'm thankful that Christianity is so common here. There are certain people who have spoken the true word of God into my life. There are not as many true Christians who really know who God is there. I'm so grateful to have people in my life who love and know Jesus. I hate to say that because there are Christians there who are doing a really good thing, but overall as a society, I think they focus on God more as a way of life or a part of their culture. They DON'T really focus on God, mainly just Christian sayings or seeing it as something popular to do. It's just a part of their culture and something you do, but God's not a part of their culture. For instance, everything there was called 'By His Grace' or 'God First', like 'The Anointed Hair Salon'. We even saw a bar called something like 'By His Grace Chop Bar'.

What was the biggest difference in their daily life and ours?
Well, they wake up before the sun comes up to do all the daily work to get ready for the day. If you're a mom that consumes your day. You get up, you get ready. You go get stuff to cook. You cook all day long. You either cook over a fire or a wood-burning stove if you have one. Every second of their time is used on things they have to do to survive. They live one day at a time; there is no pre-planning. Everything is last minute. We are so scheduled; they don't really keep up with the time like we do. They are very hard-working people, and they do a lot more physical work than the people I know. I can never imagine balancing my body weight on my head like the women there do...also while carrying a baby on my back. Life is just so different here because we are so spoiled in so many ways.

What did you miss most about America for the two weeks you were gone?
My hot shower. We took ice cold ones there. Feeling clean-- the air there is just so hot all the time. You were never not in the hot since there was no air conditioning. I definitely missed the air conditioning.

Do you think they have an accurate perception of America, Americans, and American life?
They certainly idolize Obama. His face is everywhere...on billboards, on the kids school books, on their snacks, and like on the billboards it would say "A Partnership for Change". I think it was their president's campaign slogan. Some kids though in the village saw us and would run away crying; they'd never seen a white person before.... Others acted like they were in awe. They just wanted to touch us. It's like you're white and the people in the city assume that because we're Americans we have money, which compared to them I guess we all do. The poorest of the poor here has more than they do there.  While I really enjoyed my time there, I can't express how hard it was to leave them. I was hands and feet of Christ to these kids. I came, I established a relationship with them, I worked to help them see God, and then I left. I know that was the plan all along, but something about it just felt so wrong. It was so hard to just walk away after establishing these relationships with these amazing kids.

This was your first out of the country mission trip. Will there be more?
YES! Well, let's hope so. God willing, I'd like to speak to people who have never heard the name Jesus Christ. Like someone who you ask, "Do you know who Jesus is?", and they've never even heard of them. But, it kinda scares me in a way to have that responsibility of telling them....that or I want to go back to Africa...maybe to work with kids in an orphanage who have disabilities. But I also want to witness to adults because talking to kids and talking to adults is obviously a different type of witnessing.

I've heard people say that going to Africa changes you or stays with you forever. Thoughts on this?
It definitely changed my perceptive of praying for the nations. It made it real and put faces and names with those people in one of those nations. I don't think I'll ever view American life the same way. I realize all the frivolous and excess things we have that we don't need. I think more now about what I spend my time and money and energy on...I'll never be able to forget that or go throughout my life not remembering those less fortunate who don't even have enough money to cover their basic necessities. They live in stick houses with straw roofs, and we worry about if our car is good enough or wanting two new pairs of shoes while we have twenty at home.

Have you had an experience that made you thankful the way this trip did for Kristen?
I would love to hear about it.
And come back soon....
I'll be sharing some ideas for ways you can help make a difference to the people of Africa.

Here's hoping your weekend is fan-freakin-tastic.

Did your team win this week?
Mine did.
Hail State.
The end.

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