Monday, August 3, 2009

I'm back in America!!

Niger was the most amazing experience of my life. It was the hardest thing I have ever done but it was completely worth it. God is really working in the lives of the Zerma people. This last week has been crazy. We were really sad to tell our village goodbye, knowing that we may never see them again. I really hope someday I can go back and see the people who have become my family these last two months. I got my hair braided again, this time a woman did it who is more experienced braiding white girls hair. It took over 5 hours! So much has happened this past week but the biggest thing was all the illnesses. Tiffany, Dani, Cody, and I all got Malaria. It was awful we felt like death and at some points were wishing death upon oursevles. But we all got medicine and are doing much better!!! Please just continune to pray for the Zerma people. Pray that God will send more peole there to work with them.

Thank you all so much for your prayer and support the last two months. I am so happy to be home and getting back to a normal routine. I can't wait for my next big adventure...maybe Europe next summer? or somewhere else in Africa? I really want to go everywhere and see everything! I want to tell everyone around the world about the God that I serve! I should have pictures up on facebook in a few days so make sure you check them out!

Oh yah and so far no reverse culture shock! haha We were all nervous about it but I'm great. We went out to dinner, shopping, movies everything and it's all good! :) I hope everyone else on the team is doing great too! Mom did make me go to an infectious disease doctor today since I had so many things wrong with me over there...but he said everything was great!

Monday, July 20, 2009

This has been the craziest time out in the bush. Every morning Hailey and I pray that God will guide our steps and the steps of everyone on our team. We just pray that we will be sent to the people who are ready to hear what He has to say and that He will use us in our villages. Well this week a young girl and her mother asked Hailey and I to play the preaching at a bread shack right outside the Mosque. So as the men came out from praying they sat, holding their beads, on the benches and listened to the preaching. It was so amazing. I just sat there praying for all the men who kept coming out, just asking God to help them truly hear what He is saying through His word. When the tape was done we prayed for them and handed out more cassettes for everyone. I really felt like crying watching these men listen to God’s word and then when it was over saying it is good! This was just one of the many awesome experiences we had sharing the Bible tapes with the people in our village.
This week we had a volunteer team of 10 mostly college age people come in from Texas. They stayed with Brandy and Kanessa and just went to all the different villages in Kollo with a translator telling people about God. It was so cool because Hailey and I pray everyday that God will send men here to Niger to bring the Gospel to the men. We really believe that if the men are open to the Gospel it will make it okay for the women to be. Sadly the women are very oppressed here and it is very hard for them to choose to follow God if their husband doesn’t. No matter how much we talk to the men about God they will respect it more coming from a man. So this week three men, who are just finishing studying at the Islam school, gave their lives to the Lord. One of the men’s father is a Muslim priest. The persecution is so great here whenever you give your life to the Lord but they didn’t care. Then through Cody’s ministry out in his village 2 more guys gave their lives to the Lord. It was the most amazing 2 weeks. God is really working in this place and it is so exciting to be here to experience it.
The most amazing thing I have got to see while being in Africa happened just 2 days ago. Three of the men who got saved this week and two women who got saved a few months ago wanted to get baptized. It was so great because one of the boys was supposed to go to exam preparation at the Islam school but at the last minute he skipped it and went to get baptized. The service was so amazing. It was in Zerma but we had an English translator, our friend Hauma. Everyone in the room was crying watching these five people go against everything they have ever known and everything against their culture to follow the Truth. When it was over one of the boys gave his prayer beads away because he said he didn’t need them anymore.
Oh so I got an amoeba this week. Basically you get the rhea like you have never known and you are in constant pain. My whole body ached and I really thought I was going to die at times. I went to a German clinic in Kollo and my doctor was a Nigerian man who spoke French. Thankfully Kanessa knows French so she translated for me. haha So I got some medicine for my amoeba, for all the bacteria that is probably living in me, and since I haven’t been sleeping in probably a month I got some sleeping pills, oh and some rehydration stuff and was told to rest. Of course the medicine has awful side affects, it makes you nauseous and tired and weak. Then I went and stayed at Brandy and Kanessa’s house for a few days because there is no such thing as resting in the bush. Oh yah one of the guys from the volunteer team went to Oklahoma State and he made a big deal about me being an Ohio State fan so he named my amoeba Bucky. Haha but I’m feeling so much better now!!!
This American weekend has been crazy. We had the baptism, we went shopping, we went to Hosanna church, and we got to ride camels and ride a boat to look for hippos. Hosanna church was amazing, there were over 13 languages represented and they were all singing and preaching. It was just so cool to see these people who are being persecuted praise the Lord. So the camel ride was terrifying, I went to get on the first camel and well my legs are short and it’s hard in a long skirt so I screamed a little and it scared the camel so he jumped up. Of course I jumped back and the African that was holding my legs almost dropped me. It was so funny. So they decided to have me ride a different camel and well let’s just say this one was worse, once it stood up we realized it was the tallest one. I got up there and my skirt was hiked all the way up to my thighs and then the saddle started to fall off. I was riding with one of the volunteers and we were screaming so loud when the camel (which we named Obama) stood up. I almost started crying I was so scared, I really thought we were going to fall off and die. haha The Africans were freaking out because they thought I was to scared to ride. But it was okay, I decided to suck it up because I knew I would regret it if I didn’t. Well the wooden back of the saddle was pushing into my back so hard that I have a huge bruise across my back. It’s pretty awesome… Then we got in a tiny little boat and road all the way back down the river looking for hippos. I was again freaking out because I thought we were going to fall in the river of death, but we didn’t. When we got back all the Africans that helped me on the camel were asking me if I was okay and how I liked it. They were laughing so hard when I said I hate camels.
God is so good!! This trip has been so amazing. I love thinking back about my expectations and pre-judgments of this trip and just seeing how much bigger God is. I mean I haven’t even seen one snake! haha I can remember multiple times freaking out and crying before I came because I didn’t think I could do it. Well I was right I can’t do it but God can and He is my strength and my everything out here in the bush. I love Africa so much and I love these people so much and I am going to be really sad to tell them goodbye. But I am really excited to come home, talking to Mom the other day and just hearing about life made me really miss home. I have so many stories and things to tell everyone and I can’t wait to come home and tell you all about it.
Please keep my team and myself in your prayers. We are all completely worn out and a couple of us are getting over illnesses. I had Buck, Kanessa has an amoeba (Fred) a urinary tract infection and probably Malaria too, Cody had an amoeba, Brandy had a cold, Mandy has an ulcer or something, and Dani has some kind of illness (we really aren’t sure what yet, maybe an amoeba or malaria). We really want God to use us till the very last second and to continue to use us even when we leave. This country needs prayer and especially the people of Kollo. Please just pray that God will remove the fear these people have in coming to know Him. Many people here know the truth but they are too scared of what will happen to them if they accept it.

Friday, July 3, 2009

one month...

...It's bee a whole month since I got off the plane and almost fell down the stairs from the heat wave. I can't begin to count how many times my teammates and I have said CAN YOU BELIEVE WE HAVE BEEN HERE A WHOLE MONTH?? This has been the craziest month of my's been hard, extremely hard, happy, sad, really sad, scary, loud, dirty, smelly, and beautiful. I love everything about this place, the food, the people, the language, and even the environment. The people in our village crave LOVE. They don't even have a word for love in their language so they have taken the English word for love because they crave it so much. You can see it in the children when no matter how many times you tell them to get out because your going to sleep or eat or take a bucket bath or anything...they just keep coming back. And you see it in the women who stare at you when you just sit with them, you don't even have to say a word, the fact that you would give them your time is all they want. You can see the craving for LOVE in every single person in our village in one way or another. My biggest prayer is that yes we are giving them love but I hope they know it's coming from Jesus and not from us. I hope that when we leave this place in one month the seek Jesus and don't just miss the two white girls who lived with them one summer.

A typical day for Balkissa (my African name) and Jamilia (my partner Hailey's African name) goes something like this: WE wake up around 7 am and go for a 3 mile walk up to the next village and down the main road. We just spend this time praying for our village, our team, our families back home, and asking God to send more people here to minister to these people. We usually get proposed to at least twice during this walk...the men here are crazy. They just want to go to America so bad (they think its full of money and beautiful women). haha Then we walk back and have some Jesus time during breakfast, then we head out for the day. We just start walking and let God lead us to the compounds that want to hear His word. Then when we get to a compound (usually 3-5 houses) we come in and greet the women (they are always sitting in the middle cooking and chatting with each other) and they usually ask if they can hear the preaching on our radio. So we get the radio out and play a 20-30 minute story of the Bible in their language then we ask them if we can pray for them. They always want us to pray for them and usually just walking through the village they stop us and ask us to pray for health, or blessings, or just for money. Then we give them a cassette with Bible stories on it. We have only had 2 women,out of the at least 60 we have played it for, get up and leave. They are all so hungry for something more here. They know we have joy and LIGHT and they seek that its awesome because they are so willing to listen to God's word. Then after we go to three compounds we go back to the house and have lunch and take a nap. Then we go prayer walking up to Zango (the village in front of ours) and we get Laban, this cold liquid yogurt stuff, yes it sounds nasty but its cold and anything cold here is GOOD! Or we get farimasas, a fried bread with sugar on it, also amazing! Then we go back down to the village and we go greet people. We just visit with anyone who invited us into their compound. Then around 7 we come back get our tents and cots out and then we watch Barbara (the French soap opera)! So of course we go sit with all the women and watch them watch it because they are so funny. They are yelling and screaming at the tv. Then Faati brings us dinner, we eat and then go to bed. We are usually asleep by 9 every night. Good sleep is hard to get in our village, we have the tv on, a party house behind us that plays music all hours of the night, a million animals, and some guys that hang out outside our compound that play music and chat. Then we get woken up to the Muslim prayer around 4am every day.

All throughout the day we have at least 5-10 children around us. They always want to hold our hands and carry anything we are carrying. They are so sweet but seriously crazy. They have no rules, and clothes are optional. The only time the adults really talk to the children is to tell them to do something or beat them for doing something they shouldn't. One of my favorite little girls is Nana (around 9 years old) this cute little girl is crazy but she just wants to be loved. Then we have little Charifa (7 years old) she sweeps our yard every day. We asked her why she changes her clothes 10 times a day (in a place where most kids don't wear clothes) she said because she showers 10 times a day, when asked why she said cause im dirty. haha Then we have 6 little boys in our compound ages 1-5 who are hilarious. They used to be scared of white people now we can't get them out of our house. Every morning we wake up to Jabiri (4 years old) standing in our yard just waiting for us to greet him. He is really sick (something is wrong with his ear) so we feel bad and we share our meals and stuff with him. These are just a few of my favorite kids in the village but there are seriously at least 20 between my compound and the next that are ALWAYS in our house and walking around us. There are a bunch of women who we have built relationships with. They are all so funny...they love asking us questions about America and they love when we give them American names.

Hailey and I made a list of things we want to accomplish while out in the bush, so far we have done pretty good:
1. ride a bush taxi (we did this to go visit our teammates village)
2. cook over a fire like the Africans (I got to help someone, but were still working on it)
3. carry water on our heads (we do this all the time and they laugh so hard)
4. ride a donkey cart (it was a cow cart but it still counts)
5. go to the river of death (we did!)
6. ride a boat across the river and not fall in (it was a close call the boat was filling with water the whole time and I got splashed on the back and the hand but we made it across and back) I don’t know if I mentioned why the river is bad but let me repeat: if you go in you will get fungus on your body, you will most likely pee blood, and you will get an infection that has caused people to become paralyzed or die…of course the Africans live in this river haha
7. poop in the bush, the rest of our team does, we are lucky and have a poop hole, I’m not really sure I want to do this one but its on the list
8. catch a baby goat, there are so many goats and chickens everywhere (a kid caught two for us and we got to hold them)
9. catch a lizard (the kids caught it and ties a leash around it and tied it to our fence, we named it Poppy and we let it go as soon as the kids left) haha
10. drink the tea, only the men drink it so you have to be asked to sit and usually its not a good idea because it sets a bad impression (but we have had it twice now…we were playing the Jesus tapes while we drank it if that makes it better) haha
11. try all the foods we can find (we have tried everything you can buy in Zango and anything the village people offer us as long as its hot…that way the diseases are most likely dead)
12. get henna, here they do it all the way up the leg and all over your hand and up your arm (I got it on my hands and feet, Hailey got it on her feet, its really cool but I feel like my hands are always dirty so I have been scrubbing it off) haha
….we are still adding to the list because we have done almost everything on it so far

This is America weekend….yesterday when they picked us up we took this hour long drive on the worst road I have ever experienced, literally we were flying out of the seats and hitting our heads on the ceiling it was so bumpy and there are definitely only seat belts for the drivers in this country haha) then we got to this place and this little African man crawled up on top of our luggage and used a millet stalk to point which way to go. So we just drove and all the sudden we sad 14 wild giraffes. They were so beautiful, we got out and walked really quietly and took pictures with them. We couldn't get super close because they are scared of us but we were really close. Then we drove a little more and found 11 more, this group was a family and they had babies. Then we came back to Niamey, went to the US Embassy and had lunch, watched the News (Michael Jackson died…which we already knew thanks to mom calling and telling me but we were all quite upset. We had our own little memorial with Dani doing the Thriller dance. It’s like double shock finding out anything about America out in Niger…I guess sometimes we forget life goes on without us there.) Then we went swimming…the pool felt so amazing but our bodies are getting used to the heat so it was kinda cold for us…haha Today we are having a 4th of July celebration, this means a cookout at the Zerma team leaders house, I’m really hoping we will have fireworks. We are so lucky the journeymen, Brandy & Kanessa, are so amazing. They take such good care of us and I just love them. They always plan really fun things for us to do and they always make sure we are okay and take care of anything we need. I can’t even describe how amazing they are!

I’m having the most amazing time here. Every day gets a little closer to coming home and seeing my friends and family who I really do miss but it also means one day closer to having to tell my friends and family here goodbye…maybe forever. It’s really sad to think we may never see these people again, they have become family to us.

Please continue to pray for me. I am starting to get comfortable and in a routine and sometimes when I do that I don’t rely on God as much as I should and I never want to be anything but completely focused on Him. Please pray for our team, we had some illnesses last week, Cody and I had bladder/urinary tract infections, Dani and Kanessa had some weird stomach issues, and Tori has been fighting a cold for awhile now. Just pray that God will give us strength to always be able to give 110% to our ministry out here. Also just pray for the Zerma people, they are Muslim, but they know that they are missing something and they are willing to find that thing they just need a lot of help. Just pray that they will always know that the reason we are different is not because we are white and from America but beacuse we have Jesus. Also a man in Cody's village got saved last week so please keep him in your prayers, that is a very difficult decision to stick to here because the culture is so very Muslim.

I miss you all so much!! I have already filled a whole journal with stories about life out here so I can’t wait to come home and tell everyone about it!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kollo Zerma!

I don't even know how to begin....more things have happened these last 8 days than I could ever imagine. Bush life is really hard. Our house is a mud-brick hut with dirt floors. There is one little window in the back room and one in the front room. We sleep outside at night in our mosquito nets on a cot. The first couple days were survival mode...getting used to everything and figuring out how to live. But now I am actually really excited about it. I love the village life and all the people. One of my favorite things is showering outside...of course the fact that we shower in the same place everyone pees is pretty nasty but its kinda fun to shower outside. Apparently Hailey and I are really lucky because we have a rich lady who lets us use her poop hole and its porcelain! haha There are animals, children, and people everywhere. Oh and I carried a huge things of water on my head...Brandy said she had never even carried one that size on her head!! I am becoming an African!!! haha AND I got my hair braided haha I cried a little because it hurt so bad and Nana (one of the children) wiped my tears and told me not to cry (crying is not acceptable in this culture).

We have a mom named Faait. She takes care of us and makes sure we are doing okay. She brings us a meal at least once a day. Whenever we are trying to get the kids out of our house she leans over the wall and starts yelling at them and they leave. It's funny because we are still learning the language but somehow we can always understand her. She is really patient with us and always takes the time to figure out what we need.

The children here are is optional and they are always covered in dirt. You have to be really tough on them and it's hard but they love us and want to spend every minute with us. It's hard because I would love to spend every minute with these kids...they craze attention and love and I feel like I have so much to give them but they are not our ministry. We came here to minister to the women, in this culture if you spend to much time with the children the adults will think the Gospel is only for the children. Of course we do get to spend time with them each day just not the whole day. There is one little girl Aniffa (I think she is maybe 4) who everyone knows is my favorite...she isn't like the other children. In this culture they are trained to be tough because that is the only way you can survive. She is sensitive and when the other kids are being crazy and obnoxious she is just quiet and waits her turn. Her mom asked me if I wanted to take her to America (it's really common for the mom's to offer us to take their children home) and I said yes but of course I can't. It's going to be so hard to leave her.

Something I never thought I would experience in Africa...I fall asleep listening to a French soap opera every night. My compound has electricity (of course our house doesn't but the others do) so every night they get the tv out and watch it from 8:00pm till like 1:00am. It's so funny but kinda comforting... About 3:00am every night I wake up either to the sound of someone preaching over the loud speaker and then the Muslim call to prayer or the goats that are in our compound yelling. It is the scariest noise...they sound like humans being tortured. The first couple nights we really considered killing them...or at least setting them free so they could run around the village, but now we just laugh.

My partner Hailey is really great. We work really well together because we are similar in some things but very different in others. Whenever I am kinda down she seems to be up and whenever she is down I am able to encourage her. She is having a really hard time out here...she misses home a lot and the environment makes her really sad. It is really depressing but I am so grateful to be in a village where everyone has more than enough food and they all seem to have everything they need. Of course to American standards they don't have much but to African standards they are pretty well off. The supervisors said they put Hailey and I in the Kollo Zerma village because these people have a lot of attitude and they knew we wouldn't let them walk all over us.

The villagers love us...they are so fascinated by us. They are so patient whenever we talk to them even though there is an awful language barrier (which by the way I think we are definitely improving on our language skills). I love telling them about America...they tell me about the things they do like caring children on their backs and I tell them about car seats and strollers. haha It's really funny they love hearing about America. They all want to know if we have a boyfriend or a husband....the missionaries warned us to just say yes we have a "boy that is our friend". haha I really regret not doing that now. Every time I tell them I don't have a boyfriend they start pointing out guys in the village that I should marry. haha I just tell them no I want an American boyfriend and that I don't want to get married till after University...this is usually a good enough answer.

There have been so many things I have had to get used to:
-not having electricity
-always being dirty...even when you shower you are still dirty
-just tell yourself the crunching in your food is seasoning....not dirt like you know it really is
-not having a cold drink...ever
-animals everywhere...they just walk into your yard and hang out
-people always NEVER have any privacy
-nobody understanding English (this is actually nice at times when I want to tell Hailey something and I don't want everyone to hear)

I love it in the bush. I love the people we are working with and I love building relationships with them. The ministry is really hard because they are all so very Muslim in their beliefs. It is really sad to know these people are living for nothing... Knowing this and hearing the Muslim prayer 5 times a day is such a great reminder of why I am here. I know God is using us to reach these people but sometimes I feel like He is changing us more than anyone around us.

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow is our Sabbath weekend. The theme this weekend is America! Yesterday when they picked us up and well all got to be together is was so amazing to see how much we have all changed. Kanessa and Brandy (the journeymen) said they could not believe how much we have all changed in 8 days. God is really working on us and teaching us a lot about Himself and ourselves. So yesterday when we got into Niamey we went to the American embassy and we got to order American food! We all went crazy and ordered way to much food...I got a quesidilla, fries, and a milkshake! We had so much left over it was we just brought it back to the house for later. Then we got to go swimming! It was so nice...we just stood in it and chatted for 4 hours. It was great to hear about everyone else's experiences and be encouraged by them. Then we came back to the house and had pizza! Then we all sat around and chatted and some of the girls played worship songs on the guitar. It was such a good night...followed by sleeping in a real bed with A/C!!! I actually got really cold in the middle of the night...I must be getting used to this heat. haha Today we got to sleep in and then we are going to the sand dunes for a picnic and to sing worship songs tonight...also today is Brandy's birthdays so we are celebrating that!

God is teaching me so much it's crazy. The biggest thing I have learned is He is all I need. I always thought I believed that and I would sing the songs at convo and say that but I never really lived that way. I always had my family and friends and the comforts around me where I never really relied completely on Christ. This trip has made me realize I have nothing but Him. Being one of only two Christians in an entire village and one of only two people who speak my language or know my culture has been really difficult...but Christ has given me a strength I cannot even describe.

Please continue to pray for my team...most of them are really struggling with homesickness. Also please pray for the Zerma people...they live in darkness and they don't even realize it. Please just pray that God will give us all the strenght to go back out tomorrow and continue or minstry and bring light to this dark place.

I miss you all so much and I cannot wait to come home and tell you all about it...

Monday, June 8, 2009

I can't believe I have been in Africa for a week now!!

Sometimes I will be sitting there looking around and still can't believe I am actually in Africa. It has been the craziest week. We had 20 hours of language lessons (so everyone who thought we had an interpreter out in the bush...that would be a no). They say that 4 hours a day for 5 days is more than enough time to learn Zerma lol. I actually feel like I know it pretty well but it should be interesting. Our language teacher is Ibro a little Africa man...he is so funny. We have so much fun in class...we ask random questions to get him off subject and keep asking him how to say really funny words in Zerma. I get yelled at a lot because I keep saying stuff in English and his rule is not to speak English after like the second day. After language everyday we have a traditional Africa meal...they are some pretty interesting dishes. We actuallu really like some of them! Yesterday we had to eat the traditional Africa way, all sharing the same bowl with our hands! It was so disgusiting...and we were sitting on the floor. hahah It was this like slimey rice and beans and onions thing with hot powder stuff. After lunch we get a nap EVERY day!! Then we have sessions...sometimes just with different missionaries and one day they brought some Muslim men in to teach us about their faith. It was really neat to hear their story. Before coming here I thought being here for a week would be such a waste...not getting out and doing ministry immediately but I was so wrong. This week has been so great I feel so much more prepared and ready to take on the bush! haha

Yesterday was my birthday! It was so much fun! I woke up and they brought me a french pastry with a candle and sang Happy Birthday to me. Then after lunch they made cupcakes and sang Happy Birthday in French. Then after dinner we went to another missionaries house (the supervisor of the Zerma team) and they had balloons and a cake! Also HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANGELA! I hope you had a great day!! :) love you

Today is our day of rest (after language lessons of course) we get to call home and email and take long naps to prepare for the bush life. I am kinda nervous but really excited to finally get out there...we haven't been around very many locals since we have been here! We found out our partners today...I am with Hailey so if you could please keep both of us in your prayers we will definitely need it! Also please pray for the Zerma people. They are under a lot of oppression because of their Muslim faith. Being Muslim is what they do because their parents did not necessarily because they want to. Pray that we can start breaking some of those chains and show them the lies they have been taught all their lives. Lastly please pray for my team we are all having an amazing time but it can be really hard at times. The heat is defintely getting to people and the food and just learning the language. It is really easy to get irritated here because it is not the most comfortable environment so please just pray that God will help us work through all the things that could easily bring us down. Luckily our team all gets along really great and we are very open with each whenever someone get diareha they just announce it and keep everyone informed on how they are doing.

God is teaching me and growing me so much already. All the things I thought would be such a problem like the food and the bugs and the safety have not been an issue. I eat foods I don't like...I touch dirty stuff all the time (everything in Africa is dirty) and the lizards aren't even bothering me. God has completely taken care of me and shown me how much He cares for me. Also it is now the rainy season SO the temperature dropped quite a bit. It only gets up to around 100 everyday give or take 10....I am actually learning to live in it and not even notice how hot it is.

I will be back in Niamey (the capital city) in 10 days to have an America weekend. It will be our Sabath. We get to do American things like eat the food and go swiming at the United States embassy. Also they will take us to do some African things like ride camels and pet wild girafees but we get to do it with our American friends.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


At many point throughout this day I have asked myself...why did you ever want to go to Africa? Not that I am not enjoying it I just don't know why anyone would really choose to come here...other than God leading them. This has been the craziest day...I woke up drenched in sweat (we even had the air on most of the night) and I forgot where I was for a minute..I thought maybe our a/c broke at home. Then I remembered oh yah you wanted to go to Africa for the summer. By the time I washed my face and brushed my teeth I needed another shower. Breakfast was okay...pancakes (which I don't really like) and mango. I have already eaten three meals with something I don't like and haven't complained once. The heat is exhausting I get so tired of wiping my face that I am considering chopping all my hair off...or getting it braided like the Africans. Also the heat is so draining it makes you loose your appetite. We are staying in the IMB's compound called Mission Baptiste. This is on the safest road in Niger and one of the safest places. It is on the same road as all the embassy's. We are walled in and we have guards that walk the premises and stay at the entrance. To bad we will only be here till Tuesday then off to the bush.

Today we had a real Africa lunch, rice with some sauce that had meat and veggies in it. It was actually really good...I just picked around a few of the veggies. It is hard to eat you are never hungry but you just force it down along with the 70 bottles of water because nobody wants to get sick. After lunch we got a nap during the hottest part of the day then we learned some of the basics. We learned NEVER EVER go in the is full of diseases and you WILL catch one if you go in. Second rule NEVER let them braid your hair unless the missionaries (Kanessa and Brandy) approve because some people will use it for witch craft. Third pray with your partner every day...spiritual warfare is really bad and if you aren't united it will be really hard to work together. After this we got to go to the market...we went with Greg and Laura's house helper Zoleka and her friend. It was so amazing...being white we were like celebrities everyone wanted to talk to us and have us come in because they think we are rich. Which to them we average person here lives on 300 a year. The market smelled awful and I got really overwhelmed with all the people but had fun. It was so hard because nobody spoke English there...I got really frustrated not being able to communicate what I was thinking. They gave us 500 which would be 1 America dollar and we had to spend it. Finally I just grabbed a bracelet and bought it because I was getting stressed trying to pick something...this is what most of the team did. The saddest thing about the market was the fact that they all live like this all the time. I get to go home to the comforts of America in 2 months and they don't. It really made me sad but VERY grateful for all that I have. We all cooked dinner and then after that we had a time of de-briefing and talking about our experiences at the market. I held Greg and Laura's little 5 month old Maggie and she fell asleep (it really made me miss my little Maggie). After that we were about to go to bed and we heard the winds start and got excited so Hailey, Dani and I went out to stand it the rain. It felt so was cold and just wonderful. I think standing there in the rain was the moment I really got excited about being here.

I am having an amazing time! It is really overwhelming and I feel like if I don't write every single thing down i will forget something. I miss you all so much...way more than i thought I would. (Not that I didn't think I would miss everyone but I can go away for periods of time and be fine but I think being away from everything I have ever known and having no access to anyone is really hard.) I think some of the team has it worse than I do so I am just staying strong and knowing that i am here for a reason. I love you all so much!! I don't know when I will be able to update again but hopefully at least once before I go out to the bush. Please keep praying for me and my team...we need it!!

p.s. Kanessa and Brandy said there are no snakes...but there are lizards EVERYWHERE!! They are so crazy and the scare me!!! haha

Sunday, May 31, 2009

last day in America...

I can't believe this is finally happening...I will be in Africa this time Tuesday! Tomorrow morning I get on a plane in Cleveland at 10:18am, fly to D.C. and then I have a 6 hour layover there..hopefully I can learn the Zerma language (I think I am supposed to know it before I get there...). I am pretty sure I am meeting my team in D.C. and then we will fly to Paris together, we have a 4 hour layover in Paris then off to Niger. I am so nervous right now, I know God is going to protect me and I am so excited but I just don't know what to expect and that is scary.

I am so grateful for my amazing friends and family! My church had a commissioning service for me today...I had to speak (which was awful, but at least I didn't start laughing this time), then they all gathered and prayed for me. After church we had refreshments and everyone wished me luck and offered their prayers while I am gone. Milan Baptist has really shown me how much they care, providing almost all the money for my trip! Then for my last supper Nana made my favorite (baked spaghetti, salad, bread sticks, fried pies, and carrot cake)! The family plus Tori and Ann went to her house and we had a great time! Daddy and Kimberly and Tabitha called to tell me bye! Then Amy came over and I got to spend some time with her and Maggie! Plus Jessica has been with me since yesterday (helping me pack and reassuring me that everything is going to be fine Philippians 4:7) and she is going to the airport with mom to drop me off tomorrow! It has been a crazy few months getting ready for my trip...I am so blessed to have the mother I do. Putting up with everything to get me ready for this trip. I am so excited and I will miss everyone so much!

PLEASE pray for me!!!