Archive for the ‘Called to Serve’ Category

How Did We Get Here Anyways?

I realized I had never really blogged about how we got to Tanzania in the first place. Here is the short version:

Back in the summer of 2008, Austin and I had the pleasure of being part of the first ever International Assignment team for Young Life camps. Not really understanding the blessing God had given us at the time time, we can now see how much the Lord has worked through us and in us being there for the short time we were there.
While there we met and worked closely with, Alexis and Jackie, who are in charge of Arusha Young Life, Martin who is in charge of Nairobi Young Life, and Steve Larmey, who is the  vice president of YL Africa, and lives in Dar es Salaam with his family.
At camp Austin and I were still not married, but knew we were heading towards that and knew we wanted to do some sort of international work in the future. Pursuing the options in Latin America seemed like the best situation because of our knowledge of Spanish and love for Latin American cultures, but the door was not opening. I did however, get and invite from Dyan Larmey to come teach at the school her children attend. Because I had just finished my first year of teaching, which i disliked very much, I was very hesitant to say yes at the time.
After the amazing month with the team, Austin and I did get engaged and married a few months later. We then again began to pursue work abroad. Again no doors were opening in Latin America, but we got a mass email from Dyan about HOPAC, needing teachers including a fifth grade teacher. Austin and I read over the email and knew that this was the door we were waiting to open.
We quickly put together our applications and received word that we were accepted. From there we just had a few months to pack up, rent out our house, and figure out all of the logistics before moving to Africa. Ironically, China and the whole of Africa, were at the bottom of our list when it came to doing work abroad. But the Lord has a great sense of humor and Africa it was.
Coming to Africa for the first time, we had no idea what to expect, pack, or think, about what our time here would look like. We have been so pleasantly surprised by what our life here is, however it has not been easy and many times is extremely challenging.
We are not sure where the Lord will take us next, but we are grateful for the adventure we have been on so far.

Program with Sam, Martin and Alexis

Who would have known we would be with them in Africa 2 years later : )

The Oompa Loompas who were too tall and Miss Veruca. Good Times!

Swimming with William’s Village

Once again we had the opportunity to help our friends Brandon and Amanda out with the village work that they do.

Today they put together a Swim Day at the Hopac campus. William the Pastor of the village, and a worker at HOPAC, brought about 40 kids in a Dala Dala over to HOPAC to spend some time in the water, to eat and to play in a jumping castle.

The kids are so cute, and since we have met them before, we are starting to be able to remember names. The range from age 4 to age 18. They are always excited to be around you and always want you to play.

Having fun on the Jumping Castle

Even though they all live so very close to the ocean, many Tanzanian’s have no idea how to swim. So this is a great opportunity for them to get some basic swim skills down in a safe setting. A few of them have a few skills and are tall enough to stand in the shallow end. Many are able to use a noodle and float around but do not have any real swimming skills. Then there are those who have no swimming skills and need to use your body as a buoy at all times. There were only 5 adults in the pool for all of these kids, one of which did not know how to swim very well. So the four of us jumped in and started playing. With so many kids you have to rotate who you are holding and make sure everyone is getting a turn. They really loved jumping from the side, learning how to kick and of course the favorite 1, 2, 3 and under game.

We really love working with the village kids and are hoping to do more and more with them.

Cradle of Love

Today we spent some time at an orphanage just outside of TCDC, the place where we were staying in Arusha. Truthfully, although I have volunteered here and there and worked in the poverty stricken areas of Tucson, up until today I had never been in a orphanage before. I did not really know what to expect but I was eager to learn more about what an orphanage looked like in Tanzania.

When we got there I was overwhelmed by the amount of babies there who were ages 6months to 1year. There were probably about 15 of them. Each of them lying on the ground with no one to hold them or pay attention to them. You want to hold them all at once and love them all but there is no possible way to besides it is physically and emotionally draining to take care of this many infants and tiny babies. Compared to most orphanages these children are very well taken care of and well loved but coming from such a loving family background it is so hard to see these kids with so little and such a different start to life. One baby, Dotto, was lying on the floor, crying with throw up all over himself, pretty common for a baby yes, however, he looked very sickly. He and his twin brother both looked very sick. They had that glossy look in their eyes that people have when they are close to death. He was not capable of doing anything on his own even though he should have been able to sit up and hold a bottle and do so much more. After working with the Blake Foundation recently and really knowing what stage of development these children really should be at it was devastating seeing how behind they were. It only convinced me more and more of how God created us to have two loving parents to raise us and nurture us in life. Anyways, I held him for a long time, as he threw up and wheezed so very hard on me it was hard not to want to hold him until he got better while at the same time wanting to run away from it all. They were all so cute many of them triplets and twin sets.

After we held them for awhile we went to the infant room where the babies stay from birth until 4 months. In this room there was a set a twins that were only 10 days old. All of the orphans here have no parents or relatives that can take care of them. This seems like a normal concept to us but there are many orphanages around Africa that house children that have wonderful loving parents who are just not able to provide for their children so they, take them to an orphanage to make sure they get their needs met. At Cradle of Love, this is not the case, most of the children here have mother’s who died in birth. C-Sections are not a regular practice in hospitals here, so if a mother is hemorrhaging they are not able to stop the bleeding in time and often times she will die. This is especially true of mothers of twins and triplets. That is why there are so many multiples in this orphanage. The newborns were just precious, so fragile, so unique with the fingerprints of God all over them. It was so hard not to want to take them all home on the spot.

At the end of our time there I was emotionally drained. I felt called to help them more but really in one hour of playing and holding them they did more for me than I could have ever done for them. Please keep the orphans of Cradle of Love in your prayers and for that matter all orphans around the world. How blessed are we who have parents in our lives!

Check out their website! Ss pictures of Dotto!