Saturday, April 14, 2012

Journal Entry from Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday, 2012.  This was by far the hottest Easter that I have ever experienced.  As a matter of fact, Gin said to me when I woke up, “Donna, this will be the hottest day of your life.”  But it was definitely the greatest Easter I have ever had.  Many things happened to make it wonderful, including the fact that we ended the day with a baptism! However, church was the highlight because it reminded me again why I’m here.  Because I had forgotten.  And God allowed me to remember.

Worship service lasted for two hours.  I danced with the women as I always have and then joined in with the children, laughter bubbling over from some place that God fills only with Africa-joy.  Laughter swelled into shouting – head back, grinning so hard my face hurt as my eyes tried to keep up with the swirl of colors and the drums of dance as I thanked God with all my heart, with all of my being for bringing me to this place - just to this very place, with its dripping sweat and its 108 degrees outside that was easily 125+ inside, with its suffocating dust and its brown tap water and its heart-stopping traffic and with its wicked sunburns and its horrifying We just passed a man with leprosy.  And with its people.  With its wonderful, beautiful, I-love-God-with-all-my-heart people.  With its people who are beating those drums in the corner so hard and so fast until I’ve just realized the cadence has become my heartbeat.  With its people who have so little but offer to share their food without hesitation.  With its people who are so loving and generous and affectionate and whose faces crinkle so easily into that smile…that African smile that is faster than lightning and warmer than sunshine.  With its children, who every Thursday run to greet me, giggling and chattering in French and Moree and wrapping 40 sets of arms around me, sticking flowers in my hair and inclining chubby cheeks for kisses. 

God didn’t warn me about Africa.  He didn’t warn me about the heat or the dust or the ever-present disease.   He didn’t warn me that there were times that I would get insanely lonely and frustrated with French.  He didn’t warn me that I would struggle under the weight of culture shock.  He just said, “Go.” But you see, God also didn’t warn me that I would fall in love.  He didn’t warn me that I would leave such a huge piece of my heart here.  He didn’t warn me that my very soul would ache when I look in to a tiny coffee-bean colored face and know that I might not see it again. God didn’t warn me about Burkina Faso.  He just called me here.  When God said, “Come to Africa,” I did not realize that he was saying, “Come and fall in love with Africa.” 

And so I have come to worship God here.  Here, as I join in the dizzy parade of dancers, swirling, ducking, spinning, swaying in an ever-widening circle that can’t decide which brilliant fabric should dominate the color scheme.  So it gives up and becomes a blur of violet and lemon, rose and indigo, scarlet and aqua, vibrant blue blending in to bright orange, elegant green, fuchsia, plum, until I have to sit down, exhausted.  But I can’t sit long, for a new song starts and we begin once more, sweating and breathing in dust and tripping over children.  And I love it.  I love it all.  So if the threat of culture shock, constant sweat, broken air conditioning, loneliness and language barriers are the price that I have to pay, then so be it.  I will pay the asking price.  I secretly think that Africa is God’s favorite place…or maybe it’s just his favorite place for me. 

My parents used to tell people that I have a heart for Africa.  But I no longer believe that’s true. I prefer to believe that I just have a heart for Jesus.  And Jesus has a heart for Africa.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Rushed Update from a Dying Computer

Last few weeks...

Woke up covered in sweat. That's become a daily thing now.  Drank ice water form breakfast.  Got a flat tire.  Discovered I can't learn French in 115 degrees.  Danced in a worship circle with six other women.  Bought grain.  Delivered grain to a widow in our church with a courtyard full of kids.  Didn't know she had so many.  Sang in French.  Danced in a worship circle with two dozen other women.  Ate something African. Got incredibly sick.  Rode on a motorcycle behind an African woman.  Held on for dear life.  Told 30 children about the birth of Jesus.  Led them in a play of the Nativity.  The next week, taught the same 30 children about the beauty of the resurrection.  Gave candy for memory verses.  Upped my water intake to several liters a day.  Bumped along through a jungle of huts to go and pray for a sick elderly woman.  Taught my 30 kids the story of Esther, of Jesus feeding 5000, of Jesus healing lepers.  Tried to explain the power of prayer.  Made plans to buy more grain and go on grain distribution in the villages to the North.  Sat huddled in front of a computer screen waiting for CNN to load updates on the uprising in neighboring Mali.  Had an early morning prayer meeting with 15 Africans to plead with God for his protection of their family in Bamako.   Discovered that what I thought was shiny, healthy skin was in fact just a continual sheen of sweat.  Broke down and turned on my expensive air conditioner. 

Went to an orphanage in the bush.  Cuddled babies.  Held a three-pound three-week-old little boy.  Silence on the way home. 

Abandoned a nap and ran outside at the sound of thunder.  Stood outside laughing in delight at the first rain I've seen in months.  Stood in the rain until it passed.  Got sick when the storm dropped the temperature from over 100 degrees to below 70 degrees.  Prayed over a map of Burkina Faso.  Lost too much fluid in sweat and tears, stood up from praying, and nearly collapsed.  Burkinabe woman had to hold me up.  A little embarrassing.  Found the washer broken.  Wrung my clothes out by hand.  Bought strawberries from a woman's head.

Loved it all :).