Living the life we have been given
Day 13 - A taste of Africa.
Saturday Oct 9 2010
Ah the sight of a bunch of western girls trying to cook over a fire for 30+ people. It all started with a simple idea of thanks.
The base we live on here is run by a handful of hard working Tanzanian men and mamas. We all help them with daily work duties to help lighten the load but as a team we just wanted to do a little something extra. So we had the idea of setting up a nice breakfast for all the women. We started preparing a few days ahead by making them each a card full of words and scriptures we had received for them and we even has them translated into Swahili. We used kongas and picked flowers to dress up the classroom and some even volunteered to take care of the children. We got up early Saturday morning and started right away with the jobs we had volunteered to do. I was put in charge of making homemade chi! My favorite! Its homemade everyday here, but I had never made it. It took a lot of taste testing, but God must have heard my prayers because it turned out to taste pretty good!
Once the room was set up, the food was all made and all the women arrived we got to serve them a nice breakfast of eggs, chapatis, fruit and chi! After a bit of fellowship (although we do not all speak the same language) we called out their names one by one and washed their feet, gave them a little massage and painted their toenails as others prayed over them. At first most of them were very shy and covered their faces in a bit of embarrassment as there where laughing. The morning went very well and they all walked out of there with clean feet and big smiles.
We found out later that it was really a bigger blessing then we thought it had been. In this culture the women know from birth till death it is their job to cook, clean and bear children and that's just the way it is. So simply saying thank you by taking on their job for a morning was already a big deal. When it came to washing their feet, that was an even bigger surprise because they have very dirty rough feet and even another African would not have wanted to wash them. So for us to not only be white, but we are also considered their guest, to clean, cook, rub their feet, and paint their toenails was a huge blessing. We found out that it was the first time they had had anyone do that for them.
Here they call us munzugos. Everywhere we go we hear them calling us. We know we are no better than any of them, as a matter of fact we are here to serve them, but it's hard for them to see us that way. So we are starting to change that.
Day 13 --- Drama, Drama, Drama
Sunday Oct 10
Time for Church again! We visit a lot of different churches here so this week I was at a different one. Again, being a guest we are expected to bring something to share. So we sang some songs, shared some testimonies, preached the whole sermon and we even did a drama! This church was much bigger from the last one I attended, and upon leaving EVERYONE shook EVERYONE'S hands while singing and clapping. It was such a joy!
Later in the evening while I was writing in my journal I happen to look off to the side and noticed something that in the case of me being me, it brought a huge smile to me face! Not so much to the girl to who came to see what I was taking a picture of... but I liked it. His name is fuzzy. He is a tarantula! For someone who always loved bugs growing up I can't think of a better place to be. I have seen the most amazing colors and sizes of all kinds of bugs since being here!
Day 17 --- Being there
Wednesday Oct 13
YAY another day at the clinic! It was day of weighing babies, giving shots, doing teachings and talking with the people to learn more about the community. In the midst of the hassle and tussle there was a woman laying alone in the labor room waiting to deliver her baby, but this was not a time of excitement and rejoicing. We found out that she was only 7-8 months along, but her baby had passed away in her womb five days before. She was in induced labor. She was not allowed to get up because of the treatment she was given and things were moving very slow. I asked my leader for permission and left the area I had been working in. I made a little stop at the shop outside and picked up a couple of bananas on my way to the labor room where I found the mom, still laying down and facing the wall with her back towards me. I wasn't sure how she would react but I wanted to be there for her, so I went and placed my hand on her and said "Habari mama?'" (how are you) She turned towards me and I could see her eyes filled with tears. I showed her the bananas and she was very thankful for them. I was very thankful that she took them as well. I folded my hands and asked her if I could pray for her as well, she also was grateful that I asked. I placed my hands on her belly and prayed for her. I was able to sit with her for a bit longer and show her how sorry I was. Although we didn't speak the same language I could tell you was at peace and was glad someone was with her. I soon had to go back to my other jobs but I kept checking on her throughout the morning and soon it was time to go home. I don't know why the baby didn't make it, I don't even know the mothers name, but I do know I was placed there to care, comfort and pray with her even if it was just for a bit.
From dreams to reality
Africa, a land where its rich culture, wild animals, jungles, safaris, tribal dances and lively drum beats use to be the first things that comes to people’s minds when they hear that name…but for the last 50 years or so it seems to be known more and more commonly for the brutal wars, poverty, corruption, deaths, and many other things that are ravaging the land. Yet, with all these things marring Africa’s face, her true beauty is still there, one of the ways to see it is to get to know her... and that is what we are doing!
Day 1 ---- Unpack
We are still getting use to things here as we unpack, not only our bags, but our minds as well. Life here goes under the trees, over the hills, through the tall grass, crosses paths with crazy bugs, eats food from the garden, takes “bucket” showers under the stars, wears long skirts under the hot sun, sweeps the dirt, washes everything by hand, uses squatty potties, sleeps under mosquito nets, envelops you in a new language, eats with your hands, kicks a ball around with little children... yes life goes on and on, because that was only Day 1!
Day 5 ---- Village
We have only been here a few days but since we may have to wait a while to get our working visas, we have jumped into getting to know the community! On Friday October 1st, I went into the village with a few other women to talk with the people. In one short trip into the village we were connected with a few locals and a pastor of a “large” church who will let us come do health care teachings with all the women there. Just the opportunity we were looking for!
Soon we will begin "profiling". We will go out into the village and find women to talk with. We ask them different kinds of questions, like what food is available here to what kind of spiritual rituals they do. Our goal is to speak with over one hundred women in this area so that we can see what we are working with, what their knowledge level is and what resources are open for them. It's also a way to teach women about their health, share the gospel and give women confidence about seeking help at the clinics when it's needed. It helps that the people here are very welcoming!
Day 6 ---- Beach
On our day off so we went to the beach! We crammed into a "dala dala" (a van made to hold 12 people) with 36 people! After swimming in the very blue water; I ripped some fabric off the bottom of my skirt with my teeth to wrap my friends bleeding foot, I had to stop a girl from stealing our stuff, I got super sun burned, I carried my friend with the hurt foot across the sandy beach and up a hill via piggy back then came home the same way we went, crammed into a "dala dala". Once back home had a very late dinner of beans and rice.
Day 7 ---- Church
If you are a guest at a church here they expect you to come ready to share a song, testimony and/or preach the whole sermon. I was only with a small group but we did all of that. Then we went to a house of one of the church members to pray over a man who had just lost his father. The the kids at the house took great pride in showing us there 19 day old calf.
Day 11 ---- Clinic
Yay! The first day I was finally able to take everything I had been learning and put it into practice! The YWAM base we are staying on also has a clinic. We have been going there (a few students at a time) as a way of “easing our way in” so that we will be more prepared when it comes to working at the hospital! At the clinic I was sent to work alongside the head midwife for an hour, it was so nice to just be there and watch her work. I watched her lay her hands on a mother's huge belly and start to feel her way around trying to find out how the baby was laying inside. I stood on the other side watching in amazement when she then took my hands and quickly showed me what she was doing by guiding my hands in hers. When the second women came in, I again stood off to the side in excitement to watch her in action, but that is not what happened... She looked at me with a smile and said "Why are you over there? You’re the midwife now, you do it." She then put me up front and center and let me do the job while she just watched and waited for any questions. By the third women she had left the room and let me tell her the verdict when she returned. In the hour I was able to take women's vitals, find and count the baby's heartbeat, and palpate three women. I couldn't believe that I was actually doing what I have been waiting so long to do!
Once my hour was up I was sent to the lab where I was able to help do tests for malaria, HIV and other bloodborne pathogens. I also got to see malaria under a microscope! After that my teammate Joy and I did a health care teaching for the women at the clinic, shared the gospel and prayed over the mothers and their children.
Day 12 ---- Now
So how do I have internet? My team found a place about an hour and a half ride from our base with internet. So I may be able to come here another time but it won't be very often.
I love you all so much! Thank you for all of your prayers, encouragement and support.
Hi, I'm Kaitlin. I love traveling and working as a midwife. These are a few of my adventures and the lessons I've learned from them, as well as lessons I'm still learning.