Click on one of these a day! You may find a new favorite blog!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Africa: Aid Child

Most people, when they go to a foreign country, realize how great we have it here in America. This I did not need to learn. I have been in love with our country since I saw The Patriot years ago. I remember walking out of the movie theater saying, "I freaking LOVE America."

I also remember walking out of the movie theater saying, "I freaking LOVE Mel Gibson," but that's another blog entry entirely.

Most people have a hard time adjusting after being in a third world country. I was struck last night by the opposite, at how easily I assimilate back into the old way of things. Last night, I was severely annoyed at my poor ball skills at the soccer game. As if just last week, I wasn't holding a dying woman in my arms at the hospital. Sure, I never voice it, but in the pit of me, I must feel as if my poor ball playing skills actually matter in the grand scheme of things, because if they didn't, then why would I get so twisted up inside when I make a bad pass? Why would that flood my mind more than the memory of this face?

The truth is, I'm a pretty lousy human being, but there is such freedom in recognizing that.

I love books -- all books (This is going to relate, just go with me for a minute). When I was in 11th grade AP English (that's not saying much; I pulled a C- and cheated my way through the entire class). Anyway, the one thing I remember Mr. Kucan saying was, "If you read no other book in your life, read the bible. It's the most brilliant piece of literature out there." He was far from religious, so maybe that's why I remember it.

So I did, eventually, and he wasn't kidding. It's such a tight piece of work. Long as *%&!, but I also believe unless you're Ayn Rand, you've got pages to cut. I have a short attention span. Don't get me started on Stephanie Meyer. Point is: In the bible, all the elements of a brilliant literary work are present. Its main character is God, its conflict is sin, its theme is redemption; it has a kick-ass antagonist; it's grounded in geography, emerges from history, and in its final finished form, is a unified literary work. Brilliant.

Just like these smiles.

One of the repeated themes in the book is this idea of remembrance. "Remember," this God says over and over. "Remember, remember, remember." Set up memorials: pictures, stones, signs, monuments, whatever will help you remember. Tell your children and your children's children, and instruct them to tell their children. Bind it to your forehead (not making that up. It says it). Remind yourself out loud.

"Recall the ways I acted," is God's incessant repetition, "so you don't forget that I will continue to act."

Why does He hammer this into our heads like a scratched record of Bruce Springstein's "I'm Going Down"? Because we forget. We're forgetters. The hard core Christians love to remind us that we're sinners (Duh. Thanks, Captain Obvious), but I think the worse sin is that we're forgetters.

I'm definitely a forgetter.

I forget moments like this:

And this:

And that's how it relates. The bible example reminds me to remind myself in ANY way I can, so that making a bad pass in soccer does not dwarf the circumstances that exist and continue to exist outside of my immediate world.

So let me take you to a very special place we visited while in Africa, so you can help me remember all the great things that went on that day, and all the special lives that continue to love and be loved without my impact at all.

Aidchild’s mission statement is: “To provide kids’ centres, including: homes, innovative medical care, psychosocial support, and education to orphans living with AIDS who do not have the support of extended families.”

If you would like to read the founder's congressional statement to the Congress regarding AidChild, click HERE.

The kids we visited were not merely orphans; they were orphans with AIDS. But that didn't stop their joy for life. They welcomed us with wonderful songs. Here are the lyrics just in case you can't decipher the thick accent:

Our dear visitors, you're welcome
We've been waiting for you
(Are you sure)
I'm sure, and I know, we are ready to dance for you.

OMG, don't you just want to dip a chip in them? They are so precious. There are 39 children at this orphanage in Mpiji, and we were lucky enough to get the chance to spend the day with them.

We spent the day repainting the outside walls of their school, but it really wasn't that big of a sacrifice. They were painting with us, we were having a blast, and in the meantime, work got done.

This is Mathew:

This is Mathew's tongue:
This is Mathew singing the welcome song:

This is Mathew trying to teach me the welcome song:

Although it's definitely healthy to remember where we fall short, it's also important to remember the moments when we do okay; otherwise, despair can swallow us whole, and that's the opposite of being "more than conquerors," which we are thanks to Someone who made us that way.

Moments of "okay"-ness:

There are moments when Brooke forgets her "rocket scientist" brain and just becomes a "rock star" of silliness for the sake of one kid.

And when Paul forgets his "rockstar" brain, and becomes a "rocket scientist" of detail for the sake of one kid.

When Jeami shows more compassion than anyone you've ever seen, for the sake of one kid.

I am surrounded by people who fall short, but those people are actually okay sometimes too. Sometimes they're downright amazing.

At the end of the day, the project is finished.

How easy it is for me to remember the project more than the people. Here's a glimpse so that when I forget, I can remember...



  1. I am LOVING your blog Heather! Thank you! I love the pictures - everything! Zack is going to FREAK when he sees the picture of the boys playing LEGOS b/c that was his one request was to go play LEGOS with "my Africa friends". Thank you for sharing your heart - just awesome!
    Lori Eastman

  2. I love the idea of remembering. I believe it is our job as humans to serve each other, and I guess in each act, we see directly the connection we have to all living things. These children are absolutely beautiful. It's in their smiles. The genuineness. Appreciation. Joy. All these things exist within the hardship of their lives.

    For me, finding this connection in person is what makes me remember I'm human. Does that make sense?

    I wish I went with you!!!!!