toward the ledge:

changing the world thru loving and serving others. without agenda


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africa is not done with me yet….

in less than a month, i will be back on home turf. 🙂 it is rather difficult to believe that 3 months is already nearly gone. i’ve learned so much – about africa. about life. about myself. about poverty and the strength of others. about the world. and i realize that this 3 months was just ‘dipping my toe’ in the water, so to speak. i’m not alone in having mixed emotions about the end of my volunteer period – i’ve spoken to many others that also find themselves not ready to re-enter the ‘normal’ life, whatever that may be. many of them extend their stays. others return later. others hope to return but can’t or don’t. and i’ve learned that africa gets in your blood. hmmm.

and so. if you are on fb with me, you know by now that i fall in the middle group – returning later. i will return to africa in september, and this time, I will stay for a year.

what i haven’t told you yet is WHAT i will be doing during that year. i will join the staff of foot 2 afrika as volunteer coordinator/house manager. you know about my work with the orphanages and women’s group – and by the way – a big thank you to those of you that have sent funds to help support the groups and/or ordered bags from the woman’s group! XOXO! i have also been assisting with some marketing help, such as revamping of the website (kudos to my awesome friend debbie daniels/internetworks who agreed to volunteer for this!) and new logo (ditto kudos to the fab cindy reed/cyn-pro graphics who made johnson very happy with the new look!). i also have been interacting with prospective volunteers, learning about visas and immigration, hostel management, etc.

when i return in september i will work more closely with volunteers and the community organizations, making sure everything is working smoothly, as well as other aspects of hostel management. i will be busy and i do have a lot to learn. but much of this is a perfect fit for me as well. i love this organization and the people behind it, and i’m thrilled to be part of the team. but also important to me – i will be able to still spend time with our project organizations – to love the children, feed and clothe them, help educate, plant a tree – whether that is through my own (albeit limited) personal funds, my time, or connecting my friends and family to these opportunities to make a difference. i think that this is what, when we cut through all the rhetoric, religiosity and rhyme, jesus calls us to do. love others through action. hands on. i don’t know that i’m doing any or all of the right things but all i can say is that it’s what i feel called to do right now. and i feel quite lucky to be in this place.

when i return home in june, i will have lots of fun partying with you, catching up, delivering purses, and shopping for the stuff i know i need to bring back. but then…there are some other things i must deal with. the financial sort. i have only a limited amount of savings remaining. i can live quite cheaply here as my room and board are my pay for the job. but i must reduce those darn expenses back home. it just seems that maintaining a car payment and storage payments (for the stuff i didn’t sell or give away) for a year, well, just doesn’t make a whole heck of a lot of sense. oh yeah. i’m gonna have to deal with the iphone too. i doooooo love my technology but honestly my cell phone bill is almost as much as a car payment. sigh. i confess….i am having a bit of heartburn thinking of letting my sweet little white inifiniti g35 go…..but *shrug* it’s just a car. and it’s just a cell phone. i keep telling myself that. maybe there’s an option! *wishing hopefully* i DO need a cell phone after all… 🙂

well, i have no idea of what comes after this next year of life in africa. but i know it’s where i should be. i am looking forward to it. i will use every bit of savings to live simply and cheaply here while following my heart. and i will continue to trust that all things will work out as they should if i do the right things. doing what god is leading me to do. i feel pretty darn lucky all things considered. 🙂

oh, i still always appreciate your support. you don’t know how much it means to me when you tell me you read my blog, that you look forward to it, that you are inspired by it, that you think i’m a good writer…actually whatever you tell me, i love it. 🙂 and i’m so very much looking forward to seeing you, and talking to you in person. three months will fly by quickly at home too, so we’ll all have to work hard to get our get togethers, lunches, parties, etc arranged. but i will find time.

and thanks also to those of you that supported me financially as i came here almost 3 months ago, and have sent money to help our children here. you have been blessed many times by those that received your gifts. and i continue to says blessings and thank for you.

all works of love are works of peace. wherever you are in the world, you can do your own works of love!

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banana stew. paper pulp. wood delivery. mvua kubwa. stories of heart.

pole sana for my lapse in blogging. have been busy. some power outages. waiting for the (w)rite words to come to me.

i have less than one month to go, as per the original plan. i still do not know what i will do come june 14. time seems as if it is trip trapping along rapidly and altho i now live off of the clock and calendar, days fly by with many things to do.

as most of you have noticed and/or commented – i love life here, the people, the scenes, the colors, what i am doing. there are still things that i want to accomplish. but there are some things that draw me back, at least for a while. one of which is my son, lucas, who i haven’t seen since july 2010. he will be back home the first of june and he will be leaving again in august to continue his awesome work of love. i have a strong need to see my kid, talk to him face to face, shower him with hugs and kisses and just be. altho i guess since he will turn 30 this august, he’s certainly not a kid anymore. 🙂 (and yes, i was became a mother quite young LOL. yikes how did this happen?) and of course, there are all of you, my friends. i am quite grateful for skype, as it has allowed me to talk to you, and with the powers of technology, see each other in real time. i look forward to those welcome back parties, and opportunities to speak to groups about what i’ve been doing.

but for this moment. this day. this time. i live each day with the thought ‘how can i help’ in mind. when the time is right for me to know what to do next…i will know.

MVUA KUBWA: lots of rain 🙂 and by the way, it’s really fun to say. m voo a koo bwa. say it fast, it really rolls off your tongue. we have had several days of all night and morning rains this week. while back in the US, a rainy day may be merely dreary, we just hop in our cars and splish splash to our destination. here, because we walk everywhere, many of the dirt roads are impassable and even cars have difficulties navigating. however, when the sun pops out and it is amazing how quickly roads soak up the moisture. rain is considered a blessing – for the crops, for the hydro electricity dam (remember those frequent power outages).

BANANA STEW: one night, dinner was banana stew. don’t know about you but never have i heard of it or considered trying it. but i found it interesting and tasty. here, bananas are most often roasted or fried. the only time i like them (they are not sweet fruity tasting like the bananas we eat at home) is when sarafina makes them – they are rather like potatoes. and i would suspect that they are like plantains although i haven’t heard that reference.

PAPER PULP: one of the projects foot 2 afrika coordinates volunteers with is a community organization that has the heart for reforestation and other similar environmental issues. one of our current volunteers has been assisting them for 2 weeks; i accompanied her to learn more. i love trees, love their texture, bark, and enjoy learning more about indigenous trees. during my visit to KIVIWAMA, our job that day was to beat wood chips, that had been previously soaked, boiled, beaten once, and now twice. the resulting mush would be formed and stretched into lovely pieces of textured recycled paper. enjoy photos (if you haven’t already seen this from fb) . i loved being there in this foresty area and it was a bonus doing the pounding of the pulp 🙂

WOOD DELIVERY: this seems like an odd thing but the story is about a volunteer who had some money from friends – and how best to help. there’s a bit more saga to the story but you probably have to be here to appreciate it. trust me 🙂 anyway…today the wood was to be loaded up and delivered to the orphanage.

julia, moi and the driver, who didn’t have a clue where to go took off in the truck. although i had a bit of a clue, since i’d been there 2 times. but as i wasn’t confident, i had him to speak to the director on the phone to get directions. mmm, that apparently didn’t help him tho because we were soon lost (altho i knew that we weren’t far, i just didn’t know where we were exactly.) the roads were a muddy mess; we wondered if we’d get stuck ‘somewhere’ in this truck loaded with firewood. at one point, he stopped the truck, turned off the engine and got out, apparently hoping someone would wander by to tell him where we were going. julia and i are laughing by this point and to make matters worse, my tanzanian phone had run out of credits right after the driver spoke to the director. meaning i couldn’t call anyone for help. sigh.

i had a simple (but not very good) map that i drew the last time i was at the orphanage; however, communication issues between the driver and i were less than effective. i would talk, he would act like he understood. which he obviously didn’t. he spoke no english, my swahili is too basic 🙂

anyway, while we were stopped, and he was smoking a cig, i got out, asked a couple of guys walking by if they spoke english, showed them my map and mentioned the director’s name. it was a bit more involved than that, but it’s the highlights 🙂 aha! one of them knew her, and he climbed in the truck, julia on his lap, me crammed into the gear shift. and away we went. the wood was finally successfully delivered and unloaded. well, we got some good laughs out of it anyhow. actually julia and i have been laughing all evening; not sure how funny anyone else thinks it is, but as i said…you might have had to be there. navigating in a foreign country and not having someone with you that understands both languages can result in an interesting adventure 🙂

STORIES OF THE HEART: over and over, and particularly this week, i have the privilege to meet loving caring individuals that have identified a need to care for orphaned or abandoned children. they do not have the money. they are overwhelmed by the needs and responsibility. but they realize, if not for them, who? who would make sure that these children are clothed, fed, educated, loved.

i wonder how many of us would answer that call, to that level of commitment? with no pay. no resources. just trust. just knowing it’s the right, maybe only, thing to do. when i listen to their stories, i see their heart, their spirit and love for the children. and they just trust that God will provide. primarily support comes from and through volunteers as there are no governmental agencies to provide assistance, financial or otherwise.

one of the places we visited this week was started just a few months ago by a young woman in her 20s. she is working on her master’s in public administration. but she has taken 5 children ages 3-6 that needed care, she answered the call of her heart and now will likely assume the responsibility for many years to come. she would like to help more children but the fact is, she is struggling to make things work for the new family she now has. meet the hope village for orphaned and vulnerable children in this fb album.

and it’s daunting here – everywhere you turn there is a vulnerable child-left homeless, parentless by HIV/AIDS, neglect, abuse-that needs to be cared for. i am inspired by the hearts of margaret, folkward, and now young cecilia, as well as the others that i do not know but are in similar situations.

and it causes me to then examine my own self – what would i be willing to do if faced with a similar set of circumstances. what would you be willing to do? and what can we do to help?

asante sana to you, those that have asked how you can help from home. those that have sent money (via paypal to debmarshall77@live.com) already to help, those that have ordered purses to support the rudisha women group. together, with small or large amounts of money, we collectively do make a difference.

so now…are you ready to learn a few swahili phrase lessons?

si kosa langu – it is not my fault
nafahamu – i understand
nenda zako – go away
moja kwa moja – straight ahead
silali vizuri – i do not sleep well
kichwa kinauma – a headache

it’s almost bedtime here, so i’ll say lala salama and nakupende