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Journals: Travel | First Impressions | AIDS Orphanage | Leaving Kenya | Zimbabwe | Leaving

AIDS Orphanage

Rebekah Good writes:

I'm borrowing Don's tie between the last two days because, in my mind, they are as different as they come.

We started Monday morning with MCC Kenya and the peace trees. Hearing about how the different trees symbolize peace was very interesting and got me thinking. Mostly it was about my family's interaction in Olepolos and the peace symbols that played a role there. I was also struck by a comment Ben Bixler made that Africa starts peace at the roots, at home, and goes out. He mentioned that so often in the U.S. it seems that we start with the government and work our way back to the home. For me that has been a frustration in understanding a lot about pacifism.

Leaving those thoughts on hold, we heard from Bishop Okeyo in the afternoon. His comment on missionaries and church were profound. One of my favorite quotes from him was that missionaries must "work with, not for the people." I think going to bed Monday night was a bit frustrating with so much to think about.

Tuesday for me was less fact and idea learning and more emotional learning. I didn't think going back to New Life Aids Orphanage would be as emotionally hard as it was. Having been there a week before the group came allowed me to make some connections with the kids. Camila was a girl I became especially attached to. Thankfully she was being adopted so I thought she would be gone when we came. Nope! She was still there and still came to me. Just spending that time with her and knowing that her adoption is not going well was really hard for me to deal with. I didn't realize how much of my own heart I had given to her. Thankfully, it was naptime when we left so I didn't have to fight with her to let me go like before.

That stayed on my heart the rest of the day. It is so true as they say in Senegal (or so I hear): children are "God's bits of wood."

Going next to the craft place was really heard. The way they made the bone and carvings was interesting, but my mind was very far away. Yet, even in the crafts place, the way they worked and helped each other was incredible.

Our debriefing Tuesday night was a good way to tie all these pieces together. Don was right, these are all pieces of wood that God is working with, even me.

Ben Tyson writes:

Do I like being at the AIDS orphanage? Yeah, not so much. Don't get me wrong, the work they do there is great, but not for me.

In fact, I've never had a thing for toddlers or infants. I don't know how to handle them, and I really don't like holding them. Plus, it is super hot out here in the sun, and I'm tired. What's this I hear? The group wants to stay until lunch time in order to see them eat? Oh, my! Another hour or more in this place! I'm not sure I can keep my sanity much longer. I guess I'll go inside and see what's happening in the infant room since it's hot out here.

That's the way I felt the whole time I was touring the AIDS orphanage and sitting outside watching the toddlers. I was glad that others were having fun holding the babies and playing with them, but I was bored. So, I went inside to check out the infants and met my dad. Before I knew what was happening--and much to my regret--I was holding one of them. My dad had passed her on to me to hold for a while. Alright, I can do this. I know feeding time is soon, so I'll just hold her for a while and then be able to get rid of her and let someone else feed her.

Whew! It's feeding time. All I need to do is finish putting her in this high chair, and I'll be able to go sit down. What?! No, I don't want to feed her! Making me watch her eat will probably make me loose my appetite for lunch. Fine, I'll do it! Alright, here comes the choo-choo train. Yummy, yummy, yummy. Actually, this isn't as bad as I thought. Most of the food is going into her mouth. Okay, now to the bottle. Now what?

She is done eating and drinking. Nap time, right? Nope, I have to hold her. "sigh" Alright, I've done it before. It won't be that bad. Plus, it is only for a little while. I held Molly for a good twenty to thirty minutes after she was done eating. By the time nap time was upon us and the nurses were ready to put her in the crib, I did not want to let go! I was having fun!

Molly and I played together, clapped together, played airplane and horse, and just sat together. I talked to her, sang to her, and developed a relationship with her that I will never forget. It felt so refreshing to break down that wall and be able to hold and play with infants. I was able to carry Molly all the way to her crib, and though I will never see her again, she changed my life in a way she will never understand.

All she had to do was be a baby, as the Lord took me out of my comfort zone and softened my heart.


Photo galleries:
(most to least recent)

Victoria Falls
and GYS

AIDS orphanage

Gallery 2
First impressions

Gallery 1
Travel and arrival