Luke 24:13-32
This is Jesus heartburn(I have to credit Dallas Willard for this term!)...31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

Friday, June 25, 2010

If you say…”I love the rain”…they will flog you!

This morning we had the opportunity to visit Kroo Bay, one of the areas of Freetown where the poverty is so desperate and obvious. It was my first visit and I've heard the stories and seen pictures but I was unprepared for what I encountered. We had been saying the last several weeks that the rain was nice. I've always found rain to be so soothing and a good thing. The Sierra Leoneans would laugh and say just wait…the raining season is not good. Yesterday, we were told, "if you say, 'I love the rain!' in Kroo Bay they will flog you!" Today I discovered why! We were there to give out soccer balls and to visit the soccer field; while we were there it began to rain very hard and the amount of garbage and water flooding down the hills into this community was unreal. If you can imagine a place where people are already living in the worst of conditions…there is garbage everywhere, giant pigs, naked children, and shelters build of mud, sticks and some tin; pile in 20000 people and tons of garbage you are in Kroo Bay. I watched as a young girl and boy tried to cross a fast flowing river of garbage and sewage; risking their lives because we were handing out beanie babies. In that same river boys were collecting plastic bottles as they swept past. During the rainy season, children die daily in this community from disease, starvation, and flooding. The soccer field where the kids played was calf deep in water and garbage.

Everywhere I look in this country my heart breaks. Babies die in the hospital because of starvation and abandonment. Teen moms are shunned by their families and schools and have no where to go. No one to help them figure out a way to survive and raise their children. Boys who play football all day (these are the lucky ones) instead of school because they cannot afford an education and there is a dream that soccer might be a way out. Organizations and groups that have given up or have moved on because life and work here is so difficult; my heart breaks and calls out to God…what can we do to serve and love them. How can I be a part of the solution, not just another who gives and forgets but one who teaches and creates ways to help these beautiful people sustain life and thrive.

And then I return to my home and Aunty Marie shares with me her heart for the children at The Covering and her heart for her people. She was so excited to tell me that she dreams of micro-finance loans for single parents to help them support their families. She loves the children at The Covering and is a wonderful aunty, but she raised her 4 children alone, and admits that she considered leaving them at an orphanage when they were young. It was impossible to feed them and send them to school and she felt that they would have opportunity and better if she gave them up. BUT someone came alongside her and helped her to start a business and receive some training. They encouraged her to care for her children and work hard to feed them. They helped with education and gave her the ability to stand on her own two feet. Today she has 4 grown children and she is a strong woman…she has so much to offer these girls who are coming up behind her. I am excited to see how God will use her in my life and in the lives of so many that she will continue to encourage and touch.

It has been a busy week with the team from America here visiting the kids and Freetown. Unfortunately for them they were only able to be on the ground for 4 full days. They made the most of it though and we ran (or I should say sat in trafficJ) from early morning until nearly midnight each of the night they were here. We had the opportunity to visit the children's hospital, Parliament, Kroo Bay, Moyumba (I'm pretty sure I spelled that wrong) and of course time with the children at The Covering. I left them at the helicopter pad today with mixed emotions. I will miss them, especially Ashley who has been my roomie and confidant for the last 3 weeks! But I also was so glad to not be getting on that helicopter and coming home yet. I miss everyone but God has called me to this place for right now and I had this overwhelming sense that there is so much to do. My purpose here has become clearer and it's time to get to work! So, I'm taking tomorrow (Saturday) as a day to rest and settle into my living space alone and Sunday afternoon I will go visit the children and then Monday I will begin to really move forward into this ministry.

Just one last picture...I tried to take a panoramic of all the kids at the welcoming celebration on Monday. Kids move though so the "stiching" together made for some interesting poses!