Thursday, April 19, 2007

Afrikan Adventure: Desperate times call for desperate measures

Last week I had the opportunity to tag along with one of the girls on our team who was doing a weeklong HIV/AIDS course/Bible study at Chisomo, a centre for street kids. It was a really cool opportunity. Chisomo, meaning “grace” in Nyanja, is a place I visited three years ago when I was here and was a big reason I wanted to come back to work youth. They are now in a new facility where they can actually house about 40 kids which is awesome as the nights are the hardest time for kids on the street. They also provide three meals a day, showers, they have school rooms, etc. The week was really good. There were 10 kids in total who went through the course, ranging in age from about 14-17 years old. We talked about the specifics about the HIV/AIDS as well as the spiritual side and the implications of our decisions and knowing what it is to be created and loved by God. On Friday there was the opportunity for them to get tested, which is a big obstacle for people to overcome because if they get tested and are positive they risk being stigmatized and ostracized so the fear of what the results might bring often detour people from getting tested. By the time we got to the clinic all 10 decided they wanted to get tested and you could tell they were pretty nervous. I was pretty nervous too, as with 10 being tested the likeliness of at least one being positive was fairly high. And as things go here in Africa we waited…and we waited…and we waited. It took about five hours to get everyone through. And at the end of it all…all 10 tested negative!!! It was so awesome. You should have seen the looks on their faces as they each came out…it was priceless, they were so excited and relieved. We sang songs in the truck as we drove back, stopping for a celebratory ice cream on the way. They all said how they were going to make good choices and not waist their lives from now on. Although in a place like this with the pressures and temptations these guys face on a daily basis that’s easier said than done, but I know with God they can do it. So it was a good time to meet and hang out with these youth and I hope to be able to go back more regularly.

I continue to work with our Saturday morning kids club in our neighbourhood. Although this past Saturday only three showed up because of some miscommunication. But it was still good. We sang and bunch of songs and learned about day 5 of creation.

Then it was off to choir at church! I brought my guitar and we prepared a song for the next day. We also started learning a song in one of the vernacular languages which I was stoked about! That ones comin’ up this Sunday!!

The inklings of culture fatigue are beginning to set in . We have had some problems with theft just outside our wall fence with our water supply and as a result, where we once had just no water pressure or hot water, now we have absolutely no water at all. The pump is no longer working and so we no longer can bathe, drink, wash hands, or flush toilets and only have a small ration of water in a couple barrels. As of last night we have dug ourselves a nice little hole I like to refer to as “the Spiffy Biffy of Dreams” and no longer use the indoor facilities. It was all starting to get to me until Luke, one of our teammates, mentioned it’s kinda like “Survivor”. At that point I was all in! I’m gonna start eating just rice out of a coconut shell bowl, only wearing my bathing suit all day long, and setting up obstacle courses and food challenges. It’s pretty much my dream situation.

It has also come to pass that since there are two of us named “Shannon” here right now that the other one is referred to as “Lil’ Shannon” (being that she is younger than I), leaving me to be referred to as “Big Shannon”. I’m not sure how I feel about all of this, as flattering of a title as that is and all…

So this week…I am hoping to go to an all girls orphanage on Saturday morning to record them which should be good. I’m just hoping all my equipment will hold up to make it possible. Right now we have a couple, Steve and Patty Hupp, from Indiana who are starting the adoption process to adopt a little girl named Mary from one of the orphanages we work with. They are a great couple and we’ve had fun getting to know them and help them through this process. Today I went along to the orphanage and brought my guitar and sang with the kids a little bit…as well as held some pretty cute babies. There are these two year old twin boys named Peter and Paul, and then with the Hupps little girl being Mary…we’ve got ourselves a little group I like to call, “Peter, Paul, and Mary”. Although being two weeks old Peter and Paul just can’t pull out the low end tones on Puff the Magic Dragon like one would hope for…we’ll work on it though.

So that’s the latest scoop for the most part. There are definitely some frustrating times both in just living here and trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing here. It’s not all sunshine and lollypops, but I’m doing okay! I’m working on getting more posted onto the blog…stay tuned for “Big Shannon gets snotted on by an elephant!” (no joke). I’m also working on getting pictures posted from my Zanzibar trip. Thanks so much for all your prayers, encouragement, and support…it is more appreciated every day that passes! I hope this email finds you well. Take Care!


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