Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wabuta Wednesday

What an emotional roller coaster I have been on in the past two days. I have honestly had some of the most joyful as well as sorrowful moments of my entire life packed into these past two days. I will begin with yesterday.

Yesterday was already going to be a hard day since it was our last day in Namwianga and with the babies. We woke up to a wonderful breakfast of pancakes, which was a delight as always. We then walked to the Haven and picked up our little toddlers from Eric’s house. Whenever we arrived to Haven 3 for therapy I went to see if I could persuade any of the troublemakers to come to therapy with me on the last day. Surprisingly I got Emma to come sit with me in class, which I was excited about. So Emma and Lee shared my lap today while we sang all of our songs and did our therapy. After therapy I took some hilarious pictures of Emma, Katy, and Linny that are too precious for words. Lets just say I am so glad that I brought sunglasses with me because those pictures might be some of my favorites I have taken. I was so happy that those 3 girls were in a good mood and wanted to play with me because they can be completely precious. Unfortunately that time went by too quickly and it was time to take the boys back to Eric’s house. I carried Kritz back one last time and took a picture with him because I knew the afternoon would not go as originally planned. Ben, Lauren, and I headed to our next language therapy in Haven 1. I had to lead again but I was ready to do so. Like clockwork, I yet again put Reuben to sleep during our table time. Dr. Weaver and Dr. Tullos get a kick out of this and always document. I do not see how he can fall asleep when I am making up amazing versions to the Busy Bee book. Just like the other session, this one was over too quickly as well. I decided to film our walk back so I could always remember it; I am so glad that I did. Ben and I ran into Dr. Tullos, Reagan, and Shanna waiting for cows to pass on the path; it makes for a very interesting addition to the video. For lunch we had everyone’s favorite meal, fried chicken Ba Leonard style, plus pumpkin cake. I was excited about the pumpkin cake, I must admit though, I am very sad I did not really experience his apple cake due to an illness the one time he made it. Guess I will just have to come back next year :)

The afternoon was one of the hardest times I have had in my entire life. A funeral for Andrew, one of the toddlers we worked with while here, was this afternoon. Instead of doing therapy for our last afternoon we attended his funeral behind the Havens. I have never been to a child’s funeral before so it was very emotional and hard. There were so many Zambians that came to remember that sweet boy including all of the Aunties that work in the Havens. It was really moving to see how loved he was by all of the people there; there was not a dry eye anywhere around. Although all of us were mourning and will never forget Andrew, I know he is now in a better place and no longer in pain. This is a time of my life that I cannot adequately describe in words over a blog but has impacted me for the rest of my life. I will never forget this day as long as I live. While back there we saw the graves of all the children that have passed away over the years from the different Havens. It really puts your life in perspective knowing how short it is and to always remember what really matters. Meagan talked about Andrew’s life and we all stood around while the Aunties sang as he was buried. It was a very emotional experience and I ask that everyone continue to keep us in your prayers as we continually deal with this experience. In addition please keep Andrew’s family and everyone associated with the Havens that knew and loved him in your prayers as well. After the funeral, we were not asked to do therapy any more and could just go love on the babies. Everyone was really sad and I was not sure how I was going to move past mourning the loss of Andrew when suddenly one of my favorite children was seen. A little clumsy boy named Nathan was standing in the doorway with dirt and mud completely covering his face. As soon as all of us saw him we could not help but laugh. I honestly believe it was a gift from God that he was like this snapping us back into the moment and remembering that these babies need our love. I absolutely love this little child; I call him dinosaur because I think he looks like a little dinosaur. We all chitanged babies to our backs and loved on them for as long as we had left. We then had to say goodbye to all of the little ones and leave the Haven for the last time. Honestly, this has still not hit me yet. I love all of those children so much and will never forget their faces and how they have changed my life forever. Like before, a lighthearted moment was given in our sad moods as we took funny pictures on our walk back. We arrived home for dinner and then had to begin the packing journey.

After packing all of the CSD stuff, Ben and I went to Mrs. Mono’s and then to find Mark before leaving. I am so glad we were able to find and talk to both of them. We talked to Mark for a while and he continually told us how sad he was we were leaving; he is one person I will also miss but I am glad to have the opportunity to talk to him thanks to technology. Then Lauren and I went to find Grace another college student to say goodbye to her. I honestly love all of the people here; they are so sad to see us go. Even the people I have never met before say they are sad and always wish us a good journey. Grace’s last words to Lauren and me were “God bless you” and I know she meant it with all of her heart. I wish I could have gotten to know more of the college students better over my time here. Finally it was time to head back and hang out with Justin and Webster one last time. A group of us sat around and ate some leftover Shema with them. Although Shema is not my favorite, I took part in the shema party and they taught us how to eat it Zambian style. They are so funny. There were many pictures taken, and sadly tears. I just keep telling myself I am just going to have to come back next year. Finally around 11:30 I began packing for home, always the procrastinator. I have not written in great detail all of the emotions I have felt today but I honestly think it is not possible to completely portray it. All I know is today is a day that has significantly changed my life and I will never forget it as long as I live.

Today (Wednesday)

Sadly the day to leave Namwianga came this morning. I have been dreading this day for a while. After eating homemade biscuits one last time we all piled into the lovely van (which getting it is a story in and of itself) and was ready to travel to Lusaka. Ben and I sat in the back with the Tullos’ again. This ride was quite different from the first time. It was a lot quieter. Honestly most of us are worn out from the past few days here. I was able to nap a little bit but mostly enjoyed seeing the different terrain of Zambia. We stopped at Tudors for lunch and I had chicken and chips again. After lunch we piled back into the bus and finished our journey. It has not really hit me still that I am leaving; only once in a while do I realize it and get sad. Upon arrival to Lusaka we unloaded and went to our rooms. Then Liz, Lauren, Ben, and I walked around the shopping center a little figuring out what to do tonight. We found a little cafĂ© to eat dinner at and tonight are going to see Pirates of the Caribbean at the theater by our hotel. So for my last night in Zambia I will be going to see a movie. Ironic? Maybe a little. Hopefully it is good.

I still cannot believe I have been blessed to experience this opportunity and I praise God daily for the blessings I have been given. I have loved every moment of being in Zambia and could not love the people here any more. Zambia will forever more be placed on my heart and I will be looking for any chance I can get to come back to see all of the wonderful people in this country. I thank everyone that has supported me through this trip and thank you for all of the prayers. Please continue to pray that we have a safe journey tomorrow as we continue our way home. To God be the glory for every life we have touched while being over here and I pray his work continues in Namwianga and in Zambia. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Final Monday

Blogging. Yay. I haven’t blogged for the past two days. So, the past two days have been quite emotional.

Sunday was our last day at church here in Zambia. In the morning I held Seth, which was probably not the wisest decision when it comes to paying attention. He is a little troublemaker to the max. He did well for almost all of the service until like 15 minutes before children’s church; then I had to hand him off to someone in the back so he would not cry throughout the rest of church. I then went to children’s church, which is completely precious. I love hearing all of the children singing and learning bible stories. After church was over we had a wonderful lunch prepared by Mrs. Ellie before I headed off to the Havens.

Upon heading to the Haven’s I realized I do not have my journal in my possession any longer causing me some stress. I headed to the Haven to yet again work on my capstone project. After working with some of the babies in Haven 1 I went over to Haven 3 for some fun time. I played with Emma, Katy, and Linny. I love whenever they are in the playful mood that typically only occurs on the weekend or whenever we are not there for therapy. They were crawling all over me and yelling my name playing along. I loved every minute of it. After play time I headed to the house for dinner in which my group had to clean dishes. Ben, Ashley, Cari, and I spent like 1 hour cleaning all of the dinner dishes. We headed to evening church, which was bitter sweet; I love being there but it was sad being our last time worshiping with all of the Zambians. That evening we all hung out reliving our lives in Livingstone through pictures.

Today we woke up and had jungle oats for breakfast, aka oatmeal with wild honey. We then walked to the Haven to have language therapy. For lunch Ba Leonard made pizza, which is always delicious. In the afternoon I worked with Kritz. We had a really great session where he talked a lot and followed directions well. For our last session I finished up work on my capstone project. I then ran the back trail to the soccer field in hopes that they were playing because we had heard they were supposed to be playing. Sadly when I saw the field, no one was there. So I sprinted to the field for nothing, at least I got a nice jog in through the back trail. We had dinner and then tonight had the second annual graduate assistant Olympics. They were hilarious and completely secret to all people not involved.

Good news. I have not shaved since I got here. Do I look awesome? Yes.

Tonight I looked at the stars because they are amazing. I am going to miss looking at them all the time. Then we got the news that one of the toddlers, Andrew, who has been very sick for the past few weeks passed away. I am glad he is no longer in pain and has now gone to be with the Lord. Please keep all of us in your prayers over the next few days because tomorrow especially will be hard. In addition, we found out one of the babies, Hamilton has cataracts and is losing his vision. We have been hit with some hardships right before the end of our trip and would appreciate your prayers. I am so blessed to be here and have learned so much. I praise God for the opportunities I have been given. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Shop-Till-You-Drop Saturday


Today was way less intense in one aspect compared to the adventure I went on yesterday, but still awesome. I woke up and got ready, it is the last day I am in the city and have to look exceptionally presentable. Hooray. Anyway, I ate breakfast at the hotel, which yet again consisted of a lot of bacon and then a group of us headed out to go shopping. I was excited since I had not really had a lot of time to go to the markets here in Livingstone. We walked down to the center of Livingstone about 45 minutes away to the craft market. Along the way, we stopped at a few little stores and somehow lost half of our group. Luckily it all turned out in the end.

Upon arrival to the market I was slightly overwhelmed because people are so pushy about selling things. I am not really sure how ripped off I was today by different people but I did buy mostly only things I wanted instead of being convinced to buy other things. I really need a wingman or Ian Tullos with me whenever I go shopping in markets. Unfortunately the group left me because I was still shopping but that was all right with me; there were things I needed to get. The bad news was, I thought our checkout was at 12 and I was finishing up shopping at like 11:40 with a 45-minute walk back to the hotel. After assessing the situation, I walked for about 5 minutes and then decided to see how much it would cost to get a taxi since it really wasn’t very far in a car. Lucky for me it was only 20,000 kwacha so I hopped in and hoped for the best. I felt pretty safe in it other than the fact that it was a slightly junky car but it was blue like all of the rest of the taxis so I knew it was legit. I arrived to the Protea hotel about 2 minutes after my group 2 had left to go to Ulga’s restaurant. We were treated there for lunch since group 1 was treated to that restaurant whenever we stayed behind to do therapy for a few hours.

Lauren was left behind too so I was at least not alone this time. We headed next door to look at some crafts quickly and then decided we should probably meet up with the group. So for the second time today I rode in another taxi in Zambia. This one was much nicer than the first one and I was glad Lauren was with me. Upon arrival to Ulga’s we realized that everyone was not there, in fact only Dr. Tullos was. It turns out most of group 2 was not back from bungee jumping, which I did NOT do, and we really did not need the taxi there but it was an adventure. I ate another delicious pizza from Ulga’s and then Lauren and I headed off to do some last minute shopping before leaving Livingstone. I bought quite a few things and probably spent too much money but hey who knows when I will be back…well hopefully next year but that is not the point.

Anyway we all piled into Khaki Jackie and headed back to Namwianga. We then ate another wonderful dinner prepared by Ba Leonard and hung out since most of us were wiped out from our adventures in Livingstone. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and feel extremely blessed by the opportunities I have had. God is so good and has blessed my life immensely. I was able to overcome fears and see his awesome power through Victoria Falls all in one day (yesterday) and then have some free time today. I am so glad to be back in Namwianga and cannot wait to see all of the bright shining faces of the children tomorrow!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Freaked out Friday, but so worth it!

Safari Day

Today we had to wake up bright and early; Naiveen woke me up at 6:55 and was like “Tessa we have to eat by 7:30 and it is 6:55 so you might want to wake up.” So I rushed around getting ready quickly and making sure I had everything. I went down to get breakfast because it is amazing; I absolutely love the bacon here. Breakfast is the highlight of this hotel. All right, that might not be completely true because the hotel is really nice and pretty but it is nice to start the day with a good breakfast. Our bus came to pick us up at 7:30 and we were off to pick up the other passengers, which included two of the girls from ACU who is also staying in Namwianga along with two Japanese ladies. Now the Japanese ladies were characters. One of them had two puppets she held in every picture she took and decided that Mark and Tyler needed to join in on this fun. So they held the creepy bunny puppet and Paddington bear; this was the entertainment we were provided on our ride to Botswana for the safari. Upon arrival at the border, we presented our passports and all of us except for the Japanese ladies piled onto this tiny boat to cross the Zambezi River into Botswana. Whenever we were in the middle of the river we were apparently at the crossroads of 4 different countries, so go me. When we arrived to Botswana we got into three-truck vehicle like things, sort of like a huge jeep. We went through customs and had all of our passports stamped and were on our way to the safari. Our first adventure was on a boat safari. We ended up seeing many birds, elephants, hippos, some creepy lizard thing, and crocodiles. It was amazing to see all of those animals in the wild without any fences. After our boat safari we then went on a land safari. In between the two trips we were able to eat a lunch at some nice resort. In the meal I tried some goat, which was interesting. In addition, Shanna was stung in the mouth by a bee. Never a dull moment here. We piled into the jeep like vehicles and were off. On this adventure we saw more elephants, hippos, baboons, giraffes, and deer like animals. At one point we had an elephant trying to have us back off by facing us and flapping its wings; on a few occasions I thought he might really start charging us. Unfortunately we did not see any cats or zebras but it was still amazing to see all of those animals.

Upon arrival back to the hotel a large group of us decided to go to this Italian place called Ulgas that some of the group went to on Wednesday before I arrived. It was a little walk away but of course with our group we were easily able to make the trip entertaining. When we arrived it was really busy so we had to spit up in groups, I ended up sitting with Jill and Shanna. Although it took entirely too long for everyone to get their food, it was really good. I had a wonderful brick oven pizza that hit the spot after a weird lunch at the safari. After finally paying our ticket we walked back to the hotel where I knew I was going to be interviewed for the documentary about HIZ-Path being made. I was a little nervous but knew it would be good. Upon arrival to said interview, by Mark and Tyler, I was greeted with a conglomeration of awkwardness. They were trying to make me feel awkward, thus giving in to my game. Unfortunately for them, it takes a lot to make me feel awkward so staring at me creepily and making me walk around them in close spaces did not do the trick. The final act of awkward was making me wear Mark’s shirt over my clothing but that did not the trick; I appreciated the effort. After some goofiness it was time for serious interview, which was awesome thanks to both of them. They are very talented at what they do and I cannot wait until the documentary is completed. We ended the night with a group hang out in the hotel just laughing and enjoying the time we have had together.

Extreme Day

I did not sleep very well last night, I am not sure why but it started the day off interestingly. I received Mac back from the guys for the last time and they graced my screen with a wonderful picture of their lovely faces in photo booth. Liz, Lauren, and I ate breakfast with them before they left to head back home. This is when Ben informed me that we were going to do our extreme day today so that he could do both that and other stuff tomorrow. Well I had not mentally psyched myself up for this so I started freaking out a little bit but I decided it would be fine. We were picked up from the hotel by a pick up truck with a big 3 seats metal thing in the back and taken out to the middle of nowhere to do a half-day package of repelling, flying fox, and gorge swing. Upon arrival I automatically thought there is no way I can do any of this stuff other than repelling, only because I had done that before. Luckily that is what we started out with so I signed my life away to this company and was ready to at least repel. Of course, I made Ben go down first. The good news was, this was not a huge side to repel; the bad news was a lot of it was a free fall. So I warned the guys working there that they were going to have to talk to me the entire way down because I was nervous. They were amazing at their job and helping people down. I got really nervous for the first few steps but then got into a groove and enjoyed going down the rock wall. I wish I would have actually stopped to look at the view but I was too nervous. When I made it to the bottom all of the guys working told me I was a professional. We then had to hike back to the top for our next activity. This was a legitimate hike but it was so beautiful down there; I wish I had had my camera with me in that moment just so I could take a few scenery shots.

The flying fox is like a zip line straight across the gorge that you can do on your stomach super man style if you choose. So of course all I could think about was this is the one time I can be like Peter Pan. I was really nervous though because doing it super man style means you have absolutely nothing to hold on to. Pretty much this is how it goes down. You are harnessed in, you start running on a platform and then you jump off he platform and glide through the air. Yes ladies and gentlemen, I did this super man style, or in my life Peter Pan style. It was not scary at all; in fact I really enjoyed it. I also took a video while I was flying; it is hilarious.

The last task of the day is called the gorge swing. Upon seeing this I adamantly told Ben over and over again that I was not going to do it. Well after successfully doing the repelling and the flying fox I was feeling a little braver. Not to mention, the guys working there are very convincing and helpful, they make you feel like you can do it. So we went over to get harnessed. Since I was so nervous they suggested we do it tandem that way we can do the swing together; I knew this was the only way I could force myself off of a platform to a free fall until the rope pulls. So we walked over to the platform after we had a few practices of falling backwards. For this trip I had to have my feet tied together which sort of freaked me out. The guy told us we would have to be right at the edge and then lean back on three. Well when we first go to the edge I was hyperventilating and freaking out, I even started to cry a little so he pulled us towards him and the most amazing thing happened. He took my face in his hands and said “Tessa we are not going to make you do something you do not want to do. All you have to do is tell us you do not want to do it and you can go do the flying fox again. But I see a thumbs up in your eyes and I think you want to do it.” That is all I needed and I knew he was right. In that moment, I loved that Zambian man. The greatest part was, he had no idea about our obsession with thumbs up Thursday, even though it is Friday. So we backed up to the ledge again, ducked our heads, bent our knees, and then on the count of 3 leaned back. We had the free fall for I have no idea how many meters and then swung back and forth across the gorge until it stopped. Unfortunately I closed my eyes for the free fall and did not open them for about 5 seconds after we had begun but I still did it. Do not worry everyone that knows me, we have this feat on video. I could not believe it. We really wanted to have a chance to do it again so we could go by ourselves but because of our afternoon activities with the group we could not do it again. So sad. But still, I backed off of a cliff. Go me!

When we got back to the hotel we were shuttled to Victoria Falls for our day adventure seeing how beautiful it was. Yet again, it was absolutely breathtaking. I could not believe what I was seeing, and I got completely soaked again. The entire group walked around the edge of the falls together and took many photos. It was amazing. Then Ashley, Anna, and I walked down to the boiling pot where the water swirls around under the bridge used for bungee jumping. It was a long hike down but completely worth it. I then went to the market and bought a few things but they stressed me out. I am not the best at bartering with pushy people. We then had to leave to prepare for our sunset cruise. Pretty much it was just a relaxing time on a huge boat. We just sat back and relaxed because almost everyone had a very intense morning with his or her different activities. It was a really nice time and we had a lot of fun. When we arrived back to the hotel everyone was exhausted but it was only 6:30 so we made ourselves stay awake by yet again hanging out at the hotel. Such an exciting live we lead. Anyway it was awesome and I am sad to be leaving Livingstone tomorrow but I am so ready to return back to those beautiful babies! Until next time. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Waterfall Wednesday

Good news. I did not fall into Victoria Falls.

Today I started my day doing therapy. Since we are a larger group here at HIZ-PATH we had to travel to Livingstone in two different trips. I was placed in the second group, which means I was able to start my day doing therapy in the Havens. I was totally all right with missing out on a few hours of Livingstone to be able to stay with those children longer. We were only there for half of the morning so that meant toddler time! I worked with Sam. Now Sam is one of those children who likes to talk whenever I pick him up to go to therapy and then is silent the entire rest of the time. Today was the same as always for him, but at least he talks to me on the way to therapy. We had a nice session and at the end of it I was able to help with feeding time in Haven 3. Today I fed a sweet boy named Nathan whom I call dinosaur. He is extremely clumsy, always wears onesies, and looks like a dinosaur. I love it! I fed him some mashed potatoes and some sauce on it. It was adorable and he kept making dinosaur faces. It has been rumored that after this meal it is the best time to play with the kids and have good interactions so since we had already packed for the trip and had time to spare Ben and I stayed behind for a little bit. This might have been the best idea I have had today. I was able to play with all of the kids including the ones who are sometimes brats. One of these children is named Katy. Now Katy and I have a special bond that she does not know about; she was the baby my roommate worked with whenever she came to Zambia 2 years ago, so I have heard about and loved her for the past 2 years. My mission upon arriving here was to have some amazing photos and videos of her for Cassie and today I succeeded. I seriously almost cried whenever I left the Haven because I know how special it will be for both of us whenever I return home. Upon arrival back to the house we ate a quick lunch and then loaded into Khaki Jackie for our 1.5-hour trip to Livingstone. I started out singing and being slightly energetic when the journey began and by the end I was asleep as well as everyone else in the Land Rover.

After arriving to our amazing Protea hotel I wanted to wander around. We went to some of the shops close by to see different things to buy. I must be a girl for a moment and say I am so excited to go shopping! Now back to the hotel. It is absolutely beautiful here; it is almost like I am not in Africa anymore. After wandering around for a few minutes it was time to head to The Royal Livingstone for High Tea. I was not sure what all this would include before I arrived but I was pleasantly surprised. The hotel where the tea was served was amazing. I would have to say the nicest place I have seen in Zambia. We were seated outside on a little porch where we could see the Zambezi River not too far above where Victoria Falls begins. Since we still have to shuttle two groups everywhere I was able to go in the first group this time, so we sat outside. I decided I wanted to sit in these chairs that had embroidered monkeys on them. So Ben and I sat down at the little table next to everyone else and looked at our tea menus. I ended up ordering Lemon Leisure tea; it was surprisingly good considering I do not particularly like hot tea. On top of our tea we were also had a dessert buffet, talk about heaven. I ate so many wonderful desserts tonight but my favorite was some chocolate cake of goodness. It was delicious. I felt like I was at a proper tea party with my beautiful teapot and teacup, I took many pictures. Whenever we finished drinking our tea, the monkeys began to attack the area for sugar. One came up to our table and stole some sugar in turn breaking the pot holding it. I was quite sad but I really wanted to go take pictures with/touch a monkey. So we headed out towards the water to take pictures of monkeys. My favorite picture is of a monkey and me both sitting in the grass about 5 feet apart from each other; it is priceless! We then watched the sun set over the Zambezi and headed to Victoria Falls. I was in the first group to go here too. Upon arrival Cari, Kara, Shanna, Ian, Mark, Tyler, and I decided to head down where we could see the mist better and actually get wet. Getting a little wet is an understatement; I pretty much had a Victoria Falls shower. We were all freaking out and loving it. It was almost dark but a full moon so it was slightly terrifying but so amazing we did not care. All I kept thinking over and over again was how great our God is and how this displays his power and might. Words cannot describe how cool it looked seeing all of the mist coming up from the falls. I could not believe how beautiful it was. After freaking out some more and taking some hilarious mist pictures, we then lost Ian. He wandered off, which lead us to a 45-minute search for him. We were not happy at all but finally ventured back to the top of the falls to see if he was safe, thankfully he was safe and sound. While we were there tonight we saw the Lunar Rainbow. This is whenever the full moon reflects off of the water causing a rainbow in the night. It was so beautiful to see it when we were down in the mist getting soaked. After staying there for quite a while taking photos and hanging out, we finally returned back to the hotel. In case you did not know, there was also a lunar eclipse in the southern hemisphere tonight so we sort of watched that as well. Whenever we finally arrived to the hotel I was starving so Ben, Dr. Tullos, Ian, and I ventured to the pizza/burger place right across the road. Ben and I had a pizza, which was nice but we were still freezing. We headed back to the hotel to finish watching the lunar eclipse and then head to bed. Tomorrow we are going on a safari!!! I cannot wait to see all of the animals! Until next time. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Movie Madness Monday

Shout out to the papa! Happy birthday dad!!! I hope you had a wonderful day and I am sorry I was not there to celebrate. Love you!

Well yet again it is time for therapy. Yay. This week I am yet again in Dr. Tullos group. This means I begin my day with the toddlers, and then work with the younger babies like 8-12 months. In the afternoon I work with the children with special needs at the Haven and end doing language therapy with a child of my choice.

I woke up today ready to take on the world and live the last two weeks here to the fullest. I cannot believe how quickly this time has gone by and it genuinely saddens me to know I will be leaving Zambia soon. We had oatmeal for breakfast, which is always happy. I accidentally added too much honey to it but in the end it was good and gave me my daily sugar rush, which is always entertaining. I walked to the Haven with Ben, Liz, and Shanna yet again using the back trail. I truly enjoy using this trail to get to the Haven’s because you have to walk through the fields to arrive. It is more of an African feel walking this way, not to mention, why not live life on the edge and be in nature as much as possible. Upon arrival to Eric’s house we picked up our little toddlers and headed to therapy. We worked on language stimulation and then played outside with the children. I like to sit on the swings with the children and talk to them; it is quite fun and a very funny picture. Now these swings are not like typical American swings but there is no way I can describe them accurately via blog post without a picture. One day, when I have better Internet, I will post a picture. We took the children back to Eric’s house after therapy and headed to Haven 1 to continue with language stimulation. We begin with tummy time and one on one interaction with the children. Afterwards we sit them all at the table and for about 30 minutes do a group session. Today we sang many songs and read many books; then to spice things up I used pictures from books to make up my own stories. They were amazing. So amazing in fact that it put 3 of our 5 children to sleep. By the end of the session they were completely out. So what does that mean, picture time! They were adorable but I was given much grief from Dr. Weaver and Dr. Tullos for putting children to sleep in therapy. For lunch we had pizza!!!! I love pizza day because Ba Leonard’s pizza is so good. I will not even pretend, I definitely ate more than one slice of pizza.

For the afternoon I was able to work with Kritz. He is an adorable boy that is on the high end of the Autism spectrum. We sang many songs and looked at a few books but most of the time he wanted to hold them. His security blanket or self-stimulation is holding things in his hand, which occasionally posed a problem. We worked past it and I incorporated this fact into our session. Sadly it ended too soon and it was time to move on. I ended up working with the TB babies looking at their abilities against a Rossetti Infant Toddler Language Scale. This assessment is part of my capstone project; I am looking at the Zambian children’s ability on this Americanized test to see how it compares and begin to make some normative data for the orphans in my project. Then it was time to walk back. We decided to take the normal road, which ended up being an adventure. Mark, Ben, and I walked together and a little way down the road we met a boy who is in grade 9 walking to the mission where he lives. Mark asked the boy to walk with us and I was able to hear their discussion and add my two sense every once in a while. I love learning about the Zambian culture and learning Tonga words. Our task on the walk back was to see how many people we could greet in Tonga. It brings me an incomparable joy to see how happy the people are when we can greet them in their own language, even if that is all we can say to them. I love everything about this place and the people have brought a new outlook to my life, not just in regards to speech pathology but every aspect of my life. I feel so blessed to be here; words cannot even describe it.

This evening we had sandwiches for dinner since we had a blackout before dinner. I do not mind it though, sometimes it is relaxing when all of the electricity is off and it really makes you thankful for electricity that is always around. After dinner I took a shower in the solar showers. Trust me, this is also an experience in and of itself. We then had a sharing time where we talked about our experience here so far and everything we have learned. It was great to hear everyone’s thoughts and be together as a group. I have been blessed by having the people who are here experiencing this with me; I believe it is a bond that we will share for the rest of our lives. Right now we are watching The Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency movie on the porch of the Hambie house on a big screen. I love when we watch movies together, especially when I get to sit by the two night watchmen Webster and Justin. Unfortunately it is super cold so I am ready for the movie to end so I can be warm!!! Who knew it would actually get cold in Africa, just does not seem right! I cannot wait for tomorrow’s adventures to come about. We leave for Livingstone on Wednesday and there will be many adventures from that trip. Please wait in anticipation! Also I must add, the picture did not creep the guys out. In fact, I think they enjoyed it. Oh well. They have still brought new fun to the trip and are amazing documenters so I enjoy them being around. Until next time!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Shaking It Sunday

Shhh. Do not tell Harding, but today I danced in public. But I will return to that thought later.

Today was one of the best days I have experienced in Zambia as of yet. For our Sunday morning service we attended Ba Leonard’s church out in his village called the Kasibi Church of Christ. The adventure began as soon as we piled into our different vehicles and started down the road. It began as the normal dirt road we always journey on but it quickly became a dirt road that did not look like a road at all. We were all moving around and falling on top of each other as we continued down our road for about 30 minutes. I have to say, I was slightly carsick whenever we ended the journey. The village is honestly not significantly far away but not one of those people own a car. It would take a few hours to walk to any sort of help whenever someone was sick. This blows my mind. The best part of the entire time was how joyful all of the people in the village were through everything we did. The church service was at an outdoor pavilion that was added on to the little buildings so everyone could fit. The service was done in both Tonga and English with translators; it was such a wonderful experience. Dr. Hopper and Mr. Ragsdale, two of the teachers who joined us last week, were asked to give some thoughts and then Dr. Tullos did the Lord’s Supper. Afterwards we were able to hear a quartet sing some songs in Tonga; they were absolutely hilarious. I wish I would have known everything they were saying the entire time because all of the Zambian people were laughing. We were then asked to sing a few songs so we sang “I love you with the love of the Lord” and then the two Tonga songs Webster has taught us. I am so glad we learned those two songs in Tonga because we could tell that the people really appreciated us singing songs in their native language. After us singing we then shook everyone in the church’s hand in a line. All of us have learned the Zambian handshake so we were able to practice our new learned skill. Then we headed to the village for lunch and the other festivities.

My life was made today. I was able to dance with Zambian children. Our amazing lunch made by Leonard consisted of traditional food including shema, relish, and a secret sauce. Then the dancing began thanks to the wonderful people that played instruments. These instruments were so legit, made of wood and animal skin. I believe there were a banjo, bass, guitar, drum, and cymbals. As soon as the music started, the children were out to dance and I of course joined them. I was not the first, Dr. Weaver and Dr. Hopper began the party but I quickly joined. They are the most legit dancers I have ever seen in my life. The little 3 year olds put me to shame, hard to imagine, I know. I have never seen people’s hips and legs move quite like that; I wish with all my heart I could move like that. After dancing the entire time music was playing, I finally persuaded, with the help of Dr. Weaver, Ian Tullos and Ben to join the party. I seriously could have stayed there forever. I loved everything about that village; they were all so joyful. Sadly, the adventure in Kasibi had to end and we headed back to the house. Yet again it was an adventure riding back to Namwianga.

In the afternoon I headed to the Havens to work on my capstone project. Did that happen, no? Instead I played outside with the beautiful children from Haven 3, aka the sick house. I absolutely love all of those children and if I could, I would bring them home in a heartbeat. Someone might need to check my suitcase to make sure I do not have Bennett or Sydney in there. We talked inside for a while and then took them outside to play since that does not happen very often. I took Bennett and we went to swing on the swing set. He is the smartest child I have ever seen in my life; he mimics everything said to him, including songs, phrases, and facial expression. Sadly, I had to leave the Haven after two hours to head for dinner. Good news, dinner was awesome because we had pancakes and bacon. Wooo.

We went to church that evening and there ended up being 3 people baptized tonight. So everyone headed to our backyard for the baptism. The power went out on our walk over so it was an in the dark baptism. Good news, the moon is super bright right now, so we could see everything. After they were baptized, singing and rejoicing happened. Now I am sitting plotting ways to be super awkward towards the camera guys that arrived a few days ago. No worries I have already succeeded on multiple occasions. I am not worried though because secret sources have told me they think I’m funny; that means game one. In this moment, I have Mark as my desktop background. It can only get better; I just hope they join in on this fun and try to make me feel awkward too. Bring it on boys; I am ready. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wild Walking Wednesday (literally)

Today I saw a snake. It was terrifying. I ran away screaming. We are not 100% sure what type it was but according to Ian it was some random not poisonous snake. My thought process was as follows, “oh my gosh that is a snake, it was in the grass and blended in, grass is green, mambas are green, it could potentially be a green mamba” then I ran. Good news, I am alive. Bad news, I have been on edge all-day and screamed for no reason multiple times. I will survive and hopefully be snake free for the rest of the trip.

Now that all of you are worried about my wellbeing I will discuss more important things. Today was another day of language enrichment. The day started off semi-uneventful with a nice breakfast of eggs and toast. Our group is quite large now so it is one big happy family for all meals. After breakfast I of course walked to the Haven, especially since it is another walking Wednesday. I started my day going to Eric’s house to retrieve some cute little toddler boys and headed to therapy with our group. Today in therapy it was a little more subdued; the children were not all in bad moods, which made all of us clinicians happy. I had Seth again to begin with, like I said, I love the attention hogs. Some people say it is because I like attention, I have no idea what they are talking about. Anyway we read books with them and sang a bunch of songs. Some of them really get into it but most of them look at us. The good thing is we are saying more words to them during that hour than they hear from adults during any other time, which is what matters. After the therapy ended I headed to Haven 1 to change some diapers before therapy. I have gotten really good at this cloth diaper business. I must say, at first they scared me and I was not sure how to do the safety pen but now I have diaper changing down to an art. I can even effectively wander around finding clothes for most of the children. This session I worked with a little boy named Caleb. He is the one that I think throws the most tantrums and in addition has casts on his legs to straighten them out. I do not believe any of us have ever heard him make any sounds other than cries. Today he did not really make any consonants but I did get some vowels and not too many tantrums so I counted that as an effective day. Update on Wesley, he can now pretty effectively say Tessa and sometimes does it quite often. I have not been working with him in the afternoons this week so he is probably missing me, good news is he is also an attention hog and gets it from many different people.

The snake scare happened on my walk to the house for lunch in front of one of the other houses like 50 yards from where I live. It sprawled out of the cut grass onto the path close to Ashley, who screamed, and then slithered off. Unfortunately I was right behind Ashley on the opposite side of her, further away from the snake, but I still had to see it. So she screamed, then I screamed, then I ran. For lunch we had Leonard’s famous fried chicken and mashed potatoes. It was quite good. For a surprise we had Zucchini cake, which was delicious. I am still holding out for the apple cake since the last time he made it I was sick and did not get any. Good news though, I made up for it today with the zucchini cake. For our walk back to the Haven I was already on edge and then Ian decided it was a good idea to take Ashley, Ben, and I on a shortcut he likes to use with his dad. He failed to mention that it was through corn fields and tall grass so needless to say I was doing a nice little snake dance the entire pathway freaking out. Thanks for that Ian. It was quite entertaining for all other people involved in that moment in my life. So just picture me prancing about freaking out thinking I was about to see another snake while trying to walk as quickly as possible down the path. Lucky for me, no other snakes were spotted and I arrived to the Haven in one piece. That afternoon I went to Haven 3 for more language enrichment. I have grown to love this place almost as much as some of my classmates who started out in that Haven. Today I worked with Seth again and a boy named Bennett. Bennett is actually one of Anna’s favorite children so I play with him when she is not there. He is very good about imitating what you say so we said many words today. My favorite was when I could get him to say “hiiiiiii” drawn out like I do sometimes; precious to the max! After working with him I stole Sydney, the cutest kid ever, from Ben. She is seriously adorable and I love to work with her because she is typically really happy. Sometimes Ben is nice and lets me hold her, like today. I also helped hand out snacks at the end of therapy, which is always entertainment. Who needs television when you can watch adorable toddlers? My walk back to the house was thankfully uneventful other than running into Mark; I still wish his name were Mike. At dinner we were graced with the gift of ice cream and not just any flavor but a multitude. I of course ate banana!!! It is sooo good. We played Phase 10 again tonight without finishing and then headed to a bible study led by Dr. Hopper and Mr. Ragsdale, two of the professors from Harding that joined our group yesterday. I always love attending church events with the Zambians when there is singing involved. It was a good sermon but I would like to know how hard it was for them to understand the accents. I have had the discussion with a few of them and they tell us that we talk really fast. I will have to ask some of my friends sometime. Anyway whenever the Zambian professor said that we were dismissed no one got up and we were slightly confused but took our time. He then proceeded to come up to our professors and tell them that everyone is waiting for us to leave first, who knew! So we had to walk out in front of all the students, which was slightly weird. After the devotional we went back and Mrs. Ellie provided a small party for us including more zucchini cake and hot chocolate! She is my new favorite person for bringing out the hot chocolate. So tomorrow will be a new day with hopefully not as much excitement or sugar. Until then over and out!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Time out Tuesday

Well yet again it has been a few days since I have written. I just want to keep all of you on your toes. All 5 of you. I have been doing therapy during the days per usual of my weeks. This week I am now in the language group again, but with a different supervisor. The day begins with toddlers. Usually I am quite excited about this, but right now they are punks. To the max. Their schedules have been altered a little due to some cleaning happening in haven 2, their residence, so they are all crazy. Almost every single one of them threw a tantrum today. After the terror toddlers, we then went to haven 1 with the 12-18 month old babies. We sat around and talked with all of the babies. I changed many a poopy diaper. Again. I have gotten quite good at this task, unfortunately. Finding the clothes is the most interesting part. Especially for a baby named Megan. Due to her large size, it is sometimes difficult to find clothing for her. Poor Megan. Luckily I found a cute 2T dress for her to wear today so she was actually styling. Go Meagan. Lunch today was meatloaf. I can eat again so I was excited because it was yummy.

The afternoon began with a change of color. Literally. Ian found a chameleon. I had it on my arm and it changed colors when it got on my shirt. It was pretty cool. Later, I had a chameleon on my head. But I digress back to therapy. The afternoon this week is in Haven 3. I love Haven 3, aka the house with all of the sicker babies in it. They are so fun to work with. Today I worked with a child named Bennett, he likes to mimic the way I say “hiiiiiiiiii.” This was really cute. I also worked with Seth, who is one of my favorite children. He is a little turd to the max but he is cute; in addition he also talks quite a bit and mimics what we say. True love. Like always, I love the troublemakers. To end the day I had Heath, aka Mr. Floppy-pants. He does not have a lot of muscle tone or control of his body. He is a little flirt though because he smiles at all of us. He is not quite old enough to do anything other than babble so no repetition of words. I was able to help all the older children during feeding time. I sat by Sydney, who is quite possibly the cutest child on the planet. Sadly after feeding time it was also leaving time. So the walk back to the house began. I stayed to watch soccer for about 5 minutes when I passed by the fields because Tuesdays are practice days. Unfortunately they always practice during our last session or during our dinner so I am never able to participate. So sad. Dinner tonight was tuna, which I was totally ok with. We added new people to our number tonight because the people that are doing a documentary while we are here arrived. We were all a little crazy tonight during dinner. Not to mention I had to get cake for everyone at my table and ended up looking like the fatty of the table. Oh well. Anything for a picture, just kidding!

After dinner a group of us headed to the soccer field in hopes that they would still be there. Sadly they were finished but we took a frisbee and threw it around. Two college Zambians came. During this time I found out that my soccer friend named Mike is actually named Mark. My mind has been blown. I have been calling him the wrong name for almost a week. Goodness! We taught them how to throw a frisbee and then just talked with them. I am glad that I met Mark, he is really nice and enjoys telling us about his culture. Unfortunately darkness came too soon so we had to head back. We stopped by Mrs. Mono’s house to see if she had any new purses. I need to stop going there because I always want like 5 of them. Well you only come to Africa once…maybe :)