29 January 2008

Xtutulu, Nigeria ~ Jan 08

*Note Posted 04 June 2008:

I have recently been informed that this blog has been found offensive and critical and I wanted to apologize and hopefully explain where I was coming from when it was written.

I had always dreamed of starting my own orphanage in Haiti and knew a good place to start would be to see for myself what one was actually like. I think it was a bad idea on my part to go to such a large orphanage when I had never set foot in one before. I was overwhelmed because of situations in my life and the fact that I can't deal well with children. (You may ask -why on the orphanage in Haiti? And I have no idea).

Xinstry of Xercy is a WONDERFUL xrphanage and they are doing an amazing thing in Nigeria. But at the stage of my life I was in, an xrphanage was not a good place for me to be. I thought that by being on the other side of the world it would be almost like starting a new life. But as it was, my life remained the same.

I don't feel as though I was criticizing anyone or anything but only explaining that my heart was not in what I was doing. That I was not capable of spending four months (alone) in a culture I didn't understand, with a language I did not speak. I'm not saying I didn't like the culture, I'm simply saying that the timing was not right (for me) and I was unable to give-my-all without first getting things with life in order.

Please except my apology and realize that nothing was written with evil intent but only with a broken heart.

I don’t even know where I am to start at explaining my time here in Nigeria… It has been just over a week now since my arrival here in Africa. On Monday the 21st I made the hour and a half journey from Xnyigba to Xtutulu where I was to spend four months working with the 200 and some orphans at the Xinistry of Xercy Xrphanage.

I’m just going to be very honest with you all, because it seems as though that is all I have remaining… I can’t do it here… Anyone who knows me very well at all, knows that I don’t even like large quantities of children… My parents do foster care and I seriously lose every ounce of patience I ever had when there are about three kids running round the house. My two nieces and my 11-month-old brother are the exceptions of course, because they are family. But I had this crazy notion that as soon as I stepped off that plane from the UK, I would get into missionary gear and would love those orphans as if they were my own. Well, let me tell you that I still don’t have the patience to deal with children. I’m still the girl Danette who gets aggravated when there’s a lot of noise and who is terrified of speaking in public! …And I think to myself “But I’ll be all the way in Africa and I’ll just get over my fears there. I’ll love those children. It will be completely different, I’ll be completely different.” …But it’s still me, I’m still here with myself, and I still have the same situations to work through.

I went out to the xrphanage on Monday and spent almost three days there. Two days and a night of which I spent simply crying every tear I had. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw. I’ve tried to write what my days were like, but there are no words that could possible even start to tell the story.

Yes, I’ve seen poverty before… While in Haiti we’d drive about an hour to the site where we were doing outreaches. From the vehicle I’d watch Haiti go by, I’d watch the ladies carry huge amounts of things on their head, I’d watch them cook over an open fire and I’d watch the children running around without any clothes on. “It’s such a different culture,” I’d think to myself. But try living like that! Try spending just one day watching over four sick babies who have malaria or some other sickness that you’re not even really sure what it is. There are no diapers left to use because they have a total of about six, for four kids. And now they need to be washed out again. You don’t just stick them in the washing machine, you wash them by hand. These sick babies need to be held, but they have no diapers and what happens? Shit everywhere! So you spend all day cleaning these babies, not just one baby, four babies, trying to clean their clothes, trying to get water so that you have something to use to wipe this stuff up with. You don’t have any rags, so you use your hands. And now there are flies on everything, the ground, the dirty clothes and the babies. And they have to eat, but you can’t hold them all at once so you sit them back on the ground in the dirt and try to feed them whatever is available. And then they throw it up allover themselves and the other babies. And it goes on and on, again and again. Try living like that! Imagine having your child shot because he stole a cell phone or some money, or wondering if you are going to eat that day! Imagine going to a prayer group and thanking God that everyone from the week before is still alive or not naming your child until he/she is a year old because the chances of survival aren’t that great!

I CAN’T DO IT! I can’t do it.

I can’t believe I am saying all this to practically everyone I know; but I was holding one of the little girls and there was no love behind it. I was sitting there wondering what I came for. It wasn’t because of a skill I was trying to teach or an art; I was coming to love the children. I came because God said to love the orphans, because of Matthew 25 where it’s talking about the sheep and the goats. And I couldn’t even do that, I left my heart in America and I had nothing to give… Nothing… I feel as though it would have been evident to everyone around me, that my heart was not in it, and though I may have learned something myself, I believe I would have been doing more harm than good to the people around.

Thursday morning I packed my bags... I didn’t just pack all my stuff up, I packed up the things I would need in America and left the rest. All I could think of was getting home and I didn’t care how I got there. I have never once quit anything in my life; I usually always find a lesson to be learned or a growing opportunity. But I did not want to learn anything! It was going to be too hard and I wasn’t going to do it. I was sitting on my bed waiting for my ride back to Xnyigba and just bawling. I couldn’t believe I was quitting and was trying so hard to think of one reason to stay. My motivation should have been the children, but it wasn’t, I was thinking about everyone back in America, wondering what you all were going to say about me, and wondering how disappointed you all would be. And I thought that if I could just stick it out for four months maybe you all would be proud of me. If I could just stick it out maybe I would be something special, I’d be considered a “good missionary”. But I was so broken. On the opposite side of the world of everyone I love and all alone. I have never felt such loneliness! Why did I travel all the way to Africa alone? I can’t even talk to these people, I can’t even talk to these children, I don’t even speak Xgalla! The handful of people who do even speak English, I can’t even understand them. What was I thinking?

Someone please go look at a globe and tell me that I am a young lady and I should not be this far away from home alone! (Christy laughs and says, “we’ll do a whole lot better if you quit popping that map up on your computer”).

I’m at the Bible College now with the Bill and Christy, and my visa expires on the 15th of February. And unless I decide to teach a class at the college (which would be less likely to happen than me running through the market in my bikini), I don’t really have a reason to stay… So as of now I will be returning to the states on the 15th of February. I’m disappointed in myself for not sticking it out and I feel as though I’ve failed everyone I know. But I do not want to try to prove anything to anyone. I keep reminding myself that I will always come short, that I will never be perfect and that God is my judge. I don’t know what comes next in life, but I do know that even though I can’t hear God at the moment, He will always be with me.

20 January 2008

Nigeria ~Jan 08

Day 2 in Africa and already I have a story to share. I can imagine this trip will be anything but uneventful.

After meeting up with Bill and Christy in London two days ago, we landed in Xbuja, Nigeria at about 0500 on the 17th (2300 on the 16th central time). After making the six-hour drive to Xnyigba, we arrived safely at our destination.

I slept the rest of the day and that night away trying to get rid of the jetlag from the three days of travel. When I awoke that morning about 0715 I wondered what the day would hold.

Well, let me tell you…

I got out of bed and spent the morning talking with Christy and my new friend Mercy. Around 1100 we decided to walk to the market so we’d have some food for the week. We picked up some rice and fruit and I mentioned that I wanted to get some bread, so Mercy took us to a place that actually made fresh bread. It was still part of the market, but a little way from the crowd. On the way up the hill this guy was yelling at Bill and had his arms around him, we weren’t quite sure what he wanted so Christy and I kept walking. This other guy came up and managed to shoe him away… Away to me anyways. He grabbed my arm and was still yelling, I have no idea what he was saying because it wasn’t English or Xgalla, not that I would have under stood him if it were Xgalla anyways. But none of the Nigerians knew what he was saying either.

So, after that was over with, I buy my bread and am waiting on change, but I start to feel a little dizzy. (When I left Pennsylvania it was in the 20’s and snowing and now here in Nigeria it’s 80-90 degrees and I hadn’t eaten or drank anything all day. And I just found out I was overdosing on my Doxicyc for malaria, the doctor I went to in America had no idea what she was talking about.) So I lean up against this pole and have my hands behind my back hanging on to it, thinking to myself, “this will go way. I never pass out, except for that time on the American Star Cruise ship, and if I don’t walk for a bit I’ll be fine.” Well, my mistake was as I’m told, is letting go of the poll to receive my change… …Face first I go into the concrete. I had no idea what happened until Bill had me on this mattress telling me to say something. I felt something hard in my mouth… A tooth… Or a piece of a tooth I should say. I remember sticking it in my purse, seeing Christy on the ground and then I was out again.

Christy tells me that she dropped to her knees and is praying for God to resurrect me, and wondering how she’s going to tell my parents I died on the second day.

It’s kind of hard to tell a story when you really don’t know what happened, but some nice Nigerian guy drove us “home” and It’s been pretty calm proceeding “the day at the market”.
So I have a broken and a loose tooth, and thank God it wasn’t my front ones! I don’t know how that worked out, but I am so happy I don’t have to be toothless from here on out. I have a nice deep cut on my chin, but that will just be a great story opportunity for life, and I’m trying to clean my cuts so they don’t get infected. (Thanks dad for sending the big bottle of Peroxide and the expandable pill sized towels =). They’ve been wonderful!) Christy says, “didn’t I tell you to watch out for cuts while you’re here?!” We just laugh and wonder what the next four months will hold. I can barely open my mouth, but in a couple of day’s I’ll be as good as new!

I’m still embarrassed. As it is, I already stick out being white, but now everyone at the market is going to remember me for life. Dumb American can’t stand the heat… I don’t know what it is about starting something new and passing out, but this has got to stop!

Just know that I am perfectly fine! But as you can tell, you’re prayers will be much appreciated.
I am at the school with Bill and Christy now and will head out to the xrphanage in Xtutulu on Monday. I’ll try to keep you all updated on any exciting adventures.

London ~ January 08

On my way to Xbuja, Africa I had a 12-hour layover in Heathrow London so was able to take the Underground subway into town and see a bit of the city.

It took me a while to figuring out which subway to catch and where I needed to go see Big Ben, but after an hours ride from the airport and having to switch subways, by some miracle I landed at the destination I was hoping for. I spent a couple hours in London wondering around by myself and took as many pictures as my camera would hold.

I hate that I have to keep this so short, but I wanted to share these pictures and also make another post about my arrival in Nigeria.