Monday, November 16, 2009

The Last Day...

If you've stuck with me this long in reading about my last trip to Africa, bless you...  I know how tempting it might be to tune me out, it's not an easy read and it's certainly not fun...or funny...or light hearted... But I have one more story to tell you and then I'll do a post, later in the week, about all that God has been teaching me... 

Be prepared again though, this is as hard as the garbage dump...  Maybe even a little more 'in your face...'  Because it hits us right where we live (literally)...

I have to admit, by the time Friday rolled around, my heart was numb...  It was too much to take in all at once, I was having a hard time processing all that I was seeing.  But there was one more stop to make...  An orphan headed household...  the oldest, 16 years old...  she was raising her 2 siblings and her cousin, and had been for 5 years, since she was 11...  Their parents had died of AIDS...

Out of respect for their privacy, I don't want to post a picture of them...  But their story is heart wrenching...

They live alone, left to fend for themselves...  They have no running water... they walk an hour each day to get water from the river...  Their homestead, once 5 buildings now seems to consist of one that is livable, the others are in ruin.  They are made of mud, and without some help with upkeep, the rainy seasons cause them to melt away...

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You might notice that the door is missing...  It is now their bed...  for 2 of the girls anyway...  Let me take you on a tour of their home...  As I do, take a minute to imagine a similar room in your house...  We'll start with their bedroom...

So do you have your bedroom firmly fixed in your head?  The nice warm bed...lots of covers...a nice lamp or two...maybe a bedside table...carpet...

This is where they sleep each night...  Well, 2 of the girls, the other two sleep on a mat on the floor...

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Now...  imagine your closet...  Is it overflowing with clothes and shoes?  Many that you probably haven't worn in a very long time?  Full of purchases that you probably didn't need?  Purses for different seasons?  Sadly, mine is...

Now, look at the 'closet' for 4 young women... 

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Let's move to the kitchen area...  Do you have a nice refrigerator?  A full pantry?  Cabinets?  A dishwasher?  Here's theirs...

Their stash of corn in one corner...

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Bread that we brought them, next to their bed...

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Their cooking utensils...  (I guess they actually cook outside over an open fire)

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The window...a source of fear at night because the latch is broken and they have no one to fix it...  They're afraid of who might come in during the night...  I'll leave the rest for your imagination...  I'm sure what you imagine is no where near as bad as their reality... 

It was an odd day for me...  I watched and listened to all of their story like a detached observer...  Somehow I just could not connect my heart with all that I was hearing...  To imagine my daughters in that situation was too much to bear...  And yet, these beautiful young girls, made in the image of God, bear it...they live it... every day.

The tears eventually came... they still do, at the most unexpected times...  God was gracious when I got home... I got sick... I've never been so thankful for a fever and an excuse to crawl into my cave and let the grief...the anger...the conviction of all that I saw wash over me...  I have wallowed in it...  railed against it...but now it is time to step out of it and act...

I don't know what's next for me related to Swaziland, my deepest desire is to return there in July or August...  We are seeking God's confirmation...  But I know for certain that my heart is changed forever...

I'll write again in a few days to share what God has been teaching me...




5 comments:

Kelsey said...

Sharla,
I can not even begin to imagine everything that you must have seen over there. And I am positive no words will ever make you forget or be comforted until these blessed people are made known to the world around us. I am stunned and very touched by your posts since you have been back. I am so blessed to know such an amazing and Godly woman.

Cammie Howard said...

Wow-I can only imagine how hard it is to process everything you have seen and heard and experienced, and then to return home. Thank you for sharing all of this with your friends-it is very eye opening! You are an awesome woman Sharla!! Love to you!

Patientlywaiting said...

Sharla,

Wow, I thought the garbage dump post was hard to read but this is really hard to read. For children, to live in fear and to have such responsibility at such a young age. I am thankful that God gave you the strength to withstand all that you saw. Thanks for opening our eyes as well.

Hugs,
Robin

Amy said...

Thank you for sharing this story. It has to be told.

momto4girls said...

I read your posts and am speechless, but then I guess that doesn't matter as long as when I log off my computer, that I don't remain "actless" Thank you!