Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Guest Post — Sparky's Africa Experience

Sparky and I have been discussing for the last week the best way to go about doing her guest post. This last Sunday night, she and Mr. Churchmember spoke and gave their testimony of the trip and shared pictures. Sparky wrote out what she wanted to say (she still gets a little nervous in front of people) and then we typed it out. We decided it was an excellent summary of her trip and it was her version of the trip from her eyes, so we'd just cut and paste it from Word over here. I did change names just for the blog, because of course she didn't use Mr. Churchmember and Mrs. Missionary when she was talking, and I left it in a different font too.

I will tell you the rats they were selling on skewers in the market didn't make it into the story...

First of all, thank you all for your prayers. I really appreciated it.

I had an awesome time while we were there in Africa, and I miss it a lot. Basically each day the ladies got up at 5:00 in the morning to start fixing breakfast, which was then served at 6:00. I set the tables and did dishes a lot of the time — that kind of thing since there were 3 other ladies to do most of the cooking, although I did help with some of the cooking as well.

After breakfast the guys started working and the ladies cleaned off the tables, did the dishes, and set everything out for lunch. Then we’d go in our room to pray, do devotions, rest, take the men like Mr. Churchmember water, and that’s also when we took our showers. While we were there we were only allowed to take 5 minute showers, called missionary showers. All my family completely cracked up when I told them this because they all know that usually a quick shower for me is like 20 minutes.

We would start getting ready for lunch at 11:00 doing everything in the same way as we did at breakfast. Then after cleaning everything up from lunch, we’d have about 2-3 hours to do whatever we liked, or Mrs. Missionary would let me off kitchen duty sometimes so I could participate in extra things. That’s usually when I’d help Mrs. Local Togo Missionary with the kids from nearby who would come for the Bible study and games. Mawilly helped me do things there, and there is a picture of me with him in the slideshow. We’re working in the kitchen pouring lots of cups of Koolaid. Mrs. Local Togo Missionary took me with her to a small market that was different from the big one that the ladies went to earlier in the week. We also visited some kids at the hospital where we were adding on the maternity wing.

One of the last days we were there we went to a school that CWE built last year. It was an hour drive on crazy, bumpy roads which I loved anyway, but I’m not sure everyone else was as enthusiastic about. It makes our dirt roads look really good. We visited four classrooms and got to see the kids and they all sang for us. It was sweet and especially for Mrs. Missionary to see children in the classrooms since she had been there when they completed the school. The pictures you see in the slideshow where children have on pink colored shirts are from the school. There was also a church right next to the school that we got to go into.

For dinner we’d go through the same process as before, and once we were done eating dinner we’d clean off the tables and the guys would put them against the wall so that a devotional area could be set up. Devotions would last at least an hour and were always a special time.

The main focus of the devotions was turning the world upside down. Now how do we turn the world upside down? We’ve got to see people like Christ sees people if we’re going to turn someone’s life upside down. A way we can turn people’s lives upside down is by telling them about the gospel. It dramatically changes people's lives. But for people to even listen to what we’re saying and take it seriously, we need to have credibility and a good reputation. As you all know, a reputation is a person’s character, distinction, what we’re known for. As Christians, we should be known for our walk with God. Our character should be a step above the worlds. God will always be there for us – that’s his reputation. Samson, David, Joseph, Abraham, all had reputations. We all can turn the world upside down by using our reputations. People who live upside down for God stand out. They’ll have all the fruit of the spirit. So we have to be focused and have the right priorities. We need to be disciples, faithfully spending time in God’s Word so that it’ll nurture us. We’ve got to surrender and be willing, pray, fellowship with others, and we’ve got to witness. We have to be and have these things in order to turn the world upside down.

The last full day we were in Togo we had a maternity wing dedication. Now that the women giving birth can be separated from the sick women, the hospital is now culturally correct. The morning we left Togo there were already babies being born in the maternity wing.

It was amazing to see the cultural differences. Like here we have dogs and cats for pets—there the local missionary family had not only dogs, but a monkey and scorpion for pets as well. One of the boys actually caught the scorpion using a pair of flip flops. I thought the fact that they could keep those as pets was pretty cool. My mom and dad won’t even let me have a non-poisonous snake as a pet. Go figure. Practically all the ladies carried some type of bowl or bin on their heads filled with all types of different items. The women and girls carried babies on their backs by wrapping some cloth around their waist. It was all interesting to experience.

I also got to learn some lessons that I might not have otherwise. I learned how to live without my suitcase while overseas since my suitcase never showed up. Luckily there was enough in my carry-on to get me by. At one of the customs stops there was a toilet that wouldn’t flush normally. I learned how to flush it by using a bucket of water, so now I know what to do if the power ever goes out. For one of the first times in my life I realized that being short isn’t always bad. On the plane I was the only one who could lean over and use the food tray to sleep on.

I was also shown how very fortunate I am and how much I take for granted here. Some of the kids didn’t have shoes or a whole pair of clothes to wear; and when we’d hand out things, for example, they might get one piece of candy and they’d act like you just handed them some treasure. The ladies who worked in the guest house behind us would go through our trash we’d put out and scrape off all the plates and bowls to reuse them, and maybe even eat the leftover food as well.

On the trip, God confirmed the call that I’ve felt to Africa. My favorite part was when I got to interact some with the children. I now feel as though I’m supposed to do something with children there. I can’t wait to go back there (hopefully next year for a month with Mrs. Missionary). It was such a wonderful experience for me and I will remember it always.


Lora said...

That was awesome, Sparky! I loved reading about your trip~thank you for sharing.

Betsy said...

This was really great! What a wonderful thing to be able to do...visit another country you think you may feel a calling to. Thanks for sharing it with us. :)

Mari said...

Sparky - thanks for sharing your story. What a great experience for you!

Demara said...

Aw well what a lovely story! I am reminded of my trip to Korea on a Month long day camp ESL program. I lOVED it, and thought I'd make it a career but then I got married and that changes everything. I did not marry a missionary, even though I was one. I married instead a man who felt like family :) maybe things will change when we get older. Hehe Idk i'm glad Sparky is fine and had a wonderful time! Written on my phone...

JMS said...

Thank you so much Sparky for sharing part of your trip to Togo. It was such a joy to pray for you and your family during the time you were away. I am so pleased that it has confirmed for you how you can serve God as you get older.

I admire that you were able to cope without your bag (not easy for any woman but especially a young woman) and it sounds as though you had a very humbling experience in terms of realising how much we all have in the "western world".

Thanks again

Julie in Australia

Bobbi said...

Brought tears to my eyes! Will keep praying for Sparky!

Jenny said...

Wow, what a great share! I felt like I was there. What an amazing experience!

Ashley said...

I am stopping by from Kelly's Korner. I am a military spouse. How does it feel to be retired military? Your daughter sounds like a very amazing girl. I know that you and your husband must be VERY PROUD of her!! I loved reading her story.

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