Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dresses, bones, and memories, OH MY!

Once next week ends, I will have experienced the weirdest/greatest week followed by the most mentally exhausting/physically demanding week. Both weeks entail dressing up. Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of this week's dress up party/Halloween extravaganza, but the picture of Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm is a small idea as to how my counterpart and I dressed up. We really were adorable. Since he was half dressed, and super cute, he definitely got some serious attention. What a trooper. However, next week will have dressing up of another kind - formal. Now, I love a beautiful dress as much as the next girl, but I've never been to anything like a Marine Ball. I've been to a multitude of formals, but the guys didn't have swords and guns. I think it's okay for me to be a little timid. Open mind, Clara. I love an adventure. And I'm dragging Jenna along for this next one. If anything, we'll have an awesome story for the grand kids or for the other blue haired ladies at the retirement home we'll be hitting up when we're old and grey. Oh, gracious.

**UPDATE: The formal made Halloween pale in comparison. And that week was still a fav, but a momentary fav.  And my ball gown was 9 million times more wonderful than my Pebbles outfit, which was precious, so there was some serious competition. I'll post on the ball soon. Promises :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

As Seen on T.V.

Sometimes my heart breaks. This is not in a romantic sense, although I've had my fair share of those -gross, but more spiritual.  This summer I traveled to Africa. I went, initially, because I wanted an adventure! I was a baby Christian, not even 2 years old yet, and I thought, "You know, there are so many people in the world that need me to come to them so I can be an encouragement to their poor little lives" (No really, this happened in my head. I know, it repulses me too). However, God had a totally different plan in store for my conceited and egotistical heart.

One of the first days we were in our precious little village, Kagadi, we went to a prison to visit the inmates.  Now being the baby Christian that I was at the time, I thought prison was just the place where people needed to hear the Gospel. Before we're even allowed to go in a visit with the men, there were about 56 men and only 2 women, we had to get clearance. So outside, all the girls on our team came prepared with lollipops, stickers, and bubbles. We looked like the most awesome group of Kindergarten teachers. Around the prison, there were about 15 kids running without shoes, brown shirts that I'm convinced used to be white, and the biggest smiles. Lollipops flew out of our hands, stickers were dispersed as quickly as we could peel them off the waxy paper, and bubbles were EVERYWHERE. I learned about 10 minutes after we had been playing with the kids that the reason why they were there was because their parents were in prison and they had no where else to go. (and the tears started) Right after I had heard about the kids, I noticed a small courtyard-ish type area off the front of the prison. My friend Daniel told me there were people in there. I looked shocked because all I saw were empty cells. I walked in and saw a narrow door that was shut with tiny metal bars covering a window. Little fingers found their way out of the holes just enough to beckon me to come over. As I walked over to see them, my composition failed me. I could barely utter a word, but I could tell they wanted lollipops like the kids and some stickers to look at. Their deep brown eyes lit up like it was Christmas morning and their beautiful smiles shone brighter than a light bulb. It was all I could do to smile back. In that one moment, God tore my selfish heart to pieces and broke my "holier than thou" attitude. However, that was just the beginning of that adventure.

We were allowed into the prison after about 30 or 45 minutes after we'd arrived. We walked into this large, open, concrete common area where there were almost 60 people gathered to hear the Muzungu's, white traveler, stories. Four people from our team shared their testimonies. One of the guys on our team, Soren, had his testimony interpreted by a guy, Joseph, that he led to the Lord last year. I'm not a huge crier, I know I'm a female, but I hate crying unless I'm alone or with family. However, I was inconsolable. The men in the room listening to all of these testimonies were on the edge of their, figurative, seats reciting prayers and shouting "Hallelujahs"  and clapping with joy. Again, I don't know how many of these men or women were believers, but the way God softened my heart and broke me so I could feel again has made all the difference in my walk with Him. So, I came home. I was initially frustrated and angry with my culture, but yet here I am, fighting the same sins and battling the same struggles I was before I left. Selfishness is a battle and remaining focused on the Kingdom where my heart should always lie is still a challenge. The difference now though is that I see hope. I have hope. Christ is my hope.