Friday, November 30, 2007

I'll fly away

As I lay in bed this evening trying to formulate this story into words the lyrics of a spiritual came to mind, “Some bright morning when this life is over, I’ll fly away. To that home on God’s celestial shore, I’ll fly away...When the shadows of this life have gone, I’ll fly away. Like a bird from these prison walls I’ll fly away...”

Yesterday I was at the office and noticed that it had become unusually quiet, so I wandered to reception to find out what was going on. Our office is usually lively and full of banter, so I was surprised to see a sober crowd of coworkers gathered around a young girl, probably 19 or 20, who had come looking for help. Strangers soliciting assistance isn’t especially uncommon, but this girl was unique. The grimace on her face (whether due to pain or hunger I’m not sure) communicated the severity of her situation. She spoke very little English, so I was not able to catch everything that was said, but through translation I was astonished to discover that this young woman had had surgery for a bowel obstruction about 10 years ago and was using a plastic grocery sack as a colostomy bag. She was recently orphaned, so has not received regular medical care in the last year. She lifted her shirt to reveal a bright red gash across her belly that was unmistakably the color of infection. A chaplain who happened upon our gathering insisted we immediately take her to the hospital. After watching this slim, brown beauty in a striped skirt glide through the main doors I returned to the office only to find out that she refused treatment. Upon examination, the specialist insisted she get admitted right away. The wound was septic and the physician told her explicitly that she would die if she left the hospital. Despite the pleas of hospital staff, this young girl gathered her belongings into a make-shift chetenge bag and started her long walk home. It has been a little over 24 hours now and I cannot help but wonder where she is.

At age 20 my stress revolved around choosing a major and the Jewish boy I was in love with: a far cry from a botched surgery and starvation.

I am writing a sermon for Sunday and since it is Advent I have been spending time with the lonely shepherds in Luke, chapter 2. Thank God Jesus arrived amongst the poor, the outcast, and the marginalized because if he hadn’t, what on earth would I preach about? Some bright morning when this life is over, I’ll fly away. To that home on God’s celestial shore, I’ll fly away...

Friday, November 23, 2007

Killing the turkey...

Yep folks, that's right. We found a turkey. American Thanksgiving will be held amongst an eclectic international crowd and it all began with this fine bird. My friend Cheryl (the mazungu),Peggy (the local), and I bravely took a knife to the poor thing and learned a lot about what it takes to get a beautiful turkey on the table.... I guess the market was in a small uproar yesterday when Cheryl arrived because farmers had searched high and low for a turkey for her!

It is amazing how easy the feathers come off when you dip the thing in boiling, hot water. The whole event brought me back to high school biology -- quite the anatomy review!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A little piece of heaven...

I had never been anywhere tropical in my life, so my trip to the Kenyan coast felt like pure extravagance. I spent a week in Malindi, Kenya where I met with about 40 Presbyterians from the U.S. who are working all over Eastern and Southern Africa. Impressive people. Physicians, health educators, relief workers, teachers, and agricultural specialists gathered to share experiences and discuss the changing demographics of world Christianity.

I've never swam in water so clear and warm and beautiful in my life. The most taxing part of the trip was avoiding eels and sand sharks. Rough life, I know.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Masai Warriors

I was told that when the British Colonizers arrived in Kenya and Tanzania they promptly decided to leave the Masai alone. They are a fearsome and proud people and I was lucky enough to have a long conversation with a few Masai men after a cultural exhibition. They danced to a rhythm I can only liken to a human heartbeat. They dance in perfect unity as their slender arms and legs move to the powerful gutteral reverberration of the songs they sing. No words mind you, but definintey song. Enchanting and frightening. I have no doubt the lions cower when confronting these men. I'm not kidding. On an amusing note, after the exhibition (and yes, I am pictured with these folks in my bathing suit at poolside-- all sorts of irony in this) I visited with some young men who tried to convince me that I should marry a Masai (and then simply go home and marry an American upon my return to the States). The women weren't interetested in conversation. I am not sure why this was the case. Perhaps they aren't interested in rich, white women from the west, or maybe their culture forbids it. Maybe these particular women were just shy. Not sure.

I hope I will be able to spend more time with the Masai someday. What a rich and rascinating culture.


My friend Ingrid is working in Southern Sudan establishing educational sites for returning refugees. Many of her students are ex-child soldiers and the stories she tells are sobering. She told me about one of her students, a 20 year old double orphan who is married with a baby, that is currently working on his times tables and reading at a second grade level. He asked Ingrid to tell all of his brothers and sisters from the Presbyterian church that he is grateful because "knowledge has become my mother and knowledge has become my father." War is brewing again, so if you are the type, please pray for the conflict in Sudan. God hears.

Swimming with the girls...

This was one of my passtimes this week (children crawling all over me in the pool). These girls were outrageously fun and gave me permission to act goofy and playful. We did cartwheels into the water and played marco polo. They play ALL day and never get tired. No matter how pruney their skin, no matter how much chlorine they've swallowed. That's tenacity. There's got to be a sermon in that.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Good News!

It has basically been the best week ever. Why you ask?

--Dad is home from the hospital and is on the mend!

--No more malaria!

--I ran for the first time in Africa! Feels good to be developing a rhythm of life here in Kitwe.

--I played Settlers of Cattan with my neighbors (don't worry Roberts and Tennant folks-- my heart will always be devoted to you)

--And the best part? I got a letter from my cousin and a package in the mail from my sister! Thanks! Tam, I've already eaten all the fruit gushers. This pic is of some of my co-workers admiring the package from home. Don't worry! I've shared.

Some of you have asked for the mailing address:
Carmen Goetschius
c/o The Director
PO Box 23054

If you are ever in Zambia, feel free to stop by.