Where do you stay?

In Africa it's customary to say, "Where do you stay?" instead of "Where do you live?" I (Alisha) got to thinking about that a bit. Back home it seemed I just expected to see the same people at the boy's schools and at church week after week.

We're really missing my niece Traci now that she's on her way back home. (Traci - Dani's sister - is on the left) She was here about 6 weeks and it went by too fast. She was great to have around and it was a big treat for Dani as well.
But here it is a little different. Many families come here for a commitment of just a few months or maybe only a couple of years. Then one day, they are off to another country or back home to start a new chapter of their lives. That's what made me realize: while people may "stay" in one place for a time, there is no guarantee that they will "live" in that place for very long. Accepting this new sense of "normal" has been a big challenge for me.Over the past few weeks in Africa we have had to say a lot of goodbyes. A couple of weeks ago a very sweet family moved back to the States. Although I have only known them for 10 short months, the wife especially, Pamela, was a great example for me here of how to live far away from home, to treat that new place as "home," and to honor God with how you live no matter where you "stay."

Last Sunday Alisha and I joined with some other eMi people to play in an ultimate frisbee tournament. It was a very long day (9am to 7:30pm). But in the end, we won all 5 of our games including the championship match, where we scored the last 4 points of the game to win it 9-8! (Our team is in black, the second place team is in yellow. I'm 5th from the left in back, Alisha isn't pictured).

Last night, we also watched our next-door neighbors and good friends (the family with three young kiddos our boy's ages) drive off for the airport to begin their eight week visit to the States, and then early this morning, our niece Traci left for home in California. In about two weeks, all of the interns but two will also be ending their stay here, as well as Liz (architect for eMi), who will moving back to New Zealand and then possibly on to Sudan. Soooo...... there seems to be some lonely feelings floating around here - especially with the Christmas season coming into full swing, and a few tears (okay maybe a bit more than a few), as we watch people we have gotten to know here move on to where God would have them "stay" next.

Graysen with 'Romeo', one of the long-term volunteers has a sister working in the U.S. Embassy here and this is her dog. There are many perks to being an Embassy worker, one of which includes having them ship your animals here for you!
Though times like this make us miss our family and friends so very much, I am not mentioning any of this to wallow in self-pity but to actually share something God is teaching me. Even as I write this blog, I am realizing God's truth: It really makes no difference where you "stay," but rather how you "live" for God in that place. Our niece Traci has been a perfect example of this truth: though she was here just six short weeks, she impacted many with her willingness to serve God.

The eMi Thanksgiving Table - a lot of people, though not quite as many as at the Taucher household growing up (I think we topped 50 back in the good 'ol days!)
Within the first few days of being here Traci had already organized times throughout the week when she would either ride public or walk several miles to a local orphanage to spend time with the little ones. She devoted three or four hours a day, at least three times a week, to just playing, cuddling, and praying for those children. Throughout this time she shared all God had taught her here with her friends and family back home in the form of emails.

The eMi group - 36 people in all came over to our house for a potluck Thanksgiving dinner
Unbeknownst to Traci, God was using these shared thoughts to rally several families in the States to serve through giving money for food and supplies for the orphanage. About a week later Traci joined Graysen and I on our weekly grocery run so that she could purchase simple supplies for the baby's home with the money sent from those hearing her story. It has been amazing and touching to see how God used Traci here in such big ways. While she could have just had a six week vacation in Africa, she opted for sacrificing her own comforts to do God's work instead.

We hosted 'New Zealand' night in honor of Liz, a long-term eMi volunteer from NZ who arrived with us but is leaving next week. We had 29 people over to watch the movie 'The World's Fastest Indian', which is about a Kiwi man who likes fast motorcycles.
Beyond her many hours at the orphanage, Traci also greatly blessed us Crawford's and Dani with her time, energy, smiles, encouraging words, and ever-willing attitude to help wherever needed. Less than 24 hours after she has left, we are already going through Traci withdrawals. COME BACK!!! :)I wanted to share one last thought which is actually an excerpt I read in a book today called 90 Minutes in Heaven.

Aunt Alisha holding Becky (top) and Uncle Brad holding Billy (below). Alisha's brother is adopting these two twins and hopes to be coming to pick them up next month!
The book is about the author's battle for life and purpose after suffering a very tragic car accident. Upon realizing that he would never be as "healthy or strong again" as he was prior to the accident, the author writes, "The sooner I make peace ....and accept the way things are, the sooner I'll be able to live in peace and enjoy my new normalcy."

The boys with their new cousins, Becky and Billy
These words shouted at me as I read them while riding the school bus home from swimming today with Brodie's class. In times of saying goodbyes, and in times of missing friends and family and the way things used to be back home, I need to remember as author Don Piper says, that what I need is not "mourning.....and going back over the way things used to be or what I used to have that I don't have anymore. Instead, I need to discover what I have now........" While it is sad to send off family visitors, staff members, and interns after their "stay" here is done, I would not trade the experience or the things that God has taught our family through "living" in Africa for this time.

After visiting the orphanage, we went to a nearby resort to let the boys swim. After a very quiet and lazy 45 minutes of swimming, all of a sudden a school showed up with 150 Ugandan kids! Talk about a free for all - those kids were so wound up the noise was deafening! But the boys had fun playing and interacting with them, so it was a good time still (though not at all peaceful!). Test: Can you find the only muzungu boy in the pool?! Hint - upper pool.
How amazing it is to realize that all over the world God is using each of us to reach out to others and share God's love not only through where we "stay" but moreso through how we choose to "live" day to day. We miss you all very much and can't wait to see you. We will be coming for a visit home in just under seven weeks. :) We are excited and so blessed to be able to have the opportunity to come home.

Comments

berrytribe said…
Soooo Good!! So neat for you to share your "lessons" with us. Thank you for being so transparent! Can't believe that you will be in here, when we are there--what were the chances of that! :) SO glad you get to come home and re-group!! Can't wait to know that you are on the same continent! :)
love you--shan
the5davies said…
Do you get your picture on some sort of wall for winning all your frisbee games? I remember that was one of you goals at one time. I always enjoy reading your entries, thanks.

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