Saturday, April 26, 2008

miss sarah, why are your cheeks always red?

So this week, my nursing responsibilities kicked in full force. Besides two hospital trips and a day spent organizing in the clinic, we had Lily clinic on Monday where the doctor from the hospital where we take the kids comes to see the kids so we don't have to bring so many. She checks them out and draws a lot of blood. I drew blood on a couple of the older ones, and I realized how long it had been since I had done that! It was so strange. Then in the middle of holding one of the little ones while the doctor was drawing blood I looked out the window and saw a warthog running along the fence. We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
I also did chest physiotherapy with Simone, one of the other volunteers, on a couple of the kids who have lung problems. She and I also spent an hour and a half with one boy who had sand thrown in his eyes (and was more than willing to tattle on the other boy but somehow failed to mention that he himself had started it) trying to rinse his eyes out and get drops in them. I cared for one sore throat, one sprained ankle, one bumped and cut head, one hurt rib, and applied about 15 bandaids. Next week a team of doctors from the UK who came to Lily in the fall will be here again and be working in the big clinic for a couple of weeks.
Also, it's starting to be wintertime here and it came out of nowhere. It was nice and sunny one day and the next two days straight it rained and was in the 40s. Now it's warm again during the day, but cold at night and in the morning. I had been warned, so I brought plenty of warm clothes but I guess I didn't really believe them because I definitely wasn't expecting it to be this cold!
No snake or bat sightings this week, so I chalk this one up as a success!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

miss sarah, your eyes are the color of a frog....

Oh the glory that the Lord has made

I've been at Lily for 4 weeks now, which seems unreal. I'm definitely starting to settle in and get used to my surroundings, and I'm doing my best to learn about 120 Zulu names along with some words that I've found are important (such as, stop! Come here! Go! Move! Sit Down!no! As anyone who works with kids may imagine).
In the past week or so I have had not one but two run-ins with the law. The first one was being threatened (along with Naomi, my AIM coordinator) by the Lesotho border guard to be thrown into prison for taking a picture of the 'Welcome to Lesotho' sign on the side of a metal shack that was apparently a government building. My bad. The second was when one of the Lily vehicles broke down on the side of the road on the way back from church and a policeman stopped and gave us a ride back to Lily. Dave, who's in charge of the Lily Community Center rode up front while his daughter Jordan, our manager Sungmin, Naomi, my roommate Lani and I rode locked up in the back of the police truck. It was pretty amusing and hopefully my one and only ride in police custody.
Out of lack of interesting stories, here are things I appreciate much more after being here for a month (in no particular order):
two ply toilet paper
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
living in a place without roosters
fabric softener
milk that doesn't taste weird
cheese that doesn't taste weird

I really, really would like to post some pictures but it's not working! Sigh.

and the complications when I see His face in the morning at the window

Saturday, April 12, 2008

i finally made it to an internet cafe!

Keep me responsible, be it a light or heavy load

The past few weeks and days have been a pretty overwhelming range of emotions. There's the usual ups and downs of settling into anything new. I am very blessed to be where I am and the support that I have, but you can't help feeling loneliness when you're separated from everyone who knows you best. I've only been gone a few weeks, but it's amazing how isolated how I feel from everything going on at home. Everything I can possibly feel, I think I've felt over the past weeks. I've been excited over being here and had a strong sense of purpose and love for the kids at Lily. Frustrated, when I was trying to care for a newly diagnosed diabetic child discharged from the hospital with no testing supplies and no instructions. Elated, over the unbelievable beauty of the sunset in Natal.
God has been gracious to provide me with strength and comfort and in the times I've been struggling. The morning after I spent 5 hours just trying to check a child's blood sugar while feeling miserable because I was getting sick and feeling completely alone, one of the children knocked on my door. She had drawn me a picture and written me a note that said (this is an exact quote), “I love you sooooo munch. You are a good nurse. You are a girl. God bless you.” It was so sweet, and funny. And a reminder that I wasn't here so that I could be comfortable or relaxed.
I was in Durban for the first time the other day on a hospital trip for one of the kids and we drove down this side street and right past a squatter camp. Durban is a fairly modern city with huge shopping malls, movie theaters, restaurants, etc. And right in the middle of this there was a squatter camp, metal shacks propped up with tires and bricks holding down the “roofs” so they wouldn't blow away. No electricity, no running water, no anything but makeshift shelter. Three children were walking over piles of garbage with bare feet. I looked on the other side of the road, and there were these huge mansions up the side of this hill that could see the camp from their front door. I couldn't believe it. I started to think about how in the world these wealthy people could possibly live their lives that way, and then I was completely ashamed of myself.
Because it struck me that I was just as aware of these needs when I was sitting in my apartment in Nashville. I knew they were there. Just because I didn't see them out my window every morning didn't mean I was any less informed. I didn't need to see the destitution in the township of Mophela to know that it existed. I didn't have to see children walking in piles of trash to know that it was happening. I can criticize someone else and say with my head that they have more responsibility than me to care for the poor at the end of their driveway, but I know in my heart that the burden to care for the children of God is mine. Yours and mine. To bind up the brokenhearted, wherever we find them.

On a somewhat lighter note, I am learning to take certain things in stride since I got to Africa. Daily power outages? No problem. No shower? At least I have running water. Frogs in the house? They won't kill me. And the bugs. Extremely noisy crickets like to hide under our furniture. I kid you not, the other day I saw a beetle that was literally the size of a small turtle. At least it was outside and not in. And this morning I was attacked by ants that looked more like small spiders. But umm, one thing I will not be adjusting to is bats. Yes, last night I realized there were bats. Flying very low. Over my head. I have not run that fast in a long time. So at least I'm exercising!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Week 2

Well, I have made it through my second week in South Africa. I have definitely had several "This Is Africa" moments since I've been here. First, going to the game preserve next to the park and seeing a rhino walk in front of the car. Second, going to the hospital for one child to have blood drawn and prescription filled and waiting for 8 hours. TIA.
I am finally learning some names and I am really starting to connect with some of the kids. They are so full of life and so funny. Also, so naughty. I have learned that VERY quickly. But I love them all already.
The area that I am in is so beautiful. Huge, green hills, beautiful sunsets, and at night you can see tons of stars. It's such a contrast to all of the poverty and suffering that you see in the area where we are; many of the children here are such an example of the toll that sin has taken on the world. But it's so beautiful to see the love here at Lily and the kindness of people from the community who work here. I have already seen how hope in Christ is making a difference to people in this area, even in circumstances that I cannot fathom living through.
So several of you have asked for my address here. There's two, one for letters and one for anything else:
For letters ONLY: (I've been told nothing else would actually make it to me)
Sarah Underwood
c/o Lily of the Valley
PO Box 508
Cato Ridge, 3603
Kwazulu Natal, South Africa

For anything else: (this is the main Lily administrative office in a bigger town)
Sarah Underwood
c/o Lily of the Valley
PO Box 185
Gillitts, 3603
Kwazulu Natal, South Africa

Thanks again for all the prayers and encouragement since I've been here. Hopefully I can post some pictures soon!