Monday, November 17, 2008

Clinging to the Memories

I think about my experiences in Africa everyday. I hope I never forget the lessons that I learned there. I continue to feel compelled to blog about my experiences. My blog has become my journal and I use it to record events in my life. It would be a tragedy for me to leave part of my experiences untold. So, for myself, I need to tell the remaining stories and lessons. It is always so hard for me to take the time because it requires so much more to write about than cute hairdos for babies. My visiting teacher came today and asked me questions and I found myself going on and on, something I don't do too often. I was grateful for the opportunity to share. Heather called tonight and shared how much she missed our African friends and I was glad I knew who they were and why we both missed them. So glad to have had that experience with her. It was the conversation with my VT and Heather's phone call that got me to put my book down for an hour and share another story.

People often ask what is being done to prevent AIDS. We can't understand why the people don't put a stop to it-especially when there are things that can be done to keep yourself from getting AIDS. Well, they are trying to educate the people. There are billboards everywhere in Africa that educate about AIDS and abuse. It is taught in the schools. Unfortunately, not everyone goes to school, not everyone can read the billboards, not everyone can steer clear of the abuse, and people still fall in love and spread the disease. I still can't understand it and don't know why it can't be stopped. What I do know is that it is rampant and is wiping out my generation in Africa. And because of this, there are many orphans. In fact, in Zambia alone, 56,000 people died of AIDS in 2007 and 600,000 children became orphaned. Wow. We live in a time when people are dying.

I wrote in another post about the orphans who are being cared for by Mothers Without Borders. They put on a show for us full of dancing and singing and also a portion about AIDS. About how it has killed their families. About how they need help. So you ask the question, "Why don't they stop it?" They are very aware of the problem and they wish more than we can ever understand that it could be stopped, but for now they are just trying to figure out how to live with what has been given them.

The following two videos are part of a poem that the children present about AIDS. Here is part of what was recorded:

"Why are my fellow Africans dying of AIDS in Africa? Children are dying of AIDS in Africa and all our parents are dying of AIDS in Africa and all our brothers who deserve peace are dying of AIDS in Africa. I'm done. I'm a slave of nature.

"I am poor, but that in not a sin. I come from two different parents but society has rejected me because I wear rags. Oh God, why did you create me?

"Aids, Aids, has killed my mother, has killed my father, has killed my brothers, has killed my sisters. Has killed people in Malawi, has killed people in America. I don't have anywhere to do. I don't have anywhere to go. Oh God, why did you create me?

"HIV/AIDS, HIV/AIDS Oh yes HIV/AIDS continents shake, continents shake because of you AIDS.

"HIV/AIDS, HIV/AIDS, Oh yes HIV/AIDS you came to our land like a thief in the night. You have brought misery and sorrow to our land, sorrow unmanageable, sorrow incomprehensible, and have taken our loved ones who are irreplaceable. And left me the fruit of their love with hunger and suffering all around me. Oh God, why did you create me?

This video is of Carol, who has AIDS.

Of course, as I saw over and over again while in Africa, with the sorrow there is also great amounts of joy. I grinned from ear to ear as I watched the kids dance and sing. I couldn't believe I was hanging out in Africa, listening to African music and watching African dancing. I couldn't decide which videos to leave out so I put most of them in so that you can enjoy the African life for yourself.

The first video is of all the girls dancing. These girls are amazing and have such powerful spirits about them. The second is of Ethel, a teenage girl who recently watched her mother die and cared for her throughout. On one day during my trip Ethel was helping one of my team leaders search for some Americans who had taken a wrong turn and had been missing. She told the team leader over and over that she felt they needed to go a certain way. The team leader kept going the way she thought made the most sense and didn't listen to Ethel's promptings. Of course, the Americans were found exactly where Ethel new they would be, exactly where the Spirit told her to look. My team leader apologized to Ethel. Ethel's response was, "Do you have trouble listening to God in America?" Yes, Ethel. We do.

I love these pictures of a traditional African dance.

And this dance was my favorite. Shows how much fun these kids like to have. They came up with this all on their own.

Here are the kids singing "Heavenly Father You are Wonderful" and meaning every word of it.

I'm sure many of you will recognize this song!

The first time I heard the kids sing "Walk Tall Your a Child of God" I cried as I listened to these words. "Be strong please remember who you are. Try to understand, you're part of His great plan. He's closer than you know. Reach up; He'll take your hand." Not only did these children believe what they were singing but they were teaching us how to believe it as well. Helping us understand that somehow, it's all part of the plan and that if we reach out, He's there waiting for us.

I'm only putting this video on for myself, it's really not worth your time. I knew that going to Africa meant that I would have to dance, and I am NOT a dancer. I thought I would just find ways to get out of it. But when my sweet Bwayla came up and took my hand-how could I resist? So here I am, making a fool of myself. Next time I go back, I'm going to figure out how to really dance.


Julie said...

Wow, Heidi! Thank you for sharing all of these things! What an amazing experience.

vaxhacker said...

Your experiences in Africa are inspiring many of us back here at home! Thank you for sharing it all with us.

vaxhacker said...

Oh, and tag! This has made the rounds around several of the ward bloggers already, might as well join in the fun...

brenda said...

Thanks for sharing. Your experiences and thoughts enrich us all. It's impossible not to fall in love with those zambian sweethearts.

Stacie Raddatz said...

I love your dancing. Looks like you were "shakin' it" really well. I love all the videos. My kids always sing that "Heavenly Father, you are wonderful... marvelous.." song. Aunt Heather taught it to them from her first visit. I can't get it out of my own head sometimes. I wish I was in tune like Ethel. It is hard for me to understand Aids in Africa.