March 31, 2009


There's someone in Africa wearing my shoes.

I only wish I had brought 500,000 pair.

How to blog about two weeks that exceeded every expectation I had... changed parts of me I didn't know existed... left me feeling entirely void and unsure of what little I thought I did know.. left me full, but thousands of miles away from my own heart.

That's how I feel right now - stuck here in the spring mud, thousands of miles of salty sea-water away from my own heart, and no matter how badly I want to be there, to be unified with my full self, I cannot get there. It's a sickening feeling, one that's left me feeling quite immobilized and, well, stranded, really.
God bless America, and all that, but I can just feel Uncle Sam's fingertip pointed at me; He's laughing menacingly, for he knows that right now he holds some vital strings to this pupeteer life.

So where do I begin?

Do I start with the orphans? The hundreds of kids living on the streets in that one tiny town because the government shut down every single orphanage in the nation a year ago due to corruption in one orphanage, prohibiting them from re-opening until the situation is "cleaned up". How long will that take? A few more months? A few more years? Meanwhile they live in clusters and eat what little food they can find, hoping they can find some sort of shelter for the quickly-approaching rainy season.

Or the unending groups of women and children gathered on every side and bank of the local watering hole - a stagnant, mirky-green pond. Cattle wade in and out as hordes of people gather water for washing, cleaning, drinking.

No. No, no no. I'm going to start with something else. Because the truth is, as harsh as that other realm has been to them, they have something America has thrown away.. something America will most likely never get back.. something I would give just about anything to be a part of..

I'm going to start by saying this:

I've never before in my life seen such undeniably beautiful people. Striking, really. They have near to nothing and yet they stand so tall. I've never seen eyes so full, shoulders so strong, chins so proud. The women, I will never forget them. Babies bound to their backs, huge buckets and bowls balanced on their heads, they walk, some for miles, to allow themselves the barest of survival necessities.
We took a walk through the market our second full day in town. Women sat under cloth tents- yams, onions, fish, raw sea-salt spread all around them. When they saw us they would jump up, smile, wave, yell "Akwaaba!" (welcome) and point to our cameras excitedly. After taking their photos they would crowd around us, then laugh and slap their knees when they saw their images, patting us on the back, nodding approval and thanks. That's all it took.
We were the talk of the town.
The Americans who came to help. The Americans who came to build desks so the kids didn't have to sit on the floor. The Americans who came to install water filters. The Americans who went to the funeral celebration and blessed the sandals off a woman they didn't even know.

Pastor Peter (pronounced "pita", like the bread) said for them to see white people is like catching a glimpse of the hope and promise of heaven.

I have something else to say:

Dear Atebubu,
I would not wish America on any of you. You're far more beautiful than you realize. If I could give you all enough food and clean water I would do so without a second thought. But take you from your nation to mine, your culture to mine - never. We would ruin you.

I went to Ghana hoping to bring color from my world to yours. Well, friends, you colored me. And I get the feeling I'm the one who's never going to be the same.

(much, much more to come)

March 8, 2009


i leave in 5 days. i leave in 5 days. i leave in 5 days!

not exactly sure what to follow that with. "i'm excited" sounds lame even though it's true. "i can't wait" is a given, except that I both can and will wait.

so I guess I'll just say this:

I fell running down a snowy/mostly ice hill yesterday. I won't tell the story of how - it's beyond mortifying (although rediculously funny as well). Needless to say, my back and tailbone haven't been the same since, nor have my head and my stomach. However, I do not regret the events that led to the fall. They all stem back to my current love for granola.
And that's all I have to say about THAT!

five days
five days
five days!

March 5, 2009

Granola Child

I've decided to start writing again. Really writing. Poetry, prose, songs. I bought a new book for Ghana. A nice green one full of empty pages. I will fill it with what I see, what I experience, what I feel. Not so different from all the other big books of empty pages lining my shelves, except that it is entirely different:
This one will belong to my world. This one I will share.

I'm going natural. Again, probably something that doesn't seem so strange or new, except that it really is very fresh inside me right now. I want to last. And I want to know that I'm taking care of this body as best I possibly can. I'm not going all freak-o "if it has an ingredient that starts with X in it I will not touch it", but over the last few years I've become increasingly more aware of what I'm putting in my body (or not putting in my body), how I'm treating my body, how I'm taking care of myself in general. Eating 6 apples a day doesn't make a girl healthy. It makes her sick. (warning: this may become a bit of an impassioned rant) It makes me sick to think of the number of times, number of days, weeks, months since I was in middle school that I've bought into the idea that abusing my body is going to somehow make me beautiful, desirable, better than I was before. If I skip a meal, drink a glass of milk and work out for an hour and a half I'll both feel AND look great! I've looked at too many women and wondered what it was like to have a body like THAT, skin like that, eyes like that. I've believed that if I weighed ten pounds less, wore a little more mascara, bought those new jeans I would feel so much better about myself.. or worse yet, that I would actually be better. College tested my love for myself, and to be honest, I'm not at all proud of what I discovered.
After coming to the end of myself time and again, I've finally begun to let go, and I'm done despising my own body, my own flaws and shortcomings and really, actually beautiful attributes that make me me. I mean that. Sitting here right now I can honestly say that I love my frizzy, unruly hair, my frustrating eyebrows, my puffy, sleepy eyes, my soft stomach, my wanna-be-runner legs, my size 10 feet. I love them I love them I love them! THIS IS ME!! And I want to be ME and be me healthy. I want my omega-3's, my fruits and vegetables, my protein (MY STEAKS!!), my oodles of oozing honey in my tea.
The world is beautiful. I've believed that for a long time now. Beauty is everywhere. But for some reason it's taken me a really long time to recognize that same beauty in myself. I'm not perfect, and I'm done wishing I was.
(weight: released)
So as for the natural thing
I just want to play in the dirt and find my potatoes there! I want to run through the woods and find my blackberries there! I want to float down the river and wash my hair with eco-friendly shampoo there! I want to lather on my sunscreen and let my freckles emerge under the unfathomably hot sun! I want to make my own hummus, make my own granola (it's baking right now) and sit under the stars sipping my handmade mug of green tea.. with oodles of honey =)

This summer has the potential to be far better than I first imagined.
The more I get to know Him the more freedom I find, the more "free-spirited" you call me, the more wild my heart grows, the more I long for sunshine and rivers and places with mossy hollows.
*The more I get to know You the more free I AM.
And the more I long for an even greater release of the fullness of that freedom*

oh, and another new development:
spending large sums of money makes me literally sick to my stomach.
I think I'm ready for Africa.

March 4, 2009


I made a decision today. It came with a great struggle and even now, now that I've both made and solidified the decision, I don't feel the same release and ease that final decisions usually leave me with.
After Ghana I'm giving the next 6 months of my life to Beaver Falls, NY. I will be here, and not just be here, but really, truly be here. All of me. Knowing what I know now, that leaves me unsettled inside, on-edge, anxious. I am full of anticipation, full of questions, and I wonder.. I wonder what He will do, what He will require of me, what He will pull out of me and stir inside of me, how He will break me, how He will stretch me, what His heart for this place will feel like resting inside of mine. I wonder what these winds will smell like, what this air will do to my skin- how it will weather me, season me. I wonder how my understanding of Love will change, how my perception of God will expand, grow, re-shape; what particular movements will grip my heart and stir my soul. I wonder how His Spirit will penetrate my spirit here; how the atmosphere will change me. I wonder who I'll be in September.. and how that person will come to be.
I expect to be challenged and I expect to grow. I refuse to remain the same.
So here I am, God. I'm taking a chance. I'm letting go of what I want for right now. Here are my hands, here is my heart, here I am. It's not much, but I'm trusting it's enough for You.. and all I really want is to be something to You..

"wherever you are, be all there;
live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God."
-jim elliot.

here we go.

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