Sunday, October 31, 2010

Suicidal Thoughts...

Me and Lisa
November 2004
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My friend, Lisa, killed herself two years ago this month. I've been thinking about her a lot, as I did at this time last year. I hadn't talked to her in a year when she did it and this year I've found my thoughts centered on that last conversation we had.
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Lisa shared with me some risky and self-destructive behavior she had engaged in recently. She laughed at me when I pointed out the obvious and I got frustrated. No, I got angry. I had invested a lot of my time and life in Lisa. She was not a project... but I guess I expected some sort of return on that investment. I don't know, like she owed it to me to make better choices.
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Throughout our relationship I had been about grace, acceptance and encouragement... that day I stepped into judgment. Her boys had been living with her brother for a couple of years by then and when I asked her whether she was ever going to do what she needed to do to get them back she told me that they were better off with him. If the words, "Maybe so," didn't convey my disdain, I am certain the tone with which I said them did.
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I had no idea that would be the last time I spoke to her. I called a few times, sent a few e-mails and even sent a couple of cards, all with no response from her. And then I stopped.
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When I think about her I go through so many different emotions. Mostly, I am deeply saddened. However, there have been times when I've been very angry with her. I wonder how she could be so terribly selfish where her boys were concerned. Didn't she really love them? Isn't a mother's love strong enough to overcome any obstacle? Essentially, I continued to judge her even in death.
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She did love those boys. Deeply. She was also right. They were better off with her brother. I see that now. Sometimes the greatest act of love from a parent is to let their children go...
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I'm glad that Lisa was part of my life. While I struggle with how I handled our relationship in some respects, I don't in others. I don't know if I'll ever understand it all. I do think there's a bigger picture here that I can't grasp.
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The other day I was in my car and heard this song. I'd heard it many times before but this time I heard the message in it. It takes me back to that last conversation, to the judgment of it. I thought I knew better than her. That conversation removed me from her life... it ensured she never turned to me for help again. Lisa killing herself was not my fault, I know that. She was terribly messed up before I ever even came along. I'm not one of those people that has "No Regrets" as a motto. I regret judging her. I pray my regrets help me to make wiser choices in the future.
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I indulged in a pity party for one yesterday. Now, I'm faced with a very messy house. I am struggling with some things... mainly purpose. I want everything in my life to have a purpose. I've always been that way. But, sometimes I can't see what those purposes are.

I want my trip to Africa to have some significance other than my being grateful for the life I've been given. But what? I can't move there. I can't adopt children from there. The issues there are overwhelming...

I cannot even begin to count the times I've moaned and groaned about my house. Good Lord... all the times I've felt sorry for myself because I can't eat whatever I want without gaining weight... and honestly felt like it was UNFAIR.

What do I do with all of this? I still have my life here I need to live. And it is busy!!!

Chai Tea and Fly Boy are getting married in December. He bought his ticket to come out here yesterday. He has enlisted in the Air Force and will be entering Basic Training the first week of January. I knew this was coming but am shocked by how... shocked I feel by it. If that makes sense.

Anyway, we went camping last weekend and I didn't do diddly squat yesterday, which means I need to attend to my housewifely duties today.

I will say this, after seeing how hard people in Africa work just to meet daily needs, I know I have never worked hard a day in my life.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Happy Monday!!!

I think my interview went well this morning. Of course, I always think my interviews go well. LOL! We'll find out when and if I get a call with a job offer.
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This morning I sent out this quote to the ladies at my church. I've probably shared it on here before seeing as it is a favorite of mine. In fact, I printed it out and taped it to the inside cover of my bible.
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I like the idea that salvation and redemption are not just one time events, but an ongoing process whereby God steadily refines out our impurities and imperfections, until we are refined like silver.
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However, us being the flawed, stubborn, childish and imperfect humans that we are, this process often moves in fits and starts, like an old jalopy with a bad clutch and clogged fuel filter.
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God knows this, and loves us anyway. Loves us enough to stay with us, to chase us down, help us up when we stumble, welcome us back after we've left Him for the world... and we pick right back up where we left off.
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We become his patchwork quilt of grace; little pieces of redemption, of repentance and epiphany and illumination mixed in with doubt, frustration and confusion. We sin, we repent, we stay faithful... until we don't; and then we do it all over again.
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We need to understand that. We need to understand that God is bigger than our humanity, bigger than our pride, bigger than our stubborness. And that far from being alone in this, it is a condition common to every man and woman who has ever attempted to live a Godly life. Sometimes succeding, sometimes failing, but never, Never, NEVER too far from the Grace of God to come back again.
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This was written on a now deleted blog by a man named Steve Berven. I am glad I copied this before he deleted his blog! Anyway, I think I may have shared this here before but it is something I don't get tired of reading.



I also love this song. Both of these lift me up on days I feel crummy about myself. I don't happen to feel that way today but... maybe someone else out there does. We all have days like that.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Life...

It has been a bit strange to step back into my life after going to Africa. Yet, step back into it I've had to do. I don't want my trip to have just been about my observing the sad state of a group of people in another country. I just don't know what to do with the experience or which direction to head.




I love this time of year, especially here in Colorado. The leaves are not as bright as usual. I'm sure that probably has something to do with the lack of water this summer. It is still pretty though.

It is amazing to me how big our world is and yet so small at the same time.


Little tid bit of info on me for ya... I can say, "Fall is a beautiful season," in Japanese. When Mr. Macchiato and I were dating his roommate's girlfriend went to the same college I did. She is from Japan and they also got married. Their kids are much younger than ours though, LOL!


I've got an interview tomorrow. Here we go again, eh? Oy. Looking for work is no fun. I really can't complain though. Actually, after my trip I should never complain about anything ever again. Of course, I will.

Good Lord, trying to do stuff on the computer with my family all around is an effort in futility!

Was that a complaint? Oh my... that didn't take long.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Swaziland



Here is a video by another group in Swaziland. Children's Hope Chest has a carepoint right across from the dump you see in it.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Joy! Joy! Joy!

I love listening to the children sing in Africa! No musical instruments... just their voices. And the looks on some of their faces! I look around at my life and the things that need to be done that I don't want to do and I think to myself... choose JOY today!

Some of my friends are going through really tough stuff. It is hard to choose Joy when you are hurting... physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It just isn't that easy. But... it is possible. I don't understand this life. I don't understand why it is so hard for some and so easy for others. Life most definitely is NOT FAIR. I've been to the pit. I know well the overwhelming sense of sadness that pulls you down. I am praying that light breaks through your darkness.



Bheveni Carepoint Singing #1 from The Schifano Tribe on Vimeo.



This video snagged from Marc's blog...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Whispers in the Dark, Post 6

September 23, 2010
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Right now… I wish I hadn’t come here.
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So many people have told me that I’m here for a purpose. What purpose? I don’t see it. Unless that purpose is to have my heart ripped out.
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One of my greatest fears in coming here was that a child would attach to me and be hurt when I left. I was also afraid that I would fall in love with a child and have to leave… but was guarding myself against that.
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I joked around about coming home with a couple kids in my suitcases before I left. I didn’t think I’d actually want to do that. I thought that the fact that our youngest is a senior in high school and we can see the light at the end of the proverbial parenting tunnel would protect me from wanting one of these children. That and the fact that we have barely survived our own kids’ teen years and have enough friends that have adopted to know that there is an entire different set of problems there. There’s also the fact that my husband isn’t interested in having more kids, we can’t afford it. Plus, I knew coming here that Swazi adoption is difficult and they want the adoptive families to live here a year prior to finalization. Of course, I’ve heard of some exceptions but none of them include someone not having lived here at all. I thought all of this would protect me from even taking a step in that direction in my mind.
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There is a four year old little girl with broken teeth. That first day at the care point I washed her face with a wipe, removed her clothing and put new clothes on her. She was stony faced throughout the process. Since then she follows me and the way she smiles at me… She wants me to hold her, which I do. She is fascinated by my hair. She studies my face. She rubs my arm and sometimes scratches at my freckles.
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I am really struggling with this.
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This little girl only has a 6% chance of making it to the age of 30 here. Honestly, those statistics are for all of Swaziland. I’m guessing her chances are even lower than that given she’s amongst the poorest of the poor. Knowing the statistics and looking around the care point is more than I can take. If I could stuff her in my suitcase and take her home I would.
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I am also feeling very guilty. We sponsor a boy through World Vision in Maputo, Mozambique, which is actually very close to here. He just turned 13 on September 11. His name is Bernardo. I never write to him. I have his picture tacked up on the wall next to my computer, in a magnet on my fridge and even have a picture of him in my wallet. I do pray for him when I’m being a good little Christian so I can check it off my list. I feel like such a poser. Yes, I’m in the We Sponsor a Kid in Africa Club. Aren’t we wonderful?
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I don’t know why exactly that I don’t write to him. I just put it off. I also didn’t really understand how it all works. The $35 we pay a month goes into a community pot for the benefit of all. I know that Bernardo lives with his parents, has four siblings, and that they are healthy and go to church. I guess I didn’t really feel it was necessary. There are those times that I worry that his brothers and sisters have better sponsors and that he feels left out and I tell myself I’m going to write and send him something really cool. And then I don’t.
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The fact is if Bernardo is in World Vision’s system they are extremely poor. Poverty here in Africa is something so different from poverty in America…
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We went on a home visit where the sponsored boy was about Bernardo’s age. He lives with his Go Go, or Grandma. We took them food and a gift from the boy’s sponsor in the states. The smile on his face… I feel so incredibly ashamed.
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I look around at the kids at the care point and can’t help but wonder how many of them are already HIV positive. Like the phrase used for someone on death row, Dead Man Walking, I hear the phrase Dead Children Walking over and over in my mind, something I don’t think I could ever utter audibly.
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October 5, 2010
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I could not sleep that night. That four year old little girl was very insistent that I learn her name. The day before I sat down with one of the ladies that volunteers at the care point and wrote down many of the children’s names along with their meanings in my journal. She was quite tickled by my pathetic attempts to say them correctly. In Swaziland all names have meaning and everyone knows what those meanings are.
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I laid there in the dark and tried to remember the meaning of her name. I was rooming with Anna who was already annoyed by my lack of sleeping habits so I quietly made my way to the bathroom with my journal. There was a window facing the hall which was lit so I raised my journal toward the light and looked for Nomphilo’s name. Her name means “Life.”
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I stood there stunned…
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I was also struggling very much with cultural differences. These people have very little. I was questioning the insertion of our gift giving, well, the extent of it. Every day we were having the kids line up and giving them gifts. They needed clothes and shoes and school supplies… and toys and candy are nice… I wasn’t comfortable and wondering if, in some way, we were harming them. When we first arrived at Bheveni the kids were cautious, a healthy response. When we visited another larger and more established care point, the kids were all over us immediately. It really bothered me.
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I broke down at that other care point. I just couldn’t hold it together and Londiwe, a D Team member (I’ll explain in another post what the D Team is), kept asking me questions and wouldn’t let me get by with general responses. She followed me outside when I got up and left. I eventually told her my fears. As a Swati she told me a little of her story and told me that we were giving these children hope.
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Hope.
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Ironic in that I was there with Children’s Hope Chest.
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Later when we were in the van on the way back to Bheveni I asked Danielle to see the list of children. The majority of children at Bheveni have sponsors but there are children that have been profiled that do not have one. Nomphilo was on that list. I wrote my name next to hers and then I cried.



I took a picture of Nomphilo (Nom-pee-lo) after dressing her in her new clothes. She seemed almost scared.

The kids all like to see pictures of themselves so I took a picture of us together and then showed it to her pointing to myself and then to her. She just stared at me and then left.


Then... when I went outside, there she was.




She was often nearby and when I'd look around her face would stand out.



It seemed like every time I turned around, there she was.



When I downloaded my photos I found so many pictures like this that I wasn't aware she was in until I looked at them... It shocked me.



My goodness...



Many children smiled at me but she was so persistent and there were so many times that I'd look up to find her just smiling right at me.



Sometimes when I was holding other children she would stand by and wait.


Erica told me right after I took this picture that Nomphilo had pointed to me when I turned the corner and told her, "Sisi Kelly."


Here she is eating under the water tower.



The kids wash their dishes after they eat.



So often at my knee...



It got to where I could pick her out even when she wasn't looking my way... the shape of her head, the way she walked, the way she moved. My eyes were drawn to her. And my heart.



I was able to tell her that I was her special friend in America and give her this doll (Thanks Elysa, she had extra and let me have it) as well as a little children's bible I bought at a Christian bookstore in Manzini.



I don't know what the future holds for Nomphilo. Our $34 a month actually goes into a pot for the running of the Bheveni care point, which benefits her because she goes there for food each day. I will be writing to her and I will be praying for her.
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I will also be writing Bernardo.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Back in Colorado...

I am attempting to get back into the swing of things... Something I'm actually finding easier than I expected on some levels but much harder on others. I am hoping to piece together another post on my trip to Africa later today but know that may be unrealistic. I've got a women's thing at my house tonight (which means I'm cleaning today, LOL!) and Mr. Macchiato and I are taking a class on Tuesday nights that I'm two weeks behind on homework (Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University). I will say this, I am extremely motivated, more now than before, to get out of debt so that our resources can be put to better use.

I hope y'all are doing well and hope to get caught up on your blogs at some point!