Just keep swimming.

 If you have followed this blog for awhile, these girls must look familiar to you. My friendship with them began 3 years ago when I moved to Pikangikum.

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The desire to keep to myself in the first few weeks of arriving in a new place is very strong. Especially when I don’t know anyone and I am the only black person for miles! Because of this, I push myself to do the very opposite of what my mind is telling me to do. I purposefully put myself out there and go make friends. It is with this determination to make friends that I walked over to their home unannounced, not quite sure how I would explain my sudden appearance. By the time I was at their doorstep I had decided to go with the typical greeting that everybody back home will use when they rock up announced, ” I have come to visit.” I wasn’t quite sure what to say after that but my determination to make friends was stronger than my fear to stay away.

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These girls decided they did not like me the moment they saw me. Their first reaction to seeing me was a lot of screaming, crying and hiding away. The panic lasted awhile but their grandmother was very accommodating and in the midst of the wails and calls for grandma to come to where they where we tentatively held a conversation of two people getting to know each other. I must have spent an hour in their home that day and thankfully by the time I left, the girls had calmed down completely. Even after they realised I was quite harmless, they would not come any closer to me. I  assured grandma I was not bothered and confidently told her, eventually, the girls would warm up to me.

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I made a point of visiting the family once a week, a month went by and the girl’s reaction remained the same. That month turned to two then three, rolled into four, passed five and still the girls would not accept me. On my part, I did not impose myself on them, I waited. It was sometime in my sixth month of knowing the family when the change occurred,  by this time grandma and I were very comfortable with each other. That afternoon, I walked into their home fully expecting the usual cries but instead, I was greeted with three toddlers joyously shouting my name, running towards me each clamouring to give me a hug. I was amazed. I knew there and then, I had just made life long friends.

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I have often times found that we long for the fruit that comes with genuine friendships but we cringe and hide away from the work that needs to be put into making community happen. Obviously, my case with these adorable girls is extreme but the lesson is still the same. Healthy, long-lasting relationships are hard work, there is just no way around it. Most times pursuing friendships takes patience, sometimes it is messy and occasionally the temptation to walk away is strong. The Bible shares an incident when one of Jesus friends asked him how many time he had to forgive his friend.The Bible does not give a back story to his question but I can only assume the man was deeply offended with his friend and wanted nothing more to do with him. Jesus answer raised the bar for any of his followers, his response to the question was, he had to forgive 70 times 7. In other words, you never stop forgiving and you never tire of loving.

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When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone and pursued a friendship that you know would stretch you to the limit? Sometimes some of the best relationships are made when we courageously step out in faith even when we are afraid and have no control of the outcome.

Times are changing

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There was a time when I didn’t value rest as much as I did work. It took a couple of burnouts, lots of reading and taking the time to listen to words of wisdom from others that I finally understood. Guarding my time of rest helps me perform better at everything else in my life. Progress has been slow but over the years I have got better at saying no to friends and not feeling guilty about it. There is still so much more I need to learn when it comes to resting and the art of being still. I am at least thankful that I pursue rest almost as much as I do serving others with excellence. One day I will get the balance just right.

Today I spent close to three hours at the local park, my mind and body enjoying the sun rays. As I walked to the park, I assumed that I would see lots of people out and about seeing as the sun has been hiding for over a week but that was not the case. Maybe they were taking advantage of the warm day in their backyards.

Winter is coming.

Thanksgiving with Mars

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Today I sat at a table with Americans, Russians, Canadians, First Nation Canadians and had supper. The conversation covered Russian history, languages,politics, hunting, children, culture. My heart was thankful, I enjoy being in a setting where different cultures sit around a meal and connect. As I watched my friends children play with Mars around us and under the table, I couldn’t help but give thanks to God for giving me a heart for children. Its the main reason I moved to Canada. There are people out there who will spend a lifetime trying to figure out what their purpose in life is. For me, loving kids whatever race or creed has been my heart’s desire from the age of 13. What an adventure it has been with God as he has led me from country to country. Each place with its own set of trials and joys but the connecting thread the same, children.

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Jesus shared a parable of a man who gave three servants money to do something with whilst he was gone. Two did something with the little they had but one just let the money sit, thinking that there was nothing he could do with so little. Needless to say, this servant’s attitude was a great disappointment to the master when he returned. I want to be like the others who did something with the little they had. I don’t want to tire of getting better at working with children. I want to always strive for excellence. I want to say when I see Jesus,” here, you planted a desire to go and love and I did the best I could.”

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When I think of where I have come from and the opportunities God has given me to travel to different parts of the world because of His name, I am filled with amazement and thankfulness.What are the God-given desires, plans, ideas that have been planted in your heart? Don’t give up on them, the road may be lonely, you may not have enough people encouraging you but it’s better to live trying than never attempting at all.

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Happy Canadian Thanksgiving.

 

 

Story telling.

It’s been awhile since my last post, life has been sooo busy! More details about that in my next post.

The Cliff

She stands alone at the edge of the cliff. The wind softly whispers secrets into her ears as her eyes drink in the view before and around her. The bluff nestled in rolling hills of emerald green is shaped like a crescent moon creating a hidden cove. The colours of the swells below play tricks with her eyes, are they turquoise or black? Maybe both? Frothy ribbons of white appear and disappear at will. A couple of Black African Swifts fleet over the cove, the female teasing her partner in their secret dance of love. Shiny dark rocks cover the face of the cliff, some are smooth others have jagged edges. What stories of raging storms from the sky above and the waters below would they share if they could she wonders? Immovable they have remained through the years, a buttress of refuge for the solitary falcon that makes its rest within its face. She takes a deep breath, the fragrant scent of the wild flowers growing abundantly around her a sure sign that the bees will not be disappointed. Tufts of grass and bouquet of fairy bells and wild violets dot the crescent face brightening the sombre rock. Beneath her feet, the morning mist drenches the intermingled grass and moss creating a moist spongy carpet, with a deep sigh of contentment, her bare feet sink deeper into the ground. Above her the skies grey-white canopy is within her reach, the descending clouds give the cliff an aura of heavenly peace. Intermittently, beams of sunlight pierce through the canopy causing the bright pink Everlastings to raise their heads in jubilation as they slow dance to the wind and bow in gratitude each time misty spray falls on them.

She inches closer to the edge, complete silence descends on the ridge, its time, she takes the leap.

My youngest sister was very upset that I ended it so abruptly so now I am thinking of expanding the story just for her.lol. Personally, I don’t mind when some stories are left unfinished.

The Yellow School Bus

( I want to put a disclaimer before you read the rest of this post, contrary to popular belief not all Africans live in abject poverty and ignorance. It gets really frustrating when I meet people in N.America who are shocked that I don’t live in a mud hut and my house has running water and electricity. I have lost count how many times this has happened to me! For heavens sake!!! North Americans have no excuse for such ignorance, you have so much information readily available to you ( most Africans don’t have this luxury), is it not possible to research a little? Instead of eating up what the media throws at you?

I often wonder if I will ever stop being amazed at the humble school bus. You know, the yellow bus that picks up children all over North America to take them to school. Sometimes I stand and stare at it wondering if the kids inside know just how privileged they are for that simple bus. I know many kids back home who at age 6 walk several kilometers to school. I did that for a brief time in my childhood. Education is so very important that whether a household has parents or it is run by children, many will do whatever it takes to get to school. There is a sense of pride when you finish school albeit going to University is close to impossible. Most children know, life is better off with an education than without one. I know of mothers who go without good clothes and sometimes eating well just so they can scrape up money to send their children to school. I have had lots of children crying because they desperately want an education. As for walking an hour or two to school, well that’s just the normal part of life, nothing to moan over.

When I was working in Maputo, I often spent several hours a day a couple times a week walking through the community visiting the children under our care. One day I went to visit Samuel*. I had known him from the time he was 6 months, terribly malnourished with a mother sick with HIV. My mother made his mom come to our house every day for a couple months so that he could be fed back to life. He was literally skin and bones (yeap like those pictures the media loves to flaunt about when it talks about my continent) Like hundreds of children that my parents have helped over the years, little Samuel began calling my parents mama and papa, he became a part of the church family. We continued to watch over him after his mother died and his grandmother started looking after him and his older sister. When he turned 6 his grandmother decided to leave her two grandchildren and live some place else. And so Samuel s 13 year old sister became his parent. A sad reality that happens too often. We as a family could not intervene and take them home … such situations are too common in some communities.

On that particular day when I came to visit, Samuel was alone. I asked him where his sister was, turns out she was often not home. I stood there holding back tears, what was I to do, I had no legal right to take him home. Standing there looking at him I realized sitting with Samuel and crying over how hard his life was would not help the situation, and so I sat on the floor with this 6 year old and we discussed how much firewood he needed to start a fire in the morning and if he had enough rice to cook so that he was not hungry when he went to school. We discussed if his school uniform was clean and encouraged him to keep waking up at 6 so that he could walk to school and not be late. My heart hurt as I treated little Samuel as if he was a responsible teen. After that, I went to the neigbhours and asked them if they could continue keeping a watchful eye on him.

I know there are a host of  external and internal issues that leave so many children on a reserve with a sense of hopelessness, sometimes I can’t help but wonder, is it not a privilege that a child here can wake up one morning and decide: ” I am tired of school, its too boring, I won’t go anymore!” and never sit in that yellow bus again?

*Samuel is not his real name.

Do you pray? please pray I get a new camera. Spring is making a valiant effort to make an appearance, it would be real sad if I can’t capture anything on camera. I can live without a camera but it sure makes my life sweeter!

Black girl and her hair!

This post is a very, very, long time coming! Where do I even begin?? First of all with all the adventures I have had with my hair it’s a miracle that in 5 years of blogging, not once have I mentioned my hair escapades.

If you are black and a female you will know the amount of drama that comes with our hair!!! I look at my white and First Nation friends and man, it is hard not to be envious of how easy it is to take care of their hairs compared to ours. I have a problem, I like to experiment on my hair … a lot … most times its a DISASTER and my mom has had to save my hair from myself every time. You see, I read about all these wonderful ways to soften African hair and I try them and then by the end of the experiment I am a pile of tears as my dear mother fixes my mess. Yes even in my late 20s my mom was still saving me!
Here are three examples of the epic stupid decisions I have made with my hair.

I read an article once about how egg is very good as a natural conditioner ( forget the fact that I didn’t finish reading all the instructions) so I whipped up two eggs poured the stuff in my hair put a shower cap over it and then proceeded to sit outside the very warm Mozambiqan sun. You, see I had also read another article on how when one puts conditioner in their hair, sitting in the sun would do wonders in helping the conditioner make the hair softer.
Welllllll friend!!! My mom came to check on me and asked me what were the white things in my hair?? turns out the egg had started to cook. I rushed to the bathroom and without thinking it through used warm water to take the egg out which only cooked it more. Leaving my whole head full of white flecks that were impossible to remove. Of course mother had to help me comb the stuff out.

Then there is the other time, I dragged my mother, father and sister into Maputo city hunting down different hair products cause I had found some African American hair blogger whose hair looked AMAZING (sing the word when you read it) and swore that her methods would help anyone. I bought half of her recommendations, cause I couldn’t find the other half (forget the part were you are warned to be careful of the products you mix into your hair) My mother was sceptical but I showed her pictures of the African American like me with hair flowing right down to her waist!! OMG, I was determined that would be me! I piled all the stuff in my hair (which included rinsing my hair with green tea), crossing my fingers for a miracle… two days later my results started to show. Clumps of hair on the sides of my head and the back began to fall. To say I was inconsolable is the biggest understatement of the year. Friend, I cried, I completely freaked out fearing that any morning I would wake up with all my hair lying on my pillow (FYI this happened last year) I ended up getting the hair cut I promised myself I would never get. The one that Rihanna and Pink made famous, shaved on the sides and back, long in the middle. My dad kept telling “Don’t worry daughter, it will grow, hair always grows.”

Then in the 6 years I had dreadlocks ( pretty sweet dreadlocks all thanks to my mother again) one of the many remedies I put in my hair was a hair product called “hair mayonnaise.” The label said nothing about how it would affect dreadlocks, my logic was hair is hair right??? Wrong! I heaped the whole bottle onto my hair and then I saw my mistake. The stuff clung to my dreadlocks and turned them all white. As if I had dipped my head in white paint. One look in the mirror and you guessed right, I shouted for my mother. She came running into the house thinking something horrible had happened, took one look at my hair and just shook her head. The next hour was spent with her using boiling water (no exaggeration) and her bare hands to take out all the product out of my dreadlocks.

Then there was the time I washed my dreads with coca-cola … but that’s another story for another time.

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I have been away from my mom for almost a year now and I am so proud to say my hair has grown a lot, I have behaved myself and not gone on any crazy experiments … lets hope I keep strong and not fall into temptation!!!

I love you mom, thanks for saving my hair!

Sad day.

My camera is not working … I don’t know whats wrong but it won’t read my card no matter what I do … makes me very sad …

I haven’t posted in awhile, my heart and head have been doing a lot of thinking but each time I sit to write some of my thoughts, I have nothing. How does one share intimately without over sharing? That’s the part about blogging/writing that stresses me the most … I lie, editing photos comes pretty close to driving me crazy sometimes and I am a minimalist! If you check my Instagram feed (most photos taken with my iphone) I have lots of pictures of some of things I have been up to. I have decided to make time to do lots of reading so right now I am reading: one fantasy, a biography and a book on what it takes to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I want to be as diverse in my reading as possible so that I can expand my English vocabulary.( I have also been listening to a podcast on A tale of two cities) I have even taken to walking about with a little notebook that I can add interesting words to it. I hope all this English wont make my other languages suffer … maybe I should make time to read in other languages too… I have also had a big itch to take my writing more seriously so I have two projects going on. One for my friend Chariss’ children (my second book for them) and the other, well when I get to finishing it you will know. I am having so much fun writing, I could sit for hours scribbling away. Hence the four note books I use to write down ideas of plots, bible verses, interesting proverbs and such.

Even with all the busynness I have with work, I still have lots of time to myself. I think one of the hardest part about moving to Canada so far has been the adapting to two very different cultures (First Nation and Canadian Caucasian) without a friend with at least a basic understanding of Africa living close by helping me along the way. I even marvel at myself that in a months time I will have made it a year here. I guess I am made of tougher things!

I am really really sad about my camera, I hope it fixes itself … if you have been following me for awhile, you know how much its a part of my life …