Thursday, January 10, 2008

The BUSH

I have been putting off my "bush" post for a while, I know. I'm not sure why exactly, except there just didn't seem to be words. For me it was an almost spiritual day. Like the fruition of dreams that God had planted in my heart as a child and the beginning of dreams He is currently planting. . .Words cannot truly express what I felt. It was amazing and difficult all at the same time.

Today, I am ready. I just read a post by Courtney (read it and the post she comments about)about the pain and joy of adoption. The pain of knowing that your kids hurt. It reminded me of a lesson the Lord taught me many years ago. At that time, I was running a small group bible study program for inner city kids. People would come in once a week to interact with the kids and teach them. I was there every afternoon and grew to LOVE these children. What came along with the love was incredible pain. I remember driving home one day just weeping. I had just found out that 3 of my special littles ones had been abused in every way possible. I wept and felt alone. I felt like I had no one to call b/c no one else had really grown to love them like I had. I felt alone in my pain and cried out to God. He answered. He spoke so clearly to my heart, "Why are you complaining? You should feel humbled, awed and amazed that I allowed you to feel a part of the Heart of God for these special children. Would you rather that no one hurt for them b/c it is too difficult for you?" I stopped in my tracks Oh my dear, this pain is special. This pain is nothing compared to what God feels when He sees His children in pain. . .when He sees His children causing the pain. It was then that I began to really allow myself to hurt for them.

This lesson brings me to the Bush of Liberia. I have had a couple of people comment to me that while I was in Liberia they had to stop reading my blog b/c it was just too hard. I know the feeling. With all of this knowledge of suffering, comes great hurt. . . with it, also comes responsibility and we don't always know what to do with that. It's easier to just not know. But, again, I ask you what my Daddy asked me, "Would you rather have no one hurt for them? Would you choose not to experience a little slice of the heart of the God of the Universe?"
The Bush is basically any village outside of Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia. So, Buster and Daikou picked us up and we started driving. We had stopped to pick up bags of candy and cookies and lunch for ourselves. We ended up driving about 3 hours outside of town and stopped at villages along the way. These villages were exactly what you picture Africa to be. They were mud huts with thatched roofs. They sometimes had a well, rarely a school and none had a clinic of any kind. The people were all barefoot and their clothes were tattered.
We stopped at almost every village we passed. We would get out and start to hand out candy to the children while talking to the adults about the needs of their village. We feel like, if God is calling us to be involved in Liberia, who are we to determine needs. . .we needed to really get out and ask the people what their needs were. Unanimously, the answers were the same everywhere, "Water, Education and Healthcare"

The first village we stopped at, we got a tour. These women were willing to show us their homes, their community bathroom and their dirty water. (they had a hand pump well, but it broke, so they were using the dirty creek water). I think I've posted these pics before, but I'll post them again. They are a reminder to me. Do NOT complain about your home! This woman lived in this hut with her 6 children. It was smaller than any of my rooms.
Here, Buster immediately jumped out and just started talking to this little girl. Her house is pictured below
This is the inside of that home.

This is the outside of the home of a woman and her 6 children.
Here she is with just some of her children
Their bed
Their cloudy water
Their Community Bathroom
My favorites were our last couple of village stops. These were the largest villages with probably 150 people living there (?). Buster and I began handing out candy and were immediately swarmed! There were probably 50 kids pushing and shoving to get closer to us. If you know me at all, you know my heart just swelled. I LOVED this. Funny thing is, I think Buster may have loved it as much as I did!

At the same time, Greg and Daikou took their time to gather the village "elders" (the men present) and look at this village's school house.

The kids took me to their well and showed me how it worked. We walked and played and the mamas kept shoving their babies at me to hold, kiss and play with. The kids and I played "school" with me as the teacher. I took the opportunity to teach them a Bible verse with actions. Some of these babies were so tiny. I just couldn't imagine their lives. There were a number of children who I guess have TB in their spines as they have the same hump like Isaac. Knowing what his docs have told him, I knew that these children would not live. Would not live. . .this little girl was probably 6 and I knew she wouldn't live. Not just that, but would probably ever even see a doctor. Truth be told, I could hardly look her in the eyes b/c I knew I would start sobbing right there. I just touched her. . I touched every child I could possibly get my hands on. I rubbed their faces and told them how precious they are in God's sight. I didn't want to leave! One funny story from this village was a little girl. She kept hiding behind one of the men and peeking out to see Greg. Greg started playing with her and tried to offer her candy. She would not come out, though. One of the village men laughed and said, "She's afraid b/c she's never seen a white man before!"

The last village we visited was a special stop for Buster. He had been stationed out this way as Chief of the Patrol. He grew to love the people of this particular village. It was actually an "employee village" of Firestone plantation. Yes, Firestone as in the rubber. .yes, this could be a whole post about ethics of organizations in the countries they work in but, I'll save that for another time. . .The village was not mud huts, but rather row houses that were completely delapidated. We didn't tour the inside of any (didn't think to ask b/c we were running out of time) but Buster said they are really bad. There is no school in this community and someone recently dug a well, but apparently not deep enough b/c the water was bad. I just looked at the faces of these children and thought, "you can't go to school" How ridiculous is that? Yes, school and education is a big topic here in the states, but it's WHAT school not IF school. These are the faces of children drinking dirty water. These are the faces of children with no hope of attending school.





The child who broke my heart the most, however, is not pictured. I couldn't bear to take out my camera and take shot. In fact, I wasn't even out of the care. Buster just pulled over to the side of the road to jump out and give these few kiddos some candy. This particular village was small and it must have been bathing day or something because EVERY child was naked. They all came running, though, when they heard the word candy. One cute little boy was sitting on a low wall of some sort with his mama. He was under 2 years old and naked as a jay bird. As soon as he saw Buster he got down to come over. What I saw broke my heart. As he climbed off the wall to stand up, he immediately went to his knees b/c both of his feet were clubbed. He crawled over to Buster excitedly as Buster bent down to hand this little boy candy. This little naked clubbed foot boy broke my heart and I broke down in that car. I knew he would never see a doctor. He will live his life on his knees and with the germs and diseases, his life will probably not be long.

Does it hurt? yes. Should it? I think so. Why? My pastor preached this Sunday on missions. His point? Among other reasons that God calls us to missions is one that's about us. We need it! We need the perspective. We need it to remind us and stretch us in our selfishness. Now I guess the next question I am taking to the Lord is: What do I do with this hurt? How can YOU use this passion for these people? How can I help? And, Yes Lord, I'm willing to hurt and I'm willing to help, just show me Your way.

27 comments:

Missy said...

I totally get you Brandi. I didn't have the privilege of going to the Bush like you did, but I understand the hurt and I'm not quite sure what to do with it. I know it's necessary to feel it though and not stick my head in the stand and pretend it doesn't exist.

God is definitely working on you and preparing you and your family for something. I can't wait to see what He has in store for you.

I thank you for sharing your sad yet beautiful pictures.

Love,
Missy

Lorna said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. Very thought provoking.

From Five to Eight said...

There's no turning a blind eye after going over there. How incredibly hard that must have been!
We really don't get it here...it's mind boggling.
Praying God will show you clear direction in how you can serve. It's so evident that it's your heart's desire.
Teresa

Courtney said...

BEAUTIFUL post. It reminds me of Haiti. I have yet to go to Liberia, so thank you for sharing your experience.

What an awesome thing to be used by God. Even in the pain there is such beauty.

Rebecca said...

What a powerful post. That really rocked me to the core! It's so good to hear your perspective on everything. I can't wait to hear/see how God works through all of this!

Karin said...

wow...
Thanks for sharing from your heart. For sharing that word the Lord gave you... I shut that down in myself a while back and never inquired of the Lord as to why I felt the compassion/pain I did for people. This really makes me think... and gives me a new perspective.
I look forward to reading more of your heart for these beautiful people...

Cassie - Homeschooling Four said...

Great post! Thanks for continuing to give me a good perspective. Love ya

Christine said...

This was such a blessing to read tonight. One day I will share on my own blog why.

Thank you so much for posting these pictures and touching my heart through them.

God Bless.

amber said...

Great post -- worth waiting for! :)

It makes me want to pack up and move tomorrow and spend the rest of my life there helping in whatever capacity I can.
I have been pleading with the Lord to release us to move to Liberia...

I love you and your heart. I can't belive we've never met -- it feels like we've been friends for life!

Love,
Amber

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine how hard it was for you to LEAVE this place.

Sometimes I sit here in my comfortable house and wonder what I can do? God has given me 4 children of my own to care for, and yet He has given me a heart that loves each of the faces in your pictures. I ask the Lord, "What can I do, Lord? Where and when will you use me?" And for now, He keeps saying "Right where you are."

But a part of me wants to help in Liberia, Ethiopia, Darfur, Guatemala, Russia...


~Leah in Alaska~
http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/lifelongalaskan/

steffany said...

What an awesome gift God has given you. Most people see the situation in Africa and feel sad then quickly change channels or topics. It's hard to see. But you my dear no matter how big the problem seems, you dive in, feel the pain and touch the dying.
Lisa had an amazing post about praying to be disturbed http://mountaintopmemories.blogspot.com/2007/12/prayer-of-sir-francis-drake.html
Thank God He disturbed you. I can't wait to see how God uses you and your willing heart.
Much love,
Steffany

Christina said...

Oh my heart! Whoa. God has blessed me with a heart for children and at this point it feels as if my heart is literally breaking for those babies.

Jocelyn said...

Thanks for sharing this post...I love the pictures! They made the memories come flyiing back. Oh how I miss West Africa!

J

Blu and Darbi said...

Wow. When we lived in Zambia, we became so callous to the "bush." It was so refreshing to read the post of someone seeing it for the first time. I am so ready to go back and see it again for the "first time."

Love ya!
Darbi

Andrea said...

Brandi, thanks for this post. It is so moving. I am excited about the opportunity to see some of this for myself. I can only imagine the hurt and pain you feel - I know it will be all too real very soon. Thanks for the perspective.

Faith said...

Powerful post Brandi and my heart is right there with yours.
Faith

Stefanie said...

Wow - what a touching post. Thank you for your heart felt openness.

Stefanie Solt

Nolta Family said...

Oh, Brandi-this is the Liberia I saw in 1985, only worse! We toured the firestone plant, went to lots of poor villages in the bush and saw lots of sad things.

Today, I was our paying bills and read the latest news letter from Starfish Ministries in Haiti. We've sponsored a little boy (now about 16 years old) for about 8 years through this organization. Haiti is perhaps even poorer than Liberia. I think that is just the type of ministry that would work well in Liberia.

Thank you for sharing so many pictures and bringing back so many memories.

Kristie

Anonymous said...

The hurt doesn't go away, you just learn how to handle it. God doesn't want us to ever be 100% comfortable with the world as it is. You are learning to understand the needs of the world and what God has really called believers to do. As the old saying goes "no pain, no gain". Well, it's true. We are never going to make a real difference in the world until we feel and understand the pain of those in need, and the sorrow God feels for them. And then go to God and ask him what he wants us to do...

-Melodie
www.xanga.com/Africaz_Melodie

Jamie said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I cannot even imagine those conditions and it breaks my heart to think of the people...to see their faces and wonder what they're thinking as they lie their head down at night. Like you I feel like God has called us to help Liberians, not just through adoption but maybe in other ways. Now I need to wipe the tears from my eyes!

HollyAnn said...

So well put! Wow! I need to link this on our website so that parents can get a glimpse of the despair in this country! What to do....that is most definitly the question! And like you, I am willing to hurt, but ask what do I do with it?! Thanks for sharing that, Brandi! When did you go to Liberia???

steffany said...

Brandi-
Do you post on the weekends? Because, I'm so needing one:)

Lysa TerKeurst said...

Wow! I'm so glad I hopped over to your site and got to be so very blessed by your post.

I have 2 boys from Liberia. You can see our interview about it by clicking on the Oprah Show over at my blog.

Great to meet you!

jaz said...

Shame on me. I spent a couple HOURS this week talking to a woman in our church who runs a Christian Pre-School in her home and has offered to enroll our daughter at no charge... I've been wrestling with whether to do pre-school or not altogether. Then I just read your thought regarding "IF school" not "HOW/WHICH school"... Your reminder really puts into perspective just what kind of luxury we've got.

My favorite part of this post was picturing you doing your teacher thing... too cool!

I, too, like so many others who have posted, CAN NOT wait to see how God uses this burden He's given you!!

I'm proud to know you, my friend!

Love,
Jamie :0)

Emily said...

Wow what an amazing story and pictures. We have 3 children that we adopted from Liberia. One from Monrovia and 2 from the bush of Nimba county. Its amazing to see where they came from and what their mother went through. Thanks for sharing.

Kelly said...

I had to post a comment even though I feel like I have no words to say to this blog! It's so heavy on my heart and I just don't know what to do with it all! And, I don't want Greg to win the comment competition, so I'll get better about commenting.

Anonymous said...

Brandi. You don't know me, but I think you have been in contact with my brother-in-law Tom Davis. : ) I glanced at your pictures from Liberia (Tom forwarded me your blog link yesterday) -- Africa stirs my deepest heart passions as well, so I share that with you, sister!! Smiles. Last summer I was in Swaziland, Mozambique, and South Africa for 4 months. Your pics reminded me of that. It is contageous and beautiful what God is mixing up in you -- keep sharing. It appears that you have a rather substantial following on your blogs. Thanks for having a tenderness toward God's extra special little ones -- his orphans. Smiles. Hannah
hannah@hopechest.org