Tuesday, July 10, 2012

African Life!

My thoughts are all smashed together at the moment.  I don’t really know when this past week began because so much has happened.  The days seem to linger and yet the weeks fly by.  In the past week we said goodbye to five short-term missionaries, welcomed two new short-term missionaries, celebrated the 4th of July, continued our work in the Magazine, shadowed doctors in the hospital, played with children, fellowshipped with one another, and went on a day trip to Kpalime to hike to a waterfall, visit the blind center, and shop in the market.  On top of all that I happened to catch a cold and was pretty sick Friday, but God is good and I am finally feeling much better.  

There is not much time to catch ones breath here as things are always happening.  This week our team will be traveling to Mango (Thurs-Sat) to see the hospital that is being built in Northern Togo and do some site seeing, were hoping for some hippos!  I have to say I am missing home but am learning so much here.  Africa is so unbelievably different than America.  Many times I find myself trying to compare the two and often I stand in disgust at how nice Americans have it.  However, I have come to the conclusion that I shouldn’t compare because there really aren’t’ any similarities except that both have people.  Each country is unique to itself and has its own troubles.  As an American I look at Africa and see the poverty and disease and think what sorrows Africans have; but as an African I look at America and see the broken families and drug/alcohol abuse and think what sorrows Americans have. It is all in the way that you look at things.

From what I have perceived thus far the Togolese truly value life or they seem to understand what is important – people.  They are all about family.  In fact if you don’t have a big family you are highly looked down upon.  When I travel through villages I just see people everywhere.  Walking together, eating together, playing together, working together, driving together (Side note: I don’t think I have seen one car that has had less than 4 people in it and most of the time I see a 5 passenger car, small car, filled with 8-10 people plus fruit or luggage stacked as high as possible and hanging out the back end.  The saying here is you can always squeeze one more! In contrast how often do you see more than 1 person in a car traveling down the 5 freeway?  Just something to think about).  The Togolese are definitely a people oriented culture, especially in regards to children.  They are also the hardest working people group I have ever seen.  Each day I see children, around the ages of 5-12yrs old, come to the hospital with huge jugs (similar to gasoline containers but larger) to get fresh water. They walk miles to get the fresh water, fill the jug (which probably weighs 20-50lbs), place it on their head, and walk back home.  It really is mind-blowing.  Well I could go on and on but I have much to do.

Please pray that our team would have safe travels this weekend, stay healthy, and continue to bless those we meet. Please be praying for the hospital and the missionaries here.  This past week was difficult as there were five people that died within a 24-hr period, and that was just one day.  Death occurs often here mainly due to disease.  For some statistics, a doctor that works here only lost 4 patients in his 20 years of practice in the States to similar diseases that take the lives of 170 Togolese a year; and that is just the record for this hospital.  As there is sorrow there is also happiness.  Abraham, whom I have mentioned before, was able to go home today.  His future doesn’t look hopeful, but he has wanted to go home for months now and he finally got to.  I went to say goodbye and it was the first time that I saw him where he couldn’t stop smiling!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Life in Africa!

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?  It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.  You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good words and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”  Matthew 5:13-16

There are many things in this world that influence people’s perspectives and opinions.  Usually people aren’t swayed too easily; however there are cases when one’s view can change in a moment.  I have been in Africa only one week; and yet this one week has impacted me greatly.  Each night I lie in bed dumbfounded at life.  Life, what is life?  As this question is answered clearly in my mind I have missed the importance of it and the wonderful gift it is.  You could say that in the last week my eyes have been opened immensely too how much I take for granted.  I honestly can’t express in words what I have seen.  African’s have so little and yet they value life and more importantly each other.  They aren’t all about themselves, but rather are more concerned for the well being of others. 

Eight days ago I traveled with a team of nine to Togo, West Africa. For the first few days we became acclimated to our surroundings.  We had much to observe.  You could definitely say culture shock.  All I can say is American’s are spoiled rotten, even the poorest of the poor. To put it into perspective a C-section in the area of Africa I am in costs $5-15 depending on the hospital one goes to.  To be honest sometimes it makes me sick in my stomach just thinking about how much I have complained and what I take for granted.  African’s walk miles to go to school, work or get water.  Women will carry two huge bowls of coal or wood on top of their head (30-50lbs) with a baby strapped to their back for many miles.  When is the last time you saw that in the States – never!  They are the hardest working people I have seen, especially the women and children; and they always have a smile on their faces.   They are very friendly, honestly there are few instances when I pass people where I don’t here them say Bonjour to me and ask me how I am even though all I know how to say back is bonjour. 

My first day here we went on a tour of the hospital.  For the past week our team has mainly been working in the Warehouse, we call it the Magazine.  We basically have been organizing and inventorying all the medical supplies.  It is very overwhelming because they have had no one to manage it so when shipments come in boxes basically get thrown into storage.  The hospital really doesn’t know what they have so it is our job to organize it all.  It has definitely been a test for all of us because it’s not the first job I would sign up for if you know what I mean.  In any case we are making progress, slowly. 

Yesterday was my first full day at the hospital.   I followed an American PA in the morning and then followed a Togolese PA in the afternoon in the clinics.  I greatly enjoyed working with both of them.   My first day was definitely difficult because you never know who will walk through the door.  The hardest thing is that almost all of the patients that die in the hospital would not have died had they been in America.  There was so much I saw yesterday, so much pain and yet happiness mixed within.   I saw children and adults with malaria, meningitis, surgery patients, and premature babies.  One premy baby is called Koku and she is a miracle baby.  She was born a month ago and weighs 408g, so tiny and so adorable.  Seventy-five percent of the children were admitted due to Malaria.  For Africa this is the season for Malaria because of rainstorms, which means many deaths.  The average kid in America probably doesn’t even know what malaria is and it is one of the number one killers of children in Africa.   Thus far while being here there have been five deaths in the hospital, two within the last 24hrs. One was an elderly lady who I actually worked with yesterday, she died early in the morning from congestive heart failure.  The other was a girl only the age of 15.  I was actually viewing a surgery when we heard of her death, which was difficult because this morning she was walking and seemed to be recovering well.  African’s take death extremely hard.  In fact they view it as the most important event in one’s life, especially if you are old because you would have made a name for yourself.  You almost always know when someone dies in the hospital because of the mourning.  There has been so much to take in within the last week, just even the last day.  At night my brain runs a million miles a minute, which is good except for when I need sleep. 

Briefly the thing I have loved most is working with Believers.  In the hospital the very first page of everyone’s medical chart is their spiritual state followed by their medical records.  For every patient we see we will pray with them before we go to the next patient.  This has been very compelling.  Also the staff is absolutely wonderful.  There are many short-term missionaries here as well as long.  Our team stays in the guest house along with other short-term doctors who stay in guest rooms.  We all have breakfast, lunch, and dinner together, which I love.  I have met some incredible people. 

Well that is my short update, haha, there is so much more to tell.  God has been so good and our team has remained relatively healthy, a few upset stomachs.  My knee hasn’t given me many problems thanks to a fantastic African stationary bike that one of the missionaries made for me.  Please continue to keep our team in your prayers and the work we will be doing here.  These last two days have been hard but good just with everything we have seen in the hospital.  Also remember the Togolese.  Animism is very prevalent in Africa.  Each village has a ‘god’ that they believe protects them along with the wind, earth, sun, etc ‘god’.  If something bad happens they believe it is because they have disobeyed the ‘gods’ and thus have an evil spirit upon them.  There is a great need for the truth of the One True God.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”  Psalm 27:1 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Well I can't believe it but Sarah and I officially finished college.  It is surreal just thinking about it.  Four years have come and gone just like that.  Everyday I hear the words of the wise running through my mind "Cherish every moment for time only goes by faster the older you get."  What a blessing it was to be at The Masters College.   It was humbling to reflect back over the years and think of all that God brought into my life, the good and the bad, and how the events shaped me.  Honestly God is incredible.  Each day I am reminded of how much I must rely upon him as I am completely inadequate without him, I am a fool.   He has been so good to me.  At the moment I am still on crutches, but today while at physical therapy I rode a bike and walked without crutches and my brace. Ah it was so exciting and at the same time so weird and tripy and crazy and I could go on and on.  Learning to walk again is strange and yet such a blessing.  The fact that I get to walk again and I have gotten to reflect or be reminded of all that I took and continually take for granted.  So many say I am so sorry about your injury and most of the time deep down I am like me to, this is not fun; but then there are those moments when I realize my injury is nothing compared to what most go through.  The world is full of misery with cancer, disease, disabilities, etc.  I am one of the blessed ones.  How often I forget this and what a shame.  It just shows the selfish/self-centered human I am.  I pray that God would continue to put me in my place, reveal the sin in my life, and allow me to be a light to those around me.  Praise God for all he has done.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Trusting God isn't always easy but the best

It has been quite awhile since I have written to say the least.  I would say I probably fail at blogging, but then again I haven't given it a good shot so here I go once again.  Israel was absolutely a life changing experience.  To say it simply I once read the Bible in black and white and now it is full of color and life.  I was blessed beyond belief to go and I thank God for such an incredible opportunity.  Since then so many things have happened.  I started my last semester of college, which ends in four weeks :), am living off-campus with two incredible girls, Mollie and Kayla; have two classes with my little sister being able to spend every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with her going to chapel, lunch and classes, which I have absolutely loved.  But the main reason I finally started blogging again was because God had a change of plans with my life.  This summer I was planning on going to Togo, Africa on a medical missions trip with eight other amazing people.  I have been preparing this whole semester for it and couldn't have been more excited to go.  Well on 3/31 I was playing intramural soccer and managed to step on some uneven ground, which resulted in a torn ACL and inverted and torn lateral meniscus.  As I was going down I knew exactly what had happened and all I could think was why, why me, why again, why?   There were so many other people playing, over 50.  Not one of them got hurt and not that I would wish it upon them, but why me?  The first thing I said was my parents are going to kill me, which they didn't and have been amazing about it.   The following 10 days were a whirlwind going from one doctors appointment to the next, getting X-rays and an MRI, getting tons of calls form different medical people.  In short the doctor told me I needed surgery asap, but for me that wasn't the worst.  The worst was when I reminded him about Togo after hearing the results and he immediately swore and dropped his head (I sorta laughed later because I couldn't believe he swore,  after shadowing two doctors I came to find they will never swear unless they know the individual really well or something is serious and it happens to slip out.)  Once he lifted his head he said "Togo is absolutely out of the question."  I kept myself composed and left the office completely devastated.  Honestly at that moment I really could have cared less about what had happened to my leg, I was crushed about Togo.  Why, I felt like God had completely thrown Togo in my lap only to rip it out and taunt me this whole time.  On 4/10 I had surgery.  The doctor was able to repair both the meniscus and the ACL, but if the meniscus doesn't heal within six weeks he will have to take it out.   I have been recovering at my older sisters house and my mom flew out, which was such a blessing.  I can't say that recovery has been easy, its rather been frustrating due to insurance and medical equipment problems.  Now hear I am finally finding myself updating my blog after months of nothing.  To sum up all thats happened is difficult.  I am trusting the Lord, but it is not always easy especially when you see nothing ahead of you and I had Togo.  Still I know God's ways are perfect.  Life truly can change in a second,  but the joy in it all is knowing that although life may change God will still be with me and my family and friends by my side to get me through difficult times.  This is the blessing that I have because of Christ.  Not only that, but I know it could be much worse.  There are so many hurting with much more trying situations.  I may not be able to walk for awhile but I still have a leg and a healthy body.  Anyways that is my life at the moment.  It went from being really great to just about rock bottom, but like I said God has a purpose and I pray that I would remember that "God is always good it is how we view his goodness in our lives that affects our attitudes." Romans 5:3-5 "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Challah, Samaria, and a night in Jerusalem!

All I can say is God blows my mind!  Once again so much has happened and I don't even know where to begin to explain all that has unfolded.  For the last week we have been celebrating Sukkot or Feast of Booths, which lasts for seven days.  It is a Jewish Festival that reminds Jews of their pilgrimage after they left Egypt.  The sukkot, tent, is a reminder of the fragile dwellings in which they dwelt in during the 40 years of wandering.  It is a time for unbridled joy as they reflect back on how God provided for  them and provides today.  Friday we made Challah before we had Shabbat.  As for the rest of the week I spent my time studying and doing homework. This last week we had our Second Temple Midterm, an LXX and MT comparison, and lots of homework due.  And then came today or more like tonight,  it was incredible and much needed.  First, after dinner we had a girls mug and muffin night.  All I can say is we are extremely blessed by the women here - Stephanie, Jael, Natalie, and Wendy.  They are incredible, so encouraging, and challenge us in many ways.  It was the perfect way to start an amazing night.  After that twenty-one of us headed to Jerusalem on a Sherut to celebrate the last day of Sukkot.  I don't even know how to describe what took place, but in short we ended up going to a Torah party.  The middle of the streets had men singing and dancing with unbridled joy around the Torah.  Later on some of the boys found an entrance to the Ramparts, which allows you to walk around the wall overlooking the valleys.  We walked along the Southern wall facing the City of David and the Mount of Olives.  It was a view I will never forget as the surrounding hills were lit up.  The ambience of the evening was a perfect setting for being on top of the wall and looking out over the City of David.  I couldn't help but be filled with excitement and joy.  I have the shivers just thinking about it and how incredible God is.  On a completely different note earlier in the day I was doing homework for Land and Bible and I read Luke 5:1-11, Jesus calls the first disciples.  In verse 10 Jesus says to Simon who was a fishermen.."Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men."  When I read this all I could picture was the relationship of fishing and witnessing.  Fishing in a way is a good example of what witnessing is like.  Growing up I would go fishing.  Every fishermen knows you have to have a pole, bait, and fish to catch.  If I wanted to catch a fish I had to take the pole and the bait and cast the line.  I picture this as God is holding the pole, which is me, and the bait is his word.  It is not me that will lead others to Christ, but God.  God can use me though just as a fishermen uses a pole to catch the fish.  The bait is key.  What good is a pole without the bait.  To use the bait properly Christians must dive into God's word and learn the truth to share with others.  Don't be satisfied with just knowing enough to get by.  When you are fishing over time the bait falls off.  How strong are you rooted in God's word.   There are so many lost souls out there waiting to hear the truth.  Are you willing to allow God to use you?  When he calls do you only allow him to cast the line so far as long as you are comfortable?  Allow Him to cast the line where he pleases and as far as he please,  be grounded in his word, and the catch will not be a disappointment.  Don't be afraid...God is holding the pole, he is holding you, and he has giving his word to you as bait.  The question is are you resisting and using the bait to its fullest?  Something to think about.  James 4:14  "Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.  You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away."

Well it is 2:00am and I need to get some sleep.  Surprisingly I am not too tired right now mainly because I have much on my mind.  Today I have one class and then Saturday I am going to Galilee for a whole week and when I get back I get to see my Parents and The Browns, which I couldn't be more excited for!!!  I pray you all have a great week and challenged yourselves to grow closer to your Lord.

Some of these photos are from past weeks that I got from other friends cameras.   Anyway this  photo was in a cave at Beth Shemesh in the Sorek Valley. 

Kayla, Lydia, and I on Yom Kippur when the freeway was shut down.

On top of Gath looking out towards the Mediterranean Sea

Making Challah for Shabat!

Laurel, Kayla, and I and our butterfly

Our finished product :)  It was amazing 

Me, Mollie, and Kayla at Shabbat!  God has been so good in blessing me with these amazing girls.  

Psalm 127:3-5 "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.  Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!  He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate."
Proverbs 31  "She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the SPINDLE."

Me and Natalie, one of the IBEX staff.  We are going to Switzerland and Barcelona together with Kayla for our travel studies break.  I can't wait!
I love Jerusalem! 
At Ben Yehuda street.  Behind us the Men are celebrating Sukkot by singing and dancing - Unbridled Joy
                                In the Jewish Quarters in Jerusalem.  We followed them to a Sukkot/Torah Party. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Shephelah, Yom Kippur, and Erev Sukkot

      The last two weeks has been a whirl wind.  I am continuing to soak up new information and feel as if I don't know where to hold more.  Its amazing and overwhelming at the same time.   The following is a brief synopsis of  the last fourteen days: last Wednesday (Oct 5) and today we went on two Shephelah trips.  The Shephelah, also known as the foothills, is the buffer zone between the hill country and the coastal plain.   We visited the Sorek, Elah, and Guvrin Valleys.  The Sorek Valley is where Samson spent much of his life and the Elah Valley is where David killed Goliath.  Within these Valleys we visited sites such as Beth Shemesh which is in the area that Samson killed many Philistines with just the jawbone of a donkey, Azekah where the Philistines encamped before the battle of David and Goliath, Tel Goded where we explored caves carved into chalk by the Jewish people during the 2nd Jewish Revolt to hide from the Romans, Maresha which may have been the hometown of the prophet Micah (Micah 1:1),  Lacish which Rehoboam fortified Sennacharib sieged and Joshua smote, Hirbet Qeiyafa which may be the site known as "two gates" (1 Sam 17:1),  Gath which is the home of Goliath, Caves of Adullam where David fled from Saul and hid (1Sam 22:1-4), and Gaza which was a Philistine city.  In between the two Wednesday we celebrated Yom Kippur, which is the Day of Atonement for Jewish people.  It is a solemn day centered around repentance.  Jewish custom is to fast (which we did as well) and remain home.  Due to their customs the freeways are empty accept for a few arab cars.  Because of this on friday night we went to the main highway and took pictures.  You can imagine it by thinking of what it would be like if Las Angeles closed the 5 freeway for a holiday, pretty crazy.  On Saturday we had men and women's bible study, prayed during the afternoon, fasted all day, and had huge dinners at the staffs houses.  Overall it was a great experience.  Tuesday (Oct 11)  we went into Jerusalem with our Jewish Thought and Culture teach, Ariel, to celebrate erev Sukkot.  Sukkot is the feast of booths and lasts for eight days.  It is a time of celebration, after repentance, and prayer for rain.  We went during the evening.  It was incredible.  The closest holiday I can compare it to is Christmas.  They have a Sukkot fair where they come to get palm branches and the etrog.  At the end of the night we went to the very Orthodox Jewish neighborhood.  It was a little scary as they are not welcome to visitors.  While walking the street I couldn't get over the sense of community they have.  I am very fascinated by their way of life and had lots of thoughts on my mind after.  On top of all that I had many classes,  papers, and a huge midterm.  I am definitely exhausted and am ready for one free day which won't happen till December 11 when we are done :)  Last thing before I get back to tons of homework, here are some verses that have made me think about my walk with God and life in general.  I hope they impact you as well in one way or another.  John 7: 17-18 "If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my authority.  The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood."  Proverbs 19:27 " Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge."   1 Corinthians 15:10 "But by the grace of God I am what I am..."  Just some words to think about.  I pray you all have a blessed week. 
The Sorek Valley behind us where Samson spent much of his life.

Samson killed 1000 men with the jawbone of a donkey (Judges 15:14-17)

I am on top of Azekah with the Elah Valley behind me.   The philistines encamped between Azekah and Socoth on the right side while the Israelites were encamped on the left side.  David killed Goliath in this valley (1 Sam 17).

Going into the cave at Tel Goded.  I still can't believe I did this and didn't get claustrophobic.  We were literally crawling on our bellies and then came to a huge room.  Once inside there were many tunnels branching off.  It was amazing. 

Before this picture we were in a bigger room and then squeezed through a tunnel and came into this room.   The tunnels were incredible and it was so fun to explore.  Sometimes we would get stuck and have to back out because of how skinny the tunnels got.  There are more pictures on facebook of guys from our group coming out of tunnels, im still not sure how they did it. 

I was definitely dirty afterwards but absolutely loved it and won't to go back and explore some more. 

This was an old stadium .  It was sobering in light of the fact that it was where Christians were martyred for there faith. 

This was at Hirbet Qeiyafa, the city of "two gates."  These girls are two of my really good friends here.  Rebecca, on the right gave us all nicknames.  Rebecca is Grasshopper, I am Sensei, and Kayla is Dragonfly.  Not sure how she came up with the names but we have fun with them. 

The Elah Valley

Erev Yom Kippur (The eve of the Day of Atonement)

It was really fun running up and down the main highway, usually it is packed with cars.

This is at the top of Gath.  From here you can see the four other  Philistine cities on the coast (Ekron, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Gaza)  The ark of the covenant was taken to these cities when it was captured by the Philistines (1 Sam 5).

This is at the Caves of Adullam where David hid from Saul. 

My bus buddy for the day - Lydia (She is amazing)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Cave opposite our Moshav

Nahal Parat Hike

Psalm 23

Jerusalem Approaches Field Trip

Bio - majors



The Cisterns at Herodium

Add caption

Valley of Rephaim

Rosh Hashonah

The Dead Sea

My roommate Laurel 


Nahal Arugot Hike