Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Leap of faith

It's funny, I didn't sit down on this couch after dinner last night with the intention of making this decision.  It's one I've thought about for a long time but I was still on the fence for a while.  First, perhaps, I should explain.

Around the first of the year, I fell in love.  He's the most beautiful boy I've ever laid eyes on, and it only took one look from him to steal my heart.  His name is Juddah.

He has these huge eyes that just light up whenever he looks at you, and his smile will make your heart flutter every time.  Juddah is just here in the USA for a short amount of time but the story of how he got here is amazing.

Juddah's hometown is in Korah, Ethiopia, a city not far outside the capital of Addis Ababa.  What makes Korah unique is the fact that it houses the city's landfill.  Korah is a city populated by the undesirables of society - widows, orphans, people affected by HIV/AIDS and Leprosy - who make their living by foraging through the trash heap, looking for food.

Baby Juddah was found by Cherrie, a missionary with Project 61, lying on top of urine soaked rags with his twin sister Sarah.  The infants felt so cold, Cherrie thought they were both dead, but after some warmth and care from Cherrie and her friend, the twins opened their eyes.  It was obvious that something was different about baby Juddah - his head looked too big.  It turns out he had a life threatening condition called hydrocephalus, literally, water on the brain.

Juddah was granted a medical visa and a chance at life in the States.  This is the first visa of it's kind for someone in Korah in 10 years.  The local Carilion Clinic has done surgery on Juddah for free, and he is now resting comfortably at home with Cherrie in Oregon until he is able to return to Ethiopia to live with his mother, grandmother, twin and 5-year old sibling.

During his time locally for surgery, Cherrie lived with a family from our church, and had mentioned that some of the Carilion staff was taking a medical missions trip.  While I desperately wanted to go, I'm not medically trained and I don't even like going to the doctor (who does, right?).  I didn't think I'd be given access to go.  But after talking with Cherrie and attending an informational meeting in May, I was told I would be welcome to come along. 

The planning has hit some bumps along the way and our team of 10 or more is now down to 4.  I was waiting to fill out my application and arrange to spend more than $3200 in travel expenses until I read Cherrie's blog last night.  Only 2 non-medical spots were still available!  I grabbed my wallet faster than I ever have before and sent in my non-refundable application fee and arranged to have my references send in papers.  All in all a rushed feeling but I woke up this morning feeling very at peace about all of it.  I have wanted to go to Africa since I was 12, and I feel like this could be it.  God is calling me here for something.  Another country, in more poverty and disease than I've ever seen in my life.  And all because one little boy looked at me.

All photos courtsey of Cherrie Cornish and her blog.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Full stomach, full life

I don't know what it was but I came home last night feeling more fully myself than I have in a while.  It was during the drive home from a dinner gathering that I realized how satisfied and light and fulfilled I felt.  I felt known and accepted and heard.

The last few days have been a whirlwind of activity.  I've worked everyday this week (a blessing) teaching babysitting camp at the Rec center.  It's been a little stressful because the lessons had some holes in them - I didn't plan the camp and didn't get to see the layout of it until about 20 minutes before kids starting showing up on Monday.  Luckily it's a small group and they're flexible and forgiving and tell me that they're bored so we can cook up something fun.

Tuesday night I had dinner with a church friend of mine, Trisha, who's approximately 40 years older than I am.  I love meeting with her and hearing her take on life and God.  She often feeds my heart and my stomach well and getting to watch her and her husband interact is always a blessing.  They have been married for the same amount of time as our age is different.  I am so glad we've been able to connect outside of church.

Yesterday I had a job interview in the morning as a public relations secretary with the city school district.  I really have no idea how it went, but I know I'll be placed in a job that suits me.  All I can do is keep applying and keep interviewing.  Despite the hectic feeling of the day, I got to end it with a lovely dinner at the house of one of the families from the Rec center.

The Reedy's are such a lovely addition to this area.  They have two girls that I fell in love with the moment I met them.  (Their pictures were among the first hung at my previous cube job).  Both the girls are so lively and friendly and beautiful and happy and full of laughter.  Just seeing them brightens my day.  Last night included lots of laughter and sharing (a lot of that included the girls sharing their toys with me), and I left feeling uplifted.  I have never gotten a good chance to know the adult Reedy's but I feel this could be the beginning of something wonderful.

It seems lately that good dinners have equaled good conversations. 

This busy week mostly ends for me tonight with the Harry Potter midnight showing.  Em and I have decided we must be there.

The first book came out in 1999, when I was in middle school, and the movie pandemonium started in 2001.  I feel especially kindred to the last HP movie, as the last book was released shortly after Em's and my B&N store opened (it actually caused us to open early).  While I've never read the books I do enjoy going to see the movies, and I certainly wouldn't miss this one.

Cheers to full lives and late night movies.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Rivah 2011

The last few days were spent relaxing at the Rappahannock River at my aunt and uncle's place. I got to spend lots of time reading, practice my photography (something I've wanted to get back into), and chatting with family and friends. Here are some photos to help with the recap:

The sunsets were totally worth catching.  I made it to one every night except Monday night - a storm shut down our beach cookout party, so there was no sunset that I could see.  This one and the one following were from the 1st.

This is one of my favorites and was taken on the 2nd.

Here's Aunt Patty and the next door neighbor blowing bubbles.  Super fun times were had by all.

Taken at the Marina on the 2nd I think.

Boats and sunsets - that's how you know it's the Rivah

Some of Aunt Patty's beautiful flowers.

Golf carts are the main form of transportation, and you'll often see 10 or more at various locations around the grounds during the sunsets.  During the fireworks on the 3rd, there were at least 50 crammed in to watch.

On the 3rd every year, the community across the river pool their funds and shoot off fireworks for the campground.  There are just a few shots.  The show probably lasted about 15 minutes and the fireworks were pretty good size for being bought personally.  I really like this shot because it shows the boat too.

In the lower right corner you can get just a peek of all the carts that came out for the show.

Cake pops my aunt and I made.  Super easy recipe, and you can make them in a lot of different designs.  We tried to inject them with frosting but haven't gotten that down quite yet.  Super yummy regardless.

Dad and I on the jet ski.  This was the "before" picture.  The "after" picture ended with me sans sunglasses and a wet head from where the whole thing flipped over on us.  I lost my shades and almost my shoes but thank goodness Crocs float!  Dad got picked on for the rest of the trip, with neighbors calling him "flip" and "turtle".

The trip normally takes right at 4 hours to get there, but on the way home we ran into some random traffic on the interstate.  It was one of those things where you stop and creep along, then get back up to speed with no apparent reason as to why you had to stop.  We ended up taking a route through more towns, which I enjoyed, but it delayed us just a bit.  I am super glad to be getting back into a routine, and was excited to sleep in my own bed last night (only the second time I've been there for the last 2.5 weeks). 

Now it's time to play catch up and check some things off my to-do list.