Back in Body

June 5, 2007 at 6:47 am (Summer, Trip 2007)

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Oh, how these pages are hard to read. Coming home is comfortable, but not exactly comforting. I am struggling with the mundane chores and my calling to serve people drinks while listening to over played pop tunes and yelling out prices and change. I long to be back with the kids, when what I believed and what I was doing were congruent. I know now that my job is to keep the line strong and to continue to work towards more community, family, unity, (words from our song.) I do feel very fortunate to have the opportunities I do, (blessed to be a blessing,) but I am having a difficult time staying nonjudgemental and empathetic of the issues here. I suppose I am just finding the meeting point between two very different worlds both outside and inside myself. I want to go back. Now. Time to save up so that we can go deeper.

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Amazing Children

May 26, 2007 at 6:27 pm (Summer, Trip 2007)

Friday at Shangalia was difficult for me. I cried a lot. The travel to and from the orphanage gives me a sick feeling in my stomach. summer-holding-little-boy.gifWhen I am not with the kids I feel drained, but as soon as I see them and they jump on me and cheer until we are hugging goodbye as tightly as we can I feel good, in tune, happy to be with them.

But when we leave I am again filled with strong emotions that shift from label to label, trying to find one that fits: sadness, anger, passion, fear, inspiration, frustration, confusion, love. It is so clear that this trip was meant to happen and it’s hard to deny the divine intervention that is taking place. I feel in line with Purpose, but when that happens there is resistance. The changes will make me deeper, more loving and giving and grateful, but also more upset and lost and wondering. I am really nervous to leave. We only have one more visit to each orphanage. I already know I will feel out of place at home, but home isn’t quite here either. I am reshaping myself and it’s going to take a while for the entire puzzle to shift enough to accomodate the changes. That puzzle is friends, family, work, school, culture. We will all probably feel some disconnect for a period. I just really don’t know how I am going to leave. It is so difficult going to the orphanages and dealing with all of the emotions I don’t want to face, but it’s even harder not being there. Now that I’ve seen it, I can’t go back to old ways. This time when we go home, we won’t be going back, we’ll be going forward.

The connections we are making with these children do not stop here. There are so many ways we can be plugged in from the U.S.: Gifts, letters, pictures, music, supplies, awareness, funraisers. Friday, a talented young dancer, Freshia, told me she had a present for me and came running out with a letter in hand that she had written to me. It was one of the most honest, love and true letters I have ever received. These children are so quick to accept, pray for and open their hearts to people they know very little of, or don’t even know at all. They are so careful and respectful. For example, they love to wear our rings and pass around watches, but even when they borrow something as small as a hair tie, they are sure to return it before we leave. They understand that family is so much greater than blood relations. They have an awareness and a sensitivity for one another and for us that I have never seen before. They are my family and I love them with all of my heart.

What has happened with in the group is also very special. We are all in this together and we really know how to be there for one another. When I am upset it doesn’t go unnoticed and soon there will be someone holding my hand, stroking my hair or listening to me. What we are really going to need from our friends and family when we get back is grace and an open ear. The support we have received has kept us afloat so that we can continue to be carried by the currents that Spirit creates. Thank you for helping us learn when to let go and when to swim.

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Back and Ready

May 23, 2007 at 7:40 pm (Summer, Trip 2007)

Hello Everyone!
Thank you so much for your e-mails and love and support!! The internet is not very consistent here and it has been expensive and difficult to get on. We just got back from the safari. It was quite a difference from what we were used to here in Nairobi. At first it felt weird because it was a resort like hotel in the middle of untouched habitat. It seemed surreal, especially after being in the orphanages. Going on the game drives was my favorite part, by far. I sat on top of the car and let the wind blow through me, hugging the world. We saw elephants VERY close, cheetahs, lions, (simba) zebra, giraffe, wildebeests, monkeys, and lots more. The sunsets were incredible and it was so quiet! I found myself feeling homesick for all of you and all of the kids here. We went to the Maasi villages and sang with the children and danced with them. I didn’t feel right taking pictures in a culture so sacred, it seemed disconnected. A little girl came and sat in my lap and made me feel at ease. Children have a way of doing that.

The past few days we have experienced the bartering part of the culture. The markets we went to were overwhelming at times, with men surrounding us trying to sell us all kinds of things. Soon we realized that it is part of the culture and once I was able to laugh about it instead of feel upset we were able to get some good deals and have fun. Sometimes I wish that we could stop looking at the goods and look at each others faces. I was able to talk with some of the artists and that made the experience much more whole and enjoyable.

summer-with-little-girls.gif We went to Nyumbani on Saturday and Sunday and got to connect with the kids through music. It was really amazing to see. We brought out all the guitars and cameras and let them have fun. They knew more about my camera than I did. As we settled in, I witnessed music therapy in all its glory. I’ve never seen so many different ways to use music for healing at one place and time. Little kids were singing silly learning songs, while others were rapping or dancing to beat tracks. Some were writing songs, and some were learning to play guitar. One of the older boys wrote a rap part to “We Are One” and an older girl learned to play the chords, and we are going to record it in the next couple of days. It was such a powerful bonding experience, and it happened so naturally. It was wonderful being able to say that we’ll see them soon and see their faces light up. It’s going to be so difficult to say goodbye. Don’t be surprised to have some new additions to the family.

This weekend was when we really got to settle in at Nyumbani. The kids are such lights. They have so much to teach us about lifted spirits and faith. They sing God’s praises with no shoes and no parents and a disease they didn’t ask for. But what I am realizing is that we don’t need to feel guilty about our “privilege” because we can’t see the whole picture, and where we have material goods they have joy in their hearts. We don’t know why things happen the way they do. We can only trust that they happen for a great plan and do our best to contribute to love, kindness and healing. And music does it so effectively. I am seeing now more than ever why I chose the field I did, or rather, why God chose it for me. I think this trip is expanding much more than we had imagined.

I love you all so much and will do my best to keep you up on the new precious moments.

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We Love You All!

May 18, 2007 at 11:39 pm (Summer, Trip 2007)

Hello everyone,
Thank you so much for all of your support and encouragement in getting us here. We have had a very smooth start so far. Nyumbani was the first orphanage we visited, and we got to exchange music with the younger children. There was an intense hail storm later in the day, so we came back to the hotel and wrote what we feel will become the theme song of the trip “We Are One (World)”. It was a powerful experience, co-writing with so many compassionate and talented musicians, and it was great for getting the passion and energy focused and organized. We hope to have a recording to share with everyone soon. This is an amazing group of people, and I feel so blessed to be here.
We appreciate your comments and prayers. Tomorrow we go to Shangilia. We will be in touch.

(Next Day:)summer-playing-guitar.gif
Wow. What a day today! It is was the first day we saw the true slums of Nairobi. It was so intense. There is no pavement, and since it is the rainy season it is so muddy, with pot holes and big ditches. People have to walk through that in nice clothes, or whatever cloth they have. The houses and shops, (the stores that line the road) look like they came out of a junk yard with simple metal sheets on top, that go for only 5-15 dollars a month, which
is still hard to make for some. They sell all kinds of goods, most not
anything i would buy. They even had a shack for electronics and a beauty salon that was like one room smaller than the twin dorm rooms, with a couple stools.

We couldn’t take pictures because it is rude and they will get mad or demand money. A lot of people were excited to see foreigners and will give thumbs up or smile and wave. Others seemed upset at our privilege. When we drove back from the orphanage at rush hour when everyone got off work and school the streets were swarmed with people, so close you could touch them from the van, all walking. Right next to this area is the rich area of the city, with huge houses and acreage.

the orphanage was so amazing. two hundred children live in a tiny area, pretty much on top of each other. Wow, were they beautiful! I was taken by their openness and joy. The big ones take care of the little ones, and they form their own families. Shangilia is an orphanage for children on the street who either lost their parents or their parents can’t afford to take care of them.

They are SO TALENTED! they sang and danced for us, (moves that I could never do, and they were kids!) They have a brass band and percussion and sing and they are so alive. I feel like people here really look at you. They loved my hair, because it was so different and the girls quickly braided our hair and played with our jewelery. The boys could do these acrobatic moves that made their bodies look like they were made out of clay. It was as if their rough experiences melted away all the surface coverings that don’t matter and revealed the core soul of every child. They have great joy and great sorrow. They drink of life fully.

While there we sang for them as well, the “We Are One” song and they all got on stage and sang with us, and it was so powerful. An amazing energy was apparent to everyone. They are filming and taking pictures of all of this and I can’t wait to show you.

The children loved the guitars and all tried to play at once. They have to share everything, from the marbles they use to they soccer ball made from plastic bags to the roller blades, (each child wearing one.) They really make use of EVERYTHING. They are great climbers and I love it when they speak to us in Shang, (like slang Swahili.)

It was so special for everyone involved. At one point a child started crying and I held him and sang to him songs I learned at Susun Weed’s. The girls learned lullabies with me. They are so affectionate and touch seems to be very healing.

We also ran around and played tag and tickeled each other and sang call and response. It felt like we left too soon, but i passed out when we got to the hotel, awakeneing at 2 am. i am so off schedule here, because I woke up this morning to start my day at 5 am. so not like me.

I can’t wait to go back, even though it is very draining, in such a different way than working 19 hour shifts or writing a 20 page paper. I am so happy to share this experience with all of you.

Thank you so much for being here and reading.
I love you with all of my Self,
Summer

PS the mango juice here is TO DIE FOR (as mom would say) we have not had
local food yet, but we are going to tomorrow.
So much more to say, but I will save it for later.

Much love,

Summer

P.S. Jon, thank you so much for your comment. You have helped me so much in getting where I am today, and I think of you and miss you lots. Congratulations on your promotion. You deserve all the recognition you are getting and more! I love you! Wuggles.

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