everyday skills…for life in africa

I have several blog posts in the works.  They are more on what I’ve been learning and all that the Lord is pressing on my heart.  This one is not like the others.  It is light (and maybe slightly disturbing to some).  So enjoy!

Our Sub-Saharan Africa leaders have been amazing.  They have spent so much time pouring into each of us and helping us prepare for the next step in the journey.  This past Sunday, they gave us an opportunity to practice for what will become, for some, a common activity once we arrive in Africa – killing chickens.  They also showed us how to dry meat and make & grill bread over the fire.  It was a day of firsts for many!

There were a total of seven chickens set to be slaughtered.  The event started before I arrived with the hatchet, so the first bird experienced a slower death.  It wasn’t pretty.  If you’ve never been around people doing this for the first time, it is quite a sight.  There is plenty of gasping and screaming.  It was an afternoon full of free entertainment! Watching it all reminded me of my first day in the jungle, when I was told I’d have to chase down my lunch if I wanted to eat!

For those of your who’ve never participated in catching/killing your dinner, I’ll walk you through the process.

  1. Select chicken and don’t even think about becoming friendly by naming it (it will make things too personal).
  2. Place chicken’s head on the chopping block.
  3. Choose who is actually going to bring down the hatchet on this poor bird’s neck.
  4. Swing away and hope you connect (for a some, it took an extra whack or two!).
  5. Throw the now headless bird away from you – make sure it doesn’t run back towards the innocent bystanders (chickens running around with their heads cut off tend to scare the children!).
  6. Retrieve your bird and carry it over to the pot of boiling water and submerge (assure the kids watching that it truly is dead and you are not drowning it).
  7. Pluck all feathers from its body (make sure to get them all…they aren’t tasty).
  8. Proceed to disembowel and cut up the chicken (there is no clean, easy way to do this – just stick your hand in and yank).
  9. Cook chicken however you choose to or delegate to someone else.
  10. Sit down and enjoy a meal that you have actually watched come together from start to finish (if you aren’t now a vegetarian!).

Needless to say, there were lots of laughs shared and memories made.  I’m going to miss these folks.  I’ve included a few pictures in the slideshow below.  Hope you enjoy!  Eat more chicken!

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another stamp in the passport…

“I am not the same for having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”

I read this on a friend’s blog a while back. And as I process my last trip, this continues to come to mind. My life has been radically changed through the trips I have taken to other countries. My heart has been stirred countless times by the things I have seen. And I am immensely grateful for the opportunities I have been given to experience life in another context.

This most recent trip was no different. And while I cannot go into much detail here on the world wide web, I can tell you that I saw and learned a great deal. I saw hopelessness in the eyes of youth, and it broke my heart. I saw determination in the faces of those with extreme disabilities, and it challenged me. And I saw joy and excitement on the face of one young teenager who had lost both of his legs, and his attitude and outlook on life convicted me. These youth taught me more than I could have ever tried to teach them in a lifetime.

I never thought I could grow to love a certain group of people so deeply and in such a short amount of time. They are impressed upon my heart forever. A friend of mine recently wrote about leaving a country she’d been living in.  She put into words exactly what I have been feeling. She said:

As usual, I came to give, work, help, and love and I’m leaving with so many memories, wonderful blessings, special friends, exciting stories and a deeper perspective. I’m also leaving behind another piece of my heart in another precious country, and again, wondering why I do this to myself and when I won’t have any more pieces left to leave behind…but I love it and doubt I’ll stop anytime soon.

To interact with and do life with people in a different context is life changing. It is one of those things that is not easy, but so so worth it. The people I just left have a chunk of my heart. My perspective has once again been broadened. My heart is full. And I cannot wait to go back…no matter the cost.

When border patrol looks at my passport, they see the stamps and visas of the countries I have visited. When I thumb through those pages, I see places that have shaped me and the faces of the people that have poured into my life in spite of the barriers of language and culture.

Those stamps are more than mere ink. They are stories that have shaped my life.