Marcus and I landed in Los Angeles last week and then we were driven by Tina to meet her husband Steven and family in San Diego. The following day was spent relaxing until the evening when I had a speaking engagement at the home of Phil and Stephanie Harris.
It was a wonderful time of fellowship and it was lovely to meet up with a gentleman who had visited Light in Africa in 2002 and heard that I was in town and came to visit.
When speaking about LIA I never plan what I am going to say at these functions. I just rely on the Holy Spirit to prompt me as to what I should speak about. At this meeting, the stories just kept flowing, on and on. The guests just wanted to hear more about the children of LIA.
A school was visited the following day who has been providing wonderful supports to the food packaging events that Phil holds; his recent one was for 1,000,000 meals packed by volunteers in two days with 6,000 volunteers. I think theat is pretty staggering....
During two assemblies I was able to speak to and to thank the children for all their help. Then, after a Mexican meal, it was off to meet Joan Coleman who would drive us on to the next part of our journey. About the half way mark, we met up with our dear friend Salina, who then drove us to meet our hosts at Malibu.
Sunday saw us at the Presbyterian church where we met our friends who had previously volunteered with us, and discussions were held about a team coming over next year.
After the service we were driven over to a ranch for brunch. The scenery was majestic with the towering mountain ridges on one side and the ocean on the other: what a beautiful earth God has made for our enjoyment.
Tomorrow we will move on to Carona del Mar for some more engagements, of school assemblies and evening dinners with guests. Then we’ll be flying back to Iowa, before we move off to Minnesota and Michigan and then home.
We are hoping the Iceland ash will have cleared so that we can return to Tanzania on the 2nd May, just in time to prepare the way for the influx of volunteers in June.
and here two lovely pictures of mama Lynn meeting Gifti & Tumaini who now live with their adoptive parents in the USA:
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After visiting family and friends in the UK, we started our flight to Minneapolis and then on to Iowa. We received a wonderful welcome at the airport with Lee and Nicole Harding and Marilyn Kelly and family there to greet us. Then after a couple of days rest we visited various places of interest.
At Akron Westfield I spoke to the kindergarten classes and it was especially nice to see Lee's adopted child from Light in Africa fitting in so well to the American lifestyle. Then a talk to the older children on 'what would be happening the following day' with a food-packaging day. We had a 4 slots on the television stations and the children did an amazing job of filling 50,000 packets of food which will be sent overseas in a large container and will be brought to the door of Light in Africa to feed the children in our out-reach food kitchens, and unsupported adults. What a fantastic effort by these young people.
I was then collected by a new friend named Diane who very kindly took me to my next speaking event at a nursing college, where I had the opportunity to speak once again about the work of Light in Africa.....
Diane, very kindly, asked if we would like to attend a dentist surgery whilst over here, and knowing Marcus had been in pain with his teeth, I thankfully agreed. Mr. Mayers and his practice in Siouxland pulled out two wisdom teeth and I had a clean up. We had our photo's taken with the Dr's and staff, and with tongue in cheek I offered them the chance to come over to Tanza and assist in our out-reach dispensary. Many thanks to everyone concerned.
Then it was off to Nebraska/Sioux City to the home of volunteer Marilyn Kelly and her family, where I was able to speak again at an evening event and meet up Kelly Solzman and her husband who are preparing an NGO called Project Raheema near Arusha.
Whilst Marilyn was showing us the sites, she started to complain about backache. Within ten minutes she was in severe pain and had to drive herself to the hospital where she was admitted and had some surgery. We bless her and pray that she will quickly make a good recovery to enable her and Sue to come over and volunteer in June. Lee had to come over to collect us and take us back to his home.
Another big surprise awaited us as Sammy Walton and her mother and Tumi arrived unexpectedly from Oklahoma, and had driven for 9 hours to come and visit with us. My oh my how she has grown up. So hard to believe, that she was once a tiny baby, and now she is this very confident young girl.
I will continue my update as the tour progresses, blessings to everyone, including my granddaughter Sophie whose 18th birthday is today the 9th April: Happy Birthday Darling!
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I hesitated and asked Coupa if she could deal with it. "I think this is one you will want to hear about” she said and walked off.
I went into the office and greeted the local social worker, who said that she had come to escort me to the airport. "That's nice of you", I said, but Coupa says you have a case for us..... "This is the story", she said, "which is not a pleasant one, and I have already taken action against the perpetrators. I want you to accommodate a 12 year old girl who has just been circumcised, and when she heard that she was to be the 8th wife of an 80 year old man, as soon as she could, she ran from the village and was brought to me. She is still in need of medical care. Will you help her?"
"Most definitely", I responded, so the process of admission into our care began.
The Tanzanian government has outlawed the act of circumcision, but the Maasai in some areas are still practicing this brutal act on young girls, but at last I am starting to see action being taken against the father of the girl and her future husband who would have paid the 'blood price' and also the women who performed the circumcision.
This is the third girl in our care who has been saved from early marriage, but two had already been circumsiced by their future mother in laws. Consequently, with all the last minute upheaval, the car was quickly loaded with my suitcases,- as I thought - and 11 children piled into the back of the vehicle, with the social worker and Coupa. With lots of 'goodbye's’ and blowing of kisses we left for the airport.
Unfortunately, on arrival, I find the driver had not put one of my hand-all bags which included my camera and boots etc., in the car....
Sso now I am being cosseted at my daughter's home with the central heating 'full on' and I have just heard that within the next three days, our area should experience arctic conditions!!!!! Lots of snow and ice...Will the airplane leave on time for me to catch all the connecting flights to the US on Thursday? One thing is for sure, I shall have to go and buy a pair of boots, as sandals are NOT going to be appropriate in the snow......
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We are still having small Christmas parcels arriving for some sponsored children, and last week our bank received two cheques which had been posted June '09. Of-course they are now way out of date, so we shall have to return to sender.
The children are doing well and now the majority of them are back in school, with sincere appreciation to a very dear volunteer from America. The students at boarding school return home for Easter on Friday, and as I start to travel on Saturday 27th, I decided to go see everyone before I left.
I still am in awe at how these children have grown in stature and confidence and I am so sure the 'no beating policy' at Mount Kilimanjaro school has helped in giving confidence with respect.... My oldest girl, asked me if I would buy the girls at the hostel an electric iron. "What on earth do you want an electric one for”, I said jokingly, when you know the Tanzania one is very heavy and you have to put charcoal in to get it hot. "We don't have any charcoal here", was the quick reply. “Well, what about you girls collecting lots of little pieces of wood like the size of matchsticks and making a little fire in the iron?” The thought of this brought on lots of giggles and the quick response again was: “Look, our mum is a wazungu (white person), what else would you expect her children to want but an electric iron!!!”. That was the end of that debate, Mama Shazma bought the girls an electric iron on Monday...”They beat me, ironing, hands down now, and I love it!!”.
My trip starts on Saturday with 3 days stay over in the UK, and that makes it APRIL FOOLS DAY when I journey to Iowa. Then on to Michigan, Chicago, Minnesota, Malibu and San Diego..... in what order these cities are going to be visited I am not quite sure, I am just going to 'turn up' with Marcus as my support network on this occasion.
Lee Harding, the organiser, is going to show him 'what a real farm looks like' (we now have 60 pigs and piglets from last year’s volunteers purchase of pregnant pigs) I expect it to be very exciting - albeit tiring.
And as I travel around I will try to journal on some of the things that have taken place during the trip. I have already been given 'love letters' and gifts from the children. Moses has given me a rock to take to America, and Maria has written to Dakota in Malibu....I feel so blessed that I have all these children who care about me, and can only think of my return, and of course, the many cd's I might bring back with me! and not forgetting the sweets!!
I was very touched to hear that a dear friend every day opens the site to see if I have written something on the blog.... she says in an email to me, that I don't understand; she is addicted to the children in the care of Light in Africa and has to hear all the little bits of news about them, that is just soo nice to hear.
Bless you all, and let’s hope the internet works better in America than it does in Tanzania!!!
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The month of January has been a really trying month for us with some desperate situations arising.
Over 150 children in the care of LIA all needed their school fee's to be paid, as without payment no one can attend school. We have been inundated with the community children all wanting assistance in supporting there fee's as well; last year we managed to help 400 local children gain some form of government education, but unfortunately, this year, I think it will be at least Easter before we can help that number of children.
More and more babies and children are coming into our care, as they are being abandoned and left to wander the streets.
Two weeks ago, I accepted 7 children into our care. Twins 10 month old boys and their sister, three more boys whose mother just abandoned them, and another abandoned baby which was left at a teacher's house, and the mother absconded with her older child in the
middle of the night.
But our deepest concern had been that two of our children who had gone home to relatives for the xmas period had not been returned to us on the expected date. We try very hard to keep any family 'root' system in place so the children know their tribe and their extended families, who have to sign that they will return the child on the due date. We managed to collect one child, but the other child we were extremely worried about as the mother had moved house 3 times since we had taken the child. I brought in the local leader that we work with and he and our Manager on his motorbike went off to look for the
child. They were given a lot of 'lies' and the mother was duly taken to the police station for questioning, she also kept changing the story as to where the child was....
At this point we are beginning to worry that the child has been given to the witchdoctors.
The mother was released and told she must have the child brought to LIA within the next five days or she would be questioned again. Five days go by and nothing... Pastor Frank and Gudilla are searching the area for any clues as to where the child might be. After another 5 days and no child, I spent the day in my bedroom in prayer, I could not bear to think of what could have happened. Thankfully she was found that night at midnight by a Chairman of a village with an old women. When she was sat on my knee going home in the car, she kept repeating to me, 'I want to go to my home,''I want to go to my home'. 'Where is your home?' I asked her. 'Fleeze House is my home! I want to go home to Fleeze House and my family.'
We don't know what would have happened to this child if we had not had the co-operation of the police and the local leaders, and all of our friends whom we had asked to pray for the safe return of this child.
I thank our God, and I thank you all for standing in the gap with me for the safe return of our beloved child.
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Thankfully we experienced an abundance of rain here on the plains, and it is great to pass the livestock of cows and goats and see the replenshing of meat now covering the coatrack bones. The countryside is once again green, and the maasai who are nomadic and walked there cattle 250 kilometers to the grasslands, have now returned to there families and young children. You may remember, we were called in to help feed a school with 120 children who were severely malnourished.... for all the volunteers who were engaged in seminars to the maasai you did an amazing job of encouraging the maasai to send there children to school, the teacher who had a class of 120 children, it has now risen to 180, we are looking to support the school by employing another teacher to help her, courtesy of Bernard and his friends in Leeds who have sent some funds over for us..... well done!
The message was heard loud and clear. Education, a balanced diet, and good medical care is how you will have a stong tribe for the next generation.
Like LIA farm, we too had problems with the famine last year. We lost both our maize and bean crops..... the difficulty with these rains which are arriving now, is "Are these the light rains or is this the start of the heavy winter rains?" Do we plant now and risk having no more heavy rains to swell the grain, with the hot baking sun drying up the crops, or do we wait, to see if more rains arrive? Then plant our crops..... consequently, due to crop failure, the daily commodities that we need to feed our children's centers rose drastically, and prices became heavily inflated. Unfortunately, we have no government assistance to help us through these hard times.
Already the New Year has brought into care an influx of new abandoned children Over the last 5 days we have accomodated a 10 month old abandoned boy, 3 boys whose mother has deserted them, and yesterday, a pair of 10 month old twin boys and the1r 18 month old sister.
We never refuse to take a child who is vulnerable to neglect, even though at this time of year we have very few volunteers to help us meet the continued costs of running and caring for this large amount of children. We just believe, that God will touch the hearts of his people to help us through these difficult times. This year we are seeing an extra large number of volunteers applying to come over and help us with our programs, but the majority will arrive during June through to September. Perhaps some of our blog-readers consider coming in spring or autumn?
At the end of March, Marcus and I are travelling over to the States at the kind invitation of Lee Harding and his team of volunteers. We are looking to travel at present to Ohio, Chigago, and Michigan, I believe, in what order I'm not quite sure but Lee is handling the itinerary, so anyone who would like me to come over and visit with them, please contact Lee. One of the 'fundraising' events we will be privy to see, is a 'packaging day' where volunteers will on one day, pack a huge amount of dried food which will then be sent overseas to feed the children on our outreach food kitchens. We are really looking forward to seeing this massive event with a large amount of volunteers. I'm sure Lee can give us an update on the blog at a later date as to what is involved. I'm thinking I shall put a number on some boxes and then take pictures when the boxes arrive at our centers just to show America that I have received the boxes that we saw being packed.....
As a round-up I would just like to thank sponsors who have sent small xmas gifts through the mail to the children, we are still receiving some each week, and expect to do so right upto Easter. I have Malissa here who is helping me, with the backlog of thank you letters, so please be patient with us, we are trying to get them all out to you when the parcels have arrived and the children have written there letters, with some of them now back at boarding school, it does pose a bit of a problem for us, but we will endevour to write to you to thank you for your wonderful support of our children......
Be abundantly blessed throught this New Year,
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I have now returned to Tanzania, I just managed to leave before all the snow fell and flights were canceled. When the aircraft doors opened at the Kili airport it was just like the heat of an open oven hitting you. This is the hottest time of the year here in Tanzania, so different from the dark grey skies of Europe.
I was able to attend my mother's 101st birthday party, which was very special, and then it was the Christmas ball. So much effort had gone into making it a huge success, so many thanks to Laura of Nations Together, daughter in law Lou and my son Aidrian, who put up with me at their home, Debbie, Allison, Claire and the team, and all the many supporters who had provided raffle prizes, and other gifts, Vinney was the compere for the evening and so many volunteers arrived from all over the country, (even Suzanne from Germany). It was a very special time for everyone to 'catch up'. Reece and Michael worked hard on the PowerPoint presentation on the work of Light in Africa which was very emotional.
And a 'special thanks' to our webmaster Paul, and my long-term friends, who always treat me to a carvery at a nice restaurant. Memories are made of these times together.
When I look back over the year, it always amazes me how God has moved Light in Africa up another notch. This year we have accomodated even more children, and opened another children's home and a primary school. In January 2010 another home will open in another region, all this is accomplished without any marketing of LIA. But through word of mouth. Visitors or volunteers who go away and tell family and friends about their experiences at a children's home in Tanzania. It humbles and encourages me to do much more for these desperate children and the community. Words fail me to express my sincere appreciation for the gracious gifts that 'friends of Light in Africa' provide.
Without your continued support we would find it hard to help so many children and adults with shelter, food, medical care and surgery.
So, from the children and staff, we salute you all for your great kindness to us in supporting us through another year.
Warmest wishes and heartfelt thanks,
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What a whirlwind, amazing time that I have recently enjoyed. My feet have hardly had time to hit the airport tarmac before I have had to dash of to train and bus stations, our Light in Africa volunteers in Germany and Holland and Scotland and the Uk have arranged for me to meet some amazing new people who have asked to meet with me. I have already met with over 1000 school children and students and I have still some more schools to visit. It has been a wonderful time, and I wish to thank all those very kind people who have hosted me at their homes and given me a 'true' taste of the many delicacies of there countries. My taste buds are 'droooling' just thinking of all those delights.
I have already visited Sheffield and Newcastle Universities where I was able to meet with some of our past volunteers and to meet new ones intending to volunteer in 2010..... I am amazed at what some of our volunteers get upto in there attempts to raise funds which they will spend on children and the community when they arrive in Tanzania.
Just to give you an idea.....Some guys from Sheffield are cycling from John.o.Groats to Landsend, (approx. 1000 miles) Sky dives, Absails from bridges, Walking through hot coals, silent auctions, Jarrord my grandson, (12yrs) is going to attempt to break his record of 170 dives in 1 hour, amazing, Mary & Brian have just registered for their marathon swims, holistic week-ends, besides the many coffee mornings and pampering days that occur each month. It truly is awesome what our committee members and volunteers will do to help the orphans of Tanzania.
Tomorrow I'm off again, this time to the Dorset area, and Southhampton, so will catch up with you again later.
Spotted this quote on a Buds to Bloom calendar.
A FRIEND IS SOMEONE WHO KNOWS THE SONG IN YOUR HEART, AND SINGS IT BACK TO YOU WHEN YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN THE WORDS.
Thank you to all my dear friends who keep encouraging me when things get a little 'scary'.
NOTE: we are participating in the BBC MyStory competition. Click Here to visit the site and if you like it, you can even vote.
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This year Mary was joined by her husband Brian, who last year was too sick to compete. It is a joy to see you both looking stunning in your wet suits! Mary & Brian raised 500 pounds from there swim.
Bless You Both For Your Exhausting Endeavours.
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And we all know the story: many lives, those of beneficiaries as well as volunteers and sponsors, changed thanks to her conviction and energy.
Please join me in congratulation mama Lynn with all achievements and remember her in your thoughts.
My thoughts are with those in need and I am grateful to be part of the wonderful LiA world to continue to make a difference.
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