Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Orphanage needs urgent help

Please check out my blog about the House of Hope and spread the word about this urgent financial need. We have an opportunity to provide these orphans with a home of their own! Thanks for praying and a big THANK YOU to all who have already given. Help me continue on to see the project to its glorious conclusion!

Abstinence is the only road to freedom

On Africa trip, Pope says condoms won't solve AIDS

I noticed this article amongst the headlines because I was just talking about this very topic at lunch today. Based on what I've seen in Congo-Brazzaville, condoms absolutely cannot stop the spread of AIDS (in my humble opinion). Sexual activity begins in jr high school and continues with infidelity in marriage. Statistically it just seems impossible that the spread of an STD can be stopped when everyone is having sex with multiple partners...even if they're using condoms.

I talk about abstinence as much as I can and encourage the young people in my youth group to believe it's possible to wait for the one life partner destined for them. But it's a tough battle. Many people do not believe that abstinence is even possible. It is said that one's organs will not function properly if they are not used. The sad thing is that this is a lie that is the exact opposite from the truth--Abstinence is what promotes sexual health. Condoms are hardly needed for birth control because STDs and venereal diseases are so rampant that fertility is hard to come by.

I don't believe we can fight this war against AIDS through science and teaching people proper techniques. This is a social and spiritual battle. The beauty and holiness of a man and woman coming together needs to be reclaimed and cherished and prized. The married couple is the building block of society and when those blocks are in shambles there's nothing to build with and no shelter for people to live in. Exposed to the elements there's no telling what may befall them. That's what I see when I think of the AIDS epidemic. Societies that have fallen apart. Rather than helping them rebuild, we're just handing out helmets hoping they'll dodge the bullets amongst the wreckage.

I know that not every situation is the same, and there are different ways of spreading AIDS, but if the majority of people in a given society would be abstinent outside of marriage and faithful inside it, they would save their own lives and the lives of many others around them and we'd get control over this terrible monster ravaging the continent. That may not be popular opinion, but to me it just seems common sense. And it would solve so many other major problems along with it--unwanted children and teen pregnancies, infertility due to sexual activity, jealousy and lack of trust in marriage. This is a lofty goal, much more difficult than handing out little plastic wrappers, but in the end it's the only choice that produces real results and happiness and stability.

Monday, March 16, 2009

You know you're from Africa when...

Apparently there’s a Facebook group called “I’d Rather Be in Africa.” I don’t have to join such a group because I still live in Africa and can simply enjoy being in my country of origin for a while without too much pining away. But they’ve got one of those “You know you’re from Africa when…” kind of lists and I thought I would comment on a few of the items (there were like 100 things on the list, so I’ll spare you the details; sorry it's still a bit long).

You know you're from Africa when...'re appalled that American grocery stores only sell one or two different types of bananas.
Um, I’m not so bothered by the lack of variety so much as how big and too perfect they are. They look like they’re grown inside, not on trees. The taste leaves a little to be desired as well. One funny thing about bananas in Congo is they’re a little smaller than ours and you’re expected to eat more than one. I don’t know, bananas always seemed like a one per serving kind of fruit to me.

...your parents yell at you for forgetting to use silverware in public.
Well, that hasn’t happened yet, but I have caught myself using my hands a lot. I’ll pick my food up with a piece of bread rather than use a fork :o) find all the non-white people on campus so you can be a minority again.There is indeed something unique about getting used to being the minority and I definitely zone in on the black people around. outs are nothing new to you.

It’s funny when you get used to blackouts and suddenly you find yourself sitting in the dark and everyone just carries on with the conversation/choir rehearsal/whatever you happened to be doing. I was wondering where I was when we lost power a couple of times during the snowstorms at my sister’s house. Thought I’d left that in Congo! running water for a day is just another ordinary thing
Unfortunately, yes. If it goes longer than a week it gets a little rough and we all lament the loss of the use of the washing machine.

...The smell of freshly rained on mud paths/tarmac is comforting.
This has always been true…I’m from Oregon.

...being an hour late equals being "on time"
Duh! 7 is 7 until 7:59!

...Cramming 7 passengers in a 4 passenger taxi is really not a big deal.
Certainly not. know never to question what you're eating (even if it does taste good), cuz sometimes you just don't want to know.
My teammates always said this, but I’m not a believer. Hence, they both ended up with monkey on their plates before they knew what it was!! invite people for a get together at 7 and they all come at 9.
I don’t know why this still catches me off guard. I mean, 30 minutes I can understand, but 2 hours late? Seriously? Sometimes it’s been very beneficial when the meal wasn’t quite ready yet! keep converting the value of things in your home currency when u see the dollar value.
How else would I know if it’s a good deal or not? :o)

... you have another name in your home language.
Yep. Mikembi.

...someone is riding their bike down the road with corrugated iron strapped width wise across the back of the bike and its taking up more than half of the road.
And this would be Mike, our construction guy. He’s American but he loved pulling this kind of stunt.'ve been proposed to while walking down the street
Just take it as a compliment

...You unwrap all your gifts carefully, so that you can reuse the wrapper.
I’ve always been like that, nothing new.

...Nobody in your family informs you that they are coming over for a visit.
If you love each other why should you need an invitation? It still usually annoys me. I have a lot to learn.

...You only make telephone calls at a cheaper rate at night
Is this why people call at midnight and 6am? It’s apparently not rude to wake someone up with a phone call (or by any other means), but that doesn’t really make me like it any better! learn the native words for "white person" everywhere you go, because you hear it shouted everywhere you go.
Sure ‘nuf. I swear children learn to yell “mondele” as one of their first words.

...something that would normally take half an hour in the Western world takes a few days or weeks...and if it didn't it just wouldn't be fun.
I don’t know about the fun part, but things do take a lot longer. Going to the PO feels like a major accomplishment and doing the grocery shopping truly is! find it completely natural to have burglar-bars outside your windows
Naturally. And a wall. And a guard. can smell the rain before it comes
I’m not sure about smelling it, but you can certainly tell it’s going to rain. It gets dark all of a sudden and the wind picks up. The darker and the windier, the harder the rain will be. Oh, and you can hear the thunder in the distance. can look up at the sky and see every star clearly
And here we see what? The moon and venus…

...the sunset is something to look forward to
In the village, yes! I always felt exhausted from the heat and cultural exertion and knew I could hide away in the dark. Going to bed at 8pm is quite easy there! miss the sound of rain on your tin roof at night, the after-rain smell, and the spectacular lightning shows.
Ah yes, the lightening shows! Love it. I like the thunder too that makes me jump out of my skin. always drink your drink straight away in front of the shop, and give them the bottle back.
Of course. Although the store on our street knows us well and we can take bottles cos they know we’ll bring them back.

...instead of being greeted with "good morning", you're greeted with "Are you awake?"
It’s always strange no matter how many times. The bad part is when they say it while you’re still trying to sleep!

...the rain back "home" feels cold.
I’m FREEZING right now as a matter of fact. learn quickly that pedestrians DO NOT have the right-of-way
The thing that ticks me off is when they speed up and honk, scaring the pants off me, rather than slowing however slightly my crossing the street might have necessitated. prefer music that's slightly out of tune
And distorted

...b.o. is a comforting smell
Strangely true. But there’s definitely a limit. Some b.o., yes; unwashed clothes, no. reuse plastic throwaways
We re-use our zip-locks again and again…and then realize we’ve still got boxes of unused ones.

...$2 is too much for a t-shirt
My shopping mantra: “It’s not close enough to free to tempt me.” get culture shock in a grocery store, when you see the shelves completely stocked with 15 different kinds of whatever!
Menus do it to me too

...When there's no electricity, you're in bed by dark and up at sunrise.
By dark? Not exactly, since on the equator it’s dark by 7pm. But when there’s no power there’s only so long you can read by lamplight. dreaming of a red/orange/green Christmas instead of a white one
This year was my first Christmas home in 3 years. It was fun to be with family, but we got this out of character for Oregon snowstorm and had to delay the events. We won’t be dreaming of a white Christmas for quite some time!