This is what I'm calling Chapter 2 and I still love the title because before 2009 there was so much our eyes were NOT open to, but now let's talk about WHAT WE'VE SEEN! God has taken us places we never wanted to go, but would go back again. Whatever it is, I desire to be authentic and transparent so that my readers really do know that NOW WE SEE!
~The Pyle Family
We just had a team return to the States yesterday from a visit to Sierra Leone and as I read their posts and look at their pictures I know what a terribly hard time they are having adjusting back into their lives. This team in particular had some rough situations to deal with from missing 3 days on ground due to an airline mess up to the roads being flooded out causing them to miss the beloved beach day with the kids, but even more troubling was the little baby that stole their heart at the children's hospital. TRS was trying so hard to get this little 5 pound 2-month-old named Allie to our center, but they got the news that she passed away just hours after they left the last day. My heart is broken for them and to add that news to the already difficult transition is horrible. I truly pray that the Lord's peace will be with them as they process this trip. I want to leave everyone with the feelings I was able to capture on paper when I returned from Sierra Leone just a few short weeks ago. Maybe someone will be able to relate...
It doesn’t take long after the chaos from the FreetownAirport settles for that lump in my chest to slowly move to my throat.Just 15 minutes ago my mind was racing with standing in long lines wondering if I can get my bags on the belt back to the United States…and oh where did I pack my bug repellant because it is not even air conditioned in here as we wait for the man to process all 14 pass ports…and really who knows if I even took my Malaria pills anyway?I say all of that because there is a mosquito and that bite on my leg might the one thing that triggers this flood gate of emotion I have been holding since I left the center.NOPE, I keep holding because I have time to run upstairs and grab one last glass bottle of Fanta before our plane leaves.Now, I am sitting on the plane and it is really happening.I am leaving Africa.I begin to panic as I realize all of the anticipation of this trip from planning, to fundraising, to being here is over.I miss my family, but where do I put the new emotion of overwhelming love for this country and the people who reside in it?I did not know that part of my heart existed.I don’t want to leave and in the same breath I’m so sorry for saying that out loud that my children or husband may think I don’t want to see them.As I look out the window I see the last glimpse of tin houses with dirt floors and realize that their life will continue with or without me here, but the children…how God can I leave the children that you placed right in the middle ofmy heart?They know that I left because the demonstration of sadness and grief was evident, but do they know I’m coming back?Am I coming back?God, you brought me here.What are you going to do with me now?Do the children know that my heart aches too?Do they know that my tears are not just for them and their pain but for mine, too?Do they realize the impact they have had on me?What will I do without them?Who will greet me with a parade of smiles upon my return?God’s grace is always sufficient because of course I had several beautiful smiling faces very ready to see me once I got on American soil.I am now faced with the balance of pre-Africa and post-Africa.This will not be easy as I recall my first experience of opening my bags at my house to unload the gifts I purchased from all of my “friends” at the Freetown market and I was knocked down by the wave of “the scent of Africa”.I find myself nestling my nose into the suitcase just trying to place myself back in time to two days ago.Do I really think I will forget everything I just felt or saw last week?I feel so desperate to reconnect.I can only wonder what the kids at the center are doing now.I guess they have figured out by now that we really have gone.I wonder if they still sing and dance when we are not there to record and take pictures of their every move.Ah yes, that is what I will do is watch my videos and pictures for the 83rd time today.I wonder who has posted something on their blog, maybe something I have forgotten about.Okay, that is it!I haven’t scheduled this break down, but here it comes.The tears start to roll down my face and I silently whisper “I just miss them” and before long I locked my door because no one will understand, especially my kids, but I am in a full blown sob.I would love to talk to someone about this, but I don’t have an answer to the question “well don’t you feel like you did a wonderful thing while you were there?” and I definitely cannot respond to “you really need to pull yourself together because this can’t be healthy.”Don’t you think I know that?Healthy is not how I feel.I feel very unhealthy.So unhealthy that I cannot process the very simple things of my pre-Africa life like enjoying my son’s baseball games, going to the grocery store, and just forget planning that birthday party that is supposed to take place next week.How is any of this relevant when I just spent quality time caring for the mothers of starving babies and holding children who do not have a mommy or daddy.Children who just want you to touch them.Children who don’t even complain when they are sick or scared because they don’t have anyone to complain to.Ifa human ever wants to know their purpose in life it only takes one day in Africa to know you can make a difference for someone.Please don’t misunderstand, my pre-Africa life is important, but it lacks substance and I just found my platform.I did that.I made a difference in someone’s life last week, but what about this week?I know I am making a difference in the lives of my children, but now I know that they too can make a difference for someone else.Although it will take time I have to try and figure out a way to express this that is within me because on top of everything else, I feel extreme responsibility to share what I saw.These kids at the very least deserve that.They might be considered forgotten by most of the world but not by me.How could I forget all of the naked or ½ naked bodies that so quietly yearn for someone to just notice them.Then there are those brave soles who speak out and make the request for help as their handicapped mother urges them forward.The image of the children who run behind the car with the sucker stick hanging out of their mouth wondering if I will return or forget them is forever etched in my mind.The mother who won’t give her listless child water, not because she doesn’t care or that she is inhumane, but because she realizes that each drink only prolongs the suffering of the child she cannot save.A place where there is so much sufferingand so much sadness…why do I love it so much?It because of what the people have taught me.I go there to share my resources and to be the hands and feet of God, but these people have shared with me a hope that could have or maybe should have been gone a long time ago.When I recall the people I have met Quami, Osseh, Foday, Daniel and all of the other staff members.I see a hope and a love for God that is immeasurable.I watched women doing laundry for 80 children by hand with a smile on their faces.These people work 6 long days a week and are nothing but grateful for what the Lord provides.All of these memories factor into the daze I find myself in, but none like the overflowing emotion that comes when I remember the faces of those children I have developed a deep connection with.These children who are in the process of developing that same inner strength that comes with living and enduring the conditions of Sierra Leone are beginning to understand that hope comes from God, but for 1 week they saw that hope of God in me.They received my love openly and returned theirs to me.The truth is they have become a part of me and the depth of this connection cannot be described only felt.That is why it is so hard to talk about, but I will find a way because I know that once God starts and stirs something within his people He is faithful to complete it.Until then I will stand faithful in knowing that I did leave Africa, but it did not leave me.
Well what else would be on my mind today, but "next step, Freetown". I am convinced that the only way to recover from the pain of leaving the children I love so much in the orphanage so many miles away from me is to plan my next trip. I am so blessed to be part of a team of people (The Raining Season) who not only feel my hurts with me, but support me in my times of stress, sorrow, happiness, and excitement! We will be heading back to Sierra Leone the first week of September and I have been asked to lead a medical/educational team to continue God's amazing work there. Please join us as we pray that God will put together the EXACT team He wants there. I believe we are all called to save the orphan and I know that God is speaking to hearts right now, so I just pray that those in which he calls will actually answer with that same simple "yes" that changed my life FOREVER. If you are being called, I cannot wait to hear from you. I got great news today that a very dear friend of mine is joining this journey with me on our next trip. I am so excited to see what God is going to do next.
I had the opportunity to speak to our church today about our trip and what I realized is that I think I could speak from my heart about Africa for hours. I didn't, but I could have. I was thinking back to just a few short weeks ago on a Sunday when I watched these precious children having church within the orphanage. I watched them enter into the presence of God and I was so blessed. I want to share with you some video from that Sunday morning, because I cannot possible describe such a sweet moment the way you can experience it with your own eyes.
This is Sam reading Bible passages.
This is Fallah giving his testimony.
This is Betty giving her testimony.
Isn't it interesting how the spirit of God can cover the language differences. In case you were wondering, nope I could not understand their words either, but I fully understood their heart and felt the power of God working through them. I feel so blessed that God chose me to be a part of the lives of these amazing children. Sometimes I wonder who is truly being more richly blessed because in spite of what life throws at me I know that God is moving and doing great things...I see it in my six children. Lastly, I want to share two moments, one of the praise and worship and one of the children praying. I loved hearing their voices lifted up to God and praising Him. I will forever remember that Sunday morning.
I would like to dedicate this post to Kroo Bay, a place that I have visited before, but reveals a new depth of compassion each time it is seen. Jordan's class donated soccer balls to be passed out at Kroo Bay and Malachi was allowed to participate in that event. It was initiated by a welcome ceremony from leaders of the community and a statement provided by TRS. This is the beginning of a great relationship between Kroo Bay and TRS as the people and this area continue to capture our hearts.
I want to encourage any of you who just happen upon my blog or who are followers of my blog to really allow yourselves to "feel" and be stirred. I believe God is opening the eyes of many (who allow it) to the orphan crisis and once your eyes are opened you will never be the same. I stand in amazement of the number of people who have allowed our journey to have a forever impact on their lives. I would like to share with you an email I got from a friend of ours regarding their 10-year-old son:
Found this in Jackson's backpack as I was unloading it today, and I quote:
My Lucky Charm
"My lucky charm is my boy in Africa. He is my lucky charm because he is really important to me. He is my lucky charm because he is special and makes me feel good inside. He is my favorite person in the world. His name is Sulaiman!!"
Thank you for making us look beyond our own little corner of the world. You have blessed us in a special way!
Love and prayers,
Once again thank you for allowing me to share my heart and my journey with each of you!