Sunday, July 26, 2009

familiar things

It's Sunday afternoon and I'm taking some much needed down time. Steve and the kids are at the orphanage for some play time with the children and I'm working on finalizing the newsletter that really should have been sent out on Friday but this afternoon I find I am craving something familiar.
We've been in Africa for just over 10 weeks and today for the first time since arriving I made it to church. The words were very hard to understand but I was able to grab a few Swahili words here and there. The energy was awesome, the heat was as well. We went to lunch with some the members of the Calgary team and then Steve dropped me at home. I sat on the sofa and took a few moments to rest and then the work began. I can't work without music so I reached for the computer to start a playlist of music we brought from home. Deeper was the first song that I just had to listen to. Then came I Will Search, From the Inside Out, We Have Overcome etc. Then thought came to mind, "What is it that I am missing so much. Why am I still having such a hard time adjusting after 10 weeks. Why are the tears still coming so often?" It hit me that the familiarity of home is lost to me. I need it so much. The music that I sang each Sunday was only a click away. We had brought the songs with us. So I sat back and began to worship. I'm sure the neighbours thought I was nuts but I really needed it. Then my brain began to work even more. Since I have to stay wiht the children at the orphanage nearly every Sunday and miss the services, why not pull up one of Pastor Mark's sermons? So I went online and downloaded July 19th sermon. It was so simple.
I'm not sure why I hadn't thought of it before but in a moment of quiet it hit me and I'm happy it did.
So as I sit and write I'm listening to the familiar tunes from Canada, some we sang often on worship team, some we listened to at home. Later when the rest of the family comes home we'll gather round the computer and listen to that familiar and wonderful voice of our favourite lead pastor as he teaches and preaches from the Word. Now if I could just get Paulo to record the worship portion of our Sunday morning services I'd feel right at home. Until that time I'll have to be content with the MP3's we have and pray that they'll be enough to keep my mind focused on the good things God has in store.
All I can say is Thank You Lord for technology because I really need familiar things!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

7 weeks in

Well we've been on the continent for seven weeks today. It's been busy and challenging but I can finally say that we feel like we're getting the hang of things at last. Two battles with sickness, and many battles with language barriers, and a few dancing episodes with a group of safari ants and we're still alive to tell about it.
We've certainly learned much over these past number of weeks. We've learned that we love our country more than we ever thought possible, we love our family more and more every day and we have learned that God is truly in our corner when it feels as though no one else is.
The children here have already begun to take a very deep root into our hearts much like the trees we have begun to uproot this week in preparation the fence that a work team is coming to build. The trees were only planted a few years ago but they already are at least 15 feet tall with some roots that are 2 feet in diameter. These children have a way of growing on you as quickly. They are amazing and challenging all at the same time. I can not think of another time in my life when I have ever seen so many beautiful faces in one place. The eyes of these children are something else, they shine with hope and each child runs to us as though they've known us a lifetime already. They are truly precious and they make it worth going into to work each day, even through the malaria.

We are so thankful that we have family and friends at home who surround us in prayer because without it we would certainly fail here. It would be impossible to go to work each day and face the challenges of nurturing nearly 120 children if it were not for those at home who support us. Thanks to all of you who continue to follow our journey.

We'll be more diligent now that the other couple has returned and will help take some of the load off our shoulders. Hats off to them for all their hard work over the past number of years. We are in awe of all they have done.

Keep watching. We'll update more often with stories and pictures. Thanks for following our journey.
The Conrads in Africa

Sunday, April 12, 2009

And the tears begin

Well just when I thought it was safe, the tears have begun to fall. It happened rather suddenly while I was dusting off an item of furniture that is making its way to another house. I'm not attached to the furniture but rather to the memories that surround the furniture. I'll miss the times we've crammed the extra stuffing on it when there just wasn't enough room at the table already full of family and friends. I'll miss the time we knocked over the pop just sitting on the edge while one of us reached for that card in a cut-throat game of 'pit'. I'll miss dusting off the good glasses when we celebrated the engagements of our daughters and new in-laws visited around our table. It's those things I'll miss about the furniture as it leaves.
As we made our way around our house and I tagged the things that we would place in storage I thought I wasn't really attached to anything and I still feel that way, but it doesn't stop the tears from flowing as I think of all those times we've shared with family and friends around those dented and scratched up pieces of IKEA finds that we've collected over time.
And even though it's only a year it's still hard to think of the little things that will change while we're gone. Things like little Liam sitting on Poppy's lap, stuffing his little face with turkey, carrots and a huge roll while laughing at all of us for making faces at him. Things like the games of Spoons or Pit or Settlers that won't happen with 8 0r 10 of us at a time for an entire year. Things like the 'insider jokes' that only the family can talk about. No it's not the furniture that makes me cry, it's the family that surrounds it that causes the tears to flow. It's the friends that we will not see over the next year that cause me to miss those silly pieces of wood and glue.

As the house empties, my heart aches a little more each day. The reality of what is ahead is looming in my mind and even though I know we are meant to go, it does not lessen the pain that a mother goes through when she leaves some of her kids behind.

Furniture and houses mean nothing. The emptiness of the heart is what causes pain. God blessed us with a house full of children and a heart full of memories that will sustain me over this next year. I am thankful that we share a bond with our children that I know many would love to have. We are truly blessed. It is that bond, those memories that will give me strength, that will see me through the tears as I continue to see the empty rooms, the cartons in the corners and the walls bare. Still I covet the prayers of those who read this blog. Prayer will see us through. God has called us, He will be our strength! Pray for our family while we are gone. It is a journey that is both exciting and sad but it will be one that we will never forget and our family will be stronger for it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

renewed faith

It's been a rough couple of days faith wise. Years ago my father in law told me that I possess a great spirit of discernment and for the most part I've believed it. These past few days however I've begun to question that. Over the past few months there have been a number of things happen that many would say have been attacks on our family. Though they may seem insignificant to many add them all up and they amount to some rather large things. There are days when I seriously sit down and think, "What am I Job?". Of course as soon as I utter those words, along comes a sermon that speaks to me and puts me in my place. Still it's hard in the flesh to understand why things happen.
Either we are not meant to go and God is closing doors or as my rather wise 14 year old eloquently puts it "Satan must be terrified of what we're meant to do over there." She often puts things into perspective when I'm at my lowest.
So after a few days of 'feeling sorry for myself' and a day in bed thanks to a nasty flu virus I've had some great times of prayer. Now I'm not saying that the answer has come to me in a wonderful dream or a revelation of sorts but slowly I'm beginning to see that God has orchestrated this trip and it's all in His timing. Money will come in, work Visa's will come through and all the odds and ends will be tied up when they need to be. If it is indeed His plan (and we do feel it is) then it will be in His timing and no matter what we do as humans we cannot fight it or change it. It is definitely a faith journey and I'm glad you've decided to join me on it.

Friday, March 27, 2009

So the blogging begins. You'll have to be patient with me as I'm so new to this thing.
I've promised my friends that I would start a blog and here it is. I'm sure we'll start a new one once we've actually arrived on the continent of Africa but for those of you who are around the country or around the world and would like to keep updated on our happenings, this is a start.

I'm terrified to say the least but I know God has called us to Tanzania and for that reason we are going. It will be an experience that I'm sure we will never forget and one that has already begun the testing of my faith in so many ways.

Already I've made new friends that had I not begun this journey I would not have encountered and you all know who you are. You are a blessing to me. Thank you.

I covet the prayers of everyone and for those of you who have known me for many years you will know that by nature I worry about everything, especially the finances. Perhaps it is the fact that I am a mother of five and for many years a stay at home mom so one salary has been a way of life. Now that one salary will become much smaller and yet as I read books in preparation that much smaller amount is still much larger than most of the world and for that I am very, very thankful.

Part of me wonders how I will manage the small things like the heat (I don't like it at all and I'm heading to a city that is quite close to the equator) and the cockroaches and the change of pace. Part of me feels badly that I even worry about these things but I know too that God cares about those things if I care about them so He will help me find the peace that I long for. I know this because if he cares for the sparrow, he cares for the small things about me as well. How cool is that?

Some days I worry that I am not equipped to do this at all. I am not formally trained as a minister but I have a wonderful mentor and friend who reminds me often that I have life experience and that matters. She is wonderful at boosting my confidence when I begin to feel as though the task may be too much. Thanks PS.

I hope that this blog will help my friends see a bit into the everyday things that go through my mind as I prepare for this journey. I hope it will help you all understand the things that I need prayer for as I go. I know that without prayer I can't do this and so this blog is mostly about that.

It will get better as I learn the whole blog language thing. I still can't figure out the whole facebook thing so please excuse any mistakes that occur and keep looking.