We are home…Update #9

Feb. 20, 2008
Dear Family, Friends and TATENDA International Supporters,

We have now been home a bit over a week and are still adjusting to all that we are seeing and doing. Nicki has moved on to her Spirituality work here in the States and I have begun a full time position with a group home for adolecent males that I have previously worked with.
                                                                                                                                   
Both of us feel grateful for what we do both here and abroad.

As for me I am filled with a gratitude differently than before I left. Though I was walking a journey of faith, love and hope..I was not able to see in gratitude all that I have around me. I was not necessarily able to “accept the good”. My old business is now finally gone, I am making daily financial adjustments and yet because of what we were able to witness and experience in Africa; I am able to see it all as accepting the good. I watched a movie on the plane home and this line of accepting good came on. I have adopted it as a way of looking at the life that I live. I am blessed beyond measure in relationships, talents and mini treasures.

I have a faith community here in the United States that is both supportive and challenging. I have work that provides me with more than a few pennies a day.(Okay so it is in the human services field so it might be considered quarters..and still it is not an oppressive amount meant to get me to be submissive to a government).

I have gotten once again to see just how truly Big this world of ours is and apply that largeness to the narrowness in which I can sometimes think. Accepting the good is LARGE. It allows me to know that what I saw and felt in Africa is good. In spite of the hardships and limitations these people feel, THEY, the people are able to see some good and to express it and share it. They have hardly a thing to share and yet they share. They do this willingly as a part of a culture. They want people to participate in what abundance they do have.

These same people are not unaware of their own hardships. It does not escape them. They are not uneducated. The world can be proud of its effect on these nations beliefs about education. They KNOW it is important and are aware through the use of modern day inventions like TV and newspapers just what lies beyond their borders. They know when the electricity mysteriously turns off every night (Except during African world cup series plays) around dinner preparation time, that someone, somewhere has an agenda that does not meet their own. They know that it could be easier for them. They get angry and sad and then they get larger again and in a moment shift gears to be able to share. The lesson is not missed by me. I know that I am looking at the best of the human spirit in these moments and the worst of human willfulness when I look at what is taken away from them.

Mine though, is not to judge this. To be aware of it yes, to bring a smile with me when possible yes, to learn from them while we give to them, this is my responsibility. I watched Nicki give her retreats. Once again watched as faces and hearts opened. Watched as they heard the message of TATENDA International..”Giving to the caregivers of the world’. Watched as it slowly entered their minds that perhaps, possibly somebody out there in the vast world might be noticing what their journeys are about. It is not easy for a caregiver to always receive and accept care themselves. This is something I truly believe. God sent Nicki, though, and her ability to whisper his love (As to Elijah) and his message to them in a soft manner, in an educated manner, in a way that understands the psychology of the path of relief workers and they had to start accepting the good that was being offered just for them. Amazing.

One thing we did not share with all of you was that I got an opportunity as well on this trip to try and share some learned knowledge. I gave two motivational speeches to upper level highschoolers. They too are effected by these times. Some of our hosts are caregivers that run this school, so we offered TATENDA services to them as well. I spoke on the HOW of making good decisions for themselves in this time when teachers, doctors and other professionals abandon ship and move to other countries. HOW do they find THEIR right answers whatever they might be. HOW do they hold onto their future wherever that might be? They did role plays for what they currently see and where they see things moving toward. It was interesting and enlightening I think for the both of us. Nicki also spoke with them and they listened. We will be hoping to add this into our future trips.

We come back owing money for this trip. Nicki was kind enough to back this journey when we did not raise enough money and we will need to take care of her fees as well as future fees. We have several of you that are stepping up to help with ideas and implementations of fundraising. We are heartened by all who give here their genuine support of themselves in many different ways, shapes and forms that we might be able to bring this important message of Thank you and Care to those that give so much of themselves out in this world. We believe that it is all of us taking the message to them. It is a GOOD thing. We are all accepting the good and passing it along. Much better than looking at what we don’t have.

Nicki’s note is to follow.

In GREATEST OF GRATITUDE and love,

Karen

Dear Loved Ones-

Yes, as Karen says, it was a wondrous trip, surrounded by gratefulness and now bathed in a humility that can only come because we realize how small we are…. but how big a gift we can give. Thank you for your support of us as we trekked through Zimbabwe, Kenya, and back through France. Our friends in France welcomed us and treated us to wonderful walks in the rain and quiet conversation about all that we had seen. We were so grateful for that gentle transition, good food, water, shelter, friendship.

There is so much more to say but the words seem inadequate. We are both in a bit of a cocoon right now, measuring out how much stimuli we can handle. So we are going slowly back into the whirl of events and issues that we face here in our motherland. Poignant snapshot images accompany us… the tiny baby that wriggled it’s way across the aisle at Mass in an orphanage, lifted himself up next to the chair of a big strapping youth who was drumming away….a young man not unlike the ones Karen works with now…and the teenager paused, scooped up the little fellow and settled him on his lap to drum away with him. So moving to see a teenage boy respond so tenderly to a crawling infant unable yet to even toddle. An image of what I wish we all could and would choose to do…. pause and scoop up each other gently so we can rest on each other’s shoulders a bit when we need the support.

I loved it. I want to store so many memories and offer so many, too. My work now will take me throughout the USA and then in late March to Bolivia for volunteer time with the indigenous people for 2-3 weeks. I regard myself as profoundly blessed and privileged to do this. And I am so very grateful you all are a part of this journey of embracing the world.

Sweet peace in these Lenten days and great love to each of you,

Nicki