Thursday, August 25, 2011

Invited in - to an African home.

In Africa for a few days, I stopped by the neighborhood just down the street from where I work to drop off some photographs from the year before.

I was welcomed warmly as always, and kids dragged me off to their house to take pictures there.  It's a very nice house and fairly new in the neighborhood.  The family is doing well financially.

(click on the photos for a larger view)

The youngsters (above) wait on the porch; the older girls (left) wait on the stairs for a photo before escorting me in.  They've been in dozens of photos over the years.

Inside the home (right), simple construction is visible.  Folks may have some help when building their house, but most of the work is done by family members (meaning the men, of course.)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Kids squeal and wiggle ...

Kids squeal and wiggle when you try to poke them in the neck. After awhile, they run off, and you can return to your adult conversation. Did I mention how much fun it is to hang out with friends?

The joy of friendship far exceeds any happiness wealth might offer.

Lunch with the family in Africa that adopted me usually turns into some sort of a kid-free-for-all.  So we sit and talk and eat and laugh and play with the kids and ignore the go-back-to-work stuff that will come soon enough.

Here at home too, the best of it all, perhaps, is being with family and friends.  Sit and talk and eat and laugh and play with the kids.  It puts the 'go back to work' part in perspective.  Work is just work, pretty much, but love and joy seem to lean more in favor of family and friends and playing with the kids.  If our Father were to encourage us along that line, it would probably include his enjoyment of time with us in the same sort of way.  Family, after all, is family; we've been adopted by one who loves so magnificently; that's probably where we learn how.

A fellow much younger than I was describing for me his personal pilgrimage over lunch yesterday. Having been raised in a healthy family, relationships were in good shape as he entered adulthood.  Raised in traditional American church ways, he had a reasonable load of baggage, as many of us do, regarding what that was all about.  With 'us and them' thinking and the rules that gave it all structure, it was a beginning. Out in the world as an adult though, he had to discover for himself what the Father's interest in all these 'other' folks might be.

His conclusion was a single word.   Compassion.

The way he sees it, if a heart of compassion underlies the choices he makes in life, he's probably on an OK path and has a surprising amount of latitude in where he might apply his efforts.

With carrots for microphones, kids sing with the TV.
Momentarily standing still, little imp is a 
delightful child and a joy to the rest of us.
It's not about being nice, we agreed, but about sharing our Father's heart for others.  Lend a hand, offer friendship, do well, live out what fits the love motive. Love God, love your neighbor like you do yourself.  Pretty simple, and certainly a more than adequate foundation.

(All the photos are from an afternoon's lunch with dear friends in a tiny African country.  Not wealthy, perhaps, but rich in so many ways.)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Volunteers that understand ...

Volunteering abroad effectively is harder than it looks.  Figuring out where you can actually do some good isn't particularly easy unless perhaps you have skills that match the need. 

Here's a bunch of folks that hit the target.

Organized by Meninos do Mundo, this group of talented and good-hearted folks from the professional world ran off to Africa to serve.  They're Portuguese, so they speak the language of their friends in the little country of Sao Tome & Principe.  Plus, they're willing to work pretty much non-stop for the duration of the visit.

Here's the report (in Portuguese) with photos from the work.

From the report (translated):