Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

So…I’m a Runner Now

July 15, 2011

{me in Sudan with some major cuties/ Daniel Davis Photography}

Every once in a while, I’ll have the realization that life is so incredibly boring when I make it all about myself.  Not only that…but I have about 85 years, if I’m lucky, to do something about it.  This is what brings me to being a new runner aaaaaand why I hope you’re here.  Thanks, by the way, for even checking this out.

Let me start off by saying that I am not, I repeat NOT, a runner.  At this present time, I can’t even jog 5 miles without wanting to crawl into the nearest ditch and die while begging for it to be over.  Ok, that was a little dramatic but not by much.  I’m in bad shape for a skinny 30 year old (on July 29!!) who loves cupcakes and bubble tea.  (We can talk about that later.)

About a week ago, World Vision approached our work place with a need and explained how we could join together to raise money for villages in Africa to have clean water.  Water!  The most basic thing we need to survive and there are literally thousands who die daily because they don’t have it.  Heck yes, I’ll get off of my computer and run 13.2 miles for that!  So, on December 4, I’m running a half marathon with Team World Vision to raise awareness and funding for villages in Africa so that these sweet children and their families can have clean drinking water and a chance for a better life.

{orphanage in Sudan….love}

Here’s what I love about the folks at WV!  World Vision works with communities in desperate need to help provide things like clean water, good food, education, medical care, and economic opportunity.  They truly care about changing the world and it shows.  However, we do need your help.  Yes, you knew this was coming!!!  Each person on our team has a goal to raise $1,300 by race day. S o…I’m shooting for $2,000.  Why?  Because if I raise it, that means 40 people have water for LIFE!!!!  Yes, it’s true.  $50 provides clean water for one person for the rest of their life.  That…is…awesome.

{My favorite photo I’ve ever taken….ever!!! Sudan!}

I was able to spend some time in Sudan and Uganda two years ago and I know first-hand how much this would mean to the people there.  You can read about my trip here.  Being there wrecked my heart but also made me realize how closely tied all of us really are.  In this day and age, it’s amazing that we don’t ever have to step foot in a country to help.  We can save lives by simply clicking a donate button.  They need help.  We can give it.  I’m asking you to help me. Please.  (puppy dog eyes…)

Will you make a tax-deductible donation to support my efforts?  It’s easy!  Just click here!  Together we can help change lives in Africa and in the process maybe even change ourselves.

I love you forever and ever. Thank you for being in my life.

I should go start training now,
Laura Elizabeth

{orphanage in Sudan// Daniel Davis Photography}

*smile*

November 10, 2010

Every once in a while, I peek back into my photograph folders and look for certain memories that will instantly make me smile.  Today these photos are doing the trick:

{children of Sudan, one of the best moments of my life – Daniel Davis Photography}

{orphanage in Sudan – Daniel Davis Photography}

{Oregon coast – my camera}

{Oregon coast and the recorded near loss of a cell phone – my camera}

{Hey Cupcake in Austin, TX – my camera}

{Guatemalan orphanage – my camera}

{Guatemalan orphanage – my camera}

Awww….I love it.  Headed out to Greensboro, NC this weekend for another trip!! Hooray!! I’ve gotta go now and work on a guest post for a fellow blogger.  I could get used to writing those! They’re fun!  Adios.

Sadness Makes My Eyes Hurt

June 4, 2010


Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

A part of my world crumbled yesterday while I was at work.  I received an email from Matt (the Missions Pastor at my church) explaining John, a child from the orphanage I visited last year in Sudan, had passed away.   

When he was younger, John tragically lost his legs and part of his upper lip in a landmine accident.  Because of the accident, his parents disowned and rejected him.  One of our church members who works with the orphanage described John in a blog post written shortly after his death-
John was the top academic in his class and always talked about the goodness of God. He is now seeing Him face to face.

I remember that John still had one leg while we were in Sudan.  He also smiled, played, and interacted with the other children as well as with some of us. 

(photo by Daniel Davis)

Honestly, I spent little to no time with John while in Sudan.  However, hearing about his death brought tears that wouldn’t stop.  He suffered a great amount during his short life – a tragic accident leaving him disfigured and unwanted by his family, moved into an orphanage too familiar with death and loss, then to have passed so young.  Not only is his death an extremely sad event, but it caused intense heartache to those remaining behind.  One thing I noticed in my short visit was how close the children were to each other.  They formed a family out of the only stability they knew….one another.  None of the orphans or the workers (many who had lost husbands in the war) are strangers to sadness and heartache.  This leaves me speechless and with an aching in my soul that I don’t know how to fix and maybe I’m not supposed to.  Despite all of this, they also express joy and true devotion to one another.  We should all hope to experience the happiness I saw in their eyes and in their dance. 

But God chose what is foolish in the world to
shame the wise; God chose what is weak in
the world to shame the strong; God chose what
is low and despised in the world, even things
that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no
human being might boast in the presence of God.
1 Corinthians 1:27-29

In my moment of sadness and confusion, the Lord gently moved as if telling me that we experience heartache we don’t understand so that we remember.  Also, I was reminded that regardless of how badly we, as people, want to fix things and make all the sadness go away, we must rely on God’s strength and power to do so. 

I’ve been surrounded by so much sadness lately.  Hearing about John pushed me over the emotional edge.  So many people in my life are walking through difficult times:

Lindsay, my sweet blog friend, recently said goodbye to her husband as he left her alone with their two children for deployment.  She won’t see him for 6 months.

(picture taken from her blog post – please read her story)

Tyler, one of my friends from work, just found out that her sister, Stevie, has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. 

(Tyler and Stevie)

In a few short weeks, my friend Alisha is moving to Guatemala for one year.  There is much to be nervous and worried about as she leaves and I know she has been in tears over hurting for this country during the past few days. 
 
In the past week, I’ve  heard from close friends who are suffering intense pains from not being able to have children and wanting to so badly, questioning their jobs, broken relationships full of unending questions….I was even deepy hurt by harsh words from one of my closest friends.  The past few weeks have been filled with sad news and broken spirits…as well as great times like painting and my lake trip tomorrow.

The one thing that keeps coming to my mind during all of this is how badly we all need each other.  Regardless of the stage of life we’re in, where we live, and what we have to offer — we need one another to make it through.  God created us this way.  He formed us to desperately desire authentic community and to need Him above all the rest. 

John’s passing won’t be remembered by many.  The death of celebrities will gain much more attention than an orphaned boy from Sudan.  But I know that his life has drastically changed mine in the past 24 hours.  Yes, we should pray for those in the midst of hardships because prayer is powerful.  But we should also remember, and tell each other’s stories, and do whatever we can to offer time, money, knowledge, and help to those around us who are hurting. 

Sometimes I try and hide behind a mask of happiness.  I feel the hurt of other people in a deep way and it cuts me to the core.  I wish I could make every trace of sadness disappear.  But there’s a reason we hurt when people around us do – it’s because we were created in the image of God and his heart is breaking along with ours. 

I wanted to tell John’s story because he deserves to be remembered.  So do the other hundreds of children still at the orphanage, Lindsay and Joseph, Tyler and Stevie, Alisha and the country of Guatemala, as well as the people in all of our lives who could use a kind word.  I’m reminding myself to never again forget and to do something every day to remember how much all of us really do need each other. 

In loving memory of John Mayet.  He changed my life with his death and it would be a disservice to his memory not to do something about it.  I’m thankful that he will never hurt again and hopefully one day I’ll be able to thank him for reminding me of what’s truly important…..love.
(photo by Daniel Davis)

my heart was stolen…& i don’t want it back

May 8, 2010

Africa.

It was  never a dream of mine to visit this country.  Honestly, I never really planned on going.  That was before last summer, when I read War Child.  My heart broke into a million pieces as I read that book.  About this same time, my church was planning a few trips to Sudan and Uganda.  We partner with a local church in Sudan and help them run two orphanages.  So….I went.  This was August 2009.

I’m sitting here now, trying to remember what changed me so much in the two 1/2 weeks I spent in Uganda and Sudan.  Almost 8 months later, here are the moments I remember most. 

My home away from home (in Sudan) - and that blasted mosquito net!  See that fan in the top of the pic?  We had electricity for about 2 hours every day.  It would shut off riiiiiiight about the time I was falling asleep.  Then…boom.  Hot, hot, sweat myself to sleep….and deathly quiet.  (plus the blackest nights I’ve ever experienced in my entire life.)

We trained hard for this moment, the moment we faced the African roads.  Ohmygoodness.  Never in my life have I experienced a road so horrible.

This was Day-o (I have NO clue how to really spell it, but that’s how we pronounced it.  He gave us water every day, and he was always dressed like a gentlemen.  I ::adore:: him.  Plus, he had the highest voice…ever.  Ugh, slay me with that cuteness.  His cheerful, “Hello, how are you?” made the sleepiest morning better. 
The first child I made contact with at the orphanage.  Their red and yellow uniforms were ahhh-mazing.  Until I learned they were the only clothes they had, the uniform on their backs.  *sigh*

So, from that moment on,  I hugged and kissed every child I saw…ringworms and all.  Told you.  Photo below taken by Daniel Davis.

Sad moments – like looking into the eyes of a child, sick with maleria.

Awkward moments – like peeing in a corn field, trying to ‘miss’ anything that looked edible. (While every African in the area watched my every move.  I mean, I was going in their garden…whoops.)

and being um…welcomed(?) into the community?  I guess the cook didn’t understand the concept of private property and personal space.  Poor Paul, he almost lost it taking the picture.  Can you blame him? 

Learning how quickly a smile can leap across any language barrier.

Spending time laughing and working with the mothers at the orphanage.  Very few of them had children of their own in the orphanages, but they each looked after 8+ children that were practically their own.  (photo taken by Daniel Davis)

And that dancing is also a language.  Steal my heart away, you sweet children, with your drums and your chants and your precious harmonies.


Sneaking out to explore our compound, and running into some local children…and quickly getting my camera taken away by one of the older girls. Click, click, click…

which led to one of my favorite moments, captured by Daniel.

There were times of joy, higher than I thought were ever possible…
Like giving away deodorant to the mothers who were working at the orphanage.  They called it ‘pit perfume.’

and hanging out with the orphanage pastor – before he tried to steal me away. When he couldn’t take me, he stole my hat instead.  Yep, my Fossil girl’s hat is being worn by an African pastor….hopefully, at this very moment.

There was also a time when my stupidity almost led to my death.  Never go into the streets of Sudan alone with a huge bag of free Dum Dum suckers and think you can get out without starting a riot.  This led to me chunking a bag full of hundreds of Dum Dums into a ditch and running, as fast as I could, the other direction before the riot got any more out of control.  The best part was driving away, seeing people lining the streets with white sucker sticks hanging from their mouths.  Ha! At least they were happy.

These faces – oh, those faces.  This is George….he has a piece of me.  I wanted to SQUEEZE him and bring him home with me. 

The happiness a camera can bring…once they see themselves. Silly faces will never get old.


(this photo was taken by Paul – Thank you!)

Falling in love with these two beautiful little girls and having it confirmed even more that I will adopt one day.  One of these lovely ladies was crippled, but that never kept her from smiling…or dancing.

There were many, many, many happy times.  But there were also hard and heart wrenching times that caused me to pull my chair into the garden, in the pitch black, alone, underneath the most incredible display of stars, crying my eyes out and pleading for the Lord to save these people from any more tragedy.  They were too young to be orphaned, widowed, fatherless, to lose limbs… Like these two babies, left helpless and alone because their parents had been taken by HIV but not before passing the sickness on to them.  We saw the virus already taking control of their tiny bodies. 

We witnessed an African funeral.  The second week we were there, a preacher in the community had a motorcylce accident and died two days later because he didn’t have transportation to the hospital for a tetanus shot.  At the funeral, I heard the mother sobbing and saw the newly fatherless children in the corner.  They clinged to each other and cried the saddest little tears.  I’ve never, in my entire life, witnessed something that heartbreaking.  We were so helpless, just feet away from this family who had unexpectedly  lost so much in such a short time.

But then, the pastor and his wife from the church we were working with brought the fatherless children back to our camp.  And, with the help of bubbles and a few jump ropes, we saw them smile.  In no way were these huge smiles and fits of laughter, but they were grins and enough to take their mind off the tragedy that was so fresh.  We heard their story and our team pooled enough money together to completely pay for the eldest sons higher education.  He’s going to be an architect.  And a great one.



My team from The Village Church consisted of nurses, photographers, and teachers, and me -ha.  We were joined by the Sudanese team of pastors, widows, church members, orphanage workers, and doctors.  The African people were the most loving and thoughtful people I’ve ever been in contact with.  Not to mention SO full of life.  I’m so thankful to have met them.  Seriously.  They changed me.  The Lord has changed them and in that, they changed me.

But I will never forget that sky. (photo taken by Daniel Davis)

Or those faces. (another incredible shot by Daniel)

Isaiah 61:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has appointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.

So, one day – one amazing, glorious, magical, awe inspiring day…..

there will be no more sickness, no more hunger,
no more sad faces of little children who watched their parents get murdered by genocide,
no more tattered school uniforms (one per child, that’s all they get…ever), no more orphanages without toys or pencils or enough clean water to go around,
no more maleria, worms, HIV, fleas, mosquitos, dirty water,
no more hurt.

No more.

But until then….He uses us to bring good news and to bind up those broken hearts and to put beautiful smiles on perfectly loveable African children.

and so I will.  And one day I will bring one home with me….to stay.
(photo taken by Paul Go Images// in Uganda at the Mosque)

PS – I’m no photographer, BUT we did have some fabulous ones with us!! To see their images (they are breath taking) go to:
www.danieldavisphoto.com
and
www.paulgoimages.com

AMAZING work those boys do…..simply amazing.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 82 other followers