June 8, 2011

where YOU lead: never be the same

it is unreal to realize that i have been living in africa for a month. the time has passed so quickly, and it’s hard to believe that it’s about to come to a close. in the past month i have walked approximately 100 miles. i have lost 10 pounds. i have learned the names and personalities of 70 children. i have completed around 70 hours of therapy. i have partially learned another language. i have made a best friend. i have grown closer to my friends and ultimately closer to my GOD.

after this experience i will never take hot water, clean water, or any water for granted ever again. i will appreciate electricity and internet reliability. i will appreciate clean houses, clean streets, clean stores, and really anything that’s clean. i will appreciate the shoes on my feet, the clothes on my back, and the food on my plate. i will appreciate my health and the fact that i was born into this world free of disease. i will consider it a miracle that i was born into the country, the family, and the circumstances in which i was born. and i will return with a new purpose, knowing that GOD made me to go into the whole world.

this week’s therapy schedule looks like this:

9:30-11:00 i help teach the same toddler language stimulation group that i taught last week. we read stories, sing songs, and engage in various play activities to stimulate the production of language.

11:00-12:30 i work with children ages 9-12 months on language stimulation through interactive play. we work on tummy time for the first half of the session and allow the babies to strengthen their muscles and increase trunk control through time on their tummies on the rug. we then have a similar session as the first hour and a half with them and sing songs and read books.

2:15-3:30 i work with a special needs child named kritz who demonstrates high-functioning autism. his receptive language (understanding) skills are intact, but he is almost completely nonverbal. we play, read books, and sing songs in order to support the production of language. he has completely won me over.

3:30-4:15 i work with the child of my choice and just interact and encourage language production. the child of my choice is a little 13-month-old baby boy named hamilton who is pictured above, strapped on with a chitenge. he almost died last year but survived and is thriving by the grace of GOD. he is a biter and already has a receding hairline and basically has completely stolen my heart.

2 of my good friends from undergrad, mark slagle and tyler jones, are here to film a documentary of our work. tyler and i have been friends since we were 12 and studied in italy for a semester together, and we are beyond excited to have the opportunity to work on this project right now. filming begins in the morning, and i will be leading the guys through my new home here in namwianga. they will be interviewing me, members of my group, and local zambians in order to get a realistic view of this incredible program. i am so excited to be a part of such a ground-breaking experience.

i am just so grateful to GOD for the million life-changing moments HE’S given me in the past month, and i will absolutely never be the same again.

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