Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Post By Sheila

Hi blog readers:

Visiting Caitlin in Namibia was an amazing adventure...What a place! We traveled to Zimbabwe to stay in Victoria Falls for three nights, returned to Namibia and I drove for the rest of the trip visiting Caitlin's little town of Omaruru, visited with the Mayor and saw the site where they hope to build the youth center, toured the "location" where people who live in real poverty live, visited with a doctor (eligible for sainthood) as he drove us around the medical compound that serves the most needy ill and their little ones, our family then drove through and stayed a couple of nights in Etosha, toured a cheetah preserve, visited a Himba village, drove to the Skelton Coast (unbelievable driving experience), stayed a few nights in Swakopmund (Brad & Angelina-land) returned to Windhoek, enjoyed a Chicago pizza with the Jeff Jenks' family and flew home Tuesday. Exhausted.

We remain exceeding grateful for our easy way of life with food and shelter, great schools and school lunch programs. The Namibian people are amazing and cheerful and they have beautiful positive children. Whatever kindness comes their way through projects like the Onalaska Garrity kids' blanket project, financial support for Caitlin's work, the GLOW project and so much other support is more appreciated than donors can ever know. Your help and Caitlin's work are making a difference in the lives of the world's most needy.

The learners who live in youth hostel eat porridge three times a day. Seldom do they enjoy meat or dairy, this makes projects that assist with food, shelter and schools, that can lift learners out of poverty, all the more critical.

Thank you for your support of this work and blessings and all good things for your and your families in 2007.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Year in Review

Yes, it’s been awhile, I know. This past month has been a bit nuts in Namibia as I’ve been blessed with many visitors. Not only did my dear friend Cindy join me for a bi-country road trip around Namibia and South Africa, but my mother, my two brothers and my new sister-in-law all made their way to Namibia to spend the Christmas holiday with me. It’s been really wonderful.

With all the commotion, it was almost easy to forget that I’ve spent an entire year here in Namibia. My one-year anniversary and my 24th birthday coincided, so we did have a few reasons to celebrate and to reflect on all that has happened this year. It has been a rollercoaster to say the least.

So what did happen this year…?

• I traveled throughout Namibia, including the most northern and most southern parts of the country, and spent time with people representing all walks of life
• A small boy learned how to read and speak English
• I found my Namibian family
• I learned a few new languages
• I felt the color of my skin for the first time in my life
• I played soccer barefoot
• I lived without water and electricity
• I sat with a leaner as he fought to live
• Some teachers touched a computer for the first time in their lives
• I climbed a mountain
• I taught in 6 different schools
• The democrats won control of the house and the senate
• I attended a funeral for one of my learners
• I attended too many funerals in general
• I went sandboarding down some of the world’s largest sand dunes
• Some orphans received their first pair of shoes ever
• My brother got married
• I perfected the art of hitchhiking
• I drove a stick shift and almost ran someone over
• I saw the greatest disparity of wealth in the world
• I danced with a Namibian transvestite
• I slept on a beach in Cape Town
• I spent too much time in hospitals with kids too young to be facing things they were facing
• I ate goat head, mopane worms and lots of donkey meat
• Some Namibians experienced the joy of chocolate chip cookies, fajitas, quesadillas, mashed potatoes and American chili
• I went cage diving with sharks (aka bird watching)
• Some Namibian kids learned a bit of Spanish
• I helped slaughter a goat and a chicken, and I offered moral support to both a cow slaughtering and a kudu slaughtering
• The Packers beat the bears
• My family made their way to Africa
• One Namibian may have looked beyond skin color
• Brad and Angelina had their baby and pretended to care about Africa, Wesley Snipes evaded his taxes, Prince Harry went canoeing and an Israeli-born US billionaire wanted for stock market fraud hid from US authorities… all in Namibia!

Oh so much. Lots of firsts, indeed. Some things I’m so happy I had a chance to experience; some I hope I will never have to experience again. And as 2006 came to an end, I did feel some sense of accomplishment. Year one offered me the opportunity to try many new things, to make mistakes and make changes in my work and in my life, and to learn so much about things I may have never learned about anywhere else in the world. If for no other reason, I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to serve two years so I can try to smooth out everything that didn’t work this year. It may be overly optimistic, but I truly feel that things can only get better from here.

And I definitely don't feel 24.

Happy Holidays! Be well.