Monday, April 23, 2012


i currently am living in the country that makes the ellen show and is in the funny crossword puzzles. djibouti is a country famous for one thing...sounding like your booty.

it's a place plagued by disease. stolen by poverty. and hurt by greediness. and i never want to forget it.

i want to remember what it feels like to walk down the street and feel rocks under my feet. to feel the sweet hands that grab mine and walk with me. to remember the way the dirty, wet kisses feel on my cheeks at least 30 times a day. to remember having to jump over puddles of water that stinks in the worst way possible.

i want to take in everything. and save it. to bottle it up.

the way the incense smells in the street. the way my students look when i teach them a new concept. the way the market looks early in the morning before everyone gets out. the sounds outside by window after the sun goes down.

i never want to get used to it. never. i want it to stay new.

for the rumble of the bas-yar going through town to remain a little sketchy. for the immense amount of goats everywhere to still startle me a little bit. for the smell of food cooking mixed with exhaust fumes to always remind me of this sweet place that i call home.

and the current question on my heart is...will i always feel so stranded? stranded between countries and people that i love so much?


wanting the people i love most to experience it all. to see His power in ways that i can't describe with measely words on a computer screen. to see the beautiful people He created. to feel the way the babies tug on your heart. the way you learn that they don't need you as much as you need them. to see the bigger picture. to realize it's not about us. ever. to hear the mix of 4 languages coming together.


missing the people at home. but not wanting to even think about leaving. wanting to bring pieces of this place home. preferrably in the human form.


seeing the faces of poverty. holding the ones who have no father or mother. feeding those with swollen faces and bellies. touching those with diseases. loving those who are unlovable. blessing those who curse me. and walking with the lonely.

who would have thought living a life without water most of the time and the smell of sewage everywhere would have COMPLETELY captivated me? it reeled me right in.

i was a goner from the very beginning.

it's like a disease. with no cure. it has taken over.

i am in love. the good kind of love. the best kind of love. the kind you don't ever want to live without.

and it will remain like that. inshallah....(if G wills it).

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


one of my biggest fears before I came wasn't that I would be injured. or kidnapped. or killed even. I didn't really concern myself with how dirt I would be all hours of the day or the fact that I wouldn't have a lot of water. but I did worry about coming in vain.

coming across the world for no reason. for no purpose. leaving without one life changed. without hope given to at least one. just one little life is worth it all.

well, our Daddy takes care of these things. He is the only one who can. and He knows my love language unlike any other. and He speaks it everyday.

today that love language and easing of fear came after a day of relying completely on Him. long hours spent wishing I was home. in my bed. in my house. in my comfort zone. with air conditioning and good clean water. He didn't give me those things but He was here with me the whole time. and that was evident. through a tear stained pillow. phone calls from home. and verses that reassured me that "my sweet darling, it is just for a little while." that little while felt like forever. and I am still getting over a bacteria/water/stomach issue that only Africa could deliver so horribly. but He is here. He was here. and He will be here. even when the moments of "uh, what did I get mysef into?" arise again.

so today was a day of faking the happiness. acting like I was feeling AWESOME while teaching. smiling at every person I see, because I believe that is a little way He eases in to shine. and it may be a way He eases me into their hearts. into a place where He can take control.

I have 18 students. most of them show up everyday. and they are all precious. but there are a few who have stolen my heart. Amal is one of those. her english is very good but she wanted a class with her peers. and she has picked up quite the uh, may I say....Ivy accent. today she could not come to class. so she sent a note by a classmate that read.

"Dear Ivy,
I'm Amal. I want to tell you I can't come this afternoon at class because I have some problem in my home and I have a problem in me. You can't understand because you are not in my heart but please give me a little time to arrange my problems. Thank you too much. Amal"

oh, my heart. how precious is that. maybe I am just reading into this...but I know someone who likes to start working on broken pieces...putting them back together. nzambe malamu.

I went to check on her at the store. she is well. smiling like always. and said she will talk my with me tomorrow about her problem. loving on them is my favorite part of teaching. FAVORITE part.

as I left the school and headed for the "french" side of town. I get to be a little more at ease .take off my veil. which feels awesome after a fever and temps way above 102. my kiddos usually recoginize me in my hood. of course...hojo ivy. but today they were on the wrong side of town. but that did not stop them. running. screaming. clapping. the whole nine yards in the middle of downtown. it was a parade of sorts. overwhelmed? yes. tickled? yes.

now, I do not speak Somali or Afar. (but I will soon. even if that means studying in the 229) so our language barrier means I dance, I smile, I laugh, they laugh, they point, I look, we high five. we act like we could understand each other, but we can't. it's really the coolest thing I have ever experienced.

I might have taught one of them the slick hand move where you slide it on your hair...grease style....when somone goes to shake your hand. he pulled it on me today. and laughed so hard he fell down. then there is Romeo. who after seeing his friend's move, he took my hand and kissed it. then kissed my other hand. then my first hand again. he got a little carried away. and giggled the whole time. then said thanks, hojo ivy. my heart.

these are some everyday evidences that He indeed is working among me. stirring up a revolution, one of love, compassion, mercy, and hope. let's believe in that HOPE. for He is able.

shine on.

Friday, April 6, 2012

a broken bed.

tomorrow marks a month that I have been here. a MONTH. cannot believe it.
the day I arrived consisted of lots of jet lag. and tears after seeing my neighborhood. I think I was in shock. my roommate left and I had some intense conversations with Daddy.

why me? why here? why now?

and boy, did He answer.
"because I chose you for these people for this place for this time. do you not see My plan?"

and alone in this tiny apartment with no connection to the outside world it all made sense. living for SUCH A TIME AS THIS. Esther 4:14.

once I put it all in His hands my fears were put at ease. He delivered me from them. His plan does indeed make sense.

I pass hundreds of beggars a day. most handicapped. sitting on a piece of cardboard with nothing to call their own but what is on their back. I get followed by street kids who have taken a liking to me. they love me and I love them so much. they live the streets...being exposed to fighting, to sexual abuse, to dangers of all sorts. their means of survival are composed of their sweet faces, begging...pleading for a little bit of food, water, money...anything. the people in my neighborhood have learned my name. I am that crazy white girl. the only one who lives here. the one who kisses babies. and shakes hands. and says hello to everyone I see. they see me coming and prepare themselves. the kids call me "hojo ivy"...mother. they get special treats. sometimes they go with me to the grocery store. sometimes they play futbol with me. but most of the time I end up with a baby on my hip no matter where I am and I don't mind one bit.

when I see their faces His words ring clear..."let THEM come unto Me...." He loved them and so do I. I long to be His hands to them. to show them love. what it looks like, what it feels like, what it can do...radically change you.

I have smelled the smells of a people that need something they don't even realize they need. I have passed by open hands that do not know that what they need I cannot give them. I hear babies cry every minute of the day. I see desperation. I smell hopelessness...mixed with sewage and trash. I walk through mud thinking of what it must be like to live in that. I miss water most days and become grateful that we even have a water supply. I eat food and find someone to take the here is far too precious to sit in a refrigerator.

I have sat holding babies who have never been held by their mother. I have fed babies that are so sick they throw up when food touches their mouth. I have cried over the sweet ones who have a disorder that has handicapped them physically and mentally. I have been disappointed that WE have not done more. that we have not adopted. that we have not sent aide. I have sang a lot of songs they cannot understand. I have taught babies "hello" and "bye bye." I have seen a special little man lay in a swing meant for an infant and have seizures. I have seen the other special little man choke on his on mucus. I have realized that there is no way that I cannot adopt as many children as possible...some of those being from the very place I rock babies. I have felt the fingers of a baby trace my face and stare into my eyes because he never had the opportunity to do that to his own mother. I have felt ashamed that I acted like this world didn't exist. that the fly infested orphanages with babies screaming, babies that are dehydrated, babies that need someone to hold them, babies that cling to anything that resembles a mother, babies that need medical attention, babies that cannot help themselves but are depending on us to live out what J commanded...did not exist. but oh, sweet friends, they do. and I kiss every single baby every minute I can. I tell them how special they are and that there is a special family who will love them....not even knowing if that is true. and if His plan means a tear stained pillow case every single night...I have to be okay with that.

I have taught students who respect me. who listen to me. who are the smartest in the world. and I am not biased at all :) they have picked up so fast. some cannot read. some cannot write. some cannot even detect one letter from another. but man, are they great! I love it! the biggest class the school has ever had...just a revolution getting ready.

rocks thrown. words said. screams yelled. hand held. feet dirtied. ball kicked. babies held. mamas hugged. buses ridden. hospital visited. students loved. water outage. power cuts. dreams realized. visions fulfilled. yarps answered. fears stomped on. languages being learned. friends missed. long emails read.

bed broken. (this happened night 2) welcome, to the real Africa :)

He is worth it people. go do something not for your glory, but His today. make a difference. love somebody hard. give your money away. be willing to look stupid. for Him. only Him. He's the only good thing worth giving it all for.

Nzambe malamu.