Monday, April 25, 2011

Diva On A Mission - Thankful For Africa - by Kerri Pomarolli

I can't sleep...maybe it's the Prednisone I'm taking to clear up this sinus infection? Or maybe it's the fact that I just spent 10 days in Africa and came home reeling?

I've been home from Swaziland South Africa since Friday. It's now Wednesday 7:14am. I've been up since 4:00am. Every single solitary night since I've been home I wake up in the night and I can't stop the hamster wheel that is literally rolling round and round in my head. My thoughts are all over the place. I can't sleep to save my life. I've gone through bouts of pregnancy insomnia and this is fairly reminiscent. But this seems deeper in some ways.

It all seems like a dream  from some far off distant land that keeps haunting my "normal everyday crazy stress filled" life here on planet Kerri. The haunting of it isn't a bad thing either. I find myself thinking of my experiences and longing to be back there. I know it's a humanitarian effort, some might say, to do a short term mission trip like the one we just came back from. But the longing in my spirit to return is clearly for selfish reasons.

I think I was happier there. Is that crazy? How could that be? I can hear you now! Stop it! I love my daughter Lucy. I missed her with every fiber of my being when we were away from her. I have a loving husband and successful career. I love my life.

I love the fact that I get up at 6:00 am with both guns blazing to get two munchkin's fed, my husband and my daughter. I then might get the luxury of bathing alone for 10 minutes and try to have some "quiet time" with God in the shower and if I'm really lucky some time to reflect on my personal spiritual walk with Him. Wait, who am I kidding? That's how it's supposed to be.

Most mornings in the shower are filled with me trying to make notes on my arms with soap of my never ever ending to do list that consist of all the duties of a  stay at home mom, wife, daughter, confidant friend, dishwasher/housekeeper, "Elmo play master",  traveling standup comedian, ministry speaker, writer, actor super model wannabe and face book/email addict!

I saw these kinds of women on Oprah and swore I'd never become one. I was warned. I was counseled if I didn't stop this madness in the schedule I was keeping I would one day spontaneously combust. I've come close so many times but by the grace of God I'm somehow still standing. There is no other explanation.
Then in the midst of all my own life's craziness, my husband and I decided to commit to going to Swaziland Africa to spend 10 days helping orphans with Heart for Africa, a faith-based  organization dedicated to help the children of Africa.

Now, I'm a self proclaimed diva through and through. My life  song has always sounded something like "It's all about meeeeeeeeeeeee!" I was happy to send a check or do a fundraiser for any great cause as long as it didn't involve me doing manual labor! I'd do a "manicure mission any day!" But to make a long story short, when I heard about what was going on with the kids over there and saw pictures that were self explanatory, I didn't have a choice but to go. I didn't want to. I was scared out of my mind. Who wants to spend 16 hours on a plane and then 5 days on a bus to get hot and sweaty?  Well, some people but I'm not one of them.
My husband Ron is the kind of guy who's so relaxed about everything so he just kind of went with the flow. He was a great comfort on the trip over.

I could write volumes about our experiences there. We saw miracles of healing that you only could read about in books. We did things we never thought we'd do including me actually using contraption called a "rake" and Ron a "weed wacker!" That was comedy material right there.

I don't want this to be some rant about my day to day experiences. I'm writing this because I'm wondering about other people out there that are feeling the way I do right now? I just had this supposedly "life changing" experience and now I'm back in my "world" with my "old world problems" and I don't seem to be dealing with them any differently. Why is that? Why didn't Africa make all of my superficial issues and worries go away? Wasn't that what was supposed to happen?

When we were there we were engrossed in helping these truly amazing kids that were literally celebrating our very presence. I had the pleasure of delivering sandwiches to kids that hadn't eaten in 2 days. Can you even comprehend the joy they experienced from a simple sandwich? What about when I got to give each of them their very own blanket for warmth? These were just things that didn't have much meaning to me back home. But I got to see things we take for granted in a whole different light on this trip. My baby has an endless supply of blankets and these kids had almost none. They smiled and hugged me and were so polite and thanked me.  It was me that should be thanking them for showing me what true innocence and purity looks like. This family of children are basically raising themselves. They get up and get dressed for school and walk a long way every day. One of the boys is first in his class. They don't have a home to do homework in. They live in an abandoned garbage dump. But does that stop them from smiling and dreaming of a better tomorrow? No! They aren't quitters. They are literally living a day to day existence and savoring every moment. I heard that when they have extra food they don't horde  it or save it. They go over to their neighbors and share. It's like their faith is so pure that they know some way they will be provided for and they just don't have time to worry about it. I guess life is different when everyday is about your basic survival. You'd never know this though, by the looks on their faces. They showed me what joy looks like. Do you think we'll ever truly know the simple joys that they do from getting their most basic needs met by the kindness of others?

I visited with this particular family of kids two days in a row. Ron came back with me the second day. We prayed together and thanked God for His plans for their lives. The thing that is also so amazing about this family is that there is a mom and a dad. In Swaziland people are dying literally everyday from AIDS. A huge population of households are run by children age 6 or younger because their parents have died and left them to fend for themselves. In other cases the father has fled the scene. But this family has  a mom and dad. They are together. They have their struggles and from what I've heard they're both engrossed in alcohol and possibly drugs. We smelled Marijuana on their property. But they are around.

So the question I have to ask myself is...God are you going to restore this family as  a whole? I know Heart For Africa has plans to help Dad and Mom get real jobs and actually raise $10,000 to build them their very own home. So maybe they could be an example of God's restoration powers? Is anything too big for Him ? He designs our steps. The thing that blows me away is that this family  is still together. I 'm not about to judge them for their poor choices and addictions. Are we really any different over here in the USA? I think not. We're filled with addictions, neurosis, fear, and divorce. We are the first ones to "call it quits" on a marriage when things don't look too pretty. But at least we have a roof over our heads and running water.

Through all the terrible tragedy that this particular couple has gone through, they're still trying to find a way to survive. They've lost a child, dealt with friends dying of AIDS time and time again. They live with the fear that they themselves could be dying of AIDS or worse, their children. I know that marriage is under attack not only in our country but all over the world. I know we get "quickie divorces" and tell our sob stories about how it was just "too hard." I know that times are hard for all of us with the state our county is in. My mind is just going nuts right now that I can't seem to get a handle on my own life. I still get fuming mad at my own husband when he's 15 minutes late and doesn't call. I still freak out over our finance sometimes and wonder what sport to put my 2 year old Lucy in so she can go to college for free! I'm still the same selfish, mixed up person I was before I went to Africa and I'm mad about it. I guess I thought I'd come home and be like Mother Teresa or something. I'd all of a sudden appreciate every single detail of blessing in my life. The fact that I even have a healthy family should be enough.

 And I'm sitting here thinking about this one particular couple far off in Swaziland South Africa who literally have nothing and they still get up every  morning and find a way to make it through the day. I remember the look in Sarah's eyes as she laid on the dirt watching me give her children clothes and blankets. She said thank you without words. When we prayed she smiled. There was still a glimmer of hope in her eyes. I just know that God is doing something special with her. I've heard she's started to go to church now.

She's a much stronger woman than I could ever be. I pray to God he can give me some of her resilience. I pray He could show me how to persevere when I want to throw in the towel. I pray he can show me how to be like a child again and be joyful in the midst of great trials.

"Dear God if you're reading this right now, please help me." I want to be changed. Please help me not to forget what I saw, what I experienced and what happened to me in Africa. Please help me to remember Sarah and her children when I think my life is tough . "I look forward to the day I can visit the Misuku family again in their new home and see just how miraculous you are God. Please help me not to forget that you're still in the miracle business and your love has no borders."  ~ Kerri Pomarolli

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Do You Ever Want to Sell Your Baby on Ebay?

(This is an article that I wrote a while ago and I thought I would share it with you guys!)

I'm kinda kidding when I say I'm considering putting my almost 2 year old up for auction on EBay. Is that cruel to say?  I could just put her on Craig's list and sell her to someone local in case I want to visit. No seriously, has your child ever made you so mad you just think about throwing in the towel on this whole parenting thing? Have you come home to find sharpie artwork on your new suede couch or all your favorite perfume poured down the toilet? Today was one of those days- !

I was making Lucy's favorite blue Jello today - #1.Because I don't really cook and Jello is easy to make. # 2. Because I'm awesome! I put the Jello in little ice cube trays and put them in the fridge.  Behind me my lovely submissive daughter was quietly eating watermelon and drinking her milk. Don't you just love those moments when all is right with the world.

The phone rang as I started to fill the last Jello mold. As I answered the phone, I turned around to see  watermelon all over  the floor along with spilled milk.  Cleverly, Lucy had taken the top off the sippy cup. I promised myself when I had a child I wouldn't punish them and freak out over little things like "spilled milk."  I contemplated putting the watermelon back as she was trying to eat it off the floor. But I decided for the sake of cleanliness I would have her put it in the bowl and then trash it. I know there are starving kids in the world but I hadn't mopped in a while and I didn't feel like taking her to the Dr. because she ate watermelon off my dirty floor and get some weird parasite or something.

So I sweetly told her to do "clean up " and put it all back. She kinda- sorta started to do it. Then she grabbed more and stuffed it in her mouth. This was her version of cleaning?! Then she grabbed my shoe. I got the paper towels and told her to wipe up the milk. She decided it would be easier to do it with her feet while standing on the paper towels. Hmmm, I wonder where she learned that - she really does pay attention to mommy!

I continued talking to my friend on the phone assuming Lucy was doing her Cinderella clean up routine. Just then I hear "Oh no !" from her little mouth. I looked behind me to see the opened refrigerator  and a waterfall of blue Jello cascading all over inside, all over the food, into the drawers  and down into every crevice of my fridge and onto the floor mixing with the already spilled milk to make the most disgusting green sludge mess you have ever seen.

I absolutely lost my mind for a second. I  hung up the phone and yelled
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO LUCY! Look what you did! Look what you did!" She's looking at me as if to say "Yeah mom I did it but you're cleaning it up!" Her shirt, that was clean this morning, was now covered with pink watermelon stains and blue Jello streaks. I thought in a moment of insanity that I could convince her to clean all of this up. I used up all the paper towels and went to get more in the closet. But my loving husband put the rest of them on the top shelf where I can't reach them and he's gone. Perfect!

I sat there cleaning and telling her to help me at least pick up the watermelon. She looked at me with this smirk on her face, toddler tunes blaring in the background, she did the unthinkable. She started to dance and sing! I'm thinking "What? Are you serious? "Then after her performance we had a stare down contest to see who would break first, me or the cute adorable kid. I had to bite my lip because she knew I was about to crack a smile and give her victory. I didn't budge and neither did she. She just kept staring at me with that "I know I'm cute and you can't be mad at me" look that she does so well. I think she learned that from her father. Just then, I realized she was right. I could lose my temper over spilled Jello but she wouldn't hold a grudge . She wasn't mad at me and I couldn't be mad at this little person that's been messing up my house for the past two years. She was too cute, too endearing and too smart. I took the pink onesie off then put her down for a nap in her crib. As I write this she's now singing Betty Boop songs and rolling around her crib talking to her dolls. It's adorable. She kills me every time!

I think I need to learn more from this little munchkin.
We never need to cry over spilled milk or Jello. We always have more than enough to eat because we're blessed. When engaged in conflict with the enemy just give them that million dollar smile and sing some toddler tune like "Oh my darling Oh my darling ,then add your own lyrics and start clapping and say YAY! All Done!" You most certainly can diffuse even  the toughest foes anger...even mom!