Category: Books

From California to Africa

As the family and I are continuing to learn more about our Compassion child, Sergio, and his family, I have found some great children’s books that give all of us a glimpse into the vast and beautiful continent of Africa. Happy reading!

clip_image003I Lost My Tooth In Africa
by Penda Diakité

This is the true story of Amina, a girl who lives in Portland, Oregon, as told by Amina’s older sister, Penda. It’s the story of Amina traveling to see family in Africa as a small girl and her excitement at discovering she had a loose tooth when she was on the plane to Bamako, Mali.


I Lost my Tooth In Africa is a delightful tale filled with colorful drawings by Amina and Penda’s fa,kkkther, Baba Wagué Diakité. She tells of daily African life, shares a few words in Bambara, the national language, and there’s even a recipe for the African onion sauce talked about in the book. D loved reading this book with me and I loved learning more about African life with him.


clip_image002Chirchir is Singing
by Kelly Cunnane

“High in Africa,
wind like a cat paw
wipes the sky clean.
Chirchir, Born Quickly, is singing.”


And so begins this beautifully lyrical tale of a young girl of the Kalenjin tribe of the Great Rift Valley in Kenya. She goes about her day, wanting to be a help in any way she can to the members of her family. Whether it’s Mama gathering water from the well or Big Sister spreading a new floor in the family hut, Chirchir wants to help.

But, Chirchir is small, inexperienced, and her family is like a lot of us – they get exasperated when her “help” turns into more work for them. Along the way to each family member, Chirchir sings her own little tunes of what she sees, hears and smells in her homeland.

The artwork is beautifully done in this book and throughout the story the reader gets to learn a few words and phrases in Chirchir’s mother tongue of Kalenjin and Swahili. One final note: it wasn’t until I had read the book several times with D that I took some time to read the Glossary on the last page. I was pronouncing Chirchir as “CHUR-chur” when it’s really said as “CHEER-cheer”. This discovery made the story even better.


“Hole” thoughts

For the past few weeks I’ve been reading “The Hole in Our Gospel” as part of a series we are doing at our church. Whether you consider yourself “religious”, “spiritual” or none of the above, I believe this book and others like it is important to read. Poverty, most especially the challenges that Africa as a whole continues to face, is a human problem, not a problem that only particular churches or governments or celebrities should be doing something about.

The older I get (and yes, I really can say that, trust me), the more I am surprised at the things I thought “always were” when it comes to our world. Growing up in the 70s and 80s, it was quite common to see the poor on my television screen as part of the campaigns to fight hunger and poverty in third-world countries. Graphic photos of starving children or families living in nothing but cardboard were disturbing but even as a child I just don’t remember the images shaking me to the core.

The summer before my sophomore year of high school I had the opportunity to spend a week in Mexico as part of a youth mission trip. It was the first time I had seen with my own eyes an entire community of people literally living in cardboard houses. No running water. No electricity. Hot. Dirty. Smiles. That’s what I remember about that trip, for the most part. Not a lot of dark, dreadful feelings but rather being surprised at the way these people lived and acted about their living situation. Again, I did not come away from that experience with a surging “I need to DO something!” feeling about how drastically different they were living in comparison to my life.

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The hole in my perspective

I left something out of yesterday’s post in regards to being sick. Well, two things actually.

First is that I am not a “good” sick person. By that I mean, after about 4 hours, I’m ready to do myself in. Obviously not too seriously as I’m still here…but mentally, I’m done. I’m begging, pleading, crying out to God to end my “misery.” I’m mentally able to continue on in my illness because I know there will be an end to it, usually within the day if not sooner.

Just ask any of my former roommates (and there’s about 10 of them, so take your pick!) If the cold or the flu went longer than a day or two, I was fairly emphatic that I would forever be in this state of illness, regardless of how terribly unrealistic that view was. It was all about how I felt in the moment. I would be abundantly thankful that God had not chosen me to be one who dealt with chronic pain of any kind because I just could not see myself managing a life around something like that. I lived with friends who had chronic pains of one kind or another and I still do not know how they did it!

However, and this is the second thing I left out, Friday I experienced illness with a completely different perspective. I was still miserable, don’t get me wrong. But my thoughts went to far different places than they typically do. I could no longer allow myself to think that my world should end because of the pains in my gut or the pounding in my head.

That’s because of a woman named Rachel and a book called “The Hole in Our Gospel”.

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All about books

One of my favorite characteristics that Bubbs and I share is the love of books. I am blessed to have a very good friend in my life who taught elementary school kids for over 10 years, and before Bubbs was born, she gave me a book that helped me set Bubbs on the path of loving to read.

“Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever”, by Mem Fox is a great book to help parents and caregivers better understand the value of reading to the child, not just giving the child books to read (and chew, and throw) along the way. Continue reading

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