Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Steroids, Blood, and Prayer: A Trip to the ER

A little preface:
I have permission to write this from the parent of who this blog is about.
She has a similar ridiculous life full of irony and snarky comments and understands my need to share.

I have gone to this client's house routinely for three years. He is like my own kid and I am practically family within their household. I've changed enough diapers and yelled at enough people to earn the spot. For habit's sake, we will call this client Baby Autism. I've been lovingly calling him that since he was actually baby-sized. Now he's almost as tall as me and will be turning eleven next month. Baby Autism is non-verbal, but insanely smart and very comprehensive of everything everyone says. Don't let him fool you. With that being said, let me paint you a picture...

On this particular day (yesterday) poor baby boy was sent to the ER with a minor infection that he needed a shot for. As previously stated, he is quite large and I was called in for back-up to hold him down for the injection. Off to the ER I go.

When I get there, Baby A is sitting so sweetly with his mommy (Diva Mom. If you knew her, you'd know why I love her so much and therefore deem her this name forever) and his grandfather, who we all call Pop. Baby A is obviously not feeling well because he is sitting still and not peeling paint off the walls to eat. We wait and we wait....

I blame this whole experience on Pop, who is very social and just couldn't stand NOT to talk to the couple that came and sat next to him. The man was there with his wife who needed her leg to be seen. Pop immediately strikes up a conversation with the man, telling him about a relative who was in a very bad bike accident this week. Pop innocently thinks he has just told an inspirational story about beating the odds, but really he has opened up a very dangerous portal. Immediately the man's eyes widen. Ya'll, Pop is a great guy, but despite his sweet smile and amputee leg, he still looks like a man to be feared. So I hoped this other fellow knew what he was doing when he took Pop's hand into his own. He began to pray. It was a very serious, scripture-filled prayer that... stopped every two seconds for the man to ask Pop a question and was followed by asking Pop for money. I'm not kidding. We were sitting with a traveling Evangelist who was raising funds to go to Jamaica to speak to the Prime Minister on behalf of the American Christians. He then wants to pray over Baby A, who is toppled over and sleeping on my shoulder. He wants to lay hand on him because he is a “healer”. Excuse me? Unless you have proof in the form of a Light Saber, you are not a healer, please don't touch my sick baby. People. You know how I feel about my Jesus and missionaries, but surely you see the problem here? Diva Mom wasn't having it and soon Traveling Healer Evangelist moves to another section of the waiting room, where I can hear him asking someone else for money after sharing an inspirational story of all the things HE (not God) has done....

We have now been waiting for three hours and have not been seen.

Soon, a man comes in frantic. He is bleeding from his thumb. A lot. The t-shirt he has wrapped around the wound is DRIPPING with blood. Bleeding Man probably cut his thumb opening his Gin bottle that he drank on the way to the ER, because he was certainly drunk. The triage nurses are not phased and he is sent to wait his turn... of all the seats in that waiting room, he sits behind ME. Me, the most squeamish, weak-stomached person I know. He is bleeding so much that I can practically smell the iron in the air.

Soon, I hear Bleeding Man talking to someone. Bleeding Man begins to ask the 7-foot tall, ALL muscle man across from him how he became so muscularly endowed. Muscle Man is humble, and tells the man he works out “some” and is an ex-marine. Bleeding Man isn't satisfied “No really,” he says, “what do you do?”

It's all I can do not to scream “STEROIDS! He does STEROIDS! Duh!!” By mentioning the marines, Muscle Man has then opened his own scary door for Traveling Healer Evangelist to come speak to him about “Soldiers of Christ”. As I walk out the door to get some air, I hear him praying over Muscle Man's sprained ankle...

It's been five hours. We have not been seen.

Bleeding Man grows tired of waiting and leaves. BUT, not before shoving his thumb in my face, asking if I want to see. I failed miserably at my attempts not to gag out loud.

At 9pm they finally call my sweet baby back, but by this time his meds had worn off and he had himself a good nap so it was full speed ahead and lots of banging around within the confinements of his hospital gown and bed. At one point, Diva Mom and I grew tired of prompting him to stay in bed and let him get up. It's then that nurses rushed in because Baby Autism had died. They were relieved to find that he had just pressed the “CODE” button on a serious rampage in search of food to eat... or plants, or cotton swabs. Because that's just what he does.

At 10pm the moment we had been waiting for had come and the doctor was in to give him his shot. I was there as moral support and to hold him down for the doctor. Doctor Butt-Head then informed me that I wasn't needed and they had staff to do that...

I spent six hours in the ER to be sent home. I tried to look for Bleeding Man, who had surely died in the parking lot from either Alcohol Poisoning or loss of blood, but I didn't see him.

Love and laughs,
Madalyn Payge <3

Note: Sweet Baby A is doing much better now and I did not mail a donation to the Evangelist, shocking- I know. Also, props to Diva Mom who handled the entire situation with SO much class. She is an amazing mommy.  

Friday, January 18, 2013

Molly and Marijuana

At 9pm tonight I took Molly out for her nighttime tinkle. I was FREEZING and EVERY TIME she was almost ready to go potty, she would be distracted by the neighborhood kids running through the street (because six year olds apparently do not need bedtimes). In the midst of her six-billionth attempt at pottying, a gaggle of teenage boys cross through my lawn, since my lawn is designated as the best short-cut path to storage shed row #4 (there are four rows, I am #3). Molly is a people person. Molly RUNS towards the boys and immediately makes friends with them. They stop and wait for me to come and (ironically) fetch her.

Within two seconds of being in their perimeter, I can tell why Molly is sniffing them like they're the last sent on earth... the guys were stoned. And reeking of it. They, of course, thought Molly was the funniest dog ever and asked if they could keep her. I personally think Molly is too young to be smoking pot at 9pm on a Friday night, so I politely declined and took Molly back to our patch of grass.

Let me explain that we have the biggest "back yard" out of all the other storage sheds. This is because our particular house is on the edge of the woods, which is lined by a knee-high wooden fence to keep the kids (who don't have good enough parents to keep them out of the woods) from falling three feet down.

It's do or die. Poop or freeze to death. I am praying for no more distractions so the Diva can do her business and we can return to our heated comfort. Just as she is about to... she hears a noise.

There is a mass of black hair CRAWLING over the fence. I scream like a little girl, Molly hides between my legs. To give you a mental image of how my mind is processing this, I mentally see this...

When in reality, it is one of the little Mexican girls from across the street cutting across the woods from playing all afternoon at storage shed row #1..
That's right, I am just in a bad Dora the Explorer episode.

Little Dora finishes crawling over, laughs at me, pats Molly on the head and SKIPS across the street to her house.

I am officially scarred for life. The only good news is that creepy Dora scared the pee right out of Molly...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Rants of a Renter

Let me prologue the following thoughts with this:
I LOVE my new house. I love my roommates. I love my little laundry room with a functioning washer and dryer. I love my very own personal bathroom. I LOVE living two seconds away from civilization and not 20 minutes and a dirt road away from a gas station. I love it. However...

Dear fellow storage-shed renters,

I know our house is closest to the large Waste Management dumpster, but in case you weren't taught what a boundary line looks like, the dumpster designated space is outlined in CEMENT! Which means the grass on the other side of it, is MY BACK YARD. When it is 5am, dark outside, and I'm having to take Diva Dog Molly out for her morning tinkle, the last thing I want to find is YOUR trash on MY GRASS. I actually don't care about all the snack foods and alcoholic beverages you consume, therefore I do not need to see the wrappers of such items scattered across every blade of Unit 114 backyard grass. Also, I do not think it's cute when I send my dog to fetch her hot pink ball and she brings back a used diaper from your wailing offspring that should have been potty trained a year ago.

Do you know what time it is? I don't think so, because at 9pm, your half-clothed 5 year old should not be out riding his bike in the dark, or cursing loudly at the other toddlers in the neighborhood. His best friend should also not be the old man who sits across the street, shirtless and drinking his hourly beer. Why do you let him talk to said old man? Certainly that can't be safe.

And lastly... We were all handed the same tenant agreement. I am sure our landlord did not hate us extra special and write down rules specifically for us. So I am sure you received the same notice that we are not supposed to be parking in the street. If three young, driving-challenged girls can manage to fit their cars on their carport, so can you. I'm sure you don't wake up until 11am, but I leave my house at 6:45am and I would like to leave our little storage shed complex without having to zig-zag through your company's additional vehicles. Every. Single. Morning.

And DON'T get me started on the maintenance man...

*sigh* that is all.

Diva Dog Owner, Unit 114

Sunday, January 13, 2013

2012 in Review

2012 was probably the biggest year of my life.
Looking back at it, I can't believe that I...

-Finished my first year of college.

-Had my 19th birthday.

-Fell in love.

-Lost 30 pounds.

 Spent three months in Romania working as a teacher at a school for children with special needs and volunteering at an orphanage. I couldn't imagine my life without having such an amazing experience or meeting so many incredible people!

Came home and started my new job
as a Paraprofessional at the Charter School.

 Got my heartbroken.

Got a dog!!

My little diva, Molly :)


 Moved out of my first house and in with two roommates to an apartment that I refer to as the "storage shed".
Catelyn, Taylor, and my diva dog, Molly are all living happily ever after :)

In 2013 I will:
-Finish my AA degree.
-Have my 20th birthday.
-Take a road trip.
-Make new friends.
-Begin training as an ABA Therapist.
-Start my Bachelors Degree
-Begin filling out paperwork for Peace Corps.
-Take less things for granted.
-Guard my heart.
-Laugh without holding back.
-Pray without ceasing.
-Live a life worth writing about :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Romania & What I Brought Home

“I will never leave you, never will I forsake you.” -Hebrews 13:5
I had never fully recognized or experienced the depth, truth, and significance this verse held in my heart until I found myself in Arad, Romania this summer. It truly took being separated from the people I know and the life I lived in my comfort zone for God to get my attention and show me the depths of His love. By this love and the opportunities He placed in my life, I was able to spend nearly 90 days in Romania. Those three months changed my life, my spiritual walk, and my relationship with God forever.

This summer Global Outreach International arranged for me to serve seconded to RCE, Romanian Christian Enterprises, where I worked alongside some of the most passionate teachers and faithful Christians I have ever met. I spent two months working as a teacher’s assistant at an RCE ministry site, Sunshine School.  At Sunshine School I worked with two incredible women in a classroom of five boys, all of which had special needs or disabilities.  I was also fortunate enough to be a part of other RCE ministries by working at “Darius House”. The Darius House is an orphanage that provides care for abandoned children who have substantial needs.

 After arriving home I still, in my mind, continue to see the smiling faces of the children of Darius House and Sunshine School. The work that God is doing through RCE to help abandoned children and Romanian families in need, overwhelms my heart. I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to minister into the lives of the children and families benefiting through these ministry efforts.
When the Romanian school year ended I was able to serve in summer camps as a camp counselor and room leader. The summer camps gave the children an opportunity to leave their towns and villages to spend time with other children from Romania. Summer Camp also gave camp counselors an opportunity to share Jesus through their actions, bible studies, worship, music and sports. It was incredible to see how dramatically the children and their relationships with Lord changed during the course of the week.

On the first day of camp the children were unsure and shy, however by the end of the week they were receptive to the songs, sermons, and games that related to walking with God. On the final night of camp, the children and leaders sat around a huge camp fire, sharing songs, bible verses, and prayers that God had placed on their hearts. The memories of the last night around the campfire, seeing how much the children had grown to be confident and proud of their relationships with God continues to bring me much joy.

The time with the children, the bonds I formed with coworkers, the love I felt from the families that welcomed me into their homes, and the relationships I developed have deeply impacted my life. Considering all these, I gained something far more valuable while serving in Romania this summer, and it continues to remain in my heart.

While in Romania, I had a significant amount of alone time. I lived alone, I toured a lot of the city alone, and I spent every night alone. I discovered that the time in my life and how I used it could be such a powerful tool in my Creator’s hands. God molded the time I had “alone” to show me how ever present He truly is in my life. I can’t count the nights that God kept me awake, speaking healing into my heart, helping me grow in Him, showing me how valuable I am to Him. There was so much that I lacked in myself and in my relationship with God that He was able to instill into me while in Romania. All those sleepless nights came together to form an even stronger Christian and woman that what I left for Romania as.

When I first felt lead to go to Romania, I had such a hard time surrendering to the call. My pride, fears, and insecurities were overwhelming. I couldn’t understand why God would send me- someone who had never seen much of her own country, to another country so far away. Why he would send me- who in the past had walked in disobedience, to the point of spiritual disobedience at times, to another country to share Him and His word. Why would He send me to show His love to people who I had never known Him?
Today I recognize that God sent me to not only share Jesus with Romania and to see lives changed, but that He also sent me to be “changed by Romania.” God allowed my time in Romania with Him, and with the people of Romania, to penetrate my heart. He taught me that He does not call the qualified, but that “He qualifies the called.”  I came home with enormous hope for my future and I now walk ultimately submitted to the One who holds that future.
 Now that I am home, I’ve made it a priority to never forget Romania or what my time there  taught me. I finally understand the sovereignty of my God;  How in control He is, how much He loves and cares for me, and how He has planned a future for me that surpasses my every expectation.  Importantly, I have learned to listen, because I never know where God’s plan for my life may lead!
In closing, I can never begin to express my fullest gratitude for your financial support, words of encouragement, and most importantly your prayers for me as I served in Romania. I could feel your prayers covering me each day. My experiences and memories are invaluably etched on to my heart forever. Thank you and I pray God richly bless you.
With loving appreciation,

Madalyn McCombs

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Two Months in Romania

Two months in Romania!                                                                                          

My last month in Romania is beginning and my time at RCE’s Sunshine school has come to an end. I said goodbye to all of my students and coworkers July 7th and I already miss the smiling faces of the children I’ve been so fortunate to have spent the past two months with.

Finger painting with my class!
Music time with the Kids
While working at the Sunshine school I was able to learn more about the dynamics of disabilities and what I can do to help progress independence for people who have special needs.  I learned how to sing Romanian children’s songs and how to teach an Autistic child to finger paint. I’ve learned to play hop-scotch, draw every animal imaginable with side-walk chalk, and I’ve learned how important a stable routine can be. Most importantly I’ve learned about love. I held those children and for the first time in my life I could feel how deep God’s love for His children is. Every child’s smile, laugh, and even their disabilities are all so different. As I got to know their personalities, their food preferences, and even the height in which they preferred to swing at, I also became more familiar with how beautifully God designed each of us to be.
Psalm’s 139:14 “Fearfully and wonderfully made” is the phrase that comes to mind when the children looked at me with their smiling eyes.

It’s funny how God works- how he called a woman that lacked compassion, has zero patience and little sensitivity to a field that requires the maximum amount of those qualities. Every day I’ve spent in the presence of my clients at home and the children I’ve met here in Romania, I could feel those qualities grow in me. And now as I have finished my last week at RCE, I feel as though these precious children taught me more than I could ever have instilled into them.

God did not send me to change Romania, He sent me here to be changed by Romania. When I go home in 29 days, “changed” won’t cover the amount of impact my heart and soul feels.

18th Century Cathedral
Castle Ruins
My last week working at RCE was extra special as almost 70 Americans flew into Romania to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of RCE and all the miracles God has used this amazing organization to make happen.  Each day of my last week was filled making incredible memories with the other Americans. We were able to meet a family of 15 that with RCE’s help, has just finished building a home to fit their whole family in and a business to support themselves with. We hiked up an intense mile incline to the ruins of a 13-century castle, toured an 18-century cathedral, and celebrated the 4th of July with one another and our Romanian friends. At the end of the week a banquet hall was filled with 900 people celebrating the love, miracles, and mercies of the incredible work that RCE has done over the past 20 years.

20th Anniversery Dinner
I am so proud that I was able to work with RCE these past two months. The more I learn about the organization, it’s history, it’s love for all of God’s children, and it’s passion for assisting those in need, the more confident I am in God’s calling on my life and the work I will be able to do through Him for His glory. I am excited to bring these passions, experiences, and inspirations home with me- not to look back at fondly, but to implement into my daily life.

Now that the other Americans have left and school is over, I will spend my last month here in Romania in summer camps as a camp counselor. I will get to meet more children and spend some more time in this beautiful culture before returning home.

Center-city by day
Center-city by night
I spent this weekend preparing to leave for the village that camp will be held at. Part of this preparation included the relaxation of visiting a sunflower field and watching the nightly music and light show at the center-city fountains.
It’s these small beauties that I will miss when I return home.

I also spent a large amount of time catching up on my devotions and bible studies.  Something I have been struggling with in knowing that my time is coming to an end is the “what-ifs”. What if I didn’t fulfill the whole purpose for God sending me here? What if I forgot to teach someone something? What if I didn’t leave the best impression? And what will I do with all of my new overwhelming convictions, passions, and beliefs once I return home?!

While reading my daily devotion this morning, I came across Matthew 6:33-34.

“Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.”

When I reread that scripture, I was reminded how I should live my life without worry or concern. If I am living a life full of God-reality, God-initiative, and God-provisions, then I don’t have to worry about missing out. All of my everyday human concerns will be met, and God will continue to lead me through the next step without me planning it for Him.

Tomorrow begins three weeks’ worth of camp and a week of preparation to come home. I ask that you pray with me that I will continue to focus more on the opportunities my time left in Romania will give me, and less worrying about what I will do with them once I am home. Though my time at the Sunshine school is over, my purpose for being here is not and I will need your prayers and encouragement to remind me that every day in Romania is a blessing and can be used for God’s glory.

Thank you for your constant support and love, I can’t wait to share my experiences with your families and churches once I am home.

Love,Madalyn Payge <3

Saturday, June 9, 2012

One Month in Romania

The train station in Arad.
One month in Arad, Romania!

I cannot believe that I have been living in Romania for a month already! Time that I thought would crawl is quickly passing me by. With 31 days behind me, I have already experienced once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that make me anticipate what the next 60 days might bring. Now that I have learned some of the language, met many people, and have settled into this whole new world, I am able to tell you some of what I have been doing!

Me, Alina, and Lola =)
I am working at the Sunshine School for children who have
disabilities as a volunteer teacher’s assistant. Among my many colleagues, I work in a classroom with two incredible ladies that are teaching me so much! Alina is the teacher of the classroom and is expecting her first baby girl in July. She is incredibly sweet and patient. The way that she loves and believes in each of the children is absolutely inspiring. Her assistant is Lola, my kindred spirit. Lola is tough, full of funny antidotes, and provides my daily humor in her on-going commentary. I couldn’t ask for better women to work with.
The Sunshine School's playground.

      I work in the classroom Monday-Friday, 8-2, but on Mondays and Fridays I am fortunate enough to be able to stay after school for an extra five hours and work with the psychologist, speech therapist, and behavior specialists. So far I have been able to observe all of the sessions with the children, take notes, ask questions, and work with the children during their sessions. I am also starting to work with the psychologist and behavior specialist to form lesson plans for the children's therapy sessions. They are teaching me age and disability appropriate methods, learning games, and different forms of therapies to use.
My gator and pisica (cat).
Requested drawings while
playing with sidewalk
chalk with the cottage-house kids. 
 I have always known that the word "disability" is a very broad umbrella, mentally and physically. But until I started working with the doctors here and began making these session plans with goal lists for the children, I never realized how many different problems and difficulties came along with each individual's disability or disorder. I am so happy to be here and to be able to learn so much.

RCE is celebrating 20 years
of service this year!

So far, my most memorable experience has been visiting poor families that RCE helps support. These families are considered “gypsies”. RCE (Romanian Christian Enterprise) is the organization that funds the Sunshine School and children’s cottages where children who have special needs have been abandoned and now live. RCE does something incredible for these “poor families”. Instead of freely providing the families with the things they needs, RCE encourages each family to help meet the organization half-way. This means that if the family needs food, RCE provides a cow for milk, or seeds for a garden. In return, the family must do their part in caring for the cow and tending to the garden. Not only does this method decrease the families dependency on other people (and the government), but it also teaches them responsibility, independence, and how to work for what they need.
If your mind pictured a TLC episode of gypsies living large, or the beautiful, hunchback-loving Esmeralda when I mentioned “gypsy” families, your mental images couldn’t be more wrong. These families live outside of the clean, safe city, in a remote and dusty village. The houses resembled shacks more than homes and I could smell the village before I had actually seen it. We visited four families that day, but two stuck out in my mind in complete opposite and surprising ways.
The first family had seven people living in a three room house. Two adults with five children, one of the boys is mentally disabled and another is blind.  When I say that there were three rooms in the house, I do not mean three bedrooms, I mean literally three rooms. One of the rooms served as the kitchen, eating area and where they had a couch. The other two rooms were packed with beds for the seven people to sleep.  Please note that I did not mention a bathroom. After touring the home, we walked outside with all the barefoot children following. I was happy to see that this family had taken the assistance from RCE and were working hard to improve their lives and to give their children a better life. This family had grown a prosperous garden that gave them food to eat and sell, they had acquired a hog for meat, and a cow that produced milk for drinking and selling.
 Seeing that cow made me feel closer to home than anything else, ya’ll!!   =)
Though the first family’s living environment was shocking, it had not come close to preparing me for the introduction of the second family.

In an area where people were all outside tending to their gardens and feeding their livestock, our RCE van pulled up to a gated shack. I have honestly seen tool sheds bigger than what this family of five called home. I might sound heartless, but it didn’t take me long to realize that this family’s predicament was the outcome of their own laziness and government-dependency. Many times RCE had given them seeds to plant, but overgrown weeds and excuses were in the place that the garden should be. They had been offered livestock, but didn’t want to take care of an animal despite the milk and meat it could give their three young children. The children, by the way, are just additional examples of their parent’s government-dependency. The mother is illiterate and the father refuses to work. To compensate their nonexistent income, they have children for the small, time-limited monthly payment the government gives anyone who has a baby. Every time the money stops coming because a child is too old, these parents decide to have another, despite the fact that they cannot provide for the ones they already have. The couple is young. The mother held the newborn, while the other two children played on the floor of the house. The floor was dirt. No carpet or rugs covered the dirt that the barefoot children played on. Black sand covered their hands and feet, the middle child was not wearing pants. I don’t mean to paint the picture of a toddler in a Pampers commercial running around in a diaper. This baby wasn’t wearing anything but a shirt that was too small and a smile. I left their house that day more mad than I had ever been in my life. It was unfortunate to see two parents that were unwilling to provide for their children, but that happens all the time. The image that will always linger in my mind is of those children that didn’t take a pre-birth survey choosing to be born into that family. They will grow up without an example of what responsibility and hard work looks like. They don’t know that it’s not acceptable for the bed that they share to be placed right beside the kitchen stove, or for their parents to choose buying cigarettes over clothes for them.

 I left their house not only with an immense appreciation for the work that RCE does, but also with a new understanding for what it means to do the work of Christ. Just like the children in that village, I didn’t take a pre-birth survey. I didn’t choose to be born into the lives of people who would love and care for me. I didn’t hand-pick my parents.  I didn’t decide before birth that I would meet an incredible woman who would lead me back to church, I didn’t know I would be so accepted by a loving church family and I didn’t pre-determine that I would be called to work with children who have special needs or even missions. But I did. And because I was chosen to be so fortunate, to be so blessed, I can’t help but also feel like it’s my job to show God’s love through acts of service for the people who also didn’t choose to be born in the back of the line. Getting to know the children here, meeting these poor families, and  watching children climb out of dumpsters with someone else’s leftover food every day on my way to work reminds me that as part of the body of Christ, we are called to love.
 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’’’ Matthew 25:40
God shows us His love through times of happiness, trials, our success, our families, our deepest despairs, through the blood that covered our sins, and the overwhelming grace in His forgiveness. God’s agape (unconditional) love challenges us to love others as He loves us and as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). The deeper I find myself in this mission God has placed on my heart, the further I find myself committing to that love for “the least of these”. I am so blessed to be born into the life I have, but I can’t imagine going home and forgetting what I have seen here. I find myself wondering what America’s “least of these” look like and how I can help at home.
Please join me as I pray that my heart will be continuously receptive to the opportunities God could give me to help love others as I love myself, whether it be in continuing to care for people with disabilities, missions, or reaching out to those that weren’t born into the blessings that I had been taking for granted.
Thank you for your prayers, emails, love, and encouraging words. They help more than you know. The support of those that love me, gives me the support I need to love others the way that God has called us to.
Love from Romania,
Madalyn Payge <3