Friday, June 19, 2015

A is for Absence

Hello again, dear friends. I'm just the worst at consistent blogging. That's obvious now. 

In the months of my absence from this little space, so much has happened, yet not much at the same time. These months have been full, definitely, but simply full of those everyday moments and circumstances that add up to life. 

We've had new babes come that have stolen our hearts, and other babes that have gone home who've carried our hearts off to the new places they stay. We've had sick babies get well and overcome some crazy circumstances, but also our sweet Ezra died after fighting for life as hard as a baby can.  We've seen the rains end and the cold begin. And God has been with us through all the change and in every season. 

So this is just me, saying we're still here and life is still good and the world still keeps on turning. And I'm probably still going to be horrible at blogging, but I'll keep trying. :)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter Egg Hunting

We had such a fun day yesterday hunting for eggs over and over again! The rain even waited for us to finish before it fell! 


Kelvin was in heaven. 
Binwell ripped his bag to pieces long before we started hunting! :)

Sweet Ris helping open up the eggs
Momo and Memo enjoying their sweets. 
Vera
Biggie
Ella
Hanna and Kate helping open up lots of eggs!
Priscilla was a bit hesitant. 
As was Mercy. 
They got the hang of it eventually. 
Jonah
Zeke
Lulu chowing down, as per usual. :)
Evelyn
Petra
Helen
Chilala all loaded up. 
John was the best hunter!


Hope your Easter was great, too!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Ba Fortune


Today our community buried our friend Ba Fortune, a woman who was loved and respected by all. She was a nurse and a midwife, a mother and aunt and faithful Christian, and she was the house mother for our children at Haven 3. 

It's impossible to put into words the impact she's had on our village of Namwianga, the hundreds of children she's helped bring into the world, the others she's fought to save, and still others she's loved until the end of their lives. 

I will never forget driving back from the hospital with her in the middle of the night after our baby Adam died. She just kept saying over and over again, "His ways are not our ways. His ways are not our ways. His ways are greater than ours." 

I hold onto those words even now as we try to move forward after this huge loss to our family here. Ba Fortune is loved and missed and will not be forgotten. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The story of a friendship

As I write this, I'm sitting in the Johannesburg airport waiting to fly home for my dear friend Louisa's wedding. Well, to be fair, I'm flying home for my furlough, but the first thing on the agenda is getting Lou married! 

I've never told you about Lou on here, or maybe even fully about my journey that landed me living in Zambia. But it kind of all begins with Lou and a friendship that completely changed my life. 

Lou and I met the summer after my freshman year of college. I went to OC and she went to Harding, but we both ended up on an internship in Jinja, Uganda that summer. We were both a little stand offish at first, not quite sure about the other. But over time and by the sweetness of God, we became friends. She would quickly tell you I'm not her best friend and she's not mine (this always makes people laugh because it sounds so weird), but we are each other's kindred spirits. In that first summer together, we bonded over A.W. Tozer's Pursuit of God, over sickness and an inability to swallow pills at an embarrassing age, and hearts that were starting to feel called far away from home. Before that internship in Africa, I'd never thought about the things Lou and I would talk about and question. I'd never had any desire to do anything but get married and raise my kids exactly like I was raised, to be honest. So many questions started troubling me as I left Uganda that summer, and Lou remained that person who "got it" in my life. 

After a couple more trips back to parts of Africa, we decided to move to Namwianga together. The decision and process to get there is a story for another day, but the point is that Lou and I embarked on a journey together that would change our lives forever. 

We were oh so naive. I'm laughing right now just remembering so many of the hilarious memories and mistakes we made early on. We just had no idea what all was in store for us. I always tell people if someone had told me before I left all that would happen to me while I was in Zambia, I probably would not had been strong enough to still choose to go. 

But go we did. Together. It was Louisa who taught me to drive a stick shift. It was Louisa who went wild in the rain with me the first time we experienced real African rain. It was Lou who was with me the night Harper died and I was all alone and away from my family in America. It was Lou who taught me how to be more sympathetic. It was Lou who made me laugh until I peed my pants so times. It was Lou who weathered culture shock with me and I with her. It was Lou who walked with me through so much death and so many questions and helped me learn to see light again. It was Lou who continued to support me even after she moved back to America and I remained in Zambia. There will always be a part of me that only Lou will totally know and understand, and I'm so grateful for that connection and gift. 

Someone wise once said something to the effect of "Each friend represents a world in us, a world not possibly born until their arrival" (I'm in the airport, okay? It's tough to look these things up!). But Louisa opened up so many new worlds to me. She made me braver and stronger and wiser and happier and healthier. She affirmed me and challenged me and asked questions with me. I've never known someone whose opinions and ideas of the world and mission and poverty and love mirror my own so closely. 

And now she's getting married and I get to be there to stand beside her and I couldn't be happier. 

And then I get to hug all my family, and my church family, and my friends. My heart feels pretty full. (I'm just not thinking about all the little ones my heart's already missing!)

** Now I'm sitting on a plane to Oklahoma City to see my family, but just now posting this I wrote before I landed for Lou's wedding! The wedding was yesterday, and now it's off to new fun adventures! And this is my 20th blog! :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Chitenges

Before you even start reading this post, know that I just laughed out loud when I was reading it over because it reads like a middle school essay on Chitenges or something. I'm sorry about that. It's just that people always ask me about them, so I thought I'd provide some facts! Sorry if you're bored to tears after reading my term paper. :)

One of my favorite parts of Zambian culture is the use of chitenges. Most every African nation has a form of a chitenge. It's a 2 meter strip of fabric, sometimes nylon, polyester, or cotton, that serves so many purposes.

It would be impossible to find a Zambian woman who doesn't own at least one, but most women usually have more in the neighborhood of 4 to 8.       .  

The primary use for a chitenge is as clothing. It covers the under layer of clothing and protects those from becoming dirty or wet. If you are a thin woman, it can be wrapped and tied around your waist. If you aren't that thin, it is tucked, but not tied. Some women even have strings sewn in so it's able to tie more easily. 
Chitenges are both casual and fancy (but not at the same time!). They are sometimes filthy and ratty from years of wear and tear. But they are also made into suits and worn to the most special of occasions, like weddings or graduations. 

They also play a part in funerals. It would be uncommon for a woman to not wear a chitenge to a funeral here. 

The second main use, and my primary use, for a chitenge is for carrying babies on your back. From the time a baby's cord falls off until they are 3 or 3 1/2 years old, babies are worn on their mamas' backs. Occasionally you'll see a desperate father wearing his baby, but it's a rare sight! Even babies chitenge babies, little girls only 4 years of age. 
It's interesting to me that although every child in Zambia grows up being worn in a chitenge, Zambians place little, if any, sentimental value into particular chitenges. In America, we keep baby blankets and stuffed animals and things that remind us of certain times in our lives, but here once it's worn out, it's used for rags until it can't be used anymore.

We use chitenges for so much more than just wearing, though. They're made into quilts, curtains, nappy liners, bags, table cloths, decorations, picnic blankets, and more.
Aaron and his auntie
Aunties all wearing short chitenges so they could still play volleyball!
Milika snuggled up under a chitenge quilt
Chitenge curtains

Chitenge pillows in the background

I hope you all are having a great day! 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Birthdays lately

We've had so many birthdays around here lately! Thankfully, the Harding group that is here has been more than willing to help me bake all the birthday treats, making my life so much easier! Our babies are growing up fast and doing so well. 

Biggie turned 3!
Seth helping carry in some birthday cake
Chabilo and Chabonwa turned 1 and 3! 
Chabilo enjoying her brownie birthday cake.
Esther turned 1!
And so did Ezekiel!
Katie turned 2!
Twins Owen and Oscar turned 1!

It's an honor to be able to celebrate these milestones with these little ones we love so much. We're grateful for their lives that we get to share in for this season.

Friday, November 7, 2014

It's formula time again!

It takes a lot of formula to feed our hungry little mouths and also the mouths of the 50+ children in our milk program. Our milk program provides formula for children who have lost their mothers but still have someone in their family who is able to care for them with the assistance of milk. It's a wonderful ministry made possible by people like you who help us buy the formula. We love it when families can stay together if at all possible, and this is one great way to support that happening!

Because formula costs so much in Zambia, it saves us considerable amounts of money to purchase it in the States. The East Side Church of Christ in Colorado Springs lovingly organizes a container each year, which ships over a year's supply of formula and other supplies that are hard to get in country.

We still need to raise about $35,000 to accomplish our goal before the container ships out in January!
If you are interested in making a donation to  help us meet this goal, you can send a check to:

Eastside Church of Christ,
Formula Fund
5905 Flintridge Drive,
Colorado Springs, CO 80920

If you need any help or have questions, please contact Benita Thomas at

 719-338-1341    benitathomas3@gmail.com .

As always, we are so blessed to have people around the world who love us so well! We appreciate you!