Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Yesterday, my brother and sister-in-law gave me the incredible birthday present of a niece born on my actual birthday! It was an indescribable gift, and I loved every second of this birthday. This little baby girl, Jenson Kaye, is the reason I didn't fly out the very day school got out and get straight to my babies. Instead, I wanted to wait and meet Jenson before I left. I'm so glad we made this decision because waiting meant time with my family this summer that I would have missed out on otherwise, so all in all it was such a good thing.

 In the 36 hours she's been alive, I have taken over 500 pictures of her. Now that may seem a bit excessive, but I was deemed the photographer for the big event, so it's a little excusable... But regardless, just about every 4 minutes of her life, on average, she's had her picture taken. Obviously, we couldn't miss all the key moments in her life thus far, like meeting her parents, her doctors, her grandparents, her aunts and uncles, her cousins, her parents' best friends, the nurses taking care of her, her first weigh-in, her first "bath", her in her first outfit, her in her second outfit, the change in bows, her sleeping, her yawning, and I could go on and on! Trust me, I've been appropriately made fun of for how much I'm documenting this blessed event.

I know part of the obsessive documentation is this desire to soak up every second of her and the rest of my family before I leave and don't see them again for 18 months. I want to remember that I was there and seeing them and touching them and holding them and living with them. They won't be there, but I'll have the visible proof that they're still mine, I still have them, even when I'm far away.

The other part is that it's just so miraculous for a baby to enter the world. I truly wonder how anyone who has had a child can NOT believe in God. Everything about a tiny baby is something to marvel at-- the perfection of noses and fingers and toes and hearts and eyes all perfectly formed within this child, only to arrive at just the time she's ready. It's simply amazing.

And it's even more amazing that these tiny, innocent creations of God are loved by Him even more than by us! He hasn't made even one by accident. And so that means that every single one of our 82 babies at the Havens is a life He intimately knows and cares about. They are treasures.

Rocking our new Jenson to sleep tonight, I couldn't help but think about how I'm leaving her soon to go back to our 82 babies, and I couldn't help but compare their lives. Our treasures won't have many pictures taken of them, and their lives will surely look different than my sweet nieces' and nephews' lives have. Watching the preparation and care that my brother and sister have put into her life already makes me mourn for the families that have to leave their little one. I know the mothers of our babies loved their babies, too, and prepared for them, too, and treasured them, too. God is sending me to help do what those mothers couldn't do. Their death means their treasure is in our hands, but each of those still deserves what their mother would have wanted for them. They need to be treasured, marveled at, ooh-ed and ahh-ed over. And it's a privilege to be one of the ones stepping into that role.

It's this God-given desire to be a mother to the motherless that can allow me to walk away from the greatest mother and father in the world, the greatest family ever put together, the sweetest nieces and nephews ever. By walking away from here, I get to walk right back into the other home God had created for me, the work He's called me to complete. I get to rock and love and ooh and ahh over all their milestones, all their firsts, all the cute things they say and do. God sees so much value in his children, and we do, too. They are far from accidents, and we believe that each life is here for a great purpose. God has blessed us with so many treaures!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tons of twins

At the Havens, we seem to always have an abundance of twins. Since 2006, we've had 19 sets of twins, and even more single twins who came without their deceased twins. One reason why we receive so many twin sets is because the risk of maternal death is much greater with multiples. Most mothers of multiples in Zambia are unaware they are having more than one child until they actually deliver, in fact.

Here are some of our precious twins from the past few years and some that are currently with us.

Ross and Nita

Ruth and Marcus

Quintyn and Tanner
Joy and Emmanuel

Philip and Shalom

Heather and Harper

Olivia and Donna
Elias and Bester
Kelsey and Kelly
Lee and Linny
Maya and Marissa
Memory and Maureen
Sidney and Shelby

Yvette and Yvonne

Olivia and Owen

Kim and Dorsi

Prince and Princess

Jonathan and Victoria
Love and Beauty
Some of these babies have gone home to be with their families, and some of these babies went home to be with Jesus. Some of these babies just came to us in the last few months. No matter where they are now, they've impacted our lives for the better. Double the fun and double the love!

Monday, July 16, 2012


One of our goals is to feed our children a well-balanced diet so when they re-enter their home villages, they are starting off on the right foot nutritionally.

Our babies drink strictly formula (usually Lactogen, but we always have some babies on specialized formulas as well) until they are six months old. They continue getting bottles until they move into our toddler house, where they mainly only drink milk in their tea. As you can imagine, that means TONS of milk and TONS of bottle washing!


Porridge is introduced at six months, and they eat that twice a day until they are big enough to eat more solid food. They take porridge at 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. In the mornings, there is always a vitamin crushed up on the top. Some kids go right for that because they love the taste-- others you have to mix it in really well so they forget it's there at all!

At their other porridge feeding, they don't get a vitamin but some sort of protein mixed in with it instead. Sometimes it's eggs, sometimes peanut butter, but always something good for them. They usually love porridge, but it makes quite the mess!


Once they graduate past "baby food", they start eating Zambia's staple food twice a day, still eating porridge for breakfast (no matter what your age!). Zambia's staple food is called nshima, and it's made out of ground up maize. It is taken twice a day with some sort of relish. Sometimes that is fish, chicken, mince meat, greens, potatoes, eggs, tomato and onion soup, beans, etc. We try to feed the babies one protein a day, and the other relish is usually just a soup or vegetable.

Nshima with kapenta (small fish)
When the kids are first learning to eat nshima, it is mashed up like in the picture above and eaten with a spoon.

In the village, however, kids are fed using the hand from the very beginning. To get our kids "village ready", we start teaching them how to eat with their hands once they've really mastered the spoon and are coordinated enough to use a hand. Here is Bright demonstrating how to roll nshima.

The toddlers also have tea time twice a day where they get a biscuit or fruit with tea.

God is so good to provide food for all our hungry little mouths!

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Same

It's my impression that when people picture children in third world countries, they picture dying, dirty, lifeless children. It makes sense with all of the pictures that are shown on television and the stories that come out of some of these places. And to be honest, there is some truth in that.

But it would be a shame for people to walk away assuming that is the only side of the story. Because while one side of life in Zambia is painful and tragic and difficult, the other side is equally beautiful and joyous and rich. Sometimes I think we focus a little too much on the painful side.

People are people wherever they live. People in America struggle with many of the same things Zambians struggle with daily. Money. Relationships. Parenting. Health. It's all relative, of course, but the heart of what makes us humans makes us more alike than we tend to think.

This is so easy to see when I look at our kids at the Havens. Really, they aren't much different than any other children.

See, our kids draw on walls when they're not supposed to (although it's with charcoal, not crayons...).
They spill food all over the floor when they eat.

They get into things they're not supposed to play with.



They get out of bed before you want them to and hop into bed with others you wish were still sleeping!

They play in the dirt after they've already had their baths.

And of course, they fight just like kids here in America do.

So, if you were ever to come visit us, you'd find kids much like yours-- precious, silly, ornery little ones who fill our lives with so much joy! God made all of us with so much more in common than we think we do.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


To make a ministry like the Havens work, it takes the hands of so many people. The most instrumental people in our babies' lives are the aunties, the ladies that care for the basic needs of our children. The Havens are a special place where each person has a particular role to play, and it really takes all of us working together to make the whole thing work.  

Aunties either work the day shift or the night shift, meaning they work either from 7 a.m.-5p.m. or 5 p.m. -7 a.m. While the aunties in the day have a shorter 10-hour shift, the babies are usually awake for more of their shift, so it's kind of a trade-off!

Each auntie has her own room she is responsible for, and she is specifically responsible for the bathing (3 times a day!), changing, and dressing of her babies, laundering their nappies (diapers), changing their sheets and blankets daily, preparing bottles for her babies, feeding her babies, and cleaning her room thoroughly. It's a busy, often exhausting day when you are doing that for so many kids!
Rejoyce at porridge time
Bina Lumba feeding
Bina Sebi organizing clothes

Bina Bombo washing the windows in her room
Bina Bombo changing Stella

Folding time!
There are also aunties who take care of the cooking and laundry, and still others who work on the grounds of the orphanage.

While the aunties care for the basic needs of the babies, they do so much more than that. They love them, they pray for them, and they invest in them. These women have hearts that want to love and serve, and it's my honor to work beside them as we try to do what's best for the babies. I have learned so much from them, and I am forever grateful for the way they've opened their hearts and homes to me. We're going to have a very sweet reunion in a few weeks!