Friday, September 28, 2012

Oh, how I love Jesus!

One song we sing at church here often is "Oh, How I Love Jesus". Kurt and Mary pretty much have it down!
 
 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Thank you!

Jenson
Chilala
Paula
Christopher
 
Mimi

Vicky
 
Thank you to the St. Joseph Church of Christ in St. Joseph, Michigan! Their ladies class made so many blankets that arrived on our baby container this summer, and they are perfect! A couple of years ago, they used their talents to sew these sweet dresses for the toddlers as well. This ladies class has been so faithful to us here by showering us with blessings like these blankets and dresses, and also by praying for our babies as a class. We can't thank you enough for your help!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Success Story


On an almost daily basis, I can experience such a wide range of emotions. The highs here seem so high, and the lows are usually really low. Thankfully, they usually balance each other out quite nicely, and God’s timing is always perfect.

The day after we buried Jenson, I traveled to Macha to visit Catherine, one of our babies that went back to her home village in 2010. Catherine is a baby that changed my life in more ways than I can count, and many other peoples’, too!


Catherine, 3 months old
 

We got her a few days old, and I named her after my sister-in-law Haley and my niece Harper, both of whom have the middle name Catherine. She came with all sorts of health concerns, spent plenty of time in and out of local hospitals, and ended up needing glasses to correct two lazy eyes. At this point in her little life, she was 2 ½ and living at Haven 2. Kathi Merritt and I took her for an eye exam, found out she needed glasses to correct the eye movement, and thought about sending her back to Haven 2. Well, Haven 2 is a house of 25 toddlers who think a new “toy” like glasses  is fascinating and to be shared! So, reentry into Haven 2 after starting to wear glasses was initially impossible. So she came home to my house until she became used to them and would be able to stop other kids from taking them off. After about a week, she loved her glasses and wanted them on all the time. It was neat to see her personality start coming to life as she started seeing better.
 
Glasses!
 
After seeing that it would be hard to have her successfully wear her glasses around all the other little snit-snorts, we just decided to keep her at our house until her aunts came to get her, which they had said would be in October sometime. This was late September.

Her aunts never came. We called and called, but it didn’t work out for her to go home yet, so she stayed. And became the first baby I would consider a daughter. I knew she would be going home at some point, and I truly wanted that for her. But until then, she was mine, and it was wonderful. She ended up living with us (the four girls were here then—a story for another time!) for close to 9 months. She changed my life.


After 4 broken pairs of glasses and many patches!

Her favorite American food

Catherine now lives back in a village about 3 hours away from here. She lives with her father, a new step mother, and 2 half brothers. The day she moved home, I thought my heart would break right in half. I couldn’t even handle picturing her sleeping in a new place, getting to know her family, eating different foods than she had become accustomed to with us.

But she went anyway :). And so while my heart was broken, hers was just fine after awhile. She made new friends and new traditions and she gets to live within her own community, where people know her late mother and her siblings.

Since she moved home, I’ve gotten to see her a couple of times. I’m blown away by her every time. It doesn’t make me ache any less, but it does do my heart good to see such a beautiful, happy, ornery little girl back with a family that cherishes her.

But I digress. The point of this was to say that God allowed me to go see Catherine last week out where she stays now. The Harding group was going out to tour the hospital, and I caught a ride and spent the morning with a giggly, hilarious Catherine. Our reuniting looked like a sweet movie scene. I saw her from afar. She saw me from afar. And we just ran and squealed and hugged. God gave me a really high high after a really low low.
 
Louisa, me, and Cath


Catherine and her little brother Milton


So I spent the morning together with her and her little brother and mom. Her mom was so gracious to bring her to meet me and allow me to love on the precious baby who is now hers. She says Catherine still travels down the road saying, “I’m going to greet Meagan, but I’ll come back!”

We left after a couple of hours, and I hugged her as tightly as I could without actually harming her, hoping she remembers just a little bit how much I love her, how God taught me so many lessons through her. And then she walked on down the road with her family. Every few seconds she would turn around and look back, flash a huge smile, and then kept walking until I finally couldn’t see her anymore. It made me ache just a little, but mostly it made me so grateful that she’s loved, she’s happy, and she’s adjusted so well to life now. That’s our goal, after all. We want to help our babies reunite with families that are able to care for them, and she’s a great success story.
 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Jenson

Jenson, 2 days old






5 weeks old

I do not wait patiently for death. Living in Zambia over the years has taught me patience beyond what I thought myself capable of before. But when it comes to waiting for a baby to die, I cannot make myself be patient. In fact, I rage against this wait. I find myself getting angrier and angrier as I watch a life we love gasp for breath and fight to live. I find myself hoping in the back of my heart somewhere that I'll stop feeling the familiar rise and fall of her chest in my arms because that would mean she is free. I hope you won’t find me awful for not pulling for life right up until the last breath, but I can't seem to do that anymore. Instead, I find myself pulling for heaven, the blessing received at the end of a perfectly innocent life. I find myself pulling for a whole body and a mother and child reunited. I find myself smiling picturing this fragile, broken body sitting soon on the lap of Jesus, singing praises as we were created to do.

It's not that I'm not sad. I don't think any of us who hold death so closely could even begin to describe the depth of emotion that goes way beyond sadness. But there is just such a fierce desire in those waiting moments to see God do what He does best. Create beauty from ashes. Restore the broken. Bring life where once there was death. Sometimes that restoration, that healing, comes only through dying.

I took our baby girl home from the hospital to my house after the doctors said there was nothing else to do but wait. So for two days we waited. And we prayed. And we sang. And we loved.

In the wee hours of the morning this morning, as I sang her the lyrics of Everlasting through choked-back tears, Jenson stopped breathing and the wait was over. I’m grateful for her and where she is now, but I’m so, so broken.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Aumbi Update


After a long couple of days in Lusaka, we are back at Namwianga. Aumbi is still admitted in the University Teaching Hospital, currently in the PICU to stabilize her for transport back to us at Namwianga. Patience, one of our wonderful aunties, is with her now, and it’s fun to hear her excited reports of Aumbi’s improvement.

We were very encouraged by the pediatric cardiologist’s conclusions that Aumbi would make a great surgical candidate. Although it’s a lot easier said than done, we were at least thrilled that he saw value in her life and had such compassion on her and on us. Right now, she is not stable enough to fly anywhere to have the needed operations, but every day she is getting stronger, so we are simply taking one day at a time in our decision making process.

We were unable to search for a school for Busiku this trip because Aumbi’s state was most pressing. Hopefully when we go pick Aumbi up, time will allow us to do that.

Jenson is still struggling in the hospital. When I arrived yesterday to check on her, she was struggling to breathe, which is a new symptom for her. She has finished the course of treatment for meningitis, but still shows few signs of improvement. Please continue praying for all three of these sweet girls.


I was so grateful for these three that traveled with us to Lusaka. Molly is a Harding Student, you know Louisa!, and Katie is one of the directors of the Harding group this year. Please don't look closely at this picture-- it had been a LONG trip, as evidenced by my crazy hair and general disheveled appearance!
Aumbi smiling at her rattle

Monday, September 10, 2012


 
We're about to leave for Lusaka with our resident darling, Aumbi. Aumbi just turned one year last week, and we praise God that He’s given her life and blessed us immensely with her.
Aumbi has Down syndrome and 3 holes in her heart. She’s also finished a course of treatment for tuberculosis. Breathing well is a daily struggle for her right now. She is currently on medications for her heart condition, but early Tuesday morning we will meet with a cardiologist to decide on the next course of action. Please pray for us as we travel, pray for wisdom in our decision making, and wisdom in the doctor’s treatment of her. Pray that Aumbi’s little body does okay on the trip to the big city, about 5 hours away.

Also while in Lusaka, we plan to check out a special home for Busiku, another precious life God has blessed us with. She is somewhere between the age of 6 and 10 and has severe cerebral palsy and microcephaly, a genetic condition causing her head and brain to have retarded growth. She has been at the Havens for a year, but the older she gets, the more we see a need to find a place for her to have more consistent therapy and treatment which we just don’t have access to in Kalomo. There are a couple of options of schools, so we’ll meet and see what we can do to best serve her.
 

Thanks for loving our babies and praying with us!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Adam

Life in a developing world is hard. That’s a major understatement, but so, so true.

We buried Adam this morning. A vivacious, lively, ornery toddler on Tuesday night was dead by Thursday morning. It’s impossible to know exactly what happened in his body, but the high fevers and seizures point to possible cerebral malaria or meningitis. He struggled all day Wednesday. Thursday morning at 4:45 we rushed him to a mission hospital about 30 minutes away. He vomited and seized on the way there, and I thanked God over and over again for this vehicle He has provided, allowing us to at least attempt to get our babies to the best medical care available for them. After a few hours, Adam’s body gave out and he finally stopped struggling.

The house mother at Haven 3, Fortune, has fought for Adam’s life so many times during his nearly two years of life. She’s loved him like her own son, and he loved her back. He felt so minimally the loss of his mother because Fortune was right there to pick up where his birth mother left off. Babies that are continually sick spend so much individual time with the aunties, are prayed over so much and worried over, until they become a part of everyone who has ever been a part of their story, who has fought for them and sought the best for them. And then they make it through, walk through the valley of death and come out triumphant, at least for a time. Death is so much harder when they’ve already survived so much, and you think the worst is over.

When we choose to do work like this, we’re basically agreeing to have our hearts ripped out of our chests over and over again. Sometimes it seems crazy. But it is always worth it. It is never a waste of the energy, mental, physical, or spiritual, that you’ve poured out.

So we've buried another life, one that was so treasured and cherished. We’re left with so many questions, but in the end we know God is good. As Fortune, Auntie Mildred, and I drove Adam’s body back to Kalomo, Fortune kept saying, “God’s ways are not our ways.” Amen to that. I’m so grateful that they’re not, too. I still seek to understand, but know that just as His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are also not our thoughts. For now, all we can do is picture Adam in heaven, joined with his mother again, joined with all his friends that have gone before, welcomed by a host of angels, and keep fighting for the ones still with us.We praise His name and trust in His goodness amidst our broken hearts.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Stronger


Helen has started to turn a corner! She started TB treatment at the end of last week, and you can tell she feels considerably better. She was even well enough today to be in a chitenge again, when the last few days it would really upset her breathing. We are so hopeful that she will live and thrive now, and we give God all the praise for saving her life.


It seems as soon as one little one gets better, we have a new one take her place (just to make sure I still have a job to do, I guess!). This time, we have two, Owen and Jenson. Owen is really struggling right now. His twin sister, Olivia, died about a month ago, and he is presenting with many of the same symptoms. Please pray that God will grant him long life, a life that can be lived abundantly and to praise Him.

 
 
Jenson could also use your prayers. We are afraid she may have meningitis, but it would be impossible to know without a spinal tap. Janice, the nurse practioner and professor for Harding, started her on medicines to treat for that, so we hope they will start working soon.



I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for the vehicle I have now, thanks to amazing, generous supporters like you! Sometimes I walk outside and am again shocked that I have a vehicle at my disposal. Today alone it was used to take Jenson to the clinic, it went to town to pick up all the supplies for the orphanage this week, and it took Owen into town to get a consult from a doctor. Living here for years without a car last time makes me incredibly appreciative of it this time.


Tomorrow I'll put it to good use again as we take Caleb and Paula to Zimba Mission Hospital for their legs to be casted. They both have club feet, so they wear plasters to help correct the turn in their feet and ankles.

Thanks for your love and prayers for me and sweet Helen. God is a great healer, and I'm so grateful He allows me to be a part of his process.