Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Zambian Thanksgiving

The day that Louisa left to go back to the States, I had two friends come to spend Thanksgiving with me! It was perfect timing that just as I had to say goodbye to my kindred, Louisa, Kelsey and Katie arrived. Kelsey lived here with me for 9 months in 2009, so she was coming back to visit her old students and friends here. I was just the blessed recipient of her visit. This was Katie’s first visit to Africa, but she has so many friends who’ve been that she already felt like she knew this place.

They came bearing many gifts for the orphanage, but also Thanksgiving treats and Christmas presents for me from my family and friends. It was like Christmas morning!
Excited about the trunks arriving!
I wish my sweet niece Jenson would have made it all the way here in that trunk!
I’ve spent quite a few Thanksgivings here, but we’ve never had a turkey. I’ve never ever seen one for sale in a store, although other people have. I did, however, spot a turkey in a village about 20 kilometers away about a month ago. I asked my friend there if he would consider selling me his turkey for our American holiday. He laughed, but agreed he’d let me have it. Our night watchman, Patrick, stays in this same village, so the night before Thanksgiving he delivered our turkey at about 7 o'clock. It was live and on the back of his bicycle. It was a HUGE turkey.

About to get dirty
Showing off the turkey
Obviously, we had no idea what to do with a live turkey. Patrick walked me through killing it, but the process once it's dead is long and involved. I sawed the neck in half, and nearly gagged a number of times in the process. It was painful for me to see and hear all the sounds involved in killing something, but I made it through. Patrick stood on the wings of the turkey to keep it still so I could do the deed. He also provided incredible moral support when I didn’t think I could finish the job. 
Pinning down the wings

This was a mixture of shock, disgust, guilt, and a number of other emotions!

After it was killed, the hard work began. In the interest of full disclosure, I viewed most of this process from the comfort of Patrick's chair. I was still traumatized by the murder I'd just committed. Katie and Patrick pulled off the majority of feathers. I started assisting in the plucking once we realized just how long it was going to take. It was unreal. Patrick took charge of gutting the bird, and that was quite fascinating and disturbing as well. Kelsey was on germ patrol, trying to keep everything as clean as possible.

Pulling off all the feathers

Trying to boil him to get all the dirt off
Washing the tukey with soap and water
 It was a late night, but we finally managed to get the turkey ready to cook. If Patrick had not been with us, there is no way we could have had turkey on Thanskgiving day. He was our hero.

I took Thanksgiving day off, and we spent the day getting things ready to cook and playing games. By about noon, we had an apple pie and deviled eggs finished and the prep work done on quite a few things. The turkey, however was still pretty raw.

And then, as it always seems to do in important moments, the power went out. Zesco, our power company here, obviously didn't care that this was a major American holiday, and we didn't have power until about 10 o'clock that night. It was sad at first, but I was not surprised because we've had inconsistent power the last few weeks because of the rains.

So we set about making fires outside on braziers to cook the rest of our meal. Our neighbors had a brai, which is like a grill, so we ended up having grilled turkey. We cooked mashed potatoes, green beans, and stuffing over an open fire.

When it was all said and done, it was a great Thanksgiving with so many unexpected adventures. We went around and said all the things we were thankful for, and I could have gone all night. Eating by the light of candles, I was thankful that we usually have electricity and modern conveniences. I am grateful for friends that took time away from their families to bless me this holiday season. I am grateful for thoughtful family that sent Thanksgiving decorations to make it feel a little like home. I am grateful for sponsoring congregations that allow me to be here doing what I get to do and who think of everything, even writing in my contract that I should observe American holidays! I am grateful for the technology that allowed me to skype my family once the power came back on so I got to hear all the things they are thankful for, too. I'm grateful God had given me purpose and a job to do in this world. I am just so thankful.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012


I hope you all are having a great holiday season! I definitely had a Thanksgiving to remember, but I’ll post a separate post about that another day. I also realize another Milestone Monday has passed without a post, so I guess my self-fulfilling prophecy came true--“you’ll never actually keep up with something like that every week!” In my slight defense, we haven’t had power the last two Mondays (and most days between for that matter, but who’s counting??), and a post about Monday should obviously happen on Monday, so there’s that.
Beauty died this morning, and we buried her a couple of hours later. As premature as she was, we knew her life expectancy in a country like this was not great, but it still breaks our hearts to lose her. I think we all just thought that after all the times she’s almost died but we’ve been able to revive her, she would make it through this time as well. But this morning she stopped breathing and her tiny little lungs couldn’t do it anymore. She was a blessing, and I’m so thankful she was born. She now has heaven for all of eternity.

Maybe my favorite picture of Beauty. I love how her legs look in those newborn socks.

Louisa left last week, and I was so sad to see her go! We moved here together in 2006, and then she moved back to the States in 2009 when I stayed another year. This was the first time we’d been back together in Zambia since then, excepting short visits, so it was so much fun! She came as one of the faculty members for Harding University in Zambia. HIZ was blessed to have her on their staff. She has a heart that desperately wants to do good and make sure the world knows Jesus Christ, and she does it in such a fun way. This semester she felt called to speak to young women about the dangers of sexual sin and the importance of purity. My prayer is that God will multiply her efforts and use what she’s taught to help many, many women in the future. Before she left, she gave me such a sweet gift—she made me and Helen matching outfits! It was a hilarious surprise, and the aunties went wild when we showed up wearing them. I really miss my kindred spirit, but I feel so blessed to have had 3 months to be with her here again.

Jeremy needs prayers right now. He's not gaining weight and not thriving at all. We are still waiting for his HIV test to return, and we've tried all there is to do for him without knowing the result of that. So, while we wait, please pray for healing for him and his weak body.

Auntie Betty and Jeremy
We got a new baby boy Sunday named Lushomo. Our last six have been girls, so it was about time for a boy! He was born on Sunday and was just a few hours old when he arrived. He's sweet as can be, and he spends all his time sleeping, thus far.

Lushomo, 8 hours old
Have a great day!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Brentwood Packages

I have been blessed with such incredible supporters! My family at Brentwood has sent some packages over the last few weeks filled with sleepers, nail clippers, mirrors for language class, and other treasures! We all feel so loved, and I'm so grateful to those of you who helped make this happen! Check out some of these stylish babies in their new clothes!
Tracy opening up a package!




Lincoln checking himself out in the new mirror




Maya and Marissa


Auntie Sangster and Aaron
Auntie Eva and Richard

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It's been two weeks! Time flies when you're having fun. Let me sum up the last two weeks in a nutshell:

1. We have four new babies since last week.

Katie came one day old. She's perfect and precious, and all seems well.


Candice came 8 hours old. She came out with a smashed face, all the way leaning to one side, but she's perfect and precious, too!


Memory and Melody, twin girls, came 4 months old. Their first two days were pretty rough, but since then they seem to have bounced back into what must be the sweetest personalities God ever granted children. They can barely drink their milk for all the smiling they do.

Memory and Melody

All four of our new ones are HIV exposed, so we'll wait and see what their tests show.

2. We have had 3 more babies go home. Matt went first, then Mary, and then Peace. Each of them left gaping holes. Each went into situations we feel good about. Each are missed every day. Each of them deserves a whole post, but that might be awhile.

Matt's just messing with you-- he was very happy to be going home with his grandmother!
Mary and her new rain boots from Uncle Ben and Aunt Courtney

A sweet look between Peace and her aunt

3. Busiku continues to go to physical therapy three times a week, and yesterday she sat alone for the first time in her life!! It was an awesome day, and she's really making so much progress. I have some contact information about a home for children with severe special needs, so we're also making progress on that front. I can't get enough of this picture and her preciousness.

4. Beauty is up to 1.2 kgs, which is a little over two and a half pounds. We're making progress. The feeding tube had to be reinserted because she developed some pretty bad oral thrush and wasn't sucking well, but it's out again and she's sucking again on her own. We continue to have some pretty bad scares with her. Last week an auntie called me from the other room, told me she'd stopped breathing, and I went to attend to her. She was completely blue in the face, and her legs were white and freezing. I did CPR, and after a long four minutes, she regained normal breathing patterns. She has spells like this about once a week. Please keep praying for her little lungs to do their job.

5. Harding left last week. It was sad to see them go, but we were so thankful for the time they spent here. The babies were especially blessed by the extra love and attention they lavished upon them. I was so blessed by our bible studies and devotionals that really encouraged by soul. We miss them already.

Holly, a Harding student, working with Aaron

6. Louisa was able to stay for 2 weeks after the Harding group left, and I'm so happy for that time with my friend! We went away for a few days of relaxation and rejuvenation, and now she has another week left before she goes back to America.

7. The rains have started, so while some days are pretty brutally hot, most are really pleasant. This allows us to have lots of afternoons spent playing on the veranda. Does this look like bliss or what?


Have a great week everybody!