Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Formula Drive!

It’s that time of the year again—the formula drive! Because of the extremely high price of formula in Zambia, we ship all of the formula we use over from the United States once a year. This year, our goal is to raise $50,000, which will not only feed the babies that live at the Haven, but also the almost 50 babies in our milk program who are able to stay in the village with their families because of the milk provided to them.

At this point, $29,000 has been raised! We still need another $21,000. If you are able to help us fill this container with milk, we would be so appreciative.

You can make checks payable to Eastside Church of Christ, and put “formula” in the memo line. Checks can be mailed to
Eastside Church of Christ
5905  Flintridge Dr.
Colorado Springs, CO 80920

Thank you for the love you show our children in so many ways!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I'm alive.

I'm alive. We're alive. All is well!

I'm actually in America right now for my furlough, and since I can't count on my hands anymore the number of people who've asked if there was any NEW update on Flo, I thought it was probably time to fill you in on life.

I just arrived in Wichita after spending a blessed week with my sponsoring congregation in Austin, Brentwood Oaks. I love my family there so much, and it was fun to put faces with the names of so many I've been e-mailing with the last year and a half but had never met personally. So many of the members there are prayer partners for our babies and aunties, and I LOVED getting to show them updated pictures and videos of the ones they love so much. I was treated to so many meals and invited into so many homes where our conversations were meaningful and hopefully fruitful as well.

While in Austin, I had a mini reunion with 3 of my interns from last summer. We had so much fun talking, laughing, and getting them caught up on the little ones they miss so much.

Now I'm in Wichita for the week to be with my family and rest and play games and eat and soak up every second of being together.

Of course, half my heart is back home with all the babies. Tomorrow I'll update you on them...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Flo update

When you're rocking a baby, do you ever start singing the most random song? It always makes me laugh. It's as if you don't have thousands of songs memorized, floating around up there somewhere so you're straining to think of anything to sing.  And then the most odd ones come at certain moments.

Tonight I was rocking Flo to sleep, searching my mind for anything to sing, and the song "Silent Night" popped into mind. I sang it to my sweet, sleeping girl in the middle of September. The house was quiet, the fan was blowing gently on us, and all really was calm and bright. 

As I sang those words, For the first time ever, I think, I really pictured Jesus as this tiny infant, totally helpless and dependent on Mary. I thought about how deeply she must have loved her baby boy and how confused she must have been at what his future would hold. The line "Jesus, Lord at thy birth" gets me every time. 

I looked at Flo and imagined Jesus at her age, doing those same precious, baby things, and it totally made my day. Jesus, a totally human, totally real baby. It still shocks me, and I've been hearing the story since I was an infant! 

Don't think I'm comparing Flo to Jesus or anything, although she too is totally perfect! :) I was just thankful for the reminder of who our Savior is and where he started from. 

Anyway, since we're thinking about Flo already, how 'bout an update? 

Flo is just a completely different baby now. It is purely miraculous to see what God has done in her, how He has healed her and restored her trust and joy. It's just beautiful. She's still living at my house and spending the afternoons at the Haven. I'm in the process of transitioning her back there and so far she's doing great. 

Please keep praying for her as we make this transition together. I have a feeling it's going to be way harder on me than it will be on her. At least I hope so.

Possibly my favorite picture of her, just so content and proud of herself.
One of her first times sitting alone. She looks completely annoyed, probably at that outfit she's wearing.
She can't go anywhere without her paci, and when she sleeps her hand used to always be holding on to it.
She doesn't do that anymore. :(
When I realized that she's huge now.
That little grin is probably my very favorite of her looks.
Abbie loves Flo, and Flo tolerates Abbie.
Sitting like a champ. Boyd's cheering her on from the background.
This is the day I discovered she's a real sitter, like the 'I can leave the room while you sit there' kind.
She horns in on my morning Tonga lessons and clutching this Sharpie is her activity of choice. Every day.

My favorite thing about this video is how she keeps laughing at herself after she talks. Too sweet.

To read more about Florence's story, click here

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Joel's Walker

I know I say this every time, but I am constantly amazed at the progress Joel is making. It's not just that he's doing new things, which he is all the time. It's more that he just has a completely different air about him, a confidence and happiness and a genuine engagement with the world around him. 

Like all three year olds, he doesn't like to perform on command, so I don't have any evidence yet of many of his latest "tricks". The best is that for a year, he's been asked the question, "Who made you?" during language class. He never responds, but a couple of months ago he definitely started making a sound when he was asked. Then about a month ago that sound changed to a gggggg sound. And a couple of weeks ago, he said his very first word as the answer to that question: God! It was an awesome moment, and such an awesome first word!

During language class, if they want a treat they can come up and sing a song. Most of them sing one of about 3 songs, but the littlest ones usually always sing "Oh How I Love Jesus". So when I say, "Joel, imba (sing)!" he hums the entire first line of the chorus. It. Is. Perfect.

When all the kids are asked to make a good fashion (striking a pose) one at a time, he just props that little hand on his hip and tilts his head over to the side, so proud of himself.

In the song "Skiddery-dinky-dinky-doo", he has been known to fall forward right of his chair because he was so excitedly throwing his hands forward to say "YOU!"

So the most exciting news in his world is that he's walking with a walker now! He was fitted for braces in June, and since then he's been wearing them daily in preparation for this. Months ago he started walking back and forth with an adult walker with our help at therapy. A month and a half ago or so he started on the treadmill, and now he has his own personal walker. I brought it to the house for the first time last week, but previously he had only used it at therapy. He is so proud of that thing, and he will just use an arm to slam people away if they try to push it with him. It's awesome! He usually puts his hands on the top black handles, but this particular day he wasn't.

As always, we are beyond proud of him and excited to see what he does next. I am constantly finding myself in tears just watching him. Sometimes we're just doing the most mundane thing, and I look over at him doing it right alongside the others and I can't help but crying. The mundane can be so miraculous.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Boyd update

Thanks for your prayers for Boyd. He is stable today, off the drip, but still having all his other symptoms. He does look  brighter, so we're hopeful he'll keep getting a little better each day. Please keep up the prayers! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Please pray for Boyd

I feel like lately I've been such a Debbie downer, and I really don't mean to be! Sometimes life just throws you rough patches all at the same time, and I think we're in one of those times. 

Anyway, I intended to post some really happy, sweet pictures today to show that there is always still joy and good, happy things are happening, too! 

Then Boyd got sick again, so today let me just update you on him and hopefully tomorrow will bring better news! 

Boyd spent all of last week in Zimba hospital. He's 9 weeks old and failing to thrive. He is the tenth born baby in his family, and the last three before him died right around his age when they were back in the village (we never knew them or had them with us). 

With such a high infant mortality rate in his family history, we are so concerned for Boyd's life. After trying many treatments to no avail, we are starting TB treatment now to see if he'll respond to that. We are still awaiting the results of his HIV test. 

Please pray hard for this little guy. You can pray specifically for the diarrhea to go away, the thrush to go away, the cough to go away, the rash to go away, the fevers to go away, and for health to be restored in his broken little body. 

I appreciate you all and the prayers you say for our children. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Goodbye Busi

Busi went home yesterday. I sat trying and trying to write about it last night, couldn’t stop crying, and realized that all in all it’s just not possible to sum up in a blog post a story and a life that has so dramatically changed your own.

There are no words to describe the painful, scarring beginning that Busi had to her life. Any attempt to truly tell her story would fail miserably because there aren’t words for when people are treated as less than human.  

There are no words to capture the God-given joy dwelling in her perfect little body despite all she’s been through.

There are no words to praise her for the way she’s completely changed my heart and thoughts, and those of every auntie, therapist, and visitor that’s ever been blessed to know her.

There are no words that can adequately tell the redemptive story between Busi and her mother, one that took years but was totally worth the wait.

There are no words to describe the hole in my heart now that she’s gone.

Busi's first day with us.

I spend more one on one time with Busi and Joel than any of our other children. I spend hours each week taking them to therapy, stretching them, and feeding them when they’ve gotten home from therapy late and missed lunch. Dwelling on their needs and also their accomplishments takes up a lot of my time, and it forms a bond that is deep for us.

So when Busi’s mom showed up on Friday to get her, it just crushed me. It didn’t matter the meeting we’d had with social welfare earlier in the summer preparing for this moment. It didn’t matter that I knew it could be coming any time. It didn’t matter that I’d been praying for this very day to come.

What do you do when the thing you’ve been praying for so long is the same thing that wrecks your heart?

I taught Busi’s mother all of the stretches we do daily with Busi. I cried silent tears as I would stretch one side of her body, and then have her mom try the other side. With each stretch and each day she gained more and more confidence in stretching Bus, and it was so neat to watch.

When we were done stretching the first day, I asked Busi's mom if she believed in God. She said yes. I asked her if she thought God made mistakes. She said no. I told her over and over again how her daughter is so very special, that God didn't make a mistake when he was forming Busi either. I told her to testify to everyone she meets about God's perfect creation in Busi. And we sat and cried together with all the aunties, a room full of mothers loving their baby. I had to keep telling her how happy we were she was here to get Busi because I wanted to make sure she didn't mistake the tears for something they weren't. And then I told her, "Bina Busiku, we have 73 babies in this place, and we have so many visitors that come here and see them. And do you know which baby almost everyone loves and remembers and asks about more than the others? Busiku. And she's yours! You are so, so blessed."

An un-staged picture of Busiku being adored
After four days of training and bonding, it was time for Busi and her mom to go home. We all gathered around them and prayed. And cried. And hugged. I loaded them up in my truck for one last stop.

It's blurry, but oh so sweet.
Francis, our physical therapist here at Namwianga, is one of Busi’s biggest champions. And for the last year of her life, he has poured his love and affirmation into her as he willed her little body to do more than we thought it could do. He got her sitting, he got her using her right hand, he got her to show jealousyJ, and he made her feel like the most important girl in the world. He always says he’ll name his first born daughter Busiku because of her. He could make her come alive like very few can. And as I took her into his office one last time, his heart was breaking, too. I brought Busi’s mom in to meet him. He took Busi from her, picked her up, kissed her sweet face, gave her back to her mom. He’d pick her up again, hug her tightly, and then give her back to her mom again. With tears in his eyes he called Busi his daughter, his #1 patient, and told her mom how he would never, ever forget her firstborn. Busi’s mom blessed him over and over again for the work he did with Busi and with one final hug and tears in all our eyes, we headed off to town.

We found the lorry that was going to take them back to their village, far in the bush where there is no cell service. I awkwardly lugged her huge wheelchair out of the back of the truck, and then the umbrella stroller that allows her to sit closer to the ground with her friends. Then we lugged the huge suitcase, holding her special cups and bibs and therapy toys. 

 I sat and watched awhile after I got them all settled in with the lorry. Busi’s mom had chitenged Busi on her back, and I watched multiple people come up to her, asking about Busi. She proudly smiled as she was looking at her, obviously talking about her. I have no doubt it’s going to be a tough road for this mama. But she wants Busi, and there is a tremendous power in being wanted.

I’ve had so many questions swimming around in my head since Busi’s mom arrived last week. What if her mom doesn’t take care of her properly? What if she gets sick and there’s no way to let us know? What if she stops stretching her after awhile and she’s in pain? What if the people in her village treat her like an outcast? I’ll probably keep wondering, deeply wanting the best for this perfect child.

But as I drove away from the bus stop, JJ Heller’s song “Your Hands” was playing in my car. These lines kept hitting me:

When my world is shaking, heaven stands.
When my heart is breaking,
I never leave your hands.

Your hands that shaped the world
Are holding me.
They hold me still.

How comforting to picture the very hands of God that created this whole world holding sweet Busi, protecting her, loving her. Picturing those hands has carried me through these last two days, and I’m sure it will continue in the days and weeks to come. Please join us in praying for Busi, her mother, and their whole community. and thank you for all the prayers you've said on her behalf over the years.
Busi and her mama

Busi's very first day of therapy last year-- look at those precious legs! They kill me.
This smile is too perfect.
My very, very, very favorite picture of Busi ever, playing dress up.
Pure delight.
Busi's first time to sit-- the proudest moment!
After she lost her first tooth!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Nelson's Death

I HATE when my phone rings in the middle of the night. Like, hate it in the gives me mini-panic attacks way. With babies as medically fragile as ours can be, things can just change so fast. And when my phone starts ringing, it usually means something's changed.

When I went home last night, Nelson was doing so much better. He had just gotten his antibiotic injection, was grinning again, and was seemingly out of the woods. 

But when my phone rang, it was an auntie telling me he couldn't breathe. I rushed up there, totally tingling from being awakened from sleep. I found him struggling, gasping for breath. We rushed to the clinic and he still looked like death. But he was given some high doses of IV antibiotics and started on oxygen, and at about 4 he was looking bright and alert again.

Sweet Nelsie boy
Then, out of nowhere he spiked a high fever and from that point on we knew he wouldn't make it. He looked horrible and nothing they tried was working. We were all set and ready to refer him to Zimba hospital, but as we were about to start off he died. And our hearts are broken.

On the car ride rushing him to the clinic, I just kept saying out loud to God, "You are good. I know you can heal. You are good. I know you can heal. You are good. I know you can heal." I know God didn't need to hear those affirmations from me, but I guess I needed to remind myself that He can heal, and even when he doesn't heal on earth, He's still good. Over and over again I have to remind myself that. I hate that I forget that, that I'm so quick to start questioning what He's doing and why.

The craziest thing is that Nelson, our premature little baby boy died today. And not an hour after I had dropped him off at the mortuary, a new premature baby boy, born at around 7 months gestation, arrived named Malachi. He's in the incubator now.

God surely does give and take away. And He's always good. 
Malachi, one week old

Friday, August 23, 2013

Pray for Nelson

Hello guys. Nelson is struggling right now. He's four months old now but was born quite prematurely and has never had the most developed lungs. He's been on antibiotic injections for five days to treat a horrible cough and continues to get worse. His breathing is very labored and he is in distress. He's on oxygen now. I'm waiting until it turns light outside to take him to Zimba, a nearby hospital about 30 minutes away.  He's being referred there from our clinic where we are tonight. Please pray hard for healing- we need a miracle for this little guy. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Milestone Monday, at last

Well I think it goes without saying that since I haven't posted a Milestone Monday in roughly three months, everyone's done a little changing around here. Hopefully I'll get caught up on all their accomplishments, big and small, over the next few weeks. For now, here's a little of what's been going on with our gang.

We have quite a few new sitters in the last three months. Here are some I happen to have pictures of right now:



It's hard to believe these five babies are sitting out with the big kids now. Raymond, Petra, Jeremy, Candace, and Chilala.
And in case you needed a close up of Raymond, here he is in all his glory. If you're having a hard time believing that's him, you're in good company. He shocks us daily.

These darlings have moved over to Haven 2 now and are walking or at least taking steps:
Emmaneul big eyes
Joy, never without a smile on her face these days
And her twin, Emmanuel, who also is happy as a clam.
These babies are not just walking but RUNNING now!
Christopher, the shortest walker we've ever had.
Irene, a total wild woman now
Rita is all over the place now, walking like a champ.
These new standers will be walking any day now. A few steps here and there for now...
Sweet Deacon, the gentlest giant
I wish I could show you how hard Memo claps for herself after she does this. You would melt.
Owen always looks like he's dancing when he stands up by himself
Aaron, so proud of himself and talking a million miles a minute
Anna baby is still at a 4-step record, but she thinks she's the cat's meow.
Steve's finally figured out life is so much more fun when you get off your bootie and go somewhere!
And what would a Milestone Monday be with an update on Joel. Someday soon I hope to be able to post a video of him doing all he can do , but for now, just trust me when I tell you he's working like a champ to walk. He smiles and giggles all the time, except when screaming at other kids for trying to take his toys. He can do everything in language class, and has added nose and tummy to his repertoire when asked about his body parts. He grunts something that sounds an awfully lot like "God" when asked who made him, although I'm not quite ready to admit that yet. He's just a different child. 
Look how handsome he is in those new kicks and braces.
He loves to hate them. His brothers, that is. Here they are "helping" him do his laps for therapy. He's actually singing in this picture. I look at this and sometimes start sobbing when I remember how far he's come by the grace of God.
Here he is climbing onto that wagon BY HIMSELF. It's beautiful to me that he even had that idea. And sometimes when he pushes the walker into the wall because he gets distracted and I won't help him steer, he looks at it and gets frustrated because he knows it's supposed to move but he can't make it. He's a smart little thing.
And lastly, here are some totally unrelated updates:
Helen had her first (and hopefully last) taste of cornrows. 
It's just that we can't figure out what to do with that hair of hers.
Well that's a bit better.

Nelson and Rodwell can usually be found just like this, two old men just shooting the breeze.
 They are typically just grinning at each other, but here they look possessed. 
Cathy's developed this nasty little habit of sticking out that little finger and making some nasty threats. It's kind of hilarious and kind of horrible at the same time.
Georgie keeps losing teeth and keeps being proud of it :).
Chabonwa will pull up and cruise now! Progress!
I've waited for months and months to get strawberries from my garden. I even bought an entire mosquito net to protect these babies. So far I've had four and savored every bite. Honestly, they're the only reason I wanted a garden.
I hope you all have a great Monday!