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!