Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My heart is warm (and so is everything else!)

1. If you've noticed an increase in my blogging lately, it's my dad's fault. He wrote me off as a retired blogger, so we put a friendly little wager on it. 20 blogs before I go home for furlough and I get a few new articles of OKC Thunder clothing. If I fail, well, life will be pretty much back to how it was before! The truth is, I really wish I took the 5 or 10 minutes it would take every night to just catch people up on the days, but I don't make it happen. And the competitive side of me will do just about anything to win a bet, so you'll be seeing a little more of me around lately. :)

2. My heart is warm because this afternoon and evening I sent out my monthly (sometimes couple-monthly) prayer updates and sponsorship updates on our babies. I wrote to hundreds of people around the world and told them about the life of this one specific baby they are praying for. And on these days, I am constantly crying as I read my e-mails. People are just so kind. And they have huge hearts for tiny little people they've never even met. I picture my friends and family and acquaintances going to Target to pick out a new outfit for their baby, or a toy that would be appropriate for here. My friends' kids are collecting their change to buy special Christmas gifts for their prayer baby. My family and my friends and my acquaintances are lifting up our babies, by name, to God every single day. It's humbling, beautiful, heart-warming. And to think that you all love them so much without ever having met them, heard them babble, felt their chubby little arms around your necks, cried over their sick bodies and rejoiced over their well ones. Not to rub it in or anything, but I get to do those things every day. :) Your love for them reminds me what a privilege it is that I get to be one of the ones doing this. Thanks for the reminder!

3. The rest of me is warm because it's so UNBELIEVABLY hot. October starts tomorrow, which marks the hottest time of our year (hence all the swimming afternoons for the babes). It is just inescapable, and with it comes the bugs. Of all shapes and sizes and smells. It's the time of year when you can no longer leave your glass uncovered for longer than a couple of minutes without finding friends inside. It's the time of year when I sit all during morning Tonga lessons with a fly swatter in my hand, slightly distracted by the constant buzzing around me. It's the time of year when the power starts to go off in the middle of the night (5 times last night) just to make you appreciate when it comes back on and the fan's relief returns. The rains will start after this month, Lord willing, and then they'll be some real relief. Until then, we'll enjoy the fun parts about October, like jacarandas and freeze pops and new bugs for my bug collection. (J/K on the bug collection. Although I totally should).
Jacaranda tree outside the Haven. They line the entire road up the drive and only bloom this month or two of the year.
The road to the Haven

Monday, September 29, 2014

Haven 3 Swimming

 Today Haven 3 got their first turn to swim! They usually have class every afternoon, and that's the ideal time for swimming because of the heat. But today we threw class to the wind and decided to let them swim instead. Our kids have never been in water. Their baths are not taken in standing water; it's just splashed over them. So you wouldn't believe how much this rocks their worlds! Most of us had so much fun! :)
Patu was sooooo out on swimming.
Then she got a little interested...
Decided to get her proverbial feet wet...
And what do you know? We've got a full fledged water lover. I hate watching them be scared of something I know they'd just love if they gave it a chance!
John was busy, busy, busy the whole time.
But not quite as busy as Helen, who kept all containers full and peoples heads doused with water!
It's amazing how long this remains fun...
Sesa got to swim to show the others how fun (and not scary!) it was. He quickly commandeered the hose and loved showing people a good time! :)
Angel, so big now!
Candace filled that bottle over and over and over and over and over....
So much fun.
Chabilo dangled her feet a bit and enjoyed the warm sunshine.
Evelyn was a total wild woman. She would just dive right in, head first, and come right up laughing like crazy!
That's pretty indicative of her personality as a whole!
1. Priscilla joined us for swimming, even though she's not at Haven 3.
2. She wants to be standing at all times these days!
3. Babies have crazy amounts of snot in pools here, too! Why is that?!
 Most doctors we've consulted with agree that Chabonwa is autistic. Knowing this and all his special likes and dislikes, I didn't know how he'd react to being in a pool of water. I was fully prepared for him to either scream and want out immediately, or scream when I made him get out eventually! Thankfully, he LOVED every second of it. He was so curious about all of it, and I loved watching his mind spin as he explored it all.

And poor Chilala could never bite the bullet and stay in. She talked all day about swimming, but was too timid when it came down to it! I have a feeling next time she'll be one of the ringleaders!
I can't tell you how wonderful it is for all of us to have a little respite from the crazy heat in our tiny pool!  Have a good day!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Quiet You With His Love

You know how when you read scripture, there is that one phrase that sticks with you for the rest of the day, shaping you, guiding you, convicting you as you move throughout your day? It’s pretty amazing and powerful how God’s words are still living and active and able to do so much in us.

Lately, I haven’t been able to forget this part of Zephaniah 3:17 which reads, “He will quiet you with his love.” Other translations say, “He will create calm with his love,” “In his love he will give you new life,” or “You will rest in his love.”
As I’ve moved through my days lately, I’ve noticed this truth on our small, human scale. If you spent any time around our babies, you would quickly find that they are just like your babies where you are. Their days are filled with moments when they get their little feelings hurt, don’t get exactly what they want when they want it, or endure a small ouchie. Oftentimes these little things are cause for great wailing and acting like the world is falling apart!
Do you know all it takes to stop their crying? It takes one of the aunties or me picking them up, ruffling their little heads, and whispering, “Sorry, sorry, sorry.” For some reason that word repeated three times in this country is the universal calmer, and it works every time. Of course it doesn’t mean they got the answer right that they actually missed, or that they get to sit on the special, tall bench instead of their usual chair, and it most certainly doesn’t take the sting away of their little fingers getting pinched in a toy or scraping their knee from running a little too fast. But it quiets them. It tells them we’ve heard them, we love them, we care what happened to them, we hate it when they hurt. Our love quiets them and lets them know everything will be okay.
And God does this for us infinitely more! Being with Him, in Him, calms us. Just like being near us gives our babies the feeling of safety and security they need, so being before God strips us of our need to worry and fret and be anxious about the things going on in our days. It doesn’t take away the pain of the loss we endured or the disappointment we faced, but we are quieted anyway by the love of a God who knows us, who loves us, and who hates it when we hurt.

I hope today, whoever you are and wherever you are, you are quieted by His love for you.

“The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
-Zephaniah 3:17, NKJV

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Abbie reads!

Once upon a time, there was a little baby girl named Abbie. She melted all our hearts with her beauty and gentleness and snuggliness.


And she's grown and she's grown until she's become this beautiful, patient, caring, selfless little girl. She's not a baby anymore, but she still melts our hearts. Here she is reading Green Eggs and Ham to me this week. She's in second grade and learning more every day. We are so proud of our precious Abbie. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Play-doh Fun

Years ago, I broke out Play-doh for the kids thinking it would be a blast. But like every one of you has experienced I'm sure, I spent the entire time fishing it out of little mouths and picking it up off the floor. It was far from a blast. 

Today I thought I'd try it again, and we had so much fun! I had 4 little containers of Play-doh originally, but it's been so long since we'd used it that 3 of the colors were hard as rocks! So we only had one small container of orange, but it split and expanded quite nicely. 

As is usually the case, they started out wanting to do exactly what I did, or rather wanting me to make for them exactly what I'd just made. But little by little they gained courage and creativity and started cracking me up with the things they thought of all on their own.

I love watching them try new things and take pride in what they've created. If you haven't heard me say it lately, we've got some pretty precious kids around here! 

Trying her hand at a circle
The snake-- surely the most popular Play-doh creation of all time
Figuring out some textures on the table

Vigi being Vigi. :)
(#2, dad!)

Can You Count the Stars?

There's a song that never fails to make me cry when we sing it in church. Well, not the whole thing, I guess, but the last verse especially gets me. 
  1. "Can you count the many children
    In their little beds at night,
    Who without a thought of sorrow
    Rise again at morning light?
    God the Lord, who dwells in heaven,
    Loving care to each has given;
    He has not forgotten thee,
    He has not forgotten thee."
  2. When I really stop and think about the fact that God can and does count the many children in their beds at night, that He knows their names and their needs and their hurts and their histories, that He hasn't forgotten them, my mind is blown. 
  3. People always act shocked when I know the names, birthdays, stories, and hearts of all of our little ones. And it shocks me that it shocks them, because to me it's like, "Of course I know those things! They are my life and my work and my heart. How could I not know those things about our kids?"
  4. Which makes me wonder how God must feel when we don't think He's big enough or cares enough to know His children all by name and hurt and hope and heart. I know the overwhelming task it is to me with our small number of children, and so when I look at the vastness of God's children around the world, I am blown away by who He is and how He works and how huge His love is. 
  5. Psalm 121:4 reads, "Indeed he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep." What a reassurance; what a promise! I love being able to tell our little ones with full assurance that God is with them, always. He's never sleeping, never dozing, and there's never a time when He has forgotten them, even if it feels like it. 
  6. He's that good, and He cares that much for us. I guess that's something worth crying some happy tears about. :) 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Swim Days

As winter continues to make its exit and the heat returns, we dusted off the old baby pool. The babes were thrilled to be back in the water today! 
The big boys were the first ones out after their nap, and the whooping and hollering could be heard from most of Zambia, I'm sure! They loved getting to use the hose to keep filling the pool up. 

Shockingly, we had no criers today! They all just went merrily around dumping buckets of water on each other's heads and laughing uproariously. 

The littler squirts just kind of splashed around in basins to get warmed up to the idea. 

And after an afternoon full of unbridled joy, the water went to good use in the garden. :)

Welcome back, summer. We've missed you!

(That's #1, dad. :)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Busiku update

I wanted to update you all on Busiku. Many of you may remember her, but here is a link that will catch you up if you don't. Busiku Goes Home

It had been awhile since I'd seen Busi, and I was honestly quite apprehensive about how I'd find her. Every doctor who has ever seen her has talked about her short life expectancy. That combined with how far they stay out in the bush and the lack of cell coverage made me nervous that something may have happened to her health that we hadn't gotten word about yet. I'd had this pit in my stomach for awhile, and today we finally found time to make the trek out to see her.

She. Looked. Beautiful. She giggled incessantly. She drooled just like last time. She stroked my face like it was the funniest thing in the world. She was pushed around by her cousins as she screamed like a wild woman. She had lost 1,000 new teeth since the last time. She was happy.

So I was happy. Her life will never be easy and it probably won't be long. And there are so many parts of her story still that would break your heart. But boy oh boy did God ever put a sense of joy and total oblivion in her sweet body to shield her from all that's going on in her and around her, things that she'll never have to know about. He's sustaining her precious life and allowing so many people around her to feel joy just by being around this angel girl.

Tonight I'll sleep easier. I'm not really sure why. Nothing has changed today for her, but for me I got to see another real life example of God's goodness and sustenance, and it makes me feel like everything just might be okay in the world after all. :)