Thursday, March 31, 2011

the vacation that almost never was...

I had to post some pictures from our trip to Iringa. Our time was cut short because of Evy's seizure and hospital visits but after she was stable we decided to go for some cooler weather, family time, hiking, and one day of language review. We had 3 days before the girls and I flew as well so we figured we might as well see more of this beautiful country. It was a long road trip but it was so worth it. Here is a few pictures of our time.....
even though our time started like this...lots of time at the hospital.....pole Evy!
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after Evy was stable and feeling better we headed out
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beautiful
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and saw this on the way there...a welcome road delay to our 7 hour road trip..
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and these guys....
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and this dude. Yeah amazing, right?
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road trips in Africa you see many trucks and buses in accidents...so sad!
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and causes this...
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Jason was a good African and got out to see what was happening and if they needed help
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us girls hung back...long wait- over an hour so we got creative to get some air:) and Anni loved greeting everyone who walked by.
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the campsite we stayed at was awesome, lots of hiking to be done. Anni is such an adventure seeker- J loves he Adventure Girl!
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our lil' explorer
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there was a river that ran through the campsite. Rumor has it here is a hippo that comes to swim but depsite our hippo hunting we never saw him
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at the campsite next door they had a zipline they use to cross the river...we had to check it out and then sweet talked our way to try it! so fun!IMG_1268
and my fav road trip pic...grab your chicken and head out
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

the patient

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We got up early and headed downtown Chicago for Evy's appointment with a pediatric specialist yesterday. My mom and Anni were big helps as well. We waited almost two hours but finally got in and the doctor was great! I noticed Hebrew written on his ring and after talking more he shared he was a seminary grad. He has four kids and spends some of every year in Malawi. Umm, cool. His initial feeling was that her antibodies from birth were at a low around 1 year and she has had a bad string of unrelated infections. Of course it didn't help my case as I was describing my sick, convulsing baby and she was toddling around giggling and smiling at the interns. She also climbed up on the chair and the window and while we were talking was pulling the window curtain chain over her head. I realized how much I have become laid back about safety as where we live there are machetes and open fires everywhere. A little curtain chain is nothing. After a consultation we started the testing. She had a chest X-ray and they took 6 viles of blood. Poor baby. He also is talking to a neurologist to schedule her EKG that she will have to be sedated for and we will try to do closer to my mom's house. We go back next week for results and more discussion on what is next. Thanks everyone for praying. We are relieved to be in a place where we can investigate and get some answers.
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I got to see the skyline. "Anni, you see that. That is the best city in the world."
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this is how I felt too after 2 hours!
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Yeah for clean and good (even if not fast) medical care

we made it!

God cares about the small stuff. Wait, I wrote that because I was struggling to start a blog post and so in my jet lagged state (I think it is somewhere around 2am judging by the info-mercial about a pretty wicked looking blender on TV) I needed an opening line but after writing it I realized it is not true. The small part not the caring part. I really think the more I see God at work I see that there is not the sacred and the secular. Not the "big" stuff we need His help with and thus send out a desperate request and the "small" things we were are expected to handle ourselves. I know I don't believe that but can sometimes live it. My experiences are not divided in His eyes. He wants all of it. And sending out a prayer only when you are desperate or in trouble is iin practice believing the Creator of Life is some mystic genie in a bottle. Being deceived like Eve; that we can do it ourselves better. This journey has taught me how much more He wants of me, how much more His power is perfected in my weakness, and how much when I erase the line between God stuff and everyday life else I get to really see Him in everything.

We are in the U.S. It was a long trip. 5 flights. 3 Continents. 6 airports. 2 days. And 2 amazing kids. My husband called the trip a "harrowing journey" and although he gets so many points for that it really was not. Espcially compared to what people did 50 years ago to get from Africa to here but still it was rather epic. Honestly my stomach was in knots before we boarded the plane in Dar. Jason came and waited and prayed with us at the airport as long as he could. After a tearful goodbye I literally felt the weight of traveling so far by myself with the girls and I think everything that has happened in the past few month hit me. Deep breathes and prayers were uttered as we waited to board our first flight at 9pm African time. And now we are here and I honestly I cannot believe how easy it was, how I never felt stress not even once (ok, a little when we missed our flight in New York), how He provided amazing kind people every leg of our journey to help us, and how He was in it. All of it. Thank you for praying. I got so many emails, FB's, and calls saying people were holding us in thoughts and bending knees from Tanzania to Chicago to the U.K. to obscure parts of the world I would have to search for on a map. Even so many people who do not know us but knew about what has been going on in our lives. I did not know all the people who were praying until I am now checking email but I did not need to know because I felt it. We knew we were being cared for and that more than just the 3 of us were traveling. I really have inadequate words to thank everyone. To thank you. For everything; calls, emails, express shipped packages with warm clothes for Anni, dropped off toys and clothes for the girls driven from a state away, enough baby gear for 3 kids, money sent to help with expenses, words of encouragement, and prayers. Your sacrifices have blessed us more than I can say. And I think I am so privileged to see how He mobilizes people to bless other people. I get an insider view of this and His love expressed through His people caring for each other is a beautiful thing. All I can say is thank you. asante.

I can seriously say that traveling with 2 kids for 2 daysby myself was smoother than many afternoons with the girls at home. That is a testament to prayer and our God. My tendency is frazzled and hectic but I had peace. The girls never cried (with one exception as I was getting a security check at JFK Evy lost it for about 3 minutes because yeah the lady with two small kids surely needs an extra pat down). They were complete rockstars. They were cool, calm, and taking in everything with grace. They are used to waiting as it is sorta a pastime in Africa. And let me tell you all that ain't in their genes. Nope, God was good. And I have the best girls. I was so proud of them. Bursting with gratefulness that I am their Mama. Anni never complained once. On the first flight after running around the airport with two new friends she made from Denmark because as she noticed "Mama, they speak English a little bit."
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That made them fast friends and the game of tag was on. Even other people waiting agreed that running around the gate was better than running around the plane and they were allowed to play. They even got to "play" with some of the security equipment after Anni greeted everyone in Kiswahili. Which does not boast well for the actual security of the airport but made 3 little kids day. After getting on the plane in Dar Anni and I prayed; for the safety of the trip, for the food we would get (Anni remembers they give you food and juice on planes), and that He would bring glory to Himself through this trip. After take off I told Anni it was time to sleep and she went to sleep within 5 minutes. Until the plane landed! Yeah, 8 hours. Restless sleep to be sure curled up in a ball in the seat still wearing her seat belt and every once in a while kicking me or the lady next to her in readjustment. I convinced the stewardess to let me change seats to a bulk head and get a bassinet even though Evy is a bit big for it she slept for hours too.
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And when she woke up she would pop her head up and smile at us. Seriously, I could not make this up. I think I even got a few hours of sleep and the airline food was awesome (in fairness maybe I have just been in Africa too long). The woman beside us was incredibly kind and in addition to allowing Anni to kick her also chatted with me for at least an hour about raising her son in West Africa. She was from Germany and we talked and bonded quickly about kids, culture, the West, food, her recent trip to America, faith. She offered to take the girls when I needed to go to the bathroom and before we landed mentioned that she thought there was a kid's play area in the airport and offered to find out the info for me. This turned out to be an amazing blessing because after landing we had almost 4 hours to kill and following her advice I finally made it to a family room tucked far away from the gates. This place was amazing. Like better than some children's museums in the U.S. I have been to with the girls. Anni took off her shoes (true African) and ran to climb the slide and yelled from the top "Thank Jesus for this place." Yep, that is sorta how it felt.
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mama loved it as much as the girls
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Both girls played for 3 hours. No fighting, no crying. Just running (or drunk old man toddling if you are Evy) from toy to toy. There were coloring stations, climbing towers, dress up clothes, play baby strollers, puzzles, and everything that brings a tired Mama close to tears. Can I just kiss whoever built this place? Seriously when we left I hugged the lady working there. She probably was thinking "this lady is crazy" but that is how amazing it was to spend time enjoying my kids playing and giggling as opposed to trying to entertain them at a gate. We had no Swiss money at all and we did not need anything because we were there the entire time even getting free baby food and milk and just left (much to Anni's dismay since she had made a friend from India) right in time for boarding our next flight. Before leaving we also got to change clothes and clean up and I was so grateful the woman sitting next to us had told us about this place. Another way He provided for us.

The flight from Zurich to New York was long as the second 8 hour flight but again it was amazing the ways He was with us. First, we had the NICEST flight attendant. He was so kind and helpful and loved to chat; like me! He speaks 7 languages and loved hearing about life in Tanzania. Can I just say why is my brain barely capable holding 2 languages and so many other people can speak half a dozen languages. Awesome. Anni loved showing off her Kiswahili skills and it quickly made her adored among the people sitting around us. There was also a women next to her and we started talking right away. If there was purpose in this flight it was for me to meet Gina. Gina from Florida who has been in the military, lived in Alaska, has a 4 year old son as a single Mom, and is a pilot. Seriously, she is hardcore and I want to be like her when I grow up. She defied all my initial impressions of her as she sat next to me in a pink and white flowered sweatshirt. I love when that happens. She was traveling back from visiting her boyfriend in Nairobi who is also a pilot who grew up in Africa because his mom works for the UN. I kept apologizing for asking her questions and talking to her but I think my pent up "I need girlfriend who speaks English" vibe was unable to be contained but she seemed not to mind and we became fast friends. I know this may sound crazy but I feel like our paths will cross again and we were meant to meet. She helped me so much and we talked and talked. She helped us get off the plane, carried our luggage and then let me call my mom using her phone. We were escorted to the front of customs because we both had connecting flights and made it through unscathed and then I had this feeling I should check my luggage. They promised it would be checked through to Chicago but I just thought I better make sure and sure enough there was our one beat up, broken zipper bag on the carousel. Gina helped as went through customs and then to recheck my bag and get our gate info. Anni and I made a "we are in America"dance and shuffled our little booties all the way through the long hallways. After that I had one mission: Starbucks coffee. And my new best friendy joined me in my mission for overpriced and oh-so-American coffee. God bless America. We got our coffees, Anni took a picture to commemorate it (I think I was in some sort of sleep deprived slap happy state at this point).
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We got to the gate and enjoyed our coffee and talked. About everything, our pasts, marriage, divorce, Africa, raising kids, American culture, relationships, and life as a mom. Here is where it gets all "Rox" on us. So we both heard the lady at the baggage area tell us gates for each of our flights. And we both heard the same gate and we went there. When we arrived it was so early and nothing was displayed and I was so tired frankly I did not even think to check again after 2 hours passed. We were both sure we were at the right gate. So, yes, you can see where this is going we chatted and enjoyed our coffee right through my flight to Chicago. When we finally realized this and dashed to the correct gate 100 feet away it was gone without us. Gina helped me gather my stuff and my idiot deflated ego and make it to a counter to ask for a stand-by flight. The next flight was a few hours away and by the grace of God had plenty of seats so we were now in possession of stand by seats for the next flight. So yes, to be clear I missed my flight because I was chatting it up and drinking coffee; how me is that? Gina felt terrible and helped us get to our new improved ACTUAL gate (I checked 4 times) and then let me call my mom to report our stupid-ness and apologize for now extending the trip even more (although we would rush hour in Chicago- Bonus!). Then Gina headed off to catch her flight but not before treating Anni to some Poptarts (per a discussion we had on package items she loves) and getting a huge hug from me with promises to stay in touch. She was such an amazing blessing to me it was worth missing that flight and the 5 hours it added to our travel just to hang with her.
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After a nutritious dinner of bottled water and a Big Grab of Doritos we hung out near our gate. Hoovering is more like it. I had no phone and there was no clock nearby so I kept asking this poor airline agent at the check-in booth the time. She asked why we missed the flight and she asked how I was not crying. Good question. I actually did admit that was quite un-me like but that I new God had purpose in it and that the girls were being amazing and I was not sweating which makes everything is life easier. And I meant it. Of course I felt like an idiot and neurotically asked everyone around me the time so not to repeat my idiot-ness but I felt total peace about the situation. After watching the girls play for an hour the agent at the gate agreed and even said that she wanted to move her and her son to Africa if it would result in kids as good as mine (insert big smile by me and all credit to Him). We finally boarded but then found out we were on a flight that had a stop over in Indianapolis first. Blick. Meaning the less than three hour flight to Chicago would actually take us 4 or 5 hours. Deep Breathes, more prayers, and two sleeping kids made this flight ok. Although my body was numb in places I did not know were possible and I had to pee so bad I thought I would wet my pants from Evy sleeping on me for the whole flight. Once we got to Indi they told us we had to get off to reboard but I begged the flight attendant who had asked me tons of questions about Africa and promised to come visit one day to please beg them that I could stay. They agreed and the whole delay on the runway and re boarding I read my book while the girls slept. Um, yeah. Amazing. We took off again and headed for the last 38 minutes of our journey. I was so glad I was on this last flight. If I had caught the earlier flight I would not have met Carmen; the sweet flight attendant from Atlanta who has always wanted to go to Africa, or the older couple in front of me who was so cuddly and let me use their phone to call my mom to tell them we had arrived in Chicago but were waiting for a gate and asked about Evy and then promised to pray for her, or the 6 foot 2 inch (we bonded about being tall) basketball player from inner city Chicago who went to high school ten minutes from where I used to teach and who now plays basketball professionally in Finland, or the gorgeous woman from Peru who looks as I imagine myself looking when I travel; fabulous boots with skinny jeans and messy sexy hair tied back. Alas, the reality is I am a sneaker girl but it is good to have a dream. But her appearance was only rivaled by her beautiful accent and even more amazing story of being burned from neck to feet as a child and her family sacrificing everything to move to Japan for treatment and her father's job at a bank. She rolled up her sleeves and showed me the scars and I just knew she is such a survivor. She is now working in the states but said she has been feeling not challenged and needs to discover who she is. I invited her to come and stay with us in Africa if she ever felt that would be part of her journey since she said she wants to travel. She asked tons of questions, told me tons of stories about Peru and Japan, and looked through my bag whenever I needed something, got me water, and helped me gather my mountains of stuff as we departed. I honestly feel God ordained all these meetings. I was so blessed to talk with so many amazing people. I was so blessed to travel with my awesome girls. I was so blessed by the kindness of so many strangers. We finally got off the plane and my mom was waiting at the gate with an armed guard of sorts who she had convinced to let her break every safety regulation and not only enter the airport but bring a cooler full of food and a wheelchair in case we would pass out on finally arriving. I love my Mommy. Big hugs and Anni happily climbed in the wheelchair and we headed out to claim my bag; which unlike me was not drinking coffee and chatting it up and had made the first flight to Chicago. We got it, loaded into the car and headed out. And it is COLD here!
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To say I was tired really does not cover it but God gave us the energy and strength and peace for the entire journey. And I am so thankful. We got home and put the girls to bed around 10pm and despite my requests for a mosquito net for Evy (in my defense I was TIRED) my Mom assured me that malaria has not be around in the winter in Chicago for some time. I went to bed (ok, after eating some of my favorite hummus) and slept soundly. Surreal; we are in the states! Now it is way too late as I have been through 3 infomercials and tempted to actually buy that magic blender all in one thing which is evidence I am too tired to be awake. Evy had her doctor appointment today with the specialist downtown and I will update soon but she is doing well.
Again, thanks to everyone who has helped, sent messages, offered to help, prayed, and encouraged us. We are loved. And grateful. And blessed. On this trip I realized yet again the power of people's stories. I love listening to them and telling them. Makes me feel so human, so connected, so a part of the rush of life passing us every minute. We just have to take time to be IN it.
We made it!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

unexpected

Seems like life here is always throwing us a proverbial curveball. I guess you could say this one hit us straight in the nose. God knows and He is in all of it. This we are sure of. This we are holding onto tightly. I guess I just needed to see if all that stuff I had prayed and written about Trust and Peace really was deep down, really had become part of my soul.
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
My silence the last week has had mostly to do with lack of internet, travel, but also because my emotional landscape right now is exhausted and frayed. The ups and downs over the last few months have us reeling and unable to fully catch our breath before something else….
Sunday we loaded our sweaty selves and stuff onto a ferry headed to Dar and a week family vacation, language review lessons, and routine doctor checks. Or at least that was the plan. Not 20 minutes into the 2 hour ferry ride Evy started to get a high fever. Even on fever reducer she was burning up. It happened so fast with no warning. Again. Then she had a seizure. Right there on the over loaded ferry between some locals going to visit family and some tourists heading to catch a flight. Her little body was shaking violently, her eyes were glazed and unresponsive, and her lips and hands were turning blue and we….. were…. stuck. This one felt like forever but we think was actually at least 4 minutes. We called on the only doctor that do a thing at that moment and laid hands on her convulsing body and prayed outloud over and over again for healing in Jesus’ name. When she did not stop Jason handed her to me and I rocked and tried to calm her some way while he ran to ask the crew if there was anything they could do. Only a “pole” was offered and it was confirmed what we already knew: we are on our own.

I think for me I really discovered what I believe and what I am made of in those moments. Between two land masses neither of which have what I would call emergency medical care and floating over the vast blue we prayed. Hard. For healing. For peace. And for wisdom. And He was there in it and gave us peace. And that for me is a miracle since my natural tendencies are toward emotional hysterics.
After the seizure subsided I took her outside to get some fresh air and talked with other mothers holding their children. Then we moved our family to the Chumba cha Ugongwa (sick room) on board which Anni succinctly pointed out smelled of vomit and diarrhea. But at least we could have some space and try to formulate a plan and pray. We also knew in those moments we had to thank God for everything. Even if that is not how we felt sitting in a small room surrounded by bags of other people’s vomit holding my baby passed out from the toll the seizure had taken on her little body. He has been teaching us a lot about gratitude lately and it was like this was our opportunity to relax into His care or busy ourselves with our burden. He has been chiseling away at my self-reliance here and teaching us to really be grateful in all circumstances and to trust He is who He says He is. How being grateful is a choice some days. And not expressing our gratitude to Him is ultimately a reflection of how much we trust Him. Do I trust Him? Do I trust that He has a purpose in my baby being sick for months on and off? For all the troubles and hardships our family has dealt with (small in comparison to others but if I am honest kicking our butts lots of days)? For all the crap in the world? Do I believe what I share with my neighbors and friends on our island about my Father? Do I really know He works things for our good even if that good is not what I would choose? Why are we so quick to thank Him for blessing and so quick to pray for a way out of trial. Are we not promised He is with us, even more so in our trials? Maybe that is why we are reminded so many times in His Word to be thankful. In everything. We need to remember. We are creatures who easily forget. I know for sure in that moment He was asking us to choose trust and peace. And we did. And many of you across the world stopped for a minute and joined us in praying. We felt it; thank you. It was His kind of peace.

We had very limited cell coverage but we were able to communicate with our team leader who helped us find an on-call doctor at a clinic (since it was now Sunday night and no where would be open). We are again remind how grateful we are to have such amazing friends here. After 2 hours we finally arrived and I strapped Evy to my back, grabbed my carry-on bag stuffed with as much as I could carry, and pushed and jabbed my way through the crowd waiting to get off the ferry. Once I said “mtoto anaumwa sana” people were willing to allow us to go to the front of the mass of people waiting to get off. Jason and Annikah stayed back and collected our luggage and would meet me at the clinic later. Before we had even docked I was yelling to the eager cab drivers waiting on the dock and after we finally settled on a price we ran all the way to one man’s car and headed out. Of course, he had no gas and we had to stop twice since the first gas station was out. But by this time Evy was starting to act more like herself; pinching me and laughing. Tricking me into questioning whether the last few hours ever happened. The clinic opened and a doctor from Europe arrived right away. She examined her and asked many questions about the last few months. I recounted the 8 times she has been on antibiotics (the last time only 2 days ago), the injections, the staff infections, the thyphiod, the diarrhea, terrible diaper rashes, my HG when I was pregnant with her which she thinks may be related, and the 3 times she has had an “unknown” bacterial infection. They tested her for malaria; again. They did full blood panels. And again everything came back the same; high white blood cell count, no malaria or worms or amoebas that would explain the reason she is so sick. And every time it comes on so fast. She had some theories but said she cannot test for any of these things here in Tanzania and recommended a trip to South Africa or possibly Nairobi or Europe/the U.S. By this time Jason and Anni arrived and after more injections to help Evy’s little body fight whatever is attacking her (Anni was so sweet and comforted her sister during her shots)we packed up and made an appointment for the next morning at 8am.

The next two days we canceled our trip and stayed in Dar making return trips to the Dr, more blood tests, stool tests, and ruling out everything that can be tested for here. We monitored her closely and as all the other times she seemed to be getting better but we knew we had to find out more. After the 3rd time she was sick and it required an emergency trip to the mainland we prayed a lot and sensed that if it happened again; mystery infection with no apparent cause resulting in fever or seizure we would seek better care, even if that meant leaving the country. This has been happening with too much frequency and we as a family cannot take it anymore. It is hard even to write that but it is true and after we had made that decision we felt a weight lifted. This life can be so hard sometimes because you often worry you are either not trusting enough or not worrying enough. But still now that we were in the midst of the needing to do more we felt a swirl of chaos, decisions, and the need to trust that we could afford a flight, that people would support our decision, that Evy would be well enough to travel, etc. We also sense that much of this is spiritual attack. After consulting with many people here though we felt our decision confirmed and that we needed to make sure there is nothing serious going on somewhere where we could trust we would receive good care. We are entrusted with these precious children and we need to follow what we feel He is telling us after all as a friend pointed out “you are the only mama she has got.” I was going to listen to my mama gut.
Our God "is not the author of confusion but of peace" and we sensed that after we finally decided.
The second day we made the decision that I would return to the U.S. (After weighing options and comparing scenarios and praying )with Anni and Evy as soon as the doctor here felt she was ok to travel and we could get a reasonable flight on short notice. Jason searched using his sketchy phone internet service and found a flight that was a pretty good deal and after three desperate minutes of prayer actually went down hundreds of dollars in price after he refreshed the website! We still ended up having a few days of family vacation (because the earliest flight we could get was 4 days away) which was blessing all over since we will be apart from Jason for possibly 6 weeks (the longest I have been apart from him in almost 10 years). The girls and I leave tonight at 9pm Tanzanian time. I still have not fully processed that I will be back in the U.S. soon. Crazy! It will be a long haul that I think I am still in denial about with 2 kids by myself; first to Nairobi, then to Zurich, then to New York, and finally to Chicago. But what is keeping me going is knowing His care stretches oceans and time and space. And when my exhausted and weary self arrives my Mommy will be there to do what she does best; make everything all better! That and the Strabucks latte, Mexican food, and a glass of wine waiting at the other end. Still it would be nice for once to actually PLAN a trip stateside and not always be heading home in a quasi-emergency medical situation. Ya know, to have more than 5 pairs of chupis, long skirts, and one actual pair of shoes in tow but that is life. Or at least this life of ours right now. The question is am I willing to be grateful in the midst of it…. Before I can see and look back? And Yes. I am. Or at least I am trying to release my plans to His care and choose gratitude. I have 2 beautiful girls that are pestering me and giggling as I type. We have the means to seek medical care; something all our friends here do not have. I have family and friends who are already mobilizing a task force to get everything we need for our 6 weeks in the U.S. I have a husband who is my best friend and cares for his girls and leads his family because he knows it is the work God has entrusted him with. We have abundant life in Christ. And I know I can trust He who has never abandoned me, who has made me His own child, who cares for us more than we can care for ourselves. So all this to say; unexpected trip again. This journey continues to test my limits but every time I come to the end of myself I realize that is where we are meant to live. Just trying to breathe deep and fully live there.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

we're out

I have had no time to update yet about the happenings the last couple days and in 1 hour we are heading to Dar and then after some doctor appointments and work stuff to Iringa. Already this morning both girls have fevers, a shule kid came over in need of ice for a swollen eye, a neighbor stopped by to visit, we ran out to get medicine, packed in haste (please let me have remembered my underwear!), I took someone to the hospital, got news about a funeral today, and we had family worship. Wow.

We are so last minute. Between realizing Evy has no shoes her size requiring a last minute trip to the market for searching out and bargaining for a suitable pair (for the hopefully cooler climate in Iringa! YEAH!) and Jason borrowing some stranger's bike for a quick trip to the duka to stock up our phones with minutes we are becoming local! I will take time soon to reflect though because it is so needed. The wedding went great and I took over 200 pictures- just need to wade through and select some to share. As we were praying last night we cannot believe we were here just a few weeks back. He is giving us so much renewal, peace, and an overwhelming sense that He is working even amidst the chaos. But somehow it all feels right. Like skin we were meant to live in. Like trusting that as life comes, as we seek, as we pray, as we lay down, as we listen He will be in it all.
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for now.... Anni & I in our sare (matching wedding fabric dresses). Even after we came in late Anni was STILL groovin' and begging to stay up and party!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

beyond crazy

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...is the only thing I can say about the last 48 hours. Despite the fact that I was woken up at around 5:30 am by my neighbors for the continued wedding festivities and then finally fell into bed last night after what Jason and I carefully recounted as one of the busiest and craziest days on record I feel so peaceful. So blessed. So in awe. That He is so good. That He is involved in every aspect of our lives. That He speaks and moves and is demonstrating His power in this world. If anyone doubts this today be assured that it is true.
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Thursday, March 17, 2011

gereza la watoto

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Jail for children. I know, right? But there is a kids song here that goes something like this "who broke the mirror? When he is caught he will be put in the kid's jail." You just gotta love a kid's song like that! (Sorta like when the cradle drops and down comes baby and all:) I digress.

But we found a new little ice cream place in town that has 5 flavors, 2 little booths, and even has cones! It also has these jail like bars on the windows that the girls could not resist. I ran outside to snap some pictures and it made me giggle as people walked by and laughed with me at the silly Wazungu kids. Something about that little bald head fitting perfectly between the bars and that cubby cheeked big girl sqeezing in there makes my heart melt. Aren't my little jailbirds cute?
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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

on missing J

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Jason has been away in the shamba since Sunday. We knew it was needed and had felt God wanted him to go for a while. But daily life always keeps coming. Unless you choose to interrupt it's constant assault on your attention and time. We decided we needed to hear from Him. Like desperately. And we know He speaks. He comforts. He heals. He reveals.

Jason left on Sunday and has been taking back some time. Time to be quiet and pray and fast and rest and BE with his Father. And listen. The girls and I have been doing great- we even managed in 1 1/2 days with no power, a day of water issues, and no Internet (issues usually reserved for "the man of the house" to tackle). We have only gotten a few texts and a broken cell call yesterday because coverage out there leaves much to be desired but he sounds great. I have also been enjoying time at night to read and pray and cannot wait to share with J what I am feeling and hearing too. He comes back tonight and I am giddy. To hug him tight and hand him our sweet little baby girl. To sleep next to him again. To watch him read Annikah a book and pray with her tonight. To listen to all he has heard and experienced. And to share togther.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

somedays....

it is just too hot to cope so we fill up the pool and invite some friends to join us in cooling off.
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Yep, pretty fun.
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and my fav shot:
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Crazy watoto

Friday, March 11, 2011

apropos

We received a package yesterday full of goodies; always a highlight! And the girls had to wait ALL DAY to open it because of the new family rule that all packages must be opened in the presence of every family member lest anyone miss the thrill of 'Merican goodies. J finally arrived home and we tore in; candy, note cards, some gifts for J's Bday, pepperoni, 2 baby dolls (that are already well loved in this house), a new book for Miss Anni, and cereal to boot! The most creative item was by far this.....
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We had a good laugh at the irony. Well done Bibi Rhoda, well done.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Papaya

One of my English students stopped by last week to visit and brought me this:
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The enormous papaya not the adorable girl. We actually are not big fans of the fruit as if often tastes a bit weird at best. Ok, to be honest we call it "butt fruit." Not that we have tasted any butts to clarify. But even if we loved papaya there is just no way one family could eat that thing. The answer was obvious: after shule snack. And it fed 29 kids plus the neighbors that wandered over when they heard there was free food. Always better to share I say (unless of course it is our Reese's Peices sent from the US- then we hide 'em....is that so wrong?).
shule papaya and flat indi 017.jpgedit the cutting crew
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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Shule ya Imani

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In a long overdue update shule is back in session! I took a much needed break for the second two months I was teaching English at Pamoja because I was overwhelmed. Ok, to be honest I was a mess. Going from thing to thing all requiring much of myself I had very little left over for my family, for J, for my girls. And the leftovers is not how it is supposed to be. But for me I allowed it to happen and needed to take back some of my time in order to love and serve my family. No one will ever set boundaries for you, you have to do it yourself and ask Him for wisdom. Learning to thrive is about knowing you who are, how God made you, and what you need. I am learning this and in the process trying to be more fully me and to love that person He created. I might want to do everything well but I cannot and when I try I fail everyone close to me. So although the kids begged I said no shule for 2 months. And it turned out to be great. Yep, turns out I cannot do everything (or even half of everything). Can I get that tattooed somewhere? like my forehead maybe?

But no shule meant I was able to have more time to just be with neighbors and the watoto; impromptu games, we learned baseball one day (watching women in a black veil try to see the ball and hit it was pretty funny), kickball another, and lots of swinging and singing. I also got to re-evaluate this idea that God birthed over a year ago. I really cannot believe that this one small dream has grown and now there are so many parents asking if their children can come. I reflected on how much I am blessed by seeing the kids learn and smile and have fun. And the best part: I cannot take credit! He gave me the vision and has provided everything we need to continue (many times through some of you- THANK YOU!). We even have a name: Shule ya Imani which means School of Faith in Kiswahili and the students picked it because we started right after Evy Imani was born and because we trust God to provide everything we need. What started as a few kids on a mat has now grown to 29 children between the ages 2 and 12. And now we are on 2 very crowded and well worn mats! I recently had a parent's meeting to answer questions, to explain the rules, what we do every shule time, how they can help their children at home, etc. Almost everyone was late which made my speech about helping their children to be on time sorta ridiculous but all in all it was great. I have now extended the time by 30 minutes and split the kids into two groups : the Wadogo (little ones) and the Wakubwa (bigger ones) and I explained how this will help me better teach to their children's needs and give individual attention. Everyone was also eager kabisa to hear about our upcoming field trip to the local zoo (the kids all have to pass an exam and know their animals in English before we go- they are HIGHLY motivated let me tell you). They asked if I could teach everyday or longer the days I do. And although I had to say no right now I think they understood. I handed out all the homework each child has handed in so far stapled together with a little note from me that said "Mpendwa wa Mungu" (Loved one of God) and their name written in bright marker. They were so proud of their work and eager to show it off. We prayed together and I asked God to bless us, protect the children and families, and help us continue to learn and grow together. And, of course, as any function at the Wazungu house does we ended with juice and banana muffins. It was a special time. The progress is slow and although we are not able to do everything I wish we could I am so excited to see them remember what we learn, retell the stories from His Word to me, and really take ownership in helping during shule time. The are so happy to be a part of shule; to be included, to have fun, to learn, and to laugh. I pray that they know how special they each are and how deep and how wide is the Father's love for them. I am so blessed to get to see these children learn, discover, and grow. Shule ya Imani is in session....Karibu!

here is a few pics snapped during the Wadogo class:
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listening (some of the time:)
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singing
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counting
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helping the teacher by ringing the "quiet now" bell....
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and passing out pencils....
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and our workbooks
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writing together
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