Monday, October 31, 2011

slowly returning...

We are slowly making our comeback to the land of technology....
I say slowly because our internet speed averages one email opened per ten minutes and because we got fairly used to ignoring this box-o-technology over the last week. It was hard too but mostly it was life giving. Good to remember that life continues without my presence in cyberspace. I needed this time spent in prayer and with our family and it was refreshing. kabisa. For reals, I totally recommend shutting down, turning off, and unplugging for some time. The interruption of the constant was needed for us. Lots to share but need to process and write more first.
For now some sweet pics of our Saturday spent with friends enjoying the hot weather... some swimming with turtles too!
pamoja, dark week, ngalawa, towel on Anni, halloween 146.jpgedit
cute lil' Wazungu enjoying the pool!
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we are all about the cheesy smiles
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pamoja, dark week, ngalawa, towel on Anni, halloween 190
the girls were a bit freaked out at first but after a bit they decided it was pretty cool to swim with the long as they were vice gripping J that is....
pamoja, dark week, ngalawa, towel on Anni, halloween 203.jpgedit
pamoja, dark week, ngalawa, towel on Anni, halloween 214.jpgedit
pamoja, dark week, ngalawa, towel on Anni, halloween 216.jpgedit
my personal Indiana Jones....he is a hottie!
pamoja, dark week, ngalawa, towel on Anni, halloween 229.jpgedit
pamoja, dark week, ngalawa, towel on Anni, halloween 235.jpgedit
How Africa is this? the guys that worked there tried to convince us to buy it on our way only has "little problems" ....yeah! We just opted for the photo op :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

going dark

friends and family, I will not be here with you for a week. We are shutting off the screens in our lives as a family for a bit.

Not because there are no stories to tell or read or no pictures to share but because I have sensed that He is asking us to quiet ourselves and just listen. That is hard for me. I like chaos. One could even say I thrive in it to some extent. And I can easily blame the craziness of this place or having small kids but the truth is I make choices everyday to use the limited time I have to sometimes zone out with a show, check email, blog, edit photos, even read, etc. None of which are bad things or are excessive in my life and all of which one can easily qualify as good or even at times "necessary" things but when compared to the richness of seeking His presences and just listenin they all seem wasteful right now. And we need to hear from Him. We have a lot of decisions in our near future as a family. We have a lot of unanswered questions. And without His wisdom we cannot move forward.

We have a desperate need to hear from Him right now. For the Word and His spirit to speak to us and direct our steps. I had a dream last week....... Jason and I were surrounded by people; some family, some friends; from the US and from here. It was a crowd of people and it was not bad. The opposite actually. Like a chorus of talking, encouragement, needs, opinions, sharing, and living life together. But as I looked up from the full life we were engaging in I could see an eye and an ear in brief flashes circling the outside of the crush of people. Trying to be seen. Begging to be heard. But we weren't listening. We were tuned into the other people. We were focused on what was in front of us and I could barely catch a glimpse. I awoke and started crying. For me I know this dream is so true of where we are right now. We have not taken the time to step back and really listen to Him because the chaos around us has sometimes become too dense. I want to see and hear and for that I will take the time to quiet some of the constant swirl. I want to seek more. Talk less and listen more. I want to live a life that would be an utter failure if the power of God does not show up more and more each day. I want to sacrifice my wants for my real needs. To act in faith that all I see is not all there is. To humble myself before my Father and beg for His wisdom. I cannot manipulate this but I can set aside, turn off, make choices, humble myself, spend time reading and praying and being quiet and asking Him to show up.

So this week we are going dark. Seeking more light. Asking that in small sacrifices we gain clarity, purpose, and more Joy.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

a break-in and a little about His goodness...

We had a break-in at our house. Before anyone gets worried let me say we were not home and it was almost undetectable until Jason asked me why on earth I had opened one of his few and precious Mountain Dew cans and left it half drunk on the counter to which I quickly replied I had done no such thing! Then we looked closer and saw a video game controller was out, a CD carelessly thrown on a table, 2,000 shillings (about a buck) was missing, and banana muffin crumbs were scattered about the kitchen. Yep, someone had been in the house.

Nothing of real value was taken and a closer examination at the kitchen screen revealed that someone had ripped the already slightly torn screen even more and unlatched the door that was left unbolted (lesson learned). Both of us really did not want to deal with this but we knew letting it go was not a possibility. Bracing for an all night affair we went out. We immediately knew it had to be kids (I mean really who else would drink half a Mountain Dew but leave a laptop?) and started a search party for the culprits. It took about 3 minutes for a crowd of interested neighbors to show up at our house and another 2 minutes for shule kids to turn in the guilty parties who gave them selves away by eating the stolen goods...aforementioned banana muffins in front of all the other kids. Yeah, not the smartest thieves! What makes that crazy is that any person living in a 10 miles vicinity of us knows if you want a banana muffin all you have to do is stop over and 9 times out of 10 you will be offered one (or in true Waswahili fashion you can just ask for one). Turned out that the two boys that broke in were bored and wanted to play video games and having been in our homes many times thought we might have the goods. It took a while for the full story to come out but after their Mamas' were asked to join us the tears followed and the confessions came along with the verbal beat downs. Seriously! in a shame culture these kids got the wrath of their mothers in front of the whole neighborhood. It was amazing to me that we had to say very little while everyone else dealt with this situation. Another example of how communal parenting is here. They talked to all the kids about the importance of respecting us and that we are a part of this neighborhood. Some of what was said was so similar to what we would say in our home culture but some was completely different! It was a learning opportunity for sure! We shared about how the "stuff" does not bother us since we cannot take it with us anyway but that we trust and live together and we want the kids to learn that they need to respect everyone. About an hour into the ordeal the power went out and we all sat and continued the discussion in the darkness. I was so glad it was completely dark except for the occasional cell phone flicker so no one could see my giggling when one of the mothers yelled something along the lines of "why do you have to drink the soda at Mama Annikah's it better tasting then the soda anywhere else?" Yep, Mama Annikah soda rules! You heard it here first!

After an hour or so of the kids being reprimanded in front of everyone (even some other kids were crying because they were afraid and sad for them) the adults made them come and bow before us and ask forgiveness. It seemed so much for such a little thing but we wanted to respect their way of dealing with everything. I really felt that at that moment God gave me words to speak. Honestly so often I feel like I fail to say what I wanted or I miss opportunities but in that moment I was fully honest and said "we can easily forgive because we have been forgiven. We know God forgives us and so we can forgive freely." I really sensed His goodness in those moments. That in sometimes difficult or uncomfortable circumstances He can make a way for His love to shine. The mothers asked for forgiveness and said it will not happen again and asked that I still continue teaching the kids. The starry sky was the still our only light when everyone slowly said good night and headed home. We were exhausted but so thankful we had a little break-in and an opportunity to share love and forgiveness and learn more about real community with our neighbors.

playdough & an unexpected haircut

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we had quite the playdough cooking party last week.....
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"Hey, quit taking pictures mama!"
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I totally encourage this cheesy smile because I cannot get enough!!

and while I was washing dishes in the kitchen for 5 minutes....
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so we had Evy's first haircut not because she has much actual hair but because it was needed. Crazy girl!

Friday, October 21, 2011

school visits..pole pole....

flowers from J, clara's school, pumpkin spice 094.jpgedit
Last week Evy and I went on a trip to visit a school where one of the teacher's from Pamoja's Teacher Seminar works. She was also one of Jason's computer students and she is now running a small school for preschool and kindergarten age children. It has been a challenge to try to follow up with all the teachers but we are starting and slow is better than nothing right? pole pole ndiyo mwendo is a Kiswahili proverbs that means slowly, slowly is the going, or slowly but surely we will get there. So True.

Seeing the kids and teachers was such a blessing! We were given a tour and since we showed up right during snack time Evy was fed everything from cassava to cookies to sugary candies. And she loved the love let me tell you! We sang some songs with the kids later and chatted with the teachers about their dreams for the school. So often imagining and setting goals is so limited because the resources are simply not available and the issues so immense. But we had some good discussion on how we could work together to improve the school and what each teacher, parent, and student could do better to work towards progress. There is no quick fix...pole pole we will continue. I am constantly learning here to listen more than I speak. A hard lesson for me but one that without which I can never offer any real help. I was reminded that spending time and being with people here is so important. It communicates value and love and so I will always make time to love teachers and children. They are dear to me. And in the process of loving I am continually blessed. And thankful.
flowers from J, clara's school, pumpkin spice 059.jpgedit
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this one

Thursday, October 20, 2011

big girl

kids, evy in bibi rho dress, ziena's wedding 179.jpgedit

remember this dress? Miss Evy Imani is rockin' it these days. My girls are so big!

Monday, October 17, 2011

the beach at sunset

We highly recommend it.
market, mbweni beach fam pics 054.jpgedit

It has been months since we have been to the beach! I know, what is with us living on an island and all?

But it seems a metaphor for a lot in my life right now. I am focusing on the troubles, unanswered questions, and the busyness and forgetting the beauty, the known, and the rest that comes from trusting in Him. We got out the door late and we should have gone home early to get dinner started. I am glad we didn't. Because we got to watch the sun slip below the horizon in our corner of the world this night. Our island. This place that I love so dearly and at the same time represents so much difficulty and still unknown to me. As the sun set the clouds obscured our view but to me it seemed as though God's hand was holding the sun. Like three knuckles were gripping it tight and pulling it in place. A reminder for me that He who formed the sun also knows my every need, every worry, every question. The beach at sunset was a reminder to me to take a deep breath....there are miracles and beauty all around us if only we'd stop our motion long enough to notice. And say thank you.
market, mbweni beach fam pics 016.jpgedit
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thank you Lord.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

upside down family fabulous-ness night!

upside fam pic

We had Family Fabulous-ness (sure it is a word) Upside Down Night!!

One of my goals is to be more present in the right now with our girls. Confession: there are many days I feel like I am trying to survive from sunrise to sunset without anyone needing serious medical attention, without sibling fights requiring said medical attention, and deal with the endless emotions of our 5 year old and the destructive behavior of our almost-but-not-quite-yet 2 year old. Add that to my own issues, time for our marriage, work here, and needs around us and lots of days I am plan spent. Like for sure. But all in the same whirlwind I know He is calling me to treasure the Crazy. To really be present. And with Him at the center carve out for our family space and time to just be together...each one bringing our own faults, gifts, and chaos but loving and accepting that us being together on this road was no accident and is meant for our growth. Not easy this family thing.
I want my children to know they are loved. Deeply. To know their Mama and Papa value them and want to spend time in pursuit of their joy. Our joy as a family. One way we are trying to do that around here is making Fam Fab nights. An idea birthed by the fact that really there is not a whole lot to do around these parts but we still want to have fun together and just be "us" since we live most of our reality in an in-between-ness. The first real installment was Upside down night!
ok, so I completely ripped this idea off. True story. (Thanks Kim and the web) as I firmly believe most great ideas are ripped off and then tweaked and I have lots of awesome Mama's to steal ideas from. Yep. Now the key to Fam Fab nights is the anticipation. Everyday for a week Anni had been asking if it is the night yet. To which I would report the count down of days. We made invites (as we are prone to do for any reason), planned clothes that could be worn upside down with the aid of a few safety pins, selected the menu, and talked endlessly about the sillyness of everything being upside down.
Here is the run down of the night....Anni helped me make the upside down pizza (which was actually quite good) and we drank juice bottles with straws through the bottom (hammer and nails were needed for that). While our yummy dinner was baking we got dressed wearing everything upside down and as I was safety pinning my dress in place Jason yelled out those words I most fear when doing something crazy "una Mgeni" (you have a guest). seriously not a great moment. I decided I was positively certain I did not want to explain why Wazungu wear their clothes upside down in their homes on weekends as would obviously be what the guest would derive from seeing me looking like a fool and opted for a quick kanga cover-up. Fortunately it was a quick visit to drop off some green peppers and we were back to crazy Wazungu land in minutes. We each took turns standing on our heads and taking silly family pictures. We flipped our coffee table upside down and ate our dinner giggling when the cheap table lost a couple slats in the process, played Chutes and Ladders from the end to the start, and enjoyed upside down ice cream sundaes (we put the chocolate sauce in the bowl first of course). But not everything was perfect snapshots. As we were getting ready our kids did not stop the fighting and Anni was in tears at least twice about pins coming lose or Evy getting something she didn't and it occurred to us to just drop the whole thing. But it also came so strongly to me that this is real family time. A mix of the sweet and the difficult. Yet, it is us right now. It is more our story than perfect pictures or all seemly wonderful moments strung together. But I am so glad we continued through the unexpected guests, the food splattered floor, the tears about wanting more games because in the end it was special.....not the kind of special that is perfect but the kind that is us. And that is why it was full of love.
j and evy upside down night.jpgedit
anni and me upside down.jpgedit
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Evy could not get enough.....more Fam Fab in our future...

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Evy and I were visiting a friend's school this morning and as we walked past a government clinic with many Mamas' and babies waiting she wanted to check it out.

She wasn't so sure that was a great idea when everyone decided she needed to be weighed; local style. But she hung in.......
flowers from J, clara's school, pumpkin spice 093.jpgedit
she is 12.5 kilos for the record.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

ten on ten (october 2011)

anni off to school
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chicken in yard
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banana muffins
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flowers from J

1. Anni is off to the bus stop
2. morning visitors
3. our swings always attract watoto
4. a rogue chicken who got in our yard and made a ton of noise I may add!!
5. bikes are more fun when shared
6. banana muffins made in case guests stop by
7. a guest popping in for a chat and of course banana muffin
8. friends playing house under a passion fruit tree
9. movie time and a little hair braiding
10. a special gift from my hubby that made my day... flowers sewn together by one of his students
ten on ten button
join in on the photo project today!

Monday, October 10, 2011

you are invited to the wedding of a dear friend & neighbor.....

they were married on a Friday; the holy day which is custom here. They went to primary school together and their families think they will be a great match. Rain for the entire day was a downer and made the usual festivities postponed and the dancing outside seem impossible but the wedding went on. Everyone pitches in and does their part to make the wedding day fabulous.
kids, evy in bibi rho dress, ziena's wedding 222.jpgedit
the rain and lack of power keeps us women all packed inside waiting for the bride to arrive...think no breeze and sweat!
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shoes always must be removed before entering a home and the chai is ready and waiting for the men to return from the mosque
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everyone arrives in their best attire and brings food, mats, or other necessities for the day
kids, evy in bibi rho dress, ziena's wedding 206.jpgedit
the bride is escorted in from the salon with a kanga over her head making sure no one can see her. She always stays in a room decorated for the occasion and everyone comes in to take pictures, pray, and wish blessings. She wears green as is custom because it is the color of blessing here. Lots of "umependeza" you have made your self beautiful! comments are made in whispers to her.
kids, evy in bibi rho dress, ziena's wedding 227.jpgedit
lots of waiting and mischief for some watoto
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making friends
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odi or incense is burned during prayers
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everyone is dressed in their very best
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and generations of women decked out in the brightest colors wait for a glimpse of the bride
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time for the men to go make this thing official
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saying vows and praying
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the happy couple.
kids, evy in bibi rho dress, ziena's wedding 258.jpgedit

the rain finally lets up and everyone helps to lay the mats outside. The men return from the mosque and get ready to drum and chant...kupiga dufu
kids, evy in bibi rho dress, ziena's wedding 262.jpgedit
the women hear the drums and sing along and sway (no dancing allowed remember!). some get a bit feisty what with all the money waving and kupiga vigelegele which I cannot really translate except to say crazy loud noises made by moving your tongue super have to hear it!
kids, evy in bibi rho dress, ziena's wedding 263.jpgedit
thanks for joining our harusi. many prayers of blessings for the couple.