Monday, April 30, 2012

our Sunday at the sandbank.

sand bank trip 026.jpgedit
We finally made it to a sand bank a rocks throw from our island this Sunday. We have wanted to go for a while now but had not made the time.  Well, no longer and I am sorry we waited to so long to see it!  It is a tiny strip of sand that is only visible at certain tide times so timing our trip was key.
sand bank trip 009.jpgedit
sand bank trip 082.jpgedit
We really needed the time to run and play and swim and snorkel and and search for shells. We were surrounded by the ocean, birds, fishermen after their daily catch, quiet (except for the happy screams of glee emanating from our brood of 6 kids) and sand. Lots of sand. We joined our team leader's family in their crazy little blow up boat and after the manly men built it with help from many interested watoto and local folk peering we were off on our adventure. 2012-04-29 sand bank trip.jpgcollage 1.jpgedit
2012-04-29 sand bank trip1.jpgedit
there was some fishing and innovative uses of ziplock bags.....
sand bank trip 135.jpgedit
oh, and there was lots of bird chasing...
sand bank trip 148.jpgedit
and waving to fishermen.....
sand bank trip 215.jpgedit
we are grateful for friends...
sand bank trip 237.jpgedit
and family.....
sand bank trip 199.jpgedit
We got to enjoy this amazing part of His Creation and that was a gift. A perfect Sunday morning worship service if you ask me.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

a week ago....recovering and worshiping

One week ago was  a day I will never forget nor do I want to.  The support, prayers, and love poured out and lavished on our little family across oceans is humbling and amazing.   God is using this to strengthen and build faith in us and in many who have responded in kindness and compassion.  For this I cannot adequately thank you all.  A friend sent an email that really resonated with me. She said "we can proclaim His goodness through tears of relief rather than tears of sorrow" and that is just about perfect.  As we find out more about the situation we really again and again are discovering just what a miracle God performed.  I think sometimes we in the West are so timid is using that word "miracle" but maybe that is one reason we see so few, because our eyes are shut tight.  We do not use miracle lightly but when human circumstances or efforts can not explain something we are able and should be eager to give credit to The God of the Universe.  God took our family to a place where people in some ways much more readily see and except God's Hand in their everyday life to teach us more about just how far reaching and amazing His power really is. We have seen miracles here, things that cannot be explained but for the Grace of God.  Things for which we can take no credit and only give honor and glory to God.  I wanted to share some pictures and memories and some more info since many of you have asked.
first night in the hospital.....praying and crying and praying
amazing friend that visited, prayed, brought clothes ("but these are boy clothes" Anni pointed out: we were pretty sure she would make a fully recovery after that sassy comment) and a mini- DVD player.  Her family had been through a traumatic situation and she was able to pray the words we needed that first night.  Their family visited us everyday and even brought us lattes.  Saints I tell you.
Evy's exit burn on her toe.  Pole little girl! We are doing lots of bandage changes in the land of dust & dirt.  some medical 411: Evy had exit burns on her head (had to have part shaved which was sad for me since more poor kids are bald until they turn two) and on her toe.  Jason has burns on his toes and hands and Anni has one of the top of her foot and some very small ones in between her fingers.  After talking more with our insurance company who were amazing!! Seriously! Especially a woman names Angie who called everyday concerned about our family's care and researched what tests we needed to ask for to make sure there were no extensive internal burns (She authorized to pay for any and all care and even fly us to South Africa if needed)...yeah, they were awesome!! Such a gift in a stressful time.  We had to demand t the hospital check something called CPK levels tested and for Anni to get a CT scan. Anni's CT scan showed a slight linear fracture on the top left side of her head that will need to heal (we are supposed to keep her from falling between now and then...yes, not easy!)  and get rechecked in 8-10 weeks as it was a perfect line and should heal fine on its own.  The doctor said if it had been centimeters longs it could have caused real issues.  Their CPK levels were so high that for Evy and Jason they were above 1900 which is considered immeasurable (the range is 26-192) and for Anni it was 1242.  Each day they had blood draws to make sure the levels were decreasing and they showed improvements everyday although still not fully normal (which may take time due to the stress on the heart and muscle tissues)
Hans and J, we cannot express how thankful were are to him for being there with us.
Anni at the ambulance entrance- she did not remember entering but we made sure she would remember leaving after God healing her!
the third day we needed to break free from the hospital room so we just went about 5 minutes away to our old fav chain.  The kids loaded in the Tuk Tuk without shoes but we found some at the stores nearby.
. kony pics, accident, back in Z, butterfly 010.jpgedit
Upon returning to our island I walked in the house with a sleeping Evy in my arms and went to turn the light switch on only to have it SHOCK ME!! Yes, it was a tiny shock but our house helper also got shocked by touching the faucet and J by touching the computer. We soon found out the whole house was electrified because a wire had shorted out and was pressing against the tin roof.  Needless to say it was a bit traumatic again but we were thankful we realized this before we all got in the shower.  We quickly headed outside and called Hans to the rescue and quickly got a fundi over to fix everything. Jason could not sleep the first night back and while laying awake he asked God why He would allow this after such a traumatic event. God really spoke to him that night that this was to further make us know we can trust in God, no matter where we are and even places we think are "safe" are only safe because He ordains it. It was a reminder that Jason did not need to feel any guilt about what happened because there are dangers everywhere and our help comes from Him. Alone.
kony pics, accident, back in Z, butterfly 028.jpgedit
the only signs left of the accident.  Grubby bandages that are changed twice a day.
kony pics, accident, back in Z, butterfly 012.jpgedit
The after noon we arrived home this little butterfly showed up on our porch and would not leave.  It was a vibrant and awesome reminder of the beauty of Life.
video clips I had forgotten I had taken in the hospital.....
We are home and we are recovering and worshiping. Thank you again for lifting us and may we all rest in where our true help comes from today, RoxanneSignature

Friday, April 27, 2012

we are good.

after accident, skuli kids at computer lab, with DOn, foro 083.jpgedit
We met some friends at our fav place; Foro Park, for some playground time, local eatin', and celebration.  Seemed just about perfect.    Especially when we caught this sunset.....
after accident, skuli kids at computer lab, with DOn, foro 088.jpgedit
Happy Weekend Y'all!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

standing to proclaim

I have no clever or semi- witty line to begin this story. I have only the deep need to tell it, to allow it to spill from me, to share as I process what His purpose was in all of it, and to call forth His praise and glory. I know some of you all may know varying details from what happened this past Saturday but in wrestling with how I am feeling about it all I have more to say.

My husband and girls were electrocuted and they all could have died.  Jason was sure, in fact, that they were going to leave this world.  But our God is a God of miracles.  They are with me and I cannot express the gratefulness and awe I feel. Mungu ni Mkubwa. God is BIG. He really is.

Saturday morning I left early for a ladies day and after sorting the meals for my family in my absence I kissed them goodbye and was off. Later that day they were swimming at a recent acquaintances home here as they were given keys and asked to check in on the house and enjoy the pool while this family was away.  They went swimming and were playing ball and chasing chickens in the yard when Anni spotted some shells scattered along the wall of the house and asked J if she could play with them.  After doing a once over and not noting anything that looked dangerous (open wells and other hazards are common place here) J said she could play as long as she watched her sister and he sat down not far from them.  What we can piece together at that point is that Anni must have touched a faulty, shorted out AC machine that had a metal grate around it and was shocked and the force of the electric current sucked her little body up against the grate.  We think Evy went to help her sister and was sucked in by the current as well.  They both managed to get off what Jason described as a piercing scream and he ran to help them.  Thinking they had gotten their arms caught in the grate he reached out to help and was shocked and thrown down but not out of the path of electric current.  The three of them were stuck there for what to J seemed like minutes while electric currents passed through their bodies causing what J described through many tears as the worst pain he has ever felt.  They were all paralyzed and unable to escape the voltage.  He yelled in pain and screamed and asked God for mercy and for Jesus to save them.  Seconds later a local man came running around the corner and saw what was happening and disappeared again for what felt like forever.  He reappeared with a wooden board and began to pry them off one by one using the board as a grounding to prevent being electrocuted himself.  After realizing he was still alive Jason stood and tried to run only to have his muscles collapse under the trauma his body had been through and fall to the ground.  He quickly knew Annikah was not doing well.  She was unconscious, seizing, and foaming at the mouth.  With the help of the man who had come they scooped up the children and Jason drove them all to the hospital on the island.  J also called our team leader, who by the grace of God had not been an hour and a half away on a fishing trip as planned, to meet them there.  The doctors had no clue what to do and very quickly accessed that their conditions were not treatable there and they needed to be evacuated off the island.  Jason was praying and praying and soon the room filled with folks and onlookers.  They decided to leave the hospital and try to arrange the flight which required insurance approval and many other details that needed to be arranged.

I missed all this.  Probably by the grace of God as I do not think I would have had the clear strength and ability God gave Jason to care for the girls in those first moments.  I was reading on the beach when I got a calm but terror filled phone call that I needed to return as they were going to medivac-ed from the island.  I was shaking and my friends prayed for me and the situation.  We all grabbed our stuff and started on the hour long car ride back to the city.  On that ride I had limited information, limited cell phone coverage, but we knew we had to pray.  Pray for mercy, pray and thank God He was there.  That hour and some minutes were the longest moments of my life.  I watched out the windows as women carried firewood on thier heads, as men drove bicycles loaded with their crops to sell, and children darted around playing and running and carrying water.  It was just normal life here in this precious place but for me my life was changing forever and I was keenly aware there was a battle for my heart; between trust and soul gripping fear.  I felt weak. I sobbed, I prayed, I hummed the song He gave me.  My sisters that were with me prayed for me, for Jason and our precious girls.  We praised Him for His protection even in the midst of crisis and I knew to my very core that I would not allow this incident; no matter the outcome, to steal praise from my lips. I knew that for sure.  It was a heat that rose from my gut and this song was with me... I am no singer but I hummed this song from Psalm 100 in the quiet and long minutes as we inched towards town.

Lord,You are good and Your mercy endureth forever
People from every nation and tongue,
from generation to generation;

We worship You,
We worship You for who You are.

We worship You,
We worship You for who you are and You are good.

You are good all the time,
and all the time You are good.

And it became truer as the time wore on.  It is true.  I told my friends that Satan was not going to use this in our lives to drive us away from trusting God.  I claimed it and I spoke it because I knew it was true but I also held terror in my bones that I might be put to the test, to be counted worthy of suffering something I could only imagine in those moments.  And I knew I would still praise Him but I also knew I would need their help to hold my hands heavenward. I needed to speak it for it to be true.

We continued on the drive with spotty communication with Jason; "they were headed to the airport, "the helicopter was there,"  "just please pray- Anni is not ok."  I sobbed, we prayed, I hummed the song more, and we inched closer.  We called friends and tried to see if there would be another flight out tonight if I missed the chopper and the next flight was not until 9pm.  It was around 5 or 6pm then.  I just prayed we would make it and as we burned past police checks with a simple "her children were in an accident" in Kiswahili they encouraged us to continue without any problems.  We finally rounded the corner that meant we were on the road towards the airport, minutes away and I called Jason who was boarding and simply yelled through the chopper blades "hurry!"  After that call the car started to die minutes away from the airport.  I remember laughing.  Odd I know but I just knew this was ridiculous.  Us women called on the name of Jesus to get that little car "just to the airport...please Lord just to the airport" (I was told later it died there) and it made it. I bolted from the car and ran through the airport and past security to the huge glass windows and I saw the helicopter.  I remember very little from those moments except that I saw the chopper blades rotating and I just had to get on that thing.  I was a hollering, crying, blubbering mess at this point and I am pretty sure I pushed a few workers who were insisting I would not get through because I did not have a ticket and that I needed to stop crying and follow procedures.  My Kiswahili was clear and loud and I was getting on that chopper to my family. I was totally "that" crazy white lady hollering and yelling and creating a scene.  I was aware of this but it was as if I had no control to stop it.  The blood pumping through me was dictating I was going to board that helicopter if it meant stampeding anyone in my way. The chopper co-pilot saw me and came running to tell the airport staff to let me come and I burst forward in a full run until I was on board with my family.  They were a mess, I was a mess, and we could not hear each other over the chopper blades so we just prayed and tried to piece the story together.  Annikah still did not look good and was vomitting and totally not present. Evy sat on my lap and hugged my neck and I knew she would be ok. I don't remember much from the helicopter ride except that the sunset was beautiful; reds and pinks, and blues as the sun slipped away over the ocean.  The South Africans flying us were extremely kind and reassuring and smiled at us as we prayed. Jason still was unable to tell me about anything that had happened but did manage to crack a joke that I finally got the helicopter ride I always wanted.   Hans was there with us and was a blessing as we were all unable to think through what needed to happen next.  We arrived and an ambulance met the chopper and we loaded in and made it to the Trauma Center minutes later to a staff that immediately started treating Annikah.  After a few minutes Jason went to change out of his wet swim suit and after he came out of the bathroom he collapsed on a chair and wailed.  I have never heard him cry like that.  I just knelt down and prayed for him and told him we were going to be ok, no matter what happened, we would make it through this.  Annikah never regained full consciousness that night but she showed signs of improving.  I slept with her in the small hospital bed and all throughout the night her heart and oxygen levels were measured.  God sent a friend of a friend who had been through a terrible trauma to pray with us and bring the girls clothes and we were again reminded the family of Jesus is awesome.  Annikah woke up the next morning and glanced over at the EEG machine and asked me if she could play the cool video game and she also said she was hungry.  I cried.  She was there.  She was still there. That was the first sense of relief I had and it swept over all of us.  The next few days were a mixture of worry, joy, rest, sharing, and worship.
My earthly family is with me.  Right now Evy is taking a nap, J is resting, and Annikah is keeping me company at our dining room table doing "art projects" with way too much glitter.  The God of the universe and our Father saw fit that they would be able to stay here for a time.  It is not promised but it is all blessing. There is no logical explanation for why they are here, for why they did not have brain swelling or heart issues save that those that call on the name of Jesus can rest in His power.  God still has work and life and pain and joy for them and for that I cannot adequately express in either language I know my gratefulness and my worship.  The Lord gives and He takes away and He calls those who follow Him to stand and proclaim His goodness in either outcome and all in between.  If He gives we gladly and freely receive and stand and praise and if He takes we stand and praise.  In the latter I will still stand, with shaky knees and you all; my sisters and brothers would have had to hold my hands for me because the weight of pain may obscure my view for a while.  You all would have to help me speak the praise, the pain, the trust, and the adoration.  At the moment I received the phone call about the accident I was sitting by the serene ocean and relaxing and what followed was a complete contrast but I know with certainty He was in every moment.  I was reading a book by John Piper and the chapter was on suffering.  The verse I underlined was "But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead." 2 Cor. 1:9. It was what I needed, we needed, and although we would never chose it we know God is worthy of our worship even if it costs a great deal, our devotion even if there are things that compete for it, our reliance even if we think we can handle it, and our very lives.  I was forced in this all to count the cost, to say to my Jesus I do not count anything as gain compared to you.  God held me tight and asked me if I really believe He heals and saves and restores and protects and sanctifies and is worthy of our trust as I proclaim to others.  Do I really believe it is true? Do I know it no matter what?
The world is not safe.  Anywhere.  It is fallen.  And we are never promised pain-free, easy lives and nor do I want one as these times I sense the richness of His love, the extent of His Grace, the powerful reach and gentle care of His hand.
"Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" Acts 14:22.
I am wrecked and humbled and grateful and I stand to say boldly He is good.  In everything. I am weak but He is strong and I will boost in this with everything in my soul.
"Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong" 2 Cor 12:9-10.  We are content. We are healing; physically and emotionally.  We prayed today and took some time to listen. Jason heard FREEDOM again and again.  It was profound, we realized that this event has forced us to face our biggest fear; our children dying, and as we looked that squarely in the face we still said we will praise God.  We are weak but the power of Christ in us allows us to stand.  This has given us more freedom; from fear and freedom to follow Him where ever, when ever, and to whatever He calls.

Thank you to everyone everywhere whose hearts were stirred to lift us up.  We feel your outpouring of love and care and concern and count it as blessing.  We may not get back to you all in a timely manner because right now I am spending time with my family, I am holding them close and we are healing.  And we are telling everyone that will listen that God is good, that Jesus heals and saves, and that we can stand and say this because we have seen it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

no matter what

God is good and His mercy endures forever.

I almost lost my husband and our girls on Saturday.  But God saw fit that they get to remain here with me, He has much more for them and us and He counted us worthy to suffer for a time.  There are no words I have now to adequately explain how I feel.  As I type on a borrowed laptop from a hospital we were medivac-ed to in Dar our girls are sleeping peacefully and Jason is resting.  I want to scream: Jesus touched their bodies and is healing them.  They are here with me and it is a miracle.  One I am still pondering in my heart.  I would still be praising Him if things were different and I was clearly shown that too in the hours between their accident and us knowing anything about their condition.  God is good.  Thank you for everyone from Tanzania to America, from Europe to Asia, and everywhere in between that is lifting our family up- we feel it and it is humbling.  God does not leave us or forsake us and He is good.  Say it with me today.

Friday, April 20, 2012

wall jumping

Usually the kids from the neighborhood jump over our gate to catch a glimpse of what we are up to, play with Anni's bike, or swing on the swings and even though they are loud and generally havoc reeking they are always welcome.  But today we had some unwelcome guests.  We had a repeat offender; a kuku (chicken) from next door got in again.  I seriously think this chicken is getting into our yard everyday just to irritate Jason because he is so darn good at it. Our neighbors say it is because he has white feathers and wants to live with his own kind; the white folks.  They are funny I tell you.  Said annoying chicken often tries to get in the house, makes the loudest noises, and, for some unknown reason, loves to poop all over our porch.  I came up with a brilliant plan to save our sanity and give the gang of watoto that roam outside something to do.  They get candy if they successfully catch the chicken without hurting him and return him to his home. I know what you are thinking....  I explained they cannot bring him in just to catch him and thus get candy.  See, I am one step ahead of them and their tomfoolery. Jason has now given fair warning that if he is still around here tomorrow we will eat him so I hope for his sake the candy gig works.

2012-04-20 riot outside our house, tecaher tina baby.jpgcollage.jpgedit
We also had a bit of excitement involving a demonstration of a political/ religious party that wants to separate from the mainland government.  They gathered outside the House of Representatives building near our home and when things turned a bit too riot-y for the police they chased everyone away, complete with clubs and guns.  A few of the protesters jumped our walls and hid out in our yard until the police had moved on. I drove through the chaos on my way to the ministry of education so I missed the chasing and jumping and general chaos but I did manage to snap a few pics without being detected as we drove through the gathered folks.  There are issues brewing and bubbling over here.  We have seen it for years but somehow it feels with the possibility of oil here the increase in activity is noticeable. Definitely worth watching what will happen here. We are praying for peace.  Happy Friday Y'all!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

oil paints and ocean breezes

Our Annikah has always been a creative girl and her art skills are really taking shape.  She can easily sit for over an hour drawing, cutting, gluing, and planning her masterpieces.  She has these awesome ideas about how to make cards, draw people, tell stories through pictures, and she is always up for an "art project."  The kids in the neighborhood all say "Mama Annikah tafadhali tunaomba kufanya (please we request to do) art project" and it cracks me up whenever they ask mostly because I think they are pretty positive 'art project' is one word.  They have learned if you wanna hang with Miss Anni you do lots of art and they are super ok with that.  When I heard there was a local artist hosting a little Tingatinga art class for kids I knew it was perfect.  The fact that it was located inside the old fort of Princess Salme was just an extra bonus. She started with this.....

fort, tinga painting class, marti's bday, coal 051.jpgedit
2012-04-17 fort, tinga painting class, marti's bday, coal.jpgcollage.jpgedit
fort, tinga painting class, marti's bday, coal 044.jpgedit
2012-04-17 fort, tinga painting class, marti's bday, coal1.jpgedit
fort, tinga painting class, marti's bday, coal 064.jpgedit
Taaaadaaa! I was pretty impressed too.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New Life

For months our first born has been asking "When can I get baptized?" We have read the Word with her and she decided she needed to be baptized like Jesus and the other people who followed after him.  She wrote it neatly on the family meeting board and at every meeting asked again....
halawa, baptism board 040.jpgedit
She asked at bedtime prayers almost every night and at seemingly random intervals throughout the day.  She clearly chose to follow Him and we have seen the spirit in her life.  The day before we left for Oman we were watching old video clips on our computer and we came across her dedication service when she was a wee one.  She watched it like she was glued to the screen and she cried.  Me too.  As I listened to specific words I had long forgotten I realized just how faithful God is.  We specifically prayed for God to give her compassion for people, for Him to bless her with wisdom beyond her years, and for the desire to use her gifts to bless others.  I was overwhelmed by just how awesome God is and how faithful He has been in her short but full life.  She loved watching the video and asked to watch it over and over again.  I capped it at 4 times as it was way past bedtime.  We talked about how much God has done in her life and how much more is to come. We emailed our pastor back home for advice on baptism (they are supposed to know this stuff right?) And we prayed about it. We wanted to do it in God's timing.  We were not sure if she was ready, if she really understood all it means to follow Jesus. But then I was clearly reminded I still do not understand all it means. We are all on a journey and He is revealing more to us as we obey, cling, search, embrace mercy, and love.   The Spirit reveals His truth to the people He calls in His timing.  We have gotten to see Anni's faith grow and along with the pain and joy we have been blessed as a family to follow Him together.  On Easter Sunday we baptized our little girl in the Sea of Oman along with our friend's son.  The moment was clearly Spirit led, and I love when that happens.  We talked together and prayed together and we asked God that they would be the first of many that thirst for and find Living Water.  It was awesome.
trip to Oman, Anni's baptism 676.jpgedit
trip to Oman, Anni's baptism 683.jpgedit
trip to Oman, Anni's baptism 708.jpgedit
trip to Oman, Anni's baptism 734.jpgedit
she was so emotional and tears flowed..wonder where she gets that?
trip to Oman, Anni's baptism 753.jpgedit
pumped about celebrating New Life.
trip to Oman, Anni's baptism 762.jpgedit
trip to Oman, Anni's baptism 780.jpgedit
after the kids got dunked we headed to DQ (Yes, they have DQ there!) for some Blizzards to properly celebrate and listen to all of our stories of choosing to follow our Savior.  Sisters and Brothers sharing how good He is.  A gift we do not take for granted.

Entering into this fullness is not something you figure out or achieve. It's not a matter of being circumcised or keeping a long list of laws. No, you're already in—insiders—not through some secretive initiation rite but rather through what Christ has already gone through for you, destroying the power of sin. If it's an initiation ritual you're after, you've already been through it by submitting to baptism. Going under the water was a burial of your old life; coming up out of it was a resurrection, God raising you from the dead as he did Christ. When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive—right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ's cross. 
Col 2:11-15 The Message.
That is Good News.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

coal cuties

fort, tinga painting class, marti's bday, coal 069.jpgedit
 I always remember my Dad teasing us when we were little that we would get coal in our stocking if we were naughty thus rallying the age old parenting trick of bribing for good behavior. Turns out coal is pretty awesome as I cannot keep Evy and her partner in crime away from the worn rice bag full of coal that sits just outside our back door.  I want to discipline her for this but I cannot stop myself from laughing as they are painting themselves and giggling.  Oh well it could be much worse (trust me with some of the things the kids play with here...just yesterday a dead lizard for example).  But the evidence is clear: coal in this girl's stocking would be the perfect gift.

Friday, April 13, 2012


trip to Oman, Anni's baptism 676.jpgedit
this picture is my favorite of our time in Oman.  Praying for our first born moments before she was baptized by her Papa in the sea.  She took a step of faith to proclaim before all that she is found in Jesus.  Good day.