Monday, September 11, 2017

Yet Another Adventure

When you read this I will be winging my way across the Atlantic. So looking forward to enjoying fall again. Sweaters, boots, tights, brisk breezes, ahhhh!

Our last few shopping trips have been pretty ordinary. I guess it was time for an adventure. Keep reading to find out what happened.

A couple weeks ago we traveled to Mansa via Terra Nova Farm where Tom stopped to work some more on the French Trough that is running along the driveway and making the place look so posh that people keep stopping at the gate hoping to get a room at our luxury resort. :)


I meanwhile worked on the security guard’s time sheet. We have a nice system of buttons which he scans with a wand so we know he’s made his rounds each night. We then pay him according to the amount of rounds he makes each night—up to 12. This gives us peace of mind and keeps him on track. Once I’d done this I fell asleep in our cozy little security house while Chewy kept me company.

We moved Chewy to the farm a few months ago since he was not happy at the Children’s Home. He was much more likely to be found mixing it up with the female dogs of the village. It made more sense to move him to a less populated area where he could also work off his adolescent energy.—much like the plan for Terra Nova Farm ultimately. We plan to move our older children there so they can study half the day and spend the rest of the day working off extra teenage hormones/energy on the farm. Chewy is just the pioneer. LOL And he loves it there. Every time we drive in he runs up with a huge doggy smile on his face. His coat is shiny and sleek again. Makes my heart happy.





When we reached Mansa we visited a few government offices, shops, and the bank before they closed just to tick a few things off our fairly extensive list.
That evening we spent at a hotel preparing for the big push of the next day. It was an early night to bed so we could rise early the next day.

Friday got off to a good start. I finally managed to find clear glue for a fun project I want to do. (I’ll share it when I do.) We went to the bank again and then I headed in to Shoprite—our grocery store—while Tom went to run around to all the various shops that are necessary to completing a shopping trip: hardware stores (yes, plural), agriculture store, animal feed, granary, etc.

My time in the grocery store is worthy of its own post so I’ll have to do that some time. Did I tell you all that our store burned down last year? It did! And the temporary store they put up during construction is tiny! It’s quite an adventure getting all our list filled. But, I managed—and in pretty good time too.

When Tom came to pick me and the dozen crates, boxes and 60 cabbages up he assured me he only had a few errands to run and then we could be on our way. It was approaching noon, so this was good news.

Tom wanted to get the truck checked out because an odd light had come on the dash and we weren’t sure what it meant. The truck was running well, but we wanted to get ahead of any issues. We went to a mechanic we’ve worked with before. The shop came well recommended so that was reassuring. This day however, Tom and I both noticed that the mechanic looked a little hung over. Unfortunately this isn’t an uncommon thing to see in laborers so we didn’t pay it a whole lot of attention. (I wish we had though)

I decided to leave Tom to sort out the truck issues and to pick up the remaining hardware items while I walked to the lunch counter to get our order started since it can take a while.
My food had just arrived when I got a phone call from Tom. 

It went like this:

Tom: Our mechanic has hit a pedestrian and the police have impounded our truck.
Me: That’s not remotely funny. I don’t like that joke.
Tom: I wish I were joking. It really happened.
Me: …….
Tom: I’ll call you back when I know more.

Tom tracked down our truck and got the story from the police. Apparently our mechanic had swerved off the road while looking at the dashboard and hit a pedestrian hard enough to snap off the side mirror. When the door popped open and he saw someone lying on the ground he panicked and swerved back on the road (with the door still hanging open) and hit a car. To his misfortune (though we were grateful) a police officer in another car observed the whole thing and immediately arrested him. We were also so thankful that the impact with the other car did no damage to our truck.

As per procedure our truck was impounded and taken to the police station while the investigation could be carried out. This was worrisome to us as all our belongings were in the cab—including our two laptops—and two weeks’ worth of groceries (perishables too) were in the truck bed.

Thanks be to God, nothing was damaged or stolen.

Now came the waiting game. We had to sit outside the station in the hot sun waiting for the police to take statements from everyone involved and eventually formally charge the mechanic with drunken driving, driving without a license, reckless driving, and fleeing an accident. Whew! We were so glad that we weren’t dragged in to the situation—just inconvenienced.

Another good thing was that the mechanic shop is actually owned by a good Christian family and one of the owners came right over to inspect the damage to our truck and find a replacement mirror. The police wouldn’t release our vehicle until we had that repaired.
Four hours later we were finally able to finish our last couple errands and get on the road. Driving at dark is never fun—and less so on pothole covered roads, but we were so glad that we were actually getting to go home and our truck was not incapacitated. We pulled into the gate at 8:30 PM

God continues to look after us in the midst of our adventures.


And that dashboard light? Turns out that trucks have something called an engine brake that you can use when going downhill to save your brakes and gears. Who knew? We didn’t! Apparently the day before when Tom had the truck cleaned someone had bumped the switch and turned the engine brake on. The light was just letting us know it was on. Steep learning curve (see what I did there??), but that’s life. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Amy Waxes Poetic

Once upon a time there was a beautiful little ship. She was perfectly made. The Master Shipbuilder had seen to that. He and His Captain had special plans for this ship. 

For many years she served the purpose for which she was created. But her missions were not without peril. Many times storms ravaged the little ship tossing her around and taxing her masts and sails. Other times she got too close to shore and her hull was scraped by coral reefs. Barnacles gathered on her underside and small cracks developed all over.

Still the ship served her Captain faithfully always looking forward to the next adventure and pointing her bow into the wind. Ready and able to do what her Master had created her for.
But over the years more stress showed along the body of the ship. Her sails didn’t raise or furl quite as quickly as they used to. The masts creaked and groaned in strong winds. The rudder didn’t respond as well as before.



Occasionally the Captain would steer the little ship into a sheltered harbor or peaceful port, but she didn’t fully appreciate these times. She wanted to work. To be a blessing. To fulfill her purpose. So, stubbornly she would point her nose back out to sea and because she was a free vessel and not bound, the Captain would let her go.

However, she continued to get worse and showed serious signs of breaking down. Patchworks weren’t going to do it anymore.

The Captain and Master Shipbuilder decided it was time for the ship to have a rest. To spend some time in a dry dock having her weak spots attended to. Her hull needed polishing, her masts needed strengthening, her sails needed mending, and her rudder needed adjusting.





The ship was sad about this decision. She was made for the high seas. She was made for adventure. She was made to serve. How could she fulfill her purpose if she was stuck in a dry dock merely being tended to? Perhaps she would never make it back into the water. Perhaps her Captain would lose sight of her if she wasn’t in the middle of the action.

But she yielded to the Wisdom she knew He had and the Love that she knew would carry her through.

The beginning of her time in the dry dock was hard. She missed the open waves. She didn’t know if she would ever be the same. Plus, the renovation and reconstruction was not without pain and difficulty. Hard, crusty barnacles had to be shaved off. Large pieces of wood had to be removed and replaced with new wood. Her sails needed intensive repair.

But, day by day, she began to see the change. Old, dry wood began to gleam under the ministrations of the Shipbuilders’ workers. She felt that she could breathe again with much of the debris and corrosion removed. She learned to enjoy the rest and peace of the dock.




Soon her Shipbuilder and Captain decided she could head back into the water again. Much of the renovation had been completed and she was needed for more missions. However, she would need to avoid rough waters and stay away from shallow shores where damage could be done to fresh repairs. Her freight loads would need to be monitored so as not to weigh the ship down and cause her to ride too low in the water.

They wanted her to come back for regular repairs and maintenance to avoid getting as worn down as before. This would help the ship to fulfill her purpose once more.

One day she may be ready for the high seas again. But for now, she is happy to be back at work doing what she was created for. And now she is much better about letting her Captain guide her through the seas and is giving him control of the wheel.

Friday, November 18, 2016

God With Us

The other day I was working in the office when Tom came in to tell me that a baby had been brought to our door. We were not really considering taking in new babies at this point because of our current financial struggles. (You can read our latest newsletter to learn more) 

My heart has been a bit fragile (more about this at a later date), so Tom offered to go down to the entry way to see what was up.

He came back to tell me that the baby was only 7 days old and his mother had died shortly after his birth after getting an infection following her cesarean section. Once the family had taken care of the funeral they took stock of the situation and realized they didn't have anyone to take care of this newborn baby. His father is crippled and has another seven children. The grandparents are very old. So the whole family agreed they needed to try to find him a home with us.

Tom and I both agreed that this was a genuine need, but wanted to check in with our Boss first to make sure this was the right decision. We sat quietly in our office to pray. 

Tom prayed a simple prayer of acknowledgement of God's grace and provision and our need for his guidance. Immediately I felt a growing peace in my heart that taking in this new baby was the right thing. Tom continued praying: "We know that this baby boy, Emmanuel, needs a family..." and right then I knew for certain that we were meant to take in this baby. 

Let me explain:

Last month I was struggling (I still am--again, more about this later) and an opportunity arose for me to take a break and attend a retreat for Global Women (AKA missionaries) in Cape Town, South Africa. There was so much good that came of this time that I could fill several posts (and may still do that), but in one morning session a part that stood out to me so strongly was that Christianity is the only religion where our God is named Emmanuel which means God With Us. We are never alone. We forever carry God in our hearts wherever we go. This filled my heart with comfort and I wrote that name large and underlined in my notes. 

So the moment I found out this brand new baby's name is Emmanuel I knew that God was leading us in this way. 

After the prayer I shared this with Tom and he said he had had the same reaction to hearing the name for the first time. Despite our financial struggles, despite the uncertainties of the future in this country, despite our human frailties, God is with us! and He will always be with us and with these precious children that he places in our home. 

Peter has loved helping to care for Emmanuel--once we reassured him that he hadn't been replaced that is.


Emmanuel is just the sweetest baby you have ever seen. And, yes, I know I say that every time (well, maybe not every time. LOL) He seems perfectly healthy and is eating and sleeping like a champ.

Emmanuel loves his pacifier--which I'm grateful for.

If you would like to help toward Emmanuel's expenses and those of the overall budget we would love that and you can simply click on this link to make a one-time or even monthly donation so that we can continue to help these little babies. 


A baby makes a fantastic accessory


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Country Boy Travels to The City


Last month Tom had to go to Lusaka to pick up supplies for a couple construction supplies. We were also expecting a new volunteer and Tom would meet him at the airport.

Tom had hoped to take one of our big boys who needs lots of extra attention, but at the last moment he broke some rules and had to lose the privilege. Elias, as the oldest child, was the next logical choice. He turns 12 this month. 

The trip was filled with many firsts. First trip to a large city. First long drive. First time to be completely on his own without his brothers and sisters. And, the list went on and on. First escalator and elevator rides. Tom loved filming and documenting all of Elias' adventures so the children back home could see it all later.


There were many first foods: first pizza, first Chinese, first hamburger, first fish and chips, first gelato, first Subway sandwich. Tom had him do the 'wow' face for each of them. Ha ha.


Another first was to see two movies. He watched the BFG in 3D and Star Trek Beyond. His impression of the movie theater was interesting: 

First I thought the room was small, but then I walked in and the room was big. I don’t know if it was a blanket or what, but they put it on the front wall And then they turned a light on and the light went on the blanket. And we put on glasses and things were coming out of the movie. We ate popcorn and drank slushies. 

Neat side story. The kids back home got to read The BFG with our volunteer while Elias was on his trip so they could all share the story.



A huge highlight of the trip for Elias was riding in a Go-cart. Here are his memories of that day: 

I was racing with some kids and I crashed. Someone came and told me how to drive it and where the brakes are and where to push to make it go faster. I crashed two times and went around 30 times.

Going on this trip and getting to have some great experiences, as well as quality alone time with Daddy, was amazing for Elias. Maybe we'll be able to do this for each child around their 12th birthday. It sure would be nice.










Monday, March 21, 2016

The End of an Era

From the beginning of our marriage Tom and I agreed on one thing wholeheartedly. No matter what we did in life to serve God (for that was another definite for us) we would include our kids. We wanted them to not feel sidelined by our life's calling, but an important part of it.

When we returned from our mission to Mexico--where we'd spent our newlywed years--with a newborn and twin toddlers, we didn't have many options, but we tried to use our time wisely, even if it was simply sharing the message of Jesus with people we met along the way.



As more children came along, homeschooling got busier, and Tom's responsibilities grew in his work, we kept our eyes on the prize. Tom worked as a chaplain for the Seafarers Center on his one day off each week. I scoured the newspaper for volunteer opportunities and took the kids with me to deliver Meals on Wheels or pass out Christmas cards to nursing home residents. 

From the very beginning we formed a tiny singing troupe and added kids along the way. 

Singing and dancing on the beach of Corpus Christi

"I'd like to be a Christmas tree!"

Child five added for another Christmas season

Even those that couldn't perform could still hug


Jasmine was a natural

Timothy was a champion at tenderly praying with everyone he met

Our kids have had amazing experiences along the way because of our having taken them along for the ride.

Food distribution at a Navajo reservation
Encouraging first responders after 9-11
Exploring Botswana
Meeting traditional rulers and Chiefs

When we got the call to Africa we made sure that any projects we took on would be able to include our kids. At the beginning it was working with a community school which was a great fit. When our work changed a few years later and became mostly adult education (Bible, health, leadership, etc.), we took our kids to volunteer at an orphanage so they would have their own work to do. This led to us discovering the great need for homes for babies and toddlers who've lost their mothers, and eventually to starting our own orphanage.


Jennifer
Jessica
Our kids worked side by side with us from the beginning. Caring for sick babies, playing with the toddlers, teaching the preschoolers, offering cuddles and love, and just being all around amazing helps to us.

Jessica with Henry (2007)

Troy and Jennifer (2008)

Jennifer (2008)

Jasmine (2008)



T.J with Peter (2009)


Timothy and Johnny (2009)

One by one our kids grew up (as they tend to do) and headed off to college. Six became four became three became two became ONE. And now Troy, our youngest, our baby, our last is leaving home and moving back to the States to pursue God's plan for him. 


Troy has been a great big brother to all the kids

People often ask us if our kids will come back and join us in Zambia again. And the answer is YES--if God asks them to. At the moment they are fulfilling His plan for them, and continuing to serve God and others where they are right now.

We miss them terribly, but are so happy to have had many many years of family service together.

And now we are embarking on life as empty nesters.......




Kinda.......






Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Good Negotiator or Manipulator? You Decide

Last Wednesday evening I was cooking chicken soup and thinking about how close I was to the end of a very full day. I was looking forward to settling into bed with a good book and a glass of something refreshing. 

Tom had left for Lusaka the day before and would be away for a couple nights. 

As I chopped and stirred in the kitchen, Peter stopped by for a chat. The following conversation took place:

Peter: Mom, do you ever sleep alone?

Me: Sometimes.

Peter: Does it make you sad to sleep alone?

Me: *knowing full where where he is going with this* Why do you ask?

Peter: Well, I just thought since Dad is gone, I could sleep with you.

I was glad I had my back to him as I stirred the pot of soup because I was cracking up.

Peter has been asking to sleep with me for a few weeks now, but I always tell him no because "Mommy and Daddy need their privacy". And after I explained the meaning of privacy Peter had seemed to accept my decision. 

I guess he understood better than I thought and had simply bided his time. But rather than just ask me outright, he made it sound like he'd be doing me a favor. 

What would you do? Would you give in to the psychology that Peter employed?

Of course I let him spend the night with me. Creative thinking should be rewarded when possible. And it was fun to spend extra time with him.

One Year Ago: A Crazy 35-Hour Day
Three Years Ago: Some Mother's Child
Four Years Ago: Honey, Honey (another humorous parenting story)

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Putting Him First

Once again I'm linking up with Five Minute Friday. This week's prompt is First.


My Bible study for the past several/many months has been To Live is Christ by Beth Moore which is a study of the Apostle Paul.

I've enjoyed so many elements of this study and learned more than I thought possible after spending my entire life studying and teaching Bible stories. 

The last video lesson was from the book of Philippians and one section focused on the verse: 

Philippians 3:12
....I press on to make it [Christ's righteousness] my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own.

Beth marveled how amazing it is that God chose her first, and me first, and you first. Before even the earth was created God chose me and He chose you to have a specific purpose in life. 

And in honor of this privilege of being chosen first by the Creator of the Universe, God wants us to put him first above all else. When we do that, amazingly it creates room for the things that are important to us because our priorities are first focused on making Him and others happy and that makes all other elements fall into place. 

We love Him because He first loved us. Amazing Love!

I hope you know how much He loves you. 

Exactly Three Years Ago: A New Experience
(Almost) Exactly Four Years Ago: Garden Glories
Exactly Five Years Ago: The Three Stooges
Almost Exactly Six Years Ago: Fab Friday Foto—Vol. IX
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