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Monday, February 28, 2011

Jesus Loves the Little Children

On Saturday we were called to the front door because a new baby had been brought to us. My heart sunk because, due to funding restrictions, we had decided not to take any more babies until we got more sponsors. This was going to be a first for us. We were going to have to turn a baby away.

His eyes just crack me up!
 Joshua is four months old and just the sweetest, chubbiest little baby. We went ahead and did the interview with the baby's family because we firmly believe that God puts each baby in our path for a reason. We have to just be obedient and follow his leading and see where He takes us.

It turns out that Joshua's mother was hanging laundry last week when she was struck by lightning. Seriously! I can't even make this stuff up. The grandmother has been looking after the baby during the funeral but she can't afford to continue feeding him with expensive formula. 

We asked where Joshua's father is and were told that he went mad not too long ago. This is such a sad scenario. Young men and women develop some sort of mental illness but due to ignorance and/or lack of medical attention they spiral out of control and end up living on the streets.

Joshua is a very healthy 11 pounds (5 kg) right now
Things got even more interesting when we asked the grandmother why she was unable to meet Joshua's needs herself. Aside from the obvious financial burden of getting milk for him (milk will run about $75 a month) she told us that her husband, the baby's grandfather, is being implicated in the daughter's death. Remember she was hit by lightning! The rumor is that because he was actually the step-father and they didn't get along very well, he somehow he used JuJu (witchcraft) to pull the lightning out of the sky to kill his step-daughter. Afraid of the rumors and possible repercussions, he has gone on the run.

For us, taking in baby Joshua and looking after him and fostering him as he grows up, is more than just finding $75 a month for milk. We have reached a point where our current staff won't be able to look after the children safely, and well,  if we add more. The nanny who takes care of the babies has three in her care already. If we added another, it would mean she was just meeting their physical needs and she would not be able to meet the emotional needs of those babies. We are working hard to not let our home become a place where children are fed and clothed but there are too many to love properly. 

Joshua with his grandmother and a cousin
If we can hire another staff member we would be able to take in another 3 babies over this next year. This will cost $100 per month plus the cost of milk and food. So, we really need to find a way for our monthly income to grow by around $200 in order to accept Joshua into our home.

At the moment our monthly income is only providing about half of what we need to meet our budget. God has been good and provided in many different ways but we also have to be careful and good stewards of what he provides.
From the beginning, this project has been a work of God. We have merely been his hands. There is no way we could ever have done this on our own without God's amazing grace and the help of countless others who have teamed up with us to bring life and hope to the orphaned children of Africa.

 Until things change, we pray that the grandmother will do her best. We gave her 2 cans of baby formula to tide her over and are praying that she uses it properly and doesn't share it with the entire family as has been known to happen.

If you feel like God is calling you to help in this situation, please do contact us.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sundays in My City--Water Play


Thursday was a hot, hot day here in Zambia. The sun was bright and it was the perfect day for water play.


We filled a bucket with water and give the kids a cup each.


They had to scoop water up with their cups and then carry it from the bucket and dump it into the baby bathtub about 10 feet away.


Moriah took her task seriously. Look at that concentration.
 

Once there was a couple inches of water in the bathtub they would splash around a little before running back to the bucket for another cupful.


Moriah practiced carrying water on her head like a good African girl.


Nathan had to try carrying his cup on his head too.


Their nanny gave them spoons for carrying the water in as well.


By the time Nathan reached the bathtub there usually wasn't any water left on the spoon but he went through the motions anyway, shaking off every last drop.


All the kids had a lovely time but Peter especially could not get enough of the water. He kept splashing and laughing, tossing and giggling.

For scenes from around the world, check out Unknown Mami's site by clicking on the button below.

Unknown Mami

Exactly One Year Ago: T.J turned 18! Today is my oldest son's 19th birthday. He is attending his first ever karate tournament. I wish I could be there! Love you, my boy!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Links I've Loved This Week

On Thursday I wrote about how I have the best job in the world. It was a good thing I had spent that time counting my blessings because Friday reminded me that I also have on of the most challenging jobs in the world. We left for our shopping trip at 7:15 AM and arrived home at 9:15 PM. That's fourteen hours in case you'd rather not do the math.
What on earth took so much time? We ran into trouble again with our bank. Again! It's a really
long story so I'll tell it at another point--maybe. At this point I'm leaning toward the philosophy Thumper's mom adhered to: If you don't got something nice to say, don't say nothing at all.

Onto a more positive note. This week I've come across some things in cyberspace that just begged to be shared. I've been reading the blog Like Mother Like Daughter for about a year. I love the practical advice that Laila (the mom) passes down via her blog. It is good old fashioned, no nonsense advice for living and loving.
This week her advice was on mothering 13 year old boys. Since I have one of those myself, I immediately paid attention. The article is fantastic! I don't agree 100% with point number 3 but it's hard to argue with her logic.

The next day she followed up this article with another that talks about active parenting not reactive parenting. Again! Perfect and helpful advice.

Next I read an idea for storing toys at Home With Purpose. It's a creative solution that anyone can do.

There. Passing on helpful ideas always cheers me up. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

It's the Little Things That Make Me Smile


It's always so much fun when we get back from a trip to the States to pull out new toys and give them to the kids. We missed Peter so much; Tom kept going and getting him from his little group and carrying him to the house. "He needs mommy & daddy time. He needs to play," he would say. I wasn't complaining.


Peter loved this little Phonics Bus. Each letter would either say its name or the sound it makes. Sometimes it would play a little jingle. Then Peter would do a little dance by wiggling his seated bottom around on the floor.


He would also repeat the letter at times although he has a long way to go on pronunciation. Right now if I tell him I love him he says "Wa Wuv Wu." I. Die!

See the little, blue car in his hand? He is obsessed with cars or 'beep-beeps' as he calls them. That size car is perfect for him and the pieces won't come off. Aren't toy manufacturers lovely to make such a great variety of toys?*

Today I 'wasted' most of my morning watching the toddlers have water playtime, first with buckets and cups and then in the baby pool. Their giggles and huge grins made my day. I'll try to share photos later but there is no way to properly capture in 2D the joyful activity that took place today. It's something that has to be experienced. And that is why I feel like I have the best job ever!

Exactly One Year Ago: Keeper, Weeper, Sleeper

*This is not a paid advertisement for toy manufacturers. I have not been compensated to sing the praises of toy manufacturers but if any toy manufacturers would like to donate toys to a needy cause they can find me right here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

This is Africa--Computer Edition

I'm wondering how my computer knows we're back in Africa because it has a serious case of TIA-itis (this is africa).

As you can probably imagine, leaving my office for 4 weeks means that I'm 4 weeks behind in work. No little elves came in and did data entry while I was out or sleeping. And I have to tell you, I find that more than a little disappointing. 

Since the elves didn't show up, I've been working my tail off trying to catch up. First I had to pay our staff. We gave them a bit of money to tide them over until I could enter time cards and issue pay slips. 
While on our trip I began using a new computer. My old work one had so many issues it was only a matter of time before it quit and knowing Murphy as intimately as we do, I was convinced it would happen in the middle of an important project. So, we got a new work computer and demoted (promoted?) the old one for the children's use. We brought back plenty of wonderful, educational games for them thanks to a donor in Alabama. 

The reason this is relevant (I promise it is...) is that I now had to get used to a new computer and new programs. I had memorized where all the mail merge icons were and now on Word 2007 they were in different places. Why, oh why?!?!

But even before this happened, I pulled up my payroll spread sheet and found that the last several months of data had disappeared! OK, not really disappeared but for some reason they hadn't copied from the old computer onto my little external hard drive. Thankfully, Tom had not yet cleared my files off the old computer and I could still retrieve them.

That done I finally figured out the new mail merge and after a few hiccups which involved unplugging things and replugging things and cursing at sweetly pleading with my computer, I was ready to print. Only problem--my computer did not want to acknowledge the printer. Something about drivers and such...

After first downloading the wrong driver--seriously can 64 and 32 bit really be that important--I was able to print the pay slips. This happened around 6 PM. My entire day! Spent on one project! Seriously!

Today my plan was to get some extremely late reports done. Again, the files I needed to make it happen had not copied over to the new hard drive so it was back again to the old computer. Copy, paste, drag, drop, etc.
I needed bank statements and so got online to our bank. This is no small feat, let me tell you. An hour after beginning I was finally at the download page and got two statements saved onto my computer. I logged out of the bank site and then proceeded to open Word and call up the statements. Guess what? They were not the statements but a notice from the bank saying they couldn't process my download request at this time!

I.Could.Not.Be.Lieve.It!

Back to the drawing board. Statements finally correctly downloaded, I'm now working on the reports. Well, I'm actually writing you but I just thought I could do with a little pity-party right now and parties need guests.

So, either my computer has caught the highly dangerous TIA virus or elves did show up after all, and not the nice, helpful ones. What do you think?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Spooky and Uncanny!

I was going to make this post a brief update with where I've been, what I'm up to now, etc. but something much more interesting came up.

Yesterday I wrote about our trip to the Kemah boardwalk and my kids' rides on the carnival attractions. 

At the bottom there is a picture of my oldest boys and I made the comment that they were best friends that had really missed each other this year that they've been apart. 

This morning I woke up to an email and attached file from my mother in law. She asked if history repeats itself....

What do you think?


In case you didn't figure it out, the top picture is my husband and brother-in-law and the bottom one is my two boys.
The second picture was not posed to look like the first one. We didn't even know the first one existed until my mother-in-law sent it over this morning.

It gets better. Both pictures were taken at Kemah!

We have a running joke in our family that it's good that Daniel (my BIL) was an ocean and two continents away when T.J was born since they look so much alike. hee hee

It's wonderful to see that brothers can be best friends all the way through life.--Even into their forties (Happy Birthday, Daniel!)--he's a brand new member of the Fabulous at Forty club.

Exactly One Year Ago: Theresa


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Carnival Fun

Two weeks ago when my mom came to visit we all went to Kemah for a fun Sunday afternoon. Kemah is Houston's version of Coney Island. There are restaurants, carnival games, touristy shops and most importantly (for my kids that is) amusement park rides. 
When we lived in Houston years ago we would come out here but that was before they added all the rides. Our kids were so young then that most of them didn't even remember coming out here at all.


Sadly, Jessica had to work so it was just the five kids--sorry, teenagers. No, that's not right either. Young people! There you go! Do you think they'll approve of that term?
Do you see Timmy's gloves? He wore those everywhere. It was such a novel experience to be able to wear cold weather clothes.


For their first ride they chose a tame enough looking one. Still, I felt the best place for me was on the ground. Someone had to take the pictures, right? Right.



Wait? Did I say tame? That does not look safe! What is it about thrill rides that people go crazy for?


Here the boys are mugging for the video camera. Tom documented our entire trip so we could show the staff what 'America' looks like. I'll be sure to tell you all about it.
 

Next they moved to a ride called the Inverter. Hmmm, definitely an ominous name. I decided to sit this one out as well.


And, boy, am I glad I did! That looks so scary! The girls sat at one end....



 ...and the boys sat at the other. They are upside down, people! That is not cool!


And yet, they're smiling. That is just plain weird, if you ask me. 


And, they're upside down again. And, remarkably happy about it. Are we sure these are my children?


My boys are such good friends. It was wonderful to see them reunited if only for 2 weeks. Timmy has only one more year of college prep before he'll move to Texas and the boys will get to hang out together again.

One really big benefit for my 3 youngest kids from this trip was them getting to see where they'll be going to college. It has given them a picture of the future and has re-energized their desire to complete their schooling. Jasmine may go a year early and do dual credit--do her  senior year of high school subjects at the community college for a head start on her college education.

Well, that was my Sunday two weeks ago. Wanna see other Sunday Scenes? Check out Sundays in my City at Unknown Mami.

Unknown Mami

Monday, February 14, 2011

I'm Alive!

 Just thought I'd get that out there at the beginning since I'm sure many of you have wondered if I fell off the map in all our travels. 
I was way busier in the U.S than I thought I'd be. I only read four books in the last 3-4 weeks. That's unheard of for me! I had such a good trip and I'll share details just as soon as I possibly can.
 Here is my Facebook status for today. It will help you see what I've been up to: Arrived safely in Zambia on Saturday morning. Lay down for a quick nap and woke up 7 hours later. Was then awake until 4:30 AM. Catching up with good friends was the cause of that, really.
Still working on getting all the way home. Business and errands today. Car service tomorrow. Will maybe leave Wednesday morning. Pray for us!
I put two of my children and 2/3 of the luggage on the bus yesterday so they could help out at the orphanage. Troy stayed with Tom and I.
If you can spare a moment, would you say a prayer for us? We're having a spot of difficulty with our finances and could use a miracle right about now. Thanks so much!


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Where We Were Last Week

Today we are about to head out the door and brave the cold, icy roads to meet up with friends new and old.

If you remember when I announced this meeting last year, Tom has been worried that no one would show up due to some experiences he had before. We could never have anticipated this difficulty though--roads all over Houston have been shut down because of the ice. We're still moving forward, though.


Last week we attended a missionary conference and had the opportunity to share about our work and missionary life in general.

Saturday evening in Alabama there was a banquet and we had a forum afterward where all the missionaries in attendance got to answer questions from the church members.


Timmy, Jasmine and Troy all got a chance to answer questions too.


This was a very new experience for them but they handled it very well.


They even threw in humor. Yes, they take after me.....;)


The following morning we were assigned to Sunday School groups for more in depth presentations. 


Tom and I showed the video (you can watch a few of our videos here) and then answered questions.


I explained how much we depend on people to team up with us for sponsorship of the children. We are raising the children of the future and need others to invest in them with us.


Tom talked about the unusual things we encounter in our adopted country. Things you, my lovely readers, have been reading about right here. 

What has been your favorite adventure we've had?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Give the Gift of Life

I began writing this article in my head back in January when I was laid up with malaria--you'll soon see why.

My early twenties were spent either nursing or pregnant. For 7 straight years I was busy with my preschool children and babies, and giving blood was not something I felt I could do. As soon as my baby was two years old and fully weaned, I began making regular appointments at the local blood bank.

For all of my life up to that point I had been involved in fulltime missions work. Helping other people was in my blood (huh. no pun intended). When I had 6 children, 9 years old and below, I loved the fact that even though I was 'stuck at home' I could still help the community.
Not only that, but I had always lived a very healthy lifestyle--very little sugar, lots of vegetables, I never smoked or abused drugs or alcohol. My blood was so healthy I'm surprised it didn't sparkle in its little plastic pint-sized bag.

As part of the routine medical exam that comes with every donation, I was asked about international travel. I told them that I had lived in India and contracted malaria while there. Thankfully, enough time had passed so I was still able to donate.

Every 8 weeks I would be there at the center giving my gift of life. I felt so very virtuous.

Then we moved to Africa. I still planned to donate blood if I could. There aren't well set up donation sites in Zambia although blood drives are occasionally organized. But, only three months after moving to Zambia I contracted Hepatitis A. No more giving of blood for me. Even though Hep A is not communicable via blood they don't take any chances. Even if you have malaria there is a minimum 12 month waiting time before being able to donate blood again. That is why every time I get malaria I am reminded that I can't give that particular gift of life again. And it makes me sad.

When I began doing research for this article I discovered that January is National Blood Donor month. Obviously I didn't get it written back then when it would have been all relevant and appropriate but, really any month can be blood donor month.

Listening to the news a few days ago I heard that the blood banks are incredibly low on blood. Winter has been so cold that many people are canceling their regular appointments to come out and donate blood because the weather is making driving for 'unnecessary' errands difficult.

I'm used to hospitals and doctors not having what they need to do their jobs.--But not here in the U.S. The thought of someone dying needlessly in a first world country makes me extra sad.

If you can, please consider heading to your local blood bank and giving the gift of life. I no longer can, but perhaps you can. If so, click here to find a (U.S) donation site near you. For my international readers I'm sure you can do a google search to find a place near you. To find out if you are eligible to give blood click on this link.

If you do give blood, would you let me know? I'd love to hear about it.
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