Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Good Samaritan

While I've been busy running around, shopping, packing etc. etc. etc. my dear, sweet husband has been holding down the fort in Zambia. He's taken in three new babies (sadly, two passed on), taught his regular classes, handled payroll and other staff issues, shopped for groceries, taken care of construction projects, and dealt with even more cultural things.

Below is his account of events that took place yesterday:
parents--please read first before allowing children to read.

So, my day started in the morning by going to Mofwe Lagoon to continue workiing on the boat program. I hired about 20 people from the village to work half the day--paying them the usual $1 wage. They were happy to get it and did an ok job for it. Of course it needed complete oversight. We did most of the work of putting up a bamboo wall and gate around the Marina. I put the final touch on the entrance way by making a double arch that will eventually say The Morrow Marina.

Then I had to get back home to start on making dinner for the kids. So I left about 4 PM with plenty of time to get home. 

Well, this being a holiday (Africa Freedom Day) most things were closed and the the boma was bustling with people. As I passed the village clinic, there was a crowd of 50 people gathered around outside. I thought that was strange. Then a woman ran out to the car and said to my worker in Bemba, "Tell the white man to come and see what has happened." I pulled in to the clinic and made my way through the crowd. I could hear a terrible shrill of a woman. A sound that was a combination of a ululating and a crow. 

At this point I was thinking it was something to do with Ju Ju (voodoo) as I  had witnessed a ritual just last week, but when I got there, I saw an old woman on the ground with a splint of some kind on her leg, blood and fluid was everywhere. She was screaming and pouring water on her head and drinking at the same time, She was saying in Bemba, "I am going to die".over and over. I saw a nurse who was taken from her house to attend to this victim, and she asked if I could take this woman to the main hospital in Mbereshi twenty minutes away. 

 weird green paint added here to cover yuck

At this point a hundred things flash through your head, sometimes not intentionally, but worth noting. I remembered last time the same nurse asked me to take a dead body wrapped in a sheet to its house which I did, but never got any thanks or apreaciation for. Was this the same case with this woman? Even last week on the road a young woman flagged me down in the most remote of places, and asked for a lift to the hospital as her husband had beaten her, this was translated of course, and by her facial expression I could tell she was telling the truth. So I obliged her. Got her there and off she went. 

 It seems that I have become a free taxi to the community when help is needed. The question is, should I continue helping these poor innocent people and fuel the notion that I am the white man who helps and can be taken advantage of? The fuel and risk of carrying these people are not really what we got this vehicle for. Or should I just trust the Lord that He is in control and I should be the good Samaritan and not turn these people away that the Lord puts in my path. 

But like I said, in a third world country, where the need is always there, you cannot keep giving and giving or else you will find yourself in the same situation as they are. There must be a line somewhere. This is where the Holy Spirit comes in, to give you wisdom in each and every situation. 

Back to the story: I found out that she had fallen off her bike riding down a hill. So I agreed to transport her. The compassion overwhelmed me. I felt Jesus being with me and that I should be more like Him. Being concerned about the fluids, esp the blood, I made sure that the blood was washed away before transporting her. On the trip there, the woman was screaming, in pain especially at every pot hole. I got there and wheeled her to an examination room. 

 Of course there were no thank you's or feelings of appreciation. I expected this, but even  after being in Zambia for over 8 years now, I still cannot get used to being used. I made it home, and had dinner ready by 6pm. Another long day in Zambia.        

Please continue to pray for Tom and the kids as they look after all the many details and adventures. 

Another thing to pray for: my flight to London has been canceled due to cabin crew strikes at British Airways. I'm waiting for my travel agent to get back to me. The hope is that I can still fly out the same day. Tom needs me!! and I need him more! 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Yet Another Update

I promise I will write real posts soon. I just don't want you to think I've forgotten about you out there in cyber space. 
Time is flying by. Tomorrow I drive back to Houston and then the mania starts--shopping and packing and paper filing and sorting and shopping and packing....on and on it will go. I expect to be throwing things in suitcases as I leave for the airport Saturday evening. Maybe life will surprise me and I'll get done early and have time to savor being with my kids one last time. STOP! I wanna get off! I don't want to think about saying goodbye!

Some good news: Jennifer's surgery went well. She writes about the whole experience here.

Saturday T.J and I drove from Alabama down to Louisiana. We took time out to walk around the French Quarter for a little while. It is such an interesting place! I bought a couple gifts for Tom--gotta speak his love language after all--and ate beignets at Cafe Du Monde. It was really crowded and hot. Hot is too mild a word for the heat of that day--and to think it is only May. Wow!

Less than six days until I fly out. Less than eight until I hold my hubby. Can't wait!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Tiny Unexpected Moments

Just a quick update: Jennifer is having surgery today on her knee. Thankfully there was no muscle damage so the doctor will be doing an arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone chip. She really misses being able to take care of her kids at the after-school program where she works.

She shares her feelings about her injury and crutch use on her blog today: 
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything

I'm writing this from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. You all probably know this but I only just learned that it is the home of the University of Alabama. We drove around tonight looking at the campus and learning some of the history of the buildings. I love old buildings and T.J loves history so we really enjoyed our small tour. 

I'm here to meet with a mission's committee from a church. We are here because of a chance meeting on the shore of a lake in Zambia of all places. In the eight years we've been in Zambia we've only visited this lake once as a family. When we were there in July of last year for one night of camping we met a team of biologists. They had been studying clams (I believe) and were not even planning to stop at the lake but did at the last moment. We chatted for a few minutes with one of the biologists and from that chance meeting we now have a partnership with  his church. It's wonderful how God orchestrates meetings in unusual ways.

10 days until my flight to Zambia. Just over 11 until I hug my husband again. Squee!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Whirlwinds and Whirlpools

I'm sitting at the Dallas airport on my way 'home' to Houston after a whirlwind visit in West Texas. It was wonderful but jam packed. Not that my schedule is about to settle down anytime soon. This evening I will be speaking at a church . Before that I will be helping my son open a bank account, packing, renting a car and shopping.

Tomorrow I'll be driving 10 hours to Alabama to meet with a church and also a friend. The next day I'll drive to Louisiana (stopping to visit the French Quarter) and will speak at a church there on Sunday. So much to do and only 10 days left in the States. Yikes!

As I sit in the airport I pray that the weather holds. Last Friday as I passed through Dallas there were storms and tornadoes all through Texas. The airport in Midland/Odessa was closed and most flights out of Dallas canceled. Thankfully, my sister was able to pick me up so I could spend the night with her. Otherwise I would have ended up in a hotel. The airline would not pick up the cost of the room either. According to them it was an 'act of God' and therefore out of their hands.--As my friend said, "Oh, so now there's a God!" ha ha

My time in Midland/Odessa was absolutely wonderful! I have a special place in my heart for these two towns and look forward to visiting them each time I'm in the States. I got to visit with many good friends. I also met many new ones and got to attend an informational  meeting planning a possible trip to our orphanage next year! So exciting!

Everyone was so sweet to me and spoiled me completely. My hostess has a lovely home and the guest room had a whirlpool jacuzzi bathtub. Oh. My. Goodness. What a treat!

I will keep in touch the best I can. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

My Girl

Jennifer had her MRI today. We are still awaiting her results. I fly out early tomorrow morning so I won't be around to help her talk with the doctor but she seems capable and I will be available by phone if she wants my help during the consultation.

Her professors have been so helpful since the accident happened the day before most of her finals were due. They've extended the due dates, one professor offered to bring the test to the house and watch Jennifer take the test, and best of all, her history professor said that her grades were so good that she didn't even have to take the final. What great news!


This evening as we set the table for dinner Jennifer commented on my makeup saying that it looked really nice. I thanked her and then asked what in particular she liked since it isn't often that I get it right. She said that the red eyeshadow really looked good.

"Is it the color right under my brow?"
"Yes, it is."
"Ah, that would be the after-brow-waxing special."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Positive Experience with Insurance Companies

Can those words in the title really coexist? I have found that they can.

On Monday evening I received a call from my son, that my daughter Jennifer had had an accident at work and was on her way to the emergency room. I left the meeting where I was supposed to be speaking and drove to the hospital. 

I found out there that Jennifer had been playing kickball with her students (she works at an after-school program) and when she lunged for the ball her knee went in the opposite direction. The EMTs had stabilized her knee and then she was driven by her boss.

After getting x-rays we found out that she had fractured her knee cap actually chipping off a piece of the bone. The emergency room personnel put her leg in an immobilizer, prescribed strong painkillers and sent us home. Our instructions were to get ahold of an orthopedist to get a plan of treatment.
Jennifer's boss was really helpful and drove all the back to the church and returned right away with all the insurance papers. We were able to leave the hospital with everything resolved.

The next morning I called the orthopedist but they wouldn't set up an appointment until I had a claim number and adjuster name. I contacted the insurance company even though I was told that I wouldn't be able to get anything from them for 48 hours. I persisted and kept asking whoever I talked to to give me what I needed. Once I finally got to talk to an adjuster I had my loins girded for battle and was pleasantly surprised to find that he was very sympathetic. He told me that he had to call the orthopedist and set up the appointment for us.
Within just a few minutes M had called me back to tell me that the office was closed for lunch but that he'd keep working just as soon as they opened. Right at 1 I got another phone call saying that the lady who handled the paperwork in the doctor's office was out for the day but that M would be following up on it first thing the next morning. 
I never expected to get such attention. True to his word, M called me the next day and I had an appointment for that afternoon for Jennifer to see a doctor.

At the doctor's office we were told that Jennifer would have to get an MRI but that the insurance company wouldn't approve it for 48 hours and so the appointment would be delayed. I have to fly out (for West Texas) Friday so I was eager to get the MRI done on Thursday. The lady at the doctor's office was skeptical but did agree to call the adjuster right then. Sure enough, M approved it. We got our Thursday appointment!

I know that many people have had big struggles with insurance companies and I feel terribly for them. I also know that we aren't out of the woods yet but I have been so relieved that so far our experience has been pretty good.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I Was a Concert Virgin*

April 30 I was invited by my friend, Natalie to join her and her father and aunt to attend Celtic Woman. I had heard some of their music before but wasn't really familiar with it. I was mostly excited to be able to attend a concert!

16 years ago my husband was given tickets to the Rodeo to see Reba McEntire perform live. I wanted so badly to go but I had an earache. I have no idea how we would have found a babysitter for our 4 tiny kids on such short notice too but my ear was the main reason I stayed home. Tom sweetly offered to record the concert on a little walkman (remember those?) but it really couldn't capture the magic.

All that to say I was so very excited to be able to attend my first concert ever!
At the last moment my friend's aunt was unable to attend the concert. Natalie called friends but everyone had plans. Not wanting the ticket to go to waste I called my other BFF Debbie even though I was sure she would have too much going on. To my surprise she jumped at the invitation. Turned out she didn't even know who Celtic Woman was but had had one of those days at work and dearly needed a night out. 

From the moment the show started I was absolutely caught up in the magic. Beyond my love of Irish music, beyond my love of good singing and especially harmonies, this group has something really special. There is such joy that comes through their performances.

I was especially impressed by Mairead Nesbitt, the fiidle player, who leapt across the stage with grace and beauty while playing the fiddle with impressive skill. We were under the impression for a while that she was 50 years old and were amazed by what she could physically do. It turned out that she was only 35. I say that like she was a spring chicken. I'm just barely past that age and there is no way I could leap across a stage at all much less while playing an instrument.

Mairead Nesbit performing Reels
But the part that really touched me was the joy that she radiated while playing her music. She looked like a little fairy or sprite dancing and playing and I saw how life can be when we find joy in what we do. I see that in my friend Debbie. She is a principal for a large public school and works really long hard hours but she loves the kids and her staff so much that her work is blessed. The kids love her. Her staff love her. She has one of the best schools in this city because she knows that God has called her to this task.

Another thing I really enjoyed was that the women performing were 'real' women. One young lady had larger curves and yet she rocked the stage. I wish we had more performers that were classy and ladylike and sexy and comfortable in their own skin. Think how much better the world would be!

Spanish Lady  I loved the playfulness of this song.

Celtic Woman performed one of my favorite songs. It inspires me every time I hear it

If you ever get a chance to see this group in person, please do. It is well worth it.

*Think how much fun google search is going to have with this title.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

I'm so blessed in that I have had really great mothers surrounding me.

 photo by my sister, Chloe
My mom who cheerfully raised 7 children and was a wonderful example to us! As I saw when I visited her recently she has a young spirit getting out on the dance floor and being a blessing to those around her. I hope to be just like her when I grow up.

Her mother who has always served as an example of a wonderful Christian woman. Something that I love about her recently: After over 60 years of marriage and the same hair style all those years, when my grandpa wondered if she might consider changing her hair, she did.

Tom's mom, JoAnne, raised the man I love. I'm so grateful to her for that. And now she is looking after our oldest three kids as they attend college. This picture is fun because this is a typical evening scene as the kids help Grandma get dinner on the table and fill her in on their day.

(please forgive my son's cheesy grin--he can't help himself)

Her  mom, Mary, worked as a missionary for over 30 years. She has such a sweet spirit and I love the fact that she remarried at the 'young' age of 76. She is so happy in her life with her new husband. 

Tom's paternal grandmother came to live with his parents just before we moved to Africa. Every time I would come back from overseas I would look forward to visiting with her and chatting. She once told me that I was her kind of people. That touched me beyond words. Sadly, she passed away a couple years ago and I miss her.

Please take time today to honor the mother(s) in your life. Here is a good read I came across on the web today. It was posted by Wendy at Faith's Firm Foundation and was written by her husband.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Doncha Hate When This Happens?

Because we're overseas most of the time we only get a pay-by-the-month cell phone. In previous years anytime I left the Houston area with the phone it only worked in selected areas IF I added 'bucket funds'. Any phone calls I made using those bucket minutes were extremely expensive. It was frustrating not being able to keep in touch with people properly.

This year the service offered a package with roaming. In theory I can use the phone all over the country except in a few rural areas.

Sure enough, as soon as I landed in California my phone announced that I was 'roaming'. But then it didn't work at all while in my mom's area. When we got to the Los Angeles area it finally decided to start working--downloading dozens of twitter messages in the middle of the night.

It worked in Dallas but not at all in Maine. I thought surely it would work at JFK airport but no--it only worked partly. I was trying to meet up with my brother and not having a phone made it really difficult. I'll tell you all about this at another time.

Anyway, when I landed at JFK there was a voice mail waiting for me but I couldn't access my mailbox. I was terribly worried: what if Tom had an emergency at the orphanage? what if my kids needed me? what if a donor was calling to offer a big donation but there was a time limit? what if it was Publisher's Clearing House?

All day during my layover and flight I was worrying. I called over and over again, willing the phone to work. Nothing. The moment I landed in Houston I turned on my phone and dialed my voice mail clicking through all the menu options.

 What was this important message that occupied my brain and filled it with worry for so many hours?

  It came from a number I was unfamiliar with....

  and what I heard was a little boy of about 3 years old saying:

  "Hey! Did you hear that?....."

I've only just started downloading photos from this past week into my computer. I have some important charity tax reports to do so I will do what I can to get blogging done...

In the meantime here is a sneak peak:

Friday, May 7, 2010

Weekend Update with Amy....

Ok, so it isn't really the weekend yet but these pictures are from last weekend so it totally counts!

I'm really behind in blogging and am determined not to let it stress me out. [picture me deep breathing here]

Here are a few a bunch of pictures from last weekend--some things I was up to. Enjoy!

My BFF Natalie invited me to spend a couple days with her. Her boss let her use this waterside condo and it was so peaceful and restful. 

I can totally get the appeal of shelling out big bucks to have a get away spot when I see this view. 

Here Natalie had told me to strike a 'sexy' pose. Ahem! Clearly I have a future in modeling, don't you think?

 For lunch we headed to an old fashioned boardwalk called Kemah. This place has really grown over the last decade. When we first started going there it had a few restaurants and carnival style booths but now it has an amusement park and many boutiques. Really a great place to visit.
After this fun we headed to her house. I got to see her darlings. When did 13 year old boys get so confident? This young man was born in my house. I could not believe how big he'd gotten.

Natalie's youngest was not so sure about the mad woman with the camera. I sure wish I could be around more so that I'd be Auntie Amy to this little one and not a complete stranger. :(

Saturday morning I attended a ladies' brunch. Two young ladies from this church will be flying back to Africa with me for a month. Hopefully they'll like it and be able to end up working with us for a year. I'm hoping and praying.

All the tables were decorated with different themes. I was really impressed by the creativity.

This one was my favorite. I don't know if this came from a had a mystery feel to me...or maybe it was just someone's personal collection.

I spoke for just a few minutes here (see honey, it's not all fun and games) because there was a main speaker.

Unfortunately I didn't get this lady's contact details (bad blogger, Amy) but she spoke about God's grace and how we have to be willing to let God work in our lives and go through tough times if He is going to make something special out of us. Good stuff. I loved how she kicked off her shoes at the beginning because her feet were sore.

I had a funny thing happen while at the boardwalk with Natalie. We were walking by the water and a little boat with an older man went by. Natalie said something that I didn't quite catch and even when she repeated it I was still puzzled. "Fisherman Gordon" was what she said. I asked her if we were having a cultural breakdown in communication (she's half English) but she laughed and said, "No, the fishsticks guy!" Oh, therein lies the confusion. See in Africa we still have to spear our fish out of the creek.

Ba Dum Bum! Thank you very much! You've been a wonderful audience.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

America Land

I love America--I always have. Even growing up around the world and experiencing different cultures I feel most at home here.

There are some things though that irritate me. The extravagance, the waste, the feelings of entitlement. When you grow up seeing other sides of the world and knowing first hand what true need and poverty it can be difficult to adjust to the 'me-first' mentality that seems to pervade American society.

I see too, though, the incredible generosity of Americans and how they pour out their love and material things in times of need. 

So, like so many other things in life, it is not clear cut. 

I got to spend two days with my very dear friend. I've known her a very long time but she is not an old friend.


We ate Indian food. My friend said that we are 'all the time Indian-food lovers' as opposed to people who just eat Indian food when they are in the mood. We both spent time on the Indian sub-continent.

The next day we went shopping at a mall. Clarification: I looked--my friend shopped. We went to a cute shop filled with children's clothing. My friend scooped up a bunch of great sale deals. As I waited for her I browsed the selections. What cracked me up was the yoga clothing for toddlers--complete with spandex for comfort during playtime. Yes, folks, I am in America!

I'm in Dallas right now meeting up with friends and family (including new cousins). I rented a car and drove up from Houston. As I was driving I saw a sign for exit 753. "Oh, cool", I thought. "We only have about 70 miles until our exit # 824". Sure enough, seconds later we passed a sign saying: Dallas 71 miles. I love how the highway systems are logical! Yes, folks, I am in America!

I have so many things to tell you about--all my exciting adventures visiting friends, meeting cousins, seeing sisters, ATTENDING CONCERTS, all the work I've been up to, GPS systems, and on and on the list goes. I hope to get to it soon. 

There are only 26 days left in the States for me. Let the panic season begin!
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