Monday, March 31, 2014

Anniversaries, Celebrations, and Milestones

This past Saturday was a big anniversary. It almost passed me by without notice, but I'm glad I stopped to pay attention.

12 years ago this past Saturday we set off on our African Adventure.

Twelve years!

I'll just let that sink in a bit.

When we came over here my kids looked like this:

This photo was from December, 2001 as we performed in nursing homes around the Houston area.
Unfortunately we have no photos from the first two years of our time in Zambia.
We accidentally deleted them when doing a routine backup. Ooops.
Also, please ignore my closed eyes......
This is almost exactly how they looked (including the cowboy hats) as we traveled through four airports and on three separate flights to finally reach Africa. Can you imagine the spectacle we presented with our little ducklings in a row behind us? 

One day I'll have to write the story of those days. What an adventure that was.

Now they look like this:

OK, this is a bit of a cheater photo.
 This photo was taken in August, but Troy and I weren't in it.
Thanks to the magic of Photoshop we got to pretend.
The last time we were all together was three years ago.

While on the one hand  it seems like just yesterday, it also feels like several lifetimes ago as well.

In the last twelve years we've been involved in feeding the poor and getting a community school started. We've taught countless Bible classes, leadership seminars, teachers' training, healthcare classes, and more! We've built an orphanage, given 44 children a home--some for longer than others--when they needed it most, helped local ladies support their families and/or go back to school, supported teenagers through high school, accepted volunteers from all over the world, rescued animals, met with Chiefs and studied local culture and history. and in the midst of that raised six of the world's finest people. (I admit to being the teeniest bit prejudiced)

When we moved to Africa we told everyone that we were committed to sticking it out for 10 years. We'd been involved in missions' work our whole lives, and instinctively knew that Africa was going to be our biggest challenge ever, needing an 'all-in' commitment. We didn't really look much farther than those 10 years. We were still in our 20s and 30s. Looking 10 years ahead was huge. 
Now, we have no desire to leave. This is home. We don't know what the Lord has in store for us in the future, but we are still just as dedicated to meeting the need here.

Things have changed though. We are no longer all one missionary family here. Five of our six kids have flown the nest. They are following their own paths and the Lord's plan for each of them. It is not easy being so far away. We miss birthdays, special days, celebrations, and even those days when a hug from mom and dad would mean so much. It isn't easy at all to be separated from your heart by an ocean.

This year we have some big family milestones. 

Our oldest daughter, Jennifer, graduates with her Bachelor of Education with an Emphasis in Reading (the teacher and book addict in me squeals with delight every time I say those words). I'll write more about some of her amazing accomplishments in May when we celebrate her graduation.

My sister, Priya, is getting married. She's the baby of our family. My entire family is turning out for the wedding. My family had seven children. Two are now in Heaven, and the rest of us live all over the world, which makes getting together for events nearly impossible. In fact, aside from a terribly sad memorial service three years ago, the last time we were all together in one place at one time was July 1989!

Tom and I are celebrating 25 years of marriage. Our actual anniversary is in July, but we want to celebrate with family. Our original wedding was with a justice of the peace. We were so focused on missions' work that we didn't organize a big wedding. Now it's time to celebrate the years we have had together. And we want to do it with our family and friends!

In December I had a big birthday. Again, aside from two friends who took pity on me stopped by to spend time with me, I had no family or friends around. I will just pretend that any parties we throw/attend in the States will be partly for my birthday. M'kay?

To mark all these momentous occasions, Tom, Troy and I will all the in the States this spring. Tom and Troy flew out on Friday, and I will join them in three weeks. I'll attend the wedding, the graduation, and perhaps have a party somewhere in there, and then head back to Zambia. Tom & Troy will continue on with the regular fundraising tour, and then come back in June.

It's going to be so much fun. 

It's also going to be challenging. Financially, it's a huge step for all three of us to travel in one year. Emotionally, it's going to be good to see everyone, but equally hard to separate again. Practically, it's going to be tough to leave the orphanage for four weeks with volunteers--we know they'll do a good job, but the logistics will be interesting.

It is also very necessary. Even Jesus took a break to climb a hill or pray in a garden. We all need times away from life's work to recharge and gain strength. 

I'm looking forward to family time, and then the adventures the next 12 years will bring.

Exactly Three Years Ago: Where Did the Time Go?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sympathy Pains

I never realized what a tender tummy I have until our trip to Mansa yesterday.

Since this trip to Mansa would be the last before Tom heads to the U.S we decided to take Peter with us for some special time. Troy needed a yellow fever shot in preparation for his upcoming trip to the U. S as well, so it turned into a family road trip. 

We woke Peter up early and he had a peanut butter sandwich with Tom before we drove out at 7 AM. 

It was a rainy, drizzly day. Not much to look at out of the windows. All grey and bleak. Inevitably Peter got bored. He began to ask to sit with me up front. 

After telling him no, it wasn't long before he started telling me he had a stomach ache. Even though Troy was convinced he was lying to get attention, I decided to hold him on my lap in case he was car sick. 

We had to make a short stop at our new land to  talk with the headman. He'd had an important dream he wanted to share with us. (More about this at a later date)

While waiting for Tom to have his conversation, I tried to interest Peter in some of the story books we brought along, but he was uncharacteristically quiet. I began to wonder if he really were feeling ill.

Sure enough, the stomach ache revealed itself to be real indeed. All down the side of the door--inside the car! All over my messenger bag! All over Peter! It was a mess!

I threw open the door and had Peter stand outside to complete doing what needed doing. Trouble was it was still raining. So I had to maneuver to hold an umbrella over Peter while comforting him and trying  to contain the mess. 

I couldn't  ask Troy to help because he was actually also sick with malaria. Did I forget to mention that? What a day!

Finally I called for Tom and he hurried over to dig the paper towels out of the back of the car. All the coolers, crates and shopping bags had to come out first. 

It took every last paper towel to get the mess under control, and even then my messenger bag was destroyed. Thankfully I had my laptop bag with me and I could transfer everything over. 

Ever since I had begun to wonder if Peter was car sick, I'd been battling my own nausea. Now having to deal with the aftermath if Peter's sick, I thought it might be a matter of not beating it, but joining in. Troy made it clear there was no way he was cleaning up after me should I take that route. 

The rest of the day was a trial indeed as Peter's stomach gave him, and us by extension, big trouble.

He cheered up a bit in the middle of the day, but by the time to go home he was feeling sickly again. We had another small episode, but he finally fell asleep. It wasn't the day we'd hoped for, but we survived it, which is always a good thing. 

My mom used to say her stomach would hurt when someone had a cut or injury. At the time I thought it was an odd thing to say, but now I find myself clutching my own stomach when I see someone in pain.  What about you? Do you get sympathy pains and/or nausea when someone else is sick? 

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