Friday, March 25, 2011

Getting Close

Stella is at 32 weeks.  Just after my last update about her, the doctor admitted her to the hospital as a precautionary measure.  She will stay there until the baby is born.

I went to see her the other day, and she is enormous.  She's a tiny woman to begin with, which makes her look even more huge than she is.  That's got to be a good sign, right? 

Her main problem right now is that she is anemic and can't seem to get her blood level up.  In fact, on Wednesday the doctor decided to give her a transfusion, so William donated some blood.  Apparently she was too afraid to receive it and wouldn't let the nurse give it to her.  I'm sure this is because the last time she had a transfusion (during her previous delivery), she had a horrible reaction to it.  Dr. Carolyn told me that at her current hospital, they automatically give the drugs to prevent a reaction, so that should not happen this time.  Carolyn was hoping that Stella would agree to the transfusion today, but I haven't heard yet. 

I'm sure Stella is struggling with fear these days.  She lost her other babies around 32 weeks.  Please keep praying!  If she makes it at least 3 more weeks, it seems like the danger zone will be over.  It sounds like the doctor might even give her a C-section at that point if the baby is big enough.  There is no NICU in the country, so the baby needs to be big enough to survive on its own.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring Trees

There was once a chapel speaker at my college who spoke on the topic of complaining.  A ripple of conviction went through the whole school.  I remember once hearing a student proclaim loudly when walking to class, "It's hot as hell, but that's what I deserve, so I'm not complaining!"

I don't even know who said it, but it goes through my mind all the time.  Because, well, I live in a place that is as hot as hell.  And this has been the hardest hot season of all my eight years in Tanzania.  It has seemed endless.  And 60-hour-a-week power cuts have certainly not helped. 

And so I grumble.  And complain.  And whine.  All those things that I discipline my kids not to do.  Oh, you usually won't hear me do it, of course.  But I think it.  And that's just as bad.  Because it's ultimately not trusting God, isn't it?  Just like the Israelites in the desert.  I can make it sound spiritual.  "Oh God, fix the power cuts, so that I can be more effective for your kingdom."  Ha.  Since when is productivity a priority to God?  As if he needs us to do anything.  Think Mary and Martha.  He's got more important things in mind.

You would think that after eight years of living in Africa, I would have learned contentment in all circumstances.  After all, I am a missionary.  ha Ha HA.  I get tired, really, of being smacked in the face with how interested I am in my own comfort.  It's easy to think that I'm doing pretty well spiritually, that I'm doing a darn good job living this life God has given me...and then He does something like take away electricity for 5 months, in 90 degree weather with 90% humidity.  And I am driven to my knees.  But I realize, of course, that there are far greater types of suffering.  I am not in prison.  I am not in Japan or Libya.  I am not in Hell.  I am only uncomfortable.  What an entirely weak person I am. 

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.  He will be like a tree planted by the water...It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.

The last four days, the power has stayed on.  The city is holding its collective breath.  Is this the end?  The days are still blistering but the mornings and evenings are cool.  Technically, this is southern hemisphere "autumn."  But it still feels like spring to me.  Yes, the days are getting cooler instead of warmer, but it still feels like spring.  Refreshment.  Renewal.  Rejuvenation.  All the things that represent spring. 

It has no worries in a year of drought, and never fails to bear fruit. 

I thank God that even when I complain, He always, eventually, sends Spring.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

In Loving Memory

While I was sleeping last night, I lost my last grandparent. So today I am feeling sentimental and sad. For numerous reasons (namely that I have spent half my life in Africa), I was never hugely close to my grandparents, but I always loved them and knew they loved me. I have great memories of my Grammy, Elizabeth Louise Coutts (aka Betty Lou or “Bargain Betty”), my Dad’s Mom, who grew up during the Depression and thus always loved a good bargain.

Grammy passed on to me her love of cooking and baking, and Christmas in the States will never be the same without her 35 kinds of homemade cookies and candy spread out over her kitchen table—even up to her 85th Christmas. My recipe binder is full of her favorites, many of them in her sprawling handwriting.

She also was an avid knitter, a skill which she attempted to teach me but was never realistic for someone living in Africa! Her afghans adorned my bed during my childhood, and my babies wore her booties in dozens of colors. She also loved to paint. When I was born, Grammy was thrilled that I had brown eyes, since she had always wanted a brown-eyed child or grandchild, and I was the first. So she painted me a picture of a little brown-eyed girl in a field of daisies, and it hung on my wall until I was 12 years old. Then it was lost in Liberia during the war, and it was the one lost possession that saddened me the most, even though we had lost almost everything.

When we were in the States last year, Grammy gave me another picture of a little girl that she had painted long ago, to make up for the lost one. It was the best Christmas present she could have given me, and now it hangs in Grace and Josiah’s room.

I knew when we left the States last April, that it would probably be the last time I saw her. Just a few weeks ago, however, she was at my parents’ house for dinner and the kids and I were able to talk to her on video Skype, something we had never done with her before. It was almost exactly one week before she fell in the middle of the night, and the head trauma eventually took her life. I praise God that He allowed me to see and talk to her one last time.

Grammy was an avid fan of my blog and read every post, printed out by my Dad, of course, since she wasn’t of the computer generation. So it seems appropriate to honor her here. I’m thankful God blessed me with such a wonderful grandmother, and that she raised such a wonderful son. Wish I could hug you right now, Daddy.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ages 5 and 3

Grace just took her kindergarten assessment test, loved it, and was very disappointed that she still has six more months to wait.  She is starting to read and SO ready to start school.

Yeah, yeah, yeah…I know he’s cute.  It’s a good thing, too, so that he will live to see four years old.  He ain’t so cute when at lunch and told to eat one carrot stick (which he happens to like) and he screams bloody murder at me, “YOU ARE NOT MY FRIEND; I AM NOT GOING TO PLAY WITH YOU!” (which is his ultimate insult—and duly disciplined as such)….or when he hurtles a toy across the room when told to remove his socks (which is his ultimate punishment) because he has hit his sister.  (But it is pretty cute when he then tells me the rest of the day, “My feet are cold; I need my socks” and its 90 degrees outside.)
BOTH tell me they are VERY ready for their little sister to join us!

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Last week was picture week at HOPAC.  And my talented husband is HOPAC's official unofficial photographer.  He took all the classic yearbook photos first:

(she's got a personality to match that hair)

And then he did dozens of other photo shoots on request.  Siblings, friends, families.  I love looking at them.  Because they display my husband's handiwork.  But also because they display God's. 

 I love Haven of Peace Academy.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Babies, Con't

Good news on all fronts.

Stella:  She is at 30 weeks.  She is somewhat anemic but otherwise healthy.  Her doctor still has not admitted her to the hospital, but he is optimistic she will make it to full-term.  She lost the other babies somewhere around 32 weeks.  Please keep praying.

The Medinas:  I finally connected with Mama A this week, after two other attempts to see her. 
Happiness #1:  She has received Mama S's homestudy report.  I saw it with my own two eyes, which was exciting since I still wasn't entirely sure it even existed.  It looked extremely thorough.  Should be, since it took six months to write. 
Happiness #2:  Mama A didn't say anything about needing an International Report.  Hoping it stays that way.
Happiness #3:  She was in a good mood.
Happiness #4:  We should just be waiting for final approval now.  That approval letter will also give us the name of a child--our little girl.  At the advice of our lawyer, we have not requested a particular child, but only a gender and age.  However, Mama A did ask me about our preference for orphanages.

Could be two weeks; could be two months...two years.  But she's coming! 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


So thankful
That I have a Mom who is also my friend and example
And that my kids have such a devoted Bibi who brings them tempera paint 10,000 miles across the ocean
And that we had such a wonderful two weeks together.
And that even though we all shed tears this morning as we said good-bye,
that the tears were just confirmation
Of all of the above.