Monday, November 28, 2011

Fat and Sassy

There she is...eight months old....Isn't she a beautiful sight?

William and Janet (click here for the story, if you're new around here)

Stella, William, and Janet (on the right) with some members of their church.

I didn't take these pictures; a friend of mine did.  Though I see William quite often, I rarely see Stella and Janet.  William tells me about her all the time; how she is sitting up and falling over, how she is getting fat (as you can see!). 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Thanks for your prayers for not only my family, but for these people in my life.  For William and Stella, and now for Victor, Criscilla, and baby Christian. 

Life is hard here.  We are reminded of that every day.  Tonight Gil came in with 10 little packets of peanuts.  I gave him a strange look, considering that he does not like peanuts.  "I couldn't help but buy them," he said.  "It's all the woman out there was selling."  (I love that man!)

How much profit did she even make on 10 packets of peanuts?  Probably 15 cents total?  And yet Gil said she was so thrilled to sell them.  Thrilled with 15 cents? 

Life is hard. 

William and Stella's baby is fat and sassy.  It's wonderful and beautiful to behold.  But that doesn't change the fact that she had three other babies stillborn.  My friend Emily, who ministers in a village, told me that she doesn't know a single woman who has not lost a child under the age of 2. 

Life is hard.  But we praise God for Hope.  Hope in beautiful baby Janet.  Hope in that baby Christian is "critical but stable;" hope in knowing that God does answer prayer. 

But especially, Hope in knowing that this is not all there is. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Dark Cloud

On Tuesday afternoon I got a call from a HOPAC teacher who was beside herself with worry.

She told me about another teacher, Victor, whose four-month-old baby was rapidly declining in health.  Victor and his wife are from Zimbabwe, and he is an excellent (and quite popular) teacher at HOPAC.  This is their first child, and baby Christian has been in poor health since birth.  Due to the absolutely infuriating lack of response from their hospital (which is supposed to be a good one), the baby's kidneys were shutting down and the situation was become more and more urgent by the minute. 

When the HOPAC administration realized how serious the situation had become, they asked a HOPAC parent, who is a British doctor, to intervene.  He had the baby transferred to a better hospital, but the baby was so weak by this point that that hospital couldn't even perform the tests to find out what was wrong.

The teacher that called me asked me to pray; asked me to spread the word; asked me to push for action.

The kids and I were at a Children's Club, and I was reeling from this news.  Just a half hour later, more text messages started pouring in.  This time, two teachers who are here with YoungLife were in a serious accident.  Mary and Ali had been traveling to a Bible study in a "bajaj" which is a three-wheeled taxi that is one step above a motorcycle.  Somehow (no one really knows what happened), the bajaj was hit and they ended up in a ditch, probably having rolled.  Both were very beat up.  Mary had a serious head injury.

Over the last 24 hours, my phone hasn't stopped ringing or dinging with text messages.  What can we do?  How can we pray?  Updates coming in from all sides.

Mary was medically evacuated to South Africa in the middle of the night on Tuesday.  Baby Christian's progress went up and down on Wednesday like a roller coaster.  Last night (Wednesday), his kidneys completed stopped working.  Dar es Salaam has no dialysis machine for infants.  It was decided to medically evacuate him to Nairobi.  His life is now hanging by a thread.

In the 9 years I've lived here, I've only known of one person to be evacuated.  Now, HOPAC has had two in one week. 

We praise God that Mary's tests came out completely clear.  The doctors were really worried about a fracture behind her eye, and yet she is totally fine.  No surgery, no stitches....and yet, she could have lost her life. 

Christian's outcome is yet to be known. 

And to top it off, over a dozen people on campus (including poor Josiah) were stung by angry bees yesterday after their nest was destroyed. 

Tension is thick throughout the HOPAC campus.  My dear Student Council leaders have Spirit Week planned for this week, and they are doing a great job, but these emergencies take a bit of the joy out of smashing eggs on top of each other's heads.  The entire school has stopped for group prayer meetings yesterday and today. 

Sometimes, we really feel the weight of living in Africa.  Just last week, another of our families experienced an invasion robbery in the middle of the night.  This morning I told our school counselor (who is a very good friend) that she could practically have a support group for the children who have experienced these type of robberies, since I can think of at least 10 families.

I know that people get robbed in the States.  I know that babies die, and people get in car accidents.  But it's rare that someone in a suburban neighborhood gets invaded by a gang wielding machetes.  In the States, you can get emergency medical care within 15 minutes.  Here, it took Mary 24 hours before she was seen by the specialist in South Africa. 

And in America, doctors don't let tiny babies with kidney failure lay in a bed for four days and do absolutely nothing.

Yeah, I'm a little bit bitter today.  And sad.  And wishing life just wasn't so hard for some people. 

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

That Little Guy

So I know it's been a while since I updated you on that skinny little boy we want to bring home.

We went try to see the big boss and he was not there.  Finally, I got the number of a kind secretary who agreed to let me call her in advance to see if he was in.  And today was the day.

So Gil and I went.  And we talked to him.  And he was indeed kind, and supportive, and interested in our story.  Praise God for this man.

I think it went as well as it could have gone.  We are not totally in the clear yet, because there are a few more channels to get through.  He sent us to see someone else who was not in today.  I will try again on Thursday. 

But maybe, maybe.  It's looking good.  But I have learned not to get my hopes up too soon.  So those emotions are still stuffed....I've gotten good at that! 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Four-Year-Old Perspective

In a conversation about colors:

Josiah:  I am brown.

Mommy:  Yes, you are.  What color am I?


Josiah:  You are orange.

[Hmmm.  I would prefer peach.  But technically, peach is just light orange.  Okay.]

Mommy:  Why do you think that I am orange and you are brown?

Josiah:  Because you are a Mommy and I am four!

Mommy:  Oh, so what color will you be when you are grown-up?

Josiah:  Orange.

So I did set him straight but I don't think he believed me.  Orange is actually my least favorite color.  Wish I was brown sometimes.

(these pictures are from the "Little Kickers" club that Daddy and Sam are coaching)

International NIGHT!

Gil and I are Student Council advisors again this year, and I still need to get a picture of the wonderful team we work with.  But for of the first Student Council event of the year....International Night.  Just for secondary students...and great fun was had by all.  We had a World Cup soccer tournament between the continents, we learned dancing from Africa, India, and America (the Electric Slide, of course), had a Mexican pinata, and genuine Japanese sumo wrestling.  Love these kids!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Who We Are

Ask HOPAC graduates about their favorite memory of HOPAC, and most will inevitably say International Day.  It never fails to impress.  This year?  40 countries represented.

South Africa, and....the Country of Cuteness

South Korea

The Danish Mission is responsible for publishing, translating, printing, and distributing Bibles and Christian literature throughout Tanzania.  And they make amazing pastry. (That's for you, Cecilie.)

Those North Americans to the North.

And those crazy Americans.


Indian stick dance.

Grace's kindergarten class. 
I love this class. 
Only one white kid in the whole bunch, and he is from Denmark.
Only 4 MK's in this class (I don't know if that has ever happened before at HOPAC).
Only three hold US passports.
One was adopted from Tanzania (I'll give you a hint; you know her.)
One was adopted from South Korea.
And one has an Indian dad and an American mom and has never actually lived in the States.
I am the "room mom" and have all sorts of plans to get to know their parents.  One of those plans happened today, but more about that later. 

I worry sometimes about Grace and her identity.  She was born in Tanzania, is being raised by an American family in Tanzania and has only spent six months of her life in the States.  Yet she has two passports. She has no idea where she is from.  When the class was sharing what country they each were from, Grace told me she said, "Moshi."  Um, yeah.  That's the city where you were born, child.   

But thankfully, at HOPAC, she is good company.  In her class, there's the little girl with Indian parents who immigrated to Australia and gave birth to her there but has spent her whole life now in Tanzania.  There's the kid with the British mom and the Kenyan dad.  Or the one with the Tanzanian mom and the Swedish dad (or something like that, I can't keep them all straight).  A lot of identity confusion going on with these kids.  Grace fits right in. 

40 nations of the world; impacted by the ministry of HOPAC.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Celebrating Four

He is big now.  He reminds me all the time, with importance in his voice.  "I don't get a sippy cup any more, because I am big."  "Mommy, can I hold your purse?  Because I am big."

And on our side, we remind him that big boys do not whine or hit their sister or pee in their popcorn bowl. 

Yeah.  We'll see how long that lasts.  

We celebrated at Water World, with his other four-year-old buddies.   

These guys know Josiah well:  soccer cleats and a Manchester United sheet.   

I make him promise me, all the time, that he will always give me hugs and kisses, no matter how big he gets.  And he always promises.  I better get it in writing.

(And the popcorn bowl incident did only happen once, honest.)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Becoming a Family of Five

After such a crazy September, I am thankful that October gave us some much-needed family time.  It was a slower month, and Gil had a week off for mid-term break.  We didn't go anywhere, made no plans, and really hardly saw anyone but ourselves that week.  It was really, really good for us. 

When you work with teenagers, you have the added advantage of owning things like laser lights, glow sticks, and strobe lights.  (We also have a smoke machine, but didn't bring that out on this particular night).  Makes for some pretty spectacular family dance parties.  I'm glad all you can see is the lights in this picture....

Within a three mile radius are two (and only) water parks in Tanzania.  Our favorite is Water World because the water there is usually blue, instead of.....yeah.  It costs approximately $4.00 per adult and $3.50 per child.  Can't beat that.  Except I do get a little nervous that something might collapse under us someday....

Oh Yes he IS trying to dunk her. 

Josiah can hold his little 28 pound body in a perfect headstand for over 10 seconds.  Even when he is not in the water. 

My sweetie got her training wheels off during mid-term break.  Rite of passage.  Growing up.

Doing her flips on the trampoline at "Fantasyland." 

Family painting day.  This was Grace's request.  It's actually her request a lot of days; she just doesn't usually get it. 

Stick with gymnastics, kid.  I don't think you have a future in art.