Together

Thanks to our language helpers and Emilia, we recently had a little fun with African braids. =)

It’s nice to take a break from daily washing their hair. =)

Oh the squeals as they have joyfully danced to the bathroom mirror to check out their reflections when I pull their braids back into pony tails. Hehe.

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Just a little good, clean fun and sharing life together.  =)

 

Sacrifice

He lay there, a skeleton of a man. His every rib exposed and sunken in stomach spoke of a year of new sickness on top of his lifetime of other sicknesses. The shell of a once-strong and confident man crumbled into the hospital sheets. He stared off into a distant land. Unmoving. Laboring for breath.

Her demeanor,

her eyes,

and her reserved expressions

told a tale of a lifetime of respect and honor to others.

She reached out to his arm and stroked it, whispering in her native tongue. A tongue I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around and yet instantly knew dripped with compassion. She moved slowly, spoke quietly and almost floated to the other side of the room with the basket. Slowly each dish came out and was carefully set in its proper place. A mixture concocted. The family all watched her move. And stir. Slowly. Carefully.

The bowl rested on the side table as she removed her shoes and climbed into the bed. Her firm yet gentle arms slowly pulled him up. His blank stare, his helpless expression. Her biceps straining as she climbed behind him in one smooth move and propped him onto her chest. His full weight laying back on her as she crouched behind him, supporting his frail sitting. Carefully, gently she wiped his face and adjusted his shirt. He didn’t speak a word. She motioned for the bowl and her mother loaded the spoon full of his lunch. While the mother fed him, she propped him up with such strength that finds a backbone in love.

Three spoonfuls today and relief was found in her eyes…. until he coughed. And then she caught it all, wiping his mouth and his nose. Her hand was merely a tool. A tool used in sacrificial love. Not once did she think about her comfort or her needs, he was her sole focus. He couldn’t keep any of it down. The reality hit like a brick. Her face showed no expression, but her eyes told of great pain.

She waited patiently, receiving the last of the washing. Gently she laid him down. Tenderly she wrapped him in his sheet. Her eyes carried her heart. She stood there and watched him. His chest rising and falling. She adjusted his legs. She fanned away the flies and spoke quiet words to her mother. She cleaned up the dishes, rising some in the nearby sink. She emptied his bed pan. She redistributed the baskets and items to return home.

And then she leaned in, her arm gently touching the pillow by his head. She overflowed in tenderness. Her words floated in the air. He responded weakly. And in one word “vamos” we found ourselves in the hallway.

She would repeat this process until the situation changes. This is a familiar street for her. This road she has traveled so many times before. Sacrificially mounting her bike and riding what takes us 30 minutes by car to reach. Three times per day. Delivering three meals and caring for her brother. While she’s still working her full-time job. And raising a child. By herself. As a widow. At so young. She doesn’t speak of it. All attention she shifts to praying for her brother. Her example of selflessness as she falls asleep during her lunch break from sheer exhaustion.

These are the stories we don’t see.

The reports we don’t read.

And this, my dear friends and family, is your sister in Christ.

 

 

Lord, teach me. Open me. Change me because of this sweet sister.

Humble Means

This Christmas season stirs up those thoughts every year. A humble stable with meager rations welcomes the very Lord of Life, Emmanuel.

Humble means.

It hangs in the air a bit longer this year.

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He walked into his home. Sticks and mud with one concrete front wall announcing a step up in luxury. When the rains come he can rest assured that at least the front wall will still be there.

One hallway and 3 rooms. 2 plastic chairs. 1 bed. 1 bike, a few buckets and a meager supply of dishes. For a family of 5. 3 small kids. The parents sleep on the floor on a mat because the bed is for the kids. The cost of their whole home is equivalent to the change on our dresser.

This is not some kicked-puppy ad stirring up temporal sympathy and fleeting compassion. These are real people. Real norms. Your brother and sister in the Faith.

You know, sometimes I think of the Savior’s entrance in a pathetic poverty light. Only a stable. No room. The fear of labor pains lingering on a young new mother as it’s all played out in the desperation of that night.

Then I recall the pride beaming from this man’s face. Years of accomplishment resulting in his house which was made with his own two hands. Uncountable hours in the rice field out-of-town resulting in sustainable food. Two meals per day but still sustainable food.

Pity can creep to the front of my mind in light of the comparison. A desire to swoop in as if they need rescuing.

Sure I’d love to hear of plentiful fields resulting in three meals per day. I pray abundance over this precious family. I long to see the reward for their perseverance. Anxiously looking for their prospering amidst their daily challenge. I do not know if they will have it in this life, but I pray for it fervently.

But then I think of the Savior. The circumstances. The humble means. The daily realities of those humble means.

It starts to buck my thinking. It adjusts my heart to his perspective. See it’s not a heart of pity, but one of love.

Mary and Joseph offered all that they had to offer. And in that moment their contentment was not found in what could be considered a bleak offering compared to worldly goods.

Their contentment was found in offering literally all that they had.

Such heart. Such love.

It’s not that the circumstances have changed.

But His love stirs up a gratitude.

A gratitude altering perspective until it reflects His light.

A light that penetrates even the darkest of dark circumstances.

 

Lord, consume me with that kind of gratitude. And help me to learn from the surrounding humble means the true definition of gratitude and praise. Lord that You would be glorified in all things and in all circumstances. For no offering in Your hands is too lowly. 

 

***This time and in the future I will continue to choose to protect too many revealing details  when sharing things that the Lord is teaching me here. I am using discretion in sharing out of respect and honor to the names and legacies of those around me. Thank you for continuing to respect those that I share stores about. I share out of a heart of love, that you too could walk alongside of us in this journey and rejoice at God’s work among the people of Mozambique.

 

A Joy and a Delight

She’s hardly ever alone.

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Nope, she almost always has her shadow.

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Copying her every move.

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Repeating her every phrase.

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No, it’s certainly not a bad thing.

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It’s quite a compliment actually.

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Yes, these two little ones are two peas in a pod.

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And I just adore watching them do life together.

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They are indeed a Joy and a Delight.

 

– Sisterhood is beautiful.

-Thankful, grateful and beyond blessed.

 

 

 

Value Done Right

Meet Titan!

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He’s “five” weeks old and was added to our family two days ago when we bought him off of a street vendor outside of our gate for about $2USD.

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He’s already spoiled with love and the girls absolutely adore him.

Matt and I are pretty fond of him too.😉

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Welcome to the clan, little Titan. =)

 

Dreams Really Do Come True

When we started asking the kids to share what they most looked forward to in Mozambique, the concept was birthed: the beach!

It worked it’s way into every pulpit-sharing opportunity from the kids as we made our exit out of the country. It danced through prayer requests from one consistent four year old. It swirled among conversations, building in anticipation across State-to-State Skype calls. It was fixed in her long term memory. Mozambique offers the beach – and it is MUCH to be anticipated.

Well the other weekend we broke away from the city and headed straight out to the road’s end and the soft sand’s beginning.

And this little girl was in ABSOLUTE HEAVEN!

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Oh the squeals, dear friends. Oh the utter delight. My, oh my! Dreams really do come true, friends… oh how beautifully joyful. =)

Oh yeah.. and the rest of us had a blast too.😉

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-Thank you, Lord, for such delightful fun away. =)

 

Just Another Day in Paradise…

After weeks of itching and allergic reactions, two weekends ago we decided to rule out one more thing by flipping this house…. well, parts of this house.

No, it wasn’t some cool Fixer Upper interior design show, it was real life Africa:

Flea control.

Yep, you read it right, two weekends ago we fumigated our sleeping quarters.

After isolating our continued “hives” to our bedrooms and thanks to a few google searches and the trusty advice of the medical people’s dermatologist in South Africa after digitally checking out Hannah’s spots, we determined the cause to be bugs and we got to work.

God gave us just enough sunshine and heat on Saturday to remove all the mattresses, spray them down with bug killers, remove all the bed frames and pieces, spray them down with bug killers, leave the frames and mattresses outside in the sun to bake for hours, spray the baseboards in the rooms and pepper the remaining parts of the rooms and wash pillows/sheets/etc., drying them on the clothes line in the sun.

Saturday night we made the best of it with a “slumber party” downstairs while the rooms upstairs rocked their fumigating ways. We kept things light and enjoyed the time together despite the extra work.

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Sunday it rained but there were pockets of “sun” in order to finish drying our bedding. We also reassembled the rooms and had our sweet guard treat our “yard”, windowsills, door frames and the back guard’s house with an effective and yet safe for animals/kids pesticide.

Monday, Eden started having bites so she got a one-way ticket to the refuge cot in out room and then has joined Rachael’s full sized bed while her trundle bed was happily wrapped in plastic for a week. Go, go gadget bug starvation!😉

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Our skin is clearing up and I’m happy to announce that we have no new bites. =) God has also blessed us with pretty good sleep despite the challenges and changes. And one of the sweetest fruits from all this is watching Rachael and Eden sleep forehead to forehead. I’m not sure if I’ll even get Eden back out of Rachael’s bed once we unwrap her bed because she sure loves snuggling her sister.

That sister love is strong!

– Thankful, grateful and blessed even in the thick of it.

Journey Off the Map

We got the chance to explore some of beautiful Africa.

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We trekked out to a village 2 hours away, dancing in the puddles along the way.

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Oh my goodness, I absolutely LOVED it and the girls did wonderfully! Everyone was left begging to go out again.

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The kids had a blast playing with the village children who wove a ball out of leaves and then played games together.

I’m so crazy proud of how wonderfully well my little ladies took courageous steps to reach out to children whom stood across a language divide and really had a great time playing together.

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Yep, it was a wonderful day-long trip spending time with some brothers and sisters a few hours away literally right in the middle of no-where.

It left us desiring more off-roading delights. =)

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-Thankful, grateful and blessed.

 

 

African League

With the help of 10 empty milk liters, security bars for our doors and a coconut, we enjoyed ourselves some Saturday night bowling: African Edition.😉


And when Thor broke the coconut on her “all-in” strike attempt, we subbed in a playground ball.


We all had a great time.


-Keeping things fun.

-The perfect end to our Sabbath rest day.

-Thankful, grateful and blessed.

Love

I find myself caught between a social worker’s earth-shattering empathy and a Father’s deeply enriching love.

Love is such a hard thing. It’s that delicate balance between predicted scraped knees and the refuge reflex arm. It’s that dance between extending friendship and discerned appropriate reservation. That fence straddle between opening yourself fully and anticipated self-defense.

Love is so vulnerable.

Lord, teach me how to love well.

Suddenly you find yourself in the melting pot of life, surrounded by endless opportunities. Which one’s next? How to extend your arms more fully without knocking someone from their feet? It’s all so big. It is all so beyond you.

“Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

Lord, teach me how to love well.

Teach me how to bite my lip when she falls and let Emilia comfort her first. Because Your love is not found solely in my arms.

Teach me how to open my arms to embrace Your family, even if they were strangers just weeks ago. You are the Orchestrater of kindred spirits.

Teach me to rely on You for discernment of when to speak love and when to merely feel it, that Your voice would be heard over my own.

Teach me how to love like You love.

For all in all, at the end of the day,

Your love remains.