Posted in celebrating life, JOY, Overwhelmingly Thankful, thankful and grateful, Wrestling Language

Your Love

With the visit of Matt’s mom, which I will be sharing our adventures for those three weeks quite soon, you all overwhelmed us with your love.

We made a list of what all we could think of with full intention of letting things linger until another trip of another family member and then you all surprised us by buying it all in one swoop. And we are overwhelmed by your love.

So much about this season here in language training has been repetitious. Monday through Friday looks so very similar: Get up way crazy early because the sun is up, breakfast, get kids ready for school, drop off older girls, return home to finish prepping for the day, language lessons for Matt from 7a – 10a, my language lessons from 8:30a – 11:30a all while the little girls play and run wild in the house, (which many days looks like juggling taking them on language outings to keep them from going insane playing with the same few shelves of a few toys), pick up the big girls at noon, lunch prep, lunch, littles go down for naps, bigs get homework help, language for me from 2-4p, language for Matt from 3-5p, I play with the kids/start bathtime routine post-language amid dinner prep, Matt enters post-language and helps with dinner/bath routine, dinner together, then family worship/bedtime routine. The sun sets here between 5:30p and 6p year-round and the kids go to bed between 6:30p and 7p. Matt and I then usually have a few hours to watch a movie, study, check email, FB, or chit-chat before we knock out somewhere around 9:30p. And then we repeat that schedule – to the nines, people! – every. single. day. Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday have a bit more variety depending on weekend activities, visiting village churches, etc., but the evenings usually look the same for us in terms of our bath/bedtime routine with the girls.

So you all entered into this, the same-old, same-old. That being said, friends and family, I don’t want to downgrade the training we have had here. While our schedule has stayed virtually the same for our ten months here, consistency has built our language and culture learning. Day after day. Sentence after sentence. The people aren’t boring and neither are the lessons (most of the time), but it’s just the scheduling consistency that can sometimes feel like a groundhog day.

And then along came you all with your blessings. And the squeals. And the delight. Because really I can’t possibly describe to you how much joy filled our household. So we took videos so you could be there too.

It may just look like things, but it’s your heart that we have felt as we received your gifts. This was so much more than a care package to us – it is a chance to finish strong, sailing on the wind of your encouragement.

Thank you, dear friends and family, for your beautifully generous hearts.

You love us far greater than we could ever deserve.

Thank you for walking this road with us.

We love you all so, so much.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you all so

for your love.

Posted in God's heart, JOY, life thoughts, my heart, willing hands

Refreshing

Cause I’ll never get by living on my own ability!

How REFRESHING to know you don’t need me!

How AMAZING to find that you want me!

 

I am completely insufficient of a warrior in this battle. This battle is beyond me in immeasurable ways. The wisdom needed, the grace offered, the endurance, and so much more … I am completely insufficient! I am absolutely nothing on my own!

But the power of CHRIST in me makes me strong

This completely blows me away! How He does not need me. Not even in the slightest! He’s completely and entirely All-Sufficient!

And yet how utterly amazing to find that He still wants me.

I am completely humbled that He would choose to use me as His mouthpiece. ME?!! Oh how HE must be the One bringing the victory through these lips, through these hands…

And how He so willingly receives this offering that I lay at His glorious throne…

I am brought to tears at His utter grace.

How He takes the incapable, breathes the life in them, gives them the words and the boldness, orchestrates the listeners, touches the hearts, and then receives it gladly as an offering unto Himself.

It was all Him!

All Him all along!

Oh thank you, Lord, that You would bless me so to be a tool in Your hands.

How humbly amazing indeed!

 

 

 

Posted in celebrating life, God's heart, JOY, living in their world, Mozambique

Their Surprise Porker

The little girls have given up and gained much in this transition and adjustment of moving to Africa. Here in this language and culture learning city, our little girls have had many adjustments. Their weekday routine looks pretty similar each day: get up, eat, entertain yourselves for three hours in the morning while Mommy and Daddy do language, play with the big sisters when they come back from school, eat, nap for 2 hours, play with big sisters again, many times watch a 30 minute film, many times family play time, dinner, baths, and bedtime routine. Then it’s “wash, rinse and repeat”. 😉

Emilia is many times a friendly playmate during the three hours of play during our language sessions, but the truth of our culture shift has left the little girls hungry for their Mommy and Daddy. It’s hard to explain how proud I am of them and yet how hard it is for them to have given up so much intentional time together during our otherwise normal homeschool hours. These girls are RESILIENT, but there is also the double-edge sword of our busy world here resulting in a lot more expectation of self-entertainment by these two. They have grown so much in creativity and their sweet little friendship, though here seven months into our schedule, our little ones are growing a little tired.

So one weekend, I worked to set up “table toy” bins again. Toys are REALLY hard to find here so I got really creative. Back came out the rice bin (never underestimate the power of pouring and filling for the preschool crowd). Magnetic toys made their way into a bin and another bin was donated to our magnetic dolls. Then came a clothes-pin gripping game in which I drew the outlines of a bunch of tiny items that the girls get to match onto the little papers by using “the claw” (a few different kinds/strengths of clothes pins). Then I used q-tips to make little designs and the outline of little pictures and letters to help the girls do a puzzle-type activity.

Toys here are VERY cheaply made and after playing with the same suitcase full of toys and reading the same 20 books for seven months straight, our littles are tired. But these little boxes helped recharge their batteries again. I put the bins out at the table and they can rotate through the seats at the kitchen table until they have played with each box’s contents independently. Many people refer to these little boxes as “busy boxes” but we refer to them as LIFESAVERS!

We also found some little colorful wooden building blocks by utter mistake in a store one day. When I speak of the rarity of good, solid toys here you must understand that you can wait for months and check every single store and find absolutely nothing of lasting quality here. So what does that mean for our girls? It means they randomly get a gift of a cheap little chinese store gift from school. They instantly fall in love with the gift and make HUGE plans (you know how kids are) about how that little toy is going to travel all over the world with them, etc. And then we cry big tears when that little item breaks within an hour of play. And for my girls that play really gently with things, this is heartbreaking. So as a Mom, we just avoid the heartache by avoiding the cheaper toys.

In an effort to help the littles more with their “I’m tired of the effect of language learning on my attention level” moments, we have been trying to divide and conquer where we can. This looks like Hannah running errands with Matt and his language helper. And that looks like Eden going with Suzana and I sometimes. Nope it doesn’t happen all the time – not even close. But we do try to involve them in more errands and get them out of the house more where we can.

One such errand I ended up bringing Hannah and Eden both with Suzana and I as we went to a clothing market. Suzana had a few things she was looking for and I was hoping to drop off a dress pattern to a tailor and the material we had previously picked out for a new dress for Hannah and Eden (hence their need to come a well, since it’s hard to measure a child who’s not in attendance). Here the cost of the material AND the handmaking of a dress is about $6 for a child.

The previous week, we took Hannah and Eden to the market to pick out their own material. They LOVED that freedom and ate up the opportunity to have their little opinions validated. With some slight nudging away from more scary choices ;), we all left the shops happily.

Oh and I forgot to tell you, when we are out together and it is language time, we speak Portuguese! Go figure! 😉 So this is nice too to keep the little girls building their vocabulary, forcing me to think on my feet when others approach us to talk about the kids, and allowing us all to be exposed to an ever-growing language and culture experience.

And it was here in the middle of our language and cultural experience one day at the market that we found Mr. Pig lying on a mat on the floor with other toys. Recognize him, Heather McKinney? Our girls absolutely MELTED! With a happy $2USD exchange, this face, that is pictured below, on my ECSTATIC four year old absolutely squealed in delight throughout the rest of our market trip as she and Eden discussed their plans for Mr. Pig (whom they named “Pinky” of course!). They also absolutely danced through the market booths introducing Pinky to their Africa. “And here, Pinky is a store that sells dresses and here’s one that sells beds!” Oh how those two little girls went ON and ON in utter ecstasy.

And then to discover at home after Pinky got a good bath and a fresh set of batteries that he actually works too?! Oh my goodness! This picture below was the face of utter delight EVEN BEFORE we had the batteries to test if he worked. Oh, friends! Oh, family! So great is the utter delight at this little pig!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And it has brought me to a place of sheer thankfulness that God saw it fitting in His beautiful heart to so bless two little girls whom have made such sacrifices in these past seven months. How wonderful of a Father to reach down to these two little ones in such a beautiful little blessing that utterly rocks their world with delight. I think of His Sovereign hand gently guiding Pinky from wherever he was donated, orchestrating his placement on this very mat of this very booth that we would pass by.

Oh sure, I could give away His glory to some rare chance.

But I know better.

It’s Him, dear brothers and sisters. It’s all Him.

And it absolutely blesses my heart so.

And these precious little girls…

Thank You. Just thank You, Father.

Posted in faith, God's heart, Hope, JOY, Mozambique, my heart

Immeasurably More

We sat at the table the other night and the girls brought up the topic of Heaven. It stemmed out of a conversation about the meaning of the word “paradise”. And after cleaning up some six year old confusion about Paris vs. Paradise, one of the girls mentioned Christ’s words to the broken sinner on the cross. “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” He said in response to the man’s belief.

Paradise.

“What will Heaven be like?” the questions arose with great curiosity.

“No one really knows beyond the Bible’s description of it being immeasurably more than anything good we could imagine.”

“No more tears,” Hannah piped in.

“Lots of food!” Came Abi’s response through her mouthful.

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks.

“Can you imagine what it will be like for some people here?”

Rachael caught my eyes.

“They will go from a life of disease, surrounded by death, no electricity, no running water, fighting for hope amongst abandonment and challenge and desperation STRAIGHT to the banquet feast of our Lord.”

A tingle went through my body.

I saw the light on Rachael’s face as we both had very real pictures flash through our minds.

Suddenly, I thought about the homeless man out on the main street a half-block over. He never makes eye contact, is always surrounded by cardboard and trying to make fire. His loins barely covered by a shredded rag. I don’t know how long he’s lived there. I don’t even know how he’s still alive.

I thought about the sea of chronic medical problems people live with here, from huge goiters to elephant legs and open sores. I thought about the tiny, emaciated bodies that fill the public schools and the swollen preschool bellies and pencil-thin arms. I thought about the reading group girls who come in a capulana (thin, colorful yard of fabric) tied over a naked body underneath. This is all they own. That very well may be all they’ll ever own.

Can you even imagine, church?! Can you even imagine their faces when they’re given new robes? When those emaciated hands reach out in a new flesh for the banquet meal? Can you even imagine when the homeless man receives his house? Can you even imagine when the chronic ill step foot into Heaven and feel for the first time a land where those is no more death, no more disease and no more tears?!

Oh church, can you even imagine?!!!!!

Brother’s, my hearts desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved…  For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? 

Romans 10:1, 13-15

May this truth permeate our very souls and open our eyes to His work laid before us. Oh the immeasurable value in all mankind that He would stoop down from the High places and rescue us into His arms.

Oh church, can you even imagine……

Posted in faith, JOY, living in their world, the New Middle Child

His Personal Love

In a free moment, (which I am learning are scarce when you are handed a schedule with every hour for the next 60 days planned out) I wanted to stop and tell you a small story of God’s provision.

It started abruptly for one little three year old girl as this new word, “Africa” joined our vocabulary. She didn’t invite it, but she learned to get used to it.

Soon “Africa” meant cleaning out old things from cabinets.

Then “Africa” meant doing a lot of shopping and mystery boxes arriving via the mailman.

Then “Africa” meant packing all our stuff away in boxes and giving a lot of stuff away.

But then came the one day amidst all the “Africa” when she looked up at me with sad little eyes and asked, “Pink car is being given away too?”

Pink car was a dear friend to her. Pink Fisher Price car meant “Africa” could wait for a few minutes of reckless parking lot play. Pink Car was independence as she sped her little legs, Flintstone style”, in that preschool play car wherever her heart desired. Pink car was far better than any bike. Pink car was even better than sidewalk chalk. Pink car was AWESOME!

I couldn’t possibly help her understand that she wouldn’t fit in pink car by the time we could see it next in two years. I couldn’t help her see how old and sun-faded pink car had been through the years. Pink car could not go.

And she hurt.

And we hugged.

And God heard her little heart.

 

And then on day one of orientation she found…

Green car!!!!

Oh dear ones, look at her little face. She just couldn’t stop giggling.

Her heart was so full and she shouted out, “I LOVE MY SCHOOL!”

– Oh how He loves you and me.

– … Her dear little heart. He cherishes it so.