A work in progress….

3 12 2015

My last little blog/update a couple of months ago was all about how we were starting Akany Laza, and I think I am a bit overdue for an update, so here it is!

We had our first little guy, Ranty, and his mama come to stay with us! They are from the far far north, over 24hrs away by bus! Crazy to think our first baby would have come from so far away! I hope it is a good sign of what is to come! The mama is a friend of a missionary we met here in Tana. She was struggling with post-partum depression, and difficulty with breastfeeding after a very painful C-Section, both of which left her with hardly any breast milk and left Ranty underweight.

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So, Ranty stayed with us for a few weeks. We worked out a good feeding schedule for him, and tried to help increase milk production for his mom. In just the first week he gained over 1 lb! Amazing what a little formula and tender loving care can do!!! Ranty’s mama seemed to be doing quite a bit better as far as any signs of depression go. But after a couple of weeks, there was a bit of family trouble, and the two of them had to return to the far north again. Ranty received a good boost in his health, so we are praying that he will continue to grow strong!

 

Our time with Ranty and his mama was so valuable. We were able to start working out many little kinks in our program, and now have a much better idea how much food/formula/supplies/medicines and such will cost, a good idea about potential cultural differences we could face, and social/family dynamics we are going to be up against. We also began to get a good idea of how things could run so we can make sure to give the baby and mama all they need, while keeping up with our other daily tasks to be done, and still having time to decompress! We even learned quite a few cultural things which is always fun! You should have seen Chris and I in the village market trying to figure out everything one would need to cook the Malagasy way! There were a lot of hand gestures, blank faces, and laughs. It is amazing what you can accomplish even when you only understand about 2 out of every 10 words spoken. Anywhoot, I am sure every single baby and mama who come to us are going to bring all new challenges, and joys, and revelations that we are going to get to learn from and embrace! But having Ranty here has made me even more excited for things to really get rolling.

 

Before Ranty came, Chris and I were slowly starting to put the house together, buying beds, mattresses, little dresser stand type things. We decided to just start out with the first baby room that can hold 4 babies and mamas. We wanted to take our time and not rush in to anything. But with the news of Ranty in need of a place to go, we kicked it in gear and got the whole first room put together and decorated. We were up till late the night before he came, sewing curtains and putting beds together in the light of our headlamps. (Because of course the power was out when it was go time, haha). But we got it done! And in the light of the next morning we saw that we LOVED IT!IMG_3117.JPG

After Ranty left we put our focus on trying to get all the proper government documents and approvals we needed to actually run our little Akany Laza. We are still a bit in the process of that, but have passed our first house inspection with flying colors and have approval from one sector of the government, and we are just waiting for a final stamp of approval from another. It is a bit of a challenge since a program like Akany Laza doesn’t really exist here yet, so there is no simple easy answer about what approvals we actually need and all that. But even despite that, it is all going quite smooth!

 

So, for now, we are just putting our feelers out and waiting for mamas with malnourished babies to just sort of come across our path or to be referred to us from the court system. We would like to start off slow and really get a feel for things before we dive in too deep! With that being said, we did come across an extremely malnourished baby who came to our milk program last week and is in need of a bit of help, so stay tuned for what may come of that little connection! 😉

 

Ok, well, as far as Akany Laza goes, that just about sums up the last 2 months! There are about a million other things in my life that I could write an update about that aren’t related to Akany Laza, but I think I will save that for another time, ok, great.

 

If you read all this, thank you for following along on my journey! And if you have poured in to Akany Laza financially, or prayerfully, or thoughtfully…THANK YOU!!!!!

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AKANY LAZA…

19 09 2015

Today is the day that a little dream becomes a reality. It is crazy to think that just a year ago, today wasn’t even a thought in my mind. Not a whisper in the wind. No-where on the radar. And yet, here we are, September 19. Today is going to be “opening day” for Akany Laza!

Akany Laza is a home, our home (Christina and I) that we have decided to make into a rehab of sorts for babies who are struggling with malnourishment here in Madagascar. Our home has been set up for mamas and their little babies to come on more of a short term basis to receive the nutritional, medical, and educational support they need to help the babies become healthy again. Our goal is to try to help these mamas out before it gets to the point that they don’t want their child any longer, or the baby becomes too sick to survive.

Akany Laza has been inspired by our beloved Laza bean. It was through our care for him, that this dream took root in our hearts. And now, in honor of this little bean, we are setting off on a quest to help others like him. To bring life, hope, and love to as many as we can here in Madagascar.

In honor of today, I wanted to share a little something I wrote just a couple of months ago. It is long, sorry, but it is a little glimpse into my heart and my life and why Akany Laza is so special to me.

“Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Alfred Lord Tennyson

About a year and a half ago, while I was living in Pemba, Mozambique, I found myself in an unexpected situation one cloudy afternoon. I had just finished a long day working in the medical clinic and I just couldn’t wait to get home. (Home=my glorified version of a mud hut with screen and bamboo walls, and all sorts of creepy crawlers making their way around) I was on call at the time in case of any emergencies, which meant I got to enjoy the drive home by car, rather than by foot like usual. As I made my way through our center and toward the gate, a fellow missionary stopped me. She asked if I could give a ride to one of our IRIS pastors and his family. The pastor had just lost his 2 year old daughter only a couple hours before. She had woken up with severe stomach pains and was seen in a clinic in their village, and sent home after no problem was found, only to die a little later that same day. They showed up at our base in search of help, but by this point, nothing could be done, except a miracle. I was asked to drive them all to the provincial hospital, so the whole family, as well as one of our outreach pastors, loaded in to our little Surf, Four Runner. Just as we were about to turn toward the hospital, the family changed their mind and asked if I could just take them back to their home in a village “near by.”

This was one of the most heart wrenching drives of my life. Through the rear view mirror I could see the mother of the child in the way back of the car. Her head was completely covered by a capulana (capulana is a long pieces of fabric that is typically wrapped around the body as clothing or used as an accessory). I couldn’t see her face, but I could hear deep sobs as she tried to quietly hold it all together for the car ride, with her friend sitting beside her, gently calming her broken soul. Just in front of the mother, was the father of the little girl. He was sitting there, beside his other family members, holding the little girl who was wrapped completely in a capulana. It was inevitable for my glance in the rear view mirror to catch the eyes of the father. He just looked straight ahead as we continued on in silence, broken only by the deep sobs from behind.

Our journey to their village “near by” took us from the main paved road, to a gravel road, then a dirt road, then squeezing our way between mud huts and bamboo walls. We finally arrived at their hut. I turned off the engine and got out of the car to open the door for the father. As I opened the door, he handed me the child, wrapped in capulana. I held her little body in my arms as tears began to well up once again feeling the weight of the situation this family was in. I looked up just as the mother got out of the car and for the first time I saw a bit of her face through the capulana. Her cheeks were covered in tears and her eyes met mine, only for a moment. They were so dark and piercing, the pain I could see was enough to crush my soul. She looked down at the child in my arms, and all the strength she had mongered up to keep her sobs quiet was gone. She began to wail. A wail so loud I could feel its effects all through my body. I followed behind as she quickly made her way with the family into their little hut. I laid the little body down on a straw mat on the dirt floor in a dark corner. The only light in the hut came from the slightly cracked front door. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could see a small group of woman all huddled together on the other side of the room, crying loudly together for the loss of this little one.

I stood there for some time, breathing the damp, stuffy air just looking at this little body lying there alone. Hearing the sound of broken hearts ringing behind me. My mind tried to make sense of it all, only to be caught up in too much emotion to get anywhere. The pastor I was with finished up some logistics with the father, and we began our hour and a half journey back home.

As I drove past fields of overgrown weeds, and little villages spotting the roadside, my heart continued to break for this family. To break for this father, as I couldn’t stop seeing the lifeless look in his eyes through the rear view mirror. And to break for this mother, as I couldn’t stop hearing the sound of her wailing in my mind. A mother should never have to feel such a horrific pain. Just the day before, everything was just fine, and just like that her little girl was gone. My mind couldn’t fathom how horrible a loss such as this could be. How would that mother find the strength to ever continue on? Would her heart ever heal? Would she ever smile and laugh again? I then began to ponder the old saying, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” At that moment, I couldn’t imagine how horrible and painful it was for that mother to lose her young child, and I honestly questioned whether it was better to have loved and lost or if it would have been better to have never had to love at all. On that drive home, I found myself convinced that perhaps it is better to never love that deeply at all. That day, I felt a bit of fear enter in my life. Fear to ever let anyone else, who wasn’t already in, in so close, that I would grow to love them so deeply that it would hurt this bad when I had to let them go.

Time continued on, but this day left a lasting impression in my heart. I honestly believe it changed how I could interact with people, and what extent I could open up and truly love others, with a deep love, more than the superficial general loving others around you kind of love. A year or so later, I moved on to a new IRIS base in Madagascar. After a short time there I found myself suddenly and unexpectedly taking on the care of a really sick little baby named Laza. He was two year old, and weighed only 4 kg and had been struggling with malnourishment for the last year after having TB and Meningitis. I remember the first day I saw Laza. He was part of our Milk Program for some time, but this was the first week I ever saw him. His little body, arms smaller than the width of my thumbs, and legs not much bigger, ribs poking out and cheeks and eyes sunken completely in. He couldn’t even close his eyes he was so weak. There is such a fine line between life and death, and looking at him, I knew that line could be crossed at any moment. He was quickly brought to a local hospital with his mother, where he received tube feedings through his nose, and antibiotics. I saw him again a couple weeks later after being released from the hospital, looking only slightly further from that fine line between life and death than before. I remember holding his stiff little body trying to sooth him as we looked out the window of our friends home, while his mother sat at the table with our social worker, signing the documents to relinquish custody of this little one. After some time, I took him outside to prepare to go for his doctor follow up. I sat with him there in the car and he finally calmed down a bit. It began to hit me the situation of this little boy. There I was holding him outside as his mother was just on the other side of the wall, signing documents to give him up. My heart began to break for this little guy. He was so young. And so helpless. And his mother was abandoning him because she was too worn out from the years of illness. I began to imagine him growing up and never knowing who his mother was. And me knowing what his mother looked like the day she said goodbye. What would life be like for this little one? How broken he must feel inside for his mother not to want him. How could any mother not want her child? I found myself taking on quite a judgmental view of this mother. And a broken heart for this little boy.

Within the week, Laza was again hospitalized, and while it was really touch and go for some time, he was finally well enough to come home. He moved in to our house for what I thought would be a couple weeks but ended up being about 5 months. It didn’t take long before this little guy had me wrapped around his finger. I found myself loving this little boy like I had never loved a child before. I couldn’t wait to see him every day. I wanted to do whatever I could to see him gain weight and get movement back in his body. To see him grow and develop. To see life come back to this little guy. Now don’t get the idea that every day was oh so peachy. Oh my. After about two weeks, he gained some weight and I am guessing he got some muscle tone going and suddenly his cute little whimper you could barely hear, turned in to a roaring scream you couldn’t not hear! There were many sleepless nights. Many many tears shed. Days when everything seemed to just be working out well, and days when I wanted to just give up and felt like I had no idea what in the world I had got myself in to. But together we grew, we learned. It was a beautiful, challenging season for the house moms hired to help out as well as the girls I was living with at the time.

This little boy, little Laza Bean as we liked to call him, he impacted my life in such crazy and amazing ways. He opened my heart to love again, without me even realizing it. It was inevitable I suppose. I don’t know who couldn’t love his little smile and his ever-growing chubby cheeks, both his face and bottom, hehe. Seeing the way Laza fought so hard for life and despite all the obstacles he had to overcome, he continued to fight for life. This little bean opened my heart to dream again. To see past my own life and my own circumstances and my own hindrances, and to just dream again. To be open to the idea of new possibilities. To remind me why I packed up what little I had in the States, and moved to the other side of the planet. What the purpose of this life is all about. He taught me to love again.

After months of watching Laza grow, despite the struggles, and beating the odds that were never in his favor, a dreadful night came that I never could have imagined. I was woken up to someone knocking on my bedroom door, and although at first I just wanted to ignore it, I knew I had to open it. I quickly got up and drearily turned on the light and opened the door. Mama Rindra, one of the amazing house moms was standing there with Laza in her arms. At first I thought he was just asleep and I didn’t know why she was waking me. She began speaking frantically in Malagasy, and I couldn’t catch a word she was saying, but I knew instantly something wasn’t right with Laza. I quickly grabbed him from her arms and yelled for Chris, my housemate, to wake up. I ran to my bed and laid his little body down, shaking him to wake up. There was nothing. I looked for a pulse and listened for breath sounds. But there was nothing. I had no choice but to start CPR on little Laza as Chris called for a car to come get us to go to hospital. I continued compressions as we drove as quickly as possible to the closest hospital, doing all I could to hold it all together as I starred at the motionless face of the baby I loved so dearly. Fighting the tears. Fighting the pain. Fighting the reality of the situation. Hoping and praying for this all to not be so. For Laza to just open his eyes again. To just breath. Why wasn’t he breathing? Why was this happening?

I felt hope as we pulled in to the first hospital, but we were turned away at the gate, as there wasn’t any oxygen device there. As we drove away, my heart sank. How much longer could this all go on for? Is this seriously happening right now? We finally made it to a hospital after about 40 minutes or so since the first knock on my door at 4 AM. We rushed inside, only to find a place quite unorganized and quite unprepared for this emergency situation. I stood by Lazas head watching nurses and doctors attempt to bring him back to us, with what little they had, and I just broke.

That was it. They called it. Our little Laza Bean was gone.

I held his little body wrapped gently up in a soft blue blanket, as we made the long silent drive back home. The sun was just rising over the horizon. The floodwaters over the rice fields were smooth as glass. And a gentle fog was settling before the hills full of homes in the distance. The whole world seemed to have fallen silent. But his little face hadn’t changed a bit. Everything felt so unreal. A nightmare I was just waiting to wake up from. This couldn’t be reality. He was doing so well. He was gaining so much weight. He was getting so strong and healthy. What had happened? How could this happen? He went to sleep so normal and happy. And that was it.

We spent nearly 9 hours sitting in a house with his little lifeless body, as people came to say their goodbyes and all the proper documents were settled. The day just wouldn’t end. And I just wouldn’t wake up from this nightmare. Then, Laza’s mother and extended family showed up. There has never been a worse experience in my life than to hand Laza’s lifeless body back to his mother. The look in her dark eyes. Her cheeks full of tears. The sound of her wail. Another mother lost her child.

It wasn’t until that day that I really understood how much Laza’s mother loved him. For quite some time I was bitter and but angry toward the woman who would give up on this little bean. Although to be honest, I eventually became grateful because it gave me the opportunity to get to love this little bean. But I finally realized that love doesn’t always look all peachy. Sometimes love means doing the hardest things in life. Sometimes love is painful. Sometimes love is letting go. And I realized how courageous Laza’s mother was to give him up, to entrust him to us, in order for him to have any sort of chance in life. And we did all we could to give him that chance. Even knowing we did all that could be done, it still was so so difficult handing our lifeless Laza back to his mother.

Its been a few weeks now of processing through all these things that have happened. Weeks of lying in bed with a pillow soaked of tears. Weeks of questing the purpose of life, the purpose of love. What the heck God is doing. How so many horrible things can happen to so many little babies. Weeks of heartbreak and confusion and fear for the future. Questioning why God would send this little one to me only to take him away again….But I have finally grudgingly come to grips with the fact that some things I will just never fully know. But despite it all, I do know that somehow, somewhere, everything has its purpose. I know that God is good. I know that even if our time with Laza was far to short, it was beautiful. And I know that loving Laza changed my heart. And if I had to go back and do it all over again, the good, the bad, the joy, the pain…I would do it all over again. Because truly, “Tis better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.”

And so, here we are today. In honor of our little Bean, we will be taking in our first Mama and baby to Akany Laza! I am very excited to see what the future holds! And look forward to sharing the journey along the way….

And so, here we are today. In honor of our little Bean, we will be taking in our first Mama and baby to Akany Laza! I am very excited to see what the future holds! And look forward to sharing the journey along the way….





Big Changes Ahead!!!! Read all about it……

28 10 2014

Welp, it has been way too long since I wrote an update on this ol blog here. But with so many changes ahead, I think it is about time!

I have been here in Pemba, Mozambique for a bit over 2 ½ years now! Crazy how fast time passes. It seems like just yesterday I was getting on a plane heading to the other side of the world for the first time! Off on the adventure of a lifetime, bubbling over with joy and hope for the future, dreams to impact the world with the love of Jesus, and completely overwhelmed by the unknown. But of one thing I was certain, this was the life God had created me for. He knew me then, He knows me now. He knows everything I am capable of. He knows the limit of the knowledge and skills I have. He knows how much I can handle before I have an absolute breakdown (and often pushes that envelope to the breaking, hahaha). He knows me. And yet, this is the life He created for me. And I will be forever grateful for what He has allowed me to experience during my first season on the Mission field.

These last couple of years have been full of so so many amazing experiences and encounters. I have never laughed harder than I have these last few years, or cried more in my entire life. Nor known it was possible to love so deeply. I have learned far more than I think I will even know, including new languages, medical info, cultural differences, and things of the crazy spiritual sort. I have held children in my arms who simply sang with joy and literally pulled the love out of my heart. I have held countless babies fighting for their lives and actually seen them grow and life return to their eyes. And with those very same arms, held others who crossed that fine line that stands between life and death. I have danced in joy with mamas, and walked many a dusty paths winding threw bamboo houses and dry river beds, and along sandy shores looking out over the sparkling Indian Ocean. Said “good morning” and “how are you” about a gazzilion times in Makua on my way to work. And held countless little dirty hands. Been laughed at and proposed to more than one would expect in a lifetime. Made amazing friendships and hopefully not too many enemies. Spent many nights camping in the bush and many more hours on bumpy roads getting there. Rejoiced as Jesus healed the sick, and brought many into His kingdom. Became one heck of a bargainer. Passed through all the stages of living with bugs: first, every single bug or rat must die and I will go in search of them to be sure they aren’t there, then moved on to only killing them if they are nearby or in the way or grossing me out, and now, finally, I hardly notice them except when they are in my rice and beans, and don’t really have a desire to waste the effort in killing them! I finally have adjusted to sleeping under a net every night and narrowed down my pursuit of mosquitos trapped in my net to under 10 minutes each night. I’ve learned how to avoid the painfully hot sweaty nights when the power is out, by simply going for a walk (at least then there is a slight breeze). I enjoyed days of hanging out with amazing kiddos, cooking, laughing, playing, and other days hiding out in my room, wishing the craziness of life would just quickly pass. Gotten pretty good at bucket showers and living without running water (although I still rejoice every time it comes out of the faucet!) and have taken part in the loud cheer you hear ringing throughout the base when the electricity finally comes back on after a long stent of darkness. I have experienced life with some of the most giving, joyful, strong, perseverant, hopeful people this world has ever seen.

Oh gosh, the list could go on and on and on but I must go to sleep at some point….No matter how happy or how challenging, frustrating or painful every situation has been over these last couple of years, I can honestly say, I am beyond grateful for every one of those experiences. They have taught me perseverance, when it is best to just sit down and shut up, how to go lower and slower, how to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. How to pursue the heart of God in dire situations and learn to count on Him to be the provider for it all and watch as He blows my mind time and time again. How imperfect I am, and how often I mess up, and how great His forgiveness is and how empowering His love is. Just how much I desperately need Him!!! And most of all, I have seen what love can look, and it is pretty stinking amazing.

With all that being said, on November 13, my time in Pemba will come to an end. I feel so many similar emotions to the day I got on my first plane to Africa. So much excitement for what lies ahead and freaking out inside of all the unknown. But you know, I survived Pemba, I have a sneaky suspicion I will survive what lies before me as well.

Earlier this year Christina and I had the opportunity to visit another IRIS base in Madagascar. It is a newer children’s center with 106 kiddos and only a few missionaries. The team there is doing amazing work, and God has asked me if I would go and be part of this team. So again, I have decided to say yes! I head straight there from Pemba in about 2 weeks time. J

I don’t really know what it is going to look like for me over there in Madagascar. But then again, even after 2 years, I never know what my days are going to look like even here in Pemba. But I am very excited to see what Pops has in store. I plan to continue doing some sort of medical work, and Milk Clinic and possibly more with health education, and of course, just showing some good ol love of Jesus and having an amazing time with the people of Madagascar! I will try to keep you updated as things progress over there, but based on my updates this last year, I wont make any promises! Hahaha. But ya, that’s my story! This is whats happening!

I am forever grateful for all the missionaries and my friends I have made here in Pemba. You guys are amazing, and I will miss you greatly. And you will always have a place in my heart.

And to all those who have supported me through prayer, words of encouragement, financially, or simply by just being you….you are all amazing, and I wouldn’t be who I am today or have been able to do the things I have done without your love….so I want to send you a very huge THANK YOU!!!!!!!

Ok, well, until next time….





Just a little update about the Milk Clinic Mamas!

29 06 2013

 

So, I haven’t shared any stories in a while about what’s been happening over here in Pemba…so I thought I would let you guys in on a little excitement from this last week!…

Romans 10:14-15 says “But how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them?”

I was reading a bit of Romans on Wednesday morning before starting work, and this scripture just jumped out at me and pierced my heart, leaving my spirit stirred and inspired. I needed to make a health education plan for the mamas at the Milk Clinic, but this scripture was literally all I could think of, no matter how much I tried to push the idea out of my mind, the truth and the reality of these words was so overwhelming. Now I don’t know if everyone reading this knows me too well, but just a little fact about myself…I really really do not like getting up in front of groups of people and speaking to them. It is not exciting to me, it is not fun to me, I just don’t like it. I don’t mind one on one talks or small groups, but standing in front of people…epa! Just cuz I am a “missionary” it doesn’t mean things like this come easy! haha.  Somehow I have managed to do health education teachings for these mamas, but for some reason the thought of sharing the story of Jesus in front of all these mamas made me so so nervous. But as I pictured their faces and read this scripture, I knew I couldn’t   let my own fears and dislikes get in the way of giving these mamas an opportunity to hear about Jesus. How will they ever be saved if they don’t believe? And how will these mamas ever believe if they have never heard? And how will they ever hear about Jesus unless someone bucks up and tells them! And since I am the one who gets to hang out with them every Thursday…I realized that that someone is probably me. Haha.

Anyways, Thursday morning, Milk Clinic day, finally came. After our usual greetings and singing/dancing time, we got down to it. And I was able to share a very simple overview of God and man and good and evil and Jesus and the cross and salvation. And after, invited whoever felt like they wanted to receive this Jesus to pray with us and invite Him in. As a little side note…I will mention that this group is not always the most interactive. When I ask questions, it can often be like trying to pull teeth to get anyone to respond. So I didn’t really know how the mamas would respond…but as we began to pray, my heart was overwhelmed as I could hear voices rising up from all around thanking Jesus for giving up His own life and inviting Him to come and live in our hearts! Jesus is the answer, He is the one many have been waiting for and searching for. And finally He is theirs! I am so excited about these doors finally being flung open. There is so much more Jesus wants to show these mamas about Himself! It is going to be such fun watching these Mamas get to know their creator and their protector and their friend!!!! 

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Oh, and after class that same day, I was able to sit with a young Muslim couple that was there with twins. Both the babies were adorned with quite a bit of witchcraft. They weren’t there earlier for the class, so I spent a little time telling them all about Jesus, the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit and how much more powerful and good the Holy Spirit is then these little trinkets they have put their faith in. I hadn’t even finished sharing yet when the father of the babies asked us to take the witchcraft off the babies! The mom cut all of the trinkets off the babies and together we all prayed and invited Jesus to be the protector of these babies and the Holy Spirit to take the place of all the evil that had tried to make its home with this family.

It was such a beautiful day!!!! God is so darn good!

Next week there will be another group of mamas who come, so keep them in your prayers that God will open their hearts and make them ready to receive!

I wanted to share this story, not only to testify to how amazing God is…but I am also hoping that sharing this little story and scripture will cause a bit of a stirring in some of your hearts and inspire you to stop living life with a blind eye turned toward those around you who you know don’t yet believe in Jesus. Maybe you are haven’t told those people around you about who Jesus because you are afraid they will reject you, think you are weird, not believe you, laugh at you, whatever sort of an excuse you have come up with…but maybe, they are one of the people this scripture is talking about. Maybe they don’t yet believe simply because nobody stopped to tell them. And if you aren’t the one to stop and tell them…then who is going to be?

What a joy it is to know Jesus and to follow after His heart!!!!

Have a wonderful day!

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Back to Mozambique!!!!

2 04 2013

Hard to believe it but a month has already passed since I have returned to Mozambique, the start of my second year here. Time sure does fly when you are having fun! And what fun this last month has been.

My heart was so full of joy to return here to all my friends and family and cute little Milk Clinic babies, oh and the coolest housemate ever. The word spread quite quickly that I had returned. It wasn’t even a day before some of my little freindies were knocking on my door ready to welcome me home. The kids were cracking me up, their favorite thing to ask was, “Do you know my name?” as if I could have forgotten all their cute little faces after a couple months…however, a few kids did ask me that and I never actually knew their names…so I did feel a little bad, but anyways. My lap was never empty and my arms were always full that first week back at church, not to mention my heart being completely and overly full of joy as the children once again found a way to just draw love out from within me. These kids truly know how to be loved.

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It was a bit of an adjustment when first returning to Pemba, to have left the snow and freezing weather and arrived in ridiculously hot and humid conditions. But after a month of being here and still feeling pretty hot and wet I decided that I don’t know if you really ever completely adjust to that, you just become for tolerant of its presence. I think it’s the same with the bugs and the dirt as well. I actually found myself trying to be all clean and a little annoyed of all the bugs the first couple days… as I washed my feet more than once a day and would spend as much time as needed to find that cockroach that ran under my bed. But fortunately that phase has passed and the tolerance has been built, and I am once again back to my normal self where a little dirt don’t hurt… even if sometimes it’s a lot, and if I can’t see the bug it probably can’t see me so its not any immediate threat that needs to be dealt with…unless however you are the 2 inch diameter spider that was hiding behind my toilet paper roll and caused me to literally jump off the toilet…you have and always will be sought after and killed.

When I arrived everyone raved about how there has been good power and running water everyday, I am still trying to decide if they were lying, cuz there has not been more than two consecutive days with both working properly. But I have once again taken a liking to bucket baths and have had lots of good laughs (as well as all those around) when attempting to gather water at the well just down the way. There are so many things here that should totally annoy you and make you upset and get your panties all in a knot, but somehow those are the very things that provide the most laughs around here. It must be a grace thing. Like the day we spent cleaning up after the flood. The Great Flood. Have you heard of the Great Flood yet? Well, it happened 3 weeks ago, on a Wednesday night, there was a tremendous downpour of rain, and such loud thunder it would literally make you jump up in bed. Anyways, the ditch that flows along side our base completely flooded over and put so much pressure on the 10 foot cement wall that it knocked it down, allowing the river full of trash and poop and a little water to come rushing in filling most of the houses almost a foot deep. The water quickly retreated, however the poopy mud stayed behind and made for one stinky mess! But there was such a grace. We managed to laugh and sing as we knelt on the gross floor that smelled bad and as we dipped our hands and rags in brown water to clean the walls. We laughed a lot that day…the day of the Great Flood.

Shortly after the flood, I got to join a Joyce Meyer team made up of 30 doctors and nurses and dentists and admin type people from all around the States and even a couple other countries, to set up a medical outreach in the North of Mozambique for a week. I was quite excited about this trip because it was something we hadn’t yet done in regards to the size of the clinic, and it was in an area that is a little volatile when it comes to various religious groups and governmental authorities, oh, and because I got to use my new tent! (I am going to use the opportunity to send a huge shout out to everyone who pitched in for that tent, it is absolutely amazing!!!!! THANK YOU!!!!) So, the week on outreach was full of challenges and surprises and tears and laughs, but I really learned a lot and we worked hard and were able to care for round about 500 people a day (holy moley!!!) so it was amazing to get to bless so many people who were in need. Oh, and almost forgot the awesome ending…Mama Heidi and Papa Rolland let me catch a ride home on the new IRIS Kodiak plane!!!! The view was amazing at we few in 45 minutes what had taken us 8 hours to drive, all along the northern Mozambique coastline, looking out on all the islands just off the coast. It was such a blessing to get to do that! Flying away on a bush plane from the bush! Hahah. What a life.

I made it home just in time to welcome my Dad and Pastor to my village!!!!! That’s right! My pops got to come for a visit!!! ☺ There have been so many times I would walk down the village paths and think about how I wished my dad could come see what life looked like here…and it actually happened!!! Mama Paula invited Pat, my dad, Chris and I over for lunch after church on Sunday, so they got to experience village life for a while as well as good ol Mutappa and Shema, oh and what its like to be proposed to…right Pat? Hahah. Such fun times. I also got to take them out to our reef for their first swim in the Indian hot tub! It was truly amazing being able to show them what life looks like for me, the people I love, the places I go, the things I do. I am just so thankful for those few days here I got to spend with them.

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I also got to start back up in Milk Clinic with all my babies and mamas! What joy!!!! I can’t believe how well most of them have done over the last few months! They are getting so big and strong and healthy! I definitely believe God is hearing the prayers going out for these little ones and He is answering those prayers! I am so excited to watch as more and more babies come in and make a turn for the better! Thank you to everyone who is praying and supporting these little chaps! You are making a huge difference! ☺

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And thank you to everyone who kept me in your prayers and to all those who send love and support my way. You are all truly a huge blessing to me and to all those I get to help and love here in Pemba. We have a lot coming up in the future here in regards to new clinics opening and new opportunities to reach into the dark places of the world, so please feel free to continue to keep us all in your prayers! Thank you!

Prayer Points:
-No more bed bugs! It makes for a very itchy life.
-Discover & retain the knowledge and wisdom God would have me receive from my time here.
-Milk Clinic babies and mamas
-Bigger Dreams
-Protection around my time of intimacy with God
-Continue to see His promises come to pass
-Lots more laughs

Thank you and much love to you all!!!!!!!!!!!!!





Update Video from Mozambique!!!!

11 11 2012





The Pursuit of the Greatest Love…

27 08 2012

Is all love created equal?…

“This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down ones life for ones friend. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves. For you are my friends. Since I have told you everything the father told me. You didn’t choose me. I choose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit so that the father will give you whatever you ask for using my name. This is my commandment: Love each other.”-Jesus Christ, John 15:12-17

Jesus said the greatest love is to lay down ones life for ones friend.
You are a friend of Jesus if you do what He commands.
He commands this: Love each other.

I want to be a friend of Jesus Christ!!!!!!!!!

…but do I love with the greatest of all loves? Do I love with a life laid down for others?

So what does a life laid down look like?

In my pursuit of finding the greatest love, I think it would be most beneficial to start by looking at my example of perfect love. Jesus Christ. Without having to look to deep, it is quite obvious that He is a perfect example of a life laid down. I mean come on, that whole thing with the cross and Jesus giving up His very life, His very breath, just so others may find life…that is very much so a life laid down. You can’t really get any more laid down than that! But honestly, I think that was only a portion of the difficulty Jesus experience living a life laid down. I mean, come on, we all have lived with other human beings for a quite a long time now, and Jesus too was human, and we know how difficult it can be to live with some other people, let alone love them! Daily! Through everything! With a perfect love! And if you love with a perfect love that means it is always the same because it is perfect. That means it doesn’t waver when someone makes some rude remark toward you, acts a bit too controlling for your taste, doesn’t believe the same way you do, persecutes you, judges you, kicks you in the shin…I think you get the point. Jesus is perfect love. So He not only expressed the greatest love by laying down his life on the cross, but by laying down his life every single day for every person that came before him. Lets look at some examples…

Story after story in the New Testament mentions Jesus speaking before the multitudes. Giving up His time daily to speak into the lives of others. I am sure there were a lot of better things he could have done, a lot more exciting things, I mean after all, He is God. He could have been out creating some crazy new species of flowers to enjoy or designing new waterfalls to climb, or better yet flying around, or whatever! The options were literally endless for Him. But He chose to give up all his time and energy to spread the good new to others. Even when He was tired and thirsty, he laid down his desire for water to speak into the life of the one before him. Jesus never worried about what He would eat, but made certain that those around Him were well fed. He constantly found himself surrounded by the sick and needy, but left those meetings only after all were made well. That means he stopped for every single one to provide for them the opportunity to be made whole. Jesus stood up for the underdogs, the ones who were persecuted, the ones who were outcasts, the ones who were despises by all others, and even the ones who were to short to see. He stopped for them, He laid down His life so they might be made whole, that they might see the power of the living God and believe. He stopped for those others hated, without even taking a second thought about what others would say, what they would think, how they would react. He dined with His betrayers. He left His family, his very own mother, to be about His fathers business. He wasn’t afraid to be among the lepers or tax collectors in fear that he might catch what they had. He stood for the truth and made it well known. He was ready in every season, during every part of every single day to speak the truth. He even was awoken from his time of napping to show love for His friends in a needy situation. He endured pain that others deserved. He didn’t force others to accept what He said, but always let there be a freedom for others to choose. Even His closest mates denied Him and had to be convinced over and over again that He was the Son of God. But through it all, He lived a life of servitude. He gave of all His time. All His power. All His energy. Everything within Himself to live a life every single day, even to His last breathe as one who laid down His life for His friends. One who loved His neighbor.

I don’t know if you have ever found yourself in a place of being surrounded by very needy people. I mean, real needs. A need for money in order to feed a family, a need for medicine in order to live another day, a need for shoes because the ground is hot, need after need after need. I know that this is something that I have all too often had to face, and quite honestly it is a challenge! It is hard to have so many people around you constantly needing and wanting things. And to think what it was like for Jesus! His always had multitudes following Him!!!! And we aint talking 10-20 people! We are talking thousands at times! But He poured out His perfect love on these people. He laid down His life that their very needs would be met! And on top of that, He knew that many of the people He poured His love out to would never accept His love, but He still loved them anyway! He still laid His life down never expecting, and absolutely knowing that it would never be appreciated, accepted, or returned in any manor! How easy it is to love those who love you! But even evil people can do that right? It’s about loving ALL! He constantly lived in a state of having to love in extreme situations. And yet He did it. He is so stinking amazing!

I find myself honestly wondering how He could possibly live a laid down life every single day in every situation. Even for just one day or fully in any given situation. It can be so rough! But this, this is the kind of life we are called to. This is the higher life we were created to live. This is the life we are able to live only because Jesus first lived it! We can only love because He first loved us! But now it’s our turn. The standard has been set. The goal is achievable. If we could just grasp the importance of living a life truly laid down for others. A life of true love for others. Every good thing flows from the place of loving as a truly laid down lover. No wonder the second commandment, equal in importance to the first, is to love others. Because when we truly love others, every other law ever written will be fulfilled. There is no murder found in laid down love. There are no evil words spoken in laid down love. There are no impure thoughts in laid down love. There is no: hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, rudeness, selfishness, irritableness, records of being wronged, injustice, faithlessness, hopelessness…exc….in laid down love! There will be absolutely nothing the world can hold against us. We will find ourselves living perfect and blameless lives!!! “ Owe nothing to anyone-except for you obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor you will fulfill the requirement of Gods law. For the commandments say, ‘you must not commit adultery, you must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.’ These and other such commandments are summed up in this one commandment, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of Gods law.”- Romans 13:8 -10. “You must love the Lord your God with all your hear, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important. Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” –Jesus Christ, Matt 22:37-40

Come on! Lets not loose sight of the big picture! We are called to be like Jesus! But we will always have the personal choice to love. And I tell you, I don’t want to get to heaven and have Jesus say, “Well done, you put in half an effort. You attempted to love. I know I gave every bit of my life for you, but thank you for giving up part of yours.” Heck no man! I want to get to heaven and have Jesus say, “Well done my good and faithful servant! You loved with the greatest of all love!” I just want to be a friend of Jesus! I just want to live my life laid down for others in love, that they too may encounter the goodness of Jesus Christ, so we can produce lasting fruit and all be one and full of His JOY!!!!!

What kind of love have you found yourself loving others with?