My family has grown (again)

Alberto sleeping in his moses basket on my bed

Well, here we are a little over a week later and I have another little tyke to add to my family. This is Alberto. He's 4.5 months old and pretty malnourished (I know you are suprised). Some of you will recognize this story from a previous prayer request....we have a few more details and I'm going to wait for the rest as well, cause something's not adding up. Anyway, he is right at 8 lbs and it seems to be a pretty recent weight loss and the malnutrition is in the beginning stages, cause he chugs his bottle like it's better than sliced bread (which for him it is) and then cries for more. We're praying with a little TLC, he'll stay healthy and just gain weight. He is a super smiley baby boy who loves to laugh and talk. We recieved him this afternoon around 1pm and we have been playing all day. I'm going to take him pretty much all weekend during the day so I can increase his feeds slowly and see how he's doing before we integrate him into the baby house.

His mother came to the center last Thursday afternoon and tried to leave him at the gate. Luckily the guards caught her and called us. We brought her to the baby house and tried to talk to her, ask about her situation, the baby, ect. I looked the baby over and found him really clean, his skin gorgeous, and completely appropriate developmentally for his age. He had such a light in his eyes and a gorgeous smile. He was such a happy baby...just a "little" hungry (and really small for his age)!!! So we explained that we couldn't take him this late in the day, but we really wanted to help her out. She was to come back the next day when our director would be back to admit the baby, we fed the baby while there, made sure she had warm clothes and blankets, gave her 4 full bottles for the night, chapa (the bus) money to get home and to come back in the morning. We didn't want her to leave him and then never see her again....this way, in the morning, we would take the baby, and send one of our tias back with her to see where she lives (so we can stay in contact as well as get a little more information about their situation).

The next day (Fri), Alberto and his mother showed up again, but this time she was a little reluctant to leave the baby. Great, we thought! We don't want to take the baby, we want to help you. We placed the baby on the milk program so they could both see a doctor each week (usually it is every other, but in some cases...) and recieve free formula, education on how to mix, how much to feed, support breastfeeding/increase milk production, ect; weekly weight check, and chapa money to get here/home. We put the mom on our food program to help supplement her existing budget with nutritous and healthy staples. We stressed that if she got desperate, or was going to leave him at another center (cause we've recieved abused and kids just really bad off from other places) or dump him somewhere to please come back to us and we'll immeediately take the baby. She left and we all felt like this might work.

Today she just showed up with Alberto saying she had no place to live if she kept the baby cause her parents died, she was living with her grandparents who had already kicked her out with the baby, so she had been staying with a neighbor (as of the home visit we made this week). Today she told us that her grandparents came and took all her stuff for her and the baby and the neighbor won't have her with the baby anymore. So, for the time being at least, Alberto is ours. He has gained some weight since last Friday which is good! So tomorrow there will be another home visit and we'll find out even more (hopefully).

I guess I said something funny....

PS...you can't tell how scrawny he is from these pictures...I'll do better next time I promise.
We pray that we are given wisdom about the family situation, that we can strengthen the family (if possible) and reintegrate Alberto once he is healthier; that he will continue to grow and get stronger each day as he is fed and loved on. Let us not hinder his spirit, but continue to encourage the already bright fire and light in him, so he will become a strong warrior for Our Lord!


Beloved children

I’ll start tonight’s post by saying a big thank you to Johnny and Fiona’s father who spoke on just this matter tonight….the things that have been stirring in my heart since before I arrived…not for myself, as He has already dealt with me on these things (not that I can’t use the reminder or don’t struggle every now and then), but for my tots here in the center.  Thank you for helping me think through a few more things and put words to a few ideas I couldn’t begin to express!


I LOVE my baby house tots.  No really. I really, really, really LOVE them.  I’m not just saying it cause they are cute, cuddly, and do Bill Cosby-esque kids say the darnedest things quite frequently.  No, I’m really whole-heartedly in love with each of them.  Not that they don’t have their trying moments as all good little children do when they test the limits and I’m tired; or when they are having a bad day and everything else is going wrong all at the same time so you don’t have the time to sit with them and figure out WHY they are screaming their heads off in the middle of dinner time (which is quite unusual since food cures just about anything here).  Nope even during the temper tantrums….I really love them and feel amazingly blessed and privileged to have this opportunity to love on each of them. 


There’s a few things that break my heart though.  Sometimes I have to remind myself of the facts though just so I can love on them appropriately.  While these babies are NOT all true orphans they have been orphaned, abandoned, discarded, and left.  It may just be for a few months, a year, a few years, or an entire lifetime, but they have been orphaned by their earthly parents.  They are each striving for attention, love, security, touch, affirmation, and a sense of belonging.  They need a family.  They need a father.  I know they have one…..an amazingly loving, giving, compassionate, merciful Father.  He is my Father as well.  He has spent a lifetime, an eternity even, loving and fathering me as He has them.  But I’m old enough to know that and have experienced that.  Someone tell my 15 month old toddler who has such abandonment issues that sometimes he can hardly stand to be more than a finger’s grasp away from you.  When all he knows is his mother is gone (she died when he was 12 months) and then was abandoned by his grandmother at our center a month later (think him grasping onto her with tiny fingers for all he’s worth while we pried him off of her so she could walk away from him).  That does something to you no matter what age you are.  It breaks my heart that when a few of the under two’s get really frustrated, scared, sad, whatever and are screaming inconsolably they start calling mae, mae, mae (mother in Portuguese) and reaching out for you.  Now, none of them talked before they came in here and we don’t use that word.  The Mozambicans that take care of them are called Tia’s which literally means Aunt in Portuguese and the older kids know us as Mana (insert name here) which is just a term of respect for anyone older than you….like saying Miss in English. 


It breaks my heart when I take one of the little girls out of the BH (who isn’t old enough to be “checked out” by visitors yet) to come back to my house for snack time, only to have her sit there all confused, absolutely scared, and almost shaking cause she’s out of the environment she’s known for the last 5 months.  I try to feed her yummy food and her bottle and all she does is wanna sit in my lap with her little lower lip quivering, big tears welling up in her eyes, only to burst into tears with giant sobs for a minute, regain control, then lose it all over again.  She wouldn’t even play with dollies, which she loves to do.  As soon as we got back to the BH and I set her down gingerly, giving her a big hug, and telling her I love her, she looks at me, smiles, and then slowly toddles off to play, quite content to be back in the chaos of the BH. 


I hate that when you walk in the door of the BH, a few of them always attack you with watch this, watch this, look at me, see what I’m doing; or the few that immediately come up to you with outstretched arms to be picked up.  These kids here are truly loved on, but they have still been abandoned and you can see it in their eyes.  They are starving.  They are grasping.  They may seem independent but are so insecure and unsure of who they are.  There are a few that rarely smile.  Not that they aren’t happy children, but they are all closed off in their protective shell.  I absolutely LOVE it when I can get them to smile and laugh.  They are beautiful.


“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”  -John 14:18


“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  -Ephesians 5:1


I’ve been contemplating this so much the last month or so, as I have posted on this matter before.  It is still with me.  It is still on my heart.  We have such an opportunity to love these kids.  I want to be able to spend time with each one individually.  I want them to have this time.  I want them to each know who they are, who their Father is, and how loved they truly are.  It is hard for anyone to figure out who they are as a child of God; who they were created to be; how our great God could love someone like them, wholly, and without a price.  This is an even bigger task for someone who doesn’t even know what it means to be loved, unconditionally loved.  A love without requirements.  A love for who they are, as a child of God.  Not because of what they have or have not done, but because they have a beautiful soul that God has created and breathed life into, set them on this earth as He has me, for a divine purpose and plan.  If they cannot feel this love, how much harder will it be for them to truly understand our heavenly Father that asks nothing of them, but to crawl into His lap and sit….safe, secure, loved, cherished, doted-on, liked, and held completely in His hand.


Meet Freddie!

Freddie is our newest baby (Note: Mozambican names are not very "African" sounding...remember Portuguese influence...also really his name is Alfredo, but we already have one in his very same room, and his family nicknamed him this which is perfect for us...plus, it really fits him). He'll be 11 months old in 5 days! He is weighing in just at 16 pounds but he looks like he's about 5 months old. I promise he smiles and I've even gotten him to laugh. He talks in baby babble of course and does a little military crawl by laying on his belly and pulling himself with his arms. He can sit and well...we'll be working on the rest the stronger and bigger he gets! Besides a common skin infection all over his back, arms, and hands, he is generally healthy (besides the slight malnourishment). His mother died this month and his grandfather is very elderly and is looking after him and his 15 year old sister. He has to go to work far away in the fields for food and money and cannot look after him. Freddie's sister is in school (YEAH!) and so unable to look after him as well. We are hoping to fatten him up a bit, let him grow, find more extended family, and reunite the family in a few years when his sister is older and out of school. For now, we will just love on this little tot. He really is too cute...and I think I've even seen a hint of mischief in him! Praise God for the safe arrival of another little one. Give us wisdom, grace, and mercy to help care for and raise him. Prosper him and bless him beyond his imagination. Call him to your throne and into your lap!



Praise God for some quiet time. I've decided that I'm going to have to take a few days out of the center for respite every month...I was hoping to last till 6 wks, but it's just not working for me. I think I haven't really found a good rhythm or found that quiet space that I crave living so close to so many people in a community. It just wears you out. So Monday of last week, I finally broke down and called a local Bed & Breakfast type of place run by a South African couple about 20 minutes from the base. It's a overnight place for the rich South Africans that come and vacation on the beaches of Mozambique. This means that the ONLY people that are around between the hours of 9am and 5pm are the couple that owns it, a few Mozambican workers and their 2 huge dogs and tiny dogette who kept me company, often coming by my room just to make sure I was still good. It's out in the middle of nowhere, pretty, and amazingly quiet. I had a corner room that was huge, a big queen bed, and a BATHTUB (that I used a lot just because we don't have them here)! They cooked an amazing breakfast and dinner and then I packed some snacks, fruit, and peanut butter sandwiches for lunches. They always had hot water and teas, coffees, and cookies I could help myself to as well all day long. Mostly I just sat out on the verandah reading, watching a few movies on my laptop (thanks to Laura for lending me some dvds) and having quiet time...very uninterrupted quiet time! The price is amazing and well worth every penny of my sanity. I am so thankful for this time and do NOT take it for granted at all. Here are some pictures from the weekend...and also a few from the days before.
I got to look out the beautiful windows, that were really just screens without window panes, all day to the big back yard. Note the all important mosquito net...never leave home without it...actually, it's provided, but i wouldn't if they didn't have one.

Yeah for bathtubs and hot showers that run for more than 2 minutes!

the chair I spent most of the days sitting in reading on the verandah outside my room!

the stuff I brought with me: worship cds, Bible, journals, books, dvds, laptops, mp3 player

Rachel and I decided to bring the older toddlers to have their first ever experience with a trampoline after snacktime on Thursday (no, you read correctly...our BH director has a trampoline for the tots...we are NOT being spoiled here at Iris). They were hysterical. They didn't know quite what to make of the contraption we zipped them up into, so I made Jannie (one of the nurses from Denmark and former BH director before me who know is starting a community nursing program for us) climb in and show them how it works. They were all giggling by the end and thinking it was so much fun, not to mention trying to stand. I laughed really hard at their attempts.

Clearly, Francisco (with the big grin on his face) thinks that the trampoline (in Portuguese: trampolim) is cool! There's Nemias to the left (standing up), Luisa attempting to stand, and Francisco's twin, Lourenco being his laid back self and wondering WHAT he has gotten himself into!

Nemias and Luisa really like it too.

I added a video of their first moments on the trampoline on my video site...go to the column on the right and click on it to see more toddler fun.

South Africa mailing address

Here it is...the much anticipated mailing address: I know how excited I am....I know you can hardly wait to run out to your nearest UPS store! :) My address in South Africa:

Suite 337,

Private Bag X11340,

Nelspruit 1200,

South Africa

UPDATE: This is NOT my permanent address. I am just "borrowing" the box for the moment. In another month, I will have the opportunity to go to South Africa and set up a mailbox with another missionary. Please address packages to Celia Mendes so they will be accepted! We choose to have post office boxes there, as the mail service is much more reliable in quickness as well as reliability of actually getting the items sent. Know, there is still a risk (much, much smaller) that the package will not make it. Also, be aware that the box may only be checked once a month as we simply give keys to whoever is going to SA to check everyone's mailbox. Non-perishables and things not sensitive to heat would be best in the food department. Please let me know if you sent something and I will be more vigilant in getting someone to check it for me. If you are interested in sending care packages, please contact my parents at ralph_e_welton@bellsouth.net ,as my mother will be coordinating this for me. I have given her a list of things that are helpful to have, hard to find here (or in SA), or just things I miss from back home, and she can forward it to you. She will best know whether I have just received a big package of toiletries and nonperishable food items would be best this time around, ect Of course if you just feel like sending some specific love or something God has placed on your heart...send away. I will not stop you! As always, thanks for all the support and prayers. They truly do keep me going at times.


the problem with oranges is....

Today I would really like to know why Mozambique has a problem with naming fruits.  Ok so they name fruits, but here’s the problem.  They call ALL things orange “oranges” (in Portuguese, of course).  But ALL things orange aren’t oranges.  And when I go to the market, or into the store and find the bin marked oranges and pick up an orange, I would like for it to BE an orange…not just something orange.  Now, sometimes I know it’s not really going to be an orange, cause of it’s size, but I don’t know what it is and everything in the bin is orange and looks exactly the same cause today these fruits are oranges.  It’s annoying.  Not only cause I want an orange when I want one…but also, because if I want one of those other fruits they also call oranges, I can’t specify and get that….it’s literally, just luck of the draw.  Here’s the options (so far as I have been surprisingly treated to):  an orange, a seedless orange, a blood orange (yes, I too had never had these things…it looks like an orange, it tastes like an orange, but slightly sweeter, but is REALLY REALLY red in the inside), a sharon fruit (same again and the spelling is probably wrong….it’s a really sweet orange that you can eat the peel and it doesn’t have seeds…basically you can eat it like an apple-although how would you know to DO that when you don’t know WHAT it IS), an undisclosed fruit that was orange I had yesterday (it was too sweet for an orange, looked like an orange, had seeds, you couldn’t eat the peel, and it was orange.  Hmm….).  Seriously, I got 3 “oranges” at the store on Friday out of the same bin labeled simply “laranja” and I got a orange, a sharon fruit, and an undisclosed fruit that probably has a name in reality.  There goes my I don’t question this culture thing….see, and that’s what you get when you open your mouth.  Although, of all the things to question…this is a VERY important one….can’t they just let their oranges BE oranges and their sharon fruit BE sharon fruit….I’m sure its Biblical…..


Pudding and Birthday Cakes-yummy treats!

What have I been up to? Well, Rachel and I have started snack time with small groups of 3-4 tots from the baby house on Monday and Wednesday afternoon. They all get snacks each day, twice a day and they try to be healthy, but because there are so many kids, they aren’t necessarily the most nutritious of snacks, especially considering what their regular meals consist of each day: Breakfast is a non-nutritous porridge thing they call papino that is pretty much just warm and filling and a glass of water. Lunch is rice with some topping (soup with a few veggies for the smaller ones when they first start eating “solid” food, but we just moved all of them up to full rice) and water. Dinner is rice with some topping and juice. All the bigger kids not taking bottles get a glass of milk before bedtime. The toppings are things like greens (reminiscent of spinach but definitely not as good), cabbage, beans, chicken, fish, noodles & potatoes. So they only get protein a few meals a week (almost once a day). We give all the HIV(+) babies yogurt three times a week and put peanut butter in their papino for breakfast. The other nurse, Erin, that does the HIV (+) kids and helps me give meds a few times a week and I have started buying and cooking meat or hard boiled eggs to put in a few of our growing toddlers meals 6 times a week. These are for a most vulnerable that are having trouble putting on some pounds after being so malnourished when they first got here. Then we put peanut butter in a soy based papino that has extra vitamins and minerals for a few of the toddlers that still need some extra nutrition and then 3 of them are getting plumpy nut (more protein and nutrients then peanut butter prescribed for the malnourished) in their regular papino to beef them up. Most of our bigger kids are more adjusted cause they have been with us for awhile, but our toddlers who haven’t been here as long are still working on growing. They don’t look skin and bones I will agree, but if you saw them in person, most all (except Alirio) are much smaller than they should be for their age. So Rachel and I have started this snack time idea I had. I really desired to pull out smaller groups and have more one-on-one time with the little guys….get them in a quieter environment than the crazy baby house and just love on them for a little bit. So we put the entire house except the 4 baby babies into groups of 4’s and we’re just rotating time with them. We are trying to focus on nutritious snacks with protein, veggies, or fruits since they don’t get this as often, but of course I gotta spoil them every now and then! We spread reed mats out on the tiny plot of sand that I call my “garden” and sit them all down and have snacks together….they try to understand our Portuguese, and we try to understand theirs. It’s lots of fun. The first round was pudding with 4 chocolate chips in it and a glass of milk…I know, don’t get too crazy or anything! As a side note…I have to figure out how to say…”Do not tear the leaves off the plants please” in Portuguese. Also, note the color of the cups…not coincidental my friends. Auburn football kicks off in less than 30 days and I’m sad I’m missing the action! Here’s pics from this weeks lucky snackers:

Yuran in back, Daniel on left, and Neto on the right

We had some extra help this day so we did two groups…ambitious!

In back L to R: Arsina, Martinha 1, Sam, Nilton; in front L to R: Martinha 2, Raquel, Joao

This is Martinha 1 with a milk mustache...she could be the poster child for the next milk campaign.

Birthday parties! Each month at the beginning of the month we celebrate all the birthdays. The kids all think it’s really fun. We sing and clap, blow out candles, and have cake. I have a little video of this up on my video site. Yes, before you ask…it IS a Mozambican tradition that whoever is doing the celebrating cut the cake…no matter the age…it’s just what you do….You actually cut all the pieces and serve it. This is why in the video you will see Tracy, the baby house director, helping 2 small two year olds cut a cake with a very large knife. It’s Africa, but we aren’t that crazy.

Nemias turns two. This is the same child that you have seen sitting in my lap on prayer cards, ect from when I visited last year. He’s growing up. Some of you might also remember prayer request emails I sent out about him in March when he was really sick and intensive care for quite a while with multiple organ failure and in a coma. By all accounts he should have died! Here he is quiet a character in the baby house!

Louisa is 2 as well and LOVES CAKE! She ate quite a few pieces, then went around to all the empty bowels to scrape out the little morsels she found after the other kids had left their bowels and went to play…when she was done and there was no more cake to be had…she laid in the floor, arms and legs sprawled out bawling big crocodile tears. It was quite amusing (for us). It was, in fact, her party…so she was allowed to cry if she wanted.

The smallest toddlers learning how to hold their bowels in one hand and eat cake with the other like the big kids do (L to R): Francisco, Mindah, Alirio, Dino, Antonio.…I like Francisco’s style!

I’m also praying about a few opportunities that would allow me (and you) to not only develop a deeper relationship with each of these tots, but help them start building a relationship and foundation with their heavenly Daddy! I’ll let you in on the details when I figure out how and when as God gives me more vision for these areas. Please join me in praying about this.