Highlights from this week.

Here’s a few highlights of the week in story and picture form….it’s going to be a long one…..lots has happened: I have 2 friends visiting, we played with the toddlers in the pool, THANKSGIVING in Mozambique, we have a new baby for the bercario, it’s HOTT here, snack time with the tots, and we had a little Auburn pregame party with the kids.

Courtney and Katie are here! Woohoo. We’re having so much fun. I wish had a little more time to spend with them as I’ve been working like crazy, but that time will come as we’re leaving Wed am for 5 nights/6 days of bliss!

I don’t need to say anything…this pic is self explanatory. It’s hot. There’s no air-conditioning. Normally, we get a cool day or two thrown in, some rain…something. Nope everyday including last Sunday for this entire week it has been over 100….today was the worst. 110. Just be thankful. We have been using the baby pools A LOT…….

guess who thinks it is fun…and who’s being traumatized and will need therapy later. I mean…it’s just WATER! I should have just worn my bathing suit….oh well….next time!

Thanksgiving in Mozambique. We (all the Americans and a few other nationalities that we felt the need to enlighten) got together for Thanksgiving dinner…..mmmmm……can you tell it had been a long hot day?

This is our first real admit to the Bercario since it’s been open!!!! HORRAY!

Meet Lucia. She’ll be 8 months on the 9th…..that’s right, now typo here….She’s almost 8 months and she’s almost 10 pounds. Why yes, there are newborns that weigh more than this. She’s slightly malnourished as you can see….Her mother, father (deceased), and 3 year old brother all have HIV. She looks as though she’s in full blown AIDS though. Her skin is horrible, she’s been itching it like crazy to the point of bleeding and scabbing from head to toe, she’s weak, tiny, has a horrible cough (probably has tuberculosis which is next on the list of things to test for) and maybe an infection or two. On Friday when she was admitted, all she did was scream for 24 hours…no tears, just screaming. Today, she’s playing, laughing, cooing, and acting like a perfectly normal 8 month old (well, she can’t sit up for long and doesn’t know what to do on her tummy, but she’s in good company with D in the house). She’s refusing milk of any sort, so we’re tricking her. She’s getting milk and rice cereal mixed together every 3 hours in small amounts so she gets food and the milk she needs. She is LOVING it. She already looks better. Please pray for her as she’s settling in, gaining weight, and getting stronger; the tias as they care for such a demanding, sick baby girl; and me as I figure out everything that is wrong with her, how to treat it, and help her back onto the road of recovery. The plan is to keep her for a year or so, get her healthy, happy, and fat, and return her to her family. Her mother and brother look very healthy despite their positive status, so it’s clear there are means for her, but right now she is one sick puppy!

We decided with everything she’d need, she’d be a good candidate for the Bercario with low baby-tia ratios and a smaller, quiet environment. It has been amazing for Dionisio who is now only taking 3 bottles a day, sleeping through the night for 6 hours, eating a normal 6 month old portion of cereal for breakfast, eating lunch and dinner and 2 snacks of food throughout the day. He is laughing, giggling, stealing pacifiers from Lucilia, learning to suck his thumb, rolling over onto his belly (and surprising himself since he hates this position), doing a lot better in the sitting department, trying to physically PLAY WITH lucilia, and just in general being a happy healthy baby! Oh, and he’s gaining weight too! Woo HOO! Go D! He even waved goodbye to the tias today when I took him to church.

This is snack time with toddlers. I physically made applesauce with cinnamon for them. Dino is weird about textures. He didn’t want any, but he REALLY wanted me to eat it. All of a sudden he (is 2 yrs old) started yelling mana erin, and shoving his fork full of apples toward me and declaring MMMMMMM with a big mischevious grin. Well, if you can’t beat them, join them. He literally fed me half his bowel in this fashion. It was hysterical. He is so funny.

War Eagle! Now, I know I’m writing this post game and all, but we celebrated African style…or Auburn style with a little African flare. We taught the kids about Auburn, gave them stickers, shakers, temporary tattoos, and had a good ole time! They thought it was a lot of fun! Really…..I mean, if you have to be away and not being able to see the game, it’s the least Court and I could do to help cheer on the team…who clearly needs a LOT of support at the moment.


Thanksgiving thoughts

Note: thanks jack and reid for the inspirational thoughts on your respective blogs…..

On the eve of Thanksgiving it doesn’t seem much like thanksgiving. For one it’s been over 100 degrees for the last few days (without air-conditioning) and it’s just weird thinking T-day should be surrounded with beautiful fall leaves, the smell of fires in fireplaces, warm coffee, sweaters, and lots of college football. Another reason is I’ve been truly beyond exhausted lately….that kind of true exhaustion that is beyond the help of sleep. You wake up feeling just as tired as when you went to sleep even when you slept beautifully…..exhaustion to the core-spirit, emotions, mind faculties, physically, just utterly drained. This last month has been long and hard and I’ve just not even thought much about Thanksgiving. I have much to be thankful for….truly, truly thankful for (in no particular order):

· My super-powered industrial-like fan that’s keeping me coolish (when I’m in my room)

· Internet that works (most of the time) so I can stay in touch with family, friends, and supporters from back home

· A Fanger to zap and fry all the stinkin mosquitos

· My health

· I have 2 friends I adore from the States with me here for 3 wks

· I have an amazing supportive network of family and friends back home in the States

· Electricity, running (clean) water that is hot (in 2 minute intervals), shelter, a bed, clothes, and shoes

· Safety

· A merciful, loving, forgiving, dying-for-me, Almighty, healing, protecting, all-knowing, Divine, thinks-I’m-cool, gets His feet dirty, beautiful friend and Savior

· 35 children that love me and that I get to love on and help grow

· Renewal and daily bread from above

· Whole bean Starbucks coffee visitors have brought over and donated to us poor thirsty, caffeine deprived missionaries

· All my 5 senses

So after reading a few friends blogs tonight, I will reflect upon a few things that God seemed to be speaking to me about.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and theirs for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

-Matthew 5:3-12

“Everything is necessary that He sends. Nothing can be necessary that He withholds.”

-John Newton

These scripture verses are the reason I’m here (indirectly)….I mean, I’m here trying to give the kingdom of heaven to those that are poor in spirit; comforting those who mourn, turning their mourning into laughter; helping them meek inherit the earth; feeding the hungry and thirsty (spiritually and physically); trying to show unconditional mercy to those who need it most desperately; trying to raise up sons of God with pure hearts and eyes set firmly upon God; to live outside the box, uncomfortably, way beyond myself, all for His glory, to lift up His children, and empower them to be the person HE has called them to be. John Newton hit the nail on the head….as we head into tomorrow….reread his quote and remember the things He has provided (or not provided) and how truly blessed you are wherever you may be!


O Bercario esta aberto! (OR the Nursery is open!)

Give me one pure and holy passion

And give me one magnificent obsession

Give me one glorious ambition for my life

To know and follow hard after You.

To know and follow hard after You

To grow as Your disciple in the Truth

This world is empty, pale, and poor

Compared to knowing you my Lord

Lead me on and I will run after You

Lead me on and I will run after You.

-lyrics by Mark Altrogge

The brand spankin new Bercario (nursery) opened today! Yes, it really opened on Monday, but this time it was official; complete with tea, biscuits (cookies), and refrescos (soda). Today was the change of shifts so both sets were here (they rotate every four days on and off). We prayed for the nursery and babies and what God was doing in this place. We prayed over all the workers. This is exciting not only for Iris and the many, many babies that will come through this small place, but for me as well. My heart is with the smallest and most defenseless and here they will be loved into the Father’s arms, into big healthy fat babies that will graduate into the BH. Bem Vendo (welcome)……

The Bercario.

Girls from the girls dorm have been taking sewing lessons with Betty and helped make the curtains, all the linens, quilts, and blankets for the babies.

Betty’s husband Bob has been helping some boys learn carpentry. They made all things wooden for the nursery including the cabinets and all the cribs.

Hilda (1/2 of the husband/wife director pair for the Bercario) giving out Bibles to all the tias and cleaners.

Dionisio sleeping away….look at that perfect NICU positioning…..ok, so I didn’t show them how to do this, but I’m proud all the same.

Lucilia enjoying her extra plush bassinette.

I have to say a big thank you to my friend PJA for donating money for all the mobiles. They are beautiful and D and L love them.

I have a few more donations rolling in to help out the nursery and can’t wait to go pick out some good toys, mats, and developmental stuff. I praying for the time to do it asap! J Samaritan’s Purse donated the rest of the money for the construction and everything else you see to start this nursery off right. Lucilia and Dionisio have really settled in this week and Dionisio has actually (Praise God) gained a whole ounce this week. He is now the heaviest he has ever been in his entire life. He’s eating 3 meals a day and sleeping through the night. Go D! I’m praying for continuing patience of the tias with him, me as I am still teaching them a lot, and over the nursery as a whole-that it would be a peaceful place filled with the Holy Spirit, a safe, quiet space for these tiniest orphans to grow and be loved on.


Bits and Bobs

UPDATE: 11/26/08: Telma was reintegrated today....her brother came to pick her up this evening. She will spend tonight in Maputo, and then they will make their 12 hour journey by chapa (minivan-buses) to northern Mozambique. She was very very tearful tonight. Please pray for their safe journey, for her quick adjustment, for her family's open arms, and for God's protection over their crops this flood season (as she is another mouth to feed).
UPDATE 11/20/08: Martinha 1 was reintegrated today....she went home to live with her father. Please pray for her and her family as they adjust and she gets used to the idea that it's not just a visit, but forever. It's hard at this age to explain. Also, her father isn't as thrilled as Martinha is for the reunion. Pray a change of heart!
as my director, Ros, likes to say.

Two of our BH tots are going to be reintegrated......

Martinha 1 (pictured above being prayed over by other BH tots and tias) will probably go to live with her father really near the center sometime this week. She's really excited about it. We are happy to see her be rejoined with family. Her mother died and she was only here as a help to the family financially when she was a tiny baby and really requiring a lot of formula and attention. She is 4 now and quite a "big girl." Pray Martinha and her father adjust quickly to the new living arrangements and that the "settling in" period doesn't last too long, as Martinha can be quite a handful when she wants to be; pray for love and grace and mercy as her father is learning all about his beautiful daughter and attempting to reform a relationship with her.

Telma (pictured above on the left with Martinha 1 and not quite as thrilled about it) was abandoned here 4 years ago when she was a baby and we had a hard time finding family after that, as they live 8 hours north of here. The family resurfaced a few months ago and took her to visit for 6 weeks. She will go when her brother comes for her between now and Christmas. He works in the city for 6 weeks at a time and then brings the money back to his family. This time (hopefully) he will be bring Telma home to live with them forever. We are really praying on this one as the rains have already begun very early this year in the northern part of the country and that will affect the harvest. We are afraid that they might not want an extra mouth to feed and just not show up for her. Please join us in prayer as we would love to reunite this family and that upon reunion it would be an easy transition with God providing for all their needs.

And the most exciting new of the week....well for me....and Dionisio is......
ok, 2 things:

Dionisio's eating! I have proof.

Everyday, twice a day, i have been having chefe Dionisio time....which means chief D and I hideout in the back in my nursing closet in his chefe cadeira (bumpo throne) and eat baby food. We started with Yogurt-his very favorite and moved to apples-a tried and true staple for him and I even have him eating baby cereal and carrots! whoo hoo. consistently eating 2 solidish meals a day without vomiting on me for an entire week! PROGRESS! So I'm going to try even more things this weekend and we'll go from there. I'm hopefully putting him on 3 a day meals with bottles quasi every 4 hrs during the day up until midnight and then a 6 hour straight sleep for nights. I'm just hoping it sticks and that he grows. He's seriously weighed the same thing for 6 months now. Not cool for a 9 month old. Problem child.

Eyeore all messy (though this is a good day) after eating yogurt with 2 spoons-one for me, and one for him when he likes to help.

The best news: The nursery (for 0-6 monthers) is opening on Monday! With Lucilia, as you know, the first official resident.....but yesterday Ros, the director, came to me and asked how I would feel about moving Dionisio with her as well. Well, I jumped on that train. I've been really praying and feeling in my heart that he really needs a small home to thrive. He's not getting it in the BH for lack of time, hands, and too many babies. It's just the nature of center life...which is why we are starting the Bercario (nursery) for the itty bitties that don't have moms and dads and need a lot of TLC. My latest gut reaction is that Dionisio has failure to thrive syndrome-his mom dyed immediately after birth, then he was really sick for the first 3 months of his life and lived in a hospital with no caretaker since his father abandoned him there (the caretaker is the person who does EVERYTHING for children in the hospital-feeds, diaper changes, baths, meds, linen changes....everything.; so you can imagine what quality bonding experience a newborn abandoned infant would get here). Then he came to us, still really sick, and lived in a house with 30 some odd other babies vying for very little attention. He never cries for attention or coos or "talks" like normal babies; he never reaches for food, or has an desire to do anything new developmentally....he's quite content to sit in a chair or lay on a mat all day long by himself making pouty eyeore faces. I believe with consistent one-on-one care, attention, love, and help he could be a changed boy! I've already seen signs of it...he just needs to strongly attach to someone that's around him all the time! So on Monday, he's going to live in the nursery for a few months till we decide what's best for him next....and at the present it's a 1:1 baby to tia ratio. He's going to get lots of loving....cause Lucilia sleeps most of the day (and night) away! High five Dionisio! (except he doesn't do this yet or anything else remotely normal for a 9 month old.
Wanna know something cool? all of us involved-Ros (director), me and other erin (nurses), Neil/Hilda (director of nursery), and Tracey (director of BH) all think it's a marvelous idea and have been really feeling individually that it's what needed to happening without talking to anyone. How cool is God! Now, lots of prayers that this works for him. I want to see him with a renewed heart and spirit; a boy filled with life and joy; smiles that don't take 10 minutes to get!
Let praying commence.....NOW!


Heart beats

Confession time.  Ever since I’ve arrived here I have found it really hard to find a good space for my time with God.  I’ve been craving it like crazy but have had a terrible time connecting for a bazillion reasons that take too long to list at the moment.  This doesn’t mean I haven’t found a few minutes that have crept up on me, but on the whole, I have felt horribly drained as I’m living daily to pour everything I have out.  Well, everything He’s pouring into me.  So today I was reminded of a few things that all tie in together.  I’m going to try to muttle through it and end up with some creative explanation in the end…or not.


I’m helping to train the new tias that will be working in the new nursery we are opening on Monday.  We are using the unofficial first resident of the nursery, Lucilia, for demos and she’s doing a beautiful job.  She holds the corner market on acting like a baby.  Today I brought her over to help explain feeding, burping, making bottles, ect.  She was starving, cause it was time to eat, of course, and we were running a few minutes behind.  She’s 7 wks and doesn’t like to wait for her food.  She started crying and Hilda the co-director of the nursery picked her up and tried to console her without much luck despite everything she was trying.  I knew exactly what she wanted (well besides food…but what would calm her down) so I asked to take her for a minute.  I grabbed her and put her all snuggled into my chest, with hers against mine, her head over my heart and grabbed a blanket and papoosed her there….she immediately quit crying and settled right in.  It’s an old trick we used to use in the neonatal ICU cause it works every time (and I’m sure many of you have found it too).  Tiny infants love to be held.  Tight.  To be snuggled safe in someone’s arms.  To hear the heart beat of their protector.  We all spent 10 months (ok some a little less) listening to the soothing comforting sound of our mother’s heartbeat.  Somehow, it’s innately ingrained in us, that when we feel out of control, alone, lost, or just can’t stop crying, what will soothe us all, is to simply be held and hear the heartbeat again of our mother. 


Flash forward.  Tonight in home group as we were worshipping, we sung one of my favorite songs (and one that’s been ministering to me a lot lately):


The more I seek You, the more I find You.

The more I find You, the more I love You

I wanna sit at Your feet, drink from the cup in Your hand

Lay back against You and breathe, feel Your heart beat

This love is so deep, it’s more than I can stand

I melt in Your peace, it’s overwhelming

-Zach Neese


Lucilia came to mind during this song.  I was reminded of how much I, too, long to crawl into the lap of my Heavenly Father, to sit in His arms, to hear His heartbeat.  The safety, the comfort, the peace.  His safety, His comfort, His peace.  I was reminded of each and every time one of the toddlers in the BH came running to me today with open arms, wanting to hug me and then simply to remain in my arms.  We were all having an especially clingy day today, and most were uncoaxable to go play.  They each wanted to sit, be held, to feel my heartbeat.  I began wondering, why I haven’t allowed myself to be these children, to return to what has been innately ingrained in me.  To sit at His feet, to just soak in His presence; His goodness, mercy, peace; His protection.  To sit and hear His heartbeat, allowing it to become mine-one and the same.  So tonight I’m asking for prayers, to help me find that space again, a rhythm that allows sitting in His presence again daily, a renewal, a refreshing, a reenergizing of my spirit; to find His heart beat again.


Guess who else has a forever home?

I asked you to pray for another child and his potential family after Eliana got adopted by Amelia. We prayed that it would go through and everything would be worked out. Well, today I get to announce that everything is done and worked out.

Yeah! It’s Mateus. He was found abandoned on the streets November 3, 2006 by the local police and brought to us. He was extremely malnourished and had malaria. We guestimated his age to be a little over a year old at the time. We have never found any family. We gave him a name, a birth date, and a home. He was nursed back to health, all the while being prayed and loved into a healthy 3 year old boy! Today, he is just that-all boy. He’s energetic, sweet, smiley, wild, and into everything. He thrives from one-on-one attention and loves hugs! One of the pastors that works for us and his wife took a strong liking to him and started visiting him in the baby house. The other kids started calling him his dad. Tracey (the BH director) asked him what he thought about it and whether they considered adopting him….he replied that his wife really liked Mateus and that they were praying about it. They have a number of other children of their own as well. They started taking Mateus home for visits on the weekend about 2 months ago. He loved it! He hated coming back and would scream and cry and kick and then act out for a few days, throwing temper tantrums because he’s 3 and doesn’t quite understand what’s going on. It broke our hearts to see him like that. They decided that they are definitely adopting him, the paperwork is in progress and TOMORROW, Mateus is leaving to go LIVE with them FOREVER! He’s very excited. We are all even more excited that a child that was once discarded, who didn’t even have a name or birthday, is being taken in to a wonderful loving home that loves the Lord. They are giving him a home, a family, brothers and sisters, a mom and dad, a future, and a life. Hooray for adoption!!!! We’ll miss him dearly, but we’ll get to see him around (since his daddy works here)! Pray for Mateus and his new forever family-their adjustment. Pray for blessings, patience, love and mercy. Pray for the kids here that have watched him grow with them in the BH as a brother and are saying goodbye to him tomorrow!

We have two more that are 4 year olds that may be reintegrated by or right after Christmas time this year. This means they are going to be reunited and live with their REAL families. Hooray for this. More details when it actually happens, but be in prayer for these two girls and their families, that they will come through and show up to bring them home with them; that the girls will each adjust well to being back at home and that the family will as well.


5 months in

I’ve been here for 5 months.  I can’t even believe it’s been that long as I type this.  It doesn’t seem that it’s been that long (though it seems that long since I’ve seen my friends/family).  There have been ups and downs, but God has provided and everything always works out perfectly for His good in the end.


I know it’s been awhile since I’ve updated.  It seems like I’ve had no time lately.  Things that have been going on:  I updated a bunch of our medical protocols for the new Mozambican nurse that started almost 2 wks ago and translated them into Portuguese (with the help of my trusty English-Portuguese dictionary).  I’m trying to create a binder for her of protocols and simple disease and childhood problems, remedies, how to treat as a nurse, ect.  I’m also trying to create a binder for an eventual successor or anyone else that just has to fill in with norms of the BH, common stuff we see as well as childhood diseases and tropical medicine(more on the medical stuff), signs and symptoms, treatments, protocols, resources (internet sites, ect).  It’s a big task, but will definitely be helpful in the future.  I’ve also been updating children’s charts-creating a system and order to each of them (so you can find stuff in them and everyone’s is the same), adding a social history and important medical history for the kid, as well as common medical problems list for each with what works/what doesn’t, and what to look out for.  I’m starting to type up important nursing notes/events for the kids as well and put that in.  It’s monotonous and takes forever….but I’m getting there.  Very, very slowly, but getting there.  I started training (30 hrs a week) with the new Mozambican nurse (who doesn’t speak a word of English).  It’s intense (for me) and tiresome.  I’m still praying for patience.  It’s going super slow as well, as they are very much on a different level, then with the language barrier.  Well, at least someone’s learning something. 


Next I’m tackling teaching 6 new tias for the new nursery next week.  Things like bottle making, storing, how to feed a kid, how to bathe a kid, how to pick a kid up, do’s and don’t in caring for a child, child development, cleaning, health concerns/safety…ect……some of it is beyond basic, but it’s breaking the cycle of cultural norms.  Unfortunately, you have to consider that although 4 year olds here start caring for babies it’s not the BEST idea ever….it’s out of necessity.  They start doing this young, but that doesn’t mean that it’s all ok.  Consider why the infant mortality rate is so high.  Common sense here is nonexistent.  It’s not good to pick a child/baby up by their arm and carry them that way……or things like you should actually wash your hands after changing a diaper but before feeding the newborn a bottle (not just drink a liter of milk at the end of the week).  Some are superstitions, some are cultural norms.  Some are ok, some is out of lack of education, some are absurd.  So I’m helping out with that and we hope to have the new nursery open by the 17th of November with Lucilia as our first official baby.  Prayers for all that is definitely welcomed and warranted.


I have two friends coming to visit me in less than 3 weeks:  Courtney and Katie.  Woohoo!  Just so you know, they are currently in a tie for first place in the category of friend of the year award, since they are actually coming to see me for 22 days.  And….we are going on Safari to Kruger park in South Africa, and we’re going to see a bit of Swaziland, and we’re going to visit Macaneta beach (where I stayed earlier in the year for a respite) and we’re going to play on Inhaca island for a day (island off mozambique).  I’m excited.  5 nights/6 days off the center.  Woohoo.  Too much fun.  The rest of the time, they’ll just be stuck here with me and 350 kids….what to do, what to do…..


And….drum roll…..I’m working out details to come back to the States for a little visit.  Take out your pencils and calendars now please (note I said PENCILS).  I’m still working out the details and exact dates are tbd, but sometime the last wk of Jan or first wk of Feb….for close to 6 wks….I know.  Extreme excitement.  Tears of Joy.  Me too.  I’m excited to see everyone, pray lots about where God wants me next, be filled and blessed by all my wonderful friends and family, share what God’s doing, and simply catch up on your lives.  Stay tuned for more later.  Yeah. 


Ok, so a lot’s been going on and more business to come as we get through these holiday seasons.  Hopefully I’ll have more time to blog soon!