I have safely returned (news and updates)

Well, I'm sure everyone is wondering....is she back? Oh I'm back alright and have jumped in feet first! I've been busy and still not completely unpacked, my room is a mess, and i've been having internet, then computer problems. But they are both fixed for the moment, so I'm hoping to get a little, but long and full of pics, update in here and then work on a much deserved and over due newsletter. So here's a long summary of what's been going on:

I was fortunate to have a very blessed time at home, spending time with my immediate family in SC and extended family in LA as well as friends in Nashville, Charolotte, and Atlanta. I was able to rest ALOT and am very thankful. I showed my video quite a bit and had the opportunity to share the things God is doing here in Moz and what the culture's like to over 200 people. I even visited my sister's 1st grade class and showed them how to carry a baby on your back, amongst other things. and....I saw snow!

my sister and brother

  • I had some generous donations and was able to purchase quite a few needed things. The Lord protected my baggage and I managed to bring about 50 lbs worth of donations all for the very small price of $50....especially since 3/4 of that was over the wt limit once I got to London. I brought back: 5 medical books to help me out a little (1 on peds in 3rd world countries, 1 on tropical medicine, 1 on HIV care, 2 on community medicine in developing countries); an otoscope for looking in dirty & infected ears; a pulse oximeter, to better monitor my kids in respiratory distress; a child and infant BP cuff; a throat scope kit for better looking in tiny mouths; 2 bottle of liquid bandages; 1 of infant tylenol and peidalax; 6 bottles of glucose gel for diabetic emergencies; a baby care kit; 13 tubes of desitin; 7 tubes of teething gel; 2 infant toothbrushes and toothpastes; 5 giant bottles of children's muli-vitamins; 4 baby washclothes; 10 infant socks; 14 onesizes; 4 baby blankets; 4 bottles of baby bodywash; 12 pairs of toddler underroos; 8 toothbrushes; 12 baby spoons; 10 empty pill boxes (for keeping straight HIV meds); 4 tubes of neosporin; 2 child friendly reusable cold packs for bumps and bruises; 2 boxes of cartoon bandaids; 1 acewrap; 1 box of butterfly bandaids; and 2 boxes of sterile gauze. It sounds like a lot....cause it WAS! I praise the Lord it all made it safely. Every single thing! Oh and me too!

  • I stopped in London with a close friend and we had a blast....and I got an extended visa....1 yr with a 90 day exit (i only have to vacate the country every 90 days) whoohoo!

  • Tower Bridge in London

    In London at dusk with the Eye behind me

    Windsor, England

    at Stonehenge with Jackie

    Jackie and I at the Eiffel tower

    admiring a view in Paris

    Oh the baths...the roman baths in....ummm....Bath, England

  • I came back and found out the my perfect angels remained just that way while i was gone. They would NEVER greet me this way......ok so they didn't (exactly) but i saw a lot of this last wk and just thought it was hysterical. yes, i laugh at temper tantrums. some of them are very good at them. needless to say. they don't work on me and they stop pretty quickly, but they have to try every now and then. here's just a few i caught on camera and my interpretation of each:

  • Dionisio: Why did you leave me for so long?....and why aren't you picking me up? I mean, I'm CRYING here.....what is up with her? She's been in here for 1 minute already, and yet.....nothing. PICK ME UP!

    Antonio: I am so over cake. It is NOT worth it. Why is NOONE paying attention to me? As if the cake is cooler than me?? I mean, sure they wanna take pictures, but it should just be of ME! Maybe if i lay here and refuse the really yummy cake, with a pouty face, they will HAVE to pick me up off the floor. I mean. I'm CUTE. Why is it taking them so long to notice? I'm getting hungry.....

    Alirio: NEED MORE CAKE!!! I'm a growing boy. Would you look at me! I need more food. I cannot believe they just took the empty bowl away. I SEE more cake over there on the table. Bring me cake!

  • Dionisio is CRAWLING everywhere and sitting up on his own from a laying position. It's great to see him interacting so much.

  • Latifo (who was admitted just before I returned to Moz) came home from the hospital and he is blossoming! He is hiv + and severely malnourished. We have been told he is in full blown ends stage AIDS. I'm choosing to trust the Lord to heal this little one and not to believe this death sentence. He has gained 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs) in the last 8 days. We are doing more tests. He is quite the ham too.

    This first picture is his last day in the hospital (march 19th) and the 2nd (below), was taken 2 days ago. Look at the improvement already.

    me and Latifo. He only speaks shygunna (tribal language) and by speak, i mean he understands. He doesn't speak it yet....but he's learning portuguese and he signs for pick me up. too cute. also, he learned how to da cinco (give me five!).

  • The next one is a fun bercario picture....now here's a game: Guess the ages of these kids? No cheating! L to R: Lucilia is 6 months and almost 20 lbs. She's going on a diet as we speak. Dionisio is 14 months and also 20 lbs. Latifo is 2.5 yrs old and is 13 lbs in this picture (10.5 lbs in the hospital pic). And last but not least, Lucia is 12 months and weighs in at about 17 lbs. Moral of the story: appearances are decieving!

  • the other Erin nurse left for the States permanently. Anna, a nurse from Holland (I hope I have that right) and a student finishing her Bachelor's degree in nursing while interning here, is helping for 6 months, in her place. Please pray for a permanent missionary to fill this spot! It is a big need!

  • We got a new little girl Rosa (well she actually arrived right before I left, but there wasn't space at the moment and we had tons of admits in a row, so she went to the girls dorm for a bit...but now she's living with us). She's 3 and sweet! don't have her back ground yet, but I know she has other siblings living with us in the center.

  • I came up with and implemented a grow Latifo plan. It's working beautifully. I started a mandatory vitamin A administration program for my tots that are malnourished and/or are HIV + and under 5. They are now getting it every 6 months to ward off things like blindness. I gave 30 doses of albendazole in 1 day to rid my tots of neurotoxic worms. fun stuff.
  • I've attended 3 consults (below is me with Lucia at her dermatology consult)....and 1 of them means that Antonino gets to have a surgery to fix the hole in his heart in a few months. We went 2x this wk to the private heart institute and saw a visiting team from France. He will go back the 1st of May for preop labs and tests and a surgery date! Good times.
And now for the big news........drum roll please.......I have decided, finally, after time away and much prayer......it's official......I will be back in the States at the end of August for a wedding, a little rest, and a 2 wk medical missionary intensive class, then back to Mozambique after the 6 wks to stay at Zimpeto till at least the beginning of June 2010. A big thanks for everyone that has been praying with and for me on this decision. Also, in advance, for those that will continue to walk this journey with me in some form. You are amazing and I am thankful for such a team.


Last stop: Maputo

Well, in just a few hours I'll be getting on a plane from London headed back to Maputo, Mozambique with a short stop in Johannesburg, SA.  I'm ready to be back and see all my darling little tots as well as get back on some sort of schedule (ha, as if I really keep a schedule there).  I have to admit though, Jackie and I had a blast in London, around England, and our day trip to Paris.....I'm exhausted and think jet lag's going to hit me pretty well tomorrow when I finally touch down.  I know I'll have a lot to adjust to pretty quickly, as the other nurse that's been helping me in the baby house and running the HIV program is leaving for America permanently this Friday.  I'll be sad to see her go.  We do have a nursing student here for about 5 more months to help me out, so I'm excited to meet her and see where she's fitting in.  I foresee me needing LOTS of help in the near future.....things that have changed with the kids medically while I'm gone:
-Lucia who has HIV and is seriously malnourished has been formally diagnosed with Tuberculosis.  We expected this since the beginning, but we could never get them to treat her as she kept testing negative (it's hard with the immunocompromised).  So she's started on medications for TB.
-Lorenco (twins with Francisco) has been sick on and off for the few months before I left and kept coming up with about 5-10 huge nodules on his neck and shoulders every few weeks.  He has tested positive for HIV (after 2 other negative tests).  We suspect he also has Tuberculosis and previously tested negative due to his status and the type he has.  He'll probably be starting on medications for both very soon.  We're getting Francisco tested as well (for the 3rd time as well) just in case.
-We received a new kid (whom I'll update more on when I get back and get the full story)....he's 2.5 years old and little over 11.5 lbs.  He can just barely sit up on his own.  I don't know much more.
So this brings my HIV kids total up to 7 (including the BH, nursery, and toddler house) out of the just under 50 kids I'm serving.  2 are still being treated for Tuberculosis as well and 3 are still battling the malnutrition battle.  Please pray for myself and the other staff in all of these areas caring for these children.  Also pray for my quick adjustment to being back in Mozambique, in a HOT climate, and speaking Portuguese.  Pray for safe travels on this last leg of my journey with little to no jet lag.  Pray I settle back in quickly and find a good healthy pace back on base.  Bare with me as I finally get out a new newsletter to update you on the last few months and time at home.  The past few have been crazy, but I have lots to share, so I promise to have it out super soon!  Thanks in advance for all the prayers offered up.  I am truly blessed to have such an amazing, faithful team partnering with me to serve.  If it wasn't for all of you supporters, I know I wouldn't be able to do it.  I am so grateful!


Live from London (well sorta)

We'll today has been VERY productive.  I left Atlanta yesterday a few minutes before midnight, slept about 3 hours on the plane and arrived in London shortly before noon (their time) after 8 hours on the plane.  We made it safely to our hotel....and a good random pick i dare say.  We have also mastered the subway system like champs and have made beautiful use of our 3 day unlimited pass already.  We have eaten our first meal here, seen the National Gallery with paintings and the such.....and........I am now the proud owner of a 12.5 month Mozambican visa with a 90 day exit courtesy of my lovely friends in London, who, bent the rules and let me turn in my papers today 10 min after the cutoff....and i still had it back in my hands within an hour.  They might be my new best friends.  We have also befriended the guides at the tourist info place and charmed them with our Southern accents.....we plan on using this to get all the insiders tips.  :) 
So thank you to each of you that have been praying for me these last few wks.  I had a very blessed time at home...more on that in a later post, a safe journey here, and success in obtaining a new visa.  Please continue praying for a sweet time here in London with my good friend Jackie before leaving to return to Mozambique on Sunday for the next 6 months.  I'm still praying about longer and more on that to come too.....for now it's shower, dinner, and sweet dreams! 

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Video update

Blogging's been a little slow. Not much happening here but lots of rest, relaxation, and good fellowship. I have less than 2 weeks left before I'm back in Mozambique. I'm ready to be back as I miss my munchkins bunches, but I'm enjoying the family and friends time along with simply resting and breathing. I'll be leaving the US on the 10th to head to London with one of my closest friends Jackie. Mission: to secure a 13 month visa from the Mozambican embassy there. oh and to catch up with Jackie and enjoy the sights a little as my last hoorah before heading back for another 6 months. I am really excited and very thankful for this opportunity.

I have to say that I have been very blessed by being home. It's been really good and I've so enjoyed catching up with everyone. I'm thankful for each of you that have really been interested in my story and all that God's doing. I've loved sharing it with you. Thanks to each of you that have spared a bed or room for me, provided meals, fellowship, and laughs and hugs. It's been good. really good. I wish I could give ya'll something back for everything you've done for me and all the support that ya'll have showered me with. I can't....well not exactly in a physical way. But, I do have something for you.

It's my video I've been travelling around sharing with everyone. It's 14 minutes of sheer enjoyment documenting my last 8 months in Mozambique. So sit back, pop some popcorn, and start watching. You'll learn something too...the first few minutes are pictures I've taken from the community in and around Maputo where I'm living with facts about Mozambique. The rest is featuring me and all the kids you are helping me serve along with a few short stories of God's goodness and mercy. I hope this gives you some insight into the lives of these little ones, Mozambique, and the mission i'm serving! Thanks again. I love each of you. I couldn't do it without ya'll.

Mozambique June '08-Feb. '09 from Erin Welton on Vimeo.

Thank you, thank you , thank you. I'll say it again. Thank you.