2 more papers....

I seriosly don't know where the time goes. I can't believe it's already November!

Classwork finished 2 weeks ago for grad school stuff and I've just been working on my 4 final papers to finish it all out. 2 down and 2 more to go and this semester will be OVER. I've written 30 papers for a total of 160 pages so far. All but the last 2 were done in a total of 9 consecutive weeks. Just 2 more super long ones to go. YIKES. I'm so done writing papers.

Since the last time I wrote:
-I had the chance to participate in a good friend from high school's wedding in Charleston, SC. My mom and I made the trip down and it was just so nice to spend a whole weekend together out of our crazy lives and something I haven't really had the chance to do in almost 3 years.

-I also got the opportunity to jet back down to New Orleans for 5 days for a cousin's wedding and some good family time.

-I went to SIFAT for the green leaf concentrate seminar in collaboration with my professor at UAB and the Honor's college there as well. It was such a great opportunity and opened a bit of a door for me to possibly return to SIFAT in May for 10 days between spring and summer semester to recieve intensive training in world hunger and malnutrition as well as how to use appopriate technologies (read: simple and hands-on) to help combat this in developing nations. It's a super cool opportunity and I'm really praying about making this happen as I know I would use it on almost a daily basis!

-I applied to University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill's graduate certificate program in maternal child health (just like UAB's, but in a different concentration area) and am just waiting and praying for the answer back.

-I've been trying to (and still am) working completely full time while school's out and until the beginning of Jan when school starts back up again to pay off all these school loans. Crazy. But, I love the girls I work with, the job, the hospital, and being back on nightshift. It's GREAT!!!! I'm so blessed! God is so GOOD!!!

What's in front of me??

I can't wait for the missions conference I mentioned last time that's in just 2 weeks. I'm really praying that God will make some good connections there and perhaps open some doors or windows into what the next road looks like for me after I finish grad school. I would love for you to pray with me on this.

Then it's up to Ohio to give a talk at 3 services at a church that has been supporting me for the last year and continues to do so while I'm home. I'm pumped. While I'm there I'll also get so visit family and 2 missionaries I worked with while in Mozambique!

My immediate family and dad's side of the family is headed to Nashville to have Thanksgiving at my house which is awesome. It'll be a full November.

Back to New Orleans for a week for another cousin's wedding, an early Christmas (since I'm working all during Christmas) and lots of family time.

Then home to Clemson for a week right after Christmas and to see one of my high school gal's new baby...I'm pumped!!!! These next few weeks are just going to fly right on by as well.....oh and I turn 30 somewhere in there........YEAH!!!!

Prayer Points:
-UNC graduate application
-the missions conference in Louisville, KY
-speaking at Stow Presbyterian Church in Ohio on Nov. 21st
-opportunity to attend World Hunger 10 day intensive training in May


A little update on me

Let's see....wow the weeks are flying by and I've been wanting to get out an official update, but well....did I mention the weeks are flying by? Basically I've been....

sleeping, studying, studying, studying, eating, sleeping, studying, studying, working, studying, sleeping. That probably covers it. If you are a friend living in the Nashville area reading this that thought you would actually get to see me since I lived in the States again....we were BOTH wrong....catch me in 5 more weeks.

Grad school has been amazing and I learn tons every day that is very applicable (I even keep a journal with lots of ideas for when I go back), but it's seriously eating at least 50-60 hours of my week and then I either work 1 or 2 12 hr nightshifts sometime in there amongst the craziness. I'm halfway through week 5 of the 9 weeks for this semester, so I'll get a break soon (till Jan) and start working more with a bit more normal (although still a nightshifter) schedule! You can tell why I rarely leave the house except for groceries, Church and Bible Study, and yoga classes in the evening (practically the only thing that keeps me sane). Don't worry....I do manage to take off 1 period of 24 hrs each week where I do NOTHING school related and just relax, otherwise I would have given this pursuit up by now.

Oh and I've done a "little" travelling on top of all that. Two weekends ago I headed to Clemson for the night, then my mom and I drove to Charleston, SC for the weekend to rest, relax, and celebrate an old highschool girl friend getting married! It was a great weekend and Charleston was gorgeous (as always). Last weekend, I got the chance to go to Auburn, AL (War Eagle!) and see many college friends as well as my sister. Plus, I was blessed with 2 FREE tickets to the Auburn vs Clemson game....so my sister and I wore opposing colors and took turns screaming and cheering for our team....may I say, the better and best team (AUBURN) won!!!! While there I spoke at the Auburn Wesley Foundation (Methodist Campus Ministry) where I spent 4 years of my life during college serving, learning, fellowshipping, and growing up. I did a suppose-to-be 10 min faithshare that was probably a lot longer (thanks David for being patient with me) for the college students on answering God's call on your life and what that looks like in reality and how to missionally live your life from whereever He has placed you. Then on Monday, I hung around AWF for about 4 hrs while students dropped in and asked tons of questions and chatted with me about life on the mission field, developing countries, and serving God. It was amazing and I met some fabulous men and women. On my way back to Nashville, I stopped by two friends house in Bham and had dinner (and sleep).

Plans for soon:
Oct. 10-12 in Birmingham,AL for a 2 day lecture series with UAB and SIFAT (Servants in Faith and Technology) on using green leaf concentrate to treat malnutrition in developing countries

Oct. 14-19 in New Orleans for wedding and family time

Nov. 11-13 in Louisville, KY for a 3 day Christian Global Medical Missions conference which I am pumped about!!!

Nov. 18-22 in Akron, Ohio to speak at Stow Presbyterian Church (my uncle's and amazing supporters) outside of Akron as well as visiting 2 girls that served with me at Zimpeto in Mozambique and family time!

Dec. 17?-20? in New Orleans for wedding and early Christmas with family

Did I mention somehow managing to fit 80 hr workweeks in between all of this! Praise the Lord God gave me a remarkable talent for working well in the midst of chaos otherwise I'd be floundering right now. He has been such the sustainer and encourager over these last few weeks for me. Thanks for all the prayers....continue praying and let me know if you would like me to come speak to your church, Bible study group, or whatever.....I'll make it happen, even if my schedule looks a little rediculous. ;)


All is quiet

I just wanted to update everyone and thank you for prayers! Missionaries at Zimpeto said Monday was quite even though there were lots of rumours of more rioting. The government has decided to add a subsidy to the price of bread so that the price will remain the same as previous....i only wonder where the money is being taken from to fund this subsidy. Anyway, latest article below! Thanks again.



more on rioting

FIRST.....I just got to video skype with 4 of the children and 3 of the missionaries in Zimpeto.....video and voice chat.....they were so close i could almost hug those little necks....believe me. i wanted to!!!! so precious! (thank you meghann for doing this....you've made these last 2 weeks of 50-60 hours of studying each week, well worth it as i remember face to face why i'm here) Praise the Lord for technology!

SECOND....riot updates. Go here to hear the latest from Meghann from Friday (sweet stories of provision). And I have a semi-first hand update since i got to SEE them on their lovely Saturday afternoon.....really quiet in Zimpeto (the area of Maputo the center is in), but still not too many cars on the road. More of the missionaries and workers have gotten out for desperate errnads that need to be run, but nothing more. While it's quiet for the moment, there are calls for more riots on Monday, so continue praying.

As I lay in bed last night, I prayed that the people of Mozambique would turn to the Lord during this time of fear and stress of where their next meal is going to come for or how they will continue providing for their family. God is much bigger than tax increases and money and physical bread. He can and has (on multiple occasions) multiplied food and made mana fall from the heavens. I prayed that instead of rioting and being filled with panic and fear, they would hit their knees and seek God for His provisions and safeguard, gather as communitities and seek His wisdom; that they would submit to the human (but God given)authority over their country and remember God is bigger than all of that and is still in control. I prayed the government officials would turn to Him to seek wisdom on how to deal with the shortages around the world and export tarrifs which is the reason they have to increase prices....that solutions would be revealed. My heart hurts for this country...when you watch sick sick (can't walk 50 meters and have HIV) people tell you they will wait 2 days to go to the doctor because it's cheaper on Monday than the weekend despite your pleading....you understand the decisions and sacrifices they make on a daily basis, making less than $37 per MONTH (which, quite frankily, most of us make in an hour). A 30% increase in your staple food and impending energy and water increases SEEMS impossible.....but my God never sees impossible and NOTHING with Him is impossible....I pray they turn to Him and see the possibilities! Thanks for praying for them and with me....let's continue praying!


more updates

Reports from missionaries have been that things are a lot quieter today and some of the mozambican staff was able to walk (hours) into the center today to help out because not all the buses were up and runnning. Food supplies for the children were able to be restocked today and a few emergency errands were run by some of the missionaries. It was quieter around the center, but there are still reports of a bit of rioting in the city. There is a call for more rioting on the 6th when 50,000 are supposed to take to the streets.....continue praying for the government and the city of maputo as well as provisions and safety for the center!

link to the latest article from today http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900sid/MCOI-88XCDC?OpenDocument&rc=1&cc=moz


Riot updates!

An email from Meghann today stated they were still hearing gunfire outside the center and no cars are on the roadways, due to the rioting and roadblocks set up by rioters. Please continue praying for Maputo and for the safety of the kids at the center!

updated article link re today's rioting: http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/FERB-88WDDL?OpenDocument&rc=1&cc=moz

Update on riots

I got 2 emails from missionaries on the base where I lived for the last 2 years...one from the director and one from a nurse that helped with all the Baby House tots....excerpts below in regards to the effects of the riots, God's protection, and prayer needs!

All of the tots are ok tonight! We did have tear gas in the center earlier today and mainly
the girls were affected. They spent most of the day hidden in one of the tiny rooms in the girls' area with wet t-shirts wrapped over their mouths and noses. Other than them, our guards, and a few missionaries getting affected by tear gas, it actually was a quiet day. I was
blown away by God's peace here in the midst of the craziness outside. There was a bus overturned and set on fire outside the center walls,several people killed in the city, lots of noise and gun shots around,the Total station (gas station) down the road was burned down, NONE of our workers could get here...it is terrible out there but God's grace and peace covered us and the kids today. The kids were acting like it was a snow day...no school, movies, and playing ALL day. The affects of tear gas were quick and with no lasting affects. Seriously it was
miraculous. Keep the prayers coming, especially for workers and the government. Aurora (our Mozambican BH nurse) got stranded on her way here this morning. She called in a panic because she couldn't get home and she couldn't get here...they were burning 2 cars in front of her and she was helpless. She eventually found a tia (one of our female Moz workers that cares for children) and is staying at her house until things settle down. Praise God for her safety and so many others.

Today is September 1 and we are in the midst of riots in Maputo. In July this year the price of passports (for Mozambicans) rose 600%, visitor visas 500% and our annual permanent resident documents (for non-nationals claiming residency in Moz) went from $80 to $700 each. Today September 1 the price of a bus ride doubled, bread rose by 30% and the price of a 50 kg bag of rice is more than half a months salary for an average Mozambican (if he is one of the 18% of people that has a job). So today the people rioted -upturned buses and burned them right
outside our base, looted shops, burnt tires, petrol stations and threw rocks and bricks. The city was closed down as were schools and the airport and the official figure is 6 dead.
The police and army are controlling the rioters and streets with tear gas. It is now 4pm (in Moz) and it is quiet. We will wait and see what happens tonight and again in the morning. We are all safe and sound in our compound here -except for runny eyes from tear gas. No workers here
today but the missionaries, educators and children prayed and played together -no school today.
This is Mozambique -still the 6th poorest country in the world and living in such difficult circumstances. Please pray with us for a miraculous breakthrough.

Praise God for His protection so far, but continue praying for them overnight and into the day tomorrow as they see if this will continue! With over 300 children living in the center, continue praying for a hedge of protection surrounding the center!

click on these 2 links for pics taken right outside of our center and reports from 2 of the missionary girls living there: Meghann http://nurseinmozambique.blogspot.com/2010/09/riots-in-streets.html and Emily http://mozambiquetwentyten.blogspot.com/2010/09/riots.html


Emergency PRAYER request

It's been awhile since I've sent one of these, but I have an emergency request....the city I lived in for the last 2 years, Maputo, Mozambique, is experiencing heavy rioting at the moment.  There are protests about the rising cost of food (especially bread) and rioters early this morning (their morning as they are 6-7 hrs ahead) started throwing stones, setting tires on fire, and ransacking shops.  The rioting has escalated and though the center where I lived is 45 minutes away from downtown, the baby house children I served are being affected by the tear gas the police have used in attempt to break up the rioters.  I know very little as news like this isn't reported very well internationally and I just received a short text msg from a former missionary who had received it from one of our current missionaries there.  Please pray!  I'll keep updates (as I can get them) on my blog at www.emptyhandedbutalive.blogspot.com as I have a message cap of total messages I can send out during the day!  Pray for safety-physical, health, and emotional for the tiny tots that live there, for the Mozambican women that are the primary care givers for these children, but have families/children at home they probably can't get in touch with and don't know if they are ok or not, for the missionaries living there, far from home with worrying family.  Give the nurses there knowledge to take care of any of the medical problems that might arise from the use of tear gas and favor of safe passage to the hospital if an emergency with one of the kids would arise (as protesting often leads to major roadblocks).  Pray for the rioting to cease and for wisdom for government officials over policies and how they affect the millions of people that can't affect a meal a day in their own country.  They have also passed water and electricity price hikes set to increase dramatically this month too! 
links to articles concerning and places to watch for more info:


The last month

Well, it's been almost a month since I last posted....somehow I don't feel like I have much to contribute here, but I owe it to everyone supporting and praying for me to update you on what I've been doing.....besides just adjusting.

I spoke at Pendleton United Methodist Church and shared about what I had been doing in Moz since my last visit, why I'm giving my life away to serve His people, and what I'm up to for this next year.  PUMC is always a joy to go visit and speak at cause it's the church I grew up in since I was 2.  My parents and sister still attend there and in typical small town church fashion, I know the majority of the members.  For such a small church, they support me in a big way and for that I'm blessed and thankful.

A few weeks ago I got to speak at Fellowship Bible Church here in Nashville.  They are my home church and have supported me before I left and continue to support me.  I love the heart of that church!  I was blessed to get to speak in a capacity I rarely get to speak in....they asked me to speak to the 1st grade classes during their 4 services as they had been doing a whole unit on missionaries, other countries, and God's heart for missions.  So I prepared a small slide show to visually show the kids how the life of the kids in Moz greatly differs from their own lives here.  Then I shared the heart of God for their brothers and sisters in Christ and encouraged them to find their own mission field here in Nashville, in their own neighborhoods and schools and to live out this verse (one of my favs):

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of the destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
-Proverbs 31:  8-9

As far as speaking engagements go...I have 2 more pinned down in September in Auburn, AL....one in a cultural class back at my old nursing school at Auburn University and at least once at the Christian fellowship group I was part of while in college, the Auburn Wesley Foundation.  I'm super excited about both of these opportunities and will give you more specific details soon when they are nailed down a bit better!

I started work 4 weeks ago and it's been good....ok not the 3 adult floor shifts I was forced to do (we all know how i feel about big people patients), but it's good and I'm excited about working there.....you wanna know 2 good reasons....a-FREE parking in downtown Nashville less than a block away from work....shut it!  I used to pay a ridiculous amount to go to work everyday.  Stupid big cities.  b-their mission statement is THIS: 
Rooted in the loving ministry of Jesus as healer, we commit ourselves to serving all persons with special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable.
Our Catholic health ministry is dedicated to spiritually centered, holistic care which sustains and improves the health of individuals and communities.
We are advocates for a compassionate and just society through our actions and our words.

And it's not just written down some place, or plastered on their walls, or put in pamphlets, or posted on their webpage (although you can find it in all of those places)....it's what they LIVE OUT and encourage you to LIVE OUT.  And in this day and age as a healthcare worker in a hospital setting, being able to openly ask my patient's families if i can pray with them is incredibly FREEING and exciting!

School started this week and is kicking my BUTT!!!!!  Ok, it's just going to take a bit of getting used to but, it's seriously a full-time job (think over 40 hours a week) and it's stressing me out a bit!  But I know this is God's plan and it's why I'm in the States for this season and I'm excited about the classes I'm taking.  So, I'm attempting to make the most of it.  The classes are going to be a huge blessing and are so applicable.  This semester I'm taking 4:  Environmental health in resource limited environments (all about water and sanitation and stuff like that); Nutrition in resource limited environments (how nutrition affects disease processes and how to be nutritious in places where food is severely lacking); Maternal child health (pregnancy and children in developing nations); and Refugees and internally displaced persons' health (topics especially related to this special population)  Prayers over the next 8 weeks as I finish this round of classes would be much appreciated....especially when I start working night shift and more of my time is eaten up by work and sleeping!

I know I say it often, but it's because it's true.....thank you for all the support and prayers ya'll give me. I am truly blessed and cannot thank you all enough!


The last few weeks

Well, I've been home for 7 weeks now.  Where has the time gone?  Yikes!  So WHAT have I been up to?  Well......

  • I'm mostly moved into Court's house in Nashville.....
  • I'm starting work on August 2nd at Baptist Hospital!  YEAH!
  • 2 weeks later I start (scary) graduate school
  • I (finally) started and completed my video covering my 2 years in Moz.....I'm pumped to share it with you cause it's all about God's love and His heart for missions and why YOU should be fired up too!, but you'll have to wait till most everyone that'll see it in person gets to see it first!  so there.  invite me to come see you and you'll see it a heck of a lot sooner!  (hint hint) ;)
  • I'm speaking at Pendleton United Methodist this Sunday
  • Next Sunday, I'm excited to be sharing with 4 services of first graders on the heart of missions at Fellowship Bible in Nashville 
  • I've been to a wedding shower, bachelorette party, and I'm going to a baby shower tomorrow
  • I've struggled with finding and deciding upon an individual medical plan which has litterally eaten up DAYS of my life that I will NEVER get back....but I think it will be settled by Monday.
  • I'm slowly processing the events over the last 2 days and mourning the loss of the closing of one chapter of my life and what now and the future are going to look like.....it's a process, a very slow process.  Thanks for bearing with me.
Well, it doesn't feel like a lot but it is and it's kept me busy, but I've been able to rest too!  I'm blessed and miss everyone and everything back in Moz, but I'm happy here too!  Thanks for all the prayers.....stay in touch!!!!



Follow You

You live among the least of these
The weary and the weak
And it would be a tragedy
For me to turn away
All my needs You have supplied
When I was dead You gave me life
How could I not give it away so freely?
And I'll...
Follow You into the homes of the broken
Follow You into the world
Meet the needs for the poor and the needy, God
Follow You into the world
Use my hands, use my feet
To make Your kingdom come
To the corners of the earth
Until Your work is done
Faith without works is dead
On the cross your blood was shed.
So how could we not give it away so freely?
And I'll...
Follow You into the homes of the broken
Follow You into the world
Meet the needs for the poor and the needy, God
Follow You into the world
And I give all myself
I give all myself
I give all myself to You
-lyrics by Leeland


Undeniably Blessed

So, ya’ll are probably wondering what other things have worked out since I’ve been home and updates to all my plans.  Since I finally have officialness on my details, I can reveal them.....because God is so good and I am so immensely blessed.  It is truly overwhelming and I am daily amazed by all the details He has so perfectly orchestrated. 

I will be starting orientation for my job August 2nd, a bit later than anticipated, but I know this is His perfect timing.  It is a wonderful job that I am so excited about.  I will be working per diem, picking up shifts as they need extra help in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Baptist Hospital in Nashville.  One of my old assistant managers from when I was working at Vanderbilt is now the manager of the unit and I LOVE her.  They have a brand new, updated, gorgeous, and bigger unit with more beds.  And the best part?  The hospital is built on Christian principles.  Their value and mission statement are focused on serving the poor and needy and spreading God’s love.  You are welcomed and ENCOURAGED to pray with your patients and their families.  When I worked per diem there for 5 months in 2007 I was overwhelmed with the environment.  The nurses and respiratory therapists and secretaries and anyone working that shift would gather together at the beginning of every shift morning and evening and hold hands and pray.  There were prayer cards at each bedside.  The staff shared prayer requests, praises, and answered prayers with each other in the break room!  Such an inviting and encouraging place to work and help heal.  Even better?  God is using this to bless me financially.  The pay is 2x what I used to make as a staff nurse and while I won’t be able to work full-time because of grad school, I will still be able to pay off graduate school (all 26 out of state hours) in full while putting some away for retirement and savings (which I haven’t put one penny into either in the last 2 years).  Ya’ll have blessed me by stepping up and out in faith and obedience of God and continuing to support me while I’m home.  I still have 2/3 of my normal support, which will perfectly (and I do mean perfectly) cover my living expenses while I’m home.

I will start my online graduate certificate program in Global Health through the public health college at University of Alabama mid August.  And it’s looking more and more like I will be home till the end of July 2011.  Why?  Well, truly, God only knows, but also, because the way graduate classes are falling it would be practically impossible to take them while overseas.  After talking with many different programs and many people in online graduate programs along with acknowledging that the internet in Moz is at best, worse than old school dial up, and the fact that I want to finish these programs in my lifetime, coupled with lots of prayer, I’ve seen how God knew what He was doing with letting me think I’d only be home till January.  I might not have ever left Moz.  ;)  So I’ll be able to take 8 hrs this fall, hopefully 7 in the spring (including starting my certificate in Maternal Child Health), and then 6 in the summer.  By the end of July 2011, I will have finished my UAB certificate in Global Health and only have 5 hrs to take the following summer to complete my Maternal Child Health.  So I’ll be ready to go back on the field for 10 months, before coming home for a break and my last summer of classes!  Did I mention that thankfully God didn’t allow my car to sell 2 years ago when I put it on the market?  Well, it didn’t and I still have my car which is making this whole thing even easier.  I don’t know what I would have done for this season without a car!

I miss Mozambique terribly.  Some days it’s unbearable.  But God is carrying me through and I’m excited about this season and all the things He has for me and Mozambique in the future.  I cannot say enough how truly blessed I am.  With June completed, I have started looking at dates to speak with churches and groups so please contact me again if you had said you’d like for me to come so we can lock in dates and details.  I think you’d be blessed to see the faces of the people you have blessed by giving so much of yourselves to me!  I have so many stories to tell of His faithfulness and where I see Him leading me in the future.  Thanks for praying and walking this journey with me. 


Nashville bound

It's been 5 weeks since I've left Mozambique.  Some days its easy to forget that I spent the last 2 years of my life there.  Some days are hard and I miss everything about being there.  Someday are even harder.  But it's been a good transition so far, and I've spent the last month with my immediate family in SC and extended family in LA.  It's been such a blessing.  While I've gotten tons done, I've also rested and attempted to process a bit.  But just a bit (I'm a GREAT avoider/procrastinator).

So now that I've forwarded my mail, changed my address with the banks, renewed and changed my address for my TN driver's license, reactivated my TN nursing license, changed my address with my voter registration people, updated my address for my CA nursing license, applied for a per diem nursing job, updated my resume, created my CV, and applied to graduate school......it's time.......to move back to NASHVILLE.

I'm excited about being back to see everyone.  On Thursday I'll have an interview for the job I applied for....and I should start graduate school (online) in August.  I'm still working out tiny details.  Scratch that.  God's still divulging all the tiny details He's already worked out.  So I'll let everyone know more when I do, but I can't wait to be back at my church and fellowshipping with my friends who I have missed terribly since being gone! 

I'm super pumped, too, about living with Courtney!  She assured me multiple times, that my new room is completely barren and undecorated minus the mattress and box spring.....to which I replied multiple times that all I need is a bed and a room and I'm golden.  After all, I've spent the last 2 years staring at pretty barren cement block walls day in and out.....I think I can get through the next 6 months or so without needing all the extras.  After much thought, a few tough days, and an amazing 50% off sale at an already amazingly cheap store.....I decided to pick up a few frames and print some photos to place around on the walls to remind me of where I've come, why I'm here for the moment, and where I'm going!

Also, I'm starting to look at nailing down dates to visit cities and speak with groups.  If you've already talked with me about making plans when I'm ready.....well, I'm ready.....so email me back and let's find something that works for everyone!  If you haven't already contacted me, think about it, and let me know.  I can't wait to visit with everyone that's been faithfully supporting me over the last 2 years and share what God's been up to and where I'm headed.  Prayers for everything is appreciated!


Did I ever tell you?

That our children are NOT afraid of medical stuff.....
Well as long as it's one of their BH nurses who's attending them.  They aren't too fond of doctors and strangers.  But they LOVE getting meds and medical treatment from us!  It makes being a nurse, a breeze!  ;)

A few days before I left Zimpeto, Meghann I took some of our tots to play in her backyard and these are some of the candid shots (NONE were staged) we caught on camera.  Aparently, everyone was sick and needed some medical attention.  Anyone think they've been hanging out with and watching us too much??
Lorenco listening to Antonio's bariga (tummy) cause aparently it hurt.
Lorenco clipping his twin's (Francisco) fingernails.
Antonio listening to my heart.
Francisco listening to Meghann's lungs.
Admira checking Dionisio out.
Lorenco playing doctor with Admira.
Aparently, Lorenco needed a checkup too.  He put them on my ears and then put the scope on his chest.
They are too cute.
I am missing these tots this week.


Walking life

You know what I absolutely miss the MOST about living in Mozambique and not living in the US?  It's one thing.  just one.......walking life. 

It's the person I am...I just love and thrive on walking life with people.  Now I know, that's what I'm doing in Moz too....it's just with people that I don't share the same language or culture with and relatively any amount of life history with.  And I'm not discounting the missionaries I lived with....but 30 people I've known for just a short time vs tons of friends and family I've shared a lifetime with doesn't really compete.  No, what I miss the most is being physically in the States to walk alongside all my friends/family and just live life together.  You know, hear about, pray through, and hold hands for all the good, bad, and even the ugly.  For new boyfriends and bad breakups.  For the engagements, the stress and joy of wedding planning, the weddings and all the celebrations that go along with that.  For first houses and first pregnancies....for miscarriages and first babies...and even the second and thirds!  For rough spots with their husbands, for divorces.  For lost jobs and the times when they don't know if they can make it financially.  For the death of loved ones.  For big moves-cities, states, jobs.  For highschool and college graduations.  For dirty home repairs and remodels.  For the every day tiny things and for the big earth shaking kinda things.  I miss THAT.....email and skype don't even touch it.  Everyone always asks me what I miss the most.....and that's it......that's what I miss.  Walking life.

And I'm excited and blessed to be back in the States for a bit more of an extended period with lots of weddings and new babies coming up in the next few months.  I'm excited to get the chance to stand alongside all the people I love and walk like again with them!  I'm pumped!

PS...I've already been blessed to attend a memorial service for my great grandfather who died 3 weeks ago, a wedding shower for one of my dear friends and held a 3 day old baby (the third, but first baby boy of my dear cousin) and given lots of baby tips.  Up soon....a highschool graduation party for one of my cousins, wedding dress shopping with my cousin's fiance, a bachelorette party, visiting with a highschool friend and her new baby born last week, a baby shower (well make that about 3), 3 weddings, and the birth of several of my friend's first babies.  I love walking life with friends.  I am truly overwhelmed and blessed by this opportunity over the next months!


Travelling the World

Well, I'm on my way back around the world via many airports and a week long refueling stop in Portugal.  I'm excited to be home but of course there's a million mixed emotions cause leaving and closing a chapter of your life is always hard.  I know I'll be back here on this continent of Africa and back in Mozambique...it's where my heart is.....I just need this time at home too.
All this week I've been deferring the goodbyes and talking about it.  It's my personality.  I'm not good with it.  And actually, I think it's because I've had so much going on for so long these last few months leading up to it that I hadn't had time to even begin processing it.  When I did.....I was in the last 5 days of being here and then I couldn't handle all the emotion.  So, I put on my invisible armor shieldy protective suity thing that let everything just roll or bounce off me.  And you weren't allowed to talk about leaving or goodbyes.  I kept telling everyone they could cry after I left.  Even this morning, I had people talk to me in code.....like they'd give me a hug and try to say goodbye and I'd say...."so you're hugging me to celebrate how good the eggs were this morning huh?  I hear the yogurt's good too.  You should try it."  A few weren't happy with me, but I can't process it and spend the next 3 flights crying after all the emotions overwhelm me.  The person next to me would NOT be happy.  I'm currently sitting in the Johannesburg airport.  I've got 2 more flights till I arrive in Lisbon and then a short bus ride to the first town we're staying in.  This coming refueling stop is meant to be a week long distraction for me.  It'll be a good time to adjust to 3rd world versus 1st world culture shock without having to face five million people asking the same questions over and over again as well.  I'm excited and blessed for this week. 
Pray with me for all smooth travelling.  I hate airplanes and I'm going to be in a lot of them.  Also re the ash cloud and the British Airways strike that are still looming to cancel or change my flights from Lisbon to London to Boston to Charlotte.  Pray for smooth adjustment back to life in America.  For good support and friends/community to surround me.  For God to work out all the details of my future plans. Well, for now, I'm signing off (probably for the next week) and recharging......and I'm going to go find a airport cafĂ© with some good coffee!
Thanks again for participating in this journey with me!  Ya'll have been, are, and will continue being a blessing to me.  Let me know if you'd like me to speak to any of your groups.....starting in July and after!
oh and side story so you can laugh at me.  Last night, in a very tiny elevator that are typical of all countries outside of the United States, 8 of us that were crammed (literally) in there got stuck for SEVEN minutes between floors.  Now, if you know me well, I do NOT do well in tiny places....especially when that tiny space is packed with people that are touching me and breathing my air and the container I'm in is NOT moving.  I'm mostly ok if it's moving.  I start panicking and hyperventilating and well....it's NOT good.  I wasn't even fearful that the elevator would drop me to my death or anything.....no I was afraid the tiny space was going to get even tinier and I'd literally suffocate to death as the space closed in on me.......so while everyone else was freaking out and screaming about the obvious danger of a failing elevator in a third world country and praying out loud.  I turned into the corner, put my head down, closed my eyes and kept repeating.  "This elevator is huge, there's lots of space, I'm in a big field.  No one is touching me.  I'm ok.  This elevator is huge."  It only partially worked.  7 minutes later I was shoving people out of the door after maintenance pried it open.  Thankfully they weren't on a 2 hour tea break cause I'd have been passed out on the floor by that time.  After that I either took the stairs or wouldn't take the elevator with more than 4 people in it....and even THAT was pushing it a bit.  So prayers for no more tiny elevators (lifts) that get stuck with me in them or other weird travel blunders. 


The last days

Hundreds of laughs, kisses, and hugs.  A bazillion emotions.  How do you say goodbye to family?  How do you say goodbye to all the tots that have loved me so well, so unconditionally over these last 2 years?  I will miss them all.  But I know I will be back; on the continent of Africa; in Mozambique.  And I will visit them and delight in how much they have grown and changed; in what the Lord has done in their lives.  For now, it is time for rest and Sabbath and lots of learning for me.  I'm excited and scared and sad and expectant and 29 bazillion other things for the closing of this season and the coming of the next.  3.5 days left.  My room is packed away, lots has been donated and given away, and my bags are ready to go.  Now, all that is left is to play!!!!

In case you are wondering....that picture I'm holding up is SO precious.  They got all the Baby House tots (and half the tias) to ink each and every precious tiny finger and press it to the page to form a rainbow (the symbol for Arco Iris which is what the Mozambicans call Iris Ministries in Portuguese and it means rainbow). Their names are all written below their fingerprint contribution to the rainbow.  Isn't that so cool?  I'm amazed. What a wonderful way to remember them all!  Man it's going to be hard saying goodbye to all those adorable little fingers that reach out for me constantly, hug me, tickle me, give me high 5's, pinch my nose, pull my hair, grab my leg, don't wanna let go.  So sweet.  Just gotta remember that they too are in His hands, and I am blessed for the time I got to share with them and love them.  Now it's up to Him to make this leaving thing ok for them and for me.  I know He will carry me!

**A special thanks especially to Nancy, Chris, and others who have been amazing in helping me photo document these last few weeks.  I am forever grateful.**


9 days left

That's right.  Nine.  Till I'm leaving on a jet plane and headed across the big Atlantic ocean towards the States.  I haven't started packing.  There's 9 billion emotions floating around my head and my heart.  I'm putting off processing it all.  Seems easier.

About a month ago, I told the Mozambican nurses and tias I work with that I was leaving.  It was really hard for me, because it made leaving so final.  My Mozambican nurse, that I trained and have been working with for the last 20 months now, responded something like this....."but Mana Erin....what am I supposed to do without my spiritual mother?" and...."I'm going to be sad and sick and alone like baby Dionisio when  he was left here in the beginning days when you leave.  What am I going to do without you?"  I have seen such a growth in this wonderful woman...spiritually, intellectually, as a nurse, as a woman, and as a  nurse working with pediatric patients.  It makes me proud and excited.  It also makes me very sad to leave a lot of relationships with tias and babies that I have.  Dionisio always senses something's up before I  leave and has been a bit more clingy lately....then one of the tias said to him one day (not meaning it to be mean)...."What are you going to do when Erin leaves for forever....you are going to be so sad and  miss her every day."  He didn't take well to this and now has started screaming when I can't pick him up or play, throwing tantrums frequently, and just demanding to stay by my side.  He had been doing  so well, so sure of himself, so bonded to the tias, and confident in the last 6 weeks, that I was excited to think he'd be better than ok after I left.  So these last few weeks have been hard and heart  breaking to deal with.  I know I will miss this place-missionaries, tots, tias....friends.  but it IS time and I am ready.  And God has ordered my next steps and He will take care of all of these things.   

After a lot of prayer, I've officially decided (aka God told me) to spend a little "me time" over the next 7 months back in the States.  While I'm calling it "me time," it's really going to be me taking  graduate school classes full time for one semester, while trying to work a bit on the side, travelling around to visit supporters and friends/family, as well as finding some time to rest, reflect, process,  refresh, switch gears, grow, and allow myself to be ministered to.  These last 2 years have been absolutely amazing, but draining and emotional all at the same time.  I've loved and cared for many children  (around 75) as if they were my own-diapered, fed, prayed over and for, read stories, gave baths, tickled, laughed with, cried with, said bedtime prayers and given goodnight kisses, disciplined, and hugged.   That's just the mommy, nonmedical, side of my job here.  I've watched as some of them have been reintegrated to family which is exciting, but some have suffered immensely and either been healed or taken home to be with our Heavenly Father.  The losses of these children have affected me greatly and on the field there is little time to deal with the grief, much less heal from it.  Just yesterday as I sent another  child to the hospital (whom I had known for all of 1 hr as the child had just arrived in the center), I broke down in complete uncontrollable tears and couldn't shake the fear.  I know God is going to use this time for big things.  It's going to be a time of preparation.  I have decided to pursue 2 different graduate  certificates through colleges of public health in the focus areas of Global Health (cross-culturally working in resource limited environments, with the diseases that tend to affect and kill most often in 3rd world countries, as well as how to develop programs to help the people help themselves) and Maternal-Child health (focusing on pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, and the post-partum period for the woman of child bearing age as well as children from birth to 5 years and the diseases that affect this vulnerable population and often kill in 3rd  world countries, along with programming that will benefit these population groups).  Both of these will require 4-5 3 hr graduate level classes.  All will be online.  I'm hoping to get half of this out of the way, so when I return to Mozambique in January 2011, I can continue 1 class a semester.  I'm excited to study again because these classes are completely perfect for what I'm doing here in Africa, and will continue preparing me for what the Lord has for me in my future, serving His children.

I don't know all the details at the present, as the Lord is still working them out.  I will spend the first month in SC with my family, resting, and then I will be living with a close friend (Courtney) in Nashville, TN and working as a nurse in a local hospital (tbd) whenever I can pick up shifts as my class and travel schedule allows.  It's funny to be leaving here in 10 days and STILL not have a super clear idea of what my life is about to look like....but the thing the Lord has taught me well while I've been here in Mozambique is: He is good; He is in control; His ways are best and good; His timing is ALWAYS perfect; He will provide my every need; and resting in THAT assurance of good things to come is even better!  So that's what I'm doing....I'm not even the least bit nervous that it won't all work out.  I'll keep giving you all information as I get it.  
Prayers are appreciated.  I believe strongly in the power of prayer and even more so since being here, when quite frequently, it's ALL myself or the people I have been serving have had.  And I have seen 
God show up in big and unexpected ways that have stretched my faith and taught me to be in more consistently constant prayer over every thing no matter how tiny, trivial, or life changing it may be.  It is now one of the FIRST things I do in EVERY situation instead of running to Him only when I need bailed out or need something(as I feel we often do in the West).  I choose prayer over medicine any day....especially when we have a lack of it.  I've seen miracles happen before my eyes.  It tends to change your world view a bit.

Please continuing praying with me over each leg of my travels and my next steps as they are unfolding.  I leave Maputo May 29th and will meet a friend in Lisbon, Portugal (via Johannesburg, South Africa 
and Frankfurt, Germany) for 6 days of rest and refueling (for me).  Then I'll be on my way back to the States (via London, England) and will land in Boston June 5th, overnight, then fly to Charlotte, NC on the 6th where a close friend has kindly offered to pick me up from the airport, let me stay at her house the night, and bring me to my parent's home in Clemson, SC the next day!  Two of my flights home are on British Airways which has scheduled on again/off again to be on strike during those times.  At the moment it looks as if my flights will still operate, but I won't know for sure till I take off or they call it off.  Because I've 
already travelled the first leg of my ticket (back in October) I can't get a refund or rebook unless the flights are actually cancelled....so I'm playing the waiting game and hoping to not be literally STUCK in 
Lisbon, Portugal (although truthfully, I might not complain).  Also, please keep the ash cloud over Europe (from the Icelandic volcano) that is still delaying and closing some airports which changes daily, in 
your prayers.  I'll be flying into Lisbon, Portugal; Frankfurt, Germany; and London, England on my flights home.

I would love to share about my last 2 years here in Mozambique; the joys, adventures, deep sadness, and amazing transformations through the Spirit as well as the physical; the things God has taught me; where 
He's leading me and what my life is about to look like.  I love this culture, country, and their amazing spirit and faith.  Please contact me if you would like me to speak/share with your Bible Study, 
discipleship group, Sunday School class, Youth Group, or Church.  Since it looks like I'll be in the States for almost 7 months, I'll be making my usual rounds to the New Orleans, Birmingham, Atlanta, Charlotte, 
Nashville, and Clemson areas, with some new places added in (Ohio).  I also really want to visit all those supporters that I usually can't get around to because of limited time and long distances!  So contact me 
and we'll start getting something set up.


Exciting opportunity to join me

I'm excited to announce a cool opportunity for you to support me in fundraising, my ministry in Mozambique, as well as spread God's love to friends and family.  I have a friend, Jaclyn, that I have met only in our many email conversations, blog comments, facebook/skype chats, and in our prayers for each other.  She is a wonderful Christian woman living in Malaysia.  She stumbled upon my blog many many months ago, began praying for me, encouraging me, and really pouring into my life.  Through the amazing technology we have today, we have become friends.  By training she is a graphic designer and has a wonderful servant heart.  One day a few months ago, she emailed me and said that the Lord had laid it upon her heart to use her giftings to partner with me and my ministry and help serve God's people.  She wanted to create Christian focused greeting cards that you could order online, download the pdf, and print from the comfort of your own home as many times as you wanted on any kind of material.  Some of them can even be personalized.  And she wanted to do this in order to DONATE 60% OF EACH AND EVERY SALE to my ministry!  She wanted to know if this would be ok!  What do you think I said???  Of course.  God and His provisions for our lives are amazing.  He is always faithful and good. 
So today, I have the privilege of announcing her website where you can do just that:  pick a design, personalize it if you wish, download the design, and print it on whatever type of card you choose as many times as you'd like all from the comfort of your own home while simultaneously SUPPORTING my ministry, serving God's precious children, and spreading the good news of God's love to those you love!  Please pass this link on to anyone and everyone you know who might use it.  The more the word gets out, the more money we can raise!  I will create a link to the website and put it in my sidebar to right so you will always have easy access.
**NOTE:  All of the proceeds I receive will go directly back into caring for the children I am serving in very tangible ways including buying food, clothes, life saving medicines, extra nutrition for our malnourished kids, medical supplies, cleaning supplies for our baby house medical clinic, and special cereals to thicken the feeds of 2 of our children that have difficulties with aspiration/reflux creating horrible chest infections.  When I begin home assignment back in the States June 2010 I will start saving the proceeds until I begin my next project in Mozambique Jan 2011....details are currently being worked out.  Thanks for all of your support!


Happy Mother's Day

So much love.  I am so blessed.
They have
meu coracao.


Working through the grief

Somedays are hard.  Others are harder.  There are moments that are good.  Filled with laughter and smiles.  These are the moments that make it easier.  That make what I am doing here worthwhile and meaningful....not that the deaths aren't full of that as well.  Each and everyone one of them.  I've been closed to only 6 people in my life (all 28b years of it) that have died.  4 have been in the last 2 years while in Africa.  One was 3.5 years old.  The other 3 hadn't even completed a full year of life.  2 were younger than 4 months.  The sadness and devestating effects of HIV, Tuberculosis, malnutrition, and even simple diseases that we erradicated YEARS ago in the States is overwhelming at times.  The nonexistent medical system that is at best 50 years behind us in knowledge and equipment (maybe more) and the lack of supplies and medicine is outraging.  The poverty is heartbreaking.  The apathy over life and how precious it is is apalling and absolutely nauseating.  

I am NOT ok.  It is NOT right.  Not even a tiny itsty bit.  And all I know, is that my God's heart is breaking EVEN MORE.  His outrage and frustration and pain is even greater.  What I'm experiencing over His fallen world is only a fraction of what He's experiencing.  I can not even imagine.  And He created me to love them and serve them.  To somehow make it a bit better.  To somehow make it a bit more right.  To pour out the blessings He has poured into my life.  But it is ten times more the blessing for me.  

The moments below are all within the last month, most in the last 2 weeks.  Good God given moments.
new admit Manuel
milk program momma with her twins
Dionisio and Lucia-both Bercario graduates who struggled and fought for life-kissing and hugging today-celebrating the life they've been given.
Bercario tias and tots the day after Graca died
Nanda-a crawling miracle-all smiles and giggles and FAT!
some of my favorite tots
admitting a new momma and baby onto the milk program
missionary girls for a saturday outting
beautiful miracle-so far in such a short time-blowing kisses
new admits (twins):  Eugenio and Marta
Pray for them as they grow, catchup, and get nourished.  They are a bit underweight and short for their age at 2.5 years old and 23 lbs.  Marta's just learning to walk.
Pray for new admit Manuel who has quickly settled in since arrival yesterday, but has a LONG way to go in the malnourishment department.  He's 7.1 kg (15.5 lbs) and almost 2.5 years old.  He's wearing 6-9 month old clothing.
Dionisio is 3 weeks younger than Manuel
The height difference is staggering and due to long-term malnutrition.  Manuel can't stand on his own, but crawls and talks.  Pray as we do testing and start giving him lots and lots of healthy food!

I pray for broken hearts....for eyes to see the needs of those around us....to hear the prompting of the Lord for when and how we should meet those needs.....for a soft heart that is obedient to His prompting and a soul that is STIRRED into ACTION.  As my college minister used to continuously say (and for a very good reason).....We are blessed to be a blessing.  Be a blessing.

"Your grace has found me just as I am; 
Forever I am CHANGED by your love, 
In the presence of your majesty."
-lyrics by Delirious