Friday, August 27, 2010

School has started!

Homeschool is in session at our house!  Little "Tabby Cat" is starting Kindergarten and "Baby Oliver" will be joining in with what he wants to do and doing some preschool work.  So far both kids are very excited about school each day.  They have been waking up at 6:30 and trying to talk me into starting the school day by 7:00 am!  Perhaps I should just dive in then, but I am not a morning person.  Our school day starts at 8:30; Tabby watches the clock and I can't be a minute late.  Pretty cute.  Hoping and praying for a wonderful school year with lots of fun and learning.

This is a picture of the kids dressed and ready for the first day of school.  I wish the picture captured their bare feet!  One time when I was about six, I forgot to put shoes on before getting in the car to go to school.  We were half way to school before I realized my error and asked my mom to turn around.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Imaginary Friends

My wonderfully creative children have developed some very detailed stories of their imaginary friends.  Their imaginary friends join them on the occasions when Tabby Cat and Baby Oliver stop being cats and turn into people.  My daughter becomes "mom" to my son (which in turn leaves me to be "grandma").  Yes, my son very frequently refers to me as Grandma.  They have blue friend dog, pink friend dog, yellow friend dog... a new color of dog for each new story they tell.

A few months ago my daughter added her friend "Baby" to her imaginary repertoire.  Baby is a 44 year old mother.  Baby has lots of kids, but the one we hear about most often is named Angel.  Angel has somehow become my daughter's alter-ego.  Today I heard a scream in the house.  We don't allow screaming in the house so I went to talk to my imaginative darling about it.  "Oh that," she quickly responded, "That was Angel screaming.  I can't do it in the house, but next time we are at the beach I'll show you how loud Angel can scream."  Wow.  She is quick.  And this is certainly not the first time that little "Angel" has been the culprit behind mischievous behavior.  Oh the irony.  How did my precious little Tabby Cat choose names like "Baby" for the 44 year old mom and "Angel" for the little girl who gets blamed for every misbehavior.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A world away

Traveling to the Democratic Republic of Congo presented me with some challenges.  I knew God wanted me to go and I was very excited by the opportunity to go.  I didn't know how I was going to afford the trip, or have funds to help out Kaziba Orphanage... But God took care of that.  I got sick from both rounds of immunizations and was really sick on the way home and for a few days after...  But God took care of that.  Thinking about the horrible things the people of Congo face on a daily basis kept making me cry and I was worried that I would cry during my whole time with the kids at the orphanage... But God took care of that.  Congo continues to be a very dangerous place to go and I was kind of scared about my physical safety and health... But God took care of that.  I could go on, but I'm guessing you get the idea.

Being so far away from my kids was the hardest thing I had to face.  Would they be okay without me for two whole weeks?  Would I be okay without them?  Would they think they were somehow less important to me because I was leaving them in order to go and show love to other kids?  What would their lives be like if something happened to me while I was in Congo?  Like I said, Congo isn't exactly the safest travel destination in the world.  Let's just say I had a lot of fears about traveling so far from my precious and beloved babies...

But God took care of that!  My kids did great without me.  Yes, they missed me, but they had lots of fun with Joel (dad) and with Grandma, Grammie, and cousin Haleigh.  I didn't die after all, so I got to come back to them!  There were a few nights when I cried myself to sleep because I missed Joel and my kids so much, but all in all I was okay too.  And they didn't think they were less important to me.  Instead they learned a little bit about what it means to care for others in the world, what it means to share and do without some things (mom, in this case), and a tiny glimpse of the blessings we enjoy here in the United States compared to other places in the world.  They are even making plans for their futures that include mission trips and adoption!

My sweet kids,  "Baby Oliver" and "Tabby Cat" (ages 3 and 5)

Family in Congo

This is me at the airport in Ethiopia, after a day and a half of travel with only 3 hours of sleep.  My little blue buddy there is Henry the Hippo, who came from Japan to join us in Congo.
My human travel companion, the lovely Cammie:  she is my husband Joel's cousin (and my dear friend).  Thanks for jumping in and joining me on this adventure Cammie!

My beautiful sister-in-law Holly and her daughters, Mia and Ellie, our newest nieces!
Me, Holly, Isla and Natalie (my other 2 sweet and adorable "Congolese" nieces).
Somehow I did not take any pictures of my brother-in-law, Mike.  (Sorry Mike, nothing personal I promise!)  He was there too!  Mike is Holly's husband, the father of these 4 sweet girls, and the director of Food for the Hungry in DR Congo.  It was wonderful to have the added benefit of spending quality time with my amazing family members who have been living and working in Congo for the past 3 1/2 years.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Kaziba Orphanage in Pictures

Kaziba Orphanage in the Democratic Republic of Congo
July 2010


Lots of laundry, all washed by hand.

Trying to figure out just how many kids I can fit on my lap at once.  The time felt so limited and each child needed to soak up so much love and attention.

We did some basic trainings on oral hygiene, medical and health, and ways to interact and play with the infants and toddlers and with the preschool age children.

Sweet faces: Some of the babies and children at the orphanage.

Dinner time for the "big" kids.
Dinner time for the smaller kids.
Bottles for a few of the babies.
Views on the drive back toward Bukavu.

Looking out the back window.  It is dry season in Congo right now and everything is very dusty.

I keep thinking I will develop a better ability to put into words my experience and thoughts from my time spent in Congo.  So far that really hasn't happened.  I still don't have the words to describe the needs, the reality, any of it really.  Kaziba Orphanage is "home" to about 30 small children.  Many, many more have spent years there since it opened in the 1950's.  Much has improved at the orphanage since my sister-in-law Holly first "discovered" the orphanage and started helping them out earlier this year.  They have more workers, better nutrition, formula for the babies, some training for the workers, etc.  Much more is still needed.  And this is just one orphanage of thousands around the world.  Most of all, these children are in need of love and family.