Saturday, June 14, 2014

Another Perspective

Back in December we hosted a team of short termers for a month. It was a great experience and we really enjoyed getting to know and work alongside a new group of people. We had the privilage of hosting a wonderful midwife from Florida, Everly. (Yes, we did get our daughter's name from her!) I really enjoyed getting to know Everly and having another female to talk to, especially one who loves pregnancy and birth like I do! As I got to know Everly I really appreciated her raw desire to seek God and wrestle through the realities you may face on the mission field.

She wrote about some of these realities on this post I think she did a great job and I recommend reading it. Yes, it is kind of a weird recommendation because some of it is about us, but it is true of many people we've met and situations we have witnessed. Check it out.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Photo Pros — Just let them do their job!

You know, having a photographer in the family makes you a lot more aware of how much it takes to get a good shot. They hate it when people say, "Wow, your camera takes good pictures!" Or "We could have taken that at home!"

Well, let me just suggest something here:

Leave the photographing to the pros — It is their job after all! (I only attempted this on my own because, well, I live in Africa and she can't be here to make the magic happen!)

And you can check out my Sis' work here: (You just may see someone you know!)


Let's Catch Up!

So it's only been like what? A Year? Yep, almost! Sorry about that. (Not that I have a huge flock of followers that have been checking up on my blog just dying for news!) But I'd like to think that some people read it and are interested in what has been going on here.

I guess that is just it though, up until recently I really haven't felt like there has been anything to report. Life was the "same ol', same ol'" but... well... in Africa. Apparently around the time I sent out the blog titled, "Friends Can We Talk" I, myself became pregnant unknowingly! Surprise! Well, that led to three months of lying in bed sick with my neighbors thinking that maybe I had the worse case of Malaria ever! (Ok, not ever because people actually die from Malaria.)

Moving on. Like all my other pregnancies, once I started to feel better I seemed to only be capable of growing a baby and taking care of any immediate need that my family had. (Like that annoying eating thing that has to happen three times EVERY SINGLE DAY!) I suppose that severe anemia played a role also -that was fun!

Well, through this time we helped two pastors and their families move to a Bible school 16+ hours away. September we took a vacation in Nairobi and pet some baby elephants. In October we celebrated three of our birthdays and my parents came to visit!

November we had to take Thailie 6 hours to Arusha for tooth pain where we had a traumatic experience ending in me, five months pregnant, lying in the chair holding my drugged 5 year old on top of me who was screaming with seven IV attempts in her arm! (Let's just say we won't be going back there again!) December was a full month with an AIM conference quickly followed by a month of short termers living with us and helping to celebrate Christmas with our Muslim neighbors.

January we found out the dental work Thailie had done got infected (super surprised and excited about that!) So we got to go back to the dentist only this time in Nairobi, a 6 hour drive and 5 hour shuttle ride! One bonus was we met an amazing couple, The Judy's that took great care of us, fed us waffles for dinner, were hugely helpful and even took the girls to see Frozen!

February brought us out of the village again where we awaited the arrival of our beautiful baby girl. Last month, in March, our third little girl Everly Zahara was born (Stay tuned for that post). My Mom was able to come visit and help out. What a huge blessing and answer to prayer that was!

Now it is April. We have already celebrated Nia turning 3, attended a marriage retreat, Thailie lost her first tooth and we just celebrated Easter! We also have finally, after four attempts, secured Everly's Kenyan birth certificate and now await our appointment with the US Embassy on the 23rd. At that appointment we will apply for a passport and SS card for her. Once we receive those we will finally return to our team in the bush!

Whew! I guess it hasn't quite been "life as usual" out here! As always, we appreciate your prayers and have seen the direct results in so many situations! Thank you all for your continued support even when you didn't always know all the details of what was going on. We are blown away at how blessed we are to be backed by our many wonderful supporters!




Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Everly Zahara is Here!

This blog post doesn't really have a whole lot to do with missionary life. It is the birth story of our third baby girl, Everly Zahara. It's not super graphic, but if you don't like birth stories, skip this one. :)
For months and months the girls and I have been praying that our new baby would come after Grandma gets here, but then right away once she arrives so that we can spend lots of time with her and the new baby. We also were praying that she would be born safely, quickly and easily at the hospital. I prayed there would be no traffic so we would arrive quickly at the hospital and I also prayed she would be born at a time of day that My mom and the girls could come visit us right away. (Unlike if she was born in the night). God has answered every prayer in a clear way. I feel so blessed to have had the labor and delivery experience that I did!
Six Days to go!
My doctor kept telling me that she didn't think I would make it to my due date of March 18th. My Mom was set to come in on the 15th so we were praying that baby would hold out at least until then! Well, after much anxious waiting, my Mom arrived and we found our anticipation had switched to getting this baby here! I had decided that it would be really perfect for her to come on the 16th. There would be a full moon, my mom would be here, we would have plenty of time to be with the new baby and there would be no more waiting.
Well, of course the 16th came and went and it was a good reminder there was nothing we could really do to make this baby come apart from God's perfect timing. So we enjoyed our time and continued to wait. It was actually good because everyone was exhausted from the night before where we were up late after picking up my mom from the airport.
Then, after two good night's sleep...
I had woken up a few times in the night to go to the bathroom and also settle the girls back into bed. Each time I noticed that my normal Braxton Hicks contractions were feeling crampy and a bit more uncomfortable than normal. In the morning I was having more uncomfortable cramping and feeling hopeful that maybe things were getting closer.
I took the girls down to get some breakfast and made myself some toast. The cramps were uncomfortable enough that it felt better to eat my breakfast standing. After I finished I decided the cramping plus the noise of the girls was too much. So I asked my Mom if they could just finish their breakfast with her so I could go upstairs.
At 9am I decided to try and time the cramps because it did seem that they came and went but they didn't feel like full abdominal contractions. They became more and more uncomfortable and I found they were the worst and closest together when I was up walking around. So I found the best spot was kneeling on a pillow at the foot of the bed and hanging my upper body and arms over the bed. I did this in each room upstairs as the kids moved in and out and were playing. I finally settled in my room and was able to be left alone for the most part.
After running out of water and hearing the kids fight I began to wonder why Mat or my Mom hadn't come to check on me. (In their defense they had no reason to think I was laboring while they drank their coffee). Nia peeked in on me at one point so I asked her to go get me more water. She faithfully returned shortly with a full water bottle. So sweet.
Around 10:30a Mat came in. He asked if we were going to have the baby today. "I think so." I answered. I still didn't want to be too sure and get my hopes up. Yet with how intense these cramping contractions were I really couldn't imagine that it would all be for nothing.
Mat began to massage my back and then my Mom took over as Mat began to pack the remaining things for our hospital bag. We began trying to figure out if it was true labor and if we should get a ride. Mat called Carrie Maples who was unavailable and then asked Michelle (our neighbor) but their car wouldn't start. She happened to have a friend over who had an appointment that day in the direction of Aga Khan (our hospital) but it would mean we would have to leave now.
My mom did massage while Dora kept me warm.
I still wasn't convinced I was in full blown labor. I was pretty sure it had started but I never want to go in too early. The cramps were getting really intense especially if I couldn't stay focused on being relaxed, but I didn't feel like it was doing the whole pulling up to open and pushing down to get baby out. But as I looked at the numbers on my contraction timer they definitely had been averaging at least 5 min apart and lasting a minute for over an hour. Finally Mat said something that I took as a definitive opinion that we should leave. As we were heading out I decided to try and use the bathroom one last time. As I got another contraction my body started to feel "pushy" and it kinda scared me. I brushed it off and figured it was just having to go to the bathroom, but really I was slightly concerned to get into a stranger's car that likely would get stuck in traffic.
As I got in the car I went on my hands and knees to try and handle the next contraction. Again I felt the pressure of the contraction and almost told them I didn't think we should try and make it. I decided to keep quiet and just pray we made it to the hospital.
It was an amazingly beautiful day out and somehow there was no traffic (a near miracle in Nairobi). My contractions continued to get stronger and closer together and I even started to not be able to catch my breath (something that always happens to me during transition, just before pushing). The pressure continued and I focused on just trying to stay calm knowing that fear would only make the contractions more painful. I convinced myself that if it came to it, I could hold this baby off!
Despite a pedestrian hitting our car on the way, we arrived at the hospital in what seemed to be miraculous timing. Mat ran around the hospital to get a wheel chair (which ended up being broken so we had to get another one). As I sat there in serious labor, the hospital parking guard kept trying to talk to me and get me out of the car. "Seriously?!" I thought, "Can't you see I'm busy here?!" Finally, once I got into the wheel chair I said to Mat, "I may be wrong, but I think we need to hurry!" Mat told the nurses to hurry and that I was about to have the baby. He was more sure of the situation that I was. I had at least two contractions on the way to the delivery room and with each one I warned them that I was feeling a lot of pressure and Mat reminded them to hurry.
Once we got into the delivery room I asked the nurse if I could use the bathroom first. She asked if she could check me because sometimes the feeling is actually the baby coming. I agreed. She asked me to undress to change into a gown. I only got my pants half off before the next contraction came. My body began to push and I started to feel what I assume was the baby crowning. "She's coming!" I informed the nurses.
The nurse remained very calm and informed me that we would continue but the doctor may not make it. "No kidding." I thought. With the help of the nurse I climbed on the bed onto all fours. "Is that how you want to be?" The nurse asked. "I think so." I answered.
"Here comes another one." I managed to get out in my attempt to make sure the nurses were paying attention incase something happened. I began to feel my body take over and the baby crown. As the nurses told me to push I relaxed my body remembering my best chances of preventing tears was to let my body deliver her in it's own time. Feeling a big gush as the contraction finished, I looked down and saw my baby come out head to toe! "She's here!" I exclaimed in shock. I could not believe it!!
We got everyone cleaned up and all continued to marvel at her speedy entry! Dr. Carvalho arrived very shortly after. She asked for the time of birth and everyone kind of looked at each other and laughed. In the quickness and chaos no one noted the time. Mat looked at what time he texted my mom and made a guesstimate off of that!
With my new baby girl after we recovered from the whirlwind of her birth!
"Should I ask them to start filling up the tub?" Mat joked as we gazed at our new baby girl. "I just can't have my water birth can I?" I smiled. I wouldn't have it any other way!
Everly Zahara born March 18th, 2014 (on her due date)
at 12:10pm(ish)
3.5kilos (7lbs 7 oz) 50cm (19.5in)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Girls


Thai is still the likable, outgoing, talkative and girly little smarty that you remember—only older with a larger vocabulary including two new languages! Her love for Jesus and His word is continually growing. It is such a blessing to be a part of and facilitate.

Well, another thing about Thailie is, despite my best efforts, this girl is a diva! If it has sparkles, glitter or twirls she's gonna love it! Along with that goes her pursuit of fashions and styles. So, one day she saw our neighbor cutting her baby's hair with scissors. What do you suppose happened later that same day — Yep! She decided she needed a hair cut too.
Future hair stylist?? Please note the bald spot in the middle!
Well, I decided I would try my best to give her a pixie cut. If I wasn't successful the only other option I could think of was going local — shaving it all off! Just a side note, up until this point her hair was only slightly trimmed meaning that it has taken her 4 years just to grow it as long as it was and now we get to start all over!
The final product! I was able to keep the top a little longer creating a sort of "comb over" to cover the main bald spot.

There were a few choppy pieces left but overall I think I managed to conceal most of it!
Well, she definitely learned her lesson, but did get a lot of compliments on her cute pixie cut!

Thai is definitely getting over her fear of every living creature. Daddy gives her exposure to all sorts of things! Here she is holding our chameleon, Pascal.

Lately Thai has really been getting comfortable playing with some of the neighbor kids. There have also been a few girls that have come over which is a nice change from constant flow of the rowdy boy crowd.
Thailie and Aziza made goofy glasses from a toy egg container.

One of Thailie's favorite things is school. We are currently on a bit of an "extended break" because she has blown through the materials I brought out for her. I have ordered an actual curriculum and we are both really looking forward to getting back into the swing of school.

Mat built her a little desk and stool to sit on. It was a huge hit!

Thai's desk was so popular, Nia wanted one too! We put together a Rangi stool to sit on and another stool to work on. Not only was this a great solution to keep Nia busy while helping Thai, but it made Nia feel like a big girl doing her own school work!

Nia works on puzzles while Thai does school work. 

Well, speaking of Nia...

This little girl is only just a little different from her sister! She is changing and growing so fast it is a blast to watch; yet sad to know everyone in The States doesn't get to experience the amusement she brings to us on a daily basis.
She has mastered the African art of greeting even to the point of being offended when she is overlooked because of her age. She lacks quite a bit of elegance and even simple coordination. She is not graceful but she is very gracious. She notices and is considerate when someone needs help. She is quick to offer a rub on your back and an empathetic word to bring comfort to anyone with an "owie". At every meal she monitors us to make sure everyone has been served and that no one takes a bite before we pray.
Showing off one of her birthday dresses
She loves playing with babies!

We are having a lot of fun seeing her personality blossom and as her vocabulary expands we are beginning to see how her little mind works.

Nia and Amina going for a ride down the hall in a box.
Testing out her new bed daddy made just for her!

When we first got here none of us really got any sleep. Nia was sick which led to frequent trips under the mosquito net, out my room, into her room, under her mosquito net, unzipping her tented bed to finally. beginning the process of comforting her to get her to sleep. It was a ridiculous process to continue every night. Many nights I fell asleep in the plastic chair in her room exposing myself to scorpions, spiders and malaria carrying Mosquitos. Something had to change! Finally, we decided just to take the local route and pull her into bed with us. Well, as time passed her room became a storage room all the while she was growing bigger taking up more space in our room. So, silly as it may be, this is the solution we came up with. Bunk beds! Well, kind of. Our bed goes one way and then her bed is perpendicular suspended above our feet. Crazy as it may seem, it has worked out great for everyone and become a new favorite play spot for the girls.

Having her "quiet time" in their play house.


These two are great buddies and playmates. I prayed for kids who would love each other and play well together. Sure, they fight and are selfish at times picking fights just to cause trouble, but overall they are best friends looking out for one another.
Thanks Castillos for the matching clothes! The girls LOVE to match!

Thai fixed her hair, got her purse and then wanted her picture taken. This led to Nia wanting her's taken....
I think she missed the fixing hair/looking nice part! :)
Thailie loves to read so many times if I am too busy, she will let Nia pick out a story and read it to her.
Enjoying their matching Tinker Bell headlamps and other goodies in a care package sent to us. Thanks Adams!

The girls decided to hold their own Bible study.

Two Monkeys swinging on the hallway swing!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Friends, Can We Talk?

I thought I would say something instead of wishing things were different. I'm feeling kinda left out. I live on the other side of the world from just about every friend I ever had. This is a choice we made in submission to God's will and honestly, I love it here and wouldn't trade being at the center of God's will for the best friendships here on earth.

But that doesn't mean that I wouldn't love to hear from you now and again. You don't need a long bio of what you have been up to in the year since we left or apologies for not writing sooner, I just want to know what you have been up to, what God is doing in your life, maybe a picture or two of your family or growing kids. I have gotten a few emails from people saying they knew I probably had tons of other emails to go through so they would be quick. Well, truth is I don't. I get more emails from my bank than my friends.

Please! Don't read this as me feeling sorry for myself or trying to make anyone feel bad!! I just want to paint reality so that if you think I am some super missionary who is too busy and doesn't have time to hear what is going on back home, please know, that is not the case! A good friend sent me a simple paragraph update of her family and little growing girl, some pictures at the zoo, bike riding, around the house etc. It was perfect! The girls look at the pictures over and over and we love it.

Truth is, it's hard to connect and my responses may be quite a bit more delayed than you're used to but that is just evidence of living in an internet-less village. Not because I don't care. Also, because we don't have connection, we aren't able to keep up with Facebook. Even when we get connection we are also running around getting supplies like toilet paper to take back to Busi with us. This does not allow much time for surfing the net. But we can download our email to read for the rest of the month.

Ok, the biggest deal to me is this: I LOVE pregnancy and childbirth. Ok, I'm weird and I actually think it may be something God is developing in me. (Hmm, maybe more on that another day!) So, please, please, shoot me an email when you tell people you are expecting and send us a picture when your baby is born. (Even if it is a month later once you start seeing straight again). Nothing feels more left out for me right now than to find out someone had a baby and I didn't even know they were pregnant!

Ok, recap. This is not a guilt trip. This is not aimed at anyone in particular. I want to be a part of your life but it is difficult considering the circumstances. I want to work on getting better at making time for emails even though it is more work and keeping my blog current. This will let people know what we are doing. You can help by giving me a one line announcement that you are expecting or send a picture of that beautiful new baby, or even a few shots of your life lately. We didn't have to be best friends. If you are reading this, we have enough of a relationship for you to share your life with me!

Hope to hear from you soon! :)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Don't You Just Hate It When...

Don't you just hate it when you are at the internet cafe trying to re-pin something fabulous, but your chicken keeps getting out of the bag?!

I kid you not, this man holding a live chicken in a plastic bag was next to me at the Internet cafe in Babati —just hanging out, using the computer. Every once in awhile the chicken would flap and gain some freedom from its plastic confines.
Funny thing is, it didn't strike me as weird until about 15min later; then It clicked, this is NOT normal in America!
:) Enjoy!