So much has happened since my last post. Overall, I’ve been feeling great and joyful. In fact, on Tuesday I had plans to write a post thanking you all for your faithful prayers, for I hadn’t had a bad day since I wrote the post about having a long wave of grief. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
I’ve titled this post Dreams because that’s the only link I could find throughout all the things I want to share.
Let’s begin with the dream that has been in our hearts before we ever had children. God gave us a heart for adoption at least 9 years ago, and we are waiting for this dream to come true. We saw a small glimpse into the future at the fruition of this dream earlier this month.
World Gospel Mission supports a baby center in Nakuru, Kenya. There is a wonderful group of missionaries who work with over 60 Kenyan employees to run the mission and care for almost 200 orphaned children ages newborn to 4. One of their goals is to become self-sustaining, so they have goats and cows for milk and meat. They grow as much fresh fruit and vegetables as they can. And they’re trying to raise tilapia! In addition to all this, they take excellent care for the babies. Their chubby faces would make your heart smile. (I’d love to share some pictures of them, but I want to be respectful of their privacy. You can find the ministry on facebook at Africa Gospel Church Baby Centre.)
Although I’ve been involved in the orphan ministry at Tenwek and initially anticipated visiting these babies quite regularly, I’ve been putting this initial visit off ever since Hannah died. To be honest, I was too afraid. What if I couldn’t handle holding babies? What if I just wept? And ended up looking like a fool? What if I met a little girl that was just too much like Hannah? Was my heart that needs a baby ready for all the precious babies who need a momma?
Well, the time came when I finally felt ready. I wanted to show Colleen as much of WGM as possible. We were able to coordinate a weekend that worked for all involved parties. God has blessed us with a little bundle of joy bouncing around in my belly. It was time. We loaded up the van as soon as lunch was eaten on Friday and travelled a couple of hours to Nakuru. We arrived just in time to speak with a Kenyan adoption agency to declare our intention to adopt. This was a technicality. There’s some law against seeking out a baby for adoption. Then, we visited the room with the preschoolers. One baby immediately attached himself to me, and I instantly knew I was going to be ok. Later, we visited the baby room. Some of the babies were so small, but all were doing well.
For supper, we enjoyed an indoor cookout (it rained so we couldn’t use the grill) with some of the missionaries who serve at the baby center. Then, we all bunked in the guesthouse for a not-so-restful night of sleep. After breakfast on Saturday, we visited the toddler room. It was fun to see them scoot and toddle all over the room. All too quickly, it was time for us to pack up the van and head to our next destination.
Sometimes our life here in Kenya just feels like a dream. After visiting the Baby Center, we enjoyed one night in Naivasha. We stayed at Mt. Longonot Lodge Saturday night. It was so peaceful and fun. The boys loved exploring the land, watching zebra drink from a water hole at each meal and chasing the wildlife. (If you haven’t seen the pictures that Aaron posted on facebook, you should check them out!) The owner of the lodge even had two pet gazelles!
The next morning we loaded up the van again to visit Crescent Island. Since we had been there before, we decided to tour it via boat this time. We saw countless birds, hippos, wildebeest, zebra, waterbuck and cape buffalo. I think my favorite part was watching a kingfisher dive for his lunch. It’s times like these that make me want to pinch myself. While living in Africa isn’t always a walk in the park, getting to see God’s creation in various parts of Kenya is an amazing blessing!
We got back to our language school home in plenty of time to rest, which was a good thing. Monday was class all morning and dentist appointment all afternoon! Tuesday was class all day followed by Bible study and Jacob’s birthday preparations all afternoon and evening. At Bible study, my friends asked how I was doing, and I answered honestly that I was doing really well. I was. Ever since I posted about my long wave of grief, I could feel your prayers. Like I said, I was planning to publicly thank you all for coming alongside me during this tough time. Of course, I didn’t have time to write because I was too busy making supper, baking and decorating a cake and getting all of Jacob’s birthday surprises ready. Then, that night I had a dream that knocked me back into grief mode.
The third and final dream is an actual dream, a very bittersweet one that featured Hannah. I know most pregnant women experience crazy dreams. I have with previous pregnancies but not so much with this one. On the contrary, I’ve had more insomnia with Joshua than ever before! We had to present our first devotional for language school on Wednesday morning, so I was anticipating a restless night. (When I’m not sleeping at night, my head is usually spinning in Swahili!) To my surprise, I slept better than expected. And at some point, I dreamt of Hannah.
It was short and sweet. I was standing in a warehouse waiting for Aaron to finish his work. Apparently, he wasn’t a doctor in my dream. While I was waiting, two ladies asked if they could take pictures of the pictures of Hannah hanging on the wall behind me. As soon as I had agreed, Hannah appeared in my arms. I remember thinking how strange this was since I knew her picture was only on the wall because of her death. Nevertheless, I enjoyed feeling the weight of her in my arms. She was wearing her pink fleece footie pajamas. She was still 14 months old. Her hair was pulled on top of her head as usual. In response to how she looks, I smiled but also noticed she looked pale. I wondered if she was sick. Then, she pointed to her own picture and asked for a Minnie the Mouse doll that she was holding in the picture. This is weird because she never owned anything Minnie the Mouse. Anyway, I put her down and handed her the doll. I’m not sure where the doll came from or when she learned how to talk and stand so steadily. Dreams are weird. She smiled her big smile and hugged the doll. Then, I woke up.
I spent the rest of the night on a roller coaster. One moment I was thanking God for such a gift. I loved feeling her and hugging her and making her smile. Then, I’d start crying because it was only a dream. Reality would set it and remind me that I don’t have those privileges anymore. As soon as I’d dry my tears, I’d praise God again. The roller coaster continues until my alarm went off Wednesday morning.
As I was getting ready for the day, I tried my best to stay strong. I had to speak in front of the entire school in a few hours. I couldn’t spend the morning crying! Well, that lasted until I told Aaron that I had a dream about Hannah. I didn’t even tell him the details. I just sobbed. He held me until I was done. Then, I reapplied my makeup and went about my day.
Our devotional went really well, or just as I expected. Noah said his memory verses very well despite the fact that he couldn’t get them right during any of our practice sessions. Jacob had a little stage fright so he said his verses behind his new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle hat. Levi just refused to say his verse. Aaron and I managed to lead songs, pray and read our Bible passages in Swahili. It was a success.
As soon as it was over, we went into birthday mode for the rest of the day. It’s been several days since the dream, and I’m still wavering. Bittersweet has entered my vocabulary once again. Oh, how I want the dream to be reality! Tears flow as I recount the dream. It was such a sweet embrace. But it was only a dream. I hope that it’s a picture of what I’ll have in heaven. Come, Lord Jesus, come!
Revelation 21:1-4 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth has passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’”
Revelation 21:7 (Jesus speaking to John) “He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”
Praises and Prayer Requests:
- Praise God for speaking to each of us! I pray that each of you can hear His voice!
- Praise God for a successful summer of language school. Thank you for praying us through these 2 months.
- Praise God for a fun birthday season. I hope to post a separate blog about all our celebrations soon.
- Please pray for us as we transition back to life at Tenwek.
- Pray that God will provide teachers for our kids. Pray for us moms as we meet to make all the last minute decisions regarding the school year.
- Pray for the persecuted church.
- Pray for the orphans around the whole.
- Please continue to pray for our hearts, for Joshua’s health and for Tenwek Hospital.