Monthly Archives: September 2014

Crunch Time

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The title of this post comes from another funny story that happened around the dinner table. We host visiting doctors on Tuesdays for lunch. Many times they’ll bring American treats for us as a thank you for feeding them. This past Tuesday, we received a baggie of fun-sized Twizzlers, Baby Ruth bars, Butterfingers, Crunch bars, and the tiniest Gummi Bears I’ve ever seen. The boys were quite excited, so we let them each choose something from the bag after supper Tuesday night. Jacob was the first to pipe up, “I want the blue one!” (Apparently, he thought the Crunch bar looked most appealing.) Noah quickly claimed “the one with the blue wrapper” too. Then, Levi said, “I want the red one!” Of course, Aaron handed him a small bag of Twizzlers. (It is the red one, right?) He scowled and said, “No! One like my brothers!” (Will he ever get his colors figured out??)

They devoured their ‘blues’ despite them being crumbly from melting and reforming in transit. It was fun to talk again about what they remembered from the States and what has been lost from their memories. I almost felt sorry for them for not knowing the difference between the candy bars, but then I realized that they probably wouldn’t know this if we’d never left the States. They rarely got candy in the States. I certainly never bought it. I don’t buy it here either. We’re just blessed with a lot of people who bring and send us sugary goodness!

So, as I was reflecting on this profound moment in our week, I started to notice a theme. It’s Crunch Time for us in so many ways. Here are the ones that come to mind.

1.) Baby Joshua has stayed in my womb 32 weeks now. Per my doctor’s orders, I’ve been off my feet as much as possible since reaching 30 weeks. The OBs and pediatricians agree that he’ll be fine to deliver and stay at Tenwek if I make it to at least 34 weeks. I’ve been taking the progesterone shots for months to help reduce the risk of preterm labor, and I just underwent a round of steroids (dexame??) to help with Joshua’s lung development as a precautionary measure. The nursery is not ready, but I plan to get it all set up this week. It’s kind of hard to get a lot of work done when I’m sitting all day! Those of you who know me best can guess that I’m going crazy on my bum. I’m not very good at sitting still for very long. It adds to the feeling of the time crunch!

Me and my boys!

2.) Then there’s the number crunch. Our 2-year term with Samaritan’s Purse expires early 2015, but we plan to extend our stay until June 2015. This will enable the boys and I to finish another full school year without moving. Obviously, this makes sense for school, but it doesn’t make much financial sense. As soon as our SP contract is over, we’ll loose a huge percentage of our funding. No more rent money, no more food allowance, no more insurance, etc. As we start to look at our dwindling funds, we’re trusting God to fill in the gaps, for we believe He wants us to stay these extra months.

3.) I know the school year just began and that we’re planning to finish it here, but I still feel like our time left here at Tenwek is short. I’m already taking close inventory of our groceries (the good news is that we still have about 6 precious cans of black beans) and toiletries (how will I use all 20 bottles of body lotion?) to make sure we don’t overbuy. I know this time crunch is less justified, but I also know that time flies when you’re busy. And once Joshua is here, I’m sure I’ll be busy!

4.) I suppose I could mention the dreaded ab crunches that will be awaiting me after Joshua’s birth. (yet another reason to keep him inside as long as possible!) Of course, no one really does ab crunches anymore. We’re way too advanced for that. I’ll use some sort of ab video that incorporates cardio and ab sculpting. The fact that I’m returning to the States in June, the beginning of summer attire, will give me added motivation to loose any baby weight!

New Family Photo

5.) Let’s end on the best tasting crunch in Tenwek: ugali chips. Assuredly the most delicious and fattening way to ingest maize flour, ugali chips tend to be sold by a neighbor’s house helper on Friday afternoons. They’re freshly made and oh so greasy. It’s a perfect complement to our Friday night pizza!

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1.) Praise God that Joshua has stayed put for 32 weeks! As each week passes, I feel more and more at ease with having a baby here in rural Kenya. Please pray for us. Pray that I will find rest in God’s perfect timing and that Joshua will be a healthy, 7-poundish baby.

2.) Praise God for being the Great Provider! Please pray that He will work in miraculous ways in in the coming year in meeting all our financial needs. Right now, the task seems daunting. However, I’m exciting to see how God will raise up a mighty team of supporters for our continued ministry here at Tenwek Hospital.

3.) Praise God for bringing us to Tenwek. We are blessed beyond measure for this opportunity, and we are excited that He is calling us back to this wonderful community of believers. Please pray for the community. It is growing by leaps and bounds. Another reason to praise God! Pray for those in authority as they figure out how to house the new families, expand the hospital to best meet the patients’ needs, and keep it all about bringing God glory.

4.) Praise God for house helpers! I know I’ve said this before, but I am truly blessed to have Joyce. All of the helpers in the compound are such blessings. Please pray God’s blessing on these men and women who serve us so that we can do the work God has called us to do.

I’m still plugging away at memorizing I Peter, so I’ll end with the section I memorized earlier this week.

I Peter 3:13-17 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it it God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

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Levi’s Poor, Sad Reality

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We moved to Kenya when Levi was 2 1/2 years old. We knew he wouldn’t remember much about America, but we’re realizing just how little he remembers the older he gets!

Levi (age 2 1/2) when we first arrived in Kenya

Levi (age 2 1/2) when we first arrived in Kenya

Last night at dinner, the word “applesauce” was mentioned. I think it was my doing. I made fruit crisp for dessert. The boys devoured it, and I said, “I should puree canned peaches to put in applesauce. Instead of bananas.” I meant to say “to put in baked oatmeal,” so I’m not sure why “applesauce” came out of my mouth. I’ve never made applesauce in my life! I have no need to do it, because my wonderful mother-in-law cans enough for us to eat applesauce every day of the year…when we’re in the States, that is. Here, applesauce is a rarity in the stores (not that it would be worth buying due to high costs and incomparable taste!), and apples are available all year. The point of applesauce is to preserve apples for the winter months, right? We have to pay over 30 Ksh/apple, which is quite steep compared to many other fruits (i.e., an entire pineapple costs 50 Ksh). Applesauce isn’t worth my time and money, at least not in my opinion, especially in this season of life.

Anyway, Aaron, Noah, Jacob and I were discussing how much we love applesauce and how much we miss it. I mentioned that Nana should teach the boys how to make it when she visits in November. That way, we could indulge in some of the sweet goodness AND I’d never have to make it! When I’m in the States, I could just eat Nana’s applesauce. And then, the boys could make it for special occasions when we’re living in Kenya. Perfect plan, huh? During this entire conversation, Levi was just listening and apparently waiting for an opportunity to solve all our woes. He piped up, “Momma, you don’t know how to do applesauce? I can show you! It’s easy. Just criss cross applesauce, hands in your lap,” with a huge, proud smile on his face. Aaron and I exchanged looks, not knowing if we should laugh at the humor, cry at the sadness of the fact that our Levi doesn’t know what applesauce tastes like, or compliment him on his helpful instructions. We chose laughter with expressed sadness and then we thanked him for his help on this serious matter.

The boys a few weeks ago.

Noah, picking up on our sarcasm, proceeded to ask Levi, “Levi, do you know what McDonald’s is?” (Remember how we saw one in Greece and Levi was completely clueless?) Levi proudly responded, “Yes! Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O!” We all cracked up laughing, but poor Levi didn’t get it. He thought he was right on both fronts. He was quite proud of himself for following the conversation and being able to join in!

Then, Noah asked him if he remembers Chick-fil-A, which is a place he frequented in the States, much more often than McDonald’s. Of course, Levi was still clueless. He was just too little when we moved here. Overall, this isn’t a bad thing. Kenya is a wonderful place to grow up. He has more cultural knowledge than most 4-year-olds in America. He’s learning a second language. He’s a very adventurous eater. He’s benefitting greatly from our life overseas. However, his lack of a memory of America makes me a little worried about how he’ll react when we’re back in the States. I’m sure he’ll be fine. It will be fun to watch him discover our homeland with fresh almost-5-year-old eyes. Then, we’ll get to see what things he remembers when we return to Kenya.

Be prepared, America! We’re returning in June 2015…and we’ll be eating applesauce, Chick-fil-A and lots, lots more!

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1. Praise God for the different cultures!

2. Praise God for the privilege of seeing the world through our children’s eyes!

3. Praise God for His faithfulness to missionaries, especially as we must live in two very different cultures. May we choose to enjoy all the good each culture has to offer. And may we use our differences as opportunity for iron to sharpen iron.

4. I’m 30 weeks and growing! Please continue to pray for Joshua. Pray that he’ll be a healthy, full-term baby; that he wouldn’t cause me too much pain or anxiety; and that he will be a happy, healthy baby throughout infancy (and the rest of his life…that’s not asking too much, right?).

It's the end of the day. Hence, my bloated belly and sleepy eyes! I assure you that I look a little lighter and brighter in the morning!

It’s the end of the day. Hence, my bloated belly and sleepy eyes! I assure you that I look a little lighter and brighter in the morning! 🙂

I’ll finish with Jacob’s memory verses.

Psalm 1:1-2 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Powerful Prayers

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Thank you to all who faithfully pray for all the prayer requests listed at the bottom of my posts. I pray for you often, even if I don’t know your name. I am so thankful for your prayers, and I’d like to update you on some of the latest prayer requests.

First of all, praise God! I passed my glucose tolerance test!!! I chugged a 300ml orange Fanta and munched down half a king-sized chocolate bar. An hour later, I walked up to the maternity ward for a finger prick. My blood-sugar level was within the normal range, so I indulged in brownies after lunch. 🙂 Being at the hospital gave me an opportunity to look around the maternity ward, to scope out possible locations for the delivery of Joshua, and to discuss some options with my doctor. We didn’t come up with any great plans, but we have some ideas for plans A, B, C and D.

Secondly, thank you for your steadfast prayers concerning our Tenwek MK Co-op. Although we still don’t have a full-time teacher in place, all the moms pulled together to cover all the subjects. Many moms are over-stretched. Some are teaching from 8am until 1pm with only a short chai break at 10am. Please continue to pray for us moms! We definitely need it!

Some of you might have seen a link on facebook that I shared a couple of days ago. I think it’s a good, objective look at the missionary mom. American moms have a lot of pressure on them to look perfect, have perfect and successful kids, and do so many things beyond being mom. Sadly, we think being ‘just a mom’ isn’t enough. Fortunately, God disagrees with the American culture (not only on this topic, but I won’t get on too many soap boxes today). God’s highest calling for a woman is to be a mom. If God has granted you this privilege and given you this calling, then please take it seriously and proudly. It’s a tough job, but it’s so important and should be priority over so many of the things that take up our time.

When American mommas leave their homes and move to the mission field, these expectations oftentimes come along with us. In fact, expectations are often increased for the missionary momma. Missionaries are wrongly put on pedestals and therefore are expected to live perfect Christian lives. Let me assure you, missionaries are not perfect! We are just as human as the rest of the world. We are broken sinners in need of a redeemer. The only real difference is that we’re called to live outside of our culture. Our obedience to this calling may make us brave or crazy or…pick your adjective, but it does not make us superhuman, holier than most, or even close to perfect!

Although this might disappoint some of you, my life here in Kenya isn’t too different than my life in America. My main jobs are being a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to my kids and a supportive wife to my husband. I still don’t do these jobs with ease or reverence or with a servant’s heart nearly enough. I still struggle with all the expectations of America, and I’ve added a few from the Kenyan culture. Praise God that I am free from man’s expectations though! Any time I’m feeling stressed about not performing or not meeting people’s expectations, I simply look to God for direction. The bottom line is that HE is the ONE I’m aiming to please. It is HIS, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” that I’m wanting to hear.

Thank you all for praying for my heart. From the time I got back to Tenwek until just a few days ago, I was too busy to think of my pregnancy (though my back has been reminding me every night!) or of my baby girl in heaven. Now that the days are becoming more routine and I actually have moments when the house is empty (except for me and Joyce), I have been missing Hannah a lot. As I prepare our empty bedroom for Joshua, I’m taking down many of the pink things I kept in there. That spare room was where I displayed many of her pictures, blankets, mementos and decor from her bedroom. Most of that is getting taken down and stored in a keepsake box. It’s sad…and joyful. I’m so excited to make that room a nursery for the precious baby boy that never ceases to move within me. And yet, I so wish that room was still occupied by a beautiful, spunky little girl. I so appreciate those of you who help carry this burden, who truly spend time praying for me. I assure you that you are earning rewards in heaven for this sacrifice!

It’s nice to be back home to make my way through these waves of grief. I expect that they will persist as the pregnancy continues, as the nursery comes to fruition, and as we meet Joshua face-to-face. I had another dream about Hannah last week. It was a little weirder than the first. The only similarity was that in both dreams I was acutely aware that she wasn’t supposed to be with us, that she had already finished her earthly race and had gone to heaven. In both dreams, I thought why is she here? but then just chose to enjoy the few moments I had to feel and smell her, to enjoy her presence, and to wish it would never end. Oh, how I wish Joshua would have a big sister to welcome him to our family!

Speaking of Joshua, thank you all so much for your faithful prayers on his behalf. He is growing well, always active, already spoiled, and loved by so many. The boys are so anxious to meet him. They ask, “How many more days?” almost everyday. September and October are going to be long months! They hug and kiss him good night each night after prayers. Levi sings, “Do you want to build a snowman?” (from the movie Frozen) and many other funny songs. Jacob will put his hands on my belly and say, “Let’s see what’s going on here.” He’ll often feel a kick or punch. Noah just prays and prays for his baby brother. I think he’s a little worried about whether or not Joshua will live. Please pray for wisdom for Aaron and I and for comfort only God can give. I’m not sure how to reassure Noah that everything will be ok when I share his worries.

God’s Word tells us that he is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). May we all rest is His sovereignty, might and wisdom.

Psalm 34 (ESV)

1   I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together!

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
    and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
    and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
    around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
    for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

11 Come, O children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 What man is there who desires life
    and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Turn away from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
    and his ears toward their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
    and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
    but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones;
    not one of them is broken.
21 Affliction will slay the wicked,
    and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
    none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.