Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Lesson on Love

Last night I had the pleasure of helping the older boys get ready for bed. Ben requested that I "take me a bath" Which I responded with say, "Please give me a bath.” Ben is three and has a beautiful big smile and a mischievous twinkle in his eye. Ben was abandoned in a field. A boy was out collecting grass for his families’ cattle and heard him crying under a thick bush, totally naked. The boy ran for his father, who hacked away at the bush and rescued Ben. He has been at cradle of love ever since. He is one of the three older boys who can speak both English and Swahili. I desire to learn Swahili so that I can be a part of their secret language. I know I've said it before but I love bath "time" and getting to snuggle with them before bed is the best. Ben was in a sweet mood after his bath so he sat on my lap. I whispered in his ear - Christy napenda Beni (Christy loves Beni) Then I said Mungu napenda Beni (God Loves Beni) he turned to me and said say it again so I repeated in his ear Mungu napenda Beni. He then began to what I thought was repeat to me- Mungu napenda Ben but instead he said Mungu napenda Christina. It was awesome. I could hear my heart literally leap inside my chest.

It's official I've fallen in Love with Yasini. I've taken so many photos of him that I feel like the paparazzi. Yasini arrived at Cradle of Love when he was one week old after his mother died of AIDs. He is now a happy and beautiful one and a half year old. He has the biggest lips and loves to give kisses. Last week I went down a little after 9am to help with breakfast and straight away I saw Yasini. He must have noticed me at the exact same time because he was pointing/reaching for me. I came over gave him a big kiss on the cheek and sat next to him and his sweet Nanny Neema (Grace) who was feeding him. When I did she said, "Christy, he loves you very much. I can tell." I told her not as much as I loved him. It made my day. When I look at him even when he doesn't want to listen to me or gets upset when I put him down or take away a toy that he shouldn't have I can still tell that he knows that I love him, that he is Loved. It's comforting knowing that he knows that. I'm sure sometimes he forgets or doesn't understand like when he gets upset when I reprimand him (but biting even if it's a joke is not okay, and I don't care how good the baby's bottle tastes it's not for you) It got me thinking and I bet God feels the same way. I bet he gets so excited when we acknowledge that we know He loves us and us Him even when we don't understand the circumstances of our live or when we feel that He is reprimanding us by not giving us what we want. I hate to see Yasini upset, but I would hate even more for him to grow up not knowing that he is Loved and that the boundaries and rules that are in place are to protect him. I was reading Oswald the other day and he says - faith never knows where it is being lead, but it knows and Loves the one who is leading.

Mungu napenda yeye

~ Christy

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Home Sweet Home...

This is the market we visit daily to get "necessities".

Cradle of Love, our window is on the top left.
Back of CoL. Those lines are usually FULL of diapers and clothes!

Christy's view of Snag through her mosquito net!

Nike, Liza Isle and Maxi at our dinner table.

View of Mount Meru from our bedroom.

View out the other bedroom window of the guard house and gate. Please notice Christy's flare in the window seal!

Friday, August 15, 2008

An Eventful Week in Tanzania!

Christy, Snag and Isa in Sokoni One.
We think Isa is wearing the same shirt from last summer!

Christy washing clothes!


Steph and Christy with new friends Erin and Jennifer enjoying a yummy lunch!

We started out on a good note with going to church and making 5 new friends who we have plans to hang out with this weekend! The church is Vineyard Church and is an international church, i.e. lead in English. It was a wonderful worship, not quite the same sound system of Buckhead Church but the words were on a screen! After worship there was a sharing time, then everyone took time to visit with each other for about 10 minutes over coffee, tea and snacks before the sermon. The sermon was about believing the God of The Bible exists today as there are still people persecuted daily for their Christian faith and He still performs miracles. The pastor shared a story about a 14 year old girl who witnessed a stillborn baby be brought back to life after crying out to God and prayer over the baby. It was an unbelievably touching story of faith. It made me think about how blessed we are in America. God performs medical miracles daily and we often give the majority of the credit to the doctors. Rather than realizing that really it was God performing a miracle through that doctor. It’s amazing that it takes such an extreme story or experience to realize how blessed we are.

We started the workweek with our normal schedule of 9 -1:30 and an evening 2-hour shift on Monday and Tuesday. Benny, one of the 3 yr old boys, joined us for our volunteer meeting with Davona, the director of CoL. He was being punished for peepee-ing in Simon’s shoes. Boys will be boys, even in Africa! Sweet little Joshua has given us new names, Pepanie and Kisstina, but his favorite is Allie for Hallie. If he says her name once he says it a 100 times! We have been blessed to have healthy babies so far. Medically we’ve really only had to deal with a ringworm breakout, which we’re treating with some sort of cream. Over all the babies are all doing wonderfully!

Wednesday was a BIG day. We had the day off from CoL. So we went to Sokoni 1 for the day. This is the neighborhood where we worked last summer with Young Life. We were able to see the Community Center, where we helped lay the foundation. It looks amazing! We also got to see several of the children we meet last summer. Jeff is still teaching everyone the kicking game. He is so tall and smart as ever! We also saw sweet Isa just before we left. Don’t worry Conway we got a picture for you!!! The highlight of the day was going into the village and getting to cook and eat with one of the families. It was amazing to watch the mamas prepare the meal. Christy and I went to different homes. For some reason, my mama decided I was the one who would do all the cooking. Which would normally be fine, but I’m use to cooking in an indoor kitchen with counter space. Not African style, out side over an open fire. She “prepared the kitchen” by starting the fire on the small metal burner. Once it was lit and burning, she picked it up with her bare hands and walked it around to the front so we could gather and talk while cooking. I really have no idea how her hands aren’t burnt. Once everything got going our meal of ugali, beef, and veggies was actually pretty simple to fix. It just took 3 hours to cook before we were finally able to enjoy it! Christy had the opportunity also to learn how to do laundry with 2 tubs of water and some soap. Lucky for her sweet Hannah offered to wash our clothes for us this week, so she’s off the hook until next week!!! Haha! I have to say it was such a blessing to have the opportunity to be apart of their lives and see how they live daily.

Tonight is big night, we are going out on the town!!! Well we’re heading to a mzungu place with several friends. But, we’re all so excited to get dressed up and hang out with friends!

We love and miss you all! Please email us with updates from home we love hearing from you!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Week in Review

Joshua, one of Steph's favorite babies!

Christy and her favorite baby, Yasini!

Our first full week at Cradle of Love is now behind us. I'm not going to lie the first few days dragged on and I was beginning to think wow 3 months here may be a bit too long. How will we ever fill the days. Well fill the days we did. Monday was our first official work day. The typical shifts are from 9-1:30 3-5 and 5-7. I have personally fallen in love with the 5-7 shift as we feed the babies/big kids dinner and then help the nannies get them ready for bed. For the older kids that includes a bath. I use the word bath loosely as it's more of a fast rinse with anti- bacterial soap. eeek one things for sure there is no time for bath toys! All the kids are then changed into Pj's. I've always thought that Pj's were cute but here it is especially cute as all pj's work for any kid. This was confusing to some at first as many of the girls also have their heads shaved (due to ringworm) so when we would see them in Thomas the tank footie pj's it was wrong to assume they were males.. oops! The other adorable thing is that the one year olds and the almost three year olds also share pj's. Swimming on one while snug as possible on the other. Who knew you could get so much wear out of something. (We hope to post photos soon) After the Pj's are on then it's time for snack- (anything from cucumbers to toast). After that we try to wrangle a few kids and read books. I wish they had a better selection, but some are too young to know what the words say anyways so you can get creative. Around 7 it starts getting dark and since we can't be out after dark we go up to the apartment and cook dinner. This has been quit the learning experience as well- lets be honest all of our cooking leaves much to be desired- we are trying to learn from our non American roommates as they seem to have the skills we are lacking. Okay back to the week.

Tuesday we went to the market and worked the 9-130 and 5-7 shift (see previous post). On Wednesday all 4 of us took the day off and went to Alexis and Jacqui's house. Alexis and Jacqui are the Arusha YL leaders that we had the pleasure of working with last year. They are awesome! We went over and were there in time to enjoy a little bit of their leadership time with the other Young Life staff and volunteers. Leadership was in Swahili so there wasn't much that we understood, but we could tell when they were becoming really passionate about something. Afterwards we all prayed together! Afterwards we stayed and hung out for a bit and then enjoyed a lunch of rice, beans and grilled bananas. Yummy. The rest of the afternoon we spent at a shop in town enjoying gelato and coffee outside - aww the many perks of Africa.

Thursday and Friday was back to being dedicated solely to the kids. Hallie brought stickers from the states and those were a hug hit with the kids. We are still finding them on random shoes ;) Saturday night we went out with our roommate Nike to a burger and shakes join in the city. The shakes were amazing. Sunday we took off for Church and went to Vineyard. It meets at a restaurant under a thatched roof. It was awesome - Okay i best be getting back to work, but more to come about Church and the fun friends that we meet.

We hope that all is well at home and want you all to know that we love you and thank you so much for the love and support that you have shown us. Also thank you for your prayers - There is POWER in his Holy name and we are so blessed to have so many people calling out to him on our behalf. Believe it or not we have wireless in the apt and while the connection is SLOW we both get to regularly check our emails and would love to be up to date with your lives as well.

busu busu (kiss kiss)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

We’re Not in Georgia Anymore…

We have official experienced living in Africa!

Mooooo….Cockadooledoo…and I don’t know how to spell the sound a monkey makes. We were woken up by a cow mooo-ing one morning. Which isn’t so rare for Africa, but we’ve yet to see a cow on the compound. Monkeys are as common as squirrels at home, and have been so kind to sing us to sleep every night!

We rode the daladala to the open market. Let’s just start by saying MARTA ain’t got nothin’ on the daladala! Basically it is a mini-bus packed full of Africans and us. There were 5 of us going to the market and we had to split up because there weren’t enough available sets. I do have to say it was worth the 100 shillings, which is less than 10 cents! We made it safely to the market, which was a little over whelming due to the lack of organization. I think if you had something to sell you could just lay out a blanket and display your product. We went for veggies and were able to get 2 cucumbers, 2 avocado, 2 large carrots, a bushel of green beans, 6 potatoes and 4 tomatoes for less than $3…now that’s a good deal! I wish I could take a picture, but I don’t think it’d be safe for us mizungu to be walking around with a camera in the market.

In addition to Heath and Hallie we have 3 wonderful roommates, Ilse (ell-sa), Nike (nee-ka), and Maxi. They are all from Germany and Holland. So we have the USA and the EU! They were all very helpful in getting us settled in. Isle and Maxi were so sweet and made us a welcome dinner on Friday (Nike was out of town) and we all ate together family style! Isle has been wonderful showing us the ropes around the baby home and I don’t know that we would have ever braved the daladala and market without her! God was truly looking out for us when he placed her here!

CoL is on a beautiful compound! There are huge trees and pretty flowers all around. Valerie, you would like to know there is a tree with sausage fruit right outside! (google sausage fruit if you don’t know what it is…I had to!) The accommodations are extremely nice and comfortable allowing us to easily feel at home. There are a few little stores about 500 feet from the gate of the compound that we can go to get basics like bread, butter, water and eggs. I’m not sure what we’d do without those being so convenient. Please note that these stores are more like little booths in china town or something, not your typical 7/11! We’ll post a picture as soon as we can get an internet connection that doesn’t take 2 days to upload a photo!

Now to the babies…I don’t think I could ever choose a favorite. They are all so cute and loving. There is one little boy that is trying to potty train with little success, but is so sweet and cute that I don’t even care he’s covered in peepee I still let him sit in my lap. Let me just say…be thank for pampers and pull ups, there’s a reason cloth diapers went out of style!

The 36 babies are split into 3 groups: babies, middle and big kids. On Saturday we all wished we had a video camera because about 8 of the middle babies were all gathered together crawling down the hall acting like doggies. It was so cute! They turned the corner and little Yasini turned around and said “byebyeeee”! Which is one of the few words most of the babies can say! We ask for you to pray for all the babies, but there are 2 that are need of specific prayers: Rebecca, who is 4 months old, doesn’t weigh over 5lbs and isn’t putting on any weight. She is so tiny and frail, but has a smile on her face more often than not! AND Salemu, who is a little over 2 and has cerebral palsy. He is getting stronger everyday crawling and trying to pull up, but it’s a struggle for him to stand up even with help.

Many more baby stories to come!

Several people have asked about sending “care packages”. If you would like to send something to us you can mail it to:
Cradle of Love
c/o Davona Church
attn: Stephanie and Christy
P O Box 360
Usa River, Tanzania
East Africa

Please only send envelopes, you can send larger ones, but they charge for pick up of boxes. If you mail envelopes Priority Mail it should get here in about 10 days, boxes could take up to 3 months.

We look forward to hearing from all of you back home!!!

- Stephanie

Monday, August 4, 2008

Short and Sweet

We arrived at Cradle of Love Friday afternoon. We are all settled in and officially starting work today! There are 36 babies, each with unique personalities. There are 3 big boys, Simon, Cory and Ben, who are about 3 or 4. They are very helpful! They can tell us the babies names and they really like to walk to the little market and help carry back water. We are excited to get know all the babies better over the next few months.

We'll try to post some pictures soon, but the internet isn't exactly, no promises! We do promise to post a more informative blog soon!!!

We love and miss everyone!