Twins

 

ribbet-collage

Almost four weeks ago we were told that a neighbour’s young wife was unwell and had gone to hospital. Knowing she was heavily pregnant, with very swollen legs we didn’t know if she was sick or in labour. People here often just say ‘someone’s unwell’ or ‘gone to the hospital’ when they are in labour, and just as often the father doesn’t necessarily know which it is either – just summoned to organise transport if possible. As visiting the sick is very important, almost mandatory in this culture, Kath & I went to the hospital, only to find out that yes she was in labour. We were quite happy to leave her alone then (we do know that’s not the time to socialise), but were ushered to her bedside to mutter some encouragement and pat her hand as she went through contractions in a multi-bed room. The midwife said it would likely still be a long time, but just two hours later we heard she had delivered healthy twins!

Transporting them home the next morning (yes just 15hrs after having twins), we got the opportunity to sit and cuddle these gorgeous kids. One boy, one girl. Perfectly formed.

Fast forward a few weeks and we were back visiting again yesterday. Not having been for a couple of weeks, Scott & Cam heard the babies were sick and went to see them. The poor little things had been having seizures throughout the night and also struggled to feed well for some time. The mother lacked confidence and good support and was having difficulty getting the babies to feed well. We hear the guys did a great job of being encouragers & lactation consultants – having seven kids between them has taught them a few useful things.

After the guys came home to watch our kids, Kath & I headed off to visit. The babies were truly tiny, the little boy particularly was very thin. We spent a few hours there:  holding babies, talking, and trying to get them to take some more milk. It was heartbreaking to see how undernourished they were.

Today I took them to the hospital to get some further advice and help. I think we got the most supportive doctor in the province (thank you God), as after seeing the babies and realising they currently weighed in at less than their rather low birth weights, he was full of encouragement and feeding advice for the mother, made himself available to her whenever she needed to come back and referred her to to the government department of social action who can provide formula for at risk babies to supplement breastfeeding. There’s not really much more he could have done here.

We’ll keep visiting – to encourage the mother, to check on the babies, to pray. We’ll help them get to the hospital when needed. Our kids really want to go see them, to visit and love on the babies they’ve heard so much about.

Personally this one cuts pretty close to home. We have a healthy and quickly growing 7mth old girl and we know firsthand how much support you sometimes need with babies, especially when there are difficulties. I can’t imagine where we would have been if we’d had our firstborn in this context. Seeing little babies too tired to even fight to feed is heartbreaking and I hope and pray we see these two precious children grow in strength and stature over the coming days and weeks. We’re not considering any other possible outcomes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plan a visit – friends welcome!

IMG_0830After a fun morning of singing, dancing and playing with a lovely group at Toddler Jam yesterday,  Josiah (4yrs) asked “Mama, will my friends visit me in Massangulo?” A tough question given how far away it is and difficult to get to. I replied somewhat reluctantly “probably not, you know it’s a really long way and very expensive for people”. He agreed, but still said “but I’d like them to” and “I could show them my things” and then finally optimistically, “who do you think might come mama?”.

So consider this an open invitation to friends and family alike to think about taking an amazing trip to an amazing place to visit people who would love to see you. We’ll be back in Mozambique later this year and would love to talk about you coming to see us and where we are.

I know a four year old that especially would love to see ‘his friends”!

(Not to mention two adults and three others kids…)

 

A Family Together in Sadness

While many of the times with family and friends here in Australia over the past few months have been joyful and uplifting, this last week has been somewhat different.

At the age of 90, just a few days shy of her 91st birthday, Scott’s Gran passed away.

Being together with the family in grief has been deeply meaningful and precious for us. Crying,  hugging, supporting and sharing memories are times we will cherish. We feel for those who aren’t able to be here (we love you Lyns) as we know how that feels, but are so thankful that we can be here in person this time. That we have been able to spend time with Gran, have our kids know her in some small way, that we can reflect, grieve and be part of her funeral. These are all things we value this week.

P1110536 (1)And as we think about Gran this week, we think about you all as well. All of you who we love and appreciate. All who we miss when we are apart. For those we have spent time with already, we are grateful. For those who we haven’t, those we have promised but not fulfilled yet, for those we have missed – we do truly want to see you and will do our best over the next couple of months. And for those still distant – Canada, Ireland, Mozambique, UK etc – our thoughts and memories will always be treasured….until the next time we meet.

 

 

 

School days

IMG_0730Last week a milestone happened in our family – school drop off started. Yes our big 5yr old started school. Granted it’s only for a few months here in Australia before we return to homeschooling back in Mozambique, but it was still a big moment for the family and especially Levi.

No one was quite sure how he would go. Used to spending all his time with siblings and parents in the Mozambique bush, would he cope with saying goodbye and embracing a group of strangers?

I can honestly say that with not a backwards look he waved goodbye to us before planting himself in the middle of the other kids on the mat. His one concern – that his brother wouldn’t miss him too much while he was away. And that afternoon as he bounded out, big smile on his face, he proceeded to tell us what a great day he’d had and how he couldn’t wait until the next.

While this is only a temporary situation for him, for us, we are so glad that this looks like being  a positive experience for him and the whole family.

Celebrating moments in time

IMG_5250Life is full of moments. Moments of joy, moments of sadness and all the moments in between. Sometimes we have celebrated moments by ourselves in Mozambique, sometimes with colleagues & friends, sometimes with our local friends.

Being back in Australia at the moment we are loving celebrating and sharing these moments with our family, long time friends and those journeying with us.

Last year we celebrated New Years with friends on the shore of the lake in Mozambique. Fireworks, games, conversations and thunderstorms that flooded and blew tents away were memorable events.

This year we celebrated New Years with family & friends in Perth. No fireworks or thunderstorms, but games, glow sticks, conversation, great food, swimming, cricket and picnics at the river foreshore took their place. Being with extended family, celebrating grandparent & great-grandparent birthdays, sharing stories and journeys, capturing the moments in our memories – these are priceless moments that we are loving and we look forward to enjoying more in the next couple of months before returning to Mozambique. P1110557 P1110607

Protected. Enough Said.

 

Satemwa flowers

I have an extreme phobia of snakes. Extreme. No toy snakes in our house, no reptile documentaries or snake stories when I am around.

[As an aside – For those wondering, yes there are snakes here, yes I walk through long grass a lot, no I don’t like doing it, but yes it is part of life].

So when something happens that maybe, likely, probably, definitely was a snake bite, I block it out. Pretend it never happened. If you don’t talk about something it isn’t true. Right?

But as I was writing our upcoming newsletter I was reminded that it did happen. And that not to acknowledge it, is also a failure to acknowledge the greater power of God who protected me and reminded me again of his faithfulness.

So I write this not as a ‘look at me who got bitten by a snake’, or for you to be shocked or worried, but to attest to God’s power over all things, even our greatest fears.

A quick summary…

In Malawi for a conference in March we had an afternoon off and so a bunch of ladies (and a couple of men) decided to visit a beautiful tea estate for high tea. We enjoyed the tea and then wandered the gorgeous gardens. A quick group photo before we left and I stepped sideways into the flowers to be more visible – when I felt a sudden and very sharp pain in my lower leg. I looked down and brushed two little blobs off the outside of my pants. I rubbed my pants but it still hurt. I lifted up my pant leg and couldn’t see anything but it still felt like stabbing pains.

A couple of hours later it still hurt. Badly. Under my pant leg I now had two little red dots next to each other. The dots stayed visible for days. I was also very unwell that night and the next day, but I am thinking that was just coincidental gastro….denial again?

The guys I was with said snakebite. I said no way. They said yes. I think they were right. Actually, I know they were.

Anyway, back to God’s Protection…a few things stand out…

  1. I was wearing jeans – I never wear jeans here, in fact I think in the last 2.5 years I have worn jeans 0 times in Mozambique and probably only a handful in Malawi. The point being of course that denim is way less penetrable than bare skin or thin skirt material.
  2. I was in Malawi – Even though I didn’t need to go to the hospital, just the fact that I could get there in an hour and a half, instead of 5hrs and a border crossing from our house, gave us peace of mind and took away any fear from being so far from help.
  3. I was ok – There are poisonous snakes here. I was ok. Enough said.
  4. I didn’t see it – This might seem odd as a sign of protection but for me it was huge. Much of my fear of snakes is from visual things I see, so to not have seen it has protected me from possible nightmares.

There are so many things I could say about what happened. But at the end of the day, between me and God, the encouragement I received from God was Him reminding me…

“Your enemy is around, but I am greater. I see your fears, but I am stronger.”

 

 

 

How not to visit a Chief

Mitamba - Scenery
I accompanied a friend home yesterday. It was a great, child free opportunity to spend some more time chatting, get her to point out to me some of the divisions in the area we live (ie. where villages start and stop, who lives where) and also to see where her house is.

When we got within vicinity of her house (she lives just over 3km away), she stopped to greet an older man. I greeted him as well, listened as my friend explained where I live (the white person in the house on the mountain, yes that’s me), then we continued on our way. As we walked away she told me that he was the chief of her village.

Part of me sometimes wishes there was more fanfare and announcement of who is who here so I would know their significance. But then the other, greater part of me, knows that it doesn’t matter who they are I should treat them respectfully and appropriately.

Of course appropriate is a little (or a lot) culturally defined and I know that often we get it so wrong. As in the case of our ‘official’ visit to another chief a couple of months ago. We tried so hard, and we failed so badly.

Based on that first awkward introduction, here is our list of what NOT to do next time we meet a chief

1. Don’t make an early morning appointment with the village secretary and then assume that the Chief himself knows and is actually expecting you that early.

Yes I believe we almost got him out of bed, or at least before he was suitably prepared for the day. Not that we did anything wrong as such – Scott spoke to the secretary about wanting to meet the chief who told us to come at 7am on Friday when the chief would be there, and before the chief’s 8am meeting. We got all the kids up, dressed and walked the 45mins to arrive by 7am, only to clearly not have been expected that early. Oh and he didn’t have an 8am meeting either. Not sure where the communication breakdown happened – our understanding, their communication together – but it was extremely awkward in any case to watch him scramble around to host us.

2. Don’t initiate greetings while standing there awkwardly looking at each other.

Yes not greeting is awkward for us, but given that they always sit to formally greet, greeting while standing there can be more awkward for them.

3. Don’t sit on the wrong chair.

Yes there is a wrong chair. The wrong chair is the one which puts the chief sitting close to your wife instead of you, oops.

4. Don’t have children that refuse to speak to people.

For some reason, only known to himself – perhaps the early wakeup and half hearted breakfast attempt had something to do with it –  Josiah, usually our little smiler, decided that our visit was the day that he not only wouldn’t speak to people when they greeted him, but he would throw a full on tantrum when they tried to push the issue. No it probably wasn’t a good idea of the chief’s sister to grab Josiah and lift him up in a attempt to get his attention (ok it was a terrible idea), BUT it also was an awful moment for Josiah to choose to turn into a kicking, screaming, hitting terror. Yes he did. Nervous laugh anyone?!?

5. Don’t have boys that fight.

They are boys. They fight. But, having a knock down, full on punching and wrestling match right where the adults are talking is not conducive to good relationship building. And as for how we stop it in public, we are still working on that….any good ideas??

Despite the comedy of errors that it felt like, at the end of the time sitting with the Chief we still felt incredibly welcomed. He invited us to be in the village, get to know people and become known ourselves. What a gracious man and an open door it turned out to be.

While we will continue to try to learn and grow and not make the same mistakes over and over again, it is so freeing to know that despite our human bumbling God has a plan that He is working out and that he is already working and revealing himself here.

Kids are still kids

Ribbet Collage - Blog Post - KidsYesterday our neighbours had a day where all you can do is shake your head and say ‘KIDS!!’.

Their 18 month old son decided to throw all his clothes in the toilet. Ah the toilet trick. Yes we have seen that one and the boys lost a couple of small toys that way. Unfortunately this toilet trick had bigger ramifications – their toilet is a long drop. And the clothes he threw in were five pairs of shorts/pants – all the pants they have for him – and two of his four shirts. Eek. Yuck.

Unfortunately  limited clothing is available for sale here, and what (second hand) kids clothing is available is super expensive to buy, so replacing them was not a viable option. After a bit of a fishing expedition, our neighbour managed to extricate two pairs of pants – a whole lot worse for wear than if they were just in our relatively sanitised toilet bowl. We found a couple more pairs of pants and a few shirts that Josiah has grown out of to contribute to their wardrobe.

But it got me to thinking about how all kids are the same. Kids will be kids. Will be kids.

Our Josiah has a mischievous glint in his eye and Katelyn is shaping up to find even more ‘fun’ to get into. We found them both in the pantry yesterday quietly eating, and today Katelyn single handedly destroyed a batch of Hot Cross Buns she pulled off the table. That’s not to mention the Lego she eats, art projects she tears up, garden she investigates and bookshelves she empties – constantly! Oh and did I mention that I too went running to the toilet yesterday when I heard various objects coming into contact with the water?!

There might be differences in culture, in upbringing, in language, in setting, in what they have. But kids are still kids.

They still love to make up games to play and copy what they see others doing. They love to run (and crawl) around outside and get really dirty. They love to eat, although they (often) don’t want to eat their green vegies. They are learning and growing. They are pushing the boundaries of what is ok. They can be disobedient, mischievous and frustrating. They fight. They can be funny. Their smiles light up our worlds.

Our kids and our neighbour’s kids are the same. They want a life of joy, a life of security, a life of love from those around them. They laugh and cry, and make us happy and frustrated all in the one moment.

For all our differences with our friends & neighbours, our kids are a constant normaliser. We might parent them differently (and that is a whole different challenge here), but at the end of the day we all want the best for them.

Just hopefully what our kids want doesn’t involve objects and toilets again!