Tag Archives: family

Language sponge


I love listening to Katelyn (2.5yrs) as she wanders around the house talking and singing to herself using words in three different languages. Lately Katelyn has been joining me in my morning Ciyawo lessons and I’m pretty sure she hears & remembers words that I don’t. She’s turning into such a parrot, it’s fun to watch and hear. Of course if we could get her to use more of that vocabulary when she’s speaking to other people here it would be far more useful – but baby steps.

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

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!

New area, new house, new community… part 2

New Area, Important Task #1 : Find food

Attempt 1

Full of energy and enthusiasm I headed into the village centre with our neighbour the other week looking for the local food sources. People had said there was limited fruit and veg around but I didn’t believe them, I thought I knew better. Let me publicly say, they were right and I was wrong. I came home with tomatoes, onions, cabbage, sweet potato, dried beans and a bunch of bananas. Not a bad haul, although that was the full extent of fresh food available. I also picked up some pasta in a small shopfront.

Having learned from other friends I enquired which day was the best market day, thinking that perhaps there was a better day to get more varied goods. Friday was the response. It was a Friday. Oh well.

Attempt 2

After our first outing I spoke with our neighbour who told me that other goods were available at the other market which is closer to our house. This was welcome news – more food, more accessible – which I set out to confirm this week.

On Monday the kids and I, loaded with empty shopping bags, headed down the road for the market. Now I don’t know if you have ever walked with a 2 & 3yr old but they don’t walk quickly, or empty handed or in straight lines. And they attract a lot of attention. Especially Australian kids in this part of the world. As we meandered along the boys picked up sticks and rocks, stopped to watch random goats and sheep on the side of the road and climbed up and down drains. We talked with people passing and stopped to say greet those sitting on verandahs along the road. Almost an hour  (and 2kms) later we finally reached the market  and shops. We bought tomatoes, onions, peanuts and dried fish. They tell me the banana lady was unwell that day.  An hour later we were home again with our meagre spoils. I’m told that I also missed where you can buy eggs (yay) and fresh fish.

It felt a little like a long walk on a semi-failed mission. Yet the relational aspect was pure gold. We met people and got to know a tiny bit more the new community we find ourselves in. Unbeknownst to me, apparently the workers building our fence were impressed that I had walked that far with the kids instead of taking the car.

I’m not promising to walk every time I need some veggies, but I was reminded again of something I used to feel very strongly about many years ago as a single working in the village – the journey you take with people is as important as the destination. The time you allow for people is as (or even more) beneficial as the program you provide. Being mama and having so many demands on my time and energy sometimes I forget to appreciate the journey in the process of getting from A to B and achieving something to tick off at the end of the day. With my family, kids, neighbours, team, new relationships and community I need to allow space. And the first place I need to get back to allowing more space is for God – no program, no agenda, just moments of time and journeying with Him and discerning His voice.

Oh and in terms of food, we will keep buying in bulk when we make semi-regular trips to Lichinga, work on better storage methods for our fruit and veg and pray for a rapid growing garden!!


*** Postscript: Talking to someone else today I heard that there are bigger weekly markets in three different nearby areas (5-40km away). Whilst I am keeping low expectations of the definition of ‘bigger’, my mission next week will be to check them out.



New area, new house, new community… part 1

House - Sunset viewWe thought we were ready to move house, and we were. But now we have I find myself feeling a little off kilter. We really feel this new place is where we are meant to be. The start of something new. Something prayed for, dreamed about, planned for and worked to make happen.

Yet, at times, I find myself longing for the old familiar too. Longing for the routines that had become comfortable, the locations we knew, the friends I trusted, the support we had. When we moved to Mozambique as a family we moved into MY old house and spent time with MY old friends. It was a big thing to leave our families and friends in Australia yet there was a sense of knowing what we were going to. We moved thousands of kilometres, yet it was comfortable. Last month we only moved 90km and it feels foreign – a new place with new people, routines and locations. I always thought I loved change, new things, extreme flexibility, but just sometimes normal is nice and predictability has a little less stress attached.

This is something new we are doing together as a family. A new season. This is something we, I, am going to throw myself into wholeheartedly.

Now to get into the business of settling the family, making new friends, seeing what God is doing here and finding the local markets…..