Tag Archives: Kids

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.

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!