from pre-teen to preemie…

Judson has been calling himself a pre-teen ever since he was 7 years old, much to our amusement.  Last week he officially reached that status when he turned 12! So we’re trying to prepare ourselves for the inevitable reality. Our cute chubby babies turned into adventurous children and  now one is threatening to grow into a gangly teen. With his brother following close behind. I’m not at all ready to say goodbye to their childhood and always feel sentimental when looking at old pictures…but I guess I’ll be doing the same thing in a few years when looking back to this stage. So the secret is, enjoy today 😊

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Judson’s birthday supper.

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Judson was part of an Art and Craft fair here in Mbeya. Quite a few of his art pieces sold, which made his day!

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There’s a small zoo close by and Jeshua, if you can tell by the look in his eyes, was quite enthralled by feeling a snake around his neck.

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Amy had her 7th birthday last week too. She’s very active and has officially become her daddy’s mountain climbing companion as she shares his love for strenuous challenge and has the energy to boot!

 

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We are so blessed with fresh produce here! It seems these mountains are the garden of eden of Tanzania…

Gladi is almost 4. It’s been since September that she’s seen her mom, but we’re happy to be in phone contact with her again and we hope to take Gladi to greet her in a few weeks. We have no idea when her mom will want her back or if she ever will, but it seems either way her little life will be sadly unsettled as we’re not able to adopt her. But we’ll give her love and stability for as long as we can!

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Kasia Grace is 12 weeks old today! She’s just now reached Winston’s birth weight so we’ve had a newborn for a very long time now. She’s getting very alert and sociable and we’re looking forward to seeing her grow past newborn size!

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Having a visit with her daddy

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Winston is very impatient to start 1st grade. His two years of preschool and learning to read are over and he’s so happy to finally have books and lightunits like the others.

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In these intense years of parenting I’m incredibly grateful that the spirit of God that works in me will work in my children as well. Parenting is a life giving thing… from the conception of babies to training of children to watching a teen learn how to fly on his own. And it doesn’t have as much to do with the nitty gritty of table manners or muddy floors as it often seems. But it’s all about showing our children Jesus and living as He lived. Living as He lived in a world gone wrong. God help us be strong and uncompromising.

Ted Tripp says, “We must equip our children to function in a culture that has abandoned the knowledge of God. If your objectives are anything other then “mans chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever”, you are teaching your children to function in a culture on its terms. Our objective in every context must be to set a biblical world view before our children. Our children must grow to see that real living is experienced when he stands before God and says, “whom have I in heaven but you? And being with you I desire nothing on earth.” If this is what you want for your children then you must ensure that the content of everyday life fits this objective.”

The culture around us panders to a child’s desires. In going places, doing things, and satisfying their lust for excitement. But we, as followers of Jesus, get to show our children a different kind of excitement in loving and serving Him. A life worth living.

Cheers to every mama today!

 

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By Faith…

These days, our life feels incredibly full of the earthly. Have you ever wondered why God commands us to set our affections on heavenly things and yet daily we’re engulfed with the many demands of this world? Have you ever felt like the dreams of your youth have faded into something different than you expected? Or perhaps you really are living your dreams but it’s a lot harder then you expected.

Life in my dreams largely consists of me and the perfect scenario. But I forget that God doesn’t usually accomplish his work in me with life gone perfect. The times I grow the most are when life goes awry, or when life feels like it’s doing nothing but sitting there. When the reality sets in that ministry consists of a whole lot of setbacks and hard work and very few feelings of success. Or maybe it’s needing to set aside everything we love and take on something we never would have chosen.

And then I remember that a meaningful life isn’t necessarily living my dreams but rather owning the assurance that I’m being obedient and faithful. Because after all, Gods design for life is ultimately better then dreams. Or wants, wishes, or expectation.

If you’re like me, it’s the daily rounds of house duties that accompany six children. Of course, I always dreamed of being a mother, but the reality that my children don’t wear halos and the intense commitment it takes took me by surprise. I wish I could clean the dust off the bookshelf once and it would stay clean for at least six months. If my children would just always stay sweet, clean, and fed it would definitely make life a lot easier and I’d have more time to pray. The laundry basket is always full. Is this spinning around for work that’s never done really making a difference? Like Sarah Hagerty says, “I’d love to find someone to do the laundry and scrub the bathroom so I could get to the places where I can make an ‘impact’ for God.”

Perhaps something like that impact we dreamed about?

I love how Sarah Hagerty expresses it. “If I can find him in the unseen and hidden, perhaps this will change everything. In the loud, busy noise of this world most of our lives go completely unwitnessed. Do these mirades of little duties, these little minutes even matter? The rest of the world views everything we touch to be small. And yet, here, in our most unknown hours, might there be something more? Could it be that this is a gift?”

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Because there’s really nothing like feeling His smile in these hidden moments. Those moments that are mocked by career women and forgotten by most everyone else. Could it be that these moments are what is going to define me and where God is found?

No matter if we’re a mother or a farmer, a preacher or brick layer, a secretary or bible translator, a scrubber of bathrooms or a storekeeper. All these little moments matter. A whole lot. And it’s where our impact lies. The compilation of these moments make up our lives and in the end these moments will make all the difference whether the impact is for the good or bad.

So it really all boils down to obedience. Like Oswald Chambers said, “A life of faith is not one mountain top experience after another, but it’s a life of day in and day out obedience.”

I’m sure Abraham lived some agonizing moments that night after God told him to go up on the mountain and sacrifice his son. Collecting and loading up the firewood definitely didn’t make him feel like the father of faith. Trudging the long way up the mountain took all the courage he had. But he did it.

Moses had no natural abilities to be a leader. But he did it.

I wonder if Joshua and his army felt exhausted or perhaps disillusioned on the long treks around the city of Jericho? Did it take a lot of effort to keep their torches burning? But they got up and did it. Their obedience made all the difference. And their victory was complete.

The Israelites crossed over the Red Sea on dry land. They sang an exuberant victory song and that is all we read about. But I’m sure in that crowd there were many weary mothers, fathers with heavy loads, children crying, and thousands of stubborn animals.

All those little details don’t matter today. But it does matter that they found God inspite of the difficulties and did it anyway.  And it’s the same for us. We’ll forget all today’s moments in just a short time but if we find God in them the impact on us and ours is eternal.

The lists of faith heros in Hebrews 11 are really lists of people who were committed to obedience to their God. Their faith was put into action and became evident by their obedience. Often their choice to obey was fraught with difficulty and loss.  But they made their choice. And because of their obedience, God was not ashamed to be called their God!

So today as I knead a huge mound of bread dough and rock my baby and fold piles of clothes, and sweep up the ever present dust from the floor, I conclude that God isn’t all that interested in making us happy, but ever so much in making us holy.  He’s not as much interested in our accomplishments as He is for our worship. And in it all, He surprises us with JOY!

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A slice of Ivuna village

Last week we were privileged to spend four days in the village. It was a special gift from God that we reveled in. The people were overwhelmingly welcoming and excited to see us.

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Kasia greets the chief and his oldest wife for the first time.

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Tim held two bible classes daily. These dear people had many happy hours together under the mango tree, learning and encouraging each other.

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Our sweet Gladi was so happy to be able to see her brother again and to greet her grandma.

Every day given to us there is like a gift wrapped in familiar sounds, flashing smiles and the raw joy of experiencing life as it used to be. I smile at the sound of the latrine door opening, the rasp of the nighttime screech owls, the 5:00 am. village crier, the palm fronds rattling behind our bedroom and the tinkle of cow bells from the dusty paths beyond. The boys are convinced life is more fun and adventurous in the village. Of course, life isn’t necessarily fun there in the long run, but it’s deeply satisfying. But even if we love it there we have to remember that our lives and ministry are all about God, worship, and His eternal scheme of things. It’s not all about our loves and sentiments. He doesn’t always leave it up to us choose the where of our service as that really isn’t the most important part.

For now, our place is Mbeya. Where Tim’s brow creases over financial records and government regulations, wading thru new requirements to make it possible for us and all the others to stay in this country. Please pray with us that the doors would open for the Ornelas family, Rebecca, and Trudy to move back to Ivuna this summer/fall.

God’s blessings to each of you!

Tasting of His goodness…

After two rather grueling weeks in the Meta women’s and babies hospital, we were released on Tuesday. Kasia’s fast improvement was a surprise to us and her doctors, who were telling us if she survives will probably need at least a month on oxygen. But as we gave her short exercises without oxygen, she steadily gained independence and in two days was off completely. Such a joy to finally hold my baby without any tubes attached to machines! Her breathing pink tiny body is a continual reminder of God’s gracious answers to prayer!

Due to government regulations there’s no photos of her in the hospital available to post. So here’s a few since she’s without tubes and with clothes on 😊

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A grateful happy family.

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Kasia Grace weighed 4 lbs 6 ozs so she’s about half the size of a few of my other babies were! She seems very tiny and fragile, but is quite a little fighter.

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Joy spilling over from a very happy Amy! She was so excited to finally have a sister, so seeing her so sick was very hard for her but her sweet acceptance made me cry!

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Even though her eyes are wide open here, she’s a very sleepy baby like all preemies are, so getting her fed is a challenge that takes quite a few hours a day. When she’s too lazy or sleepy to suck I resort to the hospital method of using a tiny cup, but we’re making progress. I think by the time her due date rolls around I’ll probably feel like I finally have a newborn with normal care!  We’ll definitely have a newborn much longer then we did with our 8-9 pounders!

In the many hours of kangaroo care and vigil over her little bed in the hospital, Tim often sang this song to Kasia.

“Children of the Heavenly Father, safely in his bosom gather, nestling bird nor star in heaven, such a refuge e’er was given

God his own does tend an nourish, In his holy courts they flourish, From all evil things he spares them,                                                    In his mighty arms He bears them.

Neither life nor death shall ever, Ftom the Lord his children sever, Unto then his grace he showeth, And their sorrows all he knows th,

Praise the Lord in joyful numbers, Your protector never slumbers,    At the will of your defender,    Every for man must surrender.

Though he giveth or he taketh,         God his children n’er forsaketh, His the loving purpose solely,       To preserve them pure and holy.”

And that is our testimony. Though he giveth or he taketh, his loving purpose is only to preserve us pure and holy. In the agonizing valley of watching a child suffer. In the peace of surrender. In the gift of life abundantly given.

In it all our God is supremely good and kind.

 

Where the lions roar….

Lions no longer roar and roam in abundance over Tanzanian grasslands like they did in the past, but last week we discovered they’re still alive and well in this beautiful country. In all our years here we’ve B76DBA41-7BF6-4868-A735-4FBFE516B009never attempted a safari, but we have visitors from Pennsylvania right now who were interested in the adventure. So we went. In a very packed full Land Rover and six excited children.

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We had quite a few unexpected situations come up, like driving over a cement block that was hidden in the tall grass and popping two tires. With the closest tire shop being hours away it was a rather panicy situation but thankfully the headquarters were able to help us and fix the one tire. So together with the spare we were fine till we got back to town again.

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The second mishap came when we were bumping down thru lion country on a very bad road. The trenches in the road were deep and the Land Rover got stuck. We had been following fresh lion tracks and the bushes and grasses were high all along the road. But we had no choice but to lighten the  Rover and get out to push. I think we were all scared, including Tim he said later 😬. We pushed and pushed and prayed and finally the Rover was free. And we very quickly got back into the car! But we didn’t see any lions that time.

Just a beautiful conglomeration of elephants, zebra, giraffe, ostriches, mongoose, gazelle, impala,  kudu, eland, hippo, monkeys and beautiful exotic birds. But then the next day we got our wish. A pride of six lions relaxing in the sun. The boys were so excited! They enjoyed the adventure as much as I enjoyed the raw stillness. Untouched beauty throbbing with wild blood, splashed of brilliance in the sunrise and the birds, hidden power in the evasive lion, the humble flower willing to be one in a million, together flooding the landscape with color. Everything as it has been for ages and yet fresh and newly exalting the existence of an eternal God.

And even though we saw only eight lions , we heard them roar every evening down in the river valley. Somehow a rather shivery sound… especially when Tim and I were out on the porch after dark enjoying the wild sounds and the last fading light. We suddenly felt quite compelled inside when a lions roar tumbled thru the darkness.

Enjoying the beautiful green grass along the way…before we got to lion county!

A week ago we arrived back home…and a lot has happened in this last week. Unexpected things. Hard things. Things we would never choose to go thru. All in the form of a tiny little girl who arrived five weeks before her due date and is at present in the Meta hospital needing special care till her breathing stabilizes. I’ve cried a lot of tears, knowing that if we’d be in the states her condition wouldn’t be critical, but the risk of infection and her needing more then what they can give her here is high. So we raise our hands in surrender and give our little girl to God, knowing that He has all power to raise her up strong and healthy.

We have much to be thankful for. We’re thankful that the alarming symptoms didn’t start when we were deep in the bush listening to lions roar. We’re thankful God led us by a series of circumstances to a competent Christian doctor who was able to help us make difficult decisions and detect a dangerous placental abuption.

We’re thankful for a good God who delights in creating the strong, the powerful, the roar that quivers the heart of nature. And yet he creates the fragile perfect little form of our baby, and he’s watching her take every breath as her chest rises and falls. In the powerful, in the frail, we see the hand of God. And he intimately knows it all.

And we say, His plan is all good.

A peek into the office

BFF9D020-548F-45EA-BEA8-ABE9199AB13EHere’s a brief overview of what is going on in the translation office. The one tiny office is used for multi purposes and is usually a very busy place. Here’s Richard Yalonde, who has been working as our government relations advocate.

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Right now he’s doing all the paperwork to register the various employees hired by the missionary families. He’s working on registering the new NGO, and always working on communication with the district officials as we try to regain their favor. His job is a very detailed, difficult job and we praise God for him.  Tim works closely beside him with resident permits and etc, lots of email communication and record keeping, or like these days, working with CAM on the final layout of the Swahili SALT manual before it goes to print.

Here’s Peter, the main translator who has been working on the Lamp and Light Bible Courses for the past four months.

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He works closely with Pastor Korosso, who checks his work for accuracy. They often have interesting debates as they discuss the best way to translate certain phrases or about various doctrinal things.

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This pastor has been such a blessing to the translation projects and to us as a family. And to the church in Ivuna. Beings none of the ‘wazungu’ (white people) have permission to be there right now, he willingly traveled the long trip to Ivuna a few weeks ago to preach and encourage the church there.  Him and his family have become our Tanzanian family and it’s been a delight to work together.

And three times a week the office packs full with the first SALT group that Samuel Kauffman is starting. It is exciting to see them organize, teach, and learn about Christian living and finances. We pray it will impact their lives and as the groups multiply, impact the lives of many others here in Mbeya town.

Be blessed today!

 

 

 

because there is joy…

Life has been relatively quiet recently. Especially since the guest house is emptied of most of its occupants as the Ornelas family left for their furlough in the states. We’re still enjoying Beka and Trudy, who are here indefinitely waiting it out till they can return to Ivuna.

Here’s one of Amy Carmichael’s lovely quotes that stuck into my heart today. “Humdrum we have called the work and humdrum it is. There is nothing romantic about potters except in poetry, nor is there much of romance about missions except on platforms and in books. Yet, though it is dull there is joy in the doing of it, because there is joy in the obeying…”

There is joy in the obeying.

We all know the fresh lightness of heart when we know we’ve pleased our Master. When we’ve made that hard decision and gone against what comes naturally to our flesh. These days in the routine of my duties that is what I’m focusing on… to allow God to shave off those areas that are not of His character. To be obedient in the nitty gritty difficult. And to catch the flashes of joy that are always a part of every day. Those flashes usually have to do with my precious children, so here’s a few pictures so you can catch a bit of the joy as well 😊

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On our way to church in the three wheeled piaggio.

And our home school where we spend many hours learning how to read, how to add and subtract fractions, algebra, and important character lessons..and many other things. It’s my happy room as I love seeing the children learn.

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Gladi discovered she loves scrubbing the floor 😊

The boys are always busy with projects. Here they’re very pleased with the rabbit hutch they built and with the rabbits we bought from the neighbors. There’s been lots of scrap wood around from all the building projects on this property, so entrepreneur Judson started a business building and selling little stools. They sell very well as ladies like them to sit beside their cooking fires. Now they’re dreaming of having their own wood working shop 😊

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And here’s a beautiful smile from Gladi. 💗

May your day be laced with bright flashes of joy!  A word spoken with kindness, a soft response when your feathers want to ruffle, a quiet heart in the routine.

Because there’s joy in the obeying …