Thursday, October 26, 2006

It's Never Easy To Say Goodbye

My Darling Boys: Fernando, Ivo, QuiQui, Alfredo and Fernando

Tonight was our Reintegration service at church. That means tomorrow I will be taking four of my boys home to live with their families. One more will go later, possibly January, due to some extenuating circumstances.

I am so sad right now because I will miss them dearly. I have been like a mother to them these last two-plus years and I am sad at having to let them go. They are each so precious to me and our house won't be the same without them.

I have been a part of the process of deciding if any of my boys could go home so they go with my full approval, they are just taking part of my heart with them as well.

Fernando and QuiQui are brothers who have lived here for seven years. My co-worker has recently helped build their mother (with three other siblings) a new house and she wants them so we are optimistic about them living with her. They have always wanted to go until yesterday - I think they are getting a bit scared, as well as excited, as I can imagine.

Ivo is who will go in January. He has been here six years and is HIV+. But his mother is lovely now and if I could give her an award, it would be Most Improved Mother! She and her husband are both HIV+ as well, they all go to the GATV clinic for their meds and she has learned how to responsibly take care of Ivo. She has had him home with her almost every weekend for the last year and they have now built a home quite near our center, so he can have access to our clinic and school and still visit all of us. He is the star of our dorm! But also the boy I'm most delighted to see reunited with his mom permanently. He is sad he can't go tomorrow like the rest - he is more than ready to live with his mom and step-dad!

Alfredo has lived here several years. His two older sisters were reintegrated last year. We prefer not to have more than two kids go home at a time, to ease into things, unless there are really unusual circumstances. Of all the kids going home, he's the one I'm least confident of. His parents seem a bit distant and he's already a bit of a lost child. I'm not overly worried, just of the five, he's the one I'm concerned about most for the adjustment.
Fernando is going to live with his mother's sister, his aunt. She and her husband are lovely, but poor, and we'll be helping them with a twice-monthly food box. Through another situation, I was able to see how kind and generous this couple is and my educator, Juliet, who essentially makes the final decisions on these, thinks she's wonderful. Fernando can't wait to go home!

I'm putting together backpacks full of assorted things and when I thought of a towel, I cried. Our kids are well taken care of here and don't lack for material comforts, among other things. And it's a bit hard for them to lose that. But as our director always says, God hasn't changed his mind about families and whenever possible, children should be with their families, even if means no electricity, or no towels!

Please pray for these boys and their families - and for me!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Cooking Class

Ummm, esparguete! Spaghetti to the rest of us! Every week, I have what I creatively call the "Afternoon Program" where Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Rooms 3, 2 and 1, respectively come in my house for - well, for the afternoon program! Sometimes we just play: puzzles, play-doh, etc. Sometimes we have a Bible story and corresponding craft, sometimes we make fun things, sometimes we do educational activities. Last month I introduced a new element, hands-down the favorite: cooking "class!" Once a month, the activity will be cooking something together. So three times in a row, with 15 boys each at a time, we make something they can eat at the end. Last month it was mini-fritattas, courtesy of Giada on the Food Network. This month it's spaghetti. I have to be a bit creative to give something to each of them to do. For example, rather than filling the pot for the water to boil, I let five different boys fill a measuring cup with water than pour in the pot. This photo is of Room 2, my oldest boys, so I actually let them near the stove enough to stir and that was the highlight. For the mini-fritattas, the coveted job was to chop the ham with a mini-chopper. They loved bam-bam-bamming it! I overheard them making the noise later that night as they were all talking! Food is the absolute favorite commodity here so anything involving it is popular. But the boys love making something "themselves" and are now convinced they are quite good cooks! Future months might include: banana pancakes, chicken-veg soup, muffins, and even some local foods like shima (a porridge-like staple) and matapa (a sauce made of greens). Hope you have as much fun making dinner tonight as I did!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Meet My Mom

This is my mom, Joyce, at the library in Barnegat, New Jersey, where she earned the Presidential Medal for Volunteerism because she volunteers so many hours there. She also volunteers at Interfaith, a multi-faceted ministry at the local hospital but she focuses on finding rides to doctor's appointments for elderly people who are without their own transportation. Anyone think I might have picked up my desire to volunteer from her???

On Friday, she finished her second complete round of chemo treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. She has had none of the side effects associated with chemo and I am so grateful to God for this answer to prayer. She has been a trooper and I am so proud of her and grateful for her life! Yay Mom!

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Is there a spiritual significance to taillights? More specifically, to them being stolen off the same car, twice in one week, in two different locations 15 kilometers apart?

This is the question that, believe it or not, keeps tugging at my mind this week. Because . . . last Thursday night, during church, the two rear tailights and the front side light were stolen off of my car. They also tried to break into the rear hatchback lock, only succeeding in preventing me from ever being able to use it again. (But I count my blessings that they didn't get in, and I can always climb over the back seat to unlock the rear door!) Amazingly, I was able to get the lights replaced on Monday morning in only two hours time - oh, if you only knew what a true miracle that is! A driver went with me and dropped me at the local ShopRite so he could get the non-mulungu (white person) price. So about a hundred bucks later (that's US dollars) I was street-ready again.

The next Thursday night, I spent in the city at my friend's house while she was in South Africa. The next morning, as I entered the gated, guarded carport, my mouth dropped open to see my two rear lights gone! Again! I think I must have stood there for at least two minutes, just trying to take it in. They didn't steal the front lights but instead, this time, stole the side view mirrors. It is incredibly hard to drive in Mozambique without side view mirrors as I am frequently inching my way past pulled over chapas, carts, pedestrians, potholes, etc!

Anyway, I confess to a brief cry on my drive back home, but while doing so, got a call from Felipe, one of our staff, to say they found my lights that had been stolen the previous week! I was so confused, and so was he when I explained they had been stolen again. His comment - "Eppa!" The previous week, they had been stolen in the center, by a boy who lived here before. They caught him trying again, took him to the police who went to his house (after giving him his punishment - a beating) and found my old lights there. So, the bright side is, I didn't have to pay again for new lights, they were recovered in time to put the old ones back on. But it still leaves me puzzling over my lights being stolen two Thursdays in a row, when in two years of having the car only my radio was stolen once, two years ago, when the car was left unlocked in the city. Anyway, I did have to buy new mirrors, to the tune of another almost hundred bucks, BUT - they too were replaced in about two hours. I wish I could do everything (buy paint, register my car, buy honey, take a child's passport photo, etc., etc.) with this mechanic! By the way, the two places my lights/mirrors were stolen are about 15 kilometers from each other and the one who stole them first was being caught stealing 15 kilometers away when they were being stolen the second time, so it's not the same person. Did you follow that? I know, it's confusing. Hmmm, I'm still wondering if there's some message there!

Five on Friday

Shipping & Handling
1. What method of shipping do you prefer when receiving a package?
AIRMAIL! It's fastest, albeit most expensive, and food isn't past the expiry date when I get it!

2. Do you know your local delivery person?
Yes, but he doesn't deliver. His name is John and works at 3@1 in South Africa where I have my postbox. If I get a package and open it in the shop, I share my American candy with him if there is any. I shared a Reeses and he went and bought me a Black Cat, South Africa's version, to compare. Reeses wins, hand down!

3. If you receive a tracking number for a package, how do you use it?
I did use it when I prepaid for my Mozambican visa which meant my passport was travelling through the mail. I checked often to see where it was.

4. What service do you use to send packages?
I use the "Nice American visitors travelling back to the US" system. I pick the nicest ones who won't mind going to the PO to check to see how much it will cost. I part with my precious American dollars to do so, although sometimes, really nice people offer to pay for it. I also send regular letters this way, having brought US postage with me.

5. Do you ever send mail-order or Internet purchases back
Ugh! This is why I don't shop much online. I wrangled my way through the system for a rechargable battery system that stopped working after one month. Because I'm in Mozambique, and made a big stink about not wanting to pay return postage for something I'd already paid shipping for when it wasn't my fault it broke, they said "keep the defective one" and just sent me a new one - very nice of them!

I like this Five on Friday. You can get it here: Five on Friday

Where in the USA has Laura been?

create your own visited states map

If I hadn't had to cut my Road Trip short, I'd have a lot more red
on this map :( There's always next year . . .

All Over the World

create your own visited countries map

6%, 15 countries - only 94% more to visit in the next 50 years! I can't wait!
Next on the dream list: Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Lesotho for Africa and
Austria, Hungary, Germany and Switzerland for my trip home through Europe!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Will I Ever Keep Up?

Well, as usual, I'm not too up to date on my blog but I'm gonna keep trying! I've just spent almost the entire Sunday holed up in another missionary's home (who was in the city overnight) reading the book, "Intercessary Prayer" by Dutch Sheets. (I highly recomend it so far, about halfway through.) Well, reading and napping - I basically would read a chapter, then take a nap, read a chapter, fall asleep, and so on! I'm sure it would have been better had I been interceding in between chapters! But I needed the rest. Their house is only about 50 or so yards from mine but it is SO quiet in comparison! I couldn't believe I could nap in the middle of the day! A new week begins tomorrow and it will be busy. First priority: replace the lights that were stolen off my car on Thursday night during church! I'll also be doing final home visits to the homes of the boys who will be reintegrated this year and will be going home in the beginning of November, to make sure everything is in order in their homes. I will certainly write more about that! Now, it's time for more reading and sleeping!