Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Skateboarding!

Christmas 2008 103I think the boys' very favorite present was the Spiderman skateboard  that the Farmer family sent us from Virginia!  They actually sent us two but if they don't mind, I'm going to give out one at a time, at least until I can see how they treat it and how it holds up.  I'm torn as to whether the fun of two at the same time would outweigh the confusion it might create!

 

Anyway, not only is the skateboard so cool, but the sent helmets and knee and wrist pads as well.  The boys love it!  And in such a short time, they are already learning their balance and getting the hang of it. Of course, that's the big ones - the small ones like to lay on it or be pushed on it!

Here's some fun photos of them learning!Christmas 2008 255Joao was the first one to try!

 

Pedro picked it up real quickly!001 

006 So did Tome!

Antonino is getting the hang of it!007

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Elidio, the youngest to try so far, does a great job!

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Fauso knows how to stand up but really enjoys riding on his belly!

Many, many thanks to the Farmer's for not only the actual gift but all the work they went through to mail it here!  Mailing two skateboards, plus Pop Rocks, Light up necklaces, light up balls, etc., is not easy or cheap!  We appreciate you!

By the way, the Farmers learned about me and my boys thru my friend Justin Fox who travels around the country (and the world!) ministering in music.  He shares at his concerts about our work here in Mozambique.  Check out Justin's site - there's a link to it in the right column of my blog!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Setting the captive free!

Today I had the privilege of cutting off these witchcraft cords from Miscellaneous 001 around the stomach of our newest boy.  What a joy I felt to be part of something so simple yet so profound. 

Many people, in their desire to protect their children from evil spirits, unknowingly entrust them to those very same spirits.  Cords of simple string are put around their stomachs and/or wrists, in the hopes of keeping sickness and evil away. I don't know much else about the process or ceremony.

I do know that "our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness!"  Hebrews 7:27 says "He (Jesus) sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself."  No other sacrifice or appeasement is necessary!  Praise God! 

Please pray with me for freedom for Lucas from any lingering affects of witchcraft, things we've seen and what we haven't. 

Friday, December 26, 2008

Our Christmas Pressie!

We got a very special Christmas gift in our dorm this year - a new boy arrived on Christmas Eve!Christmas 2008 107

His name is Lucas, he is said to be six years old and you can see he's quite small.  He doesn't speak and wears diapers and can't walk really but he does stand on his own for short periods of time.  We're not sure what his challenges are, diagnosis is always hard here, and especially without a medical history.

He was abandoned by his father at the hospital for over a month so they called us and asked if we would take him.

Christmas 2008 211He is such a sweetie, very content to watch all the goings-on around him!  The boys love him and spend lots of time making him smile and laugh.  He sat during Christmas and put his gifts in and out of his bag and that impressed us with his skills. 

 

Christmas 2008 158Please pray for us and our Tias - we already have two other disabled  children and this makes them each responsible for one in particular, along with their other children.  And, in the youngest boys room, we're getting three new boys tomorrow from the Baby and Toddler Houses!  We'll have a full set of little ones!

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Is there anyone under that blanket?  It doesn't look like it!

 

 

 

 

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Peek-a-boo! 

It's Lucas, getting ready for bed!  Good night!

 

(Yes, he came with a bad pressure sore - please pray it heals quickly!)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again! Or is it back in the sauna again?

Hello from Mozambique! After a wonderful two months in the States, I am back with my little darlings in Zimpeto with Iris Ministries. Oh December 2008 003how I loved their extravagant welcome full of hugs, love and tons of hand written cards! I've missed them so much and am so happy to be back with them again! I suspect they've missed me too! Here's a few of them playing in my house today!

It hasn't quite been a week yet and I am still making lots of adjustments! Here's a sampling:

*110 degree heat with humidity - I forgot how much the heat takes it out of you, just walking across the center is a chore!

*Speaking of walking, I never sit down! I forgot how on the go I am with the boys and various other things to do!

*Being tired - I feel so tired! I'm sure that's a combination of all of these things plus jet lag!

*Things we take for granted in the US that you can't here - ATM's with no money, bank machines at stores that don't work, no propane in the whole city til after the New Year (that's what we use to cook!), NO cell phone coverage for two days - for the entire capital city! (and except for businesses, no one here has home phones, only cell.) I forgot how difficult the most basic things can sometimes be here.

*Cockroaches - do I need to elaborate?

*Dirt and dust - I must have forgotten because I feel like I've never seen so much of it in my life!

*Mosquitos and mosquito repellent - ugh!

*Broken things - three broken windowpanes, two broken screens, two broken swingsets, one broken CD player, half broken DVD player and half broken VCR (meaning they now work only half the time, but there's no rhyme or reason!), one broken bicycle, four broken or lost locks.

*The awareness that despite my praying, dreaming and hoping while away, I return to find that it is incredibly hard to try and really raise 29 boys with all the obstacles we face.

However, while I am adjusting to the difficulties, I am also welcoming the positives! Another sampling:

*A million hugs a day - I read somewhere once how many hugs a day humans need to thrive but have forgotten the specific number because I am so confident I've far surpassed it!

*Seeing how joyful my boys are - I guess they don't know about all the challenges?

*Seeing my darling Pedro! It's hard to express my joy at being with him again!

*Wonderful greetings from the staff and knowing they're glad I'm home!

*Abundant, safe water at our center - what a blessing this truly is!

*Driving on the left side of the road, I do enjoy it!

*My two cats, PussPuss and Antonio - they were really happy to see me!

*The African sky, day and night!

*The African wind (what would we do without it in the heat?!)

*Feeding several hundred people an early chicken Christmas dinner on Sunday and preparing for several hundred more on Thursday. What a profound joy to feed the poor as we are called to do.

*Preparing presents for the boys, knowing they'll love their gifts - they LOVE Christmas! It's all very exciting!

*I'm grateful that I don't mind cold showers (and take two or three a day right now!) since we the propane we have has to be used for cooking!

*I'm very grateful that there seems to be a generous supply of Coke Light in town right now as we often run out and that would definitely fall under the adjustment category!

*I am obviously (hopefully!) even more grateful for the love of our Savior, Jesus and the hope he has brought me. I'm so privileged to be able to share that love and hope with these darling boys he has entrusted to me for this time.

Honestly, I always find the transition back to Mozambique a bit difficult. It's not that I'd rather be in the US and find being here an obligation, it's more that I come face to face with all the challenges and simply how difficult things can be. I guess I see then how selfish I can be and how as much as I say I'm willing to endure hardships for the Lord, deep down I hope He won't give me any and everything will be easy!

But since I know that's not the truth, I pray God will be my strength and sufficiency and will develop perseverance and character in me until I reflect his glory. I suspect I have a long way to go but I am on the journey!

If you think about it, please say a prayer that all of God's purposes will be accomplished here in my life and the lives of my boys! Thanks!

(Ps: if you're thinking of visiting - ignore the top section and come anyway!)

Monday, December 15, 2008

San Diego SuperChargers!

Some of you may know I LOVE the Chargers!  I LOVE football!  I LOVE Everything 354visiting the US during the Fall so I can watch as much football as possible!  The sights, the sounds, the action - I LOVE it! 

And it's 100 times better when you're there in person!  I've been to only a few games but I always tear up during the National Anthem and love the fireworks and canon booms at the end.  The last couple games I've been to have included F-13s doing a fly-by as the last note of the anthem fades away and the crowd cheers their hearts out - amazing!  At that particular moment this year, I so wished I could share something so exciting with all my boys, none of whom have ever experienced anything like it.  Maybe someday . . .

Until then, I gladly share my Charger games with my oldest Everything 293nephew, Randy.  He's a huge fan himself and we've tried to go to a game every year for the last several years but a few times things have come up preventing us from going.  One year, it was the San Diego fires!  We had tickets but had to return them when they had to move then venue to Arizona.  Everything 301

Anyway, nothing stopped us this time and it was a great game.  Sadly, the Chargers lost to the Colts in the last seven seconds so it was a lame ending but it sure was a lot of fun!

We'll beat 'em next year!

 

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Randy and Emma Fariss from Faith Fellowship sent me this jersey as a gift after reading a previous post about my love for the Chargers - what an amazing gift!  Thank you!

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The Chargers hold off a touchdown but couldn't prevent the field goal that ended the game.  Bummer!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Wanna play darts?

 

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I DARE anyone to make that shot - that took REAL talent!  there was a little staple there and I hit threw the dart there perfectly!  In case you're wondering, I was NOT trying to be that bad.  And yes, everyone gave me about a ten foot range when it was my turn!

 

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Here I am celebrating getting all three darts on the dartboard for the first time! 

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My cool nephew James with his double double bulls eye!

He's the man!

  So, anyone wanna play darts?!?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Visiting Gettysburg

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My trip to Gettysburg was amazing.  It was a bit overwhelming to stand and see for myself the place where so many American men gave their lives to fight for what they believed in.  It was such a glorious fall day, the beauty of the place made it all the more poignant what took place there so long ago.  I'm so glad I had the opportunity to go.  Thanks Mom and Larry for taking me!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Good Ol' USA

Well, this post is looonnnggggg overdue!  I've been in the US for several weeks and head back to Mozambique in exactly two weeks!  I finally thought I should let everyone know I am here! 

US visit October 2008 045It's been a busy time in the US as always.  I went almost immediately to my mom's in New Jersey and was with her for several weeks.  She is doing remarkably better which was wonderful!  We saw her PET report and every paragraph began with "significant improvement" as relates to her non-Hodgkins lymphoma.  She has gained weight and along with it, energy.  She's up and about every day, now only the  weather keeps her in the house as she is to avoid settings which can lead to infections.  Her spirits are up and she feels very hopeful about the future.  Naturally, all of this is a great relief to me and the rest of us who love her.  I praise God for his kindness and his care for her!  Here she is awaiting chemo - doesn't she look great?  And happy!

US visit October 2008 065After my mom's, I went to Florida to visit my dad and his new lady-  love, Judy.  She's lovely, just what any daughter would want for her dad!  It was nice to get to know her and see them together - they even kissed!  :)

 

My sister and youngest nephew, James, live nearby so we got to US visit October 2008 072spend time together as well.  We even had an early Thanksgiving celebration since we were all together. 

The highlight may have been my amazing darts skills.  A future entry might show some photos of my "off the charts" skills!

My next destination was southern California where I spent some time Southern California Nov 2008 003in Costa Mesa with friends and former co-workers at Vanguard University.  I love my good friends in the OC!  I just wish I'd had more time there as I felt like I breezed right thru!  My middle nephew,  Sean, DROVE out from Las Vegas to see me!  That was so cool and so fun!

I did make it all the way south, down to San Diego as well.  I met up with my oldest nephew Randy and we went to the Chargers' game!!!  Sadly, they lost in the last seven seconds.  But it was a great game and great fun!  (Randy has to send me the photos from the Charger game still!)

I'm now in the lovely town of Roseburg, Oregon, overlooking the US November 2008 001Umpqua River from my cousin Maureen's house. I was here in time for a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family, the best!  I've only left the  house (except for walks or sitting in the garden) once in one full week!  I am loving relaxing (like playing cards!) as well as getting caught up on the computer and business end of things!  Like remembering to update my blog!

I hope everyone else has enjoyed an amazing Fall as well as I have!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Afternoon Program

Each week, Tuesday thru Thursday, the boys come in for our Afternoon Program, one room at a time.  We primarily have teaching from the Bible but I consider the time "supplemental education" so it can be just about anything! 

In the photos below, when I'm wearing a green shirt, that was Room 2, the oldest boys, and we were studying creation.  When I have on the orange shirt, that was Room 3, the youngest boys and we were playing with play-dough, after studying creation.  The idea was that God has shared with us His creativity and the boys could create with Play Dough!  We always have fun and they mostly behave!

 

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I love helping the boys discover new things! 

They take such delight in learning.

I pray that throughout our time together, I can cultivate a heart for learning more about the Lord and his love for them as well!

(Hey, if anyone has any ideas, please let me know!)

(photos by Laura Grazier - thanks!)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I officiated a wedding! What???

October 2008 029

The last several weeks, Fiona and I have been teaching the boys the 10 Commandments for the afternoon program.  When we got to "don't commit adultery" we also wanted to focus on building up marriage so we staged a wedding.  Fiona was such a good sport to be willing to get married three days in a row!

Here she's about to be walked down the aisle by her "father", Estevao!

 

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Felipe, one of my chefes, was great to go along as the groom.  In fact, after I asked him if he would play along, he arrived with a tie and coat!  So cool!

We talked about the significance of the ring and of the white dress symbolizing purity and the commitment we can make now to wait for the person God has in store for us to marry. 

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Estevao carried on his role as father of the bride by accepting the labolo, the bride price, of sodas, a capulana and some money. 

It just so happened that I had some leftover cake sitting on the counter so I grabbed it to use for the happy couple to feed each other and we all ate some as the "guests."

We had so much fun, li-li-li-ing through all the steps, clapping and whistling as the groom kissed the bride - her hand anyway!

And I pray that in all the fun, the boys took in the message of  God's plan for one man to marry one woman and remain faithful to one another!

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Introducing . . . Alexandre!

October 2008 042 Pronounced Al-esh-andre, this little lovely arrived in early October. So recently in fact, I don't know his family story or why he has come to live with us at Iris.  But we love him already, his smile is captivating and so is his personality.  He doesn't speak Portuguese but is learning quickly.  He only speaks Shangaan but will begin school next February, which is conducted in Portuguese so we'll need to get him up to speed quickly!  He's fit in so well already, made friends with the other littlest ones and seems quite happy-go-lucky!  When I have more information on his background, I'll share here.  Please pray for Alexandre that he will continue to feel at home and that God will comfort him in whatever has happened that has led him to our home!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pineapple upside-down cake!

Talent Show 014 I promised the boys if they practiced and tried their best (meaning: obey the Chefes!) for the Talent Show we had last night, I would make them cake!

For some reason, pineapple upside-down cake sounded good to me so that's what we made - three pans of it!  The third pan is still in the oven when this photo was taken. 

Pedro was the mainstay, as he hangs out with me when he visits, but for each cake I invited a couple different boys in to help make it.  They love doing stuff like that!  That's Silavio in the photo.  We had so much fun!  And they love cleaning up too!  What a bonus. 

I can't wait to eat some cake and neither can they!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tinkertoys!

Soccer uniforms 041 My boys are having as much fun with the Tinkertoys as I did as a kid!  (Not that you'd know from these two photos where none of them are smiling!)  Their favorite thing to make is a microphone stand and pretend to have church!  You know, I know they're small and a lot of it is out of habit but I love that they play church and I often overhear the boys singing a worship song.  I love that that is the context of their play and pray it sinks into their hearts and minds!

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Maybe next time I'm home I'll get some Lincoln Logs - have they started making those again???

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Soccer Stars!

Soccer uniforms 019 Look at these gorgeous and oh-so-professional looking  futball players!  We received such wonderful  new  uniforms as a gift from friends in the US. 

Let's see if I can explain this properly:  My friend Dot has a great-niece, Alyssa, who is on a girls' soccer team.  Her niece, Lisa, is the coach. Soccer uniforms 020 Alyssa won a grant for $250.00 from a professional soccer player.  They decided to collect uniforms and balls for my boys and use the money to pay the postage to send them to us. In addition, the Ladies Sarah Circle of the United Methodist Church, Waretown, paid for postage that was over and above. Soccer uniforms 003

Lisa and Alyssa contacted a uniform company called "Jako" who let them pick from tons of brand new uniforms!  They sent us FIVE boxes!!!  Mostly uniforms, several balls and pumps as well.  I think the thing they liked the best are the goalie pants!!

There were lots of different sizes in the boxes so we will be able to bless other dorms and even perhaps some of the older youth teams that we play with in the community! 

Soccer uniforms 029Thank you so much Alyssa, Lisa, Dot, and the Ladies Sarah Circle, as well as Jako and the foundation which gave Alyssa the grant, for having a heart to bless my boys this way.  They really feel so special when they put these uniforms on!

 

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Angelo celebrating a goal!