Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Hello friends and readers.  Just a quick note to say we've been without internet at the center for almost two weeks now.  That's why you haven't heard from me lately.  I'm in the city now at a cafe that offers internet, trying to catch up on emails. 

Some highlights:

*School holidays last week equaled three trips on the ferry over the river; one hysterical child causing the ferry to be turned back and all of us ushered off; 31 soft drinks; three trips to the airport and 31 ice cream cones!

*Mumps were confined to the original three boys and none of them got it too badly.

*Still no ATM card (and thus no cash) and a credit card frequently declined as the fraud alert kicks in.  Drat those thieves who stole my purse!

*Temporary passport may lead to a new DIRE soon - let's hope!

*New lock system for the car has already broken.  And been repaired again.   At least some things happen fast here in Africa!

*Getting a lot of reading, cooking and exercising done without the internet.  Hmmm, could get used to that actually!

See you around again sometime!

Love, Laura

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Visit With Pedro

April 2010 033Oh, how I love having my little boy visit for the weekend.  Oh, how deflated I feel on the drive home after I've dropped him off at his house.  Oh, how empty my house feels. 

So many things I want to teach him, I'm just brimming with ideas!  A country a day.  Devotionals for teens.  Multiplication tables.  How to bake a cake from scratch (and not out of a box as we did this weekend).  English sayings like "hold your horses" and "don't let the cat out of the bag" (wait, do I know where that one came from??).  Cribbage.  How to talk to God about anything, at any time.  How to forgive.  How to apologize - and really mean it.  How to spell in English.  How to make chili.  How to eat with chopsticks.

TApril 2010 005he list could go on and on - oh, it did.  But you get my point.  It's tricky to pack all that learning and living into a weekend and not make it feel like cramming for the SATs.  My desire to bless him and teach him and raise him - all condensed into the occasional weekend, leaves me feeling agitated sometimes, like I haven't done enough.  But I don't want him to feel like he's a student - he's my son.  I so wish all that teaching and learning could just flow naturally out of every day life.

But, I am oh-so-grateful for every moment I do have with him.  So we just enjoy our time together although we both feel it isn't really enough.

Here's the highlights of this visit: (with his little friend Fauso in blue)

-Making a cake (from a box though)April 2010 027

-Making blueberry muffins (NOT from a box, from a packet!)

-Practicing with chopsticks at the Chinese restaurantApril 2010 022

-Multiplication practice during YahtzeeApril 2010 030     

-What does Easter mean to me personally discussion

-A short note added to my mom with some English spelling practice.

I love this little boy, well, young man, so much my heart sometimes wants to burst!  It almost did when I left him at home, pictured below with the little neighborhood children, on Sunday evening.  My world isn't quite the same when he isn't tangibly in it. 

April 2010 036

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Passing by Suffering

While driving to Nelspruit last week, thru the most beautiful part of the journey, a winding road thru the mountains with a river down below on one side, I came across a horrible accident.

It was a mini van, likely being used as a taxi, and there were several people involved.  It hadn't happened long previously but there were several cars stopped and a police car as well.  Many ladies were sitting on the side of the road, appearing to be in shock. 

Pardon my being graphic but the worst of it that I saw was the man in the passenger seat, still sitting upright but with no door, with blood covering his head and chest - he appeared to be dead although I of course can't be certain. 

There was another man lying on the ground, who may have been trying to gather his belongings or he may have been injured.  He turned his head toward me as I slowly drove past and it seemed to me our eyes met. 

Then I kept going.

Within two minutes I began to question my decision to keep driving.  Shouldn't I have stopped?  Perhaps there is something I could have done to help.  Sure, there were other cars stopped, and even a police car, with the lone police officer standing idly by his car, mind you.  Emergency services hadn't yet arrived and wouldn't for at least another 40 minutes.  I know this because 20 minutes later, I passed them just beginning to head toward the scene from the town of Nelspruit. 

So what could I have done?  I'm not a nurse so I couldn't have helped in any significant way medically.  But couldn't I have sat with the ladies as they thought what to do now?  Couldn't I have helped people gather their belongings strewn all over the road?  Could I not have held the hand of someone in pain and just been a caring presence?Could I have helped the man lying on the road whose eyes locked with mine for an instant?

Could I not have stopped to say "I care" and not simply passed by people in their suffering just because I didn't know exactly what to do?

The circumstances couldn't have been better for stopping:  I was alone so I didn't have to consider someone else's preferences; I had no appointments I was rushing to in the city; it was only about 10am so no chance of getting dark; I was in South Africa and not Mozambique so language would not have been a barrier.  That is in contrast with what happened two weeks ago exactly on this same road but further along in Mozambique: 9 at night, language an issue and other people in the car with me who weren't totally comfortable with stopping as we passed by the accident with two people lying in the road. 

I have seen more accidents and injuries up close here than I ever have in my life before (In fact, this exact same portion of road is the scene of the single most horrific thing I have ever seen as I stopped at a previous accident there three years ago). I also see more suffering in daily life as well. 

I don't simply want to pass it by. 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Minha Shara (or, My namesake)!!!

 April 2010 029

Introducing . . . Little Laura!!!!  Isn't she a precious little bundle?  A chubster too!    She is two months old this week and looking very healthy and happy.  And a bit like me, do you think???

April 2010 028

Laura's mom, Rebecca, is holding her with me in this photo.  And on the right is her grandmother, Julia.  Julia has been working in my dorm since a few months before I arrived in the dorm in 2004.  She comes every Friday and works half a day washing the boys' towels.  My salaried Tias could do that but Julia was hired by the missionary before me to give her some small income in exchange for the work and I've kept her all these years.  She faithfully comes every Friday unless she or a family member is ill.

She has a lovely, joyful spirit and is a hard worker, often picking up the yard and garden after her towels are done and she waits for lunch.  She attends our church as well and always stops by for a visit. 

It's been a privilege to have her as part of our dorm all these years and now she's bestowed a great honor on me - she has named her granddaughter after me!!!  So now I have a shara (pronounced "sh-rah!")!  A very great honor indeed. 

I pray this Little Laura knows the joy and peace and contentment of walking with the Lord Jesus just as I have.  I pray she is kept healthy and fed and clothed and loved abundantly just as I have been.  I pray she knows she is a daughter of the King of Kings, just as I do!  I pray for wisdom and discernment from the Lord of how he would like me to be involved with this precious family.

Honestly, I think she might look a little like me don't you?

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Missing Naftal

Just wanted to show you one way in which my boys are processing losing Naftal.  This isn't a particularly verbal processing culture and even less so for kids as you might imagine.  So I've been wondering how my boys are feeling about losing Naftal.

April 2010 003

Yesterday, I was walking thru the playground and one of my boys called out, "come see our cemetery!"  (umm, what???)  So I took a peek around the corner and there was one little grave, complete with flowers stuck in and a little stick with a piece of paper at the head of the grave. It looked exactly like a miniature of a grave here.

I asked, "who's grave is that?" and they all three replied, "Naftal's!" 

Well that near about made me cry right there.

What I wouldn't give to have been a Shangaan-speaking fly on the wall when they had the idea and went about making the grave!  It sure would have given me some insight into their thoughts and feelings.  (Shangaan is their heart language so even though I am better and better at Portuguese, I still only know about 20 words in Shangaan which is what they speak so often.)

It was a bit bizarre really but I've decided it's healthy as well. 

As for me, I still process different aspects of his death as they hit me.  Today, driving alone in the car I thought, "I can't believe he went from a stomach ache to dead in less than 30 days."  It was all just so fast. 

I found his contribution to my welcome home banner from November.  That made me tear up a little as well. 

We do miss him but we also know, especially as we celebrate Easter today, that we have a loving Savior who has made a way for us to celebrate eternity with Him.  So I know Naftal is already there and am comforted by that.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Raindrops keep falling on my head - and garden!

March 2010 003

So it rained the other day.  And rained.  And rained some more.  Til my back garden looked like this.  Notice the distinct lack of children in this photo!  I love it when it rains like this!  IF I don't have to leave the house!  And IF I don't get started thinking of all the people in this country whose homes don't have proper roofs and it rains inside their house as well.  And IF the boys, all 33 of them, don't get bored of watching a movie which is what they do when it rains outside!.

In spite of the "ifs", I love the rain!