Wednesday, March 28, 2012

These are a few of my favorite THINGS

We were teased a bit for bringing back 24 bags. (all in good fun of course)
Over 1,000 pounds. 1,200 to be exact.
Among all the clothes and shoes and baking essentials for the next 2 years we brought back several things to make life over here a little bit easier, a little bit more enjoyable and the house a little bit more "homey".

Here are some pictures of "a few of my favorite things" that we have brought back. And you have to kind of sing the Sound of Music song in your head to get the right feel for it!

I use this every single day and it is currently my favorite thing I brought back.
Stainless steel water bottle with a flip cap so easy to open and close and best thing is it keeps water cold for 12 hours!
I LOVE this!

My sewing machine I bought when I got married with savings bonds from childhood. It has been a great machine, and we have already been using it some.

I saw this rug at my dear Mrs. Due's house. I asked her where she got them and then looked at every target in KY, CA, AL and MS but could not find them. They match perfectly with my curtains. A week or two before we were coming back, she asked me if I wanted them. I really did but had not even mentioned to her that I wanted them. I was so happy. There are 3 of them and I have one at the patio door, one at the entry to the LR and one in front of the fireplace which also matches the star I bought.

*notice the cute little feet

Had one of these before we moved to Zambia but gave it away.
We have a converter that we bought special for my kitchen aid mixer. Once we had this we are able to plug in various things from America and use. We have popcorn a couple times a week here since it is very cheap to buy. Its an air popper so much healthier than popping in oil.

Favorite thing brought back for Grace, hands down.
I LOVE little people. We started our collection with Sarah and accumulated alot. We left it with my sister on loan when we moved and were anticipating bringing it all back when we adopted.
Grace will play with this for a long time pretending with all the little people. It is GREAT!

We found the Cosby Show series at Sam's and bought a couple seasons. ( still need one and two, since we started with 3 and 4) We have enjoyed watching it with the kids on some of the evenings during the week.

Windchimes make me happy and make me smile.
We brought back 3 different kinds.

We brought back a zipline. To add to the outdoor things the kids can do, while still confined in the 4 walls of the yard.
It has been a blast already and I finally got up the courage to ride it this week. it is fun!

Pictures and Frames we had hanging in our hallway back in Shelbyville. I had stored them when we moved but was able to bring that back with us. I hung them up and the last one was actually one of all 5 kids. As soon as I hung it up I had not printed Grace's picture out yet so we quickly remedied that situation and now she is proudly hanging with the rest of the gang.

This last one, we didn't actually bring the shelves over but we brought the hooks from Home Depot so that we could have the shelves made, so that we could be a bit more organized, so that momma would be a bit more happy! A dear friend of mine says shelves and closet space make us women happy!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

One of those GOOD Kabanana Days

Sometimes I go to Kabanana and it is a hard day. Emotionally exhausting, confusing and wondering where do we go from here.
Having to talk to guardians about serious life things. Having to listen to sad circumstances. Seeing homes in such a mess because of life consequences, or just such a physical mess. No toilets, rats infesting homes, seeing kids with sores from bed bugs. Talking through, arguing through the need to see a child put on life saving ARV's, only to be told NO again for the 10th time. Sometimes I come bearing bad news. --We are removing your kid from the program. Or another case, Your child has been lying and not attending church even though you send them out the door and expect that they are there and tears start flowing from the mother and children literally BEGGING for another chance. It can be alot of heavy stuff. But not always...

Today was one of those, GOOD Kabanana days. Mostly just a fun day.
This was the first time I saw all of them together since November.
I have been in Kabanana a few times already and have seen some of the kids. The first day I drove up to Fanny’s house and Morgan and Kelley were there and both had huge smiles on their face. Then when we went to one of the schools to pay for a field trip for the kids and saw them all on break time and that was fun to see them all too.

We started our meeting with them singing some of their favorite songs which thankfully I know most of them now. Though couldn’t translate them. Several of the ones we sing at Ibex hill and that maureen taught my kids when she worked at our home.

Then we passed out a snack for the kids. A mealie drink called super shake and then a roll and an apple. I had planned to get bananas but then saw the apples and knew those were more of a treat, since they cost more than bananas. They all seemed happy with that.

Then we introduced Peggy White, an older woman from a church in Mebane, North Carolina that is visiting for the weekend. As we introduced her it dawned on me that her last name is white and she is white and how that might be funny to the kids. (It was! ) She then taught a very animated lesson of the fall of man in Eden and the cross and Christ dying and being resurrected. The kids all listened very well and attentively. ( except for a couple that I had to sit between and get them to focus rather than playing with their super shake bottle). It was great though she so clearly presented the gospel to the children, and they were listening.

Kelley and Morgan talking with Peggy

Peggy had brought a craft for the kids so the boys colored ball caps and the girls made a beaded jewelry pin. They always enjoy making things, from the oldest to the youngest.

Francis and Emmanuel

Geofrey and Kaumba

It continues to surprise me how much these older kids like doing the crafts and "younger " kid things. These young men were carefully coloring the hats and then asking for specific colors...Does anyone have a "led" (red). Can I get a brown please???
I know they didn't get to color and do crafty things when they were younger so to see them now makes me sad sometimes when I think about it, but also makes me think well better late then never.

This one boy in particular, Geofrey is actually a man, he is 21 and still trying to finish up secondary school. We just started supporting him last year as he has been out of school trying to work and raise money to pay for school. He is a double orphan living with his sister. He has a couple more years before he can finish.

James and Frank

He was so embarrassed and hid his mouth with a sweater the whole time. He has developed some severe sores most likely in conjunction with the HIV. When all the kids got their snack he went over by himself to a window and sat facing the window looking out. I felt so bad for him but tried to put him at ease and went over to talk to him, just about school, his family etc.

We then passed out shoes that were donated by a group of children in a church in California. I explained to them how the children collected their money to send to them and thats why we needed to take pictures so I could send it back and they could see what their ‘change’ had bought. They have a program called change for change, its a pretty neat thing.

When Peggy had started speaking to the kids she said she had seen all their pictures and what a blessing it was to see them in person. That is something I have been so thankful for is the ability to connect people across the world with our kids here and what is going on in their lives!

They were excited with the shoes. We buy them school shoes but then they wear them out and wear them down when they are playing. So I gave the “speech” as any mother does, don’t use your good shoes for playing. We will see! ha.

Philip testing out his shoes, he was jumping up and down in them!

I then told them I had brought them back something from America and passed out new clothes. I hit a JCPenney sale right before we came back and found beautiful dresses for the young girls for $3 each . And t-shirts for the younger boys and button collared shirts for the older boys, also ranging from $2 - $4. I thought they probably have not had many NEW clothes before so I left the “tags” on though tore off the price. They were very happy.

Next we celebrated the kids birthdays from January, February and March.
We had the kids come to the front and we sang to them and surprised them with a birthday cake. That was a hit! Sarah Catherine made the cakes and they all commented on how delicious they were. They all came back for second helpings and Morgan even thirds. I must say it was good cake and even the other Americans who were with us Peggy White and Jacky Lewis agreeded.

We then closed the meeting with reminding them about attending school and meetings and church. Unfortunately we had an example in one of the kids, Barbara who is no longer part of the program. She failed her exams for the second year in a row and can not progress on to the next grade. The difficulty was that free tutoring was given to her and she several times was not serious about coming and did not put forth the effort that she needed, as well as trying to just get the answers from other kids work at school. Katryn had worked with her and given her many hours and she seemed not to care, knowing that this was her last chance. A few weeks ago I went with Maureen and Fanny to tell them. The mother was very understanding and saw that we had helped and done what we could, Katryn especially. Barbara was upset with us and when we saw her later that day she did not even wave to us. Hopefully the kids will heed the warning and example that they have seen.

The kids will be going on school break in April. It often means some of them don’t come to church, so I emphasized that a break from school is not a break from church. We don’t ever need to stop learning about God!

We left after singing the song, Takwaba. Which is the first song I learned in Bemba with the movements and all. We had to give it a try about 3 times because the kids were clapping so loudly and all over the place that Maureen stopped them to try again and again. Later I heard that she told them, because they had eaten so much cake and good food they should sing very well and clap very well. I guess they had to prove a point and were extra animated and silly so we could not even hear them singing.

I took new profile pictures of all the kids, so over the next few months we can be sending out updated profiles and reports on the kids to their sponsors.

I am thankful to be back here in Zambia, working with the kids in Kabanana. I enjoy the work and am glad to be a part of it.
It was a good day.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Orphan Ministry 2011 Video

Video from the orphan work we do. The first part of the video is from the kids we were working with in Ndola. Our focus now though is working with the 30 kids in the compound of Kabanana here in Lusaka. This was part of the video we showed to churches and friends supporting us while we were back in the US. The other part is still trying to be uploaded, so will post later if I am able to get it uploaded.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Second week

I think we all are feeling more normal now in terms of adjusting back to the time, and culture and activity. James just left to go to Botswana for the week. He is meeting with some of the men there that are having a pastors conference to discuss plans for establishing a school for training men there.

My last post was on Monday, about me losing it.
I was given too much credit by a few friends comments. They implied that I only now was losing it. Correction, I only now was telling you about a specific instance of losing it!

Tuesday I went with my friend Myranda to a Ladies Bible Study. She had invited me at the end of last year and so I was looking forward to visiting with her. It is a group of about 20 women, all white and all expatriates. Some Americans, zimbabweans, south africans and europeans. There were a few missionaries in the group.
It was nice to meet some other ladies. After the study I had my shopping to do. I stopped at Blue Moon to get a bagel and a fruit smoothie. Well they didn’t have the smoothie so I just got the bagel and then ran into the grocery store for a bottle of juice.
I then headed downtown. I stopped in Kamwala where I get plastic containers, chitenge fabric, hangers, and other random things. I am familiar with one street there and so usual walk up and down the side peeking in shops to find what I need.
I was on the hunt for a chitenge fabric with red in it to use in my kitchen. So I went in and out of a dozen shops standing and staring at their fabric hanging way up high on the walls. I finally found one that I liked and purchased it. Was asked if I was going to wear it, and then they started laughing. I said not this one, but I do have some I wear. So they said, well, call again and next time wear a chitenge.
I think some people find it amusing that a white person would wear a chitenge.

After Kamwala I headed to another shop that sells wholesale goods but “Western style”. L A Imports. It is nice. Its behind a gate, you pull up they open the gate and you can park right there at the store EVERY Time! It is kind of like a mini-costco, or GFS. Only you can’t pick up the items off the shelf. When you walk in, a lady follows you around with a scanner and you check prices (because they are not listed) and then tell her what you want to buy. So I bought a few things and was checking prices on other items. They have some things that you can’t find other places which is nice.
And their items in bulk are cheaper than buying them from the big grocery stores in the city. But they are not cheaper than the wholsesale, whole in the wall, shops that are in town.

So I headed for those. I had forgotten how busy it is in town, people walking everywhere, traffic, etc. I had to drive around about 6 different times waiting to find a parking spot near the shop I was going to. I had to park close enough because I was buying several bulky items. A guy on the side of the street offered to find a parking spot. He said he had one so I had to turn around because it was behind where I was waiting in the car. So I pulled around only to find that it was up on the curb, on the sidewalk. Which he assured me was fine madam. I had just seen the police officer when I arrived and knew I could get ticketed for parking there so told him no thanks and drove around another few times. He then showed me another spot which was legit only it was right under the TAXI’s Only sign. A taxi cab had just pulled out of the spot and motioned for me to park there. I pulled in and then negotiated with the guy. “Trust me” He said, I am here. They will not ticket is fine Madam.

Well against better judgement, mostly because I had been waiting 20 minutes to find a parking spot and I had to use the “facilities” I went ahead and parked there. I was able to get to the shop, find about half of what I needed and then paid to have someone carry the items out for me. I then had to walk to another shop nearby and find the peanut butter that we ( I ) like. (I am a bit of a peanut butter snob, or one might say I have very refined taste in peanut butter.) That was actually a nice surprise to find when we moved here that there is a brand that is comparable to Jif! it is called Yum-Yum. Very fitting. But since trying a couple others after we moved here, it is the only brand I buy. Though I might try the pick and pay store brand because it looks like it might be good. But enough about the peanut butter.

So after I found my peanut butter I had about an hour left before I had to pick up the kids from school so I headed to the newly built mall, Levy Mall. It opened while we were back in the States. It is in town and so worked out great to stop there on my way before picking up the kids. They too have a Pick and Pay grocery store ( which is out of South Africa- and my favorite grocery store in Zambia). So I stocked up on alot of foods, buying some things for the next few weeks. This isn’t too common here and so when I went to the register to check out the lady commented on how much I was buying. She then asked me if I was buying “in advance”. All I said was, “Yes”. It is true that I was, but also I didn’t mention that I was buying for 8 and we just moved back so I am still trying to get the basics for my pantry and kitchen. My shopping cart was overflowing and somehow that doesn’t seem to fit too well with the society in which I live. I would say even among those that are well off and eat well, I rarely see overflowing shopping carts at the grocery store. It is hard to be inconspicuous here!

Wednesday night we had some friends over for dinner and enjoyed hosting and visiting with them. We always seem to have interesting conversations about culture, zambia, america, men and women with this group of single young guys. They all attend Kat’s church and we try to have them over every now and then.

Thursday was International Women’s Day. One of the several Zambian holidays. Tomorrow, Monday is Youth Day. Another public holiday. I had to laugh about the women’s day because the night before we were discussing with the guys how in America for Mother’s Day women would be given the “day off” in a sense. Not have to cook or be taken out, given gifts, etc. That evening I got an email from church saying that in honor of women’s day all the women are invited to come to the church and have a work day and clean the church! Very different. Fine, but just different.

Thursday evening James and I went to one of the cell groups. Kabwata is a very large church and they have smaller cell groups that meet during the week. We did not make the effort the last years to at least try and so we are wanting to try and get involved in one this year. The challenge is that they meet from 6 to 7:30PM. For us Americans that is dinner time, getting the kids settled time, baths, preparing for school the next day. And small children do not attend the groups with their parents. So we are going to try and work it out so James and I go some of the time, and then maybe other times he takes the older kids. We will have to see how it will work out though.

The kids are still settling in at school. Jackson seems to be doing better this week. His teacher said he is doing well interacting with the kids and participating in class. We just have to work on improving his handwriting. That has been a big deal. He knows how to read well, but the handwriting is still lacking, and that is what shows up in the daily class activities.

Grace seems to enjoy having some time to herself and just with me. She will play quietly by herself for an hour in the mornings, and will go around just doing her own thing. Sarah and I have been able to get the horse organized more fully and we are slowly feeling settled. She did school Thursday even though the kids were off so on Friday she said she didn’t feel like doing school. So I gave her the day off if she would help me. She was glad for that exchange.

This week I was able to hang up most all the decorations and picture frames we brought over. I also was able to get my sewing machine out and sew some curtains for the kitchen cabinets. We have 2 cabinets on the wall and the rest are counter cabinets. They are old metal cabinets and the ones on the wall have no doors so the dishes gather dust pretty much every day. We leave our doors open in the daytime so I had wanted to sew something to put up. I had brought 2 tension spring rods to hang up in the cabinet so finished that on Saturday.

James started teaching Saturday. He will be teaching for the next month on Saturdays and then also on Fridays at the college. He usually goes to the college on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. He said he had a good meeting on Thursday with some of the teachers and is encouraged at the direction for the college. In April, He is planning to have 2 weeks off then will be in the Copperbelt teaching for a week module and then will have the following week off. Hopefully this will be the plan. As many of you know, our time in the States was anything but a “vacation” or “holiday” for him. With the exception of a week at Thanksgiving and Christmas he traveled alot and was planning to take a “break” when we got home for the month of April. So hopefully this will stick and he will get some rest.

So that is our week last week. Don’t worry I won’t give the play by play for each week on the blog. Just trying to catch up and know some of you might be wondering how we are re-orienting back to life here in Zambia. If you made it this far, Thanks for reading. It is 1,887 words! And to think I used to have trouble writing one page in school!

Monday, March 5, 2012

I Lost it.

Grace lost it right after the kids got home from school. We were just finishing up our HOPE Kabanana staff meeting and James had gone to pick up the kids from school. She started acting up earlier in the day and as soon as they got home, there was alot of commotion with the kids and the ladies leaving the house and it was too much for her. Which then in turn was too much for me and I lost it. The kids were finishing their homework, everyone was talking at the same time, asking things all at once, how do you spell.... what is forty nine... Then all of a sudden Grace tried to bite Emma and that was the last straw.

The week has gone well overall some bumps along the way, today being one of them. Jackson and Caleb started school along with Emma and Ian on wednesday. Monday-Wednesday they have long full days and then Thursday and Friday are half days. Caleb has adjusted fine, but then he is more social and outgoing anyways.

Jackson has had some struggles, challenges...OK, tears is what it is. He has cried every day so far. Crying before he goes to school, the first day he basically cried himself to sleep and then as soon as he woke up in the morning he started again. At least once each day since he started, he has cried at school for various reasons. Mrs. Kumwenda, the headmistress and friend said that is normal and he should settle pretty soon.

He is either afraid or worried or not sure what to do next. Today it was because the teacher told him he needed to wear a white t-shirt for PE instead of the red one he had on. I knew he needed a white one but we dont have one yet and so I thought a solid color is better than something written on it. I am sure she said it fine to him, he is just super sensitive and truth be told, has the startings of being a Momma’s boy. Which is partly why this “school experience” could be of benefit to him. And which is entirely why having a dad is a good thing. After the second day of tears Mom would have given in and said, ok thats fine you can stay home. And that wouldn’t necessarily be good for him. Dad says no you will be fine and get in there and do it.

It is not all cultural either. Back in America he was the same way with going to Sunday school class. So I am hoping by the end of this week he will be feeling better. He had a little boy ask him on the first day, “Can I be your friend?” He flatly said , “no”. And that was it. When he told us later we talked to him and then the next day he said no one asked him on that day.

Upon arrival back to our home, the roaches had overtaken our kitchen and mold was growing in my closet. So I could not keep any dishes in the kitchen or hang up any clothes in my closet until both of those issues had been taken care of.
We have had our kitchen cabinets spread out over the tables, freezer and pantry for the last week and clothes all over the bedroom and hanging in other closets.

Friday the bug man came and sprayed the entire house especially the kitchen, which meant that everything was out since then. Slowly I have been making progress in there. I had Ian wipe out all the dead roaches, of which there were ALOT. He read a book on roaches from the Library when we were in Louisville so I told him he could put it in to practice. Saturday I was able to clean out the closet though I know I didn’t remove the problem of the mold, only the surface issue. There must be leaking from the roof down into our closet and then it was closed up for 3 months. There was mold growing on several pairs of shoes. Who knew mold could grown on leather shoes?

Friday I interviewed a new lady to be the maid. It seemed to go well and she was supposed to show up this morning at 7:30. Surprise... She was a no show.
I guess the size of the house and number of people and amount of work there is to do was too much as she was coming back out of “retirement” to work a little. So we must not have been a good candidate for that. But, she did say she would start Monday. Culturally someone is more likely to say they will do something and not do it, then to tell you straight up, “No.” “Or thanks but no thanks”.

So now we are still trying to figure out someone to help. Again, I know I don’t get much sympathy here from my American (stateside, I should say, friends) but for those that want to humor me, you can keep reading.
Our first maid Maureen, worked hard and was great. (We just moved her on to bigger and better things!) The second one was very cheerful but not so great of a worker so we are trying to get someone that works well and we can keep for awhile. It gets a bit stressful sometimes trying to get all these things in place, but I try to remember we have only been back a little over a week.

I have been to the grocery several times but we still don’t seem to have food in the house or meals planned out. The other days I seemed to handle it better but today was not one of them. So my dear husband when to the store to get something and is cooking dinner right now.

I asked if I could help with anything, he said no, go and relax. Do something you enjoy. So I am blogging, in between managing the evening showers for the younger kids.

I need to make out a grocery list and plan for meals for at least the next week. Seems a simple task doesn’t it? I haven’t been able to keep up with the boiling water and filtering so we have had to run to the store when we have had no water. So I feel like I am not managing things very well right now. We all are finally over the jet lag and I actually stayed awake until 9 last night. Still woke up at 5, but that is fine. It is nice to have the hour of quiet before everyone else gets up. I like the idea of getting up early, just never have been very successful at it. But with most of the kids having to be up and ready for school earlier now it has been working well. I have been able to have my quiet times in the morning before the kids get up which has been great, too bad didn’t seem to help me die to myself and not “loose it” today. I am 36 after all. It is to be expected from a 3 year old...

Well there is tomorrow. Thankfully if I loose it again tomorrow and every other day this week, there is still the grace and forgiveness of God. Which I need every day!

In other happy news, James was able to temporarily fix the washing machine so that now you turn it on and it flows freely the cold water to do the laundry. That has been a huge blessing. And, even the shower has come on at full blast. It is AMAZING.

Instead of this...

We went ahead and bought a tv here. We were able to find a reasonably priced one ( for Zambia that is) and we have enjoyed watching the “cosby show” on dvds that we brought back and the kids are once again enjoying the wii that their grandparents bought them before we moved to Africa. So that has been fun.

The Zip line we brought back has been hung up in the yard and the kids are having a blast riding it back and forth between 2 trees in the yard.

All in all, we are "settling nicely" and hoping to get back into a schedule and routine and not "losing it" as often as my 3 year old!