Sunday, June 13, 2010

You want long nail short nail?

Again I am behind on my blogging. I was going to try to blame it on my illness again but I don’t think I can pull that off a second time. Mainly I haven’t kept up blogging because the end of this week was an emotional roller coaster and it’s taken me some time to digest all the events so that I can write them all down. Thursday morning I was going about the little routine I’ve established at the Haven when Caroline came up to me with Alfred in her arms. She had been working with him in the feeding group when she realized how labored his breathing was. After consulting with Dr.Weaver and the Aunties the decision was made to load up Alfred, Auntie Beatrice, Dr.Weaver and I to head up the road to the clinic. The nurse looked him over then decided that he needed oxygen, and the tanks at the clinic were both empty so Dr.Weaver and I take off back to the Haven to get the machine from Haven 3. We get back to the clinic with it and we’ve left the electrical converter box at the Haven. So I stay with Beatrice while Dr.Weaver makes another trip to get the converter. All in all it took 9 trips total to get the machine and all its parts in working order. Very frustrating since this entire time little Alfred is struggling to get a breath. The doctor and nurse got him all hooked up to the oxygen finally and some meds in him to treat what was beginning to look like pneumonia. Later in the afternoon we went back to check on Beatrice and Alfred. He was resting but still having a hard time getting the really good breathe that he so desperately needed. Now I realize that I’m in Zambia, Africa and that it is quite rural out here on the mission but never have I been so frustrated with medical care in my life. I know that they are doing the very best they can with what they have but the resources are just so very limited here. It was very painful to watch such a small little life struggling so hard against something that would seem almost trivial to us in the States.
Friday morning was more of the same routine with the babies and Aunties at the Haven. Lots of diaper folding and baby rocking is always in order and I’m happy to oblige on both counts. The “Lost Boys” were bundled up like Eskimos because since it’s “winter” (the high is probably 70 to 75 and lows at night around 50s) a jacket and hat is a requirement for little ones! Ha! So funny to see them all bundled up and us running around in our short sleeve shirts seems like we should all be freezing. (I usually peel a few layers off of them to find sweat underneath their parkas! Haha!) After lunch while the other girls were doing some language stimulation I went from room to room with the nail clippers and trimmed all the babies’ finger nails. Some of them were sporting the nails that become quite painful to anyone in their path during “recess” in the common room. These kiddos sit so still while you trim their nails! It’s amazing; Nita even stuck her left hand out so I could trim those nails once I finished with her right hand. Prissy little thing that Nita is!
Saturday we decided to hit the road early and go into Choma for a little shopping but before we left the mission we stopped at the clinic to check on Alfred. I hopped out of Khaki Jackie and headed to his room…no one was in his room…I headed back to the main office and ran into the doctor. I told him we had stopped to check on baby Alfred and with sad eyes the doctor said I’m so sorry but he has died early this morning. Friday night the electricity had been off for a few hours so they had taken him back to the Haven to use the generator for his oxygen but early that morning he had taken a turn for the worse and there was nothing more that could be done for his little body. I reported back to the group the sad news. We ran into Mrs.Merritt on the road and she said that Alfred’s remaining family was at the funeral for his mother but that she would let us know if they decided to bury Alfred at the Haven instead of in town at the cemetery. The family decided they would take care of the body and I think I am thankful to them for that because I was not looking forward to attending the burial of yet another little one. I know that Kelly and Alfred are no longer suffering and are in the loving and comforting arms of Jesus but saying goodbye here sure is hard. I will never forget the sweet little baby boy who had hair that looked like duckling feathers.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Little Ones to Him Belong

My last blog was almost a week ago and for that I apologize but I will defend myself and say that I’ve been battling some sickness. At this point we’re not sure if it’s strep throat or flu but I’ve mainly been in bed since Saturday evening. Not only was it torture to swallow for several days but it’s been miserable being away from the babies for so long. The good news is that I’ve had no fever today and I slept through the whole night last night. I’m still a little achy but hopefully that will subside soon as it is my only remaining symptom. Thanks for all the prayers and encouraging messages, it’s wonderful to know how cared for I am.

The sad news is that we all attended the burial for sweet little Kelly this afternoon. She and Kelsey (her twin) were ill for several days last week and just couldn’t seem to shake off the illness. The girls are HIV exposed (their mother has HIV) but so far both had tested negative for the disease themselves. Kelly was taken to the medical clinic here on the mission over the weekend where they proceeded to do all they know how to stabilize her little body. She was just too fragile and had too much pneumonia in her tiny little 5 month old body so last night the Lord decided it was time to let her rest with Him. Kelsey is doing better and hopefully will be back at the Haven tomorrow.

The burial (funeral refers to all the activities surrounding a death...mourning period etc.) was a simple service underneath a large tree behind the Haven. Many tears were shed as the family of Kelly, the Aunties that have been caring for her and our group stood under the tree and sang and prayed and thanked God that this sweet little one was no longer suffering (The service was in Tonga but the singing was touching regardless of the language). We all had been warned that the death of a little one was a possibility but the reality of it is hard to bear. Although we have only been here a few weeks the bonds we’ve established with these babies is a strong one and we hate to see this sweet little girl go.

So now more than ever I’m anxious to get back to the Haven tomorrow to rock, hug, and love on every baby I can get my hands on. Today I got to peek my head in the window of the “Lost Boys” room while we waited on the burial to begin and Peter and Ross grinned from ear to ear at me. Tomorrow, we play!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Taking Snaps

Today and yesterday with the Aunties have been true learning experiences. I told Dr.Weaver that I think I’m going to miss the Aunties at Haven 1 every bit as much as I’m going to miss the babies. Yesterday there were just 3 Aunties working because Beatrice had to attend a funeral. So I stepped in to do more duties than I ever have before. Instead of just helping each Auntie for all practical purposes I would say I was an Auntie. The Tonga lessons have continued and now I know the words for wet and dry diaper as well as how to say good morning how are you, I’m fine, no, and come here. All have become very important phrases when dealing with little ones and Aunties alike. I didn’t really realize how much help my jumping into the duties that needed to be done was until Wednesday afternoon as we were leaving Pauline thanked me for making their day easier. I’m really glad that they see me as a help and not a hindrance.
Beatrice was back today so first thing I did was greet the Aunties outside the kitchen door and then ran in to see the babies. Beatrice came in behind me and said she needed me back outside to take some “snaps”. Not knowing what “snaps” where I looked at her funny and said “Ok, what are snaps?” she laughed and held her hands up to her face like she was holding a camera. Haha “O Ok a picture! Let me get my camera!” to which Beatrice replied, “No no Sarah there is a man with a camera I want you in my picture so I’ll remember you!” Apparently they had paid a friend that has a 35 mm camera to come take pictures. So I took one with Beatrice and one with Pauline, these ladies are precious and I’m loving getting to know them. One of my favorite chores to do with them is fold the clean cloth diapers and if you know me well you will say, “Sarah, enjoying folding laundry?!” But yes I enjoy this time because we all sit down in the floor with the giant pile of diapers and it seems some of our best conversations take place while folding. Pauline and I race to see who can fold the most diapers while we talk; I’ve won the last two times folding 15 and 19.
The babies are really amazing kiddos. The older ones are really starting to babble and come alive during the language class that the other girls do twice a day and the younger ones in the feeding group are putting on the pounds. Hamilton looks like a completely different baby than he did just 2 weeks ago. Joe, whose name is now officially Hunter is doing well and I try to snuggle with him any chance I get. Shawn, who rarely smiled outside of his crib, smiles and plays and has become my shadow along with Ross and Nita (they spread the love out if the other girls are in the house but I’m always in Haven 1 and the other girls rotate). If they are out their beds you can guarantee they’re hanging on to my skirt tail. In the afternoon while the feeding therapy is going on with the smallest babies the following 6 to 18 month olds are in my care out in the common play area, Bester, Elias, Jana, Courtney, Elaine, Jack, Shawn, Ross, Peter, Kritz, Lisa, Donna, Nita, and Teegan. The Aunties take this opportunity to wash diapers, sheets, bottles or just about any other chore that needs tending to knowing that I have become the human jungle gym. Ross and Nita are the only two who truly walk but several others are quick crawlers and climbers. Yesterday Ross, Nita, Shawn and Peter climbed back and forth a bazillion times over my legs as I sat on the floor. They’d all go across giggling and shoving each other before going back across the other way. All this was going on as I was attempting to keep Jana and Courtney out of one of the cabinets that they like to pull sheets out of and drag around the floor. Today Nita was in a mood and I couldn’t get out of her reach without her screaming and big crocodile tears rolling down her face. By the end of the afternoon we both needed a nap! Haha!
Wednesday night Jaime, Marja and I walked over to the college campus to join in the singing practice with their choir but discovered an all girls Bible study instead. Some of the girls that we’ve met before (Febby, Poynana (sp?), and Minsley) were there and excited that we showed up so we stayed for the study even though we were expecting singing. The topic for the study was “forgiving and forgetting” it lead to some pretty intense conversation and showed on some levels how young the faith is for many of these girls. They were very good about looking to their Bibles for answers and that was encouraging.
Thursday night it was back to the regularly scheduled programming of singing practice and although we were tired Jaime, Marja and I trekked over to the school. The singing in this little group is so beautiful and although most of it is in Tonga we attempt to join in when we can. After they sang several songs they asked us to teach them a song. We told them we weren’t prepared to teach but we’d try to bring something for them to learn next time. The very next Tonga song they started singing had a tune very similar to “Someday” so I told Jaime we could easily teach that to them. I wrote the words on the chalkboard and we proceeded to teach them the 4 parts. They did very well and seemed to enjoy the song. After practice there were a few announcements and then one of the guys we had met previously, Aphet, wanted to take some pictures with us. He thinks he’s really smooth so we took pics and had some good laughs before heading back to the house.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Well it’s Tuesday night and again we sit here in the dark. Ok, ok, not complete dark…we have headlamps on and our computers. So there is some light… but since there is no electricity there is no internet, thus I will just type this up on word and hope for a chance to post it later. Every time the lights go out we hear a chorus of screams go up from the girls dorms at the secondary school which is just across the road. We all just laugh and scurry around for headlamps. Last night we had no electricity and so Jaime and I were in bed by 7 and I’m pretty sure I didn’t last much past 8 but the rest was needed so I’m not complaining.
This morning at the Haven it seemed that every baby was sleeping like a log and I couldn’t bring myself to wake them especially since they’ve all been so sick with the stomach bug. So I hung out with the Aunties. Ida and Pauline (I could have sworn she told me her name was Powering haha and with babies named Gift, Memory and Bright who knew?!) let me tag along with them. We sat around the kitchen and they wanted me to try their breakfast which consisted of tea, cold baked potatoes, and some sort of fried bread that looked like you could get it at CafĂ© Du Monde (Ida called it a fritter). The potato was sweet, but not an orange sweet potato. I asked if they made the “fritter” or bought it. They bought it for 500 Kwache, which Ida declared, “It’s expensive!” I told her I didn’t think it was that bad, way less than what food costs in America. 5,000 Kwache is roughly 1 US Dollar, I went to my wallet pulled out my 1 dollar bill and 1 5,000 kwache and explained that they were equal. Then said 1 Coca Cola cost 1 US dollar. Then I pulled out some coins to have a lesson about pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. They really seemed to enjoy learning about American currency and I teased them that I’d give them a quiz over it all tomorrow. I also let them keep the $2.40. Ida did a happy dance around the kitchen and hugged me over the dollar bill but I told her to keep it to remember me by.
They often speak in Tonga around me. I’m learning some of the basic words which makes them eager to teach me more. When I don’t understand I say, “English! Speak English!!” they laugh and tell me it’s too hard before translating for me (they say I speak too fast). So far I’ve mastered the word “diaper” in Tonga which has come in pretty handy considering we run through tons of them daily. I’m better at recognizing words they say than I am at pronouncing any of them but they are patient with me.
The Zambian women carry their babies or pretty much anything else for that matter strapped on their front or back with a beautiful piece of “chitange” (spelling?) cloth. Our whole group has been anxious to know how it’s done so we were all thrilled today to learn how. Marja, Jaime and I walked around with Kelsey, Meagan, and Lushomo strapped to us for the better part of the morning. This is something that the kids here at the Haven miss out on for the most part. It serves as an important bond between child and mother and the child gets to be exposed to language while going anywhere the mother goes throughout her day. We’re seeing firsthand how underexposed to language the kids at the Haven are so we’re trying to give them as much exposure as possible. They also don’t get a lot of one on one time with the Aunties so having one strapped on gives them that snuggle time they desperately need while freeing your hands to help one of the toddling ones across the room. The process of throwing a little one on your back while tying the cloth is a bit tricky but by this afternoon I would say I was becoming quite skilled. I’m sure there will only be improvement from this point on, I teased the Aunties that I think I would handle more than one at a time in the case of twins such as Kelsey and Kelly or Bester and Elias. Ok, maybe not Bester and Elias they’re little chunks but definitely the “K’s” they’re tiny little girls. All in all I’d say it was a wonderful day.

Monday, May 31, 2010

I am a blessed child

This is the post for Sunday, just now getting it up because of electricity and internet difficulties.

I think one of my favorite things in Zambia has to be the singing (after the babies at the Haven of course). I love Sundays here because they are FULL of singing. The church service this morning was wonderful, the speaker reminded us to think carefully about the meaning behind the Lord’s Supper. The communion part of their service is filled with singing and scripture readings which are helpful to me in staying focused on what’s truly taking place. Of course I don’t know the words to the songs they sing in Tongan but it doesn’t matter because I know the words are from the heart. Because Mrs.Merrit and her eldest daughter Jennifer are back this Sunday there were lots of kiddos at church from the Havens. Jennifer leads a children’s Bible class in the court yard of the school and it is wonderful! I have some great videos of the children singing Bible school songs in both English and Tongan. Jennifer taught a bible story and then asked if we had any songs we’d like to lead. Four of our group got up and lead Deep and Wide and The Hippo song while the rest of us spread out amongst the kids and demonstrated the hand movements.
We had a smorgashbord of leftovers for lunch and it was all wonderful as usual. Then it was time for the traditional Sunday afternoon nap. I did some reading and dozing before I finally got a good solid 1 hour nap. You wouldn’t believe the noise I woke up to, RAIN!! Yes RAIN! During the dry season! It started off as a quiet tick tick on our tin roof before the bottom dropped out of a full blown thunderstorm! I couldn’t resist sitting on the porch to read and watch the rain come down, the lightening streak the sky and the wind blowing through the tall grass. I just kept waiting for a herd of elephants to come trumpeting across the front yard! Haha Webster the night watchman has assured me that that won’t happen but hey a girl can dream right?!
Church tonight was an awesome experience as well. The singing was spectacular although the speaker was a little harder to understand tonight because of a thick accent, every 7 words or so was about all I could pick out but I did understand that the only way others are going to see Jesus is for us to be Jesus to them. Apparently some of the kids from the secondary school took the lesson to heart and there were about 12 prayer requests and 4 wanting to be baptized after the service. We were dismissed from church to walk over to the Hamby house for the baptisms in the back yard in a small watering trough. I’m pretty sure most every student was there to welcome the new brothers and sisters into Christ’s family.
Philippians 4:4-5 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”

Saturday, May 29, 2010

All dressed with no place to go

The morning brought a slight shift in the routine I’ve settled into. Rachel wasn’t feeling well so I filled in her spot working with Caroline and Jaime in the feeding group. Which means I didn’t get to spend my morning with “The Lost Boys”, but they didn’t seem to mind so I tried not to let it hurt my feelings either. I worked with Darcy and Meagan on sitting up and holding their heads up. Caroline has taught us that feeding and swallowing in babies is very much a holistic sort of function and strong muscles are the key. I also got to hold and love on the twins, Kelsey and Kelly some. They are still trying to recover from the stomach bug so they were pretty slow moving today. (Fingers crossed that we don’t all get round two of that terrible experience) Mrs. Kathy Merrit was back at the Haven today. She and her husband Roy are the missionaries who manage much of the goings on around here. She’s spent most of the week at the hospital with a sweet baby named Memory who had some heart surgery. Upon her arrival she checked in on all the kiddos and was so sad to hear that the babies and our group had been sick. I asked her if she’d gotten to see the newest baby (Joe) she said that she just had and that she was thinking of naming him Nathan or Hunter…haha so now I don’t know what his name is...I called him Nathan Hunter Joe all afternoon, maybe we can get all that worked out tomorrow but anything’s better than “Problem”.
This afternoon I handed out the lovely little dresses that sweet Reagan Grubbs made for her 4-H project. They are sweet little sack dresses that tie on the shoulders. The Aunties were thrilled and there were just enough dresses for each of the little girls at Haven 1. Even ones small enough for Kelsey and Kelly, they looked darling in them!! I took lots of pictures and I will post them as soon as I have internet available that makes it possible to upload pictures. After helping everyone get bathed and the girls in their new dresses it was time to get the boys out and let them romp. I put Jack, Elias, and Bester on their tummies to work on pushing up and crawling. Elias is making the most progress; he even rolled over by himself!!! We had a bit of a dance party off that little move haha!!
Well I’m gonna wrap this up and hit the hay. Haven’t been sleeping well the last few nights, so hopefully my Tylenol PM will help me to get some rest and not feel the lovely bars on this bunk bed. Goodnight!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Crab Crawling

Today at Haven 1 was pretty rough. About half of the kids in every room are suffering from the stomach bug. Cranky, crying, hurting tummy babies are hard to deal with when you just got done feeling like that yourself. Poor little Elaine could not be soothed. I rocked her for what felt like hours this morning while her fever broke and she cried herself to sleep. Luckily the two smallest ones Hamilton and new little Joe (whose new name stuck thank goodness) are not sick and both are eating well and looking good. Caroline has done an amazing job this week, Hamilton is alert and his cheeks are even beginning to look chubby! The Aunties are thrilled and so are we. The "Lost Boys" all seem to be feeling pretty well too and I had all of them out and about running around most of the morning. They are hilarious!
This afternoon Elias needed a little attention so I got him out with the boys and put him and Jack on their bellies to work on this whole crawling deal. Jack did much better pushing up today and didn't get mad until Ross the scavenger yanked the little plush puppy dog he was playing with out of his hand. Elias was really happy to be on his belly and had a great time scooting around the floor on his belly...only problem...he goes backwards and sideways just like a little scurrying crab. I also helped with bathing again today. It was Ida that came to me this time "Sarah, come help me pleaseeeee" she said with the sweetest smile on her face. (I wish you could hear how they roll the 'r' in my name) So she washed babies and I diapered lotion and clothed. I'm getting faster but I also try to give each one just a little attention before sitting them back in a bouncy seat or crib.
Our afternoon at the Haven was cut short due to a scheduled tour of the Namwianga radio station. It’s the most powerful station in Zambia and home of Austin the D.J. who is the voice of a well known radio comedy character. They play Christian music, sermons and lessons. The station is very small and located about 100 yards from our back door in a building that sort of resembles a “temporary” office or classroom. It is 3 small rooms, the battery room (for when the electricity goes out here…almost daily), the room housing the D.J.’s booth, and a recording room. The mission is very proud of it and we were glad to see it and sign the guest book.