We have been here for four months. This fact is hard to believe, in part because it feels MUCH longer, and in part because where have the weeks gone? Four months is one third of a year, longer than any vacation I have ever taken. I keep telling myself we LIVE here. Living here is wonderful and heart breaking and tiring and exciting. My goal for this blog is just to tell you some information and keep the feeling stuff to a minimum. I know my mom is writhing in agony at that statement, but really, there are just some things you need to know.
- We are good; really, really good. I am not going to lie and say that some days I do not dream about a leisurely stroll through Target with a Venti Starbucks. But most days, we are all really happy about being here. There are things that are harder and there are things that are better and in the end there is balance. Both Matt and I are happy about working at Neema House. It is evident how God is using our different talents to serve and make Neema a better place to be for the babies, staff and even visitors.
- Our girls are happy here, too. The life they are living is crazy. They are meeting people and going places and eating foods that most kids cannot even contemplate. They have held tiny abandoned babies and questioned about love and family and their own purpose at Neema House. Nothing has thrilled me more than seeing my sweet babies jump into this new life with enthusiasm and questions and delight. When we talk about the differences between here and Texas they never think of anything bad about either place. They are learning by leaps and bounds, both in school and life, and it is awesome.
- Neema House is good; really, really good. We are full to capacity plus one and it is so obvious that what we are doing is changing the lives of the most helpless in a real and tangible way. We have gotten six(!) new babies into our family in the last month: Dawson who was abandoned on a road side, Dorothy who was abandoned at a vacant building site, Doris whose mother died from a misplaced epidural which paralized her lungs, Bakari who is five months old and whose mother died, little Matilda Grace who was delivered in a hospital and her mother left her on a bed in an empty room, never to be seen again, and finally Zawadi, which means gift, a baby of eight or nine months, whose mother had a mental breakdown and left her baby. Six babies, six families known or unknown who are forever changed, because we are here doing what we are doing. It has been an emotional process trying to come to an understanding about a culture that has women who are so lacking in hope and full of suffering that they think that abandoning their baby is the best answer. I have been blessed by the women of wisdom in my life here who have let me see that these mothers are hopeless and desperate and want something better for their babies at any cost. I am glad that they chose to abandon their babies instead of kill them and then themselves, which is talked about and attempted often in this area. These women need hope and grace and way out of the suffering that shackles their lives. I am so hopeful that someday Neema will be able to offer them that, so that they will chose to keep their baby because they see hope and a chance at a future. This is my/our/Neema’s dream.
- The things that were weird four months ago are normal today. Everyone said it would happen, and thankfully, it did. Driving, shopping, talking, money, greetings, weather, cooking…all of a sudden it just became normal. Thank you Jesus!
- God is providing friends, but we still miss the old ones. I am an introvert, Matt is an introvert, Tabitha is an introvert, and Camille is crazy. In spite of ourselves, God has put some amazing people in our path that are blessing us with their openness to friendship. What is so hard is not being able (or just being too tired or over-socialized) to keep up with the people at home. This is my whole-hearted apology. I have been AWFUL at keeping in touch with friends back home. I love you and I miss you and I wish we could have you all here for chili and good conversation. Sunday is the hardest day because you just do not come by community like The Vine very often (ever)!
- We have some things you could pray about….What I see as the biggest goals for our first year is to establish relationships with the nannies, the babies and the people we see often in the community. This takes time, and eyes and hearts open to opportunity to build relationship. This is not easy, but so important. Please pray that we can continue to build trust with those that we serve and interact with often. To truly build relationship we must speak Swahili which is FRUSTRATING! I am so looking forward to the day when I can understand what I hear and respond with the vocabulary of a five-year-old! Satan has been pretty aggressive on attacking us personally with doubt and fear and strife in our marriage (we are good, no worries, just saying, it has not been easy). Please pray that we are protected and able to be each others closest ally and not yet another obstacle. You can always pray for our health. Africa is heck on the immune system. Also, the crate that we shipped before we left Texas is now here, please pray that it is easily cleared through customs, and they do not figure out a neat way to charge us enormous fees.
I would love questions. Is there anything you wonder about our life here? Do you want to know more about our big dreams for Neema now that we have been here for a few months? To the people that read this, we miss you!