Monday, February 21, 2011

Girls, Girls, Girls...

Karis turned 5 years old on February 15th and we had a little girls party for her. It was really fun. She had a great time with her friends. Here are some pictures of the party. It was actually a joint party with a colleague's daughter, Abigail, who also turned 2 this month.

Just to give you a feel for how "international" life is here, I'll tell where all the girls in the picture are from. Starting from the left is Abigail, her mom is Romanian and her dad is Mozambiquian, Zoe(behind Kallen) is from South Africa, Deborah(next to Zoe), her dad is from the Netherlands and her mom is from the US, Clara and Victoria(in front of Deborah) their mom is from the US and their dad is from the Congo, the two girls to the right of Karis, Samara and Natanya, are from Singapore. We Americans are actually the minority here. Tim made the girls animal balloons as they arrived.

The cake.

Karis eating the cake.

We put out all our playdough and all the girls made something out of playdough. They loved it and played and played.

Karis opening gifts.

Here are the girls opening their goody bags.

"At the Zoo"

Life in Africa many times feels like life in a zoo. Just like the picture above, this is our life here. We are constantly being observed. When we stop our car, people flock to our car and stand around observing us like we are an exhibit in a zoo. Many times it is funny or almost flattering how people find us so interesting to watch. However most of the time, it is very difficult. The kids get shy and hide and refuse to talk. It can be very overwhelming to them when kids climb the car and look in the windows or try to touch their hair through the open windows. But one of the hardest times for me is when we are at church. I consider going to church like going to the zoo, not to see the animals, but to actually be the animals! This is especically true when we visit new churches. The past couple of weeks, we have been visiting new churches. This church we attended a couple weeks ago, was a baptist church in the area. We went because the new church that we have been a part of in Namakula has joined with the local Uniao Baptista Church and they were having an ordination service for our pastor and another church leader. It was really a great service over all. But for me, not so great. They had Tim sit in the very front with all the church leaders and so I was stuck in the back with all three kids by myself. The church was packed. We sat on a bench in the back and at first it was just me and the three kids. We fit comfortably on the bench just us, well as the service progressed, another lady joined us and then another and another, until it was me, the three kids, 3 other ladies and another girl, so Kallen was on my lap and Karis was on Traeger's lap. The kids were not too happy about this and by now it is also starting to get very hot. The whole bench in front of us is turning around watching us and laughing at the kids. Kallen keeps climbing the lady next to us and Traeger and Karis are fighting about sitting on each other and bumping into the lady in front of us. They are crying because they are hot, and hungry and I can't even move enough to reach our bag to get food. I eventually reach the crackers and end up feeding everyone in the last 2 benches of the church. Finally after we can take it no longer, I decide to just go outside with the kids. So we go outside and about 1/2 the kids follow us out. We then go find a place to sit down and are immediately surrounded by people. The kids have to use the bathroom now, so we search for the outhouse. We have kids follow us there and wait outside until we are done. Then Traeger and Karis start fighting about something and I am trying to discipline them without anyone knowing what I am doing as the whole world is watching. Kallen wanders off and I can't find her. Eventually I find her with some other children, with someone's, who knows whose, half eaten sucker in her mouth(like the zoo, maybe I should make some signs, 'please don't feed the children'). Of course she is the only one not shy with the other kids. I get my kids gathered once again and then someone else has to use the bathroom, so back to the outhouse we go, with another crowd of kids following us...and so it goes until church finally ends and after much shaking of hands and greetings, we can pile into our car and head home for some peace. Until next Sunday, when we go back to the zoo...

This is the Uniao Baptista Church. This is our group of people from our little church in Namakula singing a special number at the church. Our pastor Geoffery was ordained as well as the other leader in our church, Peri-Peri.

The next Sunday after we visited the Uniao Baptista Church, we visited this little church, not far from our house. This is the church we have matched funds with to build a new church building. Tim spoke at the service and presented the rest of the funds we matched for them. They were so grateful and as you can see truely are in need of a new building.
This is a picture of the outside of the church. They will be building the new building where the cornfield is, behind the church.

Here is Tim presenting the money to the pastor.

Here is Kallen with one of the girls she befriended at the Uniao Baptista Chruch.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"Your will is that I should praise you, O Lord my God, who gave life and a body to that infant: you will me to praise you who equipped him with faculties, built up his limbs, and adorned him with a distinctive shape, as we can see. You implanted in him all the urges proper to a living creature to ensure his coherence and safety; and now you command me to praise you for those gifts, and to confess to you and sing your name, O Most High, because you are God, almighty and good, and would be so even if you had wrought no other works than these, since none but yourself, the only God, can bring them into existence." St. Augustine (the confessions)
This picture is of Rosa and Kanita, two of the children of the family we lived next to in Muembe. Children are so fragile here. Almost every week we hear of another infant or child that has died of malaria or some other sickness. Just this past week, we know of two who died of malaria. It seems so hopeless at times and scary to think of raising our kids here, but then we are reminded of who gave life and body to that child, who brought them into existence, and He is good. We praise God for the lives of these children and our own. We praise God that we can be here sharing the hope He brings because we already have this hope living inside of us.