Five Minute Friday – When

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I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been asked “so, when are you going home?”

Where is home?

Is home the place where I grew up. Where I drive on the opposite side of the road and where I don’t have to think about which language is coming out of my mouth?

IMGP8185Is home the place where tons of little mouths reach to give me a kiss and a greeting. The place where I climb into overcrowded mini buses and onto the back of motorcycle taxis without question?

IMG_0900When I think about when, I think about now. I think about how I am here to celebrate first steps and first teeth. New life, and new families. Reunification and reintegration.

When I walk out of my little house each day, I don’t think about “when” I am going home. I think I’m coming to realize I’m already there.IMG_0705

**In case you don’t know what Five Minute Friday is, it’s a link up with bloggers all over the world where we write for 5 minutes on word prompt. No edits, no extra time.

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Five Minute Friday – Wait

fmfWorking at Neema baby home, I witness a lot of waiting. I watch the days pass and pass as a determined woman works and fights for custody of the child she loves dearly. I hold itty bitty newborns, handed over by newly widowed fathers, who will wait and wait until they feel they can take care of the child themselves. I stand in the gap and love while each child waits for their forever home with their forever family. michael

This past week one little boy’s waiting ended. Michael, who had been living at Neema for around 2 and a half years, finally went home. In my time here, it seemed there was always someone who was possibly adopted him but things fell through time and time again. Michael is a big boy now, three years old, and finally his wait is over.

I feel so blessed to have known Michael. To watch him grow and learn. To have had this time with him, to snuggle him and get kisses. My heart is both full and a bit sad now that I won’t be seeing him every time I walk through the door, but finally for Michael, his wait is over.

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****This post is part of the “Five Minute Friday” link up over at Kate Motaung’s blog. If you want to know more, click here ***

Five Minute Friday – Prepare

I’m late to the game for Five Minute Friday but I wanted to post anyway. I was away for the week visiting my boyfriends family, more about that later.

For now, if you don’t know what Five Minute Friday is head over here.

FMF-Prepare-12.12.2014-300x300I remember back when I was getting ready to move to Tanzania. How I was preparing. How I was trying to think about becoming a mother to the orphaned and abandoned. How I wrote about how I was ready to become a mom.

But was I really prepared? 10850288_967623979918862_1181348280141950577_n

I received a text yesterday that one of our sweet little girls passed away. She was just 5 months old. She had so much of her life ahead of her. Unfortunately pneumonia and a severe lung infection crept in and she declined so fast, even the ICU at the private hospital in town wasn’t enough. There was not a single thing that could have been done to change the circumstances, but she’s gone nonetheless. She has a twin brother who will grow up not knowing his sister. Our hearts are broken.IMG_5148

How do you prepare knowing lives are so fragile. Especially the lives of these sweet little infants, fighting to survive in circumstances no baby should see. I don’t know how to be prepared when I meet an incredibly sweet 18 month old with an intentionally broken arm and leg. I don’t know how to be prepared when I am handed a baby who, a day before, was found on the side of the road covered in dirt. I don’t know how to be prepared when I see father’s come to visit their child once a month because they have to work to provide for their family and their wife has died. IMG_8006

I guess it all comes down to He is the great Comforter. He is the One who makes us prepared, or at least gives us the grace to make it though.

FMF – Dear

Here’s this weeks Five Minute Friday. Don’t know what that means? Head over here for an explanation.

IMG_9769Dear Tumaini,

I’ve been thinking about you a lot. Probably because I’ve been unable to visit you the past two days. Last night as I was laying in bed, I was just thinking about how I wished you were there with me. Sleeping soundly. Dreaming big, crazy, incredible things.

I remember the first day I met you. You came through the door in another volunteers arms and he handed you to me. I remember saying “this is the most perfect looking baby I’ve ever seen.” And you were so hungry. We couldn’t even give you a bath straight away like we usually do because you let us know you needed to eat RIGHT THEN. They told me your name was Tumaini, which means “hope” in KiSwahili. What a beautiful name, I thought. How incredibly fitting for this little child who was left outside, alone, only a few days old. Someone didn’t believe there was hope for this child, but against everything here he is, Tumaini, Hope.

DSCN1490-001I remember the nurse who was doing his rounds at Neema when you arrived. He looked at me feeding you and he said, “If you stay with him, he will come to know you like his mother, if you are just the constant person in his life.” I don’t know what prompted him to say this, and at the time I really didn’t think much about it. As I gave you your first bath, I remember being so nervous because you still had the clamp on your belly button. The nannies assured me it was fine, just don’t put water on it.

IMG_1342Over the months I’ve watched you grow. I’ve celebrated the milestones. When you finally starting reaching your feet and pulling them to your mouth I rejoiced. After a questionable diagnosis, we were very unsure of your development, but it turns out all the worries were for nothing. You’re strong and heathly and well. I remember when your first tooth popped through. I remember the week you had to spend in the hospital with pneumonia. You looked so tiny in that big hospital bed, struggling with each breath. Laying there listless. I remember how my heart broke, it was so hard to see you like that.

IMG_2699 IMG_2738Two weeks ago we celebrated your first birthday. We went out for a special lunch. It was so beautiful to get to share that with you, even if you won’t remember it. I’ll remember it.  I’m not sure where things will go from here, to be honest. I want nothing more than to bring you home with me. To lay you down to sleep every night and to be the first one you see in the morning. I want you to have a forever home, and I would love if it could be with me. So while I tread lightly, and try to learn as much as I can about the system here, I want us to keep making memories. Because even if I’m not with you forever, I for sure want you to understand just how loved you are.

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FMF – Give

Thanks for dropping in for Five Minute Friday (FMF). If you’re new here and have no idea what I’m talking about, head over to this page.

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Give. How blessed is it to give rather than receive?

On this day I’m thinking about Jennifer. Probably because I picked her up from school today.

jenniferSee that smile? That’s because Jennifer is holding her report card for her first year of school. She’s 13, and she just finished her first year of school. How smart does she look in her school track suit by the way?

I’ve been blown out of the water by people’s generosity in helping to send Jennifer to school. A year ago today Jennifer was not in the best of situations, working as a house girl. She was being beaten. She did not receive wages, aside from shelter and food. She wore tattered old clothes. She had big big dreams and no way to achieve them.

I wrote to friends back home and within a few days the response was overwhelming. They wanted to help. They wanted to give. They wanted to show this little girl that her big big dreams were not too big. That everything is possible.Jennifer made straight A’s all year. We’re hoping to be able to test her into a higher class this next school year as she essentially just completed kindergarten (here they call it “prep”). Regardless of the age gap, she is just so thankful for this opportunity. And I am so thankful to be your hands and feet on the ground.

Thank you for giving.

FMF – Notice

FMF-Notice-600x600There are a lot of things I’ve stopped noticing.

I no longer hear the mosque at 5 am, or the other times throughout the day. I can sleep through the chickens and roosters and children playing outside my window. I fall asleep on overcrowded dala dalas on the bumpiest of roads. I can walk around downtown alone and and not be bothered by the many many people trying to sell you something, anything.

daladalaI’ve stopped noticing the old woman sitting on her worn out kanga with her little cup asking for coins. I’ve stopped noticing the school children, eagerly approaching the “mzungu” to try and practice English. I’ve stopped noticing the boys that hang around downtown, looking for anything to fill their hungry bellies. I’ve stopped noticing the things that should break my heart.IMG_6953

We need to stop desensitizing. We need to engage. We need to notice every person, every sight, every moment. What have you stopped noticing?

Five Minute Friday – Still

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Peace, be still.

Peace, be still.

Peace, be still, and know that I am God.

These words play over and over and over in my head in times of chaos. I remember the first time I heard the song “Peace Be Still” by Rush of Fools… it was winter in Minnesota. It was cold and the roads were a mess. I was trying to get somewhere new, something I always hate, and I was having trouble with my GPS and I was overwhelmed and feeling hopeless. The radio was set to the cliche local Christian station and that song started playing. Instantly a wave of peace came over me and I knew those words were meant for me.IMG950291

Time and time again in the chaos of living a life overseas I hear Him whisper, “Peace, be still”.

In the overcrowded, swerving mini buses, peace be still.

In the screaming chaos of 34 little orphaned or abandoned babies, peace be still.

In the quite halls of the local hospital, going to pick up another baby left all alone, peace be still.DSCN1577

In the trips to the crazy, smelly, loud local market just to get a few grocery items, peace be still.

In it all, in the midst of the chaos, in the midst of the quietness, He whispers, “Peace, be still.”

**as I am posting you probably realized I got a new computer! I am so blessed. Thank you to everyone who helped.