Monday, November 16, 2015

The Reason I Have To Win Kapya's Love Again

This month we've had a World Race team with us again. Last year was our first chance to work with AIM and the World Racers, and they are lots of fun to have here at Kazembe Orphanage.

It's great to have six extra pairs of hands around for those extra projects that never seem to get done. In anticipation of their arrival I jotted down ideas over the last few months of things that could get tackled. Things like inventory the storeroom, test the kids in their physical development, write up sentences for spelling words, etc. 

At the very top of the list was to get all our youngest kids medical records in order. Many times when we receive babies into the orphanage their health is not all that great and I hesitate to give them too many immunizations. I want them to receive them eventually, but I prefer for them to be on better immune-system footing.

This was the perfect time to get this taken care of. Two of the girls took all the kids' immunization cards, health notebooks and assorted papers and got them organized and listed in a spreadsheet.

We have immunization cards for the children which are issued by the government, and then we also have health logs in notebooks for them. The way clinics and hospitals work here is that when you visit them for the first time they ask you to purchase a notebook. This becomes your medical file. They write a number on the top and give you a scrap of cardboard with the same number. This is your ID for that notebook. Every time you visit that clinic or hospital you must bring the correct piece of cardboard so they can locate your 'file'. Trouble is that those books and/or scraps of cardboard are frequently misplaced and there is no running record. Or if you visit another hospital there is no way for doctors to know which treatment you've already had or what your medical history is.

My solution for this was to create my own notebook for each child and we take this with us wherever we go. So any tests run, doctors notes, etc. all go into the same notebook and travel with the child. It works so much better. (Unless I'm not there to supervise and a doctor from one clinic tears out the test results from another hospital. Grrr!)

Anyway, we discovered that several of the children and babies were missing immunizations and needed to get caught up. Fifteen children to be exact!

So a clinic day was organized and coordinated with our local rural health center. At the last moment Tom had to go somewhere else so we went down on foot. It's not a bad walk--about 15-20 minutes and the kids were very excited to go to the BOMA (town center). Little did they know what we had in store for them.....

I did try to explain ahead of time what would go on. "A doctor is going to put medicine in you to protect you from diseases." But they had no idea what that meant. I also promised them a treat when we were done.

Right after nap time we set out to walk to the clinic. The kids all chose partners. We made sure a grown up was in the front and out back and we were off!

When we arrived at the clinic I was happy to see that they were expecting us and we could get right down to business. I had a spreadsheet with the kids' names and the immunizations they needed and the doctor and I made a plan on which ones they'd get that day. We also decided to give HIV tests to some of the kids who had not yet been tested so we could have a definite answer. Not that we expected any of them to be positive, but it is a possibility here and one we definitely want to rule out.

Mary sat out in the waiting area with the kids (we gave them all Rescue Remedy to calm them down) and nannies, and two of the other volunteers came into the examining room with me and we began. 

 We started with the two oldest kids which may have been a mistake. Lizzy did alright. She just needed one shot and an HIV test, which is just a little prick on the finger--similar to a blood sugar test. Jack, however had recently had minor surgery and he knew exactly what needles feel like and he was having none of it! I made the mistake of saying the HIV test was simple and just like a malaria test (which the kids get frequently), but Jack misunderstood and fought tooth and nail not to get pricked. He kept shouting, "I don't want mah-yahr-eeya (malaria)." Ooops!

All the kids in the waiting room could hear Jack's screams and cries and their eyes grew larger and larger as they wondered what on earth was in store for them. Mary kept leading them in happy songs singing extra loud to dry to drown out Jack's cries. 

We continued to bring kids in one by one and for the most part they all did pretty well. Naomi (4) was the funniest. She walked in on her own power but just stood by the table with the largest eyes I've ever seen. No matter what I said I couldn't break her deer-in-the-headlights stare. Getting the shots was probably anti-climatic after what she was expecting. Poor girl!

Leah (3) was our absolute star! She didn't make a single sound despite getting two shots and the finger prick. 
Kapya and Humphrey (9 months) had to get two shots and they were not happy about it at all. I cuddled Kapya after to try to help calm her down and she responded by vomiting straight down the front of my shirt. She continued to cry whenever she saw me for a few days. I still don't know if she's completely forgiven me.  

Apparently Kapya loves Mary though!

The next day was pretty bad. Despite having given all the kids Tylenol, they still limped around the property and were mopey. At one point I saw Lizzy (5) leading Grace (4) up the hill to the dining room. They were both limping, but Lizzy was obviously taking care of Grace. They looked like two wounded warriors dragging home after a distant battle. 

Thankfully they are all better now and had recovered sufficiently to enjoy the birthday party a couple days later. That's an upcoming story. Stay tuned.....

And! The really good news?? No one tested positive for HIV!! A really wonderful thing!

Exactly Six Years Ago: Miscellaneous Musings Sometimes I forget all these adventures!
(Almost) Six Years Ago: Mayflies and..... (related to the above post and so relevant to this time of year)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Clean UP! Everybody! Everywhere!

Last month we got a letter from the District Council informing us that there would be a city wide clean up day to prepare for the upcoming Independence Day celebration. They told us that a church would be assigned to clean the orphanage property and then the District Commissioner would come around to inspect the work done. 
For this reason we opted out of the activity (being used for a photo op for someone who didn't even do the work didn't appeal to us much), but decided that the kids should take part for community unity. 

Johnny (9) raking the leaves, dry grass,  and baby mangoes in the courtyard

Unfortunately we got confused about the dates, and ended up doing the clean up day a week later than the rest of the village, but the kids didn't know that, so it's all good.

We decided to make it into a game. School was canceled for the day and a special afternoon movie was promised as well as a Field Day the next day for the 2 oldest grades.

On the morning of the Clean Up Day, Mary and I made lists of possible jobs and figured out how much time each job would take. We divided the jobs into 30 minute increments and wrote the jobs on little slips of paper.

Elias (11) checking out his new job. He's concentrating, not complaining, I promise.
I put all the job slips into my popcorn bucket and the kids could pull out a job to do. They only had to work at that job for 30 minutes, but if their job supervisor saw them slacking off their time would be increased in 10 minute increments. When their 30 minute job was done they got the little slip signed by their supervisor and then delivered it to me and pulled a new job slip.

Sandra (8) helping check if markers work as we decluttered the classroom

The idea was that the first graders would pull two slips out and the second graders would pull out three. Once they'd turned all their slips in to me they were free! Work day would be done!

Jack and Ana (both 5) sweeping the corridor around the courtyard.

We wanted the Kindergarten class to take part too so they worked with their nanny to clean their own bedroom, classroom and the hallways in that area.

One of the jobs was to cut the grass in the laundry area with scissors. Moriah (7) patiently cut away. 

All the kids worked really well. We had a couple who had their time extended, but for the most part everyone dug in and got the job done. It was a really good day!

That afternoon they all got to pile into our living room and sit on the rug to watch Astro Boy.

I hope we can make Clean Up Day an annual event so our kids can grow up seeing the value of a solid day's work. 

Just Over Two Years Ago: A Little Hump Day Humor This made me chuckle yet again!

Nearly Four Years Ago: Baby Bonanza Celebrated the birthday of two of these a couple days ago, and I can't believe they were ever that small!

Nearly Five Years Ago: San Diego Has Nothing on Us

Friday, May 22, 2015

Rising and Falling


Today's word prompt is Rise. Immediately the following lyrics came to mind and I began to write:

I will rise on eagle's wings. Before my God fall on my knees, and rise.

Such an interesting juxtaposition of phrases. I'm going to rise, but in order to do that I must fall down.

 We've rehabilitated hawks a few times in Zambia and as they are learning to fly they fall a lot. But, before you know it they have gained wind beneath their wings, learned how to control it, and they are off. There is nothing we can do to help that process other than make sure their nest is high enough that they get a bit of help on their way down.

In the words of Woody: Falling with style

As my kids grow up it can be hard to watch them 'fall' out of the nest. They can get some good swoops in and fly short distances, but other times they hit the ground a little hard. 

As a parent the best thing I can do is model the rise and fall of life in a positive way and hope they take something away from my example. 

My six kids in various stages of flight celebrating Timothy's graduation

And when they swoop through the sky I cheer with all my might. When they hit the ground I kiss their bruised wings. And continue to nudge them back in the air again.

So this turned out differently than I thought it would when I started writing, but it's my heart on the page. Enjoy!

Exactly Four Years Ago: Sundays in My City
Almost Exactly Four Years Ago: I'm Not the Only One Missing Someone (and boy, am I missing him today....)

Friday, April 17, 2015

When Tomorrow Never Comes

Today's word prompt is Tomorrow

If I've learned anything these past few years and even more so in the past few weeks is that we are not guaranteed another tomorrow. 

As I write this I am on my way to Oregon. I'll be speaking and presentting to a few church groups, but I'm also going to visit with some dear friends who just had a baby (need to sniff a newborn's head) and so important for me, I'll also be visiting my Grandpa. 

Grandpa S. turned 100 this past December. I want to make sure that I have a time to sit and visit with him and find out more about his history. It's going to be a special visit.

As I packed for this trip yesterday I saw a Facebook status from my uncle. My Grandpa C.--my dad's father--passed away yesterday. I won't have another tomorrow with him. I didn't have very many yesterdays with him either. This makes me sad. 

Grandpa C. was 88 when he passed away. He served as a police officer in Detroit, was a successful business man in , and so much more that I don't even know because this life I live doesn't give me as many todays with those I love as I would like. 

When I sit down with Grandpa S. on Tuesday next week, I'm going to treasure every moment because while tomorrow isn't guaranteed, today is and today is what I'll make sure to make the most of.

This is my Grandpa S. two years ago, with my mom (on his right)
and my brother and 3 sisters.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Finding Relief in Mothering

Today’s word is relief. Nothing profound really came to mind when I heard this word, but I challenged myself to write anyway. Stretching oneself is good for the soul, or so they say....

Easter Sunday!
Such a treat to be together as a family

The main thing that comes to me is the relief I feel when I know that my loved ones are safe. I regularly check in with my kids through Facebook when I’m in Zambia, and now while in the States I can keep up with them through phone calls and texting.

My brother in law and his wife just buried their oldest daughter this past weekend after she passed away in a tragic accident. While there is some relief that she is now completely safe and far beyond hurt and pain, there is awful longing and grief for her loss.

Balloons released for my niece, Lisa 

I know our days are in His hands and there is absolutely nothing I can do to keep my kids from harm’s way—especially now that they are grown and making their own decisions.

Someone said (I can’t remember who) that being a mother means having a piece of your heart out in the world. I’m badly paraphrasing that eloquent saying, but it’s true just the same.

Relief also comes when my kids each begin to find their place in the world. When they find their calling and passion and reach their goals. Mothering is fulfilled in those moments.

And that's a wrap. Five minutes is not long at all.......

Exactly One Year Ago: Volunteering is Grrreat!
Exactly Two Years Ago: Visitors and Parties
Exactly Four Years Ago: Sunday in My City--Shopping Trips

Friday, March 27, 2015

You Deserve a Break Today

This week's word prompt is break. 

Picture from 2010 when I visited my mom in California

Immediately I thought of a Facebook post a friend of mine here in Zambia just put up. She has begun a project of taking premature babies and teenage mothers into her home. She is building a place for them, but in the meantime they are staying with her in her tiny house. She has local caregivers working alongside her, but it means that she is constantly surrounded by her work and does not get the chance for a break. She was pleading with people to help give in to her building fund so that her work and home could have some separation.

This plea struck home for me because I too live at my work. There is always something to do, a child that needs attention, a staff member that needs instruction, always something. I have to fight for my time off.

But, there is a nagging feeling that as a missionary I shouldn't feel that way.

And I know I'm not the only mission worker to struggle with that. We are doing Good Work. Why should we want a break? A time away?

Then I talk sense into myself and give myself a little talking to. It goes something like this:
"Even Jesus took breaks. I'll be no good to anyone if I get exhausted and sick. It's healthy to have time away from work. Other people with 'normal' jobs get weekends or days off. Why shouldn't I?" and so on and so forth. 

It's silly almost to admit this, but the struggle is real.

As I said, I know I'm not the only one. I see it over and over in missionary updates. They feel the need to justify any days they take off. Any money (even personal funds) spent on recreation. We get it. We need to make good use of the donations and funds that people have entrusted to us, but we need to take care of ourselves as well.

So, if you know a missionary or even a mission worker not overseas, let them know they deserve a break today. Let them know that you don't expect them to work 24/7 just because they're doing God's work.

I could say more on this subject, but I have to play by the rules of Five Minute Friday..... :)

Almost Exactly Four Years Ago: I Like-a You!
Exactly Four Years Ago: Sundays in My City --Uno Attack
Exactly Two Years Ago: A Family Day to Remember

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

It's All in the Wording

This morning I wasn't feeling well. While I rested in bed Peter came to play and keep me company. 

Troy didn't think this was a good idea and suggested to Peter that he leave since "Mommy has a headache". 

Peter: "Mommy doesn't have a headache. She's just lazy."

Me: "..........."

Peter: "Yeah, Mommy told me she is lazy today."

Me: "Dizzy, Peter! I said I was dizzy."

Good thing we cleared that up before anyone else asked Peter why Mommy wasn't working today.

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