11 December, 2014

Soccer after the Thanksgiving feast
  Marlin is back and i had plans of pictures with him and i and the crew but we were too busy hugging and laughing to think about cameras. Wow, it is just amazing to have him home again. Except that he left before the week was out, taking our friends, Brent and Mariellen Rosenberry and family, to the Masai Mara. At least he's still in Kenya and not across the world.

  Our friends, Brents, came almost 3 weeks ago and we are having a great time. There's something about "old" friendships that are irreplaceable. If you want to see Kenya from their perspective, they are blogging about it at http://rosenberryfamilyjourney.blogspot.com. I have to warn you that i have yet to see a flattering picture of myself on their blog but i'm way to mature to care about such things like that. (is it lying if everyone knows you're being sarcastic?)

 So here's a few random pictures of what's happening the last several weeks.

 First, belated Thanksgiving Day pictures.


The singles did a great job decorating and the women a great job cooking. The men grilled 3 different kinds of meat while we ladies slaved over mashed potatoes, broccoli salad, fruit salad, homemade rolls, 3 different kinds of butter spreads, and a frozen strawberry dessert that was incredibly refreshing.

A table full of giggles and half eaten bites

Zachary at his finest

The Weavers and the Rosenberrys 


  We had a great day. It's the celebration day of the year, since Christmas we all head to church, not leaving so much time for food and fellowship. In the afternoon there were games for the children and a few for the adults. It stormed and rained hard in the evening so we had to put the sides of the tent up while we shivered through our homemade ice cream and pies. Great memories and a lingering sadness that this time next year we won't be sharing Thanksgiving with these people. We love them.



  Fast forward to the Yacht Club. We (including our friends Brent Rosenberrys) had been at the clothing sale and Bible Study at church the other day. It made for a long day, and we refreshed ourselves by heading out to the Yacht Club for supper. It's just a short distance from our house but it's like being far, far away. So peaceful with Lake Victoria lapping at the shore, lush green grass, and yummy paneer.

The Yacht Club. It sounds unaffordable but in reality the prices are quite decent and the food is delicious. It's a little retreat away from the dust, dirt, and commotion of city life.


This picture is so Josh. He is SO full of life and energy and tackles life with gusto.

Phase 10, anyone?

Seriously, we teach them nonresistance. 

The tire pier where only swimmers are allowed. Sometimes there are hippos by the shore but lately they have been nonexistent.


05 December, 2014

 
   Marlin's still in the land of golden streets and money trees.



  Not heaven.

  America.

  At least that's how some Kenyans view the land of my birth. They think that as Americans we don't have hurts, or pain, or heartbreak, and that our Nike clad feet stroll over streets that belong in heaven. They will smile when we talk of how to live through tears but they will admit readily, and have admitted, that we can go back to our America where the money flow never ends and people rarely die. Somehow our hurts just aren't as deep. Or so they think.

Jennifer's Gardens. A beautiful retreat where the missionaries can escape the pollution of the big city and soak up some serious beauty. 


They are wrong. But from the viewpoint of mud huts and constant death, i understand. Or as much as i am able with the luxury of my heritage and the wealth of my homeland. There has to be a way to show them that we hurt and cry as hard as they do but i'm afraid that until we share their mud huts and live their pain, they won't believe.

  If they have a child dying from dysentery, they can't call the mission board or family, and be flown across the wide blue sky to hospitals where the floors are spotless and the medicine advanced. Sometimes tho, i wonder if we don't also suffer from having so much handed to us. Our faith becomes flabby and our rights tightly held.

 There's times I wonder if we fight too hard to keep ourselves alive. People spend thousands and millions on loved ones, saying you can't put a price on life. I agree. Completely.... but if the death of a saint causes God to rejoice at a loved one of His coming home, why do we fight and scream at God when it happens.

  I think of Hadassah. From the moment we heard she was going to die, we knew we needed to release her. To pound the gates of heaven and demand a miracle just wasn't an option. Sometimes it is. Sometimes God asks us to challenge Him and to ask for healing. Sometimes He seems to ask us to simply let go and believe that death is not the worst that can happen. Either way the pain is cutting and the hurt real, just as the healing and triumph over death is also real.

Some missionary children that keep hanging around. :) 


  This week a Kenyan whose testimony really touched our lives as a family, went home to Jesus. If you have ever read the book, "A Good Different" you will remember Musikala. A drunk and a wife beater who got delivered and set free. He died of a lung infection this week and part of me wonders why God took him when there seem so few for real christians in Kenya. But i can't grieve for him. I find my heart rejoicing that he is in the presence of God Himself. I grieve for his family. Being a widow is not an easy thing and being a widow in Kenya brings a level of hard that is not easy for us to grasp.

  I can't help but wonder if we could see past this veil that keeps us from seeing heaven, if maybe we would release our loved ones quicker.

  Unless they aren't ready. Then we storm the gates of heaven and weep for God to have mercy. We struggle to believe that His hand is bigger than the lies that bind the hearts of unbelief.


I wonder what their future holds????

  Somehow tho, we keep living, one day and one faith crisis at a time.

29 November, 2014

Isaiah 26:3-4

  Tonight Marlin is flying across the wide, wide world to the States for a week to spend time with his parents. His father is having open heart surgery and Marlin and i both felt he needs to go spend some time with them. The only problem is, I MISS HIM!

  Terribly.

  That's a side effect of living together for over 18 years. It's what happens when you laugh together, cry together, and argue together. It's what happens when you surrender to each other. You become joined in ways you never knew possible.

  He makes me laugh as hard today as he did 18 years ago. It's pretty amazing when a woman still thinks her husband is funny after dirty socks and natural childbirth.

  I can't believe that he not only still loves me, but he LIKES me. There's a difference, you know. Especially after he's had to put up with hormones and swollen ankles through 10 pregnancies. I'm just not always sweet and cheerful when i'm waddling and there's no question about it.....I am no longer a 20 year old and certain things change after this many babies. But he still calls me beautiful.


  And he means it.

  So now he's gone for a week and tonight i found myself restless and struggling with an indefinable something. I thot maybe it's guilt for not taking my vitamins and cod liver faithfully. But that didn't make sense because i haven't struggled with a whole lot of guilt before. I wondered if i'm afraid to sleep in Africa without my man beside me but i knew it wasn't that. And then i knew. I'm afraid he won't come back. That his plane will disintegrate, leaving me with 9 children and a broken heart. I thot of those stories where the husband and wife separate for a short time and then something happens and they don't see each other for months. Years. It wasn't a paralyzing fear, just a nagging feeling.

  The more i thot about it, the more i realized that the fear fit in with some other nagging feelings that have been haunting me.

  How do i KNOW that God really has our future in His hands? Since when would He care about what we do and where we go? He's a big God, i'm a puny (in a spiritual sense, not so much physical) human and i'm supposed to believe that He cares about small details? Such as whether we're having a boy or girl. Or where we go when our plane leaves Kenya. How to raise these boys and one daughter. Why my ankles are swelling and what if this baby is not ok. On and on. Quiet doubts that slowly undermine my faith and make me try to pick up the control i've worked so hard to lay down.

  Tonight i came across this verse and satan's lies retreated.


"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he TRUSTS in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. 

Isaiah 26:3-4


  Amen and Amen!! Get thou behind me, satan! 

  I still miss Marlin. We all do. They adore their daddy and lets face it. He gets obedience in ways i only dream of and that helps too.

  But tonight i'm taping this verse up behind the bathroom door (i'm pregnant, where else do you think i spend the majority of my time?) so that i am reminded of who really is in control. I handed that control over 13 years ago and i have no intention, by the grace of God, to pick it back up. 

 Tonight i go to bed with my heart full of peace.  

21 November, 2014

Happy Birthday, Little One

A year ago you were born.

A year ago we held you, kissed you, and told you good by.

A year ago we laid your tiny, pink wrapped body in that little wooden box.

We know the pain of saying good by forever on earth.

Someday we will know the joy of saying hello in heaven.

We love you!!!

19 November, 2014

Hadassah Faith Sweazy

   We have some dear friends from another mission about 3 hours from here that came down to Kisumu to have their third baby. Charlton and Natasha Sweazy and their three little ones, Ava, Boaz, and just born, Hadassah Faith.



Of course Emily and i want to keep Hadassah as she is just a little doll, weighing in at 6 lbs. 7 oz. She makes the cutest little squeaky noises and wears pink like a real princess. 

Ava and Boaz have played much with our boys the last 3 weeks and i have a feeling that they will be a bit bored without them around. Boaz is a laid back, easy going little guy and Ava is spunky and knows what she wants out of life. It was kind of interesting, Ava and Jonathan had a few more go arounds than the others but they also connect more than the rest. At one point Ava sadly left me know that Jonathan called her a greedy woman, and of course Jonathan felt he had all the reason in the world to make that claim. I couldn't help but laugh behind their backs, altho Jonathan has never heard his daddy call me a greedy woman so i'm not sure where that came from. 

When i look at the ratios of girls versus boys around here i can't help but think we need more females. However, i have a funny, strong inner feeling that i'm carrying another boy. I'm fine with that. :)
Pray for Charltons as they head back to their part of Africa today. They have been in Kenya less than a year and adjusting to a new baby without all the comforts of America and nearby family can be a real challenge. I would love to be able to send Emily home with them for a couple of months but at 13, she needs to stay a bit closer to home for a while yet. The time is coming way too quickly when we will release her to whatever calling God has on her life.

I am halfway through this pregnancy, and all things considered i feel ok. I've struggled with a lot of exhaustion and fatigue but i suspect some of it is due to extreme dust. There is road work being done close to here so there are lots of big trucks and taxis driving behind our house on the dirt road, and since it's very dry the dust is terrible. It tests my patience when i do the cleaning and within hours the floors and windows are covered in dust. You can literally taste the dust in your mouth in the back of the house, near the road. Trying not to think what it's doing to our lungs but i keep telling myself that the Bible means it when it says to be thankful in all things. I haven't decided if that verse means we need to actually thank Him for the dust or just thank Him for what we're learning because of the dust.



   I will leave you with a picture that helps the thankful attitude. I'm not one that just thrills at looking through pictures that other people have taken of nature, but this one make me happy. Eric took it one evening down by Lake Victoria. He bought Marlin's camera when Marlin upgraded for all the orphan pics he takes and is having a lot of fun snapping and editing. Looking at those vibrant colors makes me think of earth and heaven......the darkness of life with that glorious light of Jesus Christ shining through.

  This week a year ago we were waiting for our Hadassah's birth. She's now waiting behind those clouds and that thought fills our hearts with peace in spite of the tears hiding behind our eyes. Friday is her birthday and for all those of you who have sent us emails, thank you! It means so much when people remember her and let us know they are thinking of us and praying for us. No doubt about it, the birthday of a child who died is a hard time. This birthday, we'll be picking up some close friends from the airport and i can't help but think that God has such good timing. Even a year later, He's still watching out and knowing our ache and using dear people in our lives to show us His love.

 He's such a loving, tender, Heavenly Papa.

30 October, 2014

  It's been quite the week.

  Make that life.

  Tuesday evening Levi was playing on top of the swing set and what do you know, he fell off.

  The top.

  This was the result.




 We spent 4 hours at the hospital getting X-rays and then the plaster. It's a wrist fracture and the cast MAY NOT GET WET! Yeah, right.

  For some reason today he's a bit short tempered and i feel like a truck ran over me. It was exhausting to spend half the night before comforting him and then sitting, sitting, sitting in the same hospital that we sat and sat and sat with Hadassah. By today i want to hide somewhere far, far away but no, there's laundry to wash, food to cook, and a little boy to comfort and rock. He's not in a lot of pain anymore and it's only a two week cast so we have a LOT to be thankful for.

 And what do you know but that it was Jacob's birthday. So after the hospital visit we picked up a gift for Jacob and headed home to where Emily had baked a cake and was babysitting the 3 remaining littles plus two others. She is an amazing young lady and her maturity is way beyond what mine was at her age. But that's what happens when you are the only girl in a family of boys.

Happy 5th birthday, Jacob!!! 

There's a family joke about Jacob and his "fake snakes," so of course we had to make a fake snake cake. Emily baked the cake and her and the boys had great fun decorating it. And I? I took a nap. 

His precious birthday candle that promptly broke when he tried to wash the icing off. Poor little man.

One of his goofy grins.....we get such a kick out of his expressions. 

Not every 5 year old boy gets his own Landrover for his birthday. He was greatly pleased but i think even Eric was a bit jealous.

   Jacob brings so much joy and laughter to our home. Him and Levi are best of friends and where one is you'll find the other. One of his nicknames is "fuzzy" because of his hair constantly standing on end.

   There's no way around it. We love this guy!


22 October, 2014

  So many things to write about.....so little time.

  I'm going to start with Marlin's big 4-0!!

 We're getting old, people! I well remember my dad turning 40 and i thot he might as well lay down and die. I mean, what worth is life when you're 40? And here we are and i wouldn't trade 40 for 20 any day.

 I planned, along with a few other sneaky people in the compound, a big 40th birthday party on the day of his birthday. I didn't actually think we would be able to pull off the surprise factor but we did. I had Becky, one of the missionary women who does beautiful cake decorating, make a small cake for lunch to throw him off. She also decorated a big cake for the bday party that evening. The small cake worked and it never even crossed his mind that there might be a party instead of a simple supper invite to Tony and Judith's. We walked in at Tony's to the whole compound singing Happy Birthday.



  Yup, we caught him by surprise. The poor littles were a bit confused to walk into a whole crowd of people singing and laughing, hence the reason Jacob is clinging to my hand.



    .....happy birthday to  you.....just so happened that there were two other birthdays that same day so we sang also sang happy birthday to them and to Zac, whose birthday was two days later.



I think he's trying to make it look like MY birthday, but i can assure you, i am still in my thirties. ;) And as usual we have one child digging in the area of his nostrils and poor Jacob looks like he's taking his daddy's old age harder than Marlin himself. 



The cute little toilet paper man made by Tony and Judith, filled with 40 different little gifts. Everyone was supposed to bring 40 things of "something small." People got creative. 


This one was filled with all kinds of useful things like pampers for incontinence.....well suited to a man like mine. ;) 


And we can't forget the food. Judith went out of her way to help me. She did the decorating and made the lattes, (three different kinds). I made the chicken salad sandwiches and another friend, Marji, made the popcorn and chip mix. Thank you friends!! It was a success!