Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Birthday Shawn

Our day was so good. I woke up this morning at 6am to Shawn sorta screaming...okay...that part is not so good....BUT.....he was healed of whatever was wrong the second I lifted him out of bed and started singing happy birthday to him. He is 2 today. I brought him downstairs to bed with me and Joe....as Joe got to actually be OFF work today....YAY!!!!!! Soon, Asher was up and bouncing around....so soon we were all up. I made chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast...(did I mention Spencer is here.....yay....all 3 of my boys!). We took a trip to the Opryland area to see the Grinch Ice Exhibit (fun and free since Joe is an employee of the resort)...... then came home for kiddos to nap....(I snuck off for a horse ride)....then back home for an early little party with just the family. Shawn completely enjoyed discovering his new toys and he totally rocked the cupcake. Shawn has never consumed that much sugar in his life...and here he did it in one setting. Watch him devour the end of this cupcake....Asher sings him a song...and Shawn gets excited. It's a decent 2 minutes and 17 seconds worth of free entertainment. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!



video

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Smashed Taters

Tomorrow, my Shawn will be 2 years old. On 12/4....my sweet Asher turned the big 04....yep that's right.....he is 4 years old. I cannot believe it. I didn't post about him at that time because my head was already in Zimbabwe on 12/4, even though my body didn't board the plane until 12/5...... But here is the latest Asher Tate gallery.................love that swirl in the middle of his head that makes his hair do unreasonable things.........


Asher has earned a few nicknames in his short 4-years..... who can have a middle name like Tate and NOT be called Tater every once in a while..???(or everday???) I also call him "Tater Tot, or "Splasher" when he's taking a bath, or "Smasher" when we're playing around and being silly. I also regularly call him "monkey", or "What the?", or HEY....GET IN HERE.....and well, you see where this is going. But when you cross Smasher with Tater, with get Smashed Taters......

Happy Birthday sweet Tater Tot! I thank God for you!







Friday, December 26, 2008

Yo Yo Yo - God Squad

Needing a smile today......as I have spent a little bit of each day since I returned home, crying because I feel so helpless in this Zim orphanage, hunger and poverty situation. In fact.....this Christmas was difficult for me to find my joy......although I do sincerely and deeply have joy in the Lord..... my heart is still broken from Zim.


Here is a video I'd love for you to see. It is from 2 orphanages who are actually doing pretty well. While there is always a food shortage, they are making it.....but more than anything....these homes are clean and organized, the kids are clean and have clean clothes, they speak pretty good English, and they are learning academics there at a home school. These kids were gorgeous, gracious and full of hope. Their house mother is madly in love with Jesus, and in spending any time there at these 2 homes, you learn quickly that all of the kids have put their hope and faith in Him. I got to return to one of these homes and spend some amazing time with the older girls....which I have already posted about.


So, watch and enjoy the video....I don't know what this song means, but these children at both homes greeted us with the same song and dance. Let it bless you!!!!!


p.s. the guy dancing wearing a blue "God Squad" shirt is named Boss...... he rocked on many levels. I really enjoyed getting to know him. And p.s.s.. I forgot to tell you some of these kids are HIV/AIDS positive...but many of them are getting the proper meds for now.


video

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

FACES - Part 2







It was mental...
It was overwhelming...
It was devastating...
It was political...
It was spiritual...
It was sad...
.......but through it all were moments of joy.
I'll admit....I had a good cry today! I was driving and listing to one of my favorite CD's, by Ginny Owen. Ginny is a songwriter and singer of Christian music. She is blind. She plays piano and has the voice of an angel. One of her songs talks about walking through the valley.....in other words......willingly experiencing trials, pain and sorrow....for the sake of traveling the pathway that leads her home to Jesus. I have loved this song for a long time. Today I heard the song again......but unlike any other time, I heard it from an orphans perspective. As I sang along in my car (I am most definitely a car karaoke gal!).....I realized the song will always mean something different to me now. My favorite part of the song is toward the end when she sings.... "when I cross over Jordan, I'm gonna sing and I'm gonna shout....I'm gonna look into your (Jesus) eyes and see you've never let me down". I always have a visual during this part of the song, and goosebumps cover me....as I picture crossing the Jordan, running to the open arms of Jesus. The visual was different today.....today I saw Jesus awaiting my arrival across the Jordan with His arms open wide.....and all the children you see in the photos above were dancing around Him....they were not hungry. They were not dirty. They were not sick. They were perfectly perfect.
I miss them.
I cry now.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Faces



This boy in the top center......I would have brought him home if I could have. I loved on him for 4-5 days. I never understood his name. The boy on top right in blue......is the one found a few days before my arrival on the side of the road resting next to his dead mother. His new name is "Knowledge".




These older girls above are the ones who asked me many questions about God, Jesus, prayer, life, etc. They prayed for me and I cannot describe my time with them. From left to right......the first girl came late because she has HIV and was at the clinic, so I do not know her name. The 2nd girl is sweet Emily, then both girls in front of me are named "Precious", the next girl is Nyradzu, and the last girl in red t-shirt is Deborah. They are amazing girls....and yes, they too are orphans.









This boy to the left has a name that sounds like "Tin-tone-in". He was the saddest and skinniest boy I have ever seen. He was rescued from the wild, but his siblings were not. He is worried about that. He does not speak English. He is the one who would come and either sit or stand next to me and put one arm around me, prompting me for hugs and kisses. This photo is a rare smile. I am also pictured with him above.








I have many more photos and many stories.....but for now just wanted you to see some of the faces that blessed me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

i have been away from any internet connection for a while.....and it doesn't feel good
i have finally updated emails today......and am caught up reading the daily accounts of life at my home while i am away. shawn, asher and joe have been sick. but things are looking up for them now it seems.

here......what to tell you

we rarely have electricity, but i am getting used to doing most things by candlelight at night, and it is quite nice. no tv.....wow.......tis a good thing. but i have no idea is barack obama has a dog yet, and so some things i'll wait to learn.

speaking of barack obama.....i went to a church service here on sunday and the preacher was talking about raising money for certain initiatives regarding some starving villages....he literally referred to u.s. money as "obama dollars".....wow.......what a perspective. they love barack....the kenya connection. nice.

one thing i love about being here and being the only american in my group is the barage of questions. what is your staple food.......peanut butter for sure.

the kids.............i know you want to hear about them.........yesterday i spent the morning at an orphanage with kids around 13 - 17, about 1/2 girls 1/2 boys. i had the most amazing experience of my life speaking with the girls. they asked me tons of questions, mostly about jesus........and all i can really tell you is that the spirit was involved majorly and i spoke from my heart and God truly blessed me with fair and understandable words. then we prayed....i for them....them for me. i love those girls. emily, precious #1, precious #2, deborah, nyradzu, and some others whose names i cannot remember at the moment. i took a photo with them and plan to keep it visible. they wanted to know how to show God that you love him. they wanted to understand how Satan works. it will be one of my most memorable times here.

the boys.............the older boys especially are so incredibly darling and respectful. i have received more hugs than i can ever count. they are tender and wise and precious, truly. one of my favorites so far, his name is Boss. he is a character for sure. i have video of him dancing. the music they sing is just heavenly. i'll post video after i get home.

the landscape here is quite beautiful. i have taken many photos.

my time on this computer is counting down. i may not get to be on the computer again. i am scheduled to land on friday at 9am in the morning....but who knows. amercian soil will smell nice.

thank you for reading.

love.

peace.

joy.

amen

Friday, December 12, 2008

zim baby

i literally only have 8 minutes to type

it is friday here, at 9:56 am.......it is 1:56am in nashville, tn

i have visited 4 orphanges, the 5th is today. one of the homes i have served in twice and hope to spend the rest of my time there. there are 40+ children there. they eat one meal a day. they wear the same clothes every day and wash them once per week. they love love love to sing and play. some of them just want to be held. i am giving and receiving more than my fair share of hugs and kisses. it is unbelievable. i cannot describe it here in words.

i will tell you 2 quick stories.

many of the kids do not speak english but some do, and very well.

a few days ago, a young boy probably about 28 months old was rescued on the side of the road where he was found lying next to his dead mother. he was opening her eyes and trying to get her to wake. now he is in a strange home. he is afraid for people to shut their eyes...afraid they will not wake up. he is BEAUTIFUL. they do not know his name, so they call him "knowledge". i got him to laugh yesterday, and it was by far the gift of my day. turns out....he is tickelish. he also loves to receive kisses on his neck when you make the hungry chewing sound. he has my heart.

another child has my heart. i cannot spell his name, but is sounds like "Tintonin". he is probably 5 or 6 years. he has the most gorgeous face but he is incredibly skinny and he does not smile. he was rescued from the "brush" (aka wild) and he has siblings still in the brush. he is worried that they are not eating. he has only been in the home for a couple of weeks. he looks starved and sad. he walks up and puts one arm around my waist to let me know he wants a hug......and what do you think I do????? i hug him until he nearly breaks. i took a photo of him and showed it to him....it scared him. he didn't understand. i took a photo of us together and showed it to him and he smiled. he smiled. i managed to get a photo of him smiling. i will frame this photos and never forget these children.

i cannot tell you about all of them. they have a good, bad smell. some of them have aids. 3 children at this home have cholera and are dying because they cannot get the meds and do not have enough water or liquids to rehydrate. they die from dehydration....not cholera itself. one died the day before i arrived.

2 of the children walk around and look like death to me. one little girl has fallen asleep on me 2 days in a row, and she should be full of energy. her name is patricia. she is the same size as shawn, but is probably 2 years older. i heard her sing yesterday for a moment. it was lovely.


*********

my bug bites are healing and not itchy. they killed me for a couple of days. i now have luggage....but it was so appropriate that i did not have luggage for 4 days......as living without is the way of zim. it is the only way. my south african friends cook lunch and dinner everyday. they offer the greatest warmth and hospitality and the food is good. 2 others have arrived so we have 6 in total now. 4 of us are voluteers and 2 are staff. last night we stayed up late without electricity and wrote poems by candlelight. we could each only contribute one word at a time. the poem is both deep and funny. i haven't laughed so hard since i got here. they want to know about america and amercians. i am asked some challenging questions, but i tell them the truth. they all love Jesus.

****

i have been here 7 days and washed my hair once. yea....it's nice. i do get to wash with soap. we rarely have electricity except for a couple of hours in the evening, while everyone is sleeping. the spiders here are gigantic. i sleep under bug netting because it is friggin scary not to.


*********today we are going to a boys home....of older boys. we will spend most of the day...then we are delivering food and baby supplies to the babies with aids home. we have been there once. today we will spend more time. i forgot to tell you that during the 2 days we spent at the home i love (the Hatcliffe home) we painted 2 rooms, in addition to delivering a ton of food and supplies. my journey here involves physical work and a lot of loving on children. i am taking photos and getting video.


******finally before i get cut off here.......my nights, when i crawl into bed, i think of my children until i fall asleep. man........it is hard to be away from them. and even though spencer is older, he is having some tough times right now as it seems he and dana are broken up and i am worrying and missing him terribly. he sent me a text that was sad.........and i worry. i miss everyone, but i am not ready to come home. God has been so amazing to bless me with kids i have a heart for (here in zim) projects that i love (painting) and with people who are curious and want to know about america (my south african friends). i am fully filled with the love of Christ....He sustains me every moment. it is good.

Monday, December 8, 2008

In Zim

here is a 2 day diary so far.....


Sunday night in Zimbabwe:

HI all. I am somewhat speechless. It is Sunday evening here. I am in a private park 3 hours from Harare, so I have not seen any children yet. This is my surprise. Tomorrow, I will walk with a lion and I will ride horseback. Pam, please tell Moreau not to be jealous. This is a resort/retreat for Christians. it is beautiful. I will take photos. i have already seen Elephants walking the grounds. This morning I woke in the voluteer camp. I will have a room in like a little house. It is not what I expected, at all.

My hosts are Nic, Susanne and Linda. They are all from Johannesburgh, South Africa. They are wonderful.

My flights were good. My luggage is lost. I might or might not get it back.....so the children might or might not get their pencils and paper. i want them to have their stuff. I will be fine either way.

So, i'm on a timer....and i won't be able to use computer again for a few days. The ride in a van to this place, 3 hours, the most remarkable. If i see nothing else, i have seen so much. Babboons, a family of 4, crossed the street. One was a tiny baby. The human mommas' wear their babies on their backs, and tie them on with fabric. The babies look so content. The mommas carry things on their heads, perfectly. they farm. Some just hang on the side of the road and try to sell you things. they don't have a good marketing plan.....because i don't know what they are selling.

They drive on the wrong side of the road and in the wrong side of the car. no speed limit. fast...fast. food is weird, but i am doing okay with it.

no tv. i love it.

i had a good cry the first night, missing my boys. still miss them so much it hurts.

i'll be here for 1 more full day, (2 nights) and then will go to the orphanages. my heart is not quite ready for that, but will be.

i met incredibly wonderful people on the planes. maybe the nicest people in the world. a man from Dakar was my buddy for 7 hours. a beautiful lady from zimbabwe was my buddy in line (in queue) at the airport for 2 hours while we reported our luggage missing. she was so lovely. she gave me a huge hug for coming to her country. i could cry right now, but will try not to in this tiny internet cafe, in a beautiful park, in zimbabwe.

dinner is soon. must eat and rest up for my walk with a lion tomorrow. my room has a straw roof. i'm listening to christian music in the background right now.... "we bow down, we lay our crown, at the feet of Jesus...and we cry holy holy holy is the lamb".

i am safe and well, and i love you each.

always and for the Lord,

melissa





Monday - Zim time: 2:56 pm
the lion walk is later this afternoon. this morning was the horseback ride into the brush to look for wild game. i had no idea i'd be doing any of this. i couldn't possibly tell you as much about zimbabwe as i'd like. this computer is slow. people are starving in this country. their currency is worthless, but it is against the law to trade in other currency that requires a permit. i can use my us dollars, but many others cannot. if you think this doesn't make sense, then you might begin to understand how helpless they feel. for example, the guides here are paid in zim dollars but the banks don't have cash....so it is like they are working for free. it is so bizarre. i have been told not to use a credit card here even for an emergency because the exchange rate here for credit cards is ancient, and that a $3 bar of soap here would charge $300 to my card. it's a good thing i brought cash.

on to funnier trivia...

the bugs here are large enough to be pets. there is a beetle that is larger than a large egg. it is not pleasant. he's frightening in fact.

i have flea bites. come'on, that's funny.

the birdlife here is incredible. they sing so loud and they are so beautiful.

this park here is called antelope park. the wildlife here include elephants, zebra, giraffe, wildebeasts, impala, elephants and lions. the lions are being breeded and/or rehabilitated to go back into the wild, so they get special attention. the other animals are self-sustaining, but they are used to humans. on my horse ride this morning, i got to see zebra, giraffe, impala. later today, i went to watch my friends swim with the elephants. i didn't participate since i do not have clean dry clothes to change into. the i got to pet them though, and they are remarkble.

a bug woke me up in the night. he sounded like a squeaking cell phone...so this was confusing. i slept under mosquito netting in my small private room. i slept well, except for the bug.

the showers and bathrooms are in a separate building. i have only taken one shower since i arrived, but i have not yet washed my hair. i'm afraid, that without my hair product (in lost luggage) that i might be laughed at alot with hair sticking straight up. i honestly don't know when i'll get to wash my hair. trust me....it is more acceptable here than it would ever be at home.

tomorrow morning we will drive back to harare. the plan is to visit all 4 orphanges beginning tomorrow and then choose a project. i'm getting nervous about this. i have been learning about the culture and the government. zimbabwe is extremely poor. it makes me feel a little guilty about being at this "resort" but i am happy to have had this experience. i have a feeling though that when i leave come back home, it is the resort that i will remember the least. they offered me a trip to victoria falls at the end of this...which i declined because i'd rather see my children. but to do my orientation to the country, they had to take me somewhere, which is how we ended up here.

need i say this....i really miss my children

it is easy to talk to God here, especially when you feel the need to pray at night that bugs won't be in bed.....on my knees is a natural posture....HA!!!

i might get to post again tonight....but if not....the next time i'm here my stories will be about the children