Posted by: Lisa | April 21, 2013

Road Trip!

We recently took a little road trip as a family to say good bye to some fellow missionaries who are moving away. The Helgrens have been ministering about three hours West of us, so going there and back in one day was doable. Considering we rarely ever leave a one mile radius of our house, the kids and I were ready for a bit of break in the routine!

The Helgren family has three children, stair stepped older and between my oldest three. We are certainly going to miss the Helgrens in the Eastern Province! We’ve made a lot of good memories with them during the years we’ve ministered in the same general area of Zambia.

On our day trip, I looked behind me to see our wonderfully full back seat and had to get a picture. Isn’t this the cutest little box of sardines you ever did see? :)

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There’s something about a backseat bursting at the seams that reminds me that good gifts come from above!

Posted by: Lisa | April 3, 2013

Celebrating the Ressurection

Christ’s resurrection is what sets Christianity apart from any other religion. It is the cornerstone of our hope! And, yet, the holiday celebrating Christ’s victory over the grave was sadly lacking in meaningful tradition in our home. Besides annual Hot Cross Buns, I was coming up dry.

This year, I scoured the internet looking for ways to try to help make Christ raising from the dead be more real to our children. I came across another missionary mommy blog with some great ideas. We adopted the following two, and I wanted to share! They were so fun!

The first thing we made was a replica (I use that term loosely!) of the tomb where Jesus was buried. It was basically play dough- flour, salt, water and oil mixed and molded…

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…and then baked for a very long time! They poked holes in the top, anticipating sticking flowers in to decorate it.

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Then the kids had a blast painting their designated sections. Felicia and Natalie each got half of the mountain, I gave Joey the stone that went in front of the tomb. :-)

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We had grand ideas to decorate it with flowers from the yard and even tie sticks together to make an empty cross on the hill. Maybe next year. :-) This year, here is what the final product looked like.

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If you can decipher the writing on the rock, Felicia inscribed “War Jesus DiD” on it. Translation- “Where Jesus Died”. :-) We’re working on spelling. ;-)

Then for dessert on Resurrection Sunday we decided to make a Resurrection Cake.

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And before you ask, no, I didn’t make the flowers on it! With teo birthdays and a party around this holiday, a couple dozen fondant flowers seemed too overwhelming. There’s a lady in town who sells them, so that’s where they came from!

I did use some leftover white chocolate decorations from Natalie’s birthday cupcakes to be the grave clothes in the empty tomb. I felt very resourceful. ha!

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Over all, I’d say these projects were a hit. As we were making them, decorating them, etc, we had good discussions and I overheard the kids saying things to each other like, “We have to make sure the stone is rolled away to show that Jesus’ tomb is empty” and other facts they’d learned.

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And in addition to all the fun and learning, they got to play with a new, custom-made centerpiece/decoration and eat a yummy chocolate cake. I’d definitely call this project a win/win! :-)

Posted by: Lisa | March 27, 2013

Childish Fun

Sitting down to type out the rest of Joey’s story is taking a while, so I thought I’d share a couple pictures of what ‘s been going on here in the meanwhile!

Have I mentioned we moved into our house as it barely finished construction? Our back yard is still basically dirt as we level the hill into a back yard. Well, the back yard is a lovely dirt pile until it rains. Then it becomes the most beautiful mud pit you ever did see! :-)

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My children have well-exfoliated skin. ;-)

While wait for level ground before building a swing set in the yard, we've found fun ways to improvise entertainment for the kiddos. The other day I strung the baby swing across the back porch rebar so that the littlest could swing away.

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This picture is rather dark, but it shows how much fun the kids have climbing the rebar. Jungle gym? Who needs ‘em! :-)

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From the other side it looks like they’re in a rather fun jail cell. :-)

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And because they’re so cute, one more picture of my Natalie and Joey!

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Creative play is so fun to watch! Even if the clean up occasionally taxes the water supply. ;-)

Posted by: Lisa | March 15, 2013

God’s Grace on Joey- Part 1

The first part of January was quite eventful over here. It actually was just about the most traumatic experience of my life. And while I don’t want to relive the pain of the whole ordeal, I do want to always remember God’s faithfulness. While I know God is faithful regardless of what He asks of us, it is such a testimony to me how He protected our Joey despite our being so far away from medical help. Anyway… the story-

While I was finishing up my morning routine this Monday morning in January, I was thinking about how well the kids were playing together while I got ready for the day. Just then, Damon called me saying he’d discovered Joey carrying around an empty bottle of children’s Tylenol and showed it to me. My first reaction was a searing knife-in-the-heart-panic and immediate sobs; I know how crucial timely treatment is needed for overdoses. And we live in the middle of NoWhere.

I made a frantic call to a nurse friend in town for guidance where to take Joey. Our car was getting repair work done, so we couldn’t even throw the kids in the car and get down the hill for a head start. My nurse friend was visiting with another lady from our town who, once they deciphered the story between my sobs, immediately offered to drive us the 45 minutes to Mwami hospital.

While I was on the phone with our nurse friend and setting up transportation, Damon contacted our missionary friends who came over to take the older two girls so we could move as quickly as possible once the car came. By the time we left our house, it had been 20 minutes from the discovery, and we’d been unable to get Joey to bring the tylenol back up. FYI- finger down the throat doesn’t work on a 21 month old- they bite! I was bleeding from the attempts!

As we bumped along the dirt road en route to the hospital, still attempting to get Joey to bring up the medication, Damon and I looked at each other and said, “Joey can’t get the childproof cap off the bottle. But Natalie can.” It was another knife to the heart and in a panic we called the friends who were watching the girls. They said she wasn’t showing any signs of overdose and was denying taking more than one swallow, but they started the treck out to the hospital just to be safe.

Once we arrived at Mwami Hospital, we took him straight to the doctor, hoping for immediate treatment since our nurse friend had called ahead and appraised them of the situation. The hospital staff looked at the empty bottle, did a bunch of calculating, and seemed to be moving incredibly slow for this mama’s worried heart! They even suggested just giving him activated charcoal.

At this point, I was beginning to go numb, wondering how they expected us to have to fight for every single step of this life saving process. Thankfully, Damon was sharp enough to urge for the stomach pumping. And he began to apply pressure about the speed of their preparations. We knew time was slipping by fast for a stomach pumping to even be effective, and Joey was already loosing coordination. He was still in incredibly cheerful spirits, though. The combination was heart wrenching.

Finally, they got the tools needed to pump his stomach. We took turns holding him down for the next hour. That was the worst hour of my life, no contest. But there was an underlying relief that he was getting the best treatment for this overdose.

After the grueling stomach pump, they wanted to see if he’d take the activated charcoal, to be on the safe side. He was so thirsty and traumatized that he guzzled it down without so much as a grimace. Natalie didn’t need the stomach pumping, and was much less thrilled with having to drink the charcoal, but we got enough in her to help calm our hearts about any slight overdose she may have taken. While Natalie grimaced at her dose, all the nurses and our friends were laughing at Joey inhaling that nasty stuff and we were again relieved that more was able to be done to get the kids on the path to recovery

While I had been taking my turn holding Joey down, Damon was on the phone. Only after the fact did I realize how very many people Damon was talking to during this process. Beyond calling the prayer chain at our sending church (humbling parenting moment!), keeping our parents updated with current treatment, learning of the best procedures and antidotes, contacting several in country doctors, calling MedEvac flight providers, calling the embassy to see if they could get us an exemption on the mandatory Yellow Fever shot should Joey need further treatment in South Africa, checking into accommodations in Lusaka (the capitol) should we need to take Joey there…

And the best part of all that work Damon did? The Lord used that information to help us decide the next best step to be able to take. Since Tylenol can cause damage to the liver when overdosed on, even if no symptoms are present, we needed to get his bloodwork done, and he needed an antidote. We did not anticipate these things to be easily obtained in Chipata so we decided to MedEvac Joey, Damon, Calina and me to Lusaka.

But this post is long enough, so I’ll continue the flight and Lusaka part of the story in my next post.

Coming up- Part 2.

Posted by: Lisa | February 28, 2013

Valentine’s Love

I know there are many opinions on Valentine’s Day, how contrived or fake or fun it is or can be. Around here we celebrate it for the main reason that it happens to be Damon’s and my wedding anniversary. :-) Hearts and pink and love and cards and etc. are definitely in order!

For the first 8 years of our marriage, Valentines has been mostly about us. Not to sound selfish, but… it *is* our anniversary! :-)

But this year, I really felt The Lord showing me my children needed a little extra boost of “mommy’s love” shown them. And what better time to do that?

I was so excited to find an idea on Pinterst that was easy to personalize .

Every night after the children were in bed, I took one piece of construction paper, folded it in such a way to make four paper hearts. I wrote something that I was thankful for about them on it and taped it by their beds. Nothing fancy. at. all.

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After a day or two of these notes, the girls would go to bed all giddy at the thought of waking up to another heart.

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Even Joey, who I did more out of courtesy than the thought he’d get anything out of it, would go to his bedroom door and point and exclaim in awe at his notes.

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I even woke up to my bedroom door decorated like this the first day! I love how they sweetly imitate things that make them feel loved.

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It was a small thing. It probably took me 2 minutes every night, but the joy that overflowed on their countenances lasted much longer. They were actually disappointed when Valentine’s arrived because it meant no more hearts. I promised to occasionally surprise them with a new one anyway.

I should check if they’re asleep yet and go make them now…

:-)

Posted by: Lisa | February 16, 2013

Routine

Getting into a workable routine has been a bit of a challenge since Calina’s arrival. (As if my how-many-month-long blog absence didn’t already announce that!) It hasn’t necessarily been adding a fourth child, but rather the fact that the children are all growing and so are their needs. Even before my eyes were open in the morning, there was the feeling that I was at the starting line of a race.

Ready?

Set?

RUN!

A single word summed up what was needed. Discipline. For the kids, sure, but moreso for me.

I think I’ve mentioned before how I am just not a natural early riser. I have been trying for all 6 years of my motherhood experience to start my day at 7am. But my children think if the sun is up, it’s time to wake up! Imagine! :-) Making them stay in their room until 7am didn’t work because, well… have you seen what kind of a mess a 3 and 5 year old can make while they wait over an hour for “the day to start”?

Desperate times called for desperate measures! For the past couple weeks, 5:30 is when my day has started. *gasp*

Me getting up well before the children, having a couple minutes to discuss the day’s plans with my husband, read my Bible and begin exercising before the little sleepy-eyed, tousle haired children begin staggering out of their rooms has made a huge difference in our days. School is starting earlier, attitudes are better, meals are healthier…

Just look at these smiles! (It only took three tries to get one of them all smiling rather than acting goofy. :-) )

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Every day is still a race, for sure. I think it always will be. That is just the nature of life! Isn’t that the gist of Hebrews 12:1? But a few weeks into this desire for God to show me how to implement more discipline into our lives has me thinking that maybe rising with the sun isn’t such a bad idea. :-) I’m still no early bird, but maybe I can say I’m beginning to acquire a taste for what that early bird sees in those early hours. :-)

Coming up soon… A fun Valentines project I did for the kiddos!

Posted by: Lisa | December 7, 2012

Who’s a Missionary?

Sunday morning was one of those times that I really felt like a missionary. :)

This week, we all went to a church that meets outdoors. And while it’s nice and breezy, the down side is that you take a 5 year old, 3 year old and a 20 month old out to the bush, sit them under a tree and… They think it’s time to play with the rocks and sticks, not sit still for preaching! Their wiggles didn’t get out before the service started, so I took Joey and Calina straight to the truck for the whole service.

The “parking lot” was next to a chicken coop. And since I kept all the doors on the church side of the truck closed in an effort to muffle Joey’s objection at being taken from his new playground, a bottle effect was created for the flies! They could easily come in, but not back out!

So, here I was, sitting in a very hot car, swarmed with flies, listening to my 20 month old object to this new lesson, nursing my baby (in public, so with an extra layer over us for modesty), thinking what a rather “unchurchy” way I was spending my Sunday morning!

Then my 3 year old was delivered by Daddy. Natalie had managed for a whole hour, but needed to come out now.

Now I had two children in tears, and another one sweating and starving.

And then Calina blew out.

In a beautiful display of God’s grace, about this time a very sweet lady from the village brought me a bowl of mangos and a pail of water to wash our hands. I couldn’t understand much of what she said in Chewa, but I could clearly understand her kind eyes. I was so thankful for those fruits! They were a welcome snack to some hot and weary children. :)

As it became clear the service was coming to an end, I began to get everyone ready for the (long) trip home. i.e.- cleaning up the mango juice and mud/dirt from little hands.

This is when the village drunk came up and started giving me his interesting theology.

About now, I was thinking the only thing that could make this day more notable would be a snake sighting. :-)

Yes, Sunday was one of those days where everything seemed to remind me that I am a missionary’s wife in Zambia! And then I remembered a Bible lesson on missions I’d taught the children recently.  Felicia had exclaimed, “We’re missionaries! …what’s a missionary?” I explained that a missionary is someone who leaves their home to go tell people in other places about Jesus.

She replied. “Oh. Then we’re not missionaries.”

I asked, “Why not?” Then it came-

“We haven’t left our home!”

It was a relevlation moment to me. While days like Sunday make me keenly aware that we are indeed missionaries, my kids don’t know any other home but Zambia. They know no other life  but this. And it made me wonder…

What will it take for my kids to feel like a missionary when they’re grown up?

Posted by: Lisa | November 18, 2012

“Are They All Yours?”

I think we may have crossed some sort of line when it comes to the size of our family. Now that we have four children, we hear the question “Are they all yours?” often when we go out. It’s fun to see their response when we tell them they are indeed all our children! Frequently, they begin to assume two of them are twins, and start guessing which two it must be. :-) Other times, they just shake their head as they leave this crazy mother alone! At the very least, we see some eyebrow raising!

The other day a group of ladies passed me in the aisle as we were shopping. I had both girls in the back of the cart, Joey was seated in the front seat, and Calina was in the sling. (Okay, maybe I do understand why we get stared at!) One woman came back and incredulously asked me the infamous-

“Are they all yours?” Read More…

Posted by: Lisa | November 11, 2012

Calina Joy

We’ve officially announced her arrival on facebook and the ministry blog, but I thought I’d make an official announcement here too before resuming regular posts. :-)

Calina Joy arrived on September 30th, 2012 after a very short (but rather intense!) labor! Calina was 8 pounds 5 ounces, and was 21 1/4 inches long. She has dark blue eyes that I think will be brown before long, and a very light dusting of brown hair that I fully expect to fall out soon! :) Read More…

Posted by: Lisa | August 19, 2012

Howdy!

This have been bustling here for the past few weeks! We had an awesome team from the states come for a visit, have had to totally rearrange our birth plans, and are now trying to prepare the house for a 4-6 week absence! Plus we’re doing internet changes in anticipation for the trip that makes my time on the computer a bit less than before, so I won’t be able to do a lot of posts in the next couple weeks. All that to explain why it’s been two weeks since I’ve written anything about life here on my hilltop!

The group left just a couple days ago, but here is a photo of them, my handsome man and our children after the team’s first Sunday here. The church the men visited that morning had gifted them with sugar cane. One of our visitors knew how to prepare it, and it was so fun! The men “peeled” it, cut it into chunks and soaked them in water. The kids loved eating it! And Joey loved using the unpeeled canes as clubs. Such a boy!

Read More…

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