Sunday, April 27, 2014

To my children

Darin is gone for the night and I just tucked Tyson and Jori into our bed. They’ll fall asleep there and then I’ll move them into their own beds once I’m ready to sleep. Moving an almost 10 and almost 8 year old is a lot harder than carrying a toddler, but I am sure this mama can still handle it!

They were both reading for the last 30 minutes or so and I took some time to lie next to them. They were tired, so for once they were still and quiet. I was able to just watch them both, to really examine their faces.

Tyson Alan, my firstborn, turning 10 in less 2 months. When I look at his face, I can still see the little boy he once was, and still is some days. He still pokes his tongue out when he is concentrating, and his eyes quickly dart around, taking in information, not missing a thing. He looks over and catches me staring and gives me a little smile. That’s when I see his big front teeth and realize he is no longer 4, looking at picture books and trying to find the little ducky hidden on each page. He is growing up and I’ve missed so many moments. I realize that there have been many days, and even weeks that I have wished for time to go faster, especially when we are in a particularly rough patch and “growing out of it” seems like the only hope we have. Then his mouth closes, the evidence of his age is hidden once again. I stare at his profile; the little nose, thick lashes, his furrowed brow; and I see how young he is again, and promise to be more patient and gentle with this little soul.
June 2011, soon after arriving in South Africa

Jorin DiAnn, my second child, turning 8 two days after her big brother hits double digits. Earlier tonight she talked to Darin on the phone and she sounded so little, calling him daddy in her sweet voice and telling him about her day. She, too, now has big teeth crowding out the tiny pearl baby teeth and as I lay beside her I see the evidence of make-up on her eyes and lips. My little girl is growing up, even though I tell her to slow down and stay my baby girl forever. There are days that she agrees to this, and tells me she will never leave me and her daddy, and then there are days where she has the eye-rolling and foot stomping of a teenager down pat and I find myself wondering where my sweet daughter has disappeared to. Precious girl, with your button nose, your rosebud lips and the smattering of freckles across your face, don’t try to rush through this stage of life. Enjoy being a child, in love with your dollies and your daddy.
April 2014, on holiday with Papa and Gram
My precious gifts, I often feel so inadequate and unqualified to be your mother. I raise my voice, I order you to clean up messes and take down the laundry and I don’t thank you enough for the little and not so little things that you do. I take for granted that you’ll always be around, wanting to sit by me and read, needing me to help you sort through your Legos, reaching for me when you are hurt by the words and actions of someone you thought was a friend.

Dear God, help me to slow down and truly see my children, to hear their words both spoken and unspoken. Give me wisdom to teach them and courage to speak Your truth into their lives. Thank You for these two children, these blessings that You have given me. Keep me from hurting them with reckless words and careless actions. For the times when I will fail, help me to rest in the knowledge that You love them higher and deeper and stronger than I ever will and that Your grace covers us all. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

It beats couponing!

Tshepo ya Bana has long been a beneficiary of groceries, toiletries and baby products from a local grocery store. These items are usually close to their sell by date or slightly damaged, but still useable. Late in 2013, after noticing how full and chaotic the little room where these goods were stored was looking, Darin approached the management with a proposal; we will take everything from your storage room and distribute it to many people in need. This idea made good sense for the grocery store as it would keep their storage room from being infested with critters and bugs that like old food and it also made good sense for us as we would continue to receive donations AND could help the other local organizations involved with Take Action Ministries. Win/win!!

Every Monday Darin heads to the store. He drives around back where a guard lets him into the storage room. He spends some time on-site sorting and cleaning. There are often broken bottles of mayonnaise or ketchup that have seeped into a whole box of other items, or fabric softener that has spilled onto bags of rice. Some weeks are a lot messier than others, so he might be there from 30 minutes to an hour and thirty minutes just getting the stuff out of the storage room and into the car.

When he is about 10 minutes from Tshepo ya Bana, I get a text message telling me to start getting ready. So I head up to the main house, grab a bucket of water, some washcloths and the garbage can. Soon I hear the car coming through the gate and it’s time to head outside and start hauling boxes in. It is fun to see how full the car is when Darin gets home. Sometimes it is filled to the roof and all empty seats are covered, and other times there are only 5 or 6 boxes in the trunk.

Whoever happens to be around starts grabbing boxes and shoving them into the house. These boxes can be filled with canned goods and quite heavy, or filled with boxes of gourmet cookies and quite light (I like those boxes best both for their weight and content). Some weeks there are big items, like laundry baskets without their lids, or mop buckets with a chip in the handle. We've even received several small toaster ovens with two stove plates on top. Donation day is like a box of chocolates…you just never know what you’re gonna get.

Once the car is empty we all start cleaning and sorting. Dirty items get a wipe down, toiletries are put in one pile, seasonings in another, and so on. Some weeks we’ll get a ton of one item, like small packets of tea bags, hot chutney or pot scrubbers. We divide these items up between the different agencies we are working with. Some of those organizations are larger, some deal only with children and some provide food parcels to families, so we keep that in mind as we divvy things up.

Each week one organization benefits from the donations as we rotate through all of them. We box up their items on Monday and then on Tuesday or Wednesday Darin brings them to a central location for pick up. So far this system has been working well, but I admit that there are some Mondays that I really don’t feel like sorting through the donations. There is some exciting progress being made now though which will take a lot of this process out of our hands and create a job for someone in the community. Take Action Ministries hopes to rent some office space in the Hammanskraal area. A local man who is already involved with one of the other organizations will take over the pick-up, clean-up and distribution of the donations. 

It is amazing to see how God provides not only for those of us at Tshepo ya Bana, but for so many others in the community as well. We are so blessed to see how God's provision is changing our community.
Ok, so I do have another post ready to go, but I need our good internet before I can post the pictures that go along with it.

I am so behind in writing about our life. So very, very behind. I feel like I am cheating my kids of memories by not documenting all that has happened. I want to be better about blogging, I say I’ll be better about blogging, but my follow through is lacking. Severely.

Darin is gone this weekend. He is displaying (and hopefully selling) Sawyer water filters. My house has stayed surprisingly clean the past 2 days, which confirms that Darin is the one who leaves the biggest mess around here!

Tyson and Jori have been home more than they’ve been at school, or perhaps it only seems that way. They had a school holiday the first week of April when my parents were here. Then they had off Good Friday and Easter Monday. They have all of next week off due to Freedom Day and Worker’s Day, two national holidays, and then they have next Wednesday off as it is election day. There is also a teacher in-service later this month and three days of early dismissal for conferences. They’ll be in school for 2 weeks in June and then we fly to the states for 6 weeks. Crazy.

Both kids will be celebrating their birthday the first week that we are in Michigan. I cannot believe that Tyson is going to be 10!! I feel old, but not old enough to have a kid who is in double digits. However, lately when I look in the mirror I can see the evidence that I am aging which is sad, but inevitable. I also have an ugly rash on my face. It could be impetigo, but it isn’t spreading anywhere else on me or to any other children. I am just hoping it is gone before we travel as it makes me feel kind of gross and not so pretty.

Winter is coming to South Africa. I’ve started pulling out my sweaters and am wearing jeans more often than not. Although I am not a fan of being colder inside of the house than outside, I have found that I enjoy all the seasons here. They all bring something so unique and special. Different scents in the air, the changing colors of the veldt, a variation of birdsong and more.

Life is good here. Like really, really good. Over and over I am amazed by God’s goodness and faithfulness. Amazed, but not surprised. He has been ever with us and continues to be our hope. I just hope that we will find a way to put into words his goodness and faithfulness so that we can share with friends and family when we are traveling this summer. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Holiday with Pop and Gram

It is Wednesday night. We are down to less than one week with my parents L The time has gone so quickly. We are on a holiday right now. Today we went to Sun City, a huge place with a casino, several hotels, a spa and a water park. Yes, this year instead of Bela Bela, we decided to give the water park at Sun City a try. We had an amazing day, and I am even bringing a little something home with me; a sunburn. Yay for me. You’d think at age 35 I would be old enough to use sunscreen properly, but I missed my legs and portions of my arms. Fun times.

We have had a great few days. Our lodge is pretty nice. Not somewhere we’d stay again, but fine. The kids have made a few little friends here and even tried saving an injured bird. Yesterday we drove around a bit and went to a small game reserve. We got caught in a rainstorm and didn’t see a ton of animals, but it was still nice to see a different landscape. South Africa is truly such a beautiful country. As I already said, we had a fun day at Sun City, sun burn and all. Tyson even went down one of those waterslides that goes straight down – such a brave boy. We unfortunately do not have a picture as there was a camera malfunction. Jori loved the wave pool and they both went around the lazy river a few times. This was the laziest lazy river I have ever seen. There were a few times that we pretty much stopped moving.

Now it is almost 7. The old folks have already fallen asleep several times on the couch, Tyson is reading and Jori wants to play cards. Tomorrow we are heading back home. We may or may not stop somewhere along the way, it will probably depend on how well we sleep and how well the car ride is going.

I did post pictures from February and March. You can see them here.

Build Them a Home Progress Report #3

Wow, wow, wow!!! We are only $50 away from reaching our goal!! Thank you to everyone who gave over the past week. The house is really taki...