Sunday, June 19, 2016

Light in the Darkness

It was such a sweet Father's Day Sunday to be reminded of the father heart of my God...
I found myself feeling quite down with the weight of my helplessness in Huncie's life.  
Thinking much about her as well as discussing her situation with the teachers and others who may have advice only confirmed the utter silence of our voices against the empty ears of the government.  
And this morning left me wondering just what must I do?
And then we took off for church and the Lord encouraged me so greatly through the message.  Based out of Luke 15, the pastor talked through the stories of the lost sheep, lost coin, and the prodigal son.  In each case I saw Huncie's mother being sought after in love by the Lord as he waits for her to respond.  I listened to the parable as the Father saw His son so far off in the distance and ran to meet her with arms wide open.  As soon as Huncie's mother turns and looks toward her Father, I know he will, as He promises, run to meet her right where she is and take her home.
So very thankful for this sweet morning when my Father picked me up and reminded of His love.  He is in control, He truly, truly is.


Under the Weight of Helplessness

Coming to grips with my powerlessness to help Huncie and her family leaves me feeling blocked at every turn.  In fact, I am.  My hands are tied behind my back with an endless amount of  legal tape and government corruption, as we make every possible effort to do something, anything,
 that will truly help.  
Just what do you do when a baby you, and everyone around you, has grown to adore is borderline dying and you can do nothing about it?

Sweet little one, right after a much needed bath. 

That baby girl is so much loved...

Ms. Kitty... this lady has such a wonderful heart and loves this little one to death. 


I believe Huncie's mom has a heart to love her girls, I truly do.  But addiction is a monster to deal with on top of just trying to cope with life each day.
I pour my heart out to the Lord for Huncie's mother, begging Him to save her life and the lives of her girls.  But discouragement seeps in quickly as I listen to the creshe teachers fill me in on the parts of the day that I don't see.  
Just as red tape and government corruption has tied my hands, addiction and strongholds have tied hers.  And sometimes I have to squeeze my eyes shut and push on with life because the fact that an 8 month old baby is the size of a preemie breaks my heart. 
Just pray with me... Pray for these little ones who have my heart, and their mother who I want more than anything to experience the Lord's redemption.  
Pray for Huncie's two-year sister, with a long, beautiful  name that I never can remember, and a sweet little smile I saw for the first time this past week.  She's such a little fighter, that one.  I know God has such wonderful, beautiful plans for her little life.  He has kept her strong and safe in His arms for these two years, and I know that will not change.  Pray with me.  Pray hard.  

Huncie's sister. 

Sweet little one, hang on tight.  





Saturday, June 18, 2016

Soccer Clinic Scores a Major Win!

South African lives keeps us on our toes - literally!  
Today found us jogging around a soccer field with a ball on our feet and dozens of energetic teens practicing around us.
The soccer clinic is hosted about every other month by Mr. Eric.  He gets trained coaches to come out and volunteer, to help the youth improve their soccer skills.  
Driving up and seeing the open soccer field this morning gave me the jitters!  Just a month ago that was me on the soccer field, pumped up and ready to fight for the win.  It brought back a lot of great memories, and reminded me that a day full of soccer is truly a good day!  
A good sized crowd showed up, all boys between the ages of 12ish through 17 or 18, and they were intense!  Those kids didn't come to mess around, but were determined to learn and show their talent.  I was genuinely impressed.  
The day began with registration, incredible banana bread (baked by Mrs. Mimi at 2am that morning), oranges, and a pep talk by Mrs. Mimi to the boys.  Groups were formed soon afterward and each took off the their own station.  Those of us who are volunteering even we able to form our own group and go from station to station.  So much fun!  
We started with a painfully unorganized team (it was our own fault), but it was still very competitive and enjoyable scrimmage.
I handed the camera off the Mrs. Mynette, and joined in the action.  It is pretty great to finally have some non-selfie pictures with me in them!
  Though we didn't make it through all the stations - ok, we stopped after the third - we got a great feel for South African soccer.  
The day ended with a serious and very competitive game.  Being on the media team (I took the pictures then), I wasn't able to play in the game, but really enjoyed the opportunity to chronicle the experience with photographs.  Mr. Eric, Jock, and Micheal did all get in the action, though, and did really well!  
It was so much fun spending the day with much of our team - from the creshe teachers to Mrs. Mynette to Jock and the McMillains themselves.  Throw in some soccer, and life doesn't get much better!  I know the boys who participate really enjoyed the day, and I look forward to helping out with another soccer clinic when I come back next year.  The fun was real.  


Our group trains at one of the stations

 Mrs. Mimi poses with two of the coaches

Bubbles - the crazy little dog who somehow makes us adore him like crazy.  

 Wonderful memories!  Haven't lost my soccer zeal yet. 

 Alexander - the cutest six-year-old twin in South Africa! 

Mrs. Kitty - my current role model. 

Abigail and Zhenya  being as cute as ever!


Mrs. Mynette and Bubbles

 Taylyn and I pose with some of the coaches


So proud of this little man!  He got into the soccer game with all the big, tough boys and did so well!

 Micheal and I being silly 

 Right before the game began - aka, the calm before the storm. 

Jock participating in the star-down before kickoff 




The concentration is real.  







Jock has got some amazing patience! 


Love these ladies!  From left to right - Ms. Dorah, me, Ms. Kitty, Ms. Malita, and DK

Mr. Eric getting in on the fun

Lunch time afterwards

Photobombed!  Photo by Taylyn.

Taylyn and me. 


Such a fun day!  Cant go wrong with great friends and soccer!


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Huncie Update

I met Huncie a mere two days ago, and yet I feel as though she has been apart of my heart and life for so much longer than that.  She was on my mind as soon as I woke up in the morning, and I wondered if she was being fed and cared for.  I have to wait the whole weekend before I will be able to check on her again, and it hurts my heart.
First thing yesterday morning, Mrs. Mimi and I went to buy baby formula and other necessities for Huncie.  I felt like a proud momma as I picked bought starter baby food, bottles, and formula for the little girl.  She is not mine, and can't be.  I know that.  But God has allowed me to be part of my life for this season, and I want to make the most of the time I am given.  The can of formula I bought cost me only about $14, yet would cost a mother the equivalent of about 2 days of working.  After about an hour and half of shopping, we ended up with three bags of baby essentials and went to pick up a friend took off for the creshe.  It made my heart so happy to watch Ms. Kitty looking over the things we bought.  She is the sweetest lady with a huge heart, and loves that baby girl like her own.  

Official mom status?  




Minutes later, Mrs. Mimi and Ms. Kitty went to get the baby, and ended up coming back with Huncie's mom, and two year old sister.  Huncie's mother, Emily, seemed quite uncomfortable sitting with us at the creshe, yet she was gracious and allowed us to bathe and feed both Huncie and her sister.  
It was obvious that the little girls were uncomfortable when they were not right next to their mother, and made me hope that it is not Ms. Emily's heart to neglect her children, but lack of knowing how.  Yet, as Mrs. Mimi explained, young children are wired to love their parents no matter what, and she is probably the only one her girls are around on a consistent basis.  
Ms. Kitty boiled water for a bath as little Huncie worked on finishing a bottle, and her sister and mother ate oranges and "fat cakes" - similar to unsweetened doughnuts.  
I set out new clothes, diapers, baby lotion and soap for Huncie's bath, yet the poor baby was absolutely terrified of the water.  She wailed and arched her back as I dipped her feet into the water, and was so distressed by it that I ended up laying her down on a blanket and just giving her a sponge bath.  Still, she wailed and cried pitifully until we wrapped her up in a newborn size diaper that was nearly too large, and new, warm pajamas.  We handed her back to her mother and she quickly fell asleep, worn out from the stress of the bath. 
After asking Ms. Emily's permission, we also bathed Huncie's sister.  We had set aside clothes for her as well, but forgot to get them out of the car.  I hated to put the clothes she was wearing back on her -   they were so dusty and honestly reeked, but we had no other option.  After cleaning her up, I set her in my lap and breathed in the sweet smell of her now-clean head.  We got another bowl of food for her, which she ate as she sat in my lap.  
She seems somewhat delayed - she never made eye contact, was not very alert to her surroundings, and seemed fairly unaffected by what was going on around her.  The only thing that I could tell she was focused on was her mother - the little girl seemed so tired, yet wouldn't let herself go to sleep.  Ms. Kitty told me she was afraid that her mother was going to leave her.
 A bit later, Ms. Emily stood up and told us that she was going to back to her house, but would come back later.  I watched quietly as the three of them walked out of the creshe's gate and make their way down the dusty red road.  After watching the mother interact with her children, I felt the tiniest bit more hopeful about their situation.  Like mentioned earlier, Ms. Emily never showed any signs of obvious dislike toward her children during the time we were with her, and she did come back in the afternoon as she had promised.  I'm praying and believing for a miracle in Emily's life, for healing and restoration for her and her girls.  As Mrs. Mimi said, it is never the goal to break up the family, but to teach the mother how to be the mother.  
We packed a baggie of formula and starter baby food and gave it to Ms. Emily for the weekend.  Because it is in the baggie, it is harder to sell should the temptation or opportunity arise.  And now I wait for Monday to see my little girl again, while I pray and believe for a miracle on her behalf.  Our God is a God of redemption, and as I was reminded of this while reading Acts 9 this morning.  God spoke to Ananias, telling him to go to Saul as God was in the process of bringing redemption to his life:
"The Lord said to Him, 'Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kinds and the sons of Israel..."  

Emily, Huncie, and Huncie's sister are chose instruments of the Lord, and we proclaim healing over them in Jesus name.  
Pray hard with me for Ms. Emily, Huncie, and her sister. 




Reflecting

I find myself sitting in a quiet Saturday morning, lacking an agenda, a schedule, and the business I’ve become accustomed to.  
The lack of business leaves me unsure as to what to do with myself, and my mind turns to Huncie.  “How is she?” I wonder.  “Has she eaten since I fed her yesterday?  Does her mother still have the baby formula we gave her for the weekend?” 
My mind continues wondering as I think about the Africaners I’ve come to know and love, and in all honesty, I cannot imagine leaving.  Nearly two weeks after arriving, it’s hard for me to remember what life was like before.  I’ve been thrust into South African life, and find myself completely at home in it.  No, I don’t see myself living the rest of my life here.  Yet I know that God has me here for a reason, and I hope with everything in me that I will be back.  For a year, maybe, or three years, or five.  We will see what God has in store for me, but I feel as though the noonday sun is beginning to peek over the horizon.  The sky is blooming with pink streaks as outlines begin to become visible and the flashlight, though still much needed, is no longer my only source of light (Psalm 119:105). 
 The future is still so uncertain, yet what peace there is in being just where God wants me right now.  Days are long and busy and tiring, yet I love them.  I smile as I finally get a load of clothes washed and cleaned, and then in those clean clothes, pick up a toddler or baby who is wet with urine.  But I hug them close and laugh, because this life is beautiful and I wouldn’t want anything else.  
I sit piled in a car with 19 others, toddlers on my lap and teachers by my side, and I smile as we rumble down the road with the African sun setting in the distance behind us.  And this morning, I’m able to sit and reflect over these past two weeks and I smile as I look forward to many more.  
Yes, there is heartbreak, and yes, there is redemption.  In it all, I’m and seeing the heart of God and praying He’ll grow and use me more than ever.  Little Huncie is His child, and not mine.  And while I will have to leave her, the other kids, and the teachers, He never will.  
My place is here for these five weeks, and it my place may be here in the future.  But He is always here, always with them, with plans for their good and their growth bigger than mine could ever be.  And I think Him for that. 




Just how many people can you fit into a car?





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