Saturday, June 30, 2012

first fail

Just after Mom and Dad left us we went to our first pediatrician appointment with Bronwyn. Or at least, that’s what we thought we were doing. You see, for 7 months in America, people were asking us about her health and what our plan was, and we would always tell them, “oh, no worries, we have a wonderful pediatrician at the clinic in Lusaka where Jeremy and I go when we are sick. We totally trust them.” Yeah well… while we were in America, that pediatrician, our go-to in case of emergency person, moved back to the UK. When we got to the clinic, they told us of their change in staffing and that they had not replaced that post as of yet. We were ushered in to see a general doctor. And that’s when the tears started to flow. Not Bronwyn’s, mine. We asked about immunizations and what we should give our daughter and the doctor had NO IDEA what she needed and couldn’t wisely advise us either. When she pulled out a 2005 immunization handbook and said, “oh it says you can give her 3 or 4 Hepetitis B shots,” I looked at Jeremy and was  whispered, “I’m not ok with this. We need to leave.” I think the doctor must have thought that I just had some kind of intense allergy problem, but I couldn’t stop myself from crying. In an instant, I became so fearful, so unsure. We got back out to the car and the floodgates opened. I told Jeremy to take me home. I told him I couldn’t do this. I told him I was not going to jeopardize my daughter’s health for this country.

My faith tanked.

To make a long story short, we went home, I continued to have out my good cry, we talked, I cried some more, we slept on it, made some phone calls and began working on plan B. The truth is that this “glitch” that we have encountered is not a deal breaker for our being here. It is not an insurmountable challenge. But when my faith in God’s plan and his goodness wavers even a little I become a hot mess. Like, instantly. I wish that I did not have this characteristic. I wish I were unshakeable, strong through all circumstances. I know that motherhood here will provide me with countless opportunities to trust and obey and not let my fear get the better of me. But I share this failure with you so that you pray for me, that I would first have faith in what I know to be true about our Heavenly Father and not let circumstances dictate all.

But for all ya’ll who take your babies to snazzy doctors offices with toys in the waiting room and bright colors on the wall, take those people some brownies, because they are a true gift to you and your little ones. We miss this:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Village life...

Ok so the whole point of this blog is to write about village life, so the title of this post is a little lame/ridiculous, but oh well. It will be the first of many. I made two accomplishments this week that are worth sharing. 
First, Bronwyn had her first bath. When you have to draw water, make a fire, heat water on the fire, gather your tub and clean it out, organize soap, wash clothes and towels and try to not get any of the "should be clean" stuff dirty before it comes in contact with the clean baby - sheesh! It's kind of an ordeal! None of this run the bathtub, wash the baby, bada bing bada boom. She did well though and I think we need make this a pretty frequent happening (is that a 'duh' statement? sorry, I'm new at this) given all the fingers that touch this child's face, hands and feet on a daily hourly minutely basis. 

Secondly, we managed to ukupapa umwana - i.e., strap the baby to my back. We came to Zambia with a moby wrap and an ergo, both of which we used quite a lot while we were in the states. We will still use them here in Zambia as there are plenty of scenarios where doing so just makes sense. But there are times in village life when I just want to blend in, and quite honestly, having Bronwyn on by back with a chitenge is probably the most impressive blending I can do. And to top it all off, she sleeps really well back there. Ukupapa-ing this baby is like slipping her an infant unisom. She loves the rocking. I'm really uptight about keeping her out of the sun and I think that's perfectly legit. I've fried my adult skin enough to know that that's no good. I cringe at the thought of her angelically white skin being toasted by all those UV rays. Ouch. But seriously, look at her? Doesn't she look like she belongs there?!?!

Grandma & Grandpa Rawson (aka Mom & Dad) come to Zambia!

My mom and Dad have been here with us for about a week and a half. They have been such help to us in getting things organized and back to some sort of functioning order. They have been absolute troopers. In dad’s words, “We’ve never done anything this crazy before.” I guess we don’t think of our lives as being all that “crazy” but I suppose if your frame of reference is upstate NY, then, yes, Fimpulu Zambia might seem a little crazy. But really, these two were awesome. They cleaned and cleaned and cleaned and held our baby and did our dishes and SLEPT ON OUR FLOOR WITH RATS. For real. I’m incredibly proud of them. Dad did most of the photo taking which means he’s not in many pictures, but he did a great job of talking to people in the village and letting people know that he was genuinely interested in their life. And Mom, in between helping me with anything and everything that I needed, she spent most of her time loving on little kids. I mean, seriously loving on them – kissing booboos and wiping noses and crying when someone looked hungry.

Every time we talk about them going back, someone starts to cry and I’m sure that there will be a lot of red eyes and runny noses at the airport in just one day from now when we say “see you later” to our beloved parents.
Thank you mom and dad for being such servants to us and for demonstrating such grace and strength in the midst of trials. Thank you for your support and encouragement as we follow God’s leading for our lives here in Zambia. Thank you for loving our daughter and for caring for her enough to let us live with you while we finished growing and birthing her. Thank you being here.

And now I’m crying so I’ll stop typing and go to sleep. But seriously people out there, if you see Rick or Linda Rawson, give them a high 5 and tell them they’re awesome, cuz its true. 

Safely home

Coming back to Fimpulu was absolutely surreal. It seemed so familiar and yet so foreign at the same time. I remembered every twist and turn and dip along the road leading up to our house. But I still had the sense that this was all very new. With every approaching pot hole, I found myself bracing myself against the door of the landi, making sure that bobble head Bronwyn didn’t clunk her skull on the window. We stepped out of the vehicle into a swirl of dust and I found myself hunching over to protect my baby from the sand storm. As Bronwyn’s fleecy white sleep sack quickly turned a shade of brown, I remembered why we don’t own white clothing in Africa. As people reached for my child, I found myself wondering what germs were on those hands and wishing I could sanitize the world. These scenarios, these circumstances, all so familiar and yet now, with a baby in tow, all so different.

Not even out of the vehicle and the smiles are there

There’s a lot that could be said about our first few days back in the village, but to be honest, most of it is an exhaustion induced blur. I know we talked to about a thousand people and shook about a thousand hands. We swept away a few billion “presents” left behind by the rats (gross, but true). We trouble shot a handful of concerns that people were dying to offload to us as soon as we got back. But the highlight of it all was saying over and over, “Hey, come meet our baby! We’re so pleased to introduce her to you!”
Mubanga embracing his new little sister

The happiness in people’s faces as they snatched by child out of my hands to get a closer look at her has been absolutely priceless. She makes people SO HAPPY!!!

All manner of giggles. Precious.

What a joy that our Bronwyn JOY is blessing people’s hearts without even knowing it. She is opening doors for us already as women come and sit and want to play with Bronwyn, giving me a chance to talk to them for extended periods of time. She is a gift both to us and this village, which is why we are giving her the Bemba name Bupe (pronounced BOO-pay) which means gift. (people are tripping a bit over Bronwyn so we are trying to reach some creative compromises)

So, Bronwyn… aka Wynnie… aka… Bupe… aka Wynnie Bupe… you just keep doing your thing, girl, because it sure is working!

the next phase of the journey

SO THEN... on June 4th we begin the epic journey back to Zambia. Grandma & Grandpa Rawson, Bethany, Jeremy & Bronwyn loaded up 11 bags, 4 carry ons, one car seat and one pack and play and set off for Dulles airport. The loading and unloading of bags wasn't nearly as difficult as we thought it would be.
I think mom, dad, j&b only take up 2
of the 11 suitcases. Baby B took up the rest

We reached London TIRED but still chose to hop on the tube and take a bus ride so our parents could see a bit of the city.
on the London tube. bronwyn fell asleep easily
with the rumble & swaying

16 hours later we got back on the plane and began the last leg to Zambia. Once in Lusaka we started immediate running errands and then at 7 o'clock PM we got ourselves and all of our stuff piled into the land rover and took off for Fmpulu. I need to document this so Bronwyn will know how awesome she is: Baby B did GREAT the whole way. Seriously, we carted her all over kingdom come for DAYS and she stuck it out like a champ. Thank heavens we made the decision several weeks ago to just feed her whenever she wants it. Bronwyn+mommy's milk=happiness for everyone.

At the beginning of our 12 hour
drive to Fimpulu from Lusaka. We
drove, baby B slept. 

I'll be honest and say that during the whole trip I was both excited and reserved. I kept thinking in my head, "I can't believe we are doing this. I can't believe we are taking our baby to the bush." I tried so hard to have 100% faith, but my  human tendency to doubt and fear inevitably crept in from time to time. I'm doing better with that now, and I'll write more about it later. But for now I want to give praise to God for true traveling MERCIES. Oh how they are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

grace in the leaving

Its hard to believe that we're heading "home." It feels like just yesterday we were landing in America, 17 weeks pregnant and DYING for some mozzarella cheese sticks. Five months later we were bringing baby Bronwyn home.

The next two months were spent trying to figure out sleeping and eating and coping with this new little person and her beautiful, but needy little self. And just as we seem to be getting comfortable with our family of three, we are heading back. It has been WONDERFUL being home. For Jeremy, Ithaca NY is more of a place of visitation. He's willing to be here because of me and my family, but he would never describe this place as home. But I love it here. The beauty of the location and its fun outings only enhance the fact that the greatest people on earth live here (i.e., mama rawson & company).

I honestly feel like every pregnant woman and new mother deserves to live with Linda Rawson for six months. Its a little slice of heaven to be on the receiving end of such warmth and hospitality. And yet, we must leave all of these good things behind. We are returning to our other home. Our dustier, warmer, less pale, African home. I know good things await me there too. I know that the kids will chase down the land rover as soon as we pull into the village and I CAN'T WAIT to see their little faces. I know that good work awaits us as well. A ministry worth leaving comfort for. A life of obedience worth sacrificing ALL for. This too is good. 

I have a friend who signs her e-mails with the words "all is grace." I've been pondering this phrase a lot lately and have been trying to apply its truth to my situation. Yes it is grace that we were able to come home and have Bronwyn in a sanitary environment surrounded by loved ones. And cheese. Oh the cheese. And it also grace that we leave this place and go back to our mission field. Being sad to leave this place does not diminish the desire to return to the other. And looking forward to this next season in Zambia does not diminish the love I have in my heart for this time of living in what will always feel like home to me. All is grace. 

And so tomorrow at 6 am when we leave Ithaca for what will most likely be quite a while, I will shed tears and repeat to myself those words, all is grace, as I thank God for what has been and what will be. 

I look forward to this next season of life (and blogging) as I share with you all the joys and challenges of raising a true bush baby. Here we go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!