Iwe (ee-way) is a bemba word for “you.” Its what most people call animals… and small children. In our culture, saying “hey you” to every small child is not the most polite thing ever, but in Bemba culture its rather expected. Anyhow, so the little kids are generically called “iwe.” I explain all of this because my confession this morning is that the iwes are driving me crazy! Ever since we’ve come back from the states, the iwe population has quadrupled! We love these kids and have known them since before many of them were born, but they are seriously out of control! At any given time, there will be a dozen or so little ones on our porch, another dozen on our back stoop and another dozen in the door of our kitchen. Someone is always crying, someone is always hitting someone and someone is always screaming for me to come and mediate - “Bana Winnie!” (that’s me) “Mwewa is fighting!” I’m trying to institute a no fighting policy at the house and so I’m constantly sending kids away for this infraction, but they always come back… They are not accustomed to listening to adults and there is no discipline at home which means they will respect my wishes only if they feel like it. I knew I was coming to the end of my ‘iwe rope’ when, one day after the kids had been screaming bloody murder all afternoon preventing Bronwyn from taking a nap, I said to Jeremy, “I understand why their mothers just smack them.”
Hey now Bethany, that’s a pretty ugly attitude…
I know. I know. That's I want to use this forum this morning to adjust my attitude by choosing to give thanks for these crazy-little-cupcakes-that-won’t-stop-fighting-and-are-driving-me-bonkers!!!!!!!!!!!
So without further ado… my thanksgiving list for the iwes in my life.
11. “Goodmorning bana Winnie” = the sweetest greeting ever.
2. Nyemba’s nose won’t stop running and at least I can wipe it for her.
3. They never tire of entertaining Bronwyn.
4. Eliza has the most contagious giggle ever.
5. They will bring me water from the well even if I don’t give them candy.
6. “May I please have some water to drink” is the only English they know but at least I’ve taught them that!
7. Mwewa tells me I look pretty if I wear anything other than a t-shirt and chitenge.
8. They think I’m awesome when I dance like an awkward white lady.
9. No matter how long we’ve been gone, there is always a group of kiddos sitting on our porch waiting for our return.
10. They don’t think its gross to chase the rats out of my kitchen and will even kill them for me.
11. They wake up after their mothers leave home to go into the bush making me the first ‘maternal’ face they see – what a privilege!
12. Chola, Steven and Richard do awesome handstands and flips in the grass.
13. They are encouraged to write their letters and numbers on our floor with charcoal, even when they write them backwards – we are glad to encourage their education!
14. Our house may be the only place they practice the words “please and thank you.”
115. Beauty wants me to see all her boo-boos.
116. Michael will fall asleep on our couch.
17. Aggie strokes Bronwyn’s hair for hours.
18. Mwiche thinks it’s so funny to call to the cat and then run away in “terror.”
19. These kids just want to be close to us even if we aren’t doing anything “entertaining.”
20. They could choose anywhere in the world but they choose to be with us.
21. We are a place of safety and love for those who are otherwise counted as worthless.
22. We are able to speak into their lives and show intentionality.
23. How many other kids in small African villages will grow up saying, “yeah, we live next to some Americans – they are awesome.”?
24. How many little white girls grow up best friends named Nyemba, Kapungwe and Mwaba?
25. And lastly, I give thanks that God has brought these kids into our lives to teach us so many things – simplicity, patience, grace and joy.
Thank you little ones – you are more than generic iwes, you are precious to your heavenly father and precious to us too!