Monday, December 4, 2017

November

I feel like I start each post by saying, "This has been a busy month!" If we ever have a quiet month, I'll be sure to tell you!

Summer is upon us - well, sort of. Every time it starts to get very hot, we get a rainstorm and it cools down for a while. I picked my first veggies out of my garden - two zucchini. The zucchini are doing well, the peppers are ok, and the tomatoes were looking great but now I have leaf miners and I don't know how to safely get rid of them!

We celebrated Thanksgiving this month - well, some of us celebrated it twice! I went to our pastor's house on Thanksgiving Day, and then that Saturday, I organized Thanksgiving at MBH for the ladies and their families - I had LOTS of help!

The Saturday before, my coworker Kundai came to help me bake pies. We baked SO many pies! Apple, pumpkin, cheesecake (lots of cheesecake!), and shoofly, with plans to make chocolate pie the next week; everything else could go in the freezer.



I love this recipe for cheesecake. It's so simple and you can top it with whatever you want. The next week when I defrosted them I topped one with chocolate shavings, one with chocolate shavings and raspberry jam, one with blueberry jam, and one with strawberries. You just have to be sure to let it sit overnight - actually, the longer it sits the better it gets. And it did GREAT in the freezer!

I decided to do the turkey the Friday before our Thanksgiving. It was with great trepidation I embarked upon this monumental accomplishment in my adult life - cooking Thanksgiving dinner with no mother around to help. This was my second time roasting a turkey, and the first time hadn't turned out so well - the oven broke halfway through, which was not my fault, but you can imagine how appetizing a half-baked and then boiled turkey is. (Answer: not very.) I was ALMOST the only American at there (Britt came for a while too), so perhaps no one would know what a Thanksgiving dinner SHOULD taste like, but as Makoena remarked, "We know it's supposed to be good food."

Actually, the chief complaints I got about the turkey were 1.) "Why did you take the meat off the bones??! We want to eat the bones!" to which I replied, "No one is getting an entire turkey breast!" and 2.) "Why did you take the meat off the bones??! We want a whole turkey sitting on the table like in the movies!" If you haven't guessed by now, they like bones over here. Never fear, said bones did not go to waste (making stock is still considered to be waste because YOU DON'T EAT THE BONES!). One person, who will remain nameless, devoured almost an entire turkey carcass and most of a two-liter of soda (cooldrink) for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving...

But anyway, back to that Friday. After popping the turkey in the oven, with hopes for the best, my other coworker Gertrude and I set about preparing the rest of the Thanksgiving meat - namely, my chickens which were due to be special guests at the dinner table! I have been keeping laying hens but they were a bit old, two years this past August. Everyone has had their eyes on them and their stomachs rumbling at the thought since the first day I brought them home, and they were pretty happy to finally sink their teeth into them! People love "hard chicken" over here. (I can't say it's my favorite, although perhaps it could be made into stew.)

I've never butchered chickens before. I have assisted with the butchering/processing of cows and deer, but I never had to kill and/or disembowel anything personally. The killing was surprisingly easy, although I felt sad about it beforehand. Taking out the insides was about as gross as you would expect it to be. And did you know chickens can still fart on you after they are dead? It's true.


 Lest you think we were going to throw anything away, just know that they cooked the heart, liver, intestines, undeveloped eggs, feet, heads, and who knows what else. Yum. No, I didn't eat from this pot. Several people enjoyed it and someone finished it off the next day for breakfast. Hey, I'm just glad nothing was wasted!




I then proceeded to bleach EVERYTHING in the kitchen, some things multiple times - we hadn't planned on doing so much of it inside, but it started to rain and we had headless chickens and nowhere else to process them. Don't worry, it was all cleaned to within an inch of its life.

The next day was pretty busy - Kundai showed up again around seven in the morning to help me with dinner preparations. It took us all day! We baked a gazillion (aka six dozen) rolls from the same recipe my mom has used for as long as I remember. Of course there were a lot of other things to prepare too - and we needed to figure out a plan for setting up the tables inside since it was raining outside. Thankfully Britt figured something out while I was running around like crazy. (And if he's reading this, thanks to Garakai for picking up said tables...) We had a lot of people coming and not very much space, but somehow we made it work. It wasn't anything fancy but it was just perfect.

Meanwhile, all the kids ran around in the lounge and played in the cardboard house I built for Tadi and Big T.



The Zimbabwean singing group rehearsed their Christmas number in the office, providing a lovely soundtrack to our day. The rain fell gently outside and the rest of us ran around reheating the turkey and setting the table and getting out all the food.







Dinner itself was rather a rousing success and before I knew it, the serving dishes were almost all empty!



(There actually weren't any of these left at the end...)




We didn't have small chairs...so we improvised!




The chickens were a hit. The pot was cleared out in no time. I'm pretty sure I heard Hughlan (age 5) remark, as he gnawed on a piece, "Now THIS is what I call MEAT!" Very few things were left when we were done - the cranberry sauce, the sweet potatoes (forgotten in the oven), a little bit of green bean casserole, and some gravy. Oh, and some pumpkin and apple pie, although that is slowly being eaten. Everyone thinks pumpkin pie is sooooo weird but we had to have some! Of course, part of the reason for the rapid food disappearance is that people here are very serious about packing up the leftovers to take home! Give them five minutes and they can clean out the pans before you know what has happened! Ha ha! Everyone was flying everywhere with pie plates, trying to get a piece of everything. "We don't like sweets," they tell me, then moan happily as they devour the cheesecake. Yeah, right...

Funny moment of the day: Vimbai was trying to ask "Who killed the chickens?" but it came out, "Who killed the kitchen?" I took one sweeping look around at the mess that was Thanksgiving and replied, "Well, I guess we did..."

As far as the babies go - they are doing well! Baby M went to his forever family this month, leaving us with four babies for the time being.

L is growing up so fast! He started walking this month and NOTHING is going to slow this boy down! He would get up, fall, get up, fall, and get up again. His persistence is admirable, although I was thinking of sewing him a small cushion for his bum! Big T likes to take his hands and drag him across the living room, singing "Walk, walk, ev'ybuddy walk..." until L falls over (which is usually only a few steps as Big T goes too fast!) He's now doing quite well, although he still falls over a lot. I'm still waiting for him to start talking - so far he can approximate "thank you" and says "Yeah!" to a lot of things, although I'm not sure he knows what it means! Oh, and he melted my heart when I was putting him to bed the other night and he said "Eeeee!!" (Squeeze!)


J is a sweet seven month old now. He's the fattest little guy and is known as Mudhafi (Shona for, well, "Fats.") He can sit up nicely and is finally starting to push up off of his tummy. He's also getting VERY jealous when other babies are picked up! When you snuggle him, he smashes his face into you and gives kisses. He's so precious! He started food about a month ago and loves it all (avocados caused a funny face at first, but he's ok with them now). He didn't even need to be taught how to eat, he just opened his mouth and swallowed! He doesn't mess around with his food!


Baby C is five months. She's tall and lanky and would probably play basketball if they had it here. She's finally starting to dislike tummy time LESS, which is an accomplishment! She's also napping better, for which I'm very grateful.


C and J chilling before bath time

Baby "R" is almost four months old. She is much more active than C and rolls all over the place! She's currently the only baby in her room and is reveling in all the attention! She eats a lot and is getting quite chubby!


Funny moments this month...

In GC one night, one lady told us, "I have an onion salary. You look at it and it makes you cry."

After Black Friday, someone told me, "I think next year I will prepare to go out and shop at the black market!"

Makoena and I were trying to figure out how to adjust the stroller. Big T looked at us struggling and advised, "I think...I think...push."

One day Tadi had a nice dress on, and all day, everyone was telling her, "Tadi, I like your dress!" That afternoon, I walked out of my room in my PJ's/workout clothes and Big T exclaimed, "Abbie, ah-like-ah dress!" (I like your dress!)

Big T's eyes water a lot. One day I told him, "T, your eyes are leaking." He then proceeded to go on and on about how "Auntie Leakin' go bye bye." I have NO idea what he's thinking some days...

While doing Bible study, a friend looked at my cursive handwriting (cursive isn't a thing here) and remarked, "Abbie, you write like you talk!" (That is to say: unintelligibly...)

On a more serious note, I've started journaling on my computer this month, and it's been amazing. It helps me remember more things to blog about, but more than just that, there are so many sweet, precious, painful, funny, breathtaking moments in everyday life that I want to remember. Things people say, photos I can't post, videos of everyday life that might not mean anything to anyone except me - but that mean a lot to me. It's a great place to pray, too. It's helped me be more thankful for the everyday moments and even the trials that God is using to mold me and make me more like Him. Life hasn't been especially easy since I've been back. There have been hard moments, some grief, day to day stress, and it's just a very busy life where I sometimes feel pulled in twenty different directions. But, it's a good life, and even when the moments aren't always especially good, God is so good, and I am so grateful for that. He is enough. He is always enough.

Monday, October 30, 2017

October

Spring has sprung here in Purpletoria...oops, Pretoria! The jacarandas are everywhere and they are gorgeous. It feels like you're driving through a purple cloud.


One day, the spring rain brought us a beautiful double rainbow.


The babies are all doing well. Baby C (below, left) is four months old. Baby L (center) is one now and is crawling all over the place and trying to stand up. Baby J (right) is six months old and smiles so much! 


At church!

Below: M and J (again). M is also six months old. They are both starting baby food - our blender never seems to stop running! M likes to hang out and roll around on the floor.


Baby R is already two and a half months old! She's catching up on C - they both wear the same clothes.


Our newest driver - just kidding! He does look quite at home behind the wheel, though...


Big T and baby L both had birthdays this month (on the same day). T is two and L is one. We had a party for them and we made a HUGE cake. It was kind of an ambitious project so I talked Kundai, my newest coworker, into helping me bake it. She's pretty much game for anything that involves baking.


The finished product! (Photo credit: Britt)


The big kids enjoying Pancake Night! Someone was pretty excited, I guess.


There's been a lot of life happening at Living Hope, as well! We held our annual Fun Day, where our small groups compete against each other in singing, volleyball, cheers, and games. We won! Now I have to dust the trophy all year...haha.


CPGC! (Capital Park Gospel Community)


Some days I feel like a pack mule and/or a one-woman band!


Here is our GC's song! I'm the white girl in the back with zero dance moves. I struggle enough to kick AND sing to an African beat, and adding clapping is pretty much impossible. It was fun though!

More random pictures - here's Sunday school this month. The kids were having a competition with their tops they won for learning memory verses. It was really cute.


At a wedding!


Congolese food at the wedding. I tried one of those fish with heads too...only I didn't eat the head...or the tail...or the bones...so I'm not sure you could say I really ate it at all, by African standards...


The next day I went out with a friend and we tried Turkish food, which I'm not sure either of us had ever heard of, but it was delicious - would definitely recommend. All those things (except the fries) went inside pieces of the bread that you tear off. It was pretty good!


That's about all I have for right now! Stay tuned as I have an idea for a new series of blog posts - I'd like to introduce you to my coworkers.

Monday, October 9, 2017

MBH is Expecting!!!

Here is an exciting announcement from our director!

MUPHAMUZI BABY HOME IS EXPECTING!:)
BABY HOME #2  - Due Date - ASAP
"As many of you know, some months back the Dept of Social Services suggested we request to become a 'Cluster Care' property.  This means we would be allowed to have TWO baby homes on the same property.  Normally NOT allowed.  We are happy to report that after various meetings – Architects, City Planners, Dept of Social Services, and a Child Protection Organization, God seems to be swinging doors wide open for this opportunity.   We were met with enthusiasm in each meeting.   From Government workers to CPO workers, our expansion was met with full agreement and willingness to help wherever they can.   We were told our home is a 'luxury home for babies' and more homes like this are needed!   The application is now in process. We were not allowed to submit the application until we got 'pre-approval' by all of the above parties.   So now, as we understand, it is a matter of getting paperwork done as requested.    
"Muphamuzi Baby Home will be the very first 'Cluster Care' property in South Africa that offers 'temporary care' as our passion is the family and we pray that our babies will only be in our care for a short while as they await their forever family.   
"We are chomping at the bit to get started.   This past month we have had to say no to SIX babies as our current home is already full!     Home #2 would have already been filled and this breaks our hearts each time we must legally say 'sorry, we are full'!     

"Will you pray with us that we can see the doors of MBH #2 open VERY soon?"

Monday, September 25, 2017

September

September has been quite the month! Life is happening as always here in Capital Park, Pretoria. 

We welcomed sweet baby "Rosebud!" We are so happy to be able to care for her! She likes to sleep sometimes, but she has a squeaky yet loud and insistent cry when she's had enough "down time" and wants to be picked up again! She loves her bottle and is such a good eater - she has grown quickly even in just a few weeks.



Baby C is three months old now - it's hard to believe that it's been that long since she arrived here, only a few hours old. She is definitely becoming a big girl and is no longer the youngest baby in the house. She smiles and coos and loves to interact with her nannies. She also loves lying outside on a blanket under the tree and watching the leaves blow in the breeze. She doesn't really like tummy time, and hates having her hair combed, but she's getting better at that. Most days she does pretty well adjusting to her new nap schedule, although sometimes she'd rather be playing!


She has the sweetest smile!


Baby J is four and a half months old, but he weighs 9 kg - almost as much as our 11 month old! He is a sturdy boy! He's smiling a lot these days and doing much better at tummy time - he can hold his head up for a lot longer. He is starting to propped sit as well and we think it's his fat that is holding him up! He enjoys spending time outdoors sitting under the avocado tree, and swinging in the swing. He LOVES looking at his handsome self in the mirror!


Baby M is five months old now! He's growing and changing a lot. He likes to smile and he has the craziest eyebrows, no matter how much we try to tame them. He likes being held and he DOESN'T like naptime or being put down very much. This month he decided he doesn't like warm milk anymore and would rather take his bottles barely heated. He's a bit of a charmer and has made various people at church fall in love with him. 



Baby L is almost a year old! He is crawling everywhere and causing mischief - he keeps us busy! He loves to give sloppy kisses and laughs a lot. This month he is learning to feed himself finger foods, although the floor is getting fed pretty well too as he likes to throw whatever doesn't make it into his mouth! It's hard to chew when you only have two bottom teeth!



Hope the floor thinks those Cheerios are yummy!


He's a big fan of porridge too. "Can I have some more...gruel...please?"


Happy smile!


The 2T's are getting bigger as well! Here they are learning to feed themselves pap and sauce.


Tadi turned ONE this month! And after the birthday-cake-hyper-baby-fiasco that happened (thanks to Auntie Abbie) her mom declared she was NEVER ALLOWED TO HAVE CAKE EVER AGAIN.


Happy birthday, sweet girl!


We love you SO MUCH! (Just remember that when we won't let you have cake at Big T's party next month!)


So, besides growing babies, what else is happening around here? Well, summer has arrived (after the first and last day of spring, which were, incidentally, the same day). I spent most of a day packing and unpacking clothes so everyone has something seasonally appropriate to wear...soooo thankful for our intern Melanie (now at home) who helped me organize everything! We may not have much storage space - there is so much stuff! - but it certainly streamlined the process greatly!


It's so fun to have fresh new summer clothes to dress them in every Sunday!


Baby L and I. He's very...ACTIVE in church.


We are thankful for all the extra hands to help us out!





We went over to my sweet friend and coworker's new house for a pool party! We were thinking it would just be a few of us girls, her, and her boys. But she suddenly had visitors, and her visitors had visitors, and I think her visitors' visitors had visitors (that they may have met on the street and invited along). So they left their many children (7? 8? 9? We never did get an accurate head count...)  with Gertrude, who can't swim, and Sarah, who thankfully can, while they left to buy drinks. When I showed up on my bike, an insane amount of children, very few of whom may actually have been able to swim, were running around in their underpants/swim suits, shouting, splashing, and thankfully not drowning while using my slightly questionable thrift store flotation devices. (Those were intended for a slightly lower adult/child ratio in the pool). Sarah brought noodles, too, so somehow everyone managed to stay afloat in the very frigid water - the nights haven't warmed up all the way, and the pool was still pretty cold. So *I* did not swim, and I'm very glad I didn't have to jump in to save anyone.


Thankfully after an hour or so of crazytown, everyone cleared out and we moved on to Pancake Night!


The boys were veeeerrryy excited to help and made all kinds of "shapes." "Look, it's a helicopter!" "Oh really, buddy, is that what it is?"

Here's our giant mountain of pancakes, which we kept warm in the oven...


And here is the aftermath!


At Living Hope, we had a special service and baptized seven believers this month! (Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures!) It was such a blessing to hear everyone's testimonies. People came from all different cultures and backgrounds and Christ has woven a beautiful story of redemption in each one's life. 

The next Sunday we welcomed a number of new members. I'm so glad we are a part of the same family, not on Christ's body but also at Living Hope where we get to be part of each other's lives.


Watching God at work in this way reminds me of the beautiful truths about unity in Ephesians 2.

"For he himself is our peace..."

"...you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God..."

"Christ himself being the cornerstone..."

"In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit."


We may not have divisions between Jews and Gentiles, but South Africa has generations of built up racial tension. It paints a backdrop that shows God's grace. I love how in Christ, we all were once far off, but now we are near to Him. And, we have each other. What more could we ask for?



(Sorry for the poor quality! Blogger won't let me upload anything bigger...)

Chakutumaini sina
(My hope is built on nothing less)
Ila damu yake Yesu
(Than Jesus' blood and righteousness)
Sina wema wa kutosha
(I dare not trust the sweetest frame)
Dhambi zangu kuziosha
(But wholly lean on Jesus' name)

Kwake Yesu nasimama
(On Christ the solid rock I stand)
Ndiye mwamba ni salama
(All other ground is sinking sand)
Ndiye mwamba ni salama
Ndiye mwamba ni salama.