Monday, January 20, 2014

Sleeping beauties, coffee, and the pursuit of edibles

"Ba-bee!!" (That's her baby, aka bunny, tied on her back in a sling.)

Small, sleeping. Because sleeping kids are cute...

Sunshine, sleeping. (Actually, she was more like a raincloud today, hence the early sleeping...)

Princess posing as Sleeping Beauty 

Squishy being squished

Megan has decided that Squishy's first word should be "coffee." Repeating it over and over was not having the desired effect (he's only about six months old) so she turned to ever-handy Google and researched "How to teach a baby to talk." (I may or may not have also caught an unnamed intern Googling "How to change a dirty nappy [diaper]." )

Google: You should frequently name objects for your baby.
Megan: (Holding up rattle) Cof-fee. (Holding up car) Cof-fee. (Holding up random toy) Cof-fee. (Holding up shoe on wheels) Some people call this a shoe. Cof-fee!
Squishy: AAAaaahhhhhhhhaa!

Actually having to feed myself, is going somewhat better, although I'm glad we're going shopping tomorrow morning as my/our cupboards are in a sorry state. We have lots of eggs, and a few other things. Someone reminded me about those handy websites where you type in what you have and it comes up with recipes for you. They were very useful, at least if you disregarded the recipes like "lettuce, peanut butter and mayo sandwich." I can't wait to buy more food and make delicious things (or burn stuff trying...more likely story).
I've been intensely craving asparagus today - the fresh kind, which I've heard is super expensive...*sigh.* I could fry a whole pan-full in bacon grease and garlic and butter right now and eat THE ENTIRE PAN BY MYSELF. And I wouldn't even have to share. Much, anyways. Ha ha! We'll see exactly how much "way too expensive" is, tomorrow...

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Weekend retreat

We spent this weekend on a "farm" (South African for a large plot of land, with or without animals and crops - in this case, without) for the 1Hope Ministries retreat. It was gorgeous, out in the African countryside.

I was thankful to not meet any cobras, although it might have been nice to see leopards from a safe distance.

These mountains make me itch to go hiking. Megan offered to take us on a short hike (about 45 minutes) and I can't wait, but I would love to find an adventurous soul to take us on an all-day hike!

Aaaaaaahhhhh. Aren't you itching too?

Sunset <3

So beautiful!

This is where we all slept. As you can see, we were a phobic bunch of girls and all shoved our mattresses together to make one big bed. (The families stayed somewhere else.)

There was a pool. I mourned my lack of a bathing suit while Alyssa taught several of the girls how to swim. Think I need to go shopping.

I think they were all pretty successful!

View from the window on the drive home

Yes, I am on the left side, for all my American friends. ;)

Well, I am on call tonight, so I'd better sleep while I can. Auntie Jeanne (the actual one on duty) just walked through and exclaimed, "Why are you not sleeping yet!!??" She's right....;)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

We have now gone mobile! (Or, life with toddlers.)

"jv  vmvmrmdyq399tyggu7cmnnjmnhh!" ~ by the resident toddler in our house

She doesn't live at the baby home (any more). She is being adopted by the local missionaries we are sharing a house with. ;) She wanted a picture, but wasn't so sure about the smiling at first. ;)

There we go. Because what toddler doesn't love the camera? Also, helping with a blog post.

Yes, she's a busy one! Biker chick too as you can tell. ;)

In other toddler news, we have another little one staying with us for just a while. She's been here before. =)

We'll call her "Sunshine." Just look at that smile. 

Also, Peanut has been renamed..."Small." Because that's what everyone calls him. So from henceforth, he will be called "Small" on here. I like it. It's reminiscent of Winnie the Pooh and Rabbit's friends-and-relations. (Ok, you may only get that reference if you've read the original books by A.A. Milne...I'm not sure if they put it in the TV series...)

Here are some more baby pictures of Princess. =)

Funny moment of the day: So, we want to learn how to braid hair (or "plat" as they call it). Auntie Jeanne said she would show us how.

Jeanne: I'll bring in my dog for you to practice on.
Me: Your dog?
Jeanne: Yes, it has a big head of hair. Good for practice.
Me: Ok...(envisioning a big fluffy poodle, or something...)

Well, it turns out she said DOLL not DOG. Guess I didn't hear her right. Yeah, that makes a little more sense...It was this really creepy looking head!

Joy, Alyssa (holding Squishy) and myself (holding Little Guy). Joy just moved in with us. She is from Zimbabwe and speaks Shona (in addition to English). I like her a lot! =)

This is Rebecca, who shuns all things healthy. Bring on the chocolate!

Us =)

Aunties Patricia and Jeanne holding Small and Princess


They both fell asleep while we were holding them.

This is our new church family. We went to church on Sunday and took the babies (we only had Little Guy and Squishy at that point). Next Sunday we are just taking Sunshine and Squishy. All of the little ones are staying at home until they are a bit older. I'm second from the right, front row.

Tonight I am on call so I will be sleeping up on the baby home couch. We have 3 newborns, a 6 month old, and a toddler, so we will be busy! Even so I am so grateful to be able to meet these babies' needs at this young age. I love being here, but it grieves me even more for all the little ones around the world who are thrown in a crib and left alone. I'm hoping and praying I will be able to do more for those ones as well, in the years to come.

Love you all!

~ Abbie

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New arrivals!

Edited to add: I just learned I can't share photos of these two online (at least not their faces) so I went back and put hearts on all their photos.

I just thought you all would like to see some of our new arrivals!

This is "Peanut," he is teeny tiny and 1 month old.

So little! He will be chubby soon, but oh, so cute... <3

This is "Princess," she is one or two weeks old (can't remember which), but she is much bigger than Peanut!

Poor thing, it has already been a long day for her!

Not too much squishing going on yet (by me); they have each been assigned to a head caregiver, and in order to promote stability/consistency, they are loving on them today. There will be time for LOTS and LOTS of squishing soon! =) Also, lots of getting up in the middle of the night because they are so little! We (the interns) are staying in a separate building about 50 feet away, but we will each take turns being on call during the night. Something tells me it will be busy, soon! =)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Living quarters, languages, and hypersnortilating

Here are some pictures of where we are staying!

This is the closet/cupboard that I share with Alyssa. (My half.)

My bed (complete with blue pillow that Dana made)

And my little (kind of messy) nightstand

The bars on the door that we lock at night and when we go away

Our living room

The Evil Step of Doom that keeps conspiring (successfully) to trip me on the way to the bathroom...

Our kitchen (we use the oven in the baby home, another excuse to hang out. ;) )

Yup, if my sequin cup is sitting on the counter, it's home! =)

Funny moments over the last couple days...

Rebecca (playing a missions video by local missionaries with an African song in the background): This is really funny, I know this song. It is in Zulu. It has nothing to do with orphans, it is about somebody's daughter getting married and someone gossiping...

LOL. Guess you'd better be careful which random foreign-language song you pick off of Youtube...;)

Megan: Don't you have different flavors of coffee in America?
Me: Yeah...
Megan: I was thinking about going on a trip to America once, to work at a rehab...
Me: Your coffee addiction is that bad??? You need a coffee rehab??

Megan (who aspires to be a surgeon): I LOVE watching people get cut open. Because it's fun. I got to observe it in the theatre. They were doing a thyroidectomy (motions slitting her throat) (P.S. - is the thyroid even in your throat?)
Megan: Because that's what they DO there!
Me: BUT WHY WERE THEY CUTTING PEOPLE OPEN IN A THEATER???!!! (* Upon which my brain produces a mental image of something like President Lincoln being assassinated in the theater*)

Apparently, "theatre" is the word for operating  room over here. I have so much to learn!

Megan (on the phone to her boyfriend): I can't say that, I'm not sure what will offend the Americans.
Alyssa: Like, that statement. Yeah.

We all are having a lot of fun together. Consequentially, I may have welts from gummy bears being pelted at me. We woke Squishy up tonight when I told Megan she was "hypersnortilating" and she said, "No, it's hyperventilaughing." After which we both proceeded to laugh a lot louder than a hyperventilaugh. Hence the awakened Squishy...

 I've been informed that I need to learn to TALK with a SA accent in order to understand what is being said (well, ok, WE have the accents...) and not go around saying "Huh??" all the time. Which I do. A lot. Poor people. They are talking normally. I'm the crazy American who talks twice as fast as I should and I'm the TRULY unintelligible one. I've been working VERY hard at learning to talk more slowly and it feels very strange! Kind of like talking in slow motion. I do better up at the baby home, but when it's just me and Alyssa I forget and start talking fast again (Ok, she doesn't understand me either) and then I start talking fast all the time again...My level of comprehension is SOOO bad. Sometimes I'm listening and can't tell if people are speaking English or not! It doesn't help that everyone around here knows at least two languages and some of them know five or six. Ugh, I am SO jealous of that! My ears can't even seem to separate the sounds. I was just getting used to Bulgarian. I didn't know much but at least I could separate the sounds for the most part. Everyone told me, "Oh, Bulgarian is a very difficult language" like they were indoctrinated to say that, but I think it would be a picnic next to Chinese, or African tribal languages! Hopefully in five months I can at least learn a few words. =)

I've also had offers to teach me Shona and Zulu. Maybe by the time I leave I will learn something! I already struggle with even saying people's full names. It's a good thing they have nicknames! Character names are really big around here. There are typical names you would hear in America, like "Joy" or "Hope," but they take it a bit farther...I met a guy named Goodness today. Patience is also really popular. I wouldn't want to have to live up to that name. ;) 

Language difficulties nonetheless, it is so much fun to be around Christians from so many cultures. Sure, I'm in South Africa, but there are so many different cultures within this country. Megan is an English-speaking South African with a European background; the family we are living with is from Malawi; Joy is apparently moving in with us (fun fun!) and is from Zimbabwe; someone else is from the Congo; the Willoughbys were missionaries to Germany; Carlien (I finally learned how to spell her name) is Afrikaans; and there are multiple other cultures represented, I'm sure; I just forget them all! Being Christians really brings us together though. I feel like in America people spend way too much time tiptoeing around each other's differences instead of learning about them and loving them. We had a discussion today about bride prices...that was very interesting. Apparently it has pros (the husband has to pay for the wedding, not the bride...well, ok, that's only a pro for females...) and cons (he can later bring it up in an argument: "I bought you, you have to do what I say!)

Signing off for tonight!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Settling in...and baby pictures!

We spent today settling in and getting to know the babies and some of the caregivers (the ones who are here on weekend duty). Megan is here helping out while the Drews, the missionaries who live at the baby home, are visiting in the States, and the other ladies we met today were Rebecca, Divine, and Joy. They were a lot of fun to meet and spend time with and definitely all have a sense of humor. =) Conversations went something like this:

Rebecca: Joy, why do you want to eat that salad? Who wants to be healthy? No one ever said being unhealthy was bad for you. I will be unhealthy. I like chocolate. Chocolate is good for you. It has milk...
(Joy continues to chop up her salad of cabbage, apples, mayonnaise, and bananas. Blech.)
Me: And, it's even a vegetable. Cocoa comes from a bean.
Rebecca: YES! Go Team Unhealthy!
Me: Is this like, a traditional African salad or something?
Rebecca: Don't ask us, ask Joy. We are diluted Africans...

Rebecca: I am tired. I need a rest.
Megan: You need coffee.
Me: Or, she needs sleep.
Megan: Coffee is better than sleep. Sleep is what you do when you don't have coffee. You need coffee.

This about sums up the depth of Megan's coffee addiction. Just sayin'...

Soooo....I know you all want to see pictures of cute, squishy babies. I won't make you wait any longer. =)

For the sake of clarity/privacy, we'll call him "Little Guy"...he's about 4 weeks old. Cute as a button. And, kind of crabby today. ;) Very squishy....and definitely knows how to work the ladies to get held I just wish my nieces would have been this spoiled when they were babies...

Baby #2 we will call "Squishy." He was pretty happy today...

Our first official shift isn't until tomorrow, so today we just kind of hung out and I held this little guy in between working on my crochet project (a fuzzy lamb).

Or, we fed Squishy...


My roomie Alyssa loving on Squishy.

Little Guy is teeny tiny...

Squishy being cute. I think he was getting ready for movie time. It's this DVD about a rabbit named Miffy that moves uber slow and has about 4 colors in the entire show, plus a theme song at the beginning and end that takes up about half of each episode. I've been informed I will know it by heart by the time I leave. Rebecca can quote entire episodes...Oh dear.

Side note: I'm not sure which will come first, starvation or learning how to menu plan, shop, and cook. I'm a more than a little clueless when it comes to planning and timing (although I can follow a recipe) and Alyssa has the self-proclaimed cooking skills of a thirty-year-old bachelor. Hm. Well, maybe I'll finally lose weight. Rebecca's solution to that: "Well, if you want to lose weight, that is fine. If not, eat more chocolate."

I am so privileged to be able to be here. When I look at my life a year ago, I see a lot of longing to "do something" and a monotonous stretch of daycare in front of me. I lived my life in fear of losing my job. Now I realize that quitting was one of the best things I ever did. 

God has done so much more than I ever imagined in the last year, starting with one message in March from my friend Stephanie who asked, "Do you want to come to Bulgaria with me?" I was planning on getting time off from work, if possible, to go. It was looking like I wouldn't be able to get the time off, so I was prepared to quit. At the last minute, plans changed, and I would be able to have the time off, but by that time, I had thought through my reasons for staying at or leaving my job, and I decided it was time to quit and look for something else after I came back from Bulgaria. Well, I went to Bulgaria, which was earth-shattering enough in itself, then came back and started looking for a job with NO success. I was getting very frustrated! Meanwhile, Stephanie's Bulgarian attorney's friend (whom I have never met in person) posted a link to the 1Hope blog expressing the need for interns. I've always wanted to go to Africa, but saw it as something way off in the future, for a number of reasons. But, I thought this sounded like just what I wanted to do, so I applied (and here I am now!) Meanwhile, God paved the way for me to go back to Bulgaria again in December, and continued to give me the nagging feeling (that I still have) that I'm not done there yet! I have no idea what that means...=) but it sounds like an adventure to me!