Wednesday, November 12, 2014 part.

I'm home now.

We got home from the airport about 3am Tuesday morning. It was so good to see my family! My parents and my brother all came to pick me up. I flew from Johannesburg to London to Chicago to Cleveland - it was quite the journey. Alyssa and I got to enjoy some sightseeing during our hours in London.

It was pretty cool. We had a friend of a friend who was supposed to meet us and show us around, but he was an older gentleman who ended up getting sick, so he just sent us directions as to the type of subway ticket to buy and the places we could walk to see, and they were very easy to follow. We mostly just walked around and looked at the sights - we didn't have much time and entrance to everything cost an arm and a leg! We got to see Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the Thames, and a couple of monuments and nice parks.

Alyssa's flight left about 3pm, and mine about an hour later. I lost her going through security, and just about freaked out because I hadn't gotten to say goodbye. Some really nice older guy from security told me to go downstairs and have the help desk page her...but not to tell them why because otherwise they wouldn't do it. I managed to convince the lady at the help desk that it was VERY IMPORTANT that I talk to my friend before her flight left. (Being back in a country where customer service is a thing, was wonderful. All of the airline attendants were SO sweet when I kept losing people, or getting seats mixed up, etc.) Then I stood forlornly in the middle of the busy aisle trying to spot her - the very place where I waited 7 hours for her to show up in January, as a matter of fact. She didn't actually hear the page, but she managed to find me anyway, for which I was very grateful. Saying goodbye was very hard, we'll just leave it at that. God has taught us both so much together this year and we have a very tight friendship. Please pray for us both as we go back to our lives at home, me for a few months and her indefinitely. 

The long flight from London to Chicago was kind of lonely, but I had a good half-dozen or so notes from friends, stored away in my bag, to cheer me up. (Or, alternately, make me tear up, but oh well, I know I am loved.) 

My plane finally got in to Cleveland around midnight and I got to see my family shortly thereafter! I about tripped coming down the escalator...I missed them so much. Then, we had 1 1/2-2 hour drive home. At last, my own bed! I'd forgotten how wonderfully soft a mattress can be. =)

I've spent the last two days unpacking, visiting friends, and purging my STUFF. A year gives a good perspective. I can't believe how much stuff I thought was worth keeping! The entire year away, I never said, "Man, I really wish I had my church camp notes from 2008!" or "Wow, I wish I had my disposable wrist band from when we visited the science center in 2006!" or, "I'm sure glad I saved all the name tags I ever got!" Don't think I haven't missed any of my stuff, though...getting dressed feels like I just went clothes shopping because of all the variety, and I walk around talking to my possessions like a ditz: "Pink tool kit, I wished I had you!" and "Brown boots, I have missed you!" and "Drawing supplies, you are coming back with me!"

I'm also eating some of the things I've craved all year...I went out and bought Lucky Charms and Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies. There were shouts of joy when I discovered pepperoni in the fridge, and the Ranch dressing bottle is significantly lower. It is also too cold to run/exercise outside. This could be a problem. But honestly, I think the cravings will abate very soon...=)

I also get to drive now! This was thrilling. (My power steering fluid thingy also needs fixed. This is not thrilling.)

All that superficial stuff aside, though? I am soooo glad to be able to spend time with the people who matter to me. And I am really missing the OTHER people who matter to me. I got to go to choir tonight and see church friends, and now I'm missing my Living Hope family. (It's been all of three days...) My heart is most definitely in two places. This has its advantages - I am loved and have people I love wherever I am. This has its disadvantages - even if I do my best to live in the moment, I am perpetually missing someone (or a lot of someones). Also, I go through Alyssa withdrawal and Lerato withdrawal and I-desperately-need-to-hug-a-squishy-orphan-baby withdrawal.

Like these cuties! These are the ten that I was privileged to care for over the last ten months. Can you handle that much squishiness???

I have been convicted this year about some of that superficial stuff (the few random foods I couldn't find, comforts of home, my pillow-top mattress) mattering more to me than relationships. I think it was because it was easier to complain about a lack of chocolate syrup than about missing my mother. Coming home just reinforces the fact that that stuff doesn't really matter. Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies are not as ultimately satisfying as my friends back in Africa (even if they are really yummy and pretty much inimitable.) (The cookies, not the people.)

Although it's been great, it does feel strange to be back home! Honestly, it even feels weird to say the word "home"...because even though I'm only committing for a year (to start), this is truly only half my home now. I miss living with people constantly around. Quiet time is nice too, but I can only handle so much of that before I start itching. I think I'm allergic to it. (Oh, how I pity the introverts who have lived around me. I think I need to work on this. I think they would agree. You know who you are. ;) ) I am working hard to remedy all this quietness around me. If you live nearby and want to hang out, let me know. =) Only, I should probably bring my yarn because I'm about to turn into a crocheting machine, tomorrow.

Please pray for me as I'm finally starting to get a little stressed/overwhelmed with the idea of fundraising. I don't have an exact total yet, but I think I will be needing to raise between $15,000 and $20,000. This is more than last year - my goal is to buy a car, and I will be paying for car insurance and gas (petrol). I don't think I can crochet that many hats! I will have a post, next, about the different fundraisers that are going on. I'm selling some beautiful paper bead necklaces I brought back from Africa, and I'll post more about the different crochet items people can order.

One funny story before I go!

So, we went to the Boeremark (Afrikaans farmer's market) on Saturday before we left. Janelle bought this delicious looking kebab of meat. Donovan asked her what type it was.

Janelle: Oh, it was elk! And only 22 rand! I just had to try it!
Donovan: Elk? Really? (This would be like coming to America and having kudu kebabs. Elk aren't from here. It's just weird.)
Janelle: Yeah, the sign said "22 Rand Elk!"

"Elk" is the word for "each" in Afrikaans. Most of us can deduce this by now. Poor Nellie. =P

We love you! 

I think it's time to call it a night! I'm trying to shake this jet-lag thing, but it isn't gone yet.

To my Ohio family - it's been wonderful to see you and hug you.
To my South African family (and "African-American" family - the missionaries and other interns) - I miss you so much already.

I love you both!

~ Auntie Abbie

Go well, Owlie

 I'm a bit late in posting this update, due to Internet malfunctions and lots of busyness. Oh, by the way, God miraculously fixed the baby home internet, or so it appeared. There was a storm, and all of a sudden it started working again...Also, I'm home now. Next post about that!

But for now, I want you all to know that this sweet one, our Owlie, is in her forever family!

She looks pretty happy about it.

We are happy too although we will miss her greatly! Especially her auntie Joy who insisted that this naughty baby was an angel!

Actually, she's a pretty happy Most of her early pictures looked like this:

She wanted to be held all the time! She usually got her way. =)

Sweet, lovable, squishy baby girl! You are loved. Your mama cried tears of joy when she met you for the first time.

It's been a pleasure watching you grow from this smushy-faced newborn... this big, smiley girl!

I love you, Owlie! Go well!

~ Auntie Abbie

Sunday, November 2, 2014


So, the long overdue update post!

The big news is this: we now have HOUSEPARENTS!!! They are being screened right now, which means that we will be able to accept babies again when the process is finished! That probably won't be until January, but still, there is hope on the horizon! I have yet to get a picture of them, but Sbu and Sihle are an awesome couple from City Baptist Church, one of our sister churches, and I think it will be fun to live on the same property! I have known Sihle for a while - she volunteers at the baby home.

It will be good to have new babies again! Since Owlie's and Small's departures, we are down to just two babies. Don't get me wrong, we are always overjoyed when our babies find their forever families, but there are so many more babies out there needing care that we haven't been able to accept. It is so hard knowing they are out there and we can't take them! So hopefully soon, we will be at full capacity again. Even if Roo and Lullaby don't leave in the next two months, I can't imagine getting FOUR newborns in a short time span! Babies' arrivals are usually more staggered. I guess night shift will actually be a "real" shift then...=P Right now sometimes we sleep all night if the babies do as well! They are both older and such good sleepers.

Don't think our small number of babies translates into us sitting around twiddling our thumbs! We've been busy with AWANA, evangelism, volunteering at a school, spending time with people from church, and the list goes on and on, including a great mix of ministry and some fun activities as we wrap up our time here.

Last Friday was our last AWANA. Janelle and I ran the AWANA tuck shop.

 I got some pictures with some of the kids from my small group. It fluctuated a lot throughout the year, but I really enjoyed getting to know a more steady group of children the last few months. 

I was struggling - everything was really crazy and stressful and I would dread each week - but then I prayed desperately, "Lord, please help me learn to love this!" and He did! 

(It didn't really get any less crazy, though. LOL.) These three are a really fun bunch of girls.

Uncle Vinson single-handedly ran games on the last day.

Everyone was very eager for the tuck shop to open (even if they didn't have any AWANA bucks).

I've been doing some crochet, including these converse baby booties to sell when I get back in the States. If you're interested in a pair (or any crochet item - I do custom orders) check out Happy Heads Helping Hearts on Facebook. I'll be crocheting to raise support to come back next year.

I've started crocheting with some of the ladies from Salvokop, a local refugee community where many members of our church live. Unfortunately, we've only been able to have one lesson so far, but they want to learn to make all kinds of things, so hopefully we will pick up again when I return!

Mama Linda is such a huge help when it comes to crochet, especially with the language difficulties. Many of my friends speak English quite well but crochet is very technical! I am learning a little Shona (the language many Zimbabweans speak) but I haven't really gotten beyond greetings, polite phrases, and simple sentences like "I am cooking pap" and "Joy is naughty!"

Cute baby =). Not one of ours.

Toddlers happily playing during Bible study/crochet time.

Jacaranda season is almost over! I've enjoyed the purple cloud over the whole city.

I've also enjoyed spending time with our Gospel Community (Bible study group). We had a braai (cookout) a week or two ago (not when this picture was taken) and everyone had to tell about their week in a different language and have a friend interpret. I think we had 20 people there and 14 languages represented (including my pidgin Spanish...) Then it started to rain and we all had to squish into our little house!

Where....we ate chicken feet. They were...squishy.

Christmas decorations were up when we went to the store on October 20th. WAY, TOO. EARLY. Of course Themba was eager to point out "Christmas!" the entire shopping trip!

I found a lovely little thrift shop just a mile or so from our house! I was SO happy and immediately started accumulating things for next year...

Well, that's about all for now! I have more to write, if you all want to see a few pictures of our sightseeing and such. I found an ethernet cable, so I now have some internet access, at least enough to blog. I can't believe Alyssa and I leave in a week! Time has flown. I hope I am able to come back quickly. I miss my family SO much and can't wait to see them, but I love my life here. =)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

From one set of hands to another.

We haven't had internet for about a week, so I haven't been able to tell you all the news going on here at the baby home!

Our sweet "Small" now has a forever family! (Owlie does too, but I'm waiting on pictures that I forgot to load to do a goodbye post for her...)

I got to write him a letter to send with his forever family. This isn't it (I didn't save a copy) but the same sentiment is there!

Dear Small,

You were so tiny when you came to us! You weighed less than four pounds. You quickly earned your nickname.

You came four days after me, you know. We have been here almost the same amount of time. I love you. You have been my special little buddy. I didn't get to take care of you much after they created a preemie room, but I enjoyed my weekly shifts with you when the caregivers left to go to Bible study. I would sit and snuggle you and love every minute. 

When you were four months old, I stayed with you in the hospital for a week - your other auntie stayed overnights and I would stay all day. You were really feeling under the weather and I did everything I knew to make you feel better. I rubbed your tummy when it hurt and fixed your oxygen tubes and fed you little sips of formula at a time so you wouldn't throw them up so much. 

Mostly I just sat and held you all day. It was a long week and the nurses were cranky. Some of them said some not very nice things about you when they learned your story - things that made me want to cry.

To try and help you feel better faster, we did some kangaroo care. You liked being snuggled up next to me. I have to say, it shocked a few people, particularly the ones who wondered if I was breastfeeding. =) They really did a double take when I pulled you out from under my shirt!

We have all loved you just as if you were our own. I loved to carry you around on my back!

I know your Mama probably is very sad that she couldn't be there for so much of your first year. 

But I want her to know that I (and everyone else) have loved you just as much as we possibly could, and hopefully we laid a good foundation for you to receive her love next.

I hope and pray you will grow to know Jesus someday. 

I have been so blessed to have you in my life this year! 

I will miss you.


Auntie Abbie