Hello everyone! I just wanted to quickly update you all on what is happening on our side of the world. On October 6, it marked two years since Louisa and I moved to Africa. I just can't really believe it. Some days it feels like it's been F O R E V E R and then other days I can't believe it's gone so fast. Babies that weren't even born when I came here have already moved back to their villages! God has been so, so good to me to be able to see and experience the things I have. Life goes on as normal for us here. The Harding University students are here, and that has been wonderful. They are studying and having classes a lot, but they also get lots of time at the orphanage. I assigned each of them a special baby when they got here. I wanted each baby to hopefully get some one-on-one time to work on some milestones that are usually delayed with our babies. They have helped so much, and it's neat to see the ways they've worked with the babies and helped them grow.
The babies continue to be the source of so much joy for me, despite the sad parts of the job. The 25 "two year olds" at the Haven 2 never cease to amaze me. They are just so smart and funny, and I go home every night and miss them terribly until the morning. We have had four go back to their village in the last couple of months, and we are so pleased every time that happens. It is the goal to get them back with families when their family will be able to feed them and give them a chance at survival. It still never gets any easier sending them out the door. We anticipate about 8 going home in the next months, so please pray for the villages they will be going back to and the families or friends that will be taking them. Pray that they will help them know God and keep them safe and healthy.
Things at the Haven 1 are good, and we are all stable right now. We lost a little baby girl a couple of weeks ago that was a month old and HIV positive. The Harding students were here to experience an African funeral and mourn with us and the family. I always tell people it is something everyone should experience but you wish no one ever had to. However, it is exciting to think about the ways that God will use these students in the future in different countries and places to care for God's children and spread His word. I know the things they are seeing and experiencing here are changing them forever, just like they have me.
About a month ago we had a mother show up at the orphanage with 4 day old triplets, a boy and two girls. As we talked to her more and more, we realized they were not her only kids.she had Twins Single Baby Boy Twins (Boy and girl) Single Baby Girl Triplets I mean, isn't that just crazy?? She said she is struggling to produce enough milk, and she was asking us to give them some formula so they would make it. We said okay and provided her with 8 tins of Lactogen. She came back earlier this week and said she wants to bring two of the babies to live at the orphanage. She just cannot care for them properly, and they aren't growing well. She thinks they will die if they stay in the village. She was going to go home and talk to her husband and bring them sometime this week. Yesterday, Wednesday morning, a different mother showed up with triplets not even twenty-four hours old. They were three girls, completely covered in sand with their cords bloody and tied off with yarn. The family had been trying to take the mother in to a clinic, but she ended up delivering right on the road in the sand. The craziest part of the story is that she already has five kids, and she had no idea that she was having twins or triplets. She'd never seen a doctor since she'd been pregnant and ultrasounds just don't happen here. So she had one baby and she thought she was done. Had more cramping, and out came another one. Still more cramping, and out popped her third baby! She was shocked. They are three precious girls, the most beautiful I've probably seen here as newborns. They are full term and appear healthy. They asked us to keep two so the other one might have a chance at home. Mama says it's too hard for the mother to choose, so she chose which one would stay with her family. The smallest one, 1.7 kgs, went home with her mother, and we kept the two bigger triplets, both weighing 1.9 kgs. Here they are all together before I took them to the clinic to get their cords clamped off. When I said bye to the mother at the clinic, I felt completely awkward. Here I was carrying away two of her brand new babies. She didn't hug them, she didn't cry, she just said in Tonga that she felt like they had died. It is so hard when they beg us to keep them for them, but it seems so cruel, too. Here are the two that we kept at the orphanage with us. Donna on the left, Olivia on the right Ok, so I took the mother to the clinic to take care of the cords and then put her on a bus to go back to her village (not 10 hours after giving birth to her babies on the road!). When we walked in the door at the clinic one of the nurses said, "Oh, are those the triplets that were just delivered on the road?" We told them they were. Then the nurse seemed confused because she heard one of the boys had died. I told her all of these were girls, and they were all still living. It turns out that not too far down the road not hours apart, three triplet boys were born in the middle of the road as well. One was still born, and the other two came out at 1.5 kgs each. They are still in clinic here at Namwianga in our incubator, and they are cute as buttons. (They will stay with their mother) So that was yesterday. Today we were at the Kalomo Hospital, the place where we take all of our HIV babies for their treatment and reviews. We had three babies with us being seen that day. Kathi had taken one of our babies to get his blood drawn, and while she was there the nurse asked if we would be able to take a baby because the mother was about to die. Kathi said yes, and came and got me so we could go and get the baby. The scene was just horrible. The mother's body is completely wasted with AIDS, and she looked like every picture you ever see in a magazine of a starving, African woman. She was lying on the bed completely out of it, just staring off into space. The woman's mother was there, and she said her daughter will die soon, and so will the baby if you don't take her. They gave the baby ARVs, treatment for exposure to HIV, within the first hours of her life. And then, this little bundle was handed to me with the goo and everything still on her. She wasn't even cleaned off, and she was put in our arms, not her mothers. 99% of our babies don't have mothers when they come to us-that's WHY they come to us. But for two days in a row I had to stand right in front of a mother and walk away with her baby or babies in my arms. It broke my heart. I had to go back this afternoon to fill out the paperwork with the baby's mother and grandmother. We have to get a lot of information about the family and location and history, and then we have them sign a consent form saying that they are giving their baby over to us to care for them. I went alone this afternoon to meet with them. I'm used to admitting babies into our orphanage, but today I just felt totally horrible having to be the one to ask these questions of this poor mother that is dying of an incurable disease that now her child may have, too. Is this your first born child? No, the ninth. Are the others living? 5 are alive, 3 are dead. Do you know the father of the baby? Yes, but he refused the child. The questions seemed cold and inappropriate, even though I know they are necessary and important. I just hated the whole thing, and it affected me more than usual. At the end of the consent form, the mother or grandmother has to provide a signature. I asked the nurse to ask them which one of them wanted to sign. The grandmother didn't know how to write at all. The nurse thought the mother was too weak to even hold a pen. Finally the nurse stood behind the mother and prepared to help her sign her name. When they started though, it was evident that she couldn't really write either. The nurse ended up having to get another sheet of paper to make big example letters of the woman's name and help the lady form the letters of her name. I can't even describe the sadness of the scene. I wanted to bawl, but I held it in. I just told the lady that I wanted her to get better so she could come back and get her daughter someday, but I could tell she was beyond hoping for that. I told her how sorry I was that she was sick, and I would pray to God to heal her or give her peace that she couldn't understand or describe. But even after telling her all those things, I didn't feel better. I still hated that tonight our aunties will be taking care of her baby and she'll be dying in a hospital bed without ever having held her baby. I am about to try to go to bed, and I'm sure I won't be able to sleep. I'll picture both of those mamas lying in their beds without their babies in their arms. I'll worry about the future for this baby that is already being treated for HIV on day 1 of her little life, and all the others like her in just our orphanage. I'll wrestle with God a little while about the things I know I won't ever understand. And then hopefully I'll rest in the peace of knowing that God has a plan for each and every one of these babies, and I'll pray for strength and wisdom to continue trying to do my part in the plan. Have a blessed week.
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org