Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Meagan's January Report From Zambia

Here is the monthly report from my wonderful niece, Meagan Hawley, who works at the Namwianga Mission in Zambia. Meagan takes care of orphaned and abandoned babies and has been amazingly influential in getting others involved in this work of Jesus.

January 15, 2013
I really can’t believe it’s 2013.The start of this new year has definitely been different than last year—last year, no one forced me to write out any goal’s for the new year; this year, I had to write them out in Tonga! I’m grateful to be where I am this year, even when it’s a bit uncomfortable and stretches me more than I’d like at times.

This month has been a whirlwind of activity! In my last update, I told you all about our plans to host a reunion party for our babies that went back to the village. It was a day of laughter and hugs and fun, and I am so grateful to God for allowing us to remain connected with these children after they go back home.  In a work like this, it’s easy to start questioning whether or not it’s worth it. When babies are sick and the outcome seems inevitable and when babies keep heading home and breaking your heart, you can start focusing a little too much on the pain of this job and forget the overwhelming joy that fills most days. Seeing all those little faces that we’d invested in and loved sitting among their families was a beautiful thing. In her speech to all the families gathered, Kathi Merritt said, “The most beautiful thing about this is that when your children were brought to us, they were orphans. Now you’ve taken them and given them families. They are orphans no more.” Praise God for the way he sets the lonely in families.

Being away from my family is hard during the holidays. I really struggled with feelings of loneliness during those days, even amidst plenty of people. My family sent so many special gifts with Kelsey when she came for Thanksgiving, which was so thoughtful. I had something to open every day of December until Christmas day, and that really helped make it feel a little bit more like Christmas. I know Christmas isn’t about the gifts, but opening things from my sweet family made me feel connected to them from a world away, and I was so grateful for that. Christmas eve we had a great dinner and we sang Christmas songs at the Calder’s home. They are a South African couple that lives on the mission, so we incorporated some of their home traditions, too! The meat on our table was sable, an animal found on safari! That was a first for me!

Christmas Dinner for the little ones!
Christmas day, Kathi and I cooked all day for the auntie party and played cards in between! The meal went wonderfully, and the aunties loved having a special dinner. The babies enjoyed it, too. They of course had no idea why they were eating outside or that it was a special day, but loved having some different food than they normally eat! 

On the days that weren’t spent party planning or executing, things were pretty much the same as last month. We received three new babies this month, Leahndrea, Vera, and Binwell. Leahndrea and Vera are both known HIV exposed, so they are receiving prophylactic treatment already. We are unsure of Binwell’s health history, so he was tested today and we pray for a negative result. 

New faces seem to mean missing faces, too. This month Hamilton, Quintyn, Layla, and Carol all rejoined their families.
As our biggest Christmas gift this year, God granted us a month of no death and no serious sickness. I looked at Kathi a couple weeks ago and said, “Do you realize I haven’t felt sick a single day since November??” We then realized that’s how long it’s been since we’ve had a deathly ill baby and it all made sense. These seasons of good health are good for the body and soul!

I continued my morning language lessons with Ba Halale this month, although last week’s were cancelled due to a “24 hour a day” language class. I spent the week in a village about 40 minutes into the bush beyond Namwianga. It was an experience in immersion and humility that I desperately needed, and I grew a lot there. When I was in high school, I could frequently be found in a ball of tears on the couch late in the night trying to study for whatever test was the next day. I would be organizing my notes, making flashcards, and panicking because I would never be ready in time. I can still remember my wise mother, gently telling me, “Honey, stop getting ready to study and just study.” I wanted everything to be in order before I really got down to business, but then I never really got down to business. That’s kind of how I am with Tonga. I wanted to be so ready for this week in the village, know all the things I might possibly need to know (yes, they were on flashcards even!), but at some point it was just time to go and admit that I’ll never be ready unless I just start. So I went and found myself completely overwhelmed most of the time. They LOVED that I spoke only Tonga with them, but it meant that they held back nothing and bombarded me with so many new words constantly. Ba Halale and I have this little rule where I don’t have to learn a word if I’m never going to realistically use it. We both figure we should leave that little space in my brain for a word I might actually find beneficial. My friends at Bello didn’t allow me that luxury—they insisted I know all the different words for the different TYPES of chickens, for example. I thought it would be rude to tell them I don’t plan on ever using those terms again, so no thank you, so I went ahead and learned them! I walked away from the week much more confident in my speaking abilities and with a deeper understanding of the world I’m living in here in Zambia. If you’d like to read more about my experience in the village, you can go to http://zambianhavenonearth.blogspot.com/2013/01/hello-again.html.

I am back into my routine now, and I’m looking forward to the normalcy I pray this month will bring. While this last month was exciting, it sure was tiring! Thanks for all your prayers for me throughout this month. I truly believe they sustained me.

I’m blessed because of you all.

God bless,
Uncle Steve
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

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