Saturday, February 16, 2013

February Update From Zambia (Meagan Hawley)

Most of you know or know of my wonderful niece, Meagan Hawley, who works in Zambia at the Namwianga Mission. Here is her monthly update. I am unable to print the pictures from her newsletter so I am using some of the latest shots of babies from her blog at Please keep Meagan and her co-workers in prayer as they care for these children, many of whom are HIV+, and show them the love of Jesus!

Happy February to you all! We continue to experience heavy rains, and after my experience visiting a village farm here, I’m a little more aware and grateful for the rains God is providing.  
Language class has continued, and I’m making slow progress. Our daily routine goes a little something like this: 

Ba Halale and I greet and catch up since yesterday in Tonga.  She attempts to tell me a story or summarize a novel she’s read in Tonga, where you can almost always find a quizzical expression fixed on my face. She’s told me before how funny she thinks it is to be able to literally see me thinking. 

We do a lesson in the Grade 3 Tonga book. We started by working through the two Grade 1 books, and I successfully graduated. However, the shop in town didn’t have any Grade 2 Tonga books (neither did Lusaka or Livingstone), so I was forced into skipping a grade and jumping straight into Grade 3. Grade 3 is exponentially harder than Grade 1, but every day gets easier. In fact, reading the stories in this book has become a breeze. Now when she tries reading the story aloud to me, it’s a whole different ball game.We finish with a lesson in the Tonga Grammar book. It’s an advanced book that deals more with the whys of the language, and Ba Halale appreciates its ability to explain many of my crazy questions about why things are the way they are. 

The contrast between the Grade 3 and the more advanced Tonga grammar is strange, but somehow perfect for me. Because I’ve been “speaking” Tonga for a few years, just very roughly, I already have a framework to understand the grammar, but the Grade 3 makes me slow down and start picking up from the beginning many of the things I never learned. So, all in all, we’re making gains, but it is slow going. Any prayers for me and my language abilities would be welcomed! 
I started teaching the Grade 8 girls Bible Study at Namwianga Secondary School. They come to my house on Wednesday nights, and I’m supposed to be teaching them what it means to be a Christian. They start boarding school in Grade 8, so this is their first time to be away from home. They come from all different backgrounds, though most of them believe in God and have grown up going to worship services somewhere or other. We’ve had some good talks so far, and they have hearts wide open to soaking up the Gospel. Please pray for us as we study God’s word together and look at what following Christ should really look like.  

One of our sweet babies, 6 month old Melody, died this month. It was fast, and it broke all of our hearts. She was HIV exposed so she was taking medicine prophylactically until we confirmed her HIV status. When her HIV test came back negative, she was taken off her medication, as protocol says she should be. However, some doctors think she had a drug reaction to being taken off of her medicines. Others think it was a staph infection that caused her to go septic. Either way, we lost a healthy, sitting, strong little baby girl much too young. We’re thankful that her twin sister, Memory, is doing well and showing no signs of reaction or infection. 
We have two new little ones, James and Kelvin. James has been sick, on and off IV fluids for the last week, but he’s finally turned around now. Kelvin is just a week old and seems healthy so far.  
Part of what I do here we call ‘medical advocacy’, simply meaning I make sure our kids are all getting the attention to their health that they need. That looks a little different for every baby, and it comes in all different forms. For Joel and Busiku, it means that three times a week I take them to physical therapy in the hopes that one day Joel will be able to walk and Busiku will be able to be a little more independent. For James this week, it meant taking him repeatedly to the clinic to get injections and have IVs put in. For Leahndrea, it means she’s gotten more one on one this week, just rocking and reading in a chair, because her weight has been dropping and I think she just needs to feel close to someone. This last month, it’s meant Leah has been living at home with me. Leah, although 2 years old, was barely walking and had very little strength. She’d worried me for some time, but I knew that now that she was 2, she could be going back to her village any time. None of us felt good about her going back as sickly as she was. So she came home with me so I could observe her and see what all was going on with her. Was it something physical that she was so weak? Was she sad? Did she need more protein in her diet? We knew whatever it was, her lethargy and inability to stand for any period of time needed to be dealt with before she left. So she came home with me, and after about a week, we started seeing some big differences. We did all sorts of blood work and tests, and by the end of the month, she was running around, talking like crazy, and a happy little thing. She came with me the week I spent in the village as we intentionally got her accustomed to the life she would be soon entering. Then we slowly transitioned her back into life at the Haven. She did great, and then, just as planned, her grandmother came to get her and take her back to their village, about 2 hours away. She was hesitant to go to her grandmother at first, just as she should have been. It shows she’s had proper attachment and knows she’s safe with us. But after a couple of days, she willingly went with her and was all smiles as she climbed on her back to head back to her village.  
It is one of my special privileges that I get to work with these kids and fight for them as we try to reunite them with their families. I cherished every night I got to have that little life with me. And I know there will soon be another that needs to come home and stay and get back on her feet, a little extra love infused into her. Leah and her grandmother called this week, just to say hi, and it was heartwarming to hear that little voice on the other end of the phone, responding, “God did!” when I asked her who made her. God made her for a purpose, and I’m so thankful I got to be a part of her life.  

Carol also went home this month. She’s been with us, off and on, for about 7 years, so it was bittersweet to see her go. We are so, so thankful we were able to find her family and see them reunited, but her absence has left a big hole around here. I’ve already been to visit and found that she’s doing well and adjusting really nicely. I can’t imagine all the questions going on in that little mind of hers, but I know she’s loved and being looked after perfectly by God, much better than we could have ever kept her. 
I’m looking forward to a visit from Steve and Janice Fuller this month, a couple from my sponsoring congregation, Brentwood Oaks Church of Christ in Austin, Texas. They are both retired educators, and Steve is going to teach a seminar for the college students and help with some maintenance around the Haven. Janice is going to work with me at the Haven. I can’t wait to put them to work! 

So all is well! We are still keeping on, striving to fight for these kids until we can get them back with their families. Please pray for us as we seek the best ways to advocate for them and as we seek to instill in them a lasting knowledge of the love of God.  
I’m blessed by you. 

God bless,
Uncle Steve

Luke 18:1
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