Monday, June 02, 2014

Meagan's May Update From Zambia!

Many of you know my awesome niece, Meagan Hawley, and her work at the Namwianga Mission in Zambia. Meagan, the daughter of my brother Dave and his gorgeous wife, Sally, in on her second long term tour of duty taking care of orphaned and abandoned babies, many of whom are HIV +. I'm sorry that I'm not skilled enough to access the pictures that came with the report. Please keep Meagan and those who work in mission fields in your prayers!

May 31, 2014
It’s been too long! So much has happened in the last few months that I don’t know where to start! 

I said goodbye to my sweet cousin Emily in March after a blessed two months with her. I remain so grateful that I have such an incredible family that loves and supports me in this work. They really are invested in this place, and it makes such a difference. Em was invaluable to me personally and for the babies. My friend Ashley also was able to visit for five weeks. She is about to complete her doctorate in occupational therapy, so she spent a lot of time observing our little ones and thinking of ways we could incorporate some of what she’s learning into their lives. My life was richer while having friends and family to walk alongside me in it. 

One major gift they gave us was their tireless effort in preparing our playhouse. I can’t even begin to tell you what a gift this space has been to all of us. I have the kids on a schedule where they are all getting special time in the playhouse every day, whether in language class, therapy, tummy time, or play time. 

After the girls left, it was time for Tonga school for me. So many of you followed along on my journey on the blog, and I am so appreciative of all the kind words of encouragement I received from you all during that time. Looking back on the experience, it was wonderful; during it, I’m not sure I would have used those same words! It was just tough, tough, tough, but God provided for me in so many kind ways. My teacher, Ba Bruno Mwiinga, was such a perfect fit for me. He didn’t mind my inquisitive nature and actually welcomed friendly banter about our clashing languages! He pushed me hard, and it was exactly what I needed. We did our schooling at a Catholic pastoral center, and it was far in the bush and very peaceful. It made it very lonely, but it also provided ample amounts of time for me to study and focus on what I was there to do. Because Ba Mwiinga had little idea of who I was or where my Tonga level was before I arrived, day one was interesting. He told me later in our time that everything he had planned to teach me in those four weeks I already knew, so he had to start scrambling! During our time together, he shed light on so many areas that had baffled me before. He really broke down the language for me in ways no one else had been able to, and I walked away much better for it. I still have a long way to go, but language school definitely helped me more than I can say. I’ve been home for a couple of months now, and I’m back in my old routine of language class every morning with Ba Halaale to continue working on my listening comprehension and vocabulary building. Keep praying for my continued growth, ability, and discipline as I communicate with those I love so much.

April ushered in the beginning of visitor season. Roger and MaryBeth McCown, ministers from my supporting congregation in Austin, Texas, made a whirlwind trip to see me, and it was a blessing to introduce them to all of the babies and aunties! It’s always nice when a part of my world from home joins my world here.

We had a group from Oklahoma Christian come next, and they were such a delight. Their main goal was to come alongside the aunties and help work one on one with our children to move them towards their next milestones and just give them some extra loving! While they were here, we were able to take our older kids from Haven 2 on a field trip to see Victoria Falls and go on a small safari. Their extra hands made it possible for us to do this safely, and it was a day none of us will ever forget! The babies are still talking about it every time we’re learning about animals in language class or see a rainbow somewhere. “We saw that in Libingi!” They still ask when we’re going back, and I’m grateful they have NO concept of time because it’ll be awhile!

The day they left, the Harding Speech Pathology group arrived! These graduate students spend their time learning about feeding and swallowing issues and language development while working with our kiddos, and we’re mutually blessed! My interns will arrive in a couple of weeks, and I’m looking forward to introducing them to this world as well. 

We have a few new faces around here since I last updated you all. We have Annie, whose mom is still in the isolation ward at our local hospital, fighting for her life. Please pray with us that God would grant her life and that Annie would be able to return to her when it’s safe. Owen and Oscar are twins whose mom recently died, and Lot and Esther are twins who were also sent to us by a nearby hospital. All of them could use prayers for growth, health, and for their future family situations. 

We’ve also had so many babies go home and join families, and we’re grateful that they have places to go home to, though our hearts mourn every time! 
Thank you for your love and concern for me, these babies, and these aunties. I miss you all and look forward already to December when I can see many of you again face to face!   

God bless,
Uncle Steve
Luke 18:1
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