Sunday, December 19, 2010

two of the older babies and the difference milk can make

Here are two of the older babies who have lived at the orphanage since they were born.  They are now 9 months old or so.  They came right around the time when I was able to start bringing formula up to the orphanage and do some much needed trainings about feeding the babies full strength formula, how much, and how often.  This is sweet Chantal.  She is doing so well! (And loves the bumbo that a friend recently brought out).

This is Benjamin.  He is the 10th child of a local pastor.  His mother died giving birth to him.  I have met his father many times when he has visited his son.  He always is so grateful for the milk that has kept his son alive.  Thank you to all of you who have donated milk and money to buy formula.  It has made a difference in this little boy's life!  He is doing so well, and is a big boy.  (Thanks to my sister-in-law Shauna for this Bumbo!)

When I came to the orphanage 9 months ago, this little boy was the same age as these kiddos are right now.  He was one of 35 kids, most of them not able to walk.  Most days there were 2 mamas to take care of all those kids.  He was getting porridge watered down in water through a bottle three times a day and had been since he was 6 months old.  Before that he was getting watered down formula three times a day.  He was held when he was fed, three times a day.  He rarely cried when I met him.  He couldn't sit, roll, or hold his head up.  I never saw him held the first times I visited.  Since then, we have four new mamas to hold the babies and enough formula for all the children that are malnourished and all those under age one.  Now he is rarely in his crib, except to sleep.  What you give makes a difference!  
Here he is now!  I love this little boy!

More good things to come!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Giving update

I found out today that OFA will no longer accept donations for the work I am doing at the Kaziba orphanage.  Until Tumaini gets started, I don't have a way for anyone to give donations through an organization that can give you a receipt for tax purposes.  If anyone still would like to contribute to the work I am doing at the orphanage, please contact me privately at


The seven (!) newest arrivals and a brief update

It's been awhile!  I have so much on my mind, so many things I would love to write about, both joyful and painful; some of which I can write about, some, I cannot.  But first, I wanted to start with the six newest babies (and one big boy) that have come to Kaziba in the last three months.  I don't have a photo of the very newest little boy who just came, Moses (he is 4 months old), but I have some photos of the other six.  Here they are...

Well,  managed to post some pictures!

Jacob-3 months old.  He came at a small 4 lbs and is doing great!

Nyota ("star" in swahili)-3 months old.  She is a chubby, smiley little girl.

Amani and Isaiah-twin 2 month old boys.  They came at 4 lbs each.  They are hanging in there, but are very vulnerable and small.

Rachel (7 months) and her big brother (2+)-Happy sweet kids who were starving at home after their mother died.

Moses (4 months old)-abandoned in a local hospital after his mother died (I haven't met him yet).

In practical, nitty gritty terms, what this means is that the orphanage is in desperate need for funds for formula.  It takes $80/month to provide EACH baby with formula.  That means they need $480/month in additional funding!  Right now there are 3 other babies up there that have been there since March.  That's 9 babies!  Plus, there are 2 older children (under 18 months old) still receiving formula because of their past levels of malnourishment.  11 babies receiving formula.  At 80$/child/month.  $880/month!  We are about to submit our application for our 501c3, Tumaini.  We hope we are up and running and ready to receive funds in a month.  We are hoping to create a sponsorship program for the children that live in the orphanage at $25/month, with more than one sponsor per child.  This will meet the monthly needs of:  formula, powdered milk for the older children, and the additional staff we have hired.  We are then hoping to raise funds for the school fees of the older children, the remainder of the wall, and other one-time projects.  That's where we are at, it's pretty exciting to look at what could happen!  The reality is right now, though, that I have received no funds this month for the orphanage.  We have enough formula from last months donations to make it through the end of the month.  But that is all I have, and that is the reality for today.

Monday, October 11, 2010

And last but not least

It is late, 11:24 actually.  I have 6 minutes to write something I would like to spend so long on.  About 95% of the kids are at Kaziba because their mothers died in childbirth.  I start to really think about this.  And I want to do something about it.  I want to learn what I can do to decrease the number of women who die in childbirth.  Mothers do not easily give up their children.  Here or anywhere.  Out of 180 countries ranked in a recent Lancet article about maternal mortality, DRC was in the top 150 (I will get this reference and add it tomorrow).  50% of the maternal deaths were in 6 countries (DRC being one of the six).   I think my girls would want me to do something about this, I owe it to their mama.  I think, that if Tumaini gets off the ground, there will be a component dedicated to helping the Kaziba hospital (as it is the reference hospital in the area) do something to decrease the numbers of women who die in birth and leave their baby orphaned.  11:28, time to shut down.


I have a group of friends who are helping me get set up to start a 501c3 (a charity), to support the orphans in this area of Congo.  I'm not sure it will happen yet, but I am hoping.  Right now we are are going to work with the Kaziba orphanage and raise money for the following:
Monthly needs:  formula and milk powder
Projects:  finish the wall
Ongoing:  School fees for 85 orphans that have aged out of the orphanage through sponsorship.

I would like to name the charity Tumaini.  This means hope.  For me, it is a testimony to what God can do and the hope He brings to the lives of people here and for me personally.  We started out thinking we were going to adopt from an orphange named alama ya kitumaini (sign of hope).  We were going to adopt Moise.  We didn't pursue this adoption because of corruption.  We went to Kaziba, where there were and still is a great need to help (as there wasn't at the first orphanage).  I felt very hopeless when we had to say goodbye to the little boy we had come to love.  But I see now that if we had stayed there, we would have never gone to Kaziba.  And I know that He wanted us to see, love, and know the children up there and help.  Because if we had never gone up there, then today there would have been 45 children under the age of 4, with 2 mamas caring for them all and very little formula and no milk.  There is hope for the children of Kaziba.   And it is because of God and His love for the least of these, that we were brought there and that others have come along and helped us care for these children.  It is very humbling.  

I'll keep you updated.

kiddo update

The kids are doing great.  We have hit a groove I think.  Mia is a wild one.  She is ready to run, not walk everywhere.  I have to watch her constantly.  Not only does she want to climb and crawl everywhere, she seems to have figured out exactly how to bug Isla so that they end up screaming at each other.  Hmm, I think the years to come will be interesting.  Ellie is starting to crawl and scoot along the furniture.  She is so excited about that.  Natalie is loving her french preschool and is starting to say some things in french.  They were all so sick about a month ago.  I was really worried about them.  At one point we had Ellie on IV fluids in our house.  I really think it was rotavirus.  A low point for me was when I went to the local clinic to try to convince the doctor there in my horrible french, to let a nurse come to my house to do an IV.  He wanted to give her 5 drugs.  We got in an argument and at one point I say, "we don't even give that drug to children in the states!" and he says, "I know, but we experiment on children here!".   I didn't even know what to say.  What do you say?  Where do you even begin.  I was terrified I would have to take her to one of the big hospitals here.  You really have no control of what happens to you in the hospitals here.  You aren't told what is wrong with you and you are give medicines that you don't know the names for and what they do.  I was terrified that her care would be out of my hands.  Thank God, she got well at home.  And they are really doing well now.  We are hoping to get their passports soon!

water water water

The rainy season started.  And then it stopped.  The grass went from brown, to green to brown again.  We were unprepared.  So was the city.  All our back up rain containment systems ran empty in one day.  We started living out of jerry cans.  This is what is practically looked like.  You have a jerry can in your bathroom.  You pour water from it, down the toilet bowl to flush it.  You use it in the sink to wash your hands.  You use another jerry can for the dishes, for cleaning the food, for cleaning the floors.  You use too many jerry cans for washing the cloth diapers that 5 kids produce every day.  You don't wash your clothes until you are absolutely out of everything and then you prioritize.  You spend 30 minutes sniffing the clothes of six kids.  Pee/poop smells-yes wash, dusty dirty-depends on whose it is (twins-wash, big girls-wait).  You heat up a pan of water for bath time.  You pour that in a bucket with some water.  You wash six kids with as little of the water as you can.  You decide who is the dirtiest and who you can get away with using some wipes on.  You dream about trying to cross the border to take a shower in Rwanda.  You wonder how a city that lives on a lake cannot have a plan to treat the water to make is safe for the population when there is drought.  You listen to your housekeeper tell you about how her kids wander the city at night looking for water.  And you feel so guilty knowing how much water you "need" compared to how much she uses for her family of 10.  It is raining now, finally.  I can open a tap and water is coming out.  This will probably be the last time I live in a dry season here.  I wonder if I will forget what it is like to wonder if we will be able to find water again today.  Or to have to consider if we should use untreated lake water and look up cholera (and be terrified of the idea).  I wonder what I will remember and what I will too quickly forget about living here.

braver hearts

I have talked before about this group before.  The woman started a grassroots movement about 10 years ago to help orphans displaced from the wars.  She (with the help of 3000 other congolese) have started 6 centers to help orphans with food and education.  They are INCREDIBLE.  We often here the sad statistics and forget that there are people here on the ground, without any outside help, that are doing what they can to help orphans and vulnerable children.  Two months ago we visited them again.  It was humbling.  Maybe 40 kids came that day.  Porridge was handed out.  There really wasn't enough.  The kids all waited patiently.  They didn't have enough plastic mugs.  They had to give the porridge (which had just finished boiling) out in tin plates.  They were so patient, waiting until it cooled to eat it, bigger ones helping little ones.  At one point, one little boy grabbed it with his bare hands, he burned himself and threw the porridge away.  It landed on all the other kids around him, who in turn jumped up overturning their cups.  It was horrible.  Kids getting burned with porridge and screaming and crying.  Thankfully, the burns were not deep.  But they were still painful.  About a month ago, we were able to give this group two sewing machines!  They were so excited, and they have already come back with pictures and stories about how they are helping the older orphan girls learn how to sew.  We also gave them some plastic mugs.   There are SO many brave congolese women, men, and children who are helping each other and doing what they can to ease the suffering and pain of their fellow brothers and sisters.  It is humbling.  I do have some pictures, that I will post when I can.

the military by day, les voleurs by night

When it comes to what happens in the city, I can only ever tell about rumors.  The news services will sometimes give reports, but most of what happens here is what we hear about.  This morning we heard about how a neighborhood in Bukavu was attacked by the military at night.  They shot their guns, broke into homes, stole food and goods, and beat up women.  They don't get paid.  They have recently moved into a new neighborhood.  They see what others have.  There are lot of people coming into town this week for international woman's day.  The military send a message to the population and to us.  They are untouchable.

trip 13

I went up to Kaziba on October 1st with some friends.  It had really been a long time since I had last gone, and when I arrived and heard the kids calling out my name and Mugeni (visitor) I realized how much I had missed them all.  One little girl came running up and jumped into my arms.  Another little one started walking.  So many are gaining weight.  This little guy I almost didn't recognize!  Hmmm, for some reason I can't upload pictures right now.  Will try again at another point.  The kids looked great!  It was really dusty, we had a flat tire on our way there, and we got stuck in the area of Essence, which is never a good place to get stuck in during the evening.  But everything was okay in the end, and I am so glad to have been able to go visit the kids.   I really hope I can get the pictures up soon.  I was so excited to see the progress on the wall (really more like a big fence).  The wall has enabled them to be able to start two large areas for gardening.  The director is so motivated to grow a crop which will not only be able to feed the kids, but also be able to be sold so that the orphanage can earn some income.  So many good things are happening up there.  The new babies looked good.  If you pray, perhaps you could pray for little Jacob.  He is about 4 weeks old now and only 4lbs.  He is such a tiny sweet baby.  Because of donations there is plenty of formula for him.  It is saving his life.  And he loves eating it.  I've seen miracles there, so I have hope he will live.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

little hearts

I have many posts to work on, but I am tired tonight.  I just heard there are two new babies at the orphanage.  I keep thinking about them.  Since I have been visiting there, two babies have come and gone home to their Father.  I'm praying tonight for these new little ones, that God's hands would guard them and keep them safe.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

4 week update, public parenting, and dream filled nights

Our little girls are doing so well.  They are really happy sweet girls, who eat and sleep well.  They seem to be adjusting well, thankfully.  We are doing our best to work on being their primary caregivers.  Because we have a lot of congolese mamas in our house right now, it has been a bit of a challenge to communicate that only we need to hold them right now until they really know we are their parents.  The girls themselves instinctively go to the congo mamas which is understandable, so it makes me more vigilant to try to meet their needs myself.  Lots of hugging and loving!

The first 4 weeks are a bit of a blur, honestly.  Whoa!  It was a big adjustment, nothing less than we expected, but when you physically have to do what you have only imagined in your mind, it can wipe you out!  Interestingly, my challenges have been ones that I didn't expect.  I expected to be tired, running around like crazy, changing tons of diapers (5 kids in cloth diapers!!!), holding lots of crying and overwhelmed kids and babies, doing lots of laundry, constant demands all day long that come with all the little ones and so on.  All this has been happening and it's totally doable and fine (and crazy!! :).  It's a "job" I have completely chosen (fostering while we are adopting) and I don't begrudge it or regret it for a minute (and it's not a job to's my life and my family).  I love all the kids God has let us take care of right now, and I feel overwhelmed by the gift they are to me right now.  And I am again reminded of the incredible man I married that not only supports what I am doing but has jumped in with both feet and loves on all these kids just as much as me.  Wow.  Not many men would go for it with the same gusto and enthusiasm he does (he now calls his work, "vacation" compared to taking care of the kids :).

What I didn't expect was how the lack of privacy was going to affect me.  I am an introvert and because we have a cook, housekeeper, and nanny (for our sweet foster kiddos), I am never alone and have many eyes watching me all day (a bit of a challenge to keep my cool ALL day :).  Add to this that the kids all sleep on different schedules, I really struggled to adjust to the complete absence of a moment to hid away and "energize".  I found myself very annoyed all the time and wanting everyone to leave (even though I knew I needed the help, obviously).  Thankfully, I've had a couple good friends (thanks Heather, especially!) point out some very encouraging things to me in the midst of my moments when I thought I might run out screaming and pulling out my hair :).   And I'm better rested and more adjusted to the pace, people, and I've gotten to know our new babies so much better.  It does take time to adjust and begin learn to know each other.  It's like I just birthed 9 month old twins! doesn't come overnight-the knowing and trusting each other, it is coming which is making everything so much easier.  (AND I now have 15 minutes from 3:30 to 3:45 when the big and little girls are all asleep or at least resting!  whoohoo!  15 minutes really helps!  And of course, at 7:30 ALL the babies are in bed for the night and stay asleep all night.  Hallelujah!)

Humorous side note.  For those who don't know me so well, I have had crazy sleep problems in my past.  All kinds of walking and talking.  I even cleaned my room in my sleep one night, got dressed, made my bed, and sat on the edge of my bed waiting for my then boyfriend (now husband) to run through during his marathon!  (He was training for a marathon at the time and somehow in my sleep I was convinced that my room was part of the track and that I couldn't let him trip on the junk on my floor or cheer him on only partially dressed!).  ANYWAY, for the last 4 weeks I simply am not sleeping.  All night I am dreaming about kids, kids, kids.  I dream there are babies in bed with us that are rolling on the floor.  Last night I was walking around in our room searching for the kids that didn't have their pajamas one.  One night I dreamt that Mike was the mwamikazi (the "queen" of Kaziba) and that she was in my bed because she wanted to talk about the orphanage!  Exhausting!  Thankfully, Mike is a sound sleeper for the most part.  Well, when I shake him awake telling him not to let the baby fall out of the bed he may actually rouse from his slumber to tell me to go back to sleep!  (When I worked as a nurse practitioner in the peds ER, Mike was constantly worried I was going to do some procedure on him in his sleep like stapling his head or something!)

Well, this is pretty long for an update!  Oh, we received our US approval to be adoptive parents today, FINALLY!!  Whoohoo!

The six piles of jammies and diapers I get ready every night.

We take a "walk" in our driveway every afternoon, it is too dusty to go on the road right now.  

Ellie and Mia

Monday, August 30, 2010

Some of the faces of the Save the Children orphanage

I wanted to send pictures of some of the kids at Kaziba.  They all just had their heads shaved, so I added their sex and age.  :)

Sweet boy Janvier (giving me a shy smile), age 18 months

Sweet girl, Cito Wambili, age 18 months

Sweet boy, Musiwa, age 20 months

Sweet girl Nsimire, age 2 1/2

Lovely girl Sandrine, almost 3 years 

Cutie Christian, age 2y 2m

Sweet girl Muholeza, almost 4 years old

Sweet girl Ziruka, two years in two weeks

Big boy Safari, age 4 1/2

Sweet baby boy, Gloire, age 17 months

Moise....age 13 months...

Sweet boy, Bertin, age 21 months 

Chikuru Kenga, sweet girl, age 2 1/2

Sweet girl Antoinette, almost 4

Sweet boy, Chereba, Almost 3 yr.

Happy girl, Sifa, age 4 years

Happy boy, LeBlanc (with Sandrine poking her head in), age 4

Thursday, August 26, 2010

fundraising update part 2-needs

So, I was able to meet with the missionary who currently raises funds for the orphanage and discuss the needs for the upcoming year (starting in September) and what areas she wasn't able to meet with the funding that she is anticipating from Norway.

Immediate needs:

$1000/month (ongoing)---There is the monthly immediate need to continue purchasing formula and milk powder as well as salaries for the 4 additional women we have hired.

$5000/year (one-time for school year)--Over 80 school children who have aged out of the orphanage are given school fees for the school year from the orphanage funds.  The family who in the past has raised this money (from Norway) was not able to raise the money this year.  There is an immediate need to help raise money for these kids school fees (primary and secondary school).  This amount also includes uniforms, notebooks, and pens for the children.  (This amount also includes $1000 towards 60 other orphaned children that are not given funds by the orphanage, but instead are sent to school by local donors in Kaziba, which I am trying to help out with some of the gaps in their funding).  I'm interested in trying to grow this into a more detailed sponsorship project, but at this point it's not ready to get that detailed.  However, I believe I could take photos of many of the kids and get ages and brief histories if people are interested in knowing about some of the kids they are supporting.

$2000 (one time)--This is the amount needed to finish the wall.

Our Family Adoptions (OFA) is a humanitarian organization that is helping us by letting us send raised funds through them for tax purposes.  100% of the money raised will be given to Kaziba.  The contact info is below.  It is important that all money is clearly marked for Kaziba.

Thank you to all the people who have been supporting this project with prayer and who have raised funds to support the beautiful children of Kaziba.  I have been up there 12 times now and I have SEEN the difference that your help has made.  I am praying that we can continue to support them as they are seeing their funding decrease this next year.

With a grateful heart,

Our Family Adoptions
P.O. Box 626
Camas, WA 98607
(360) 903-3648

fundraising update part 1-so far since February

We've been able to raise $3200 (of an estimated $5000 needed) towards the wall.  I'll add some pictures though it's a bit hard to see exactly what it will look like as it was partially finished at the time I took them last week, but two full sides are almost done.  When they stretched out the fencing they were able to complete about half of the third side which was encouraging.  The third side is along the front of the orphanage, it is an important side to build a wall, as this is where the cars drive by and people come in and out freely.  The concern (and why it has been important to build this wall) is that the kids start to chase the cars (thankfully they are driving slowly) and because they are little they may not be seen by the drivers.  Also, there is no way to prevent the children from wandering off or anyone from entering the compound.

We've also raised about $7000 that has paid for formula and powdered milk for the last six months, as well as the salaries for four women.  It has also paid for clothing for the children, blankets, new mattresses for beds, sheets, and trainings for the mamas.

In addition, we have received donations of cloth diapers and covers, formula, and crib toys.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Impunity is...

Yesterday an older man was crossing the street.  He was hit by a speeding motorcycle and severely  injured.  The motorcycle was driven by a man in the military.  The police witnessed the accident as did civilians on the crowded street.  The police and the rest of the people stood still, let him pass, and watched him drive away.

A lot like the bank robbery a couple months ago that left people dead.  The uniformed men walked out, after shooting people and taking money, in broad daylight as well.

And of course, there is the daily story of women and girls (and now more and more men and boys) raped everyday...

a friend's story

Yesterday, we heard a friend of ours here, lost his younger brother.  He had hung himself.  That is tragic in and of itself but the story behind it is also tragic.  Our friend works for an ngo here as a guard.  He has been working for 'mzungus' (white people, rich people) for two years. This brother has been putting a lot of pressure on him for the past year to give him $500 since he works for mzungus.  He probably made less than $150/month for the past year, and less right now as his work is part time.  The brother simply cannot believe he isn't rich.  The whole family had a meeting to put pressure on our friend to give the younger $500.  He simply didn't have that money, he really barely made enough every month as it was.  No one would believe he didn't make huge amounts of money.  The younger brother told him, "you give me the money or I will kill you or myself!"   He chose himself.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

just when...

Today, just when I was getting really really whiney (in my head) about the (lack of) water situation here and the power problems and the dust (dirt) EVERYWHERE, one of the ladies who works in my house started casually telling me about HER situation.  She lives in a small (really really small) two bedroom house (shack).  She doesn't have water (or electric) into her house and she has a hole outside for her toilet.  The house is about the size of my bedroom.  This house is bigger than her last house.  When you don't have water into your house (like most of the people in this overcrowded city that has no infrastructure) you get water from your neighborhood well or spring (usually a faucet or two coming out of the hillside).  When it's dry season, some of these neighborhood wells/springs don't have ANY water for the thousands of people who live in these neighborhoods.  The city becomes full of 1000s of children wandering the dusty streets with yellow jerry cans looking for water.  This means you have to do one of two things, usually both.  The first is that you sleep very lightly or not at all, so that you wake up quickly in the middle of the night (usually around 1 am) when someone in the neighborhood puts out the signal that the water is ON!!  EVERYONE runs with all their containers in the middle of the night to these measly faucets.  Mostly the kids are sent running.  Then there is fighting and arguing.  Then the water stops.  You are lucky if you get any water.  The next morning, (again, if you are lucky) your mom goes to work (like the woman telling this story). While your mom goes to work, you and your brothers and sisters and cousins (all 7 of you in this case) go hiking far away to the next neighborhood where you have heard there is water.  Well, everyone has heard there is water here.  You wait in line with 100s and 100s of people (mostly kids) for your chance at the faucet.  It might come.  It might not.  There are police guarding the faucets.  If someone with a car and some money comes, they pay off that police officer and fill all their many containers.  If you are lucky, you make it home with 10 Liters of water for the 9 people in your house for one cook, to clean, to drink.  Meanwhile, back in my "house" I am whining because I might have to go to my HUGE outdoor cistern that is FULL of water and lug a bucket of water in the house.  But what is a bit disgusting to me about it all is the reality is that I won't even do the lugging!!  This lady will!!  Sometimes, it is hard to live with myself here, uggghhh!!!   May I NEVER forget these days!!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

aging out

So, I'm tired tonight and should be in bed.  But I wanted to briefly share about what happens when the kids turn 5 or 6 at the Kaziba orphanage since 3 children have done so since I have been visiting there.  The director really loves the kids, but the orphanage is small so once the kids get to be school age he tries his hardest to find loving foster families for them.  The orphanage is still in charge of them, but they don't live there anymore.  The orphanage tries to pay the school fees and help the foster families but it is getting harder and harder as the funding is decreasing this fall.  Sometimes foster families can't be found and the children are forced to go back to their fathers.  I say forced because this is the case for the most part.  Most of the fathers don't want their children, that is why they are there.  The ones that do want them try to take them back in the first 2 years of life, once they are off formula.  One little girl wasn't wanted at all.  Her father was told to come get her and he took off for six months.  Finally he came and got her.  He didn't want her.  He keeps trying to give her to other people.  He keeps asking the director to take her back.  I love this little girl.  She was one of the kids who always came up to me, held my hand and stuck close.  It breaks my heart that this is her life now, she is unwanted and unloved.  She doesn't belong.  She is not fed or cared for.  It is heartbreaking.  

Friday, August 13, 2010

a good visit

Aside from the wonderful part of bringing home our girls last visit, it was a good visit with the kids too.  Lots of kids walking and playing.  Last time we had gone, we had asked if they could bring in some of the older orphans who had aged out of the orphanage to come play with the babies during summer vacation.  The director arranged that right away and there were 3 big boys (7-8 years old) and 2 big girls (12 years old) holding and playing with kids.  And I could tell it was making a difference.  The kids looked happy!  There were NO babies in beds, except those that were sleeping!  And they are learning my name.  I've always been "mugeni" (visitor) now I am "hawwwllllli".   Let me go find some pictures!

Two big boys acting as big brothers to the little ones at the orphanage.

One of the big girls with little Moise (always reaching out).

Happy Ziruka.



In the past 1 1/2 months, 3 new children have come to Kaziba.  Two babies and one big girl.  Amiable was one of the babies.  He was a little baby who came when he was 7 days old, he was very sickly and had not been fed much at all.  He came from far away.  He died two days after coming.  I never met him.  Amiable is french for genial, or pleasant.  Someone loved him and gave him that name.  One more angel in God's arms.


Tonight I had an unexpected encounter.  It was in regards to the first orphanage I visited here.  And it was also related to Moise, the little baby boy we tried to adopt.  Last fall we felt compelled to stop our adoption proceedings.  We also felt that God gave us the wisdom to make this decision.  I have had moments of doubting our decision.  Maybe I had read the situation wrong, maybe we left our little boy in that orphanage based off of incorrect assumptions...maybe this...maybe that.  Anyway, tonight I received a very very clear confirmation that the adoption of Moise would NEVER have happened.  We did read the situation correctly and we did have wisdom in moving away from adopting him.  I still find it very sad and unjust, especially for his sake as he is an innocent child.  But I know we made the right decision, which gives me peace amidst the sadness.  I don't know how to embed links, but here are a couple of my previous posts about this sweet little boy.

our wonderful crazy

So, there have many posts that I've been wanting to write for awhile now, but I am just too tired at night (big surprise).  This will hopefully be the first of many.  Things are going really well in terms of adjustments.  The girls did surprisingly well when they came home two weeks ago (wow!!).  Contrary to ALL my other encounters with them, they have been very comfortable with me.  The first night they both seemed a bit shell shocked, but now they are really adjusting and happy little girls.  I think back to our drive from the orphanage and I laugh as how placid they really were.  Wow, have they changed!  Ellie is very watchful and happy.  She is very content to sit in front of a basket of toys and explore all of them in depth.  She is very sensitive to when I leave the room and is quick to look for me again.  She is taller and heavier than Mia (they are fraternal).  She has a sweet smile and loves to cuddle.  Mia is full of grit and determination.  She is pretty much crawling, when you hold her hands she runs everywhere and she prefers to stand.  She has so much energy bound up in her little body; she falls asleep in 5 seconds flat!  I have really never had a child like her before.  I can't leave her alone, yesterday she pulled herself up to stand and let go!  She is happy and really is nothing like the little girl who cried whenever she saw me in all my other visits.   They both sleep like champs.  We lay them down awake and they sleep all night...I am VERY thankful for this.  And they take naps the same way.  It makes the rest of our craziness doable.  The other four are adjusting.  Natalie is the happiest.  She is loving all the commotion and spends much of her day playing with babies, dressing up dolls and stuffed animals, and occasionally taking some needed "private time" in her room.  Isla is almost 20 months (!) and still isn't talking much.  She is so frustrated by her lack of communication that a lot of her day is spent grunting or screaming to get her point across.  She loves the babies (right now) because they don't move or take her stuff.  And Mike and I...are very grateful to have them with us.  There are still some important documents we are waiting for in terms of our judgment (that we didn't know about), so we are still a bit stressed about that, but it helps they are here, even if we are still in a limbo of sorts.

My day goes something like this:

Wake up 6 ish.  Quickly start boiling water.
Make 4 botttles.
Isla starts crying for me or Mike.  He rushes in to try to prevent her from waking I, who sleeps in the same room.
I hurridly get dressed, etc. try to check email.
Get babies up.  Give one to Mike to feed bottle too.  Nat cries, wants to get out of bed and get her food.
Feed other baby.  Start to hear the middle two waking up, thankfully not crying, but chattering.
Hand off all kids to super dad.  Get middle two up and dressed.  Give them bottles.
Play with kids, change LOTS of poopy diapers. (3 are in cloth, 2 disposables for about 4 more days when they run out, then 5 in cloth).
Around 8:30 feed babies cereal and bananas, usually I and Nat too.
Play/diapers.  Middle two get cereal 9ish.
Bottles for babies at 10 or so (hopefully I remember to keep thermos full of hot water).  They go down for nap.  Spend a couple hours with Nat and I...laundry, clean toys and random chaos that is everywhere.  Middle two nap too.
Lunch around 1:30, Mike is home for lunch.  Feed us and 6 babies.  Big girls down for nap after lunch.  This is a bit crazy for me right now.  Mike needs to leave for work...I need a "safe" place to put my babies during the time while I put the big girls down...still in process.
Try not to fall asleep putting Nat to bed...happens too often.
Play with babies.  Try to get something done but can't leave them alone right now...they get too worried and Mia tries to climb something impossible.
Isla wakes up at 4, usually Nat has not slept and is up by this time.  I has to cry about 15 minutes after nap time to adjust to the world again.  I've found sticking babies in the stroller and pushing them in the driveway for about 30 minutes (while holding the crying Isla) works best, Nat pushes bike.  I'm learning all the things I can do one-handed.  More bottles and poopy diapers.
Middle babies are played with by a lovely lady that comes to help me with them during the day.
5pm-hit the door running.  Big kids watch show.  Babies play on floor (I hope) or they take a short second nap.  I set table for 8.  Warm up food.  Try to turn on the bath water.  It is dry season, may or may not be water.  Must start it at 5 so it is ready 1 1/2 hours later.  Run around and collect 6 piles of jammies, onesies, cloth diapers (all 5 in cloth at night), and one binky (for the big girl).  Realize that I haven't put away laundry in days, can't find anything.
6pm-Mike home.  Feed kids and us.  VERY loud meal.  Lots of singing.  All kids LOVE to dance.  When the meal starts winding down, Mike puts on music.  All babies dance and dance...esp. middle kids.  We try to clean table a bit.  I make 4 bottles. 6:30 baths.  All six get bathed every night.  It is dry season.  It is REALLY dirty in the house.  The kids are all FILTHY.  Must be bathed.  But not tons of water.  You can imagine what it looks like by the 6th.  All kids bathed, hair done, fed bottles.  Lots of fun bed play time.  Giggling, tackling daddy...good good way to end day!  Middle babies to bed first in their room at 7.  Tiniest babies to bed by 7:30, big girls about 5 minutes after that.
Sit on couch and mutter gibberish:  Mike and I at 7:35pm!!  

It is crazy.  It is wonderful.  I have lots of highs and some lows.  I need lots and lots of patience with so many little ones.  There are times that I feel like I am losing my mind!!  3 years old is NOT an easy age.  But it has it's sweet moments.   I am very very loved.  I miss my family and friends.  I have an awesome husband.  I love our babies.  It has been very fun to get to know them and learn who they are more and more everyday.  I love that they prefer me to others already.  I have NO spare moments during the day.  But I have awesome evening time.  I don't sleep well.  I dream of kids in my room all night.  Am exhausted every morning.  I can't believe our little girls will be one year old in 3 months!  I don't like staying up late or getting up in the middle of the night to do laundry because it is the only time the power is high enough to run the washing machine.  5 babies in diapers.  FIVE babies in CLOTH diapers.  Trusting God for all the strength I need.
Ellie and Mia

Mike with Mia


Saturday, July 31, 2010

They're home!

This picture is so sweet to was hard to get any picture of their faces because Isla was so busy trying to kiss them!  

Saying goodbye to Mama Lyly from the orphanage.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

today is the day

I'm on my way to Kaziba in about 5 minutes!  And I am bringing our girls back with us.  I am going with a driver, an interpreter (who is a friend and congolese).  Please pray that the girls would not be too terrified and that our journey to and from will be safe.  Hard to believe it is real and actually happening!

Monday, July 26, 2010


We received our adoption judgment today!!  Finally!!  Two little girls are coming still hasn't hit me!  They will probably come home Thursday because of logistical reasons!  Yooohooo!  Praise God!!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

brief follow up post bag balm

I just wanted to write briefly that OFA has given a donation to the orphanage to replace the money that was stolen, as an emergency donation.  Some of you have asked more details about the funding.  At this point, OFA can accept any donations, they just have to be marked clearly for Kaziba.  I will be meeting with the Norwegian missionary in the next two weeks to get a better idea of how quickly their monthly funding will be decreasing.  Otherwise, I am happy to email the fundraising letter to anyone who is interested.

Thank you for your encouragement, love for the kids, and your prayers.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Last week, I found out the director of the orphanage had been robbed.  No one was hurt but half of the orphanages monthly budge ($1300) had been stolen.  He went to the Norwegian missionary to ask what could be done, could she find the funds to replace the money as it was for the water bill, salaries and half of the food for the month.  He was told there was no more money, that the money from that month had already not been sufficient and had been borrowed from another account.  I knew that the funding of the orphanage was going to be dwindling in the near future, but I didn't realize there were troubles already.   He also told me that 3 families in Norway had been providing ALL the school fees for the 85 kids that are under the orphanage care but not living at the orphanage anymore, would not be providing the fees starting this fall.

What I am providing right now, through money we have raised and through OFA is helping with 4 additional mamas, powdered milk and formula.  Until 3 months ago these were "luxury" items and not included in the monthly budget.  This is why so many of the kids were in the shape they were in when I first came to the orphanage.  And why there have been so many drastic improvements.

I admit I am afraid.  I feel like we were brought to this orphanage at this time for this reason.  But, I feel very overwhelmed and not sure what to do next.  I have a fundraising letter I have started and is in a rough draft.  The thing is I know these children, I know their faces and (most) of their names.  They know me.  I love them.  This is one of only a few orphanages in this area of Congo.  They receive children from ALL over.  Since I started coming in the end of February they have received 6 new infants!  And when I came they had 3 small containers of formula to use for 15 children PER MONTH.  One can (at $7/can) should feed one infant every three days!!!  Again, it is not surprising the children looked like they did when I first came and why some are still struggling from the long term effects of extreme malnutrition.  What is surprising is that they are still alive!

So, if anyone following along, feels led to help me-whether through advice, donation, or fundraising (whether it is talking to friends, family, or your church) let me know.  I have a plan of sorts involving ongoing needs, short term immediate needs, long term needs and sponsorship fees for the children age 5 and over.  This is a lot.  But God brought me there for this reason I strongly believe.  I was reading the verse in the end of John 16 the other day and I do want to "Take heart!"

Okay, Natalie is covering all four of the kids (including their hair) with burt's bag balm...maybe I should go!!!!

And, maybe, post bag balm, I will write a post on my emotional rollar coaster of waaaaiiitttting for our adoption decree!

Friends and family one our overnight visit (while superman husband stayed home with ALL the kids)

Megan with Sifa
Megan is a nurse and was here for 3 months working in clinics with a mission organization.  She came with me twice, and on this visit she did a training on basic medical education and on nutrition.  She also stayed with us for over a month to help us at home with the kids!  We will miss her when she returns to the states on Monday.

Cammie with Le blanc 
Cammie is my cousin from Santa Rosa (where I was born :).  She came out with my sister in law, Shauna, for a 2 week trip.  She did a training on dental care and handed out toothbrushes she had brought for the kids.  She leaves on Monday too!  Sad day!!d

Shauna with Chereba
Shauna is married to one of my younger brothers, Joel.  They live in San Diego right now.  She left Joel and her two kids (3 and 5) home for 10 days and came out with Cammie as a mission trip.  The money she raised helped to fund the building of the first 2/3 of the wall that is very needed around the orphanage.  She also brought cloth diapers, a bumbo seat, crib mirror toys, other toys, and some other items for the orphanage.  She did a training on games and activities to do with the older kids.  I was sad to say goodbye to her this week.  

another event

We were unexpectedly invited to an engagement party while we were visiting the orphanage.  It was for the daughter of the king!  We have become friends with the mwamikazi as a part of our work in the area.  Mwamikazi means "working king".  She is the "working" king, because her husband, the mwami (king), died a few years ago and her son is not quite old enough to be the king yet.  This is the traditional leader in the area and is actually very powerful.  She is very supportive of us helping at the orphanage, and it was fun to get invited to this party.  We were in the front row, so we all did our best to not drop our plates or trip, or dump our drinks on the mwami's family.

Everyone waiting to get in to the party.

Including the village kids trying to get a sneak peak of the party.

Mwamikazi Pascaline, she is really the person who enabled us to start working in the area at the orphanage and has been continuing to support and help our work there.