just a few pictures

This is Jason and George. They are some good helpers during language class and speak pretty great English!

Lushomo and me! We all love to chitange babies to us... it's so handy.

This is Nita and Ross Cochran. They are a mess- especially Nita!

This is Elias. He has a twin sister named Bester and they both live in Haven 1. They are some good little talkers! And this picture is slightly off... Elias seems to always have a smile on his face!

Today in Haven 3 for language class, we went on a safari! Each toddler got to wear the head lamp and go "find" the different animals. This is Christy... such a ham for the camera.

This is Lee. He says "bye" with such a southern accent... it's hilarious.

And this is Lee's twin sister, Linny. She is one happy girl!

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Well, right now as I write this, I'm sitting out on the front porch and it's so cold! I don't think any of us will be making fun of Webster for carrying around his bucket of hot coals anymore!

Today was a really great day! Yesterday, we found out that Sidney, a little twin in our feeding group who lives in the medically fragile dorm, has pneumonia and she had an asthma attack. It scared us all yesterday and she was immediately rushed down to the clinic. Today we found that she is doing much better but she just rested most of the day. We are so thankful that she's doing better, but she still needs your prayers! This morning in language class, we tried a few new strategies and they ended up working wonderfully! We set up the little chairs at the end of the porch so there was less distraction. Then we called them individually, "Weston, it's time to go to language class!" and when they heard their name, they were allowed to walk over and take their seat. They LOVED it! It made each one of them feel important. Jaime and I also found a new song to sing with our animals so that was good for the kids and all of us! Beauty and Cleatus, some of the aunties, also got involved and sang a few songs to help us out. That was great! That's what we want! We are hoping to get the aunties at each Haven to get involved with what we're doing so they can keep it up after we leave. So far, they are pretty hesitant, so any time they watch or help we are so pleased! Our language group at Haven 1 this morning went great, too! One set of twins, Bester and Elias, "talked" the entire time! Mostly just "da da da" over and over, but at one point Bester had perfect inflection to answer my question even though all she really said was "da da". We were so excited to see so much talking and gestures from the little ones. We have a few who are still feverish and cranky, but overall it was great. This afternoon we headed back to Haven 1 to do our individual language classes. I was in the girls room with Nita, Donna, Lisa, Teagan, and Kritz (who isn't a girl, but is in that room). Nita was such a little stinker! But she was doing a great deal of talking so it was hard to get too frustrated with her. At one point, they all sat quietly in a bed and I read "I Am Special" by Max Lucado to them. The entire book! That's saying a LOT! When we moved to Haven 3, the kids were a little more riled up but we got through our lesson with only a few behavioral problems. It's pretty difficult to get 15 toddlers to sit still and listen for an hour! Overall, I thought it was a pretty great day. And tomorrow is Friday. We aren't doing anything on Saturday and we are all so excited about having a day of rest.

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It's my birthday!

This morning, I woke up (but still pretended to be sleeping) to a giggling Kaylee and Lacey decorating the house for my birthday. Pink streamers were everywhere along with a "happy birthday" banner and a note signed by everyone taped to my mosquito net. Everyone gave me a sweet birthday greeting, let me go first at breakfast, and thanked God for me in the prayer.

Then we went to the Haven. And I totally forgot it was even my birthday! This morning was a little rough. We were all tired and the toddlers could tell so they all seemed to see how far they could push us today. When it was finally time to change houses, we had a good little heart to heart with Marja. She prayed a really sweet prayer for us and the day just got better from then on.This picture is from a few days ago. This is one of the aunties at Haven 3... in a camp shirt! Love it!This is Bright. He is ridiculous. But he's one of the oldest kids at the Haven and he's trying to be a good helper during our language lessons.This is our beautiful supervisor, Marja- complete with chitange'd baby!

For lunch we had soft tacos with rice and they were FANTASTIC. We all decided we felt like we were at a really good Mexican restaurant and we were totally alright with that. We probably all ate a little too much. This afternoon went by so fast. At Haven 1, I was in the room with the "Lost Boys"- Peter, Jack, Ross Cochran, and Shawn Daggett. For those of you who don't know, Ross and Shawn were named after two men from Searcy who have previously been to Zambia for the HIZ program. Shawn Daggett has been one of my Bible teachers at Harding, and Ross Cochran has been my boss the past two summers! They are great men and it's no onder there are two precious boys here named after them. Those 4 boys are hilarious. They all have goofy little personalities and we all just love them! I had so much fun with them and the afternoon flew by.

When we moved to Haven three, we had a little scare. Sidney, a twin who was TB exposed and a big part of our feeding group, wasn't able to coordinate her breathing and swallowing. Every time the girls who are doing dysphagia this week tried to feed Sidney, she would cough and sputter and choke. Caroline was pretty shaken by it because she knew something was not right. Sidney coughs a lot, but she hasn't been having difficulty eating. Concerns were expressed to the aunties and Sidney was sent to the clinic. We found out at dinner time that Sidney has pneumonia right now and this afternoon during the feeding group she was having an asthma attack. So please keep little Sidney in your prayers this week!

For dinner tonight we had Ramen noodles. They were delish. It was really nice to have something really hot to eat with some broth since we've all had sore throats. Plus it was COLD outside today! Not freezing, but chilly. When dinner was winding down, DT was walking around with his camera being strange and making comments about some weird Zambian traditions. Then they brought a cake out and all sang Happy Birthday to me! Leonard labeled my cake "Happy Birthday cake for you"... so funny. But B Weave said it was the most decorated cake she has ever seen of Leonard's so I should be proud! After cake and ice cream, we came home for a quick round of Zumba. Now we have the rest of the night to relax! Overall, I'd say it's been a pretty decent birthday ;)

Keys, keys, keys.

So, let me tell you a little bit about our house that we're staying in. It's called the Binke-Estes house, and it's actually really nice. There are 5 bedrooms, a big living area with tons of chairs and a couch and two dining tables, two bathrooms, and a full kitchen. So that means there are about 18 doors in our house. Each door has it's own key. Like a legit, old timey key. Which sounds pretty cool right? Well, it is... until you only bring the front door keys to get back in the house and the lock breaks and you have no way in. Boo. That's what happened today! It was actually pretty entertaining.

Our front door has always been a little temperamental. But I have always had the magic touch and had no problem with it. After lunch, we always have about an hour to rest before we go back to the Haven. Tons of us were getting close to finishing books and we were really excited to get that hour of reading in. Kaylee, Lacey, Catherine, and I were the first ones back to the house. I tried the key and it wouldn't turn. Bummer, I no longer have the magic touch. So Catherine tried it. No luck. Then Lacey tried it. No luck. Then it was Kaylee's turn. Still no luck. We looked in the keyhole and it was blocked! By then everyone else started showing up and of course, everyone had to have a go at trying to get the door open. And of course, we hadn't thought to bring the separate key to the back door. Oops. So we walked around to all the windows and we found one that was open. Except.... there are bars on all the windows and none of us are small enough to fit through. But then we remembered... Ian! Of course. We sent for him and he came, climbed right through those bars and went and unlocked the back door. We were all so relieved! And now it's way later and the lock on the front door has been replaced. Every day here brings a new little obstacle but that just means a new story to blog about, as B Weave says.

Best thing about our visit to the Haven today was that I didn't even recognize Hamilton!!! He looks like a completely different baby! His little cheeks are filling out and he's getting a little belly. We are continually amazed at how well he is doing. Keep praying for him. Also, the Haven now has a few new babies, one of which was born last Wednesday or Thursday! Please keep all of them in your prayers.

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When we all get to Heaven...

What an excellent Sunday!

This morning we went to church, but instead of sitting through the sermon, we were asked to come outside and help with children's church. This little bible class was lead by Jennifer, one of the women here who Sarah Hackney got really close to during her time at HIZ. It was excellent! They sang a lot of songs, including Blessed Child which is the best! Then we played a name game for us and the kids to learn each other's names. Then Jennifer read them a bible story and asked them questions about it. And if at any point a kid wasn't singing or paying attention, Jennifer would stop mid-song and call them out! Hilarious. After it was over, I talked to Jennifer for a little while. She gave me a huge hug when I said I was friends with Sarah!

Then we headed over to the Hamby house where Kaylee, Lacey, Jaime, and I got lunch ready. It was a lot of hard work.... It takes some skill to heat up leftovers like we did! We ate a delicious meal of leftover chicken spaghetti, regular spaghetti, enchiladas, and rice and beans.

After that, Marja had a little chat with Jaime, Meghann, and me about what we should expect and what she was expecting of us for the language classes this week. Pause. I just want to take a second and say how glad I am that Marja and Caroline are here with us! They are such a great addition to our group and I have learned so much from them already! Plus, they are hilarious. Around 2:15, we headed over to the Haven for the afternoon. I'm not going to lie, language is a little harder for me to get into. But that's okay. It will be good for me, and I love the kids so that helps a lot! Our time at Haven 1 went a little better than our time at Haven 3. But that's only because it started POURING rain! Which made it really hard to hear, and subsequently hard to teach our little lessons. But we still had fun playing around with those babies, who are just about the happiest babies ever. Overall, it was a good afternoon!

Tonight we had church again. I couldn't really understand the preacher at all so I just ended up reading a little from my Bible. After the sermon, we sang "When We All Get to Heaven" and it was awesome. That song has a whole new meaning to me now. Normally I just think about "we" as everyone I know, including those who have passed away. But tonight, I really felt the "we" to be Christians as a whole. And that is awesome. So awesome that a few people went forward. Three people had decided to get baptized! What a blessing. They announced we would go to .... somewhere. None of us could understand. So we just decided to follow the masses. We ended up heading over to the Mann house, which is right next door to the Hamby house where we eat all of our meals and where the Tulli are staying. They had a bathtub that they put in the backyard and filled it with water. Everyone gathered around to watch. And when I say everyone, I mean a hundred plus people, crowded around a tiny little tub! On the way there, another teenage boy decided to be baptized as well. 4 baptisms! After they were over, one of the brothers prayed the most excellent prayer. Marja videoed it and I'm going to put it on my computer! So if anyone wants to hear it when I get back, you totally can. Then everyone lined up and shook the 4 new brothers/sisters' hands as they sang a beautiful Tongan song. We all waited on the Hamby porch while all of the Zambians filed through. We said goodnight to some of them, but we only know a very small number of them since all of our time is spent at the Haven with the babies. Then towards the end, Edwin came through! Edwin was the guy who drove the missing luggage back so we all know and love him. We all said, "Hey Edwin!" and shook his hand. He loved it.

Now we're back at our house and ready to wind down for the night!

Here is a link to Caroline's blog. She posted the stats for our little feeding groups. Even if you don't get what it all means, you will be able to see how much improvement our little babies have made in just 1 week!!! I'm so excited to be a part of this!

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Come here, loverboy!

*The internet and my computer have not been getting along. This post is from yesterday (Saturday).

Yesterday morning, everyone woke up feeling better! After breakfast, Kaylee, Lacey, Catherine, and I decided to walk to the Haven. It's a good 25 minute walk at a brisk pace so it was a nice little morning exercise that woke us up.

When we got to the Haven, we found that most of the babies were sick, too, so it was definitely an off day. Probably the best part of the whole day was at Haven 3. When I went to get Dennis out of bed, he was, of course, wet. So, I had to change him, but that meant I got to pick out his outfit! I picked out a little onesie that said "I love hugs!" It was almost too much. He was so precious!I can't ever let go of this precious little hand! It's the worst part of my days.

Right before we left for the day, I was hit with a wave of nausea. But, I'd just changed a diaper, so I hoped it was just the smell that got me. Our group was supposed to go tour some radio station after working at the Haven. After the drive back to pick up the "Tulli" (plural for Tullos), I didn't think I could make it to the station. I decided I'd better just stay home so they dropped me off and I got straight in bed. I ended up skipping dinner because I kept having waves of nausea about every 10 minutes or so.
Since I skipped dinner, I was laying in my bed when I realized that the light that was shining through my window was pink. When I looked out this window, I saw this beautiful sunset!

Later last night everyone decided to have movie night and watch Dirty Dancing. I couldn't pass that up! I sat up and even had some of the refreshments provided by B Weave. I felt great the whole movie and sang every song! As soon as the camera was zooming out from Johnny and Baby dancing to "I've Had the Time of My Life", I had to run to the bathroom. Boo. Not good. I'll spare you the details, but I got in bed immediately after that.

I woke up feeling no better this morning and decided to stay home today. I finally got out of bed around 1, but I just read in the living room. I took a shower and started feeling better after that. Then everyone came home and I went to dinner with them. I didn't eat much, but I did eat some. I'm still not feeling 100%, but I'm doing so much better!

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I'm a graduate student working to become a Speech-Language Pathologist. I'm in love with my best friend, Jordan. I love cheese. I love elephants. I love reading.

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