Monday, December 27, 2010

some observations about "the girls"

Some friends that have been through the adoption process told us we should be writing down stuff so we don't forget it, so this is just really a list:
--Mutale is non-stop giggling and laughing, always looking to be tickled and roughhoused with; Ethel has a deep raspy chuckle that sounds like a smoker's cough!
-- I'm under the impression that Mutale had never eaten at a table before (at Bill and Bette House they sit on the floor)she spends a lot of time at meals looking under the table at everyone's feet and laughing.
-- Mealtimes are always interesting, the girls can each eat about 5 pieces of fruit everyday. Ethel hates chocolate and baked goods but puts away hard candy like it's going out of style. She also won't eat peanut butter or cheese!! They both pick stuff out of their food they won't eat, Ethel picks all the pickles out of her tuna salad. Mutale won't eat it at all and says "Ndifuna nsomba! I don't want fish!" but also says she likes kapenta (tiny whole dried fish). Ethel will eat yogurt, but not with granola in it, Mutale won't eat most dairy products, including milk. They can both eat their weight in noodles though.
-- They both speak and understand Bemba, Nyanja, and English, but pretend to understand nothing we say in any language most of the time. Ethel is pretty quiet, but Mutale mostly runs around shouting "NO!" and "Stop it!".
-- So funny to see them in the bath - Lucas is all skin and bones scrawny, the girls have big round tummies, thick legs.
-- Mutale is about the most stubborn kid I've seen. She'll pout for an hour if she doesn't get her way. Or she'll throw a face scratching, pinching, shrieking tantrum.
-- Are girls just naturally vain about clothes and shoes or what? Ethel loved trying on all her new clothes and shoes. Mutale pouted for an hour over not being able to wear her dress shoes out to the playground. They both love to be dressed up. Mutale loves anything pink. Today she threw an all out tantrum about having to wear jeans.
-- They are seriously afraid of dogs, pigs, horses and all other animals larger than a cat.
-- Mutale is fond of swearing at me in Nyanja - mostly calling me "chimenso" and "chimutu" which means "big eyes" and "big head" respectively.
-- Lucas is already a great brother; he loves the girls so much and as soon as he wakes up from sleeping he jumps right into their bed and wants to snuggle, waking them up and causing all kinds of trouble.
We already love these girls so much it's crazy. They are amazing and beautiful. We are in so deep over our heads on this one (which is just where we like to be, cause then we can more easily see God at work).

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Overnights & Christmas

We have been super blessed by having a great social worker at the social welfare office. We have not really been able start the foster process because we've had a houseguest and we've had outstanding travel plans.So instead of being able to have the girls committed to us immediately, we've been needing social welfare to write us letters that allow us to take the girls out of their homes for the day or for overnights. This last week we had our first two nights with the girls - it went surprisingly well. While naptime is still a problem, generally the kids are so tired from playing and running around eating massive amounts of food, they all seem to do a good job at bedtime. We've had them three nights total and they've all been asleep a little after 7 and up a little before 6 which works well for us.

We really struggled with deciding to take the girls out for extended periods of time, mostly because we did not want to to have to drop them back at the orphanages. They were abandoned before and we did not want them to feel like we were just dropping them back at the orphanages in the same way. In the end, we decided that it would give us both a period of adjustment and the girls have actually seemed a little relieved when we've dropped them back off at the homes. They are used to the schedules, friends, food, and caregivers there, so it makes sense that even when we have a good time with them, they feel safe going back to what they know.

When we picked them up for Christmas weekend, the girls were at House of Moses for a Christmas party for the three orphanages that are linked together (House of Moses is for newborn to three years, Bill and Bette House is for 3-5 years, and House of Martha is 5 and up.) They were not too happy to be taken away from the party (even though it was actually over) and Ethel cried most of the way back to our friend's house where we spent Christmas Eve. But they warmed up after awhile and it's been a good weekend. I caught the girls looking at one of our photo albums and they were pointing out Luka, mommy and daddy! Wow. So we've had a totally insane Christmas. It was 85 degrees and humid, we went to a farm with a huge playground and were the only mzungus there besides our teammates the Singletons who joined us for lunch. And we had two new kids for Christmas. What a gift, what a day, I'm BEAT!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Victoria Falls and Livingstone (I presume)

I gotta say, I love Livingston in all its seedy, sweaty glory. The drive down to Livingstone is about 6 hours. Now, I can't vouch for it's beauty any other time of the year (it was our first trip down there), but rainy season makes this drive a surreal landscape of greens and blues that simply knocks your socks off. We got a nice little place in Livingstone and spent three night there for $25 a night Including eggs and toast and mangos at breakfast and there was a pool! I really loved Livingstone a lot; it's sultry. Maybe it's just a rainy season thing, but it's wet, muggy and the flora is tropical, beautiful and rampant, the streets are lined with mangos and seedy looking characters, the architecture is totally different, romantic in a oldtime colonial africa kind of way that's hard to explain but rusting tin roofs and various molds and vines overtaking tropical colored walls abound on the side streets. Don't get me wrong, you might get stabbed here at night somewhere but...
Anyway, we also had a chance to see Victoria Falls, which is a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the seven wonders of the natural world. It's pretty fabulous. Everyone says you should visit it at different times of the year to get a different perspective since it changes so much due to seasonal water volumes. I think our timing was perfect! A nice amount of water coming over the falls and some sunshine and not too much spray made for nice photos. I guess that during the high point of the year it's like being in a giant cloud, don't even bother taking out your camerea unleless it's in a waterproof housing. Otherimes it's almost completely empty. It's pretty spectacular, don't get me wrong, but have you been to the Grand Canyon? It's amazing, but it's a big hole in the ground and after looking at it for a half an hour, it's time to go back to the hotel pool.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Chobe National Park!

For our Christmas present this year we decided to go to Botswana on a day safari and forgo the gift exchange thing and boy was it worth it!! Our friend Katy from Bellingham was here and so we took this as an opportunity not to be missed (especially since we can't leave the country for the next two years due the adoption process)! On Wednesday we drove down to Livingstone and stayed the night in a pretty nice cheap hotel.

Thursday we woke early and hit the Zambia/Botswana border. There's a ton of sleazy dudes trying to sell you Botswana money to pay for your entry visa and trying to "help" you. But after running the gauntlet of bureaucracy and petty larceny we hopped a small boat across the border and were ushered through customs and immigration into Botswana. Let me say that we were not expecting a lot, some team mates had been there two weeks before and saw very few animals. But we were BLOWN AWAY! The first part of our safari was by river and we saw crocs, hippos, red lechwe, monitor lizards, elephants, and a thousand birds. Lucas got bored about halfway through and while we gawked at bull elephants locking trunks in battle just a dozen yards from our boat, Lucas was squishing ants that were snacking on the crumbs from tea time. The second half of the day was a jeep ride through Chobe National Park. We saw about a thousand impala, puku, kudu, elephants, lions, mongoose, baboons and giraffe. It was unbelievable. The lions were SO CLOSE! Having them strolling alongside our open jeep was a huge adrenaline rush, and we felt like we were gonna freak out. Luckily Lucas had fallen asleep and was unable to scream and cause a ruckus. I can't really put the whole thing into an easy little blog post, but let's just say I couldn't stop smiling for about an hour after we got back the hotel.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Here's a story of a lovely lady

Who was living with two boys of her own... They were three Huckabys living all together, yet they were all alone. Then this one day when this lady met these girls, and they knew it was much more than a hunch...

Okay, I just couldn't resist. For the record this is Tricia writing, not Kelly. He would be sad to think folks associated the above Brady Bunch silliness with him so you can all be sure that I am the goofball.

Today was our first day spending pretty much the whole day with the girls. It would be impossible to describe all the weird thoughts and feelings we were all having... and actually it would be impossible to describe what Mutale, Ethel and Lucas were feeling since we can't get a whole lot out of any of them. But for the most part the kids seemed to have a good day. We decorated a little fake Christmas tree I bought and the kids were definitely stoked. And I was stoked too because honestly, I love Christmas lights and it finally started to feel a bit like Christmas today.

Besides play, these girls can also paint very well. And they also EAT. Man, they can really eat. There goes that food budget. And the last thing they can do a lot of is go to the bathroom. Man, with Lucas still not really potty trained I was unprepared for taking kids to the bathroom all the time. Boy oh boy, little kids have to go the bathroom a lot. We are really going to stay on top of that. And we also need to bring spare clothes in the car for each one of them. We are so out of our league!!!! Thank you God that you are going to fill in some of the gaps for us!

PS... we really want to post lots of pictures but we aren't entirely sure about the legality of that. We aren't really allowed to take and use pictures of orphans according to the orphanage. So we may have to wait until the girls have been officially released into our custody. Sorry!!! Needless to say, they are really cute and they can jump quite high.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

One Man's Plague Is Another Man's Lunch (Localvores/Foodies/Foragers)

In the book of Exodus the Lord sent a plague of locusts as a punishment to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for refusing to release the Israelites from the bonds of slavery. It was rough for the Egyptians and Pharaoh almost relented. But one man's plague is another man's lunch here in Zambia. Personally, I would live on milk and cereal if I could. Too bad a box of Cheerios is $9 and a gallon of milk is in the $5 range. Other recent sticker shock moments: a jar of Hellman's (Best Foods) mayo for $12, a pound of walnuts for $26, a medium cantaloupe for $10. So if we want to stick to our modest missionary budget, we need to eat like the locals do. Usually this means eating lots of fruits and vegetables and eating nshima a few times a week. But being interested in local food and foraging I jumped at the chance to try some grasshoppers when they descended en masse on our plot.

Zambians know how to eat local - during the rainy season they have all kinds of foraged greens (ndiwo za masamba) and free protein. Much like the manna that fed the Israelites in the desert, the locusts showed up early in the morning, and by 8am they had disappeared. Except for the 50-60 that Lucas and I caught in a tupperware. The guards and builders that live on our plot were excited to see the noisy tub of bugs trying to escape from their upcoming lunch date. So they invited me over for lunch and we squatted around a hot pot of nshima and plates of kapenta (dried whole minnows cooked in tomato and onion) and fried sontwa (grasshoppers). Now as for taste, they're not too exciting, pretty bland with plenty of crunch (the heads and exoskeletons and pretty tough), and little squishy around the middle.

Really, they don't taste like much, but picking out the various legs and wings is time consuming and a little disturbing. More disturbing is looking at their creepy faces and eyes looking at you as you pop 'em in your mouth. Needless to say I had a pretty serious case of indigestion and while I appreciate being to pick your food off your walls I think next time, I'll just let the Israelites free or something like that.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Unlikely family

Of course I, Tricia, have been thinking about adoption lately. And one of the things that came to my mind is what an interesting mix we will all be when Mutale and Ethel join us permanently. I think we will look like an unlikely family indeed. I am bracing myself for the questions I will probably hear from perfect strangers at the grocery store.

But it also makes me so excited that God is bringing us together. These little crumbgrabbers that seem like an unlikely addition to our family, well God has known from before I was even born that they would be my daughters.

And I can't help but stand in awe of God's Church, his family on earth and how he continually adopts the most unlikely people into his family... me for one! Visiting all these different churches since we have been in Zambia has given me a beautiful and broad view of God's family in this part of the world and it is truly humbling. These are my brothers and sisters!!! The family from New Zealand working here at a clinic, a man from Zimbabwe and his wife from Michigan, two teachers from Belgium, not to mention of course the very diverse group of Zambians who live in this crazy city! You put us all together and we don't look like a family really, but because of Jesus Christ we are completely and totally bound together... God's very own special United Colors of Benetton commercial.