Living, Learning & Loving La Vida Nueva

Thursday, October 25, 2012


When we began moving towards Africa, one of the major hurdles in my mind was the shots.  I know it sounds pathetic.... and it is.  A few weeks ago, we had blood drawn for our physicals.  Although I used to despise getting my blood drawn, after one pregnancy I got pretty used to it.  Shots, on the other hand, I haven't had much opportunity to get used to.  So..... I hate them.

I'm glad to have them over with.  Jonathan got all three we were supposed to get while I only had to get two.  I'll have to carry a medical waiver until I can get yellow fever once I wean 2nd baby.  I don't mind.  I'll avoid mosquitos and all will be fine, I hope.

For your enjoyment, here is a photo of me laid out on the floor, feet up in a chair, attempting to not pass out as our super sweet nurse administered the miserable things.  I told Jono I'd feed him salad for a week if he posted the video he took while she was doing it.  But, I guess I'll share a photo so you can at least get a little laugh.

She gave me a Dum-Dum to keep my mind off of it.  

Jumping hurdles over here.  Africa, here we come!

Friday, October 12, 2012


The week after we left candidate training at Africa Inland Mission in February, we saw the breakdown of our needed outgoing expenses.  The $37,000 bottom line nearly made my jaw hit the floor.  I had guessed that $15,000 sounded like a plenty large enough number to have to raise, on top of thousands of dollars worth of monthly support.  We were thinking that monthly support, requiring churches and believers to commit to a constant withdraw from their bank accounts in order to supply our needs, would be the most difficult thing to raise.  Looking at a that five digit figure made us change our minds.  "Where exactly does $37,000 come from," I thought.  We certainly didn't have it to offer and didn't know where we would encounter that kind of money.

Of course, we didn't expect to find it from one source.  We've made many contacts and faithfully, the Lord has provided through an abundance of sacrificial gifts.  Also, because we don't receive any financial support from AIM until we leave for the field, our monthly supporters who have begun sending to AIM already have helped grow our outgoing account significantly.

A large miscommunication happened over the past months as we have been trying to track the amount of money being donated to our account.  Of course, we've received many gifts which we have passed along to AIM to be deposited into our outgoing fund.  But, when gifts are given online, or as monthly support is sent straight to AIM, we have a more difficult time tracking our financial status.  So, over the past months, as we have prepared to send out our update letters, we have asked our "go-to" person at AIM the balance of our outgoing expenses.  Each month we received a percentage.  And each month we have been blown away at the increase from the past month.  Well, it wasn't until last week that we realized that the percentage we had been given didn't include the car I mentioned in my last post.  We knew about the car, so we thought our percentage included that large fund also.  But, alas, we were being quoted the percentage without the car.  Two weeks ago, we thought we were at 96% on our outgoing expenses.  Then, once we uncovered the miscommunication, we went back to about 55%.

I was shocked.  Jonathan was shocked.  We didn't know exactly where the communication break down happened and it didn't really matter.  What mattered was that $17,000 was still left to be raised in less than two months and we were determined.  Although, I admit to saying, "so much for leaving in January" and crying hard for about five minutes.  Lacking $17,000 and knowing it has to come in within less than two months is an overwhelming feeling.  I like to stay on top of things and I don't like feeling completely helpless.

We made a large number of contacts that night.  We prayed that night.  We set what we thought was a very lofty goal of $10,000 for this month.  Maybe we have a lack of faith since we weren't praying for every penny this month.  We figured, $10,000 this month, $7,000 next month.  I felt crazy praying for that amount of money to come in over a few short weeks.

On Tuesday I received a call from an old friend of Jonathan's family.  I've heard his name over and over again and somewhere in the recesses of my mind I knew that he lived in North Augusta.  He had read in Jonathan's parents' newsletter that we were still in need of financial support in order to move to Africa.  He is on the leadership board of his small church in N. Augusta and was asking if Jonathan could come Wednesday to their leadership meeting.  With less than 24 hours notice, Jonathan's boss graciously let him off of work over the lunch hour to attend that meeting.  He shared with those four men about our heart and plans for ministry in Africa.  He shared our needs and our desire to leave in January.

Jonathan came home from that meeting Wednesday encouraged by the interest expressed by the men with whom he had spoken.  We were excited to see how the Lord would use this unexpected contact to answer our prayers.  That evening, we received a phone call asking where they could send a $5,000 check.

My jaw nearly hit the floor..... again.

Wednesday night, I overheard Jonathan tell Kyle as he put him to sleep, "Okay, buddy, we don't have to pray for $10,000 any more.  Now we only have to pray for about $3,000."  Kyle folded his hands and the two of them proceeded to pray for the remainder of our goal.

It is not even the middle of the month and our prayers are already being answered.  Not including that check, over the past two weeks ~$2,500 has been given in one time gifts.  Is it too greedy to now start praying for the whole remaining amount this month so we can rest peacefully next month? :) Lord willing, about $3,000 comes in for our monthly support.  So, we are past our goal of $10,000 for this month.  $5,000 + $2,500 + $3,000 (October monthly support) + $3,000 (November monthly support) = $13,500.  We might as well move on to praying for another $3,500, see from where God brings that, be done with the $17,000 all together and throw a party.

Our remaining monthly support is down to $450/month.

Even when our faith is small and our prayers are weak, He is faithful to answer us.  "If we are faithless, he remains faithful." 2 Timothy 2:13

Keep praying, folks.  Our God is answering!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

As Time Continues...

...I feel like I am standing still.  Actually, I sort of feel like I'm moving backwards.  I had high hopes a few months ago that this month of October would be a relaxing one before I had to begin packing in November.  I've lost all hope of that.

Less than three months from now we hope to be in Africa.  And before last week, that was seeming more and more like a fact and less and less like a hope.  Now, there is one thing standing in our way.  There is a word that makes people squirm in their seats.  There is one thing that I am increasingly tired of talking about.


Over the past months, I have gotten very used to discussing money and our needs in order to move to and serve in Africa.  I'm still tired of it, but at least it has gotten easier.  And I have seen God provide for our support through many unsuspecting avenues.  And yet now, as we sit a little over a month and a half from the financial cut off date for leaving in January, I see the dollar signs and my faith seems as big as a grain of salt.

To me, our monthly support seems so close and yet so far away.  We have about $550/month that still remains.  A few weeks ago, we were much closer to being set on our monthly support.  Now we have second Baby Saint on the way and our monthly requirements went up.  I am trying not to be anxious about that and trust that God knew we would be expecting at this time and He will provide for our needs.

Our outgoing expenses have been a big headache.  For starters, the ~$37,000 target was like sticker shock at its worst.  About $22,000 of that covers everything we need in order to move to Africa, including our medical exams, shots, support mail outs, airfare, extra baggage allowances, language acquisition course, house set up (to furnish our rental home) and appliance set up (since rentals don't come with any), our orientation school, and I think that is about all.  On top of all that, we also have to purchase a rough and tumble vehicle for traversing the Lesotho mountains.  That's an additional $15,000, which includes the $2,000+ in taxes we get to pay for it.  Right now, we have everything except for the car fund covered.  That means we still have around $15,000 more that has to be raised before we can be cleared to leave.

Both our monthly and outgoing numbers seem high to us.  I've had people tell me that I shouldn't feel guilty about the amount of money it requires to be a foreign missionary and that I shouldn't expect to survive on next to nothing simply because we live on "other people's money."  We don't look at it as other people's money; it's God's money.  We understand that people give to the Lord and the Lord provides for our needs.  I've also heard it asked why our targets are where they are since the cost of living in Africa is significantly lower than it is here in the US.  The only way I can explain it is, as missionaries, there are many things within our budget which wouldn't be necessary for the average American.  For instance, we have to put a significant amount of money away each month to eventually bring our family back for furlough.  We also have to pay a ~12% administration fee to cover the services AIM's offices provide for us.  And we have factored into our budget money to cover ministry expenses like regular country-wide travel.
I will say that although the numbers seem high, when I see the itemized list, I understand perfectly why so much money is required.  Believe it or not (and I didn't), the ~$1,000 allotted in our outgoing for medical expenses appears to be less than we're gonna need for physical exams, blood work and shots for just Jonathan and me.

I like a plan.  I like to be prepared well in advance.  I like all my ducks to be in a row.  Having no idea where the money is going to come from puts me in a tough situation.  How many times have I heard, "God is never in a hurry, but always on time"?  While I believe that, I have a really hard time accepting it.  I don't want to be nervous on Thanksgiving that our money isn't going to be there on December 1st.   I'm finding it nearly impossible to not be anxious about where the money is going to come from.

We really are trusting that God will provide in time.  We have to because we can't wait until December 1st to begin getting shots, packing up our apartment, planning what we'll need to take or leave behind.  We are planning to move out of our apartment in the middle of December to save on rent since we'll be traveling a lot between the holidays and visiting with our families before we move.  Another reason it all seems so unnerving is that for over a year I've been anticipating a move in January.  Now that things look unsure, I'm struggling as I try to prepare to leave everyone without really knowing if we'll be leaving then.  The remaining funds seem like a giant cloud following me around daily.  We are praying big things and expecting big answers.  Will you join us?

**I wrote this blog on Tuesday.  Then Wednesday happened.  To be continued.....**

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Second Baby Saint

I am having a hard time grasping that I'm now the mother of two.  It has been hard enough to believe that Kyle baby is my own.  But to think that the I now have twice the blessings seems..... unreal.

During the middle of my teenage years, I began having trouble with ovarian cysts.  As far as I know, they don't really run in my family.  But, I had my first at age 15 and my second at 19.  They were both very painful and bothersome.  Moreover, both of the doctors I went to for treatment warned me that with my propensity to ovarian cysts, it could be nearly impossible to conceive.  Hearing that at 15 was hard.  Hearing that again at 19, after I was already married and deeply longing for children one day, was terrible.  The second doctor I saw told Jonathan and me that it could take us many years to conceive, if at all.  Boy, was he wrong!  Within weeks of treating that cyst, Kyle was conceived.

My pregnancy with Kyle seemed like a dream.  Okay, besides all the barfing, exhaustion and back pain; that isn't exactly my idea of a dream.  Nevertheless, I really couldn't believe that we had actually conceived.  I couldn't believe that I was really growing a baby inside of me.

Over the past year and a half, I have often wondered if Kyle would be a solitary blessing.  Jonathan and I discussed adoption even before we were married and expect to adopt as many children as the Lord directs.  In addition, I still want to birth more biological children.  I love being a mother.  I haven't ceased thanking God for answering the cries of our hearts for Kyle.  And I am now overjoyed that He has answered our prayers for another child.

Actually I think I had another cyst rupture in August.  That was the reason for visiting the Ob-gyn during our trip to Mexico in early September.  By the time I went in for that sonogram however, there wasn't a cyst. And actually, I was already pregnant with this baby at that time, we just didn't know it yet.  So, as it turns out, my propensity to cysts isn't inhibiting our ability to conceive at all..... It seems to be helping!

I went to the doctor yesterday expecting that I was a little over eight weeks pregnant.  During a sonogram, they determined that I am barely six weeks along.  Somehow the rupturing cyst effected things and I was a bit off.  I'm a little discouraged to think that I'm actually two weeks behind what I thought I was.  But, I am thankful that so far things look good.  I'll go back in a month when they can take real measurements and hopefully set a reasonably accurate due date.  Right now, it looks like it'll be sometime in early June.

We are still anticipating a big move in January.  Things really depend on our support right now, but I won't go on about that when I really just want to think about my sweet second Baby Saint.  I will say that adding Baby Saint #2 raised our monthly support target and I am trying not to be anxious about that.  Regardless, assuming we leave in January, I will continue visiting my doctor here until then.  I have positively no idea what medical care will look like in Africa.  Part of me is hoping for a hospital birth and the other part of me is gearing up for a hut delivery.  I am thankful that I have already birthed one baby and did so with a bum epidural.  I feel reasonably confident that I can get this baby out without any meds at all.  Not that I am guaranteed to have much choice in the matter.  But, I at least feel a little more at ease with the thought after going through what I did to get Kyle into this world.

Excited seems like a pathetic way to attempt expressing our emotions.  We are more than excited.  We are thrilled and can't wait to meet this little one!  So far, I am most looking forward to baby kicks in my belly, holding this baby for the first time, breast feeding again, and hearing those first coos.

Mama loves you, little Baby Saint. You will be such a sweet blessing to our happy family.  I can't wait to kiss your soft tiny lips.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Nineteen Months

My sugar baby is nineteen months old today.  Say it ain't so!  He is becoming so much more of a little boy these days.  I know should come up with a new nick name for him besides Sugar Baby, but I'm having a hard time letting go of it.  He is so sugary sweet, how could I?

Last week he had his physical done (that sounds funny doesn't it, a physical for an toddler...) to be cleared to move to Africa.  He weighs 24 pounds and he is 34 inches tall.  He's following his daddy's growth curve in the twenty fifth percentile for weight and the eightieth for height.  Tall and skinny, just the way I like him.

He is a strong and healthy little guy which is easily attributed to his constant activity.  There isn't an ounce of laziness in him.  He goes nonstop from the minute he wakes up till nap time.  Then he recharges for four hours.  Then he goes nonstop again until bed time.  Bed time is later than I would like, but I trade four hours in the afternoon for a late night toddler.  It works out because it allows Jonathan to see Kyle even when he gets off of work late.  Plus, we like him, and we really like spending time with him.  Often times after we put him to bed, we find ourselves looking at pictures and videos of him on the iPad.  I'm so thankful that by the end of his loooong nap, I'm really excited to see him again and that he brings such joy and excitement into my everyday.

Whenever I asked him to smile for the camera, this is the face we get.

Same face.  Maybe he is anticipating the flash??

For the whole first year, I sat amazed at his physical development.  Now I am in constant awe of his cognitive development.  Many of his words are becoming easier to understand.  He is always adding new words and phrases.  Some of my favorites are: Oh no!, Night Night which sounds more like Ni Ni, and Bible which is actually Bye-bee.  He loves his Bye-bee.  He also understands nearly everything we ask him to do.  He is consistently becoming more obedient and I hope that continues.  He recently learned how to turn the iPad on, unlock it, browse through the Apps and find his games.  By himself.  I shake my head in wonder.  His favorite game is one where you go through the whole barn and put each animal to sleep by turning off their lights.  Precious!  He loves animals just like his mommy.

As of today he is officially weaned.  I was afraid I would be a wreck and I still shed a tear, but I think he is more upset than I am.  He doesn't quite understand why he can't have his "mowk", so I am left trying to divert his attention.  It works for the most part.  Nineteen months of sweet snuggle time with my boy has been more than I ever dreamt of.  Although I wanted to breast feed him so badly, I'm still surprised we managed to work it out.  If it weren't for loads of determination and cheerleading from many encouraging mommies, I probably would've quit.  And I am so glad I didn't.  It has been the most rewarding part of motherhood thus far.

In a nutshell, we are still smitten.  Probably too much.  Maybe that is why God has given us another baby.  Yep, we're expecting in May!  I'll get a sevenish month break before I'm stuck in a rocker again. ;)  We are absolutely thrilled and I'm already so in love with the new little one in my womb.  I'll write more about that later....

Mommy loves you Kyle baby.  Thanks for making me a mama.  You'll always be my sugar baby!