We’ve had a volunteer with us the past couple of weeks so today I took her into Kruger Park (see when you guys come we’ll also take you to Kruger Park!) I’ve been in several times but today, just the two of us going, it was such a peaceful drive (maybe it was also because I’m used to hearing, “She touched me!” or “Joshua hit me!”) We just sat in awe of God’s creation seeing impala and waterbuck gather at the watering hole for a drink, wondering how the hippo could get out of the water to sunbathe on the shore, watching elephant cross the road right in front of us with their enormous ears and trunk, seeing zebra with their amazing stripes, and watching the giraffe eat the thorns from the top of the trees. Sometimes you wonder why God made the giraffe with its awkward legs and long neck or why He made the baboon with a bare behind. Seeing all the animals makes you realize that we serve a very creative God. Thank you, Jesus, for letting us enjoy your amazing creation!
The other day I was outside sweeping our back porch. Our landlord, Franz, walked by and without stopping said, “Please close your windows and doors. The wind is blowing in the right direction so I want to light the grass on fire.” It’s the dry season so you see many fires along the road. I stopped my sweeping, shut the back door, and sure enough Franz burned off all the tall grass just 5 yards from our house. We got in the truck to go pick up daddy and Joshua said, “Well, I bet the black mambas aren’t happy about that!” He’s learned that the snakes like the tall grass.
To promote the release of Shrek 3 (it only came out here in S. Africa this past Friday), the big, green ogre himself came to our nearby mall. For a fun outing I took the kids to see him. They got a kick out of seeing a life size Shrek that looked exactly like the one from the big screen. We already have our tickets for Tuesday and the kids can’t wait!
Well, Joshua got a break from school! He’s on a 3-week winter break and he’s so excited about it. Everyday he asks, “Do I have to go to school today?” and everyday I say no. Then he says, “Whoa! Five days now!” It’s quite surprising to him because he hasn’t missed a day yet. Even when he had a cough and runny nose I still made him go to school. One of his classmates stayed home from school one day because he was sick. Joshua was so surprised he came home and told us in disbelief, “Did you know that you don’t have to go to school when you’re sick!?” Sorry, bud, I’ll try not to push you too hard! He’s had so much fun playing outside the past few days. I guess so much so that he got ringworm. It didn’t bother him but I took him to the clinic despite his pleading to not go. After an hour and a half wait, we were able to get some cream to put on it. We got home only to discover he’d had an allergic reaction to it! Back to the clinic! They gave us something else to clear it up so hopefully he will be back to normal soon!
The other day I went to the care center to pick up a team. I haven’t been there much since we arrived. I felt so welcomed as all the kids rushed out and yelled, “MAMA!” They call every lady that, but I realized that all the kids that came running out are kids that I’ve built a friendship with over the past couple of years. As they all started asking me the same question, I realized that I really needed to learn their language! (We want to start learning Zulu soon.) One of the teachers said, “They are asking, ‘Where are your children?’” At that moment I realized how much God is going to use Joshua and Emma Grace to affect the continent of Africa. We receive a lot of emails of people thinking how hard it must be to raise children here. It’s not as easy as being in your home country but God’s grace is very sufficient. I see how Emma Grace wins the hearts of many with her smile and how Joshua is quickly becoming like the Afrikaans children he goes to school with. He loves that he can walk around everywhere barefoot! And he’s learning Afrikaans in school and even correcting Jeremy and I with the accent. As a mother my heart swells with joy at the thought of my children being involved with loving the orphans and being a part of something that is so much bigger than they can imagine. We thank God that he’s not only brought Jeremy and I here to love the orphan and the widow but he’s brought Joshua and Emma Grace here to do the same.
June 19th Joshua brought home his first report card! It’s fun for us to see his progress and how he’s doing in certain areas and where he might be getting some of his traits. Jeremy sat there and said, “Well, he didn’t get that from me!” It is interesting to see how other people observe him and good to see his teacher write, “Joshua’s gradual increase in self confidence is pleasing to observe. He is a pleasure to have in class.” And mom was proud to see his teacher write that he has good table manners! She also said that he shows interest in learning other languages. He already knows some of his colors and numbers in Afrikaans. I think he’s pretty smart!
According to Joshua Father’s Day was great this year! We decided to do a whole weekend dedicated to making Daddy feel special. We started it out with a Saturday morning brunch and ended it with a Sunday afternoon braai. And we gave him little gifts along the way including this mug that Joshua painted at school. It’s definitely a treasure.
The other day Emma Grace asked for a lolli as she calls it. Several minutes later she came to me and said, “Mommy, it’s stuck!” And there it hung, without hands, from her long, beautiful hair. She looked terrified and emotional when her Uncle Caleb told her that we would have to cut her hair to get it out. Luckily, I was able to just pull it and only about 10 hairs came out with it. Next time we’ll have to pull that hair back into a ponytail!
In the midst of a very stressful day, Emma Grace and I just had to stop and have some girl fun. Jeremy was away trying to get details taken care of with the container and Joshua was at school, so us girls sat on my bed putting on makeup and painting our toenails. It was so good just to stop and have some fun together. So often I let stress take over and let it consume me. Today my prayer was just declaring that my trust was in God to take care of the details that are out of our control.
Well, if there’s one thing us Texans like doing it’s barbecuing! Only since we’re not in Texas we have to adopt the Afrikaans term, braai (pronounced bry). We had our first official braai this past weekend. Jeremy’s youngest brother, Caleb, is here visiting so it was a birthday celebration. Our house was filled with 20+ people including a visiting team and some of the other volunteers here. It was a blast and reminded us of some good times back at our house in Connecticut. It made us miss all of you!