Monday, January 30, 2012


Watoto means children...just in case you were wondering. I didn't have anything creative to title this post, so I simply decided to call it what it is: children! It's just an update of some more pictures of the babes and every day life here.

unsure about the bath...
lovin' the bath!
Eric playing in the bucket

 For the first few months I was here, Lucy never smiled...and now look at her! She's a doll! And she loves being upside-down :)

My dear Dotto...always gotta have that finger
                                                         though the outfit may be deceiving, Abdi is a boy

 We go on lots of walks! Yesterday we walked to ADRA, which is simply across the compound, but  with toddlers, it never get's old. You can always find something a new bug or a leaf, or a fallen fruit or a new here is truly an adventure!  This is Sarah in front of one of the ADRA huts with Emmanuel tied to her back. Behind that is Mt. Meru...which we shall begin climbing tomorrow!!!

 This is my new favorite picture.  Amity is one of the funniest characters here. She reminds me of a squirrel...not only in her looks, but her actions. She's a darling girl, but can throw the biggest temper-tantrums. Whenever I see her face, I can't help but smile because her expressions are so original and fantastic.  In this picture, she's squished between 2 year-old Kurwa and one of the nannies. No one seemed to notice that she was being squished and she just had this priceless face on while wondering if she should start complaining or just tough it out.

Selemani and Nancy

                                                Hidaya with her not yet ripe avocado found on the ground.  

Nanny Gracie with Tom

Upendo and I! We took a self-portrait like this when she was a newborn  and just brought to the nursery. So now we have a matching picture almost 6 months later. It's so much fun to watch babies grow!

This is the usual view from our little deck off the back of our apartment

Sarah and the babies waiting for juice

"Wema! Clara! Look at Bethany and smile!" I exclaimed. They both looked at me like I was the most boring person in the world and then purposely looked away...they do like me most of the time, though :)

rocks provide endless fun!

If we never had to take these kids out of the swings to let others have a turn, I'm pretty sure they would happily sit there and rock back and forth all day. They love the swings!

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Most Beautiful Singing

 Joel came to us a few months ago because he was malnourished and his mother was not capable of caring for him. She comes from a very poor village and her mental state is not reliable. Our nurse knew of him from an extended family member and suggested he be brought to Cradle of Love to receive proper care and nourishment. He was a small boy for being almost two years old and he was very behind in development. He couldn’t talk or walk, but he was learning to babble and he had the sweetest smile between two chubby cheeks.

On Sabbath morning, January 14, something happened that I was not prepared for. At 5:55am, baby Joel died at the hospital. He had a high fever, possible malaria, and dehydration. Losing Joel was unexpected to us all. We had many babies sick at the same time and didn’t think his case was very serious compared to the others. I guess his little body was not prepared to handle all the battles with in, though, and he lost the fight. When our nurse brought him back, he was wrapped in many blankets with only his beautiful face revealed. He looked like he was sleeping soundly…just like every night when he was tucked in bed. It was hard to believe that this morning, his eyes weren’t going to pop open at any moment and look up at you with excitement about getting up and greeting the day. His arms weren’t going to reach up to me to be picked up and cuddled. These were the saddest thoughts for me to deal with as I looked at his little body sleeping peacefully.  We had a special prayer with the nannies and cried together as we shared our last moments with him. His body was taken to a mortuary where it would be kept until the mother and extended family could prepare for a burial.

On Monday morning, we left to pick up his body once again and take it to his village to be buried. He was simply taken out of a big fridge with a pile of other bodies waiting to be buried. It was sickening, really.  He was icy cold and heavy. It gave me a sickening feeling that started in my tummy and rose up as a lump in my throat. We drove about a half hour to pick up his uncle, then his uncle lead us off the main road to his extended family who had made a coffin and cross. From there, we drove and drove and drove for at least an hour, through desert, Maasai villages, and dried river beds in the middle of nowhere. We were all beginning to wonder if there was a church or a village even in existence out this far. We finally came upon a two mud huts. That was it. Set up by the mud huts was a church, made of sticks and tarp. When we climbed out of the car, we heard wailing. Wailing like I’ve never heard before. The wailing came from his mother and grandmother. Though his mother’s mental state wasn’t perfect, Joeli had brought her joy and it was clear that she loved him. The wailers and some other women were huddled in one of the mud huts for about an hour while village members started appearing out of nowhere until there were almost 70 people. The men on one side and the women on the other, sitting on the dust and dirt or small wooden benches. The heat was almost unbearable and you could see it rise off the desert in the surrounding landscape making the air look fuzzy and squiggly. When the service began, the preacher prayed, spoke, and began to sing. That is when I heard the most beautiful singing ever. Tears come back as I write about it. The song started with the preacher’s strong voice and then, one by one, every voice in the village joined in with beautiful harmonies singing a special hymn. Their eyes were closed, some hands were lifted to heaven, and they simply sang this prayer to God with all their hearts. It was a service I will remember always. All the men took turns digging the hole and then refilling it after his coffin was laid down. The singing continued throughout it all. The men collected rocks from all around to distinguish his grave and make it look nice. The women then brought pink flowers to drape over it. The support from the villagers touched me. The music made me feel as if the angels were there singing for the burial service.

 He will gather the gems for His kingdom,
All the pure ones, all the bright ones, His loved and His own.
Like the stars of the morning, His bright crown adorning,
They shall shine in their beauty, Bright gems for His crown.
Little children who love their Redeemer are the jewels, precious jewels, His loved and His own.

Little coffin. Little cross. Little hole in the ground.
It seems so wrong to bury a toddler barely two years old. Death isn’t a part of God’s good and perfect plan. When I carried little Joeli’s cold and lifeless body, homesickness for heaven overwhelmed me more strongly than ever before.
I can’t wait to see Joeli’s vibrant face full of life again when Jesus opens up his grave at the second coming. I am so eager to live in a world without sin. Jesus is coming soon! When He does, He will collect all His precious jewels, His little children whom He loves so very much.
sleeping peacefully until Jesus comes

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Little Jeremiah

Can a baby get any cuter than this? Though I may be bias, I don't really think so! Maybe you remember the post I made mid-December about visiting Mt. Meru Hospital to collect two new babies, Tom and Jerry. Well if you remember that one, you would also remember that little Jerry captured my heart as I carried him home from the hospital.

Well, I am still in love with him and he's growing like crazy! He is much more alert now, which is adorable because he makes the funniest faces. He has a head full of hair and his cheeks are so pudgy! I took a couple of pictures of him in the nursery during my last shift and thought I would share them with you. Jeremiah is 1.5 months old now and he's a special little boy.

It's Happening!

Mt. Kilimanjaro, elevation: 19, 341ft
Tanzania is home to Africa's highest mountain, Mt. Kilimanjaro. On exceptionally clear mornings and evenings we are able to see its summit peak above the clouds. Though it would be awesome to climb it, Mt. Kili's fame has made it extremely expensive, so I have settled just to look at its majestic summit whenever I catch a glimpse of it. While we can only see Kili once in awhile on clear days, we have the privilege of seeing Mt. Meru every least the base of it.  Mt. Meru is our next door neighbor looming over Arusha. Even when the clouds are thick, we can feel its big presence there just waiting for us to climb it. Since the day I arrived here, I've been longing to stand on the top of that rocky peak, but didn't really think it possible because of time and expenses.
Mt. Meru, elevation: 14, 977ft
After doing much research, though, Sarah, Lilli, and I decided it just might be doable after all. Once we came to that conclusion (yesterday), I asked them..." well what are we waiting for?!" So, exactly a week from today, the three of us will be standing on the summit of Mt. Meru! I am very excited to say the least.
I would love to tell you more about Mt. Meru because it's cool, but Wikipedia says it if you care to know more about it's volcanic eruptions and see better pictures, just type it into good old Wiki!

I will definitely tell you about the trip with pictures when we return. For those who check my blog often, I'm sorry about my recent lack of posts. Ever since Christmas, I've lost my motivation because so much has happened and I just keep getting more and more behind. I need to step it up a notch, stay tuned, the regularity of my posts will begin to increase soon!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

First African Wedding

Safinieli is one of our nannies at Cradle of Love. I didn't get to know her right away because she doesn't speak English and she is very shy, but working together over the months has naturally brought us closer together. Last month, she got married to one of the ADRA workers, Jona, and invited us to her wedding! Sarah, Lilli, and I were super excited for three reasons. Firstly, because we're girls and we simply love weddings, secondly, because we know and love Safinieli so it would be wonderful to share in this celebration with her, thirdly, this was our first African wedding and we were eager to see what it was like! ...not to mention, I knew the food was going to be good! 
It was a splendid evening, but I want to share with you some of the things that I found really funny.
1. The taxi dropped them off at the little walkway to the open-aired building the reception was held in and they had to walk in together with dancing girls leading the way. The walkway was about 5 meters long and it took them about 20 minutes to walk in to the building. Their steps were so small, it didn't even look like they were walking.
2. Safi is really shy, so she looked down the whole entire evening. Her husband seems to be 10x more shy than she is so he tended to look down more than up also. Neither one of them smiled very much at all during the whole thing! The picture of them at the top of this blog is my favorite because Safi is actually smiling. I know they're happy together..I've seen them around at other times as happy as clams, but at their reception, they did a pretty good job of looking really awkward.
3. When they cut the cake, they had their hands on the knife together and started with it up in the air and slowly brought the knife down to cut it. During this process of lowering the knife down to cut the cake together, I counted to 48. It was painstakingly slow. Maybe they did it for the pictures? I don't know why it was so slow, but it  made me smile.
4. The MC talked and laughed loudly in Swahili in the microphone the whole time. In between talking, he would put on some music for us all to enjoy...the same music that is often blared in the dala dalas. The wedding party and guests danced whenever they got up from their chairs and we ended up having to dance too as we were in line for food and also as we congratulated the new couple. The best part for me was seeing our two Maasai guards dancing. The best part for everyone else was probably seeing us mzungus dancing! 

Despite all these funny aspects, it was a beautiful and cultural program. We had a great time! I'm very happy for Safi and her husband and though this may sound selfish, I kind of hope I get invited to another wedding while I'm here :)