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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Look Back at 2011

So, I got this update all ready to send you over the weekend, and was ready to hit publish on Monday when our internet went down--yes, again!! Anyway, here is the look back at the good, the inspirational, the bad, and the adventure! Enjoy!
 
After ringing in the New Year with the kids, I was reminded that I was indeed in Africa when not even a week into January, I was stuck down with malaria again. We found out what may be the kids' least favorite video. We prepared for our first ever family trip to the States since 2002. We had a sixteen hour bus ride, a 10 hour flight to London, some time for sightseeing there, before another 10 hour flight to Houston and our reunion with the rest of our family. We had a lovely time in Texas and Alabama, at a church conference and then visiting with relatives and friends

I started February off with a reminder to please, Give the Gift of Life. After a couple weeks of much needed Family Fun, we headed back to Zambia and the Real World. I was so happy to be back with my babies though whether I was watching them play with toys or water. Reality hit hard at the end of the month, and we called out for help.

In March, a new baby joined our home--though not the kind you'd expect--and a harrowing experience left me wondering if I was fit to look after anyone or thing at all. Then, while still waiting to see if Joshua would be able to join our household, a much needier child came to our door. We had to take him in! Tom's fascination with snakes continued--coming much too close for comfort at one point. Snakes aren't the only thing Tom and I differ about--I shared our travel differences here. I battled with the Boogey Man, but since I'm still here to tell the story, I won! and that was in big part to having all of you by my side. I like-a you! The kids of the orphanage, like Peter and Nathan also kept my spirits up. When Tom left for a trip to the U.S, I counted my blessings instead of crying.

The very last day of March, we took in three new babies, I introduced them here, so the month of April was off to a rip-roaring start. My days carried on in a 'normal' way, looked for the benefits of my temporary life of solitude, and complained good-naturedly when things bugged me. I wrote about my weekly shopping adventures. Then we got word of a big challenge we would need to face, which later led me to reflect on God's Sense of Humor. We did a photo shoot with the kids, which with 21 kids, you can be sure led to bloopers. The merriment continued with a Happy Easter celebration. Life took a tragic turn around us, but we kept our eyes on Him, even when precious Joshua went Home to Heaven.

In May, I held a party that no one showed up for, but the cake was amazing! My kids told stuff about me. I opened up about some of the struggles of parenting orphans. Tom was still in the States, but we kept love alive. Just because Tom was away, didn't mean the snake adventures ended. Life carried on, the nannies learned to dance, the kids learned a life skill, and a new baby graced our home. Denny continued to improve, though this came at a price. I shared some of my childhood kitchen memories. With Tom away, I took over his Bible class. The weight of looking after so many children was tough. Grace made me smile with her attempts at fighting off sleep. Meg came to volunteer for the summer and became a very dear friend as well. I was so glad for her presence when as the month came to a close some very sad events took place. A wonderfully sweet baby got sick out of the blue and then tragically passed away. Then, I got the worst news of my life.

June should have been a happy time for me, with Tom's return from the U.S, but instead it was spent preparing for and attending a funeral. Life in Africa still kept me guessing though as odd things were delivered to my gate. Coming home to the orphanage, after my time in New York, I found new residents--some human, some not.

Then before I knew it, July had arrived. Life continued at a Fever Pitch with new babies--some very sick--and a house full of volunteers. Life was good, but I didn't get to share much about it online because I fell off the cyber map when our internet was knocked out for three weeks.

At the beginning of August I tried to sum up an entire month in one post. That was crazy! I also eulogized a very special little girl. I traveled some more, including via bus where at one point I took on some drunken passengers. We welcomed a new group of volunteers to the orphanage. One of the projects they helped with made a bunch of little girls really happy. Johnny continue to challenge us. We celebrated the birthdays of four of the kids. When the last visitors of the season left, I was faced to acknowledge the pressures I'd been under. We learned how to harness the power of the sun to make something really important for the orphanage. Just when I thought life was easing up a bit, a new baby joined our home again. Two of our babies with eating issues, improved.

I was very excited in September to receive my first ever blog critique. As well as things were going with the children, I was still struggling with staffing issues. It helped to reflect on a project we'd done in August and how grateful the children were. Then, the creepie crawlies returned! I was not a happy camper. As the world remembered September 11, I shared where we were in the days that followed. I took a special trip to Lusaka with Jasmine to help her celebrate her 16th birthday. She was reunited with a special friend while there. September 20 was election day in Zambia. It was a bit scary, but everything turned out alright. We began holding Children's Church with the kids each Sunday, starting off with the story of Joseph first of all. We wound up the month by giving you an opportunity to help with a special project, and you came through amazingly!

October rolled around, all dry and dusty--though the rains were beginning to appear. Our family continued to fall in love with Joseph. I had been taking part in an online Bible study that was restoring my joy. I learned even more about joy by watching the children dance one morning. We began giving the kids an opportunity to take turns traveling with us to do the weekly shopping. Johnny was one of the first, and he did not disappoint. This is his story: Part one & part two. I loved seeing our children form into such a beautiful family! I was reminded again, I am just a manager of God's work. And, yet another baby joined our family and we decided to name her Naomi and she, before long had taken up permanent residence in our hearts. Shortly after this, Tom and I traveled to Mansa for an overnight stay to collect our new chickens. Our experience with the hotel and restaurant made for fun reading--knowing I would write about it made it less horrendous. We started a new form of gardening which should prove to be a big help in the long run. 

My first post of November was a costume contest from Halloween--which sadly, I did not win. A critter got into my office with destructive results. I reflected on our uncertain future. Babies, of all types were everywhere! I also reflected on the laws of the universe. Then, disaster struck again, quite literally. The full devastation took time to come in come in but God took care of us. Getting back on top of everything gave us a few crazy days.  But, in the midst of everything, my bedroom got a much needed makeover. We celebrated the birthdays of several of the kids with cupcakes they'd made themselves.I jumped right into Thanksgiving preparations that were wonderfully traditional but the very next day Tom was headed out on a very African adventure.The month ended with happy news about Naomi.

December started off with one of the most exciting events of my life. Then after a very busy week in Lusaka, we got home to find our internet was out--again! A week later I was back online. We got busy with Christmas preparations including a tree and Christmas cards. Santa Claus made a few appearances both in Mansa and Kazembe--boy, was that an adventure! Christmas week wasn't entirely the joyful time it could have been, with one very sad event, but also a small Christmas miracle. Despite everything, the kids were able to have a wonderful Christmas Day celebration.

All in all, it was a good year. There were some moments I wouldn't have chosen to pass through, but they have made me stronger and brought about God's plan in some way--even if I haven't seen all of it yet.

Now, let's see what 2012 has in store for us. Bring it on!

2010 Year in Review: Click here
Exactly One Year Ago (if this were published on time): The Three Stooges
Exactly Two Years Ago:  With a Little Help from Our Friends






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