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Jewel in Cambodia Scarves for Cambodia Journals for the Journey

Monday, July 26, 2010

The future is now...

Here's a couple facts on Mozambique::
* Life expectancy is 40 years
* 7th worst infant mortality rate – 1 in 10 children die before the age of 1
* 1 in 5 children are malnourished
* 1.4 million orphans – .5 million due to losing parents from HIV/AIDS
* 14% of population have HIV
* Only 43% of the population have access to clean water
* The literacy rate is only 40%
* Only 50% of children finish primary school
* Only 7% of students go on to secondary school

Children are our most valuable natural resource.
– Herbert Hoover

I'm praying these babies grow healthy and strong!
I'm praying they know Jesus' love at an early age!
I'm praying they bring their country from darkness to Light!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dear prayer warriors,

Grandmom is more sick today. The hospital called our house at 5am saying that she was miserable in pain and couldn't breath. Mom and Dad went immediately without waking Jessie and I. They returned home at 10am to wake up and say that they are moving Grandmom by ambulance to a larger hospital in Indianapolis, 90 minutes away. She will be there with a specialist (an endocrinologist) in critical care, and will put be on renal dialysis. She is stable now, but we (Grandmom, myself, and family) do not want her to be living by machine.
The future is unknown but Mom is canceling all her commitments and will be staying there with her indefinitely.

Jessie and I have made the hard decision to stay home this afternoon and host the Reed family reunion that is scheduled at our house in 3.5 short hours. Mom won't be here, Dad likely won't either, but it will happen! How does one make a decision to be one place or another? I'm already regretting it, and then I talk myself into staying home and enjoying company and being distracted. Please pray that this is the right decision... actually, I don't even know how to pray right now...

Except I know this: I am praying that Grandmom will be pain free. I am praying that we will have a special time together before she leaves. I am praying for strength for Mom, Jessie, myself, and the rest of our family. I am praying for clarity for the doctors. I am praying for peace for Grandmom. I am thanking Jesus for her life, her testimony, and her love. I am praising Jesus for loving her, and for being loved by her until death.

Me, Grandmom, and Jessie on Easter 2010

Thank you in advance for your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday's Fave. Five: Cute! Cute! Cute!

Happy “Friday’s Fave Five” - hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story. This is my 14th Friday's Fave. Five post, and my first since January!

1. My nieces, Leah (2 years) and Mallory (10 weeks) -- Leah loves her baby sister and while everyone is enjoying Mallory as a baby, I cannot wait to see her grow into a rambunctious little girl, screaming and chasing her sister!

2. My puppy, ThaiLung, who is now four-months-old and still residing at the Bible College in Cambodia.

3. Titus -- Last Friday we were able to chat on Skype for more than three hours and he was able to use a webcam for the first time ever. It was a big deal. :) Then Tuesday evening we talked on the phone for almost 40 minutes. Thanks to Skype, being TWELVE timezones away doesn't feel so far!

4. Ashton, who finally hugged me on Sunday evening at church after pretending to be too cool for Jewel at camp last week. I asked him when he will be too embarassed to let me kiss him in front of his friends, he said when he is bubby's age (eighteen). I asked him when he will be too big to sit on my lap, he said when he's eleven. He's only eight now and I'm sure that when he turns eleven and eighteen, he will change his mind. ;)

5. Campfires! On Sunday twin-sis (Jessie) and I are headed back out to Fairmount Wesleyan Campgrounds for family camp. This is our twenty-first year at family camp and our umpteenth year running the two and three-year-old evening nursery. We will also be counselors for the teen track and so participating in events like: canoeing, the Splash House, bowling, rollar-skating, movie night, go-carting, etc. However, I am most looking forward to evenings around the campfire with friends!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Caribbean Sea: Holy and Beautiful

Well it's been officially two weeks since I've been home from Puerto Rico, and a month since I have been home from Mozambique. I'm readjusting to life in Indiana and certainly enjoying foods other than rice and beans (I do love rice and beans, but not everyday for two months.) I can tell you what I miss most, but I can't tell you who I miss most. I miss the people. Second to the people I miss the way of life. Third or fourth or fifth to that, I miss the beach.

Here are some pictures taken at Campamento del Caribe, where we lived in Puerto Rico:

Do you have a favorite tree? Mine is the palm tree. :)

This view was only 30 feet from my back door! I found that umbrella bench to be a beautiful and holy place as I met with God there during morning devotions. I remembered His Word as I heard the waves crashing onto the shore as I slept at night.

The coast here looked dirtier because of the brown volcanic sand,
however it was the Caribbean Sea I was living on!

Here are some pictures taken at the pristine Coffin Island (Isla de Caja de Muerto), where we took a vacation day:

Approaching Coffin Island by a 1-hour boat ride

Look at that white sand and blue water! It was dreamy.

It was snorkeling around those rocks where I saw schools of beautiful colored fish, found a huge conch shell, and was stung by a sea urchin.

Our group of 26 spent between 4 & 5 hours in the water. The water was perfect and it was a beautiful day!

Wherever I go and whichever beach I am standing on, I cannot help but gaze across the expansive waters and think, "Therefore God exists." The feeling of the warm sun, the cool breeze, and the soft sand between my toes is a feeling of peace and serenity that only a supreme God could give. No one else could create those colors! It was my first experience snorkeling and I was absolutely amazed to see so much life below the surface of the water.

Papa God, thank You for revealing Yourself in creation!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Grandmom is sick

I wish I could be sick so that Grandmom could be well. I wish it was me in the hospital bed so that it could be healthy at home.

Grandmom meeting Baby Mallory

Monday night after my church softball game, twin sis (Jessie) and I went to Grandmom's to take her Bufferin for some extreme pain that she had been tolerating for two full days. Grandmom has a medical history that forced her to leave the mission field in Africa years ago, and since then her body has had a low tolerance for many things including: oranges, and medicines like Aspirin and Tylenol.

Sunday night she jokingly told Mom, "Take me out and shoot me,"; Mom told her she doesn't believe in Obama-Care and that wasn't going to happen. :) But Monday evening she could tolerate the pain no more, and she asked for something strong to ease the pain. After two Bufferin and two hours, the pain in her legs had become excruciating and she was unable to move. That night Mom was working as House Manager at the hospital, so I called her and then I called an ambulance.

Grandmom, myself, and Jessie on our 21st birthday

I am not strong enough to see my grandmom in pain, and the experience of seeing an ambulance come and take her on a stretcher was traumatic. She was admitted to Marion General on Tuesday morning at 4am with symptoms of urosepsis or possible kidney infection. The pain has subsided (in comparison to the previous 48 hours,) but now she is nauseated and the antiemetics won't get her comfortable.

The doctor's are still making observations and anticipate that she will remain on the Med-Surg floor for another 2 or 3 days, before moving to physical therapy for up to two weeks. Pray for a clear diagnosis and plan of care that Grandmom responds to. She is frail and tired of this. I appreciate it very much. She is resting in Jesus' care; she belongs to Him.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Matusse is The Man.

I promised that I would only talk about Mozambique on Mondays and I'm very excited because today is Monday! Today was a very busy day - it was my first day back to work since April - and I worked two jobs. I am back in the Nursing Division on campus, and I am also working at Marion Community School's registration, advertising school uniforms from a local print company. I'm actually too tired to blog, but I knew that if I waited until tomorrow, that I would miss the opportunity to write about Mozambique! So here goes:

I want to tell you about a wonderful man named Pastor Marcos Matusse and his wonderful church. First, it must be stated that Pastor and Mama Matusse make very beautiful children.
Marcos Matusse Jr. (Markito) is the cutest baby in Mozambique:

It was at Matusse's church where my team and I built concrete blocks to construct a new church building. We carried the water African-style, mixed the cement, and used molds to make the blocks. It really was an incredible experience! On day two we decided that it would be more effective to hire professionals, who we assisted in the morning, and watched in amazement in the afternoon.
Albert & Pastor Matusse taking sand to the cement pile:

An official Mozambican block mold. We made more than 800 blocks with only three molds.

The finished product drying in the sun (where it should remain for a week):

Notice the very flat-footed imprint (bottom left corner) - the effect of walking barefoot for any number of years, or with flipflops if fortunate enough.

João and I worked like clockwork together! I shook the mix in the block mold before the others pounded it down. Then I carried the full mold to João, who carefully placed the blocks. As I dropped the full mold, João handed me an empty mold that I carried to the cement pile to be filled again. The work was both exhausting and exhilarating.

When finished, the blocks will be used to build a new structure around the existing reed church; the old church will then be torn down, and the new church will be bigger and stronger. I hope to have the opportunity and blessing to visit again when it is completed!

It was at Matusse's church where I was fed this incredible feast of chicken, chips (fries), and brown rice with onions. Each guest was given their own bottle of coke, and we had hot tea and boiled cassava for dessert.

and it was in Matusse's church where Maria, Amelia, Grace, and others taught me how to cook the African way. This meant in a reed kitchen that looked like an outhouse, and over a fire under a large cashew tree.
We pounded corn and cassava:

We gutted fish with our thumbs:

I'll never forget cooking with these ladies, and singing with these ladies. I'll never forget playing peek-a-boo with Amelia (on my left) on either side of the cassava tree. I appreciate very much the beautiful capalana they gifted to me, and sometimes I wear it just because I'm feeling sentimental!

Finally, it was in Matusse's church community where we went on an evangelistic tour from house to house, and where this papa and mama were saved! It was in that community where I preached the message of salvation at the home of a witch doctor, wherein the witch doctor's wife asked forgiveness for her sins and was gloriously saved and redeemed! Praise Jesus!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

14 girls - 7 years - 1 great experience!

As a counselor, this was my best camp in seven years. I don't know what to attribute that to except 14 awesome girls that weren't homesick, weren't very whiney, got along fantastically, usually remembered their medication, didn't wet the bed, never lost their shirts, kept their rooms at least semi-clean, generally took showers without much prompting, and usually showed up when and where they were supposed to.
Chloe, Amara, Alayna, Kaci, Jessica, Emma, and Emma
Olivia, Zoie, and Allie
Elaina, Shea, Maddie, and Areonna

Here is a little more about our week:
The Splash House is a small local water park with three slides, a lazy river, a kiddy area, and a new wave pool. Every year JBC goes to the Splash House for "day away". We arrived at 10a and the first three hours were cloudy and a little chilly, which is awesome to prevent sunburns (which this counselor doesn't like!), but the afternoon was warm, sunny, and beautiful!

This year it was a little difficult to motivate our girls to want to go to chapel services, but always had fun once it started. The music was awesome, and the speaker was very engaging. Two of my girls were brought by the speaker (Miss Lori) as her assistants, so the girls always paid close attention to Emma and Jessica!

It is was pretty difficult to wake them up get them out of bed in the mornings. HA! Lights out is supposed to be at 10:00, which means none of the girls are actually asleep until after 10:15 - two hours later than some are used to going to bed at home!

Everyday was new and fun! Including: their self-initiated talent show:

Cooking s'mores:

Movie night: (Where we all put on our pjs and take our pillows and blankets to the tabernacle)

Camp food:

and hanging out:

I don't know where I will be next July (Indiana, Cambodia, or fundraising) but if I am available, I certainly plan on making next year my 8th year as a counselor at Junior Bible Camp!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

It's a pajama kind of day

I am home. I love my home, my bed, my bathroom, and my pajamas. I'd like to stay in my pajamas all day. In fact, it's almost 1:00p and I'm still in my pajamas. Quick review: May 6th I left for Africa. I was in Mozambique and South Africa for 7 weeks. I was home 6 days before going to Puerto Rico for 10 days. I arrived home last Thursday then went to camp Sunday. I got home yesterday, and on Monday I start working 2 jobs. Again, I'd like to stay in my pajamas all day.

Tiffany and I sleeping at the breakfast table in Puerto Rico
[I am not a druggie; those are malaria pills.]

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Life at Camp

I'm still out at camp and it's really been a great week. Last year was my best year in 6 years, and although I have been exhausted to the maximum, this year has been even better. I have five girls that have never been to camp or away from home, and they have had ZERO homesickness. All fourteen little girls have been mostly getting along, and they are playing well.

The first night some had difficulty sleeping because upstairs was loud (older girls are upstairs, younger girls are downstairs,) and because it was hot. However, last night it was absolutely silent only 30 minutes after lights-out at 10:00; of course they were certainly more tired after playing and swimming at Splash House all afternoon.

Alayna and Amara

Tonight's service is on the Salvation Message, and we are praying that many will make first-time commitments to accept Christ and His love. Following chapel we are having campfires as cabin groups.

Tomorrow we have chapel, crafts, and classes in the morning, then a carnival and cookout in the afternoon. I promised the girls that if they are good today and tomorrow, then they are allowed to have sleep-overs in each other's rooms on the last night. We'll see how that goes. :)