Wednesday, September 11, 2013


It's 9/11, this days weighs on my heart, not only today, pretty often. Like so many others my life changed 12 years ago. I woke up to heart breaking news that made it real that this life we are living can be over in a second. I didn't know fear like I experienced on that day, and I didn't know patriotism until then either.  

I love this land- I love being an American, I appreciate my freedom and I can't begin to thank those who have worked so hard to gain and secure it. Kind of like the song says, "I am proud to be an American..." 

As I drove around town today, I noticed our flags- flying half staff, I will never forget, this day will weigh heavy on my heart for as long as I live. 

God bless America! 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

celebrating and a little rambling...

The MR's grandmother had a birthday, we all
went to a fabulous lunch with family and friends
to celebrate her big day. This is the only pic I have from the trip, but clearly fun was had by all!

 My grandfather, who has silently declared me his
favorite granddaughter,
had a birthday celebration as well!
89 years young! All the kids, grandkids,
great grandkids and some family friends gathered for the famous "winkie burgers" and cake. I am not sure what we are doing to the poor man, but I am sure he likes that two girls are fighting over him...

I have been trying to run... well, lets be real, its a new activity I have dubbed "jalk" which is a nice fusion of a jog and a walk. If I can find someone with a pace I like, I call it "jalking" which is a combination of jogging, walking, and stalking the pace... Well the other morning I decided to keep my eyes out for things to make this 3 mile experience more fun, here are some things I thought were worth sharing...

And just for grins, I want to give a little shout out to my boys! I love these boys!

Keep in touch...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

They are not my own...

This is something that has been really weighing on my heart, and I have felt like maybe it wasn't for the world wide interweb to have, but this blog is mine, these stories are my life and these words are how I feel, and if i am going to share the glorious stories of these kids lives, I will also share the tough parts of my journey with them. So, here is a really hard truth I am struggling with...

They are not my own, the children in Zambia, they are not mine. They are there, with parents/grandparents or caretakers that get to make day to day decisions of their lives. They either protect them or they don't, they feed them or they let them go hungry, they love them or they loath them. I do not get to make those calls, I do not have a hand in how they are treated at home. I can get them to school through sponsorship, and pray for their health, happiness and safety, but that is ALL I can physically do for these sweet boys.

They are not my own, the children at Casa who I see once a week. They either go home to a biological family that hopefully has been "fixed" or adopted by a forever family that wanted so desperately to love a child as their own and opened their doors and hearts to bring them home. They are not mine to make health decisions for, they are not mine to do anymore than pray for and love for a few hours each week.

I got down in the dumps, I was looking at Facebook and all the cute kiddos going to school on the BIG first day of the new year, reading about moms feeling overwhelmed and proud, scared and shocked that time had flown by so fast. I read each post and prayed for each mom and kid. I thought about what it would mean to each of the kids that "are not mine" to have someone love them so much that they cried when they dropped them to school for the first time, or worried about them fitting in at their new middle school, or if they were really ready for all that high school is. What would these children "who are not mine" be able to do if someone cared for them like the moms of the kids I was reading about on FB.

They are not my own, they never will be. Luckily, they are all gifts of God and my only hope is they each feel him wrapping them in hugs of love each and every day.

I have been struggling with kids being placed in my life and taken away. I wrap my whole heart around each child that God so graciously places in my life, the ones in Zambia, the ones at Casa, the ones I didn't get to meet, my family member's kids, friend's kids. I love them entirely and without hesitation, and then they go, or I go, or there is distance between, or life just happens (or ends). God gives and he takes away, I know it is true, I know it is not in ill will, I know it is natural, but it just hurts sometimes. It is sometimes hard, and I sometimes can't wrap my head around it. 
If I can love "the least of these" with all my heart, why do they have to know any less love on this earth? I know God has a plan, I believe whole heatedly in that, but He didn't give me the great gift of patience and I want to see that plan clearly RIGHT NOW!!! And, somehow, I want to know that these children's plans are those of happily ever after, safety, health, full bellies and love. Most importantly a lot of love. I can believe that is the plan, but humanly, selfishly and very impatiently; I want to see it with my own eyeballs! 

I found out, one of my Zambian boys has moved, his Grandmother took him and his sibling to the Village (this is not a good move). He will not be able to go to school, I will probably never see him again. He begged me to help him and I thought his situation was good enough to stay at home with his family. I talked to his Grandmother, who promised me she would send him to school everyday. She moved him to the Village, where there is less than there is in Chaisa, very little hope or resources. He is not mine, but my heart is broken like he is...

The same question keeps replaying in my head, " how am I supposed to live this very blessed life, where I have need for nothing more than I have, I want for nothing , but can not give that to "those that are not mine." 

keep in touch

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

making friend on the "other side"

This is for the few of you that say my other posts are sad and make you cry...

I made some new friends on "the other side", they should make you smile...

 First up, the Burger's, I don't even know how to describe them. They are all crazy... I think Jan and the kids drove Mr Burger to crazy, but that's just my opinion! :) ----------------------------------proof------------------>


They invited me to be the lettuce of the family, as long as I am the crispy green leaves...  Looking forward to a life long friendship with this family.

Jan and I found ourselves on a little safari one afternoon while the rest of the crew was napping... we think it's a kudu, it was so wild, took both of us to calm it down and make it stand pretty for the picture...  Wild adventures at Chamba Valley Exotic Hotel...

On my Father's Heart trip I was joined by staff member Ashley and her precious daughter Riley. This is a sweet family, they have moved to Zambia to work with Family Legacy and are expecting their second child. Riley is an angel, she is so loving and sweet to the Zambian children (who are very interested in this small mazungu!)
These two girls love people, and clearly as Ashley walks
along this path with her daughter by her side,
they will make some drastic changes in the lives of those around them.
This mother let Ashley hold her child and Riley was right there to love him too!

She made fast friends with Chola's little sister Gift, and they both went to every home with us for our food drops. Seeing these two play all day was amazing!

After a long day of giving, we went to the city and grabbed a bite to eat, and luckily had a few extra minutes to let her play on the "bouncy house" outside of the mall. (for those of you confused, please keep in mind, the rich in Zambia are like us, the poor live on less than a dollar a day, so there are luxuries like restaurants, shopping, and fun activities, they are just not accessible to the people we are helping in the slums which make up a majority of the population of Zambia)

On Sunday, I gave Riley a Della's House shirt, b/c she is the cutest model EVER! We matched, like in every way!
Riley, "we have matching shirts,
we both have flip flops,
we both have blue in our skirts,
we both have blond hair, we match!"
For being such a big help on the food drops, I promised her some ice cream at the Sunday market (after we ate our lunch of coarse!)  Which added to the matching b/c we both got chocolate! Then we headed off for some shopping at the Sunday Market.
Then there is this lady... Brooke. She is the ketchup in the Burger family, not sure why I got so lucky to be the crispy green lettuce and she is ketchup, but if I had to guess she is probably Fancy Ketchup! :) She has a heart for these children that is indescribable. She has been to camp (close to if not) 5 times (I think). She sponsors a beautiful young lady at the Tree of Life named SELAH (say-lah) She is mamma bear to this cub of hers, anyone who says you can't love, worry, feel all the pain, tears, joy, and pure happiness in a child on the other side of the world, call this girl, she can tell you all about it! 

I wish I had a pic of her with Selah, I don't, so here is her showing her abundant love for all children with this little cutie we found outside of the school in the Garden compound.

Sami is officially adopted into the R clan! She is one of us! She went to Camp Life solo this year and I am pretty sure she is going to be back! She was a natural with her girls, and they fell in love with her in about half a minute! No surprise, she is one of the sweetest girls I have ever met. A total trooper too! The minute we got off the plane she jumped on a bus with Trish, Erin and I to deliver some blessings and food to Erin's kids from last year. She was a photographer and a huge help with all the stuff we had to deliver. I am looking forward to this friendship, bc I truly believe great things are ahead for this special lady!

These are a handful of the folks that are supporting Della's House with our LOVE t shirts. If you want to support go to Della's House. Spread the word and show the LOVE!!

And now for the blessings I have prayed for since I left Zambia last year. Here is some quick background to help you understand why these two people were so special. Last year I got 6 kids that needed a lot of help, they could not speak English, I needed Zambian partners who were strong in faith, in our objective and passionate for the children placed in our group. Without harping on the negative, lets just say, I didn't have those two people last year. I prayed, I prayed, I prayed some more for a strong Zambian man who could understand these boys situations, feel empathy with their stories, and relate to the lives of each one of them. By the Grace of God (and Holly the girl in charge at FL) I got Elijah! He pastors at his church, I am pretty sure he knows every verse in the bible and he prays in big, loud, proud, thankful, believing Zambian style. There is nothing better when it comes to prayer than standing in the middle of a bunch of Zambian's, they pray out loud, and with some serious passion, the feeling I get when this happens is up there on the list of "my favorite moments in life".

Elijah took the tough stuff, sex, drugs, alcohol, HIV, and life in general and had a candid conversation with the boys. HIV is a big discussion, there are a lot of stories in Zambian culture as to how it is transmitted and what can be done to "fix" it. My boys are at the age that they need to know about these things, and Elijah made that happen! He prayed over them and shared his testimony, which was good for my boys to hear. They see struggle and pain every day, they do not see a lot of "Elijah's" who make it out on the right side with a job, a wife, a solid future and a love for the Lord. It was awesome to hear him tell his story and watch the boys listen so intently, glance up at him and nod when he said something that touched them. I will post and entire blog about Elija, so stay tuned, but I couldn't leave him out of my list of new friends!

The second part of the Zambian partnership was Elizabeth, she is adorable, she sings in the praise group at her church, leads a bible study for girls in her congregation. She was a blessing to my boys, she taught them the Evangicube (tool they use to Evangelize on community day), while Elijah and I were at one on one blessing time with a child, she would have the rest of the group doing an activity I brought, discussing the lessons from the big sessions or playing games to pass the time. I can not lie, she is pretty, and some of my boys are teens and I was a little worried they would be flirty with her, but she was like a big sister to each of them, and I was so happy with that. When we were in the community, she was so attentive to each of the kids as they evangelized to the folks in their community, she helped the boys lead 4 people to Christ and made sure each of the boys had the opportunity to explain the Good Word. She is kind of soft spoken, but the boys always listened when she spoke, and they respected her.
 And "this one" she is watching over my boys everyday! She is one of two, (Victoria) women who work as Discipleship Leaders in Chaisa. She and Victoria recommend each of the kids that go to camp, they go to each child's homes to assess the situation, they go to each home of a child who is sponsored to explain the program.. They are with all of these kids everyday. If a child stops coming to school, they go find them. Fanny knew were each of my kids lived. The first day I met her, I started rattling off names of each of my boys, she could tell me if they were good at school, what has happened in their family since last year and then could find them in a random group of children waiting on the side of the road. She promised to watch out for my boys and to give them a hug for me regularly. She is a single mother of one boy, Paul, she lives with her twin brothers (17ish) and mother in a two bedroom house. Her heart is big and her love of these kids is never ending. The kids love her too, as we passed through Chaisa, she would talk to all of them, greet their mothers and grandmothers and flash her big beautiful smile. I will be looking for her next year, she and Victoria have such an important job. There are thousands of children in Chaisa, they are responsible for finding the "least of these" getting them to camp and hopefully see them through the sponsorship program. They are responsible for communicating with the families of each of the children in school at Chaisa Lifeway Christian Academy and keeping the lines of communication open with the American staff in Dallas regarding each child. They have a big job, I believe it is only by the Grace of God and a Heart for the Children of Zambia that these two ladies have been able to do half the job they are doing!

Keep in touch...


Monday, August 5, 2013

Let's bless these kids... part 2 of 2

Next stop was Haggai's house
Haggai was at camp for the first time this year and the sweet Hogan's are his new sponsors. His father greeted me before we entered the house. He is the only father I have met of any of kids. He seemed kind and loving of Haggai, but also looked much older than the dad of a boy Haggai's age. I didn't get details but there is something wrong with his vision, I am guessing he may be blind in one eye and limited vision in the other, but that is just assumption from a very brief visit with him.

Because this food drop/ sponsorship is a little unique, I spoke with Haggai's father about allowing him into our school program and wanted a commitment from him that he agreed to our program and Haggai would be sponsored going forward. He agreed, and all was well. The blessing started pouring out. Haggai was so happy and excited. His father sat on the couch watching all of the toys and clothes and gifts come out. I showed them the photo of Haggai's new sponsors, and they both smiled wide. Haggai placed the photo on the table and studied the two beautiful faces smiling back at  his, then he held it and giggled while I tried to take a pic of him holding a pic...

Next we shared all of the food blessings with the family, his father was appreciative. Haggai called his younger brother in for a family photo and it was a wrap. The father had a light in the house, it was the first home I had been into that had a light, he was so proud of this, and wanted us to stay behind to show us how it worked. Haggai was immediately back to unpacking all of his gifts and making sure the traveling mob of children we had acquired by this time did not get away with anything.

I am so grateful for the Hogan's support, Haggai is my least educated and most in need of Lifeway Christian Academy. I believe he will really thrive in this program and although he is starting out a little behind, I think he is going to be an exceptional student and I can not wait to see the progress a year makes when I see him again.

Last stop: Issaiac
This may have been my hardest stop. Issaiac stole my heart in the first minute of camp last year. He is beautiful, this sounds silly, but he is beautiful, like I think he should be a model beautiful. He is also very peaceful, something about looking in his eyes is calming to me. And then there is a smile, that isn't given away, but shared like light in a very dark room. His smile is something that warms my heart. SO... I had an instant click with Issaiac, we were fast friends from day one last year.

My parents sponsor this kid, and it amazes me how much they have fallen in love with this precious child. I had blessing galore for Issaiac. My mother had made him a blanket, Dad sent letters and books he found on their Alaskan vacation. I read the book to him, and explained that they had been on a big boat. I showed him his shoes and pillow, clothes and toys. The coolest part of the giving was when I told him they sent crayons, and I asked if he had ever seen so many crayons (it was a large box) and when I opened the box, his eyes got huge and he gasped (along with the dozen other children who thought that was awesome).

I showed him the pictures my Dad sent for him of my brother's kids, our grandparents, my mom, and of coarse the boys being cowboys on horses. Then I read the letter Dad sent, and I can't remember exactly what it said, but as I read it I cried, and Issaiac patted my arm, he is strong, he is a good kid and he is so blessed.

I told his mom about my parents and their sponsorship of Issaiac and how they had sent all of this food for her and the children. She was grateful, although very quiet, she was gracious.

Issaiac , his mom, younger brother and I went outside to take a few snaps and I was done.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Let's bless these kids... part 1

Okay, you should have the general idea of the Father's Heart home visits by this point, if not, go here or here.

First, I am going to fill you in on some things going on during all of the food drops.

~When a white girl shows up in the compound and starts delivering gifts and food, Zambian's come out of the woodwork! Children create small mobs and follow you around. They are so sweet and curious, they think it is so interesting to have a white person roaming around their neighborhood. Tiny toddlers just learning to walk, kids that forget to put pants on, teenagers hanging with friends, they all come out and look at what is going on. Lots of bare little feet walking through dirt, mud and trash watching and giggling the entire time. Women washing clothes in the ally or cooking dinner on the front step all look to see what you are up to, they smile, wave and stare, then go about what they were previously doing.
~They don't have phones, but they have voices and feet and they spread the word! As soon as I show up in the compound, children start telling other children, they spread the word like wild fire and before I know it, I have kids from all over swarming around. It is amazing to me how quickly they all show up and how children will recognize me from camp!
~The photos of this trip are taken by Brandon, a staff member at Family Legacy, seeing this trip from his perspective in the photos, and actually being there has greatly impacted this experience for me.

First up: Kennedy
   Kennedy is one of the MR and I's sponsored children. He is small, but has a large personality, he is quiet, but can make himself heard, he is so sweet, and I just adore him! I will be posting blogs about each of the boys in a week, so read all about him in a blog to come! For last years info look here.
 When we show up, Kennedy is not home. In Zambia, children start roaming the compound as soon as they learn to walk, or have  a sibling caring them. So, to find Kennedy, we asked three small children to go find him and bring him home.

Sure enough, within 5 minutes, Kennedy is home and looking a little shocked to see me in his house! I had told him I would be by to see him one last time on Saturday, maybe he didn't believe me or understand me, bc he looked so surprised that his "white person" was standing in the main room (which is the dining room, kitchen, living room, and all the children's bedroom).

   Blessing time: I gave Kennedy a new pair of tennis shoes, we put them on his sweet little feet immediately and he was all smiles! I had a backpack for him stuffed with blessings,  I pulled out a soccer ball, new clothes, flip flops, coloring books, colors, pencils, notepads, sunglasses, pillow and a big warm blanket my mom made for him, that backpack was like Mary Poppins case, stuff just kept coming out! He was so happy, he kept hugging me and saying thank you. Then came the food, I told Kennedy that all the backpack blessing were for him, then looked at his Aunt (his caretaker) and said that all of the food was for the family, she wept, she was so grateful, I told her most of what was in the bags, showed her the eggs, bag of mealie meal, and the meat.

She was standing up when I told her all of this and when I finished she fell to the ground on her side and started clapping, then rolled to the other side and clapped, then she stood up and hugged me and said thank you. I wasn't quite sure what had just happened, and no one explained this behavior to me immediately, but I eventually found out that this is an expression of extreme gratitude. Whew, I thought she had fainted and I was pretty sure 911 was not an option! With that, we prayed with Kennedy and his Aunt then left them with all of the blessing and headed to the next home.


Second stop: Chola and Francis
Chola (Rueben) (in the green shirt) and Francis (I love my life shirt) are brothers. MR and I sponsor Chola  and MR's cousin sponsors Francis. As we drove to their house, we saw their Grandmother working at her vegetable stand in the market, we asked her to come home for a bit to visit with us. She joined us and the boys were waiting when we arrived. I had told Chola  on Friday, that I would be by on Saturday, I saw Francis on Thursday and told him the same, so they knew not to go too far! We unloaded all of the food and gifts inside. Chola  had worn one flip flop to camp all week, so I asked an American camper if he would sell me his shoes at the end of the week (he had another pair to wear home), he GAVE me his shoes and I quickly tied them on Chola's precious feet. Oddly, he took them off and put them away, maybe I am crazy and he likes being barefoot, OR my fear is, they are Nike and someone might hurt him for them. I don't know, I have to believe that God is going to watch over Chola and his new blue tennis and that Chola will wear them to keep warm and protect his feet!
 Blessings: Francis and Chola both got pillows and blankets (made by my mom with love and care), backpacks filled with school supplies, soccer balls, toys, deodorant, soap, crayons, and clothes. They were so happy, they just kept taking things out and looking at them. Grandmother seemed equally happy to have all the blessings for the boys.
     Side note: Grandmother to Chola is Mother to Francis, and there are several other children in the house, Francis' twin brother (but they don't look anything alike), a younger brother (who is also sponsored and going to Lifeway with Chola) and a little sister named Gift, and she is just that, a beautiful little Gift! So I don't really know who is brother/nephew/sister/niece and I am not sure that the kids are totally understanding of it all either (I might try to explain this in the Chola (Rueben) blog, but it gets a little complicated...)
   I then showed Grandmother all of the food blessings, she did exactly what Kennedy's Aunt did and fell to the floor, clapped, rolled over and clapped some more! It was about 30 minutes after this episode that someone filled me in on what was going on. I had figured at that point it must be an act of appreciate, but wasn't totally sure! After that, there were big hugs and lots of love!

Francis' twin brother came in, he had about 30 rubber bracelets on his arms, I asked him about them and he gave me two... this is mind blowing to me,
 I am giving them gifts, they are not supposed to be giving me things! I acted like they were made of gold and was very thankful for his generosity!
 At the end of our visit, we all joined hands in a circle and Fanny prayed in their native language. While we are in the house, random children are coming in to see what is going on, so we have collect an addition dozen or so kids in a small space, which could create total chaos with activity and talking and generally kids being kids, but not here, everyone is calm, cool and collected.

As we grabbed hands with our children, Grandmother and the rest of the family to pray, the "add on" children press their sweet hands together in front of their beautiful faces and pray with us. I don't realize this is going on until the end when the "Amen" is much louder and coming from farther than our immediate circle. It made my heart melt, and luckily, I have a picture of them praying behind us.


Stop number 3:Rodrick 
 So Rodrick is sponsored by my lifelong friend Kim. This is one of the "shifted" sponsorships, but I am feeling confident that Rodrick will go to school and this is going to be a good match! Kim had sent gifts with me for her original sponsor child Rabbi, and luckily, the two boys are similar in size and build, so the sweatshirt she sent was perfect for Rodrick! She sent him a warm blanket and a fluffy pillow, coloring books and school supplies in a really cool orange backpack. Rodrick also got a soccer ball, a lot of toys, pencils, colors, stickers and lots of other neat stuff. Kim sent a photo of herself which he loved, he stared at it when I told him who she was and that she wanted to send him to school.
Kim provided a food drop for Rodrick's family, his mother was so thankful. This was by far the smallest house we visited, and after we had the three bags of food, crate of eggs, 50 lb bag of mealie meal, there was not a lot of space for us!
I talked to Rodrick's mother about him going to school, she agreed that he would attend Lifeway, and was so thankful to be able to have a child attending school.

We prayed with the family and then said our goodbyes. As I left, there was a long hug with Rodrick telling him that I was so excited to have found a sponsor for him so quickly and that he would be attending school soon. This was a blessing that no one was expecting that day, so this was very heavy on my heart and I wanted Rodrick to be appreciative and excited about his new opportunity, and he is, and that makes makes my heart smile!

 Number 5: Taurai
   I didn't have this little stinker at camp, so this is the first time I am seeing this kid in one year.

However, I did have a kid in my group that new Taurai and told him I was coming to see him. I wear a bracelet that has my boys names from camp last year stamped on it. I was wearing it the first day of camp and Richard noticed the name Taurai, he told me he was friends with him, and I asked him to say hello for me and let him know I would be by on Saturday to see him. Richard returned to camp the next day so excited to tell me that he went to Taurai, told him I was here and he said, "Taurai says hello and he love you!" LOVE...

   Taurai's sponsor is my cousin Bunny (and her family), and it is a perfect match. Taurai reminds me of Bunny and I's grandfather, Elmo. He (Taurai and Elmo) are characters, always making people laugh, enjoy the company of others and generally happy people. They both love a good story that makes you laugh at the end (in the middle and hopefully at the start as well). So needless to say, when Bunny agreed to sponsor one of my children, this was an obvious pair in my eyes. That being said, I would never in a million years think that I could find anymore similarities to our family in this pair, BUT, I did! Taurai lives with his grandmother, she is exactly like our grandmother, Winkie! No joke folks, she is the Zambian Winkie! Crazy, right?
She is strong, but kind and full of love. She lets Tauria be a character, sits back patiently watching, never taking an eye off this kid. You can tell she treasures him (which is odd in Zambia) she sees his light, and it is a bright one. She has a clean home, with fabric covers for the chair and couch in the main room, as well as a lace "curtain" on the wall. She sat next to me the entire time, smiling, patting my leg when Taurai would pull another gift from his bag with excitement and thanking me continually along the way. I showed Taurai the photo of Bunny and her family, which I am guessing is probably being displayed on the wall of their home at this very moment. I explained our relationship and that Bunny's kids know all about him and that I made them a picture book from our time together last year.
   Taurai was running and leaping into my arms full of gifts and blessings before we actually got to his house! It was awesome, we were so excited to see each other! After we pulled out all of his clothes, shoes, blanket, toys, books, ball, colors, pencils etc, he put on his new sunglasses and started putting on a Taurai show. This kid could make anyone smile, he just has that knack, and I love that so much about him. I showed Grandma all of the food blessings that Bunny had provided them, she was thankful, and in that Grandma way, she hugged me and said thank you multiple times, I felt like I should thank her for Taurai, for loving him and taking such good care of him and letting us be a part of life... it's a grandma thing... We prayed together and then it was time to go.

When we went outside there were lots of little ones waiting to see what was going on. I got to sit down on the front steps and hang out with Taurai, I was telling stories of him from camp in 2012, the way he would slap his knee, laugh from his belly then point and wink at me at the end of his story.
   I could have stayed there for the rest of the day catching up with him.

Sorry this is taking so long, but there are so many things I want to share about these blessing times!  Stay tuned for the wrap up of these stories!!!!

Keep in touch