Oct 5, 2011

i hate goodbyes...

If you happened to read my last blog you know that I currently have a baby boy in hospital. Thankfully he is doing fabulously and is set to be released on Friday! Our baby shares a room with 5 other babies and his next door bed mate was a very sick little girl named Tina who was seemingly abandoned. All the time that our baby has been in hospital she has been all alone. On Monday we inquired with the hospital's social work department and expressed our desire to claim her as our own if she was truly abandoned. The social worker on duty didn't know if she would be available for adoption but gave us permission to tend to her as we saw fit.

So on Monday afternoon when I came to visit our boy I also brought our new girl a few blankets, hats and a few items of clothing to keep her warm. After I spent some time with my boy I went to hold my sick girl for the first time. She was attached to a feeding tube, IV and oxygen mask wrapped in just a few dingy hospital sheets and naked except for her tiny, cheap nappy. The clothes I brought were too big for her frail little body but I put her in her pretty new pink hat and wrapped her snugly in her yellow star and pink blankets. I held her close and whispered to her plenty of the truths that I knew about her: That she was wonderfully and fearfully made. That she was meant for amazing things. That she was loved and wanted and that she belonged. She opened her little dark eyes framed by gorgeous, thick lashes and starred at me for the briefest of moments before slipping back to sleep. I laid her back in bed and then Auntie Ingrid and I prayed for her healing and that the Lord would allow her to be our baby girl. And then we said our goodbyes and I headed home.

I had an early morning on Tuesday taking one of my Starfish to a surgery consultation appointment at the hospital. Thankfully we only waited for 3 hours or so until the Doctor came, checked him out and sent us on our way. I was in line waiting to check out when Ingrid texted me from the hospital writing, "Hi Aunty. I just want to let u know that baby Tina pass away". I stood there with one of my sweet boys in my arms and cried. The Lord had answered our prayers and healed our little girl by taking her home. Sadly, she was alone in death as she was alone in her brief life but I take comfort in know that unseen arms held her as she was ushered into the presence of our God and King. I am thankful that I had the privilege of holding her and loving on her before she went home.

Thank you to those of you who prayed for her and for those of you who are praying for my baby "J". I trust all of my babies to my Father and I trust Him and His decision to take Tina home even though it's been a hard goodbye for me... even though it's just a goodbye for now. I look forward to the day on the other side of eternity when I'll get to meet Tina healed and whole. It's going to be a wonderful hello to be sure!

Sick baby girl

Oct 2, 2011

My How Time Flies...

My cherished family and friends, please be gracious towards me and forgive me for going FOREVER in between updates. As usual I have been a busy little bee and the Lord has continued to bring us new babies. Since I last blogged we have received 13 babies and I’ve handed over 5 babies to their forever families. I had 6 precious but fleeting weeks with my youngest sister, Ashlee. I am so thankful that she came to stay… even though I sent her home tired from the busy pace I keep here taking care of my 45 babies. We were able to do some fun things and see a bit of what Johannesburg has to offer!

I am house sitting for our pediatrician this weekend that gave me time to sit, relax, read, and journal with two 10-month-old golden retrievers either playing or sleeping at my feet. Daisy and Sally are like two overgrown toddlers: super cute, insatiably curious and constantly sticking some non-food item into their mouths! For the first time since I moved here to Josie I stayed in my pjs the entire day long and just spent a wonderful day actually resting; and it was a splendid treat.

We are heading into the summer months here and that spells out lots of wind, sun and rain all at once! Last night a huge storm rolled in and I slept the night away while thunder, lightening and buckets of rain poured down all night long. It’s still gusty out this morning, rain clouds in the distance but sun pouring in as I write. There is a beautiful flower bush right outside the window blooming the most fragrant purple and white flowers. I can’t see it from where I am sitting but every so often the breeze will catch the blossoms and send in their delicate yet intoxicating scent reminding me of the beauty hiding just outside my window. It’s easy to look at what fills my days as mundane: driving in traffic to visit my sick baby in the hospital, changing nappies, feeding babies, scheduling and driving through traffic to make doctor’s appointments, fetching new babies, training Aunties, monitoring sick babies, … did I mention driving in traffic to get practically anywhere I go?! But each and every day, if my eyes and heart are open, I get these beautiful glimpses of eternity in the seemingly ordinary nature of my days. For example...

We picked up a beautiful and strapping 11 day old whose parents wanted to consent for his adoption. Because of busy schedules we had him stay the night at Baby House 3 before we brought him home to live at Baby House 2. While he as at BH3 the Aunties gave him a temporary name that means “God’s favor and protection” before he met the Auntie at BH2 who was chosen to officially give him his name. When I placed him into Auntie Bebe’s arms to name him, pray for him and welcome him into our home she only took a minute or so before she repeated the name he had already been given at BH3! The Lord had so obviously already chosen this little guy's name. He knows each one of our names, our stories, our hearts. It does a person good to remember that our cause is not far from the Lord!

Me and our new blessing...

Auntie Bebe praying for our newest blessing...

At the end of August we had babies coming out of our ears! We were in the process of quickly opening BH3 but in the interim we had the pleasure of having 2 newborn babies in our home for over a week! Queen Bee stayed with me and Moe-Moe took turns sharing his days and nights with Ashlee and my roommates. Queen Bee came through the Baby Bin at BH2 early one Saturday morning and Auntie immediately called me to take this newborn to Casualties because her cord was unclamped and so new she was still attached to her placenta. When I finally got her checked in and had a chance to unwrap her she was so cold she had turned this creamy lavender color that I had never seen a baby be before. I swiftly undressed her and stuck her under my shirt to get her skin-to-skin in an attempt to get her warm. After a few hours she was given a bill of clean health and she came home with me. I love all my babies in unique and special ways but I am still marveling at the bond and connection I have with this little bee that spent the first 10 days of her life with me. I continue to be surprised by the depths of love that continues to be birthed in my heart for each new baby we receive. The absolute best part is that is not a love that I am conjuring up on my own but Christ’s love pouring through me…and that is what they will remember about this time with us at Door of Hope: Christ’s love in us.

Me and Queen Bee working at the Office (which happens to be at BH3 where she lives...)

She likes to cuddle get cuddles in the sling while I work

Queen Bee working on some morning stretches

One of the divine parts of Ashlee’s visit was her getting to meet all of the babies and Aunties I love so much. Each time one of the Aunties squeezed her hello or babies cooed at her my heart melted just a tiny bit. One of the things that helps my heart keep loneliness and homesickness at bay is the hope and promise of eternity with the Savior and with all of those who call upon His name. I am so thankful that because of Christ we are and will forever be united because of the precious blood of Christ. My family here welcomed Ashlee in as one of their own and it blessed my socks off!
Jackson getting some Auntie Ashlee cuddles. Isn't he a giant? He's not even 8 months yet!

One of my toddlers showing off his kissing talent!

Aunties Lucy, Ashlee, Marceline, Francinah and Angela from BH2

Sometimes my vision gets blurry and I get weighed down by the “hows” and “what ifs” of caring for some many children and having to trust the Lord in so many new and really stressful areas (like sick kiddos or raising support) but I am so thankful for the whiffs of eternity that the Lord blows my way each and every day! Just like the flowers hidden just out of my sight, eternity is just a breath away from each of us. I pray that you will seek out the reminders of eternity that the Father is sending your way today.

A blurry yet artsy pic of me kissing one of my twinsie bops!

Earlier this month of my new baby boys, baby “J” who was just celebrating his 2-week birthday started running a fever. I immediately took him to our pediatrician who sent us straight to Casualties. They ended up admitting him and diagnosing him with Bacterial Meningitis. Poor little buddy will have to be in the hospital for 21+ days to receive his antibiotic treatment via IV. Please pray that he will continue to improve and be released as soon as possible. Please pray that he will not contract any of the illness that his roommates have and that we will be a blessing as we care for him in the midst of so many hurting families. Also be praying for one of his roommates, baby “T”, a very sick baby girl who was seemingly abandoned after her mom passed away. She is 2 months old, super tiny and all alone. Pray that if she has truly been abandoned that we will be able to claim her for our family and that she will recover from her current chest infection and start eating on her own.

Getting some cuddles in. I've been trying to visit him and whichever Auntie is scheduled to be with him everyday!

One of the hardest things I've had to do this September was say goodbye to my friend, roommate and assistant, Lisa. She arrived just days before I did last October and now she's abandoned me to go back home (insert dramatic sob here). She's now back in Wisconsin with her family. Would you please pray for her as she walks through missing us at Door of Hope and as she seeks His face about the possibility of her returning next year? Lisa we miss you!

Making sad faces at her going away dinner @ Monte Casino. Gourmet Garage, baby!

Thank you so much for those of you who have continued to hold my babies and me in your prayers. As of the 21st of this month I will have been here for a year! Can you believe it?! Time is so strange here, it feels like I’ve been away from the US forever but only here for so short of a time. I will be returning to the US on December 1st. I am beyond excited to see my precious family and friends! I’d love to share about my adventures as much as I can! I am praying that the Lord will direct my steps in returning to my babies. I am praying about being in California for 6 to 8 weeks and then returning if the Lord sees fit to provide the funds I need to do so. Please be praying for me as I seek the Lord about my 2012. If you happen to live in CA I would love to come and share with you, your church or your small group about my adventures…I’m booking meetings already, so let me know if you want to get together.

Sending you much love from South Africa…XOXOXOXOXO love, Nicole

P.S. When Allison and Megan came to visit they brought me many wonderful presents for me and my babies. One complete surprise gift came from my dear friend Martha and her quilting circle. The made me the most gorgeous quilt out of my old mission trip and youth ministry event t-shirts. It is such a beautiful memory piece of the 10 years that I spent in vocational youth ministry. Here is a picture of one of the sides. So many memories and stories of God's goodness, provision and love in one comfy, cozy quilt...

Little Moose Heads Home

I am not sure how time flies by so quickly but somehow 712 days seems like they flew right by! It feels like just yesterday we got this...