Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Oh what a night!

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The face paint lasted all of 10 minutes!!

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She was burning up in our 80 degree Texas weather!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

They call him the Fireman...

Well, this story has been itching to be told for some time now...

A little background first. After living in "town" in Zambia for about 9 months, we really felt like God was calling us to move out into the bush and live like the Zambian people really do. There was a rural area that was 3 hours from the nearest grocery store that we felt drawn to--Chitongo. We did the culturally appropriate things of going to talk to the headman and request some land to build our mud hut. The "city councilor" (yes, in the bush...Zambians love to be "official") showed us where our land was on July 4, 2004.

As we looked at our 1/2 acre of land, we thought about what needed to be done first. "Well, ya know, the Zambians always burn fires to clear their land!" We knew this, yet we didn't know any of the specifics. It shouldn't matter though, right? We had some matches in the truck and we knew enough to go and grab an axe and chop down some branches to use to beat out the fire once our land was clear.


So, Blu struck a match, and lit a small fire on our land. We noticed immediately that a neighbor girl came by, chopped a limb off of a tree, and stood nearby watching. We wondered if she wanted to help? Suddenly, we realize that the fire is spreading pretty quickly. I (wearing a skirt and big clunky shoes) was not willing to help beat the fire, but I was quite content to point out to Blu "oh honey it's getting bigger over there" and he would then run over and beat it. (see picture below..this is the start of the fire)

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We realized quickly that the fire was out of control. How do I even describe it? Blu was running from one side to the next trying to keep it small. In a period of about 45 seconds, the fire just came alive and we were completely helpless. It was roaring and there was so much heat. We can laugh about it now, but it was the most terrified we have ever been. You see, we look up and see the fire burning as far as we can see..and all we can see beyond the fire are little huts with grass roofs. Blu is screaming and begging people to help us--people are running up and grabbing huge branches and doing what they can to help. I am standing there helplessly trying not to cry!

To make a long and terrifying story a little shorter, the fire reached the huts and there were several men sitting outside. They didn't look worried until they realized that a white man had started this fire. They quickly went to their wells and poured water around their huts in a circle to keep out the fire, then they calmly went and sat back down and laughed as Blu continued to try to beat it out! The fire finally reached the road where it died out. Blu ran over to me pouring sweat, covered in black ash, and his throat was burning and he was hoarse. When it was all said and done, every bit of ground you can see in the above picture was black...

*When it was all over the people who helped us just stood there looking at us. I realized we had some chocolate chip cookies in the truck so I ran to get them and passed them out. They all walked away happy! (Keep in mind, this was only our 2nd visit to the village, so nobody knew who we were or what we were doing there!)

*When the fire was gone, we realized that Blu had started the fire at the END of our land, and because of the wind it had blown the opposite looking back, we had burned an entire field of land that wasn't ours.

*A year later, when we would meet people, they would say "oh! we were talking around the fire last night telling the story of you starting the fire!!" Everyone knew who we were after that!

*2 years later, when we were back in the States, our supervisors were at our village when someone else started a fire that got out of control. People didn't know what was going on, but they knew that our supervisors were there, so they started yelling at them and blaming them for starting the fire again! We gave white people a bad reputation I guess!

*This fire story is just the tip of the iceberg...there is another fire story...coming soon....


Sunday, October 28, 2007


I realized after I wrote this how many of you are reading this who are preparing to travel to Liberia, Africa in the near future!! And here I am writing about getting malaria after 2 days and having worms shoot out of my husband's stomach!!! :) Sorry about that!! No worries--you'll all be ok! :)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sickness in Zambia

We had, of course, been warned about getting malaria when living in Zambia because it is so prevalent there. We were instructed as to how only the female mosquito carries malaria, and she only flies from dusk until dawn, so it is really in the evening that you have to be so careful. We took malaria preventive medicine, used spray, and used mosquito nets. We also learned that malaria takes about 7 days to show itself after you are bitten. We had been in Zambia for 9 days when I came down with "something.." I felt the sudden need to just lay down and it was like I couldn't move. I went from shivering with chills all over me to pouring sweat. I was vomiting, having diarrhea, and very high fever. I seriously thought I was going to die! I remember laying on the cold bathroom floor in some people's house that we barely knew (we had only been there 9 days!) wanting my mama. They decided I had malaria, so they took me to a local clinic. There, I was given a "booklet" that was to be my medical record. As the doctor got set up to do a finger prick to test my blood, I quickly realized that I was having an African doctor poke me with a needle in an HIV country...I was so sick I hardly cared. The test came back negative, as it usually does with malaria unless you have had it for quite awhile, but they started me on meds anyway. They gave me 3 pills in a tiny ziploc bag with instructions to take them right away when I got home. I took them, threw up once, and almost immediately begin to feel better. My mom later asked "what did they give you? what was it called?" "Um, I don't know Mom...just some pills in a ziploc bag..." :) She freaked out! So, that means that I was bitten by a malaria mosquito in the capitol city about 2 days after I got there! Amazingly, during the rest of our 2 years there, I never got malaria, even when we lived out in the bush, even when I was pregnant (when it is especially dangerous!)

I was absolutely addiced to roasted corn on the cob that was sold on the side of the road by ladies who were roasting on their little fires. The kernels were rock hard and it was just SOOO yummy! One day, I asked Blu to bring one home for me and he came back with one from the Ndeke compound. I had never gotten one from there and I noticed that it was cold. But of course I ate it anyway!! The next day, I was literally pooping my guts out. I couldn't even take a sip of water without having to run to the bathroom. It was awful!! Once again, 3 magic pills in a tiny ziploc bag did the trick! And I never ate another corn cob again...

Let's see...Blu got sick a few times...we suspect he had malaria once, and he got sick a couple of times from drinking out of wells that he knew he shouldn't have...but his sickness tops them all...

All of the missionaries in Zambia warned us about the "putsie fly" that would attach itself to wet clothes and then burrow itself into your body and make you sick. So, if you washed clothes and dried them on the line, you were supposed to either iron them or stick them in the dryer to get rid of the fly. Our dog in Zambia had puppies, and they sadly got putsie flies when they were babies. The putsie fly isn't really a fly. We would see a big round spot that looked infected on the puppies and if we squeezed it a long worm would shoot out. We would then step on it and squash it. Blu did this on a daily basis to try to help out our puppies (they all later died :( ) Anyway, one day Blu noticed a little red spot on his stomach. He wondered what it was and when he squeezed it he noticed a little green thing shoot out. He put it in his hand and showed it to me and said "Darbi..what does that look like?" Sure enough, you could see a little worm wiggling. That came out of my husband's stomach!!!!!!! He got pretty sick for about a day and was then fine. Disgusting!!

Overall, God protected us so much when we were in Zambia. We were in close contact with HIV, Tuberculosis, Cholera, and tons of other diseases, yet by God's grace we only got minor things that the doctors there could take care of! It's amazing to think that the same things we got, like malaria, are what kills the Zambians, simply because they can't afford the 3 magic pills in a tiny ziploc bag. (which cost about $1.50)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


So yesterday I kept two children ages 3 and 6 months...along with my 2 year old and 1 year old it was a bit crazy!! The 3 year old boy kept pulling toys out of our toy box and saying "oh no...what's wrong with this?!" where I would proceed to tell him "it's broken..." I realized that so many of our toys were broken, and so I got that whole "I'm a bad mom because..." thought, realizing that my kids didn't have any nice toys.

Then, last night, I asked Blu for an idea for a Zambian story for my blog. He said "why don't you tell them about the toys the kids played with in Zambia?" OUCH GOD! What a smack in the face!!

In Zambia, every child has a soccer ball. This consists of "Walmart bags" (there called Shoprite bags) wadded together methodically and secured with tape. These balls were sturdy and the kids could play soccer for hours with them!

We also saw children flying kites quite frequently. These were also made out of Shoprite sacks, wooden sticks, and string. Kids would also roll tires down the road with a stick for hours of entertainment.

My favorite toys were little cars that were made out of wire. Kids used things like plastic milk lids for the wheels, and then they built a huge car contraption around it. It would even have a little steering wheel, and it had a long wire that would come up to their hand so they could drive their car everywhere. This is the closest most of them would ever get to owning a car.

Kids would dig in our trash bin when we weren't looking and pull out things like tuna fish cans to use as "toys."

So some of my kids toys are broken...some of the batteries don't work...oh how we Americans "suffer." Shame on me.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Who is Colored??

So I was reading my friend Denise's blog last night and it was about "colored people." It reminded me of another Zambian story...

One day Blu was outside playing soccer with all of the neighborhood kids. Suddenly, one precious little girl asked, "Meester Bru, what is it like to be colored?" Blu was caught way off guard and said, "What do you mean?" She informed him that anyone in Zambia who was not "completely black" was considered to be "colored." Therefore, they saw Arabs, whites, and people who were considered "half" to be "colored!" When Blu told her that black people used to be called "colored" in America, she burst out laughing and danced around singing "I'm colored...I'm colored!"

It's funny how we all have our own definitions of "colored", yet I doubt that word is even in God's vocabulary!

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Well, my birthday is Sunday, but somehow I have turned this whole weekend into my "birthday weekend!" :) I don't know how I managed that.. So my parents have the kids for 3 whole days!! It is so weird to have Cambree gone since this is really the first time since she was born (because of nursing..) Anyway, so last night, Blu took me to SIX FLAGS for my present!! It was the Fright Fest so it was open from 6-11, and we ended up leaving at 10 because we had ridden EVERYTHING!! It was so much fun, no long lines, nice weather!! We had such a blast!! It was a big sacrifice for Blu to take me because he is terrified of heights, and I made him ride everything since it was my birthday! Tonight we will take advantage of the kids being gone to go play some tennis after a church fellowship. And then tomorrow, we will go eat at Chili's! What a great weekend!

On a lighter note, if you are reading this, can you please pray for our church. Blu is the youth pastor, and I can't say much obviously, but there is about to be a split. Please pray that people's hearts will be softened and that God will have His way in our church. A big vote is Oct 28th, so please keep this situation in your prayers...

Happy Birthday to ME!!!! :)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Language Blunders...

Well, I've already posted about my blunder in thinking that "dote" was a special pregnancy vitamin, instead of DIRT. Here are a couple more blunders to make you smile:

1) One day Blu told our neighbor he was going to the market for madada. (tomatoes) Our neighbor looked really confused and kept asking Blu to repeat himself. Blu told him that he had seen madada in the market around back and that he needed to buy five. Our neighbor looked skeptical and finally just said "ok..." and left. Blu walked to the market and asked someone for the "madada." Everyone just looked at him strangely, and some laughed. Blu finally said "you know! Tomatoes!!" Madede = tomatoes. Madada = ducks. :)

2) We had a HUGE dog when we lived in Zambia. He was a Bull Mastiff and his name was Tanner. Zambians are terrified of dogs, so most people with any amount of money keep one for security reasons. We were quite well-known in our village because of Tanner. Everyone knew about this dog and was absolutely terrified of him. He was probably the main talk of town.
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One day some neighborhood kids came over and stood at the edge of our property. Tanner was chained up so they felt safe to come closer. They began to ask me some questions about him and comment on his size. They asked me why we didn't have a fence, and I told them that Tanner "u la konzya kuluka." (He is able to jump.) Their mouths fell open and they started gasping. One said "Sure??!! U la luka??" I responded with "inzya, maningi" (yes, very high!) The kids eyes were just growing and they finally ran off talking to each other in loud voices. Later, as I relayed the story to our friend, he politely informed me that I did not use the word for "jump." I used the word for "fly." I had told the kids that our dog could fly, yes, he could fly very high!! I'm sure Tanner was REALLY the talk of the town after that conversation!

(Here's another quick Tanner story. Because Tanner was so big, people would always ask us if they could bring their dogs over to mate with our dog. Blu refused and when they asked why he simply said "what if your dog has HIV?" The people just said " are right..." and that ended that conversation!)

Monday, October 15, 2007


Guess what was in the mail today........OUR LONG-AWAITED IMMIGRATION APPROVAL!!!!!!!!!!! :) I was so excited to see it!!! I immediately put a copy in the mail to our agency along with the last part of the first half of our adoption fees!! Now we will be put "in line" for a referral!! When Rachel, the adoption coordinator, gets back from Liberia, we're going to talk to her about special needs kids under the age of 4.

I'm excited! I feel like God heard my prayers and knew how bad my heart was hurting and He knew I needed a lift!! Another interesting thing--the date of completion on our I-171H was October 4, 2007. That was the day we found out that we lost our referral of Samuel. A small reminder that God knew all along what was going on and He remained in control!

Thanks for everyone's prayers! I promise another comical story from Zambia in a post tomorrow!

Friday, October 12, 2007

A little down...

Ok, I'm one who usually hides how I really feel about things, and I rarely have pity parties, but...

I just read our new agency timeline and it depressed me. They have to have our I-600a approval and half of our adoption fees before we are put in line for a referral. Then, the time it takes to get our child home from the time we are put in line will be roughly 12 months.

We submitted our I-600a 4 months ago and still haven't received approval. It gets so discouraging to hear stories of others receiving approval in a week or two.

Some days it feels like our child will never be home, and I think it makes it harder knowing that just 10 days ago, we thought our child would be home by Christmas. Now we're not even "in line."


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Another story from Zambia...

Things are going ok here. Just moving on with life, potty training, weaning, youth movie nights, etc. We're not really sure what the next step is for us--I guess right now we are thinking we will just wait for a new referral.

So I wanted to share another story about the Ndeke compound in Zambia. (scroll down if you missed my first story) Blu and I would go to this compound every Monday afternoon with 2 huge footlockers filled with all kinds of sports equipment/jump ropes, frisbees, etc. Then, approximately 200 kids would surround us and wait for us to throw the balls and things to them. We would only throw it to those who remained on the grass and waited patiently. They would swarm us and kids would get hurt. You can imagine--10 balls for 200 kids didn't go very far. They then went and played soccer, volleyball, and the other games for about an hour. Amazingly, when Blu blew his whistle, they would all come running back and return the equipment and sit in the grass for a Bible story in their language. During our first year there, we made it through the Creation to Christ Bible stories. They loved them! We then passed out the balls again, let them play for another hour, and returned home. Amazingly, they never stole any of our equipment--I think they saw it as such a privilege to be able to have these things to play with.

Memorable Ndeke experiences:
1) One day, we noticed that all the kids just took off running. It was a cloudy day, but that didn't necessarily mean anything. Blu and I were left trying to gather the equpiment and figure out what was going on. Suddenly, it just started pouring!!! They had all made it indoors or under some shelters, and man did they think it was funny that the white people didn't make it in and were getting drenched! It's like they all had a sixth sense that the rain was coming! Weird.

2) The kids would surround me and hang onto my hands and my arms the whole time we were there. They loved my long blonde hair. They had seen plenty of white people before but had never interacted with any. Sometimes all of the pulling and grabbing on me got to me. One day, I felt something and looked down to see a little girl LICK my arm! I guess she wanted to see what white people taste like! I told Blu it was time to go!

3) Blu, of course, had the same thing happen to him with the kids. He had a lot more energy than I did and would run around and play with them. One day all the kids started petting his arms and laughing. They started yelling "Mbuli ngulube!!!!" We knew that meant "like pig" but we weren't sure what they were referring to. Finally, an older boy sheepishly told us that the kids thought the hair on Blu's arm was just like the hair on a pig. :)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Trust His heart...

We got that much dreaded phone call today that I have heard others talk about. It was our agency, calling to let us know that Samuel's grandmother has removed him from the adoption program. Apparently, the accident was her fault, so she feels guilty and is unable emotionally to give him up. She wants to oversee his "recovery." So, just like that, he is gone.

I'm not really sure how to describe everything that I'm feeling. I go from peaceful one minute to sad the next. Content with it all one minute and my heart aches the next. I had held some of my heart back based on the advice from others, but I'm finding that it doesn't matter much. It still hurts. I ache for Samuel, for what could have been for his little life. He will be in our hearts forever.

I know that God has a plan in all of this, and when I allow myself to really think about it, my thoughts are, "why should I be exempt from pain in this life?" I see other families who have lost three referrals, families much further down the process than me, and I think "why NOT me?" Yet, at the same time, I can't help but think that this process of adoption can be so cruel.

My heart is calmed by the words to a song I have heard in church since I was a young girl:

God is too wise to be mistaken;
God is too good to be unkind.
So when you don't understand,
When you can't see His plan,
When you can't trace His hand,
Trust His heart.

A Story a Day...

Well, I've decided I need something to do to pass the time of waiting to hear about Samuel! Lately, I've been thinking a whole lot about the two years we spent in Zambia. I have so many stories to tell, and there's things I've forgotten that all of a sudden come back to mind! So...for any who may be interested and for my own enjoyment :) I'm going to post a story a day from our Zambian experiences!

I'll save you all the details of how we got to Zambia, but basically God turned our plan of taking a 6 month mission trip to South America to two years in Africa. We went there to work with youth and teach abstinence in the schools, tell Bible stories in compounds, and of course play LOTS of games... Our time there ended up a lot differently than when we started, but I'll get to that story later...On to today's story...

Hildah was one of my closest friends in Zambia. She would take me through the largest compound in our town (Mazabuka) which was called Ndeke (in-deh-kay) and we would visit people and basically everyone would stop to stare at the white girl. I can't even describe Ndeke to you...there were huge piles of trash/waste everywhere where pigs and children would both scavenge for food. Houses were tiny rooms with cement bags thrown across some wood for a roof. There are just no words. Anyway, people set up little booths outside their houses to sell goods. We passed one and Hildah insisted I try this item. She said that it was something that pregnant women eat to give them extra nutrition. I asked the name of it and she called it "dote." She yelled at the vendor and asked if the white lady could try some for free. It was really hard and had a rough consistency. I put a bit in my mouth and bit down. It was so hard I could barely break off a little piece. I began to chew and just felt sand all in my mouth..on my my teeth. I spit it out and all the 14,000 Zambians (exaggeration) that had gathered to watch the white lady try this began to laugh. "Hildah!! What is this called again?!" "Dote."

From then on, I quickly began to learn Zambian English so that I would not make the same mistake again.

Dote = dirt

Happy waiting!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Potties and Weaning and Names..Oh My!

We're pretty busy in the Tidwell household! I decided that now would be a good time to start potty training my 2 year, 4 month old son and weaning my 11 month old daughter. Thought it would be good to start and have these things done before Samuel gets home!

So the potty training is going fairly well. We did have the day where Caedmon pottied 12 times in one day, because he figured out that it was an easy way to get potty treats. He's over that now, and he's actually doing great! This morning he even pooped on the potty! (this afternoon, however, he pooped on a pillow...) But we're getting there!

Cambree is doing well with the weaning thing. Actually, she's really the one who wants to be weaned! She's changing so much so fast! Her newest thing is to spit out her baby food and put it on her fingers so that she can feed herself. Miss Independent!

We are completely undecided about Samuel's name. We had originally decided to name our adopted baby boy Micah. But Samuel is 5 years old, and all he knows is Samuel. So we could name him Micah Samuel, and let him choose what to be called, except that Blu refuses to have a child that goes by his middle name. Because Blu goes by his middle name, he says it was a "pain" and he doesn't want our child to have to do it! So what to do....Micah Samuel and eventually stop calling him Samuel and be left with Micah.... or just leave Samuel. *sigh* Ideas anyone??

Speaking of Samuel, we still haven't heard anything. I'm starting to get a little nervous...."Did his mom remove him from the program?" "Can they not find him or his mom?" and of course, the worst..."is he still alive?" I just want to hear so bad about how he's doing, and I want him to be moved to a hospital or somewhere where he can get better care until we can go get him. God give me more patience please!!