Thursday, June 30, 2016

Our Story...or some of it!

I got an email a couple of weeks ago from someone asking me some specific questions about our story and our journey to New Day. As I composed a response, I thought it might be a good idea to share here in case anyone else has wondered how we got here, what life is like for us and our children, and what God is doing in our lives!

Towards the end of seminary, we began praying about the next step. We missed Zambia and talked often about the children and what it would be like to come and really invest in them. However, you have to have money to do that, which we didn’t have! A few months later, Blu’s older brother (a businessman in Mexico/Costa Rica) told us he was selling his company and wanted to give us $150,000 to start an orphanage in Zambia, but that he would only give the money if WE moved to Zambia to run it. We prayed so hard about this, asked Wes & Laurie (our co-directors) if they would join us, and started getting really excited. I struggled after a few months with the call - our kids were 2 and 1 at that time and I began to focus on what a life away from grandparents would look like - a life without t-ball, ballet, prom, etc. On the day we resigned from our church and announced we were moving back to Zambia, my stomach was in knots, but the special music that morning was “I’d Rather Have Jesus.” At that moment, I felt such peace, knowing that I would rather have Him - in Zambia, in the USA, or wherever, as long as I had Him.

On a day to day basis, our lives are insane. Running a nonprofit is a ton of work, and as my mom recently commented, it’s like we are running a ton of different businesses at once - leading a church, 4-5 weekly village Bible studies, a volunteer guest house and hosting volunteer teams, running the school, taking care of 32 kids, keeping the staff happy, working alongside other missionaries - it is a busy life that’s for sure! We have found that we have to go back to the USA every 19 months for 5 months just to keep our sanity and get rest! For us, the only time we can get away from “work” and get any amount of rest is to physically NOT be at the orphanage. Blu spends most of his days leading Bible studies or heading up construction projects. I spend most of my time teaching school, doing the orphanage finances, communicating with people back home, and of course taking care of our kids.

Uprooting our family to move to Zambia wasn’t too bad. Our kids were 4, 3, and 1 when we moved here, so this is really all they know. Their lives are full of Zambian friends and American friends, iPads and playing in the dirt, airplane rides all over the world and sometimes not leaving the orphanage for 3 months at a time. I know some mission organizations don’t allow older children to make the transition overseas because of how hard it is emotionally, and I can understand that. Because our kids were so young, they have NO trouble transitioning back and forth between cultures. It will be interesting to see if this continues as they get older.

I don’t technically homeschool the kids - I always thought I would, but they attend the New Day School. I do teach them Math from 3rd grade up, and they have American teachers for Language Arts and Social Studies. Now that my oldest is in 6th grade, he has an American teacher for Science as well - so he basically has Zambian teachers for elective classes. They LOVE being at the orphanage school with their friends. They go to school every day, wear uniforms, have homework, etc, similar to a private school in the USA.

As for how the Lord continues to work now that we’ve been here awhile, I can’t think of any time in the last 6 years of New Day being in existence that things have just been smooth sailing. I feel like He constantly keeps us humble and allows us to be in situations where all we can do is completely trust in Him - whether this is through broken down vehicles, the death of one of our orphanage children, the stroke of our co-director, power outages or water problems, or just the every day frustrations of living in a 3rd world country. But God has been faithful, and He has been good. We would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Happy June Birthdays!

Yesterday was our monthly birthday party celebration celebrating our June birthdays! It was great to have a team here to help decorate, and to have Kailyn & Jamee help by making 3 cakes! (What are we going to do in July?!) :)

Ben turns 12 today and had a chocolate "glasses" cake! We all always tell him how handsome he looks in his glasses!

Caedmon turned 11 on June 2nd and had a Grape Soda cake!

Emma and Justin turned 2 on June 15th! (Poor Emma tried and tried to blow but just couldn't do it!)

Mama Lala had the idea to make Emma a Mickey cake, but she had to leave before it was finished - Kailyn & Jamee finished it and did a great job!

Justin loved his racetrack cake!

Mom had a chocolate/key lime daisy cake!

Papa Tembo turned 58 on June 8th and had a butter pecan cake made my Carolyn!

Our twins ready for the water pouring..

And let the water pouring begin!! (Ben hid in a tree!)

Emma loved it until the very end when someone got her in the face!

The group picture!

Justin loved it until we all stuck our phones in his face for pictures!

Poor Mama Dee probably got the worst of it...

After that, the team went back to work painting/making bookshelves and leading our Kids Club/VBS. 273 kids showed up it was semi-organized chaos and SO awesome to watch! (That's a LOT of dishes to wash - 16 people in the kitchen helping!)

Stanley with Keeley

Everyone wants to hang out with sweet Ty!

Cambree is sick so I'm home from church cooking/blogging/laundering, and the team has plans to visit a village this afternoon and then play New Day vs. Crosbyton kickball, ending our night with a worship time around the campfire!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Where to start....

When my parents arrived last weekend, I told them, "Prepare yourself for the busiest week of the year at New Day!" Um, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that was an understatement! In a nutshell, we have had my parents arrival, a team's arrival, a ministroke by Wes and emergency travel to South Africa, a 60th birthday and anniversary, a VBS with 200+ village kids, and a chief's inauguration. We also have our monthly birthday parties today, but I figured I better blog before I get overwhelmed! ;)

I tried to put these pictures in some kind of order, but it's Saturday morning and I have to finish laundry and clean my house before the birthday party and VBS, so I'm in a hurry!

First, some pictures of Mom & Dad's first week at New Day! They got to celebrate their 43rd anniversary at the chief's ceremony!

Checking out Happy Hollow's sunset from the back porch!

Enjoying the wifi and keeping up with Shade's funny face swap posts!

They are SO much more high tech than us - they have perfected the selfie!

It was so great to be with Mom on her 60th birthday! She is in full-on teacher mode as she prepares to take over Laurie's class and teaches Cambree's 5th grade Language Arts!

Speaking of teaching, we had a fun Thursday in 5th grade Math doing perimeter, area, and volume with legos and blocks!

Dad has had a good time getting to know the New Day boys!

Matching New Day shirts!

For Mom's 60th birthday, I "kidnapped" a bunch of old cross-stitch frames that had special meaning to her and snuck them to New Day! They were going in the garage sale and she was very sad about this, so I intervened without her knowing it! :)

Erin has been a great extra pair of hands to have around, especially during VBS!

The team from FBC Crosbyton has 4 teachers on it and a crafty teenager - time for a new bulletin board at New Day! They decided to separate it into 4 sections and do the 4 days of VBS!

So cute!

Day 1 of VBS had 218 kids, and Day 2 there were 158 (due to chief's ceremony and a funeral). The kids are rotating between Bible story/Music, Crafts, and Recreation!

On Friday, all 65 of us (kids, staff, team, etc) headed to Chief Mapanza's Inauguration. The former Chief died about 3 years ago, and there has been discord among family members over who will be selected next. They finally made the selection, and it was time to inaugurate Chief Mapanza the Seventh, a lawyer from Lusaka. We packed 65 lunches, dressed the kids in their school uniforms and the adults in New Day shirts, and loaded up the bus for 2 trips (about 20 minutes away). When we got there, we were surprised to find a new road that had been grated and police directing traffic - it was a HUGE deal! There were around 2000 people in attendance, and of course they wanted "New Day people" to sit in the "important people section!" So we sent the team and some staff there and the rest of us sat in the dirt with the kids. We couldn't see much, but it was fun to stand and clap as each of the dignitaries came in. Blu had driven Wes & Laurie to Livingstone, so he called me just as Chief Mapanza was about to come in saying he was there, but he had been swallowed up in a mob of people who told him, "Come! Let's go get the chief!" Somehow, that led to Blu holding a spear and dancing in front of the chief in front of 2000 people. (Is anyone surprised???) It was the highlight for sure for all of the kids! After that, there was a Catholic Mass, and the priest did a wonderful job speaking. We snuck out after this, knowing there were still hours left in the program and we had to get back for VBS. After a quick picnic lunch, we loaded up and went back to New Day!

The backseat of the truck was a little crowded!

Cambree & Emma, who felt so special in her "uniform!"

It was hard to get a good picture of the huge crowd!

This old lady kept going to the front to dance!

Watching and waiting..

Phillip & Cason

Picnic lunch - the team helped so much with making sandwiches!

The Catholic priest

And, finally, Papa Wes. When he was leading a team tour on Thursday, he dropped his phone and couldn't pick it back up. He then began slurring, and those around him knew he was having stroke-like symptoms. Blu rushed them to Macha Hospital to our closest American doctor (30 minutes) who said it appeared to be a TIA, but there was nothing that could be done for that in Zambia. Once he returned to New Day and continued slurring, the decision was made to fly to South Africa and seek better health care. Wes & Laurie are there now, with Wes in the hospital undergoing testing. He seems to be improving, and we are all ready to get some answers. Please lift up Wes & Laurie in your prayers! On Thursday night, all of the New Day kids headed to their house to tell them bye. Here are the Tidwell kids with their Papa Wes.

And that catches you up on the last 5 days of our life! Birthday party & VBS are next!