September 21, 2013

The Other Side of the Fence

Every once in awhile, we walk across the playground, unlock the gate, and pass through to the other side of the fence. Every once in awhile, after passing through to the other side of the fence, we make our way down a skinny dirt path. And down that skinny dirt path is a whole new world:

Instead of freshly cut grass, it’s corn standing seven feet high. Instead of wealthy, care-free children, it’s children in mix-matched and dirty clothes, struggling for their next meal. Instead of cement block homes, it’s tin and cardboard slapped together. Instead of well-guarded and gated communities, it’s an open door policy for dogs, chickens, and flies.

And it is here, on the other side of the fence, down that skinny dirt path, that we get to know Guatemala a little better. We meet faces and perspectives that we don’t meet every day inside our school fence. Our eyes are opened. Our minds are stretched. Our hearts are softened.

Pablino and Victoria are our friends who live on the other side of the fence, down that skinny dirt path. We have talked about them before, and many of you have supported them through generous donations. (See our post from last year We Are Asking You For Money.)

Most of our visits begin by listening to the latest ailments that Pablino’s aged and tired body has developed. This time we aren’t even sitting down on our plastic stools before his tears begin, describing more of the endless physical pain he is suffering.

Yet as we sit and listen, his words shift from his ailments to Jocelyn, snuggled tightly on Victoria’s lap. “How is she? Is she sleeping? She is the size of a three month old! Now you can see how children are an inheritance from the Lord!” Meanwhile, Victoria coos and cuddles with Jocelyn. She calls her a little doll, jokes about me leaving Jocelyn with her, and follows with her contagious, high-pitched cackle.

Among their pain and poverty, they share joy with us, a joy they testify to come from their deeply rooted faith in the Lord.

And we feel blessed.

We are reminded why we have no choice but to go to the other side of the fence, the fence that separates and shelters us from populations of people much less fortunate, people who have a whole lot of need, but also have a whole lot to teach us. We go even when we don't feel like it, which to my shame is more often than not. I'm great at thinking of excuses: it's difficult, inconvenient; I don't have time. 

Pablino moves on from Jocelyn to educate us on farming, specifically on growing corn. His eyes light up with all of his knowledge and experience. Among all the details, he connects to Scripture. “Farming is a lot of patience and waiting. You plant your seeds, wait six months, and hope in the Lord for a good harvest. The Bible speaks of these things too. We wait patiently for the Lord and for our inheritance.”

“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.”  -James 5:7

We wait patiently with Pablino, for his physical suffering to be gone forever. We wait with our other brothers and sisters stuck in sickness, pain, and poverty. We do our best to chip away at the fence and its barriers and injustices. But most of all we hope for the day when we don’t have to cross to the other side of the fence, because that fence is torn down and completely destroyed.

Pablino, their granddaughter Anna, Victoria, and Jocelyn

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you  and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.” –Luke 6:20-23

Grace and Peace,

September 3, 2013

One Month Later...

It's amazing how much your life can change in one month. Before August 3, our lives were in summer mode: sleeping in most mornings, going on long, hilly walks to get me into labor, working in the garden, reading, taking naps, going to school to do laundry, going out for ice cream, and staying up late watching movies. One month later, our lives are in "new baby" mode: sleeping at the mercy of Jocelyn, changing diapers, putting Jocelyn in little girly outfits, running late because we have to change the girly outfit she just spit up all over, nursing for hours every day, never leaving the house without Jocelyn wrapped around me in her baby sling, enjoying baby snuggles, falling asleep during any movie we try to watch, learning the art of multitasking, and living out those movie scenes where your head finally hits the pillow and the baby starts crying.

It's amazing how little sleep (or how much disturbed sleep) you can learn to live on in one month. The most common question I am asked is "are you getting any sleep at night?" Yes, I am. About 2-3 hours at a time. It can be hard to pull myself up enough to lift her out of her cradle and nurse, but with such a sweet face to look at and little pudgy hands to hold, sometimes it's not so bad either.

It's amazing how my attitude can turn 180 degrees in one month. I was quite terrified about being a mom. Maybe I was trying to set my expectations bar really low or figured I should expect the worst. I wasn't the biggest fan of being pregnant either. (I didn't have the "pregnancy glow" I have heard so much about.) But wow, is being a mom pretty great so far. It's still a little scary: I worried the entire first week whether or not she was gaining enough weight or having enough poopy diapers. I remember a "new mom breakdown" or two. But being a mom is also quite breathtaking: I can't believe we have been entrusted with this beautiful, teeny, tiny being!

It's amazing how many prayers can be answered in one month. After one week, we both went back to see our respective doctors. Jocelyn's doctor thought she had jaundice. We had to take her to the hospital to get her blood tested, and wait for results to tell us how bad it was. A level 18 meant she would have to have the lamp treatment, and possibly stay a night or two in the hospital. She was a level 8. (Prayer answered.) The doctor said we can simply put her in the sun each day to get rid of the yellow. My doctor saw I was still too pale and really exhausted because of all the blood I lost after birth.. He thought I might have anemia and might possibly need a blood transfusion. He put me on a ton of iron, and told me to wait one more week to see how I felt. I have felt great. No anemia. No transfusion necessary. (Prayer answered.)

It's amazing how much fun you can have in just one month...

Just one day old at the hospital.

More visitors! Vero came over,

As well as Kelly, her grandma, and her mom.

Jocelyn and her post-lunch milk mustache.

Jocelyn's first bath! Aunt Kandy teaching mommy how to do it. 

Happy to be done with her first bath.

Grandma Potgeter came to visit,

and Aunt Madi came too!

Just one of many daily naps.

After her second bath. Her typical post-bath pose.

Ready to go to school and meet everyone!

The Broekhuis Family.

Enjoying more naps with daddy after work.

Jocelyn's new favorite place to hang out. 
(Thank you, Grandpa and Grandma Potgeter!)

Grandpa and Grandma Broekhuis came to visit too!

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning.

Ready to go to school so mommy can do a little work in the office.

Dreaming about something...or passing a little gas...

Making faces.

Ready for bed. Did we mention it's getting a little chillier down here? 
Bedtime caps are a must in our non-heated home.

So kissable, huggable, lovable, unbelievable.

A "mom's heart is melting" moment.

A flashback...

...and one month later.

Grace and Peace,