Thursday, November 11, 2010

Greener Grass

I'll be honest, I am sometimes jealous of foreigners living in Zimbabwe who are working for multinational aid organizations. They don't raise their own support, but instead just receive handsome paychecks for managing projects. Their projects, as well, seem to enjoy budgets without limit. I'm not the only one who sees this alternate universe, but the Zimbabweans we serve with see it as well. They see that their countrymen working for these organizations enjoy higher pay and benefits like meals, transportation and new equipment such as laptops for all. Everything is provided, so all anyone has to do is show up and get paid--not much in the way of sacrifice is required. But when God graces me with the gift of clear thinking, I'm actually not jealous at all.

I think about our small team of Zimbabweans with whom we work. We don't have a lot of fancy things. Minibuses are by far the most common form of transport we use. During our weekly meetings, we reveiw every penny we spent on ministry, making sure it was well-spent and accounted for. We are each aware that our budget is graciously and sacrificially supported by churches and friends. I try to model frugality in ministry by hopping on the bus when it is more efficient to do so. The great thing is, I have actually seen attitudes changing...from assuming that money is endless and any expense is justified to carefully saving our ministry money and actually chipping in a bit themselves. In a country where no good deed goes unpaid, our co-workers are willing to give of their time and resources for God's work. If you think this is insignificant, or even unfortunate (I mean, shouldn't we just be giving poor Africans all our money???), let me assure you that this is a very good direction to be heading in.

No, I'm not really jealous of my big-budget counterparts. For once the grass is greener right here.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

olivia's quilt

i finally finished olivia's quilt! :) thanks the abigail and my mom who helped with material!

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

a time for everything

this past weekend we went to another funeral. but this one was different from the rest. before now the only funerals we had been to were at our church because the funeral was replacing the Sunday morning service and we didn't know the deceased or the family.
on friday morning one of our friends from Foundations called and told us his 4 year old son had died the night before. on friday, dan went to visit our friend at the house and mourn with him. on saturday we both went to the house for the wake and then to the burial. it goes without saying that it was incredibly sad. i saw my usually smiling friends with somber faces. i watched women wail and need friends next to them to physically hold them up. for the first time i saw shona people sing but not dance. and every grave in the cemetery was of a child from 5 days to 4 years old. it felt strange to be holding my own child in that moment.
this funeral was different than any other funeral i had been to as well. most people in my life who have died were old. every death could be celebrated for the life they had had and their love for the Lord. but this little boy didn't really have a change to get to know Jesus. he didn't get a full life.
most of our friend's family also don't know Jesus. but the gospel was proclaimed at this funeral and i pray that it fell on soft hearts.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Amos Mutakiwa

Ministry in Africa is full of joys but also frustrations and roadblocks...and sometimes it seems like the latter predominate. But today, one of my joys:

Amos Mutakiwa is one of my favorite people in Zimbabwe. He goes to our church in Kuwadzana and has a little house in a neighboring community, but spends most of his time on a small farm just outside Harare owned by some relatives of his. He has been interested from the very beginning in what this crazy white guy was saying about farming God's way, and for the past eight months he has been a faithful farmer in our outreach. This means, of course, that he has a group of farmers he has been teaching and mentoring over these months. A few weeks ago I went to visit him with Joseph and Vivian.
...and we were not disappointed in the least. His trainees were as knowledgeable about FfF as he was (a very good sign!) and his pre-rainy-season demo plots were superb. In the photo above he is holding a measuring wire that is a cut above what we are recommending--made to last, and definitely doesn't stretch (can be a problem with measuring ropes). Now the question is--how will his rain-fed crops fare? Unfortunately the relatives he is working for don't necessarily approve of FfF...they think any kind of farming without a plow is doomed to fail. But more unfortunately, that family fails to harvest much more than a fourth of what is possible with FfF. So, Amos is doing what he can. He will grow a small portion of maize the way he believes is best, while following the demands of others on the bulk of the land. We hope and pray that his diligence will prove the merits of FfF to his family, so that next year they can fully experience the benefits. Way to hang in there, Mr. Mutakiwa.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

on being a new mom

being a mom has its fair share of joys and challenges. many things about parenting fall into both the joy and the challenge category- like breastfeeding, napping, showing off our precious little one but my favorite at the moment is unsolicited advice.
here are a few that i have gotten in my first seven weeks:
feed her porridge, she needs a blanket, she needs a hat, where are her socks?, she need lotion, you shouldn't bath her so often, hold her like this, support her neck more, don't sit her up- she needs to lay down, trim her nails, oh she has a rash try _____, and the list goes on. my favorite was the lady in church who came down off the main stage to reposition olivia and didn't even speak a word to me. most of this advice drives me crazy. i realize that many of these ladies giving me advice have more experience than i do but do they not remember what it is like to feel ill-equipped to do the job and have people constantly giving advice?
of course there have been some great bits of advice that i didn't ask for but have come in handy or at least make me laugh. my favorite is from my Kenyan friend, Lorna, "heat rash is better than pneumonia, so wrap her up in another blanket".


Monday, September 27, 2010

new address

we have a new address!

so please send all of your fan mail for olivia here:

PO Box M83
Mabelreign, Harare

ps. her parents like receiving mail as well.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Posted by Picasa
yep! i finally had mcdonalds after 1 year and 20 days! thank you south africa.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010


the months of april, august, and december are school holiday months here. a few things happen during school holidays: 1- everything stops so that people can go on holiday as a family and 2- lots of people go to their musha or rural homes. our neighbor just got back from visiting his gogo (grandmother) at her musha. he hated it because she made him work in the fields and to a 7 year old city kid that isn't exactly fun. but one thing he was excited about was that he came home with a rooster. when i first heard about this i was told it was a chicken. that's great- they will eat a yummy meal of tough (zimbabweans love tough meat) farm raised chicken! but no this was not a chicken it is a rooster. and it was not eaten the next day as i was first told but is still alive 5 days later. so all night and all day i hear that rooster call. good thing i have a little girl who likes to wake up in the night as well and give us something to do or that rooster would just be really annoying.
i guess we don't have to live in the rural areas after all- they will just come to us.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

more of olivia

Posted by Picasa

meet Olivia Marie Chipo Vissani

my first cry
dad just cut my cord and now i'm free!
my happy family
ambuya and sekuru helms
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 17, 2010

36 weeks

you may think i look big but i promise i wish i was bigger. there is just not enough room for this little one inside me!

Sunday, July 4, 2010


my dear friend ashleigh came for a visit last week. she just finished a two year term in kenya with nmsi's project called africahope (you may remember that i was there leading a summer intern team in 2008). we hadn't seen each other in a year and a half and she had never really spent time with dan so it was more than lovely to be together for a few days. i would have taken her for weeks but i don't run the universe and her mother and sister may have fought me if they had to wait longer to see her. it was nice to have a friend visit who wasn't phased by africa but enjoyed the differences in our countries, that understood what we are going through as we adjust to life here and helped us dream about how we can continue in ministry here that would be good for us and hopefully meet needs that we see around us. we didn't take lots of pictures but here are a few.

dan giving ashleigh a tour of the FfF demo plots
Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 2, 2010


It’s a mouthful, and it’s one of the communities in which we work with farmers and church leaders. DZ (which is what most people refer to it as) is on the outskirts of Harare, just next to Kuwadzana (which I might talk about a lot). People are packed like sardines inside the suburb, but DZ is surrounded by huge tracts of open land, most of it too swampy or otherwise unattractive to developers. Consequently every little pieces is grabbed and farmed by someone.One of the farmers we work with is Mr. Gaihai, and he has claim to about an acre in this open space. After coming to our meetings for five months now, his field (“munda”) looks quite different from those around it—primarily because of the absence of WEEDS (“masora”). Most fields at this point in the year are teeming with weeds, some of them still green (because, of course, weeds are skilled at finding any available food and water), all of them stealing these valuable resources from future crops and all of them making (or have made) millions of seeds for next season. Anybody weeding this time of year is constantly approached by bewildered passers-by, making for a great opportunity to share about faithfulness and stewardship. Now, Mr. Gaihai is a good model, but not perfect. He has still held on to his old habit of digging trenches and burying crop residue (very common here). We teach that any undecomposed material is much more effective on top of the soil as mulch, whereas decomposed material (e.g. compost) is better suited to be put under the soil, preferable in individual holes (as soil inversion has more minuses than pluses). But he’s only completed that exercise on half his field, so I think he’s going to leave the other half un-dug as a comparison. I’m thrilled about this, because experimentation on a farmer’s part is a great way to effect lasting change. So I had a great day yesterday, visiting him and two other farmers, stopping for tea and bread, meeting people along the paths, and praying together.

Mr. Gaihai's field--can you tell where it ends??

His go-the-extra-mile compost pile (and my friend Innocent next to him)


Tuesday, June 29, 2010


we recently heard about a local grocery store that got a shipment of american goods and were selling them at marked up prices so of course we were slow in making our way to see for ourselves. this weekend we finally made it into said grocery store and i finally had the privilege of gawking at the things that now Zimbabweans will characterize Americans by. as i walked in the store, i was greeted with an island of ragu and bertolli pasta sauces, an array of cereal including raisin bran and special K, a large variety of "pasta/rice sides" packets, and plastic containers of country time lemonade and kool-aid. on the next island of American goodies included cookies and crackers. this is where i became slightly more interested. there are a few things that i just can't find here- one of them is graham crackers. i enjoy a graham cracker and i have a few recipes that i love that have a graham cracker crust that i have had to set aside for the time being. these got me a little excited but the kicker was the box of saltine crackers. now i love a saltine cracker. i especially craved them when i was in my first trimester and needing to eat constantly to fight off that nauseous feeling. so when i saw that little square box that said "premium salted tops" i am sure that my face lit up. oh why didn't this shipment come 5 months ago?! then i glanced at the price and i'm sure all brightness from my face disappeared and my jaw dropped. almost $6! maybe a few months ago they would have gotten my money- when i was desperate to find a cracker i liked. in fact i would have bought two boxes because i never trust a store here to have something twice (i learned this the hard way with the crackers). but not now- sorry management.
oh and those gram crackers that got passed up- $7. somethings i'm not so desperate for.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

new pictures

a week and a half

33 weeks!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

for grete

the quinoa growing in our garden and the only fall colors i can seem to find.


Sunday, June 13, 2010


(zach--you're in the picture, just in the shadow of the moringa tree--sorry!)
we recently had some friends/family/supporters/vaenzi come and spend some time with us and our church here. it was lovely to have a little taste of home- especially for dan since they were all his long time friends. for me is was amazing to watch dan reconnect with some of his closest friends, play the piano and guitar with them and catch up. i was greatly encouraged by their kind words and prayers.
they came with a variety of talents they used to encourage the church like preaching, singing, drum and guitar lessons, children's work, and medical knowledge to share.
one really exciting thing for us was that dan's uncle came for a few days around a trip to kenya to work with a sister church of his home church. it was really fun to host him and let him see a bit of our lives. he even got to experience a water shortage!


Wednesday, June 9, 2010


we knew they were coming soon. yesterday i sat on the bed watching the cat sleep and i could see the kittens moving in her- much like my own belly. and last night she curled up under our bed and had 5 kittens. they are sooo cute. 1 jet black, 2 black and orange like her, and 2 orange. we are excited! maybe we are a bit like little children and are fighting to not touch them.
i have only had two pets in my life other than fish. when fish have babies it isn't very exciting and they usually die too easily. my dog was a boy and my guinea pig never had babies so this is my first time with animal babies- especially brand new ones. i'm kinda excited. i just need to find a home for the 4 we aren't keeping before our baby comes. i don't think i can handle so many needy small things at once. and let's be honest- our baby wins no matter what.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

preggy ladies

today we went on a tour of the hospital where our baby will be born. they give 2 tours a month so it is important to be there one of those two days and be there on time so you don't miss anything. i didn't expect to be on a tour with 20 other ladies. i'm pretty sure it was the largest crowd of pregnant ladies i have ever seen. we were cute- all at different stages.
the tour was nice. a few funny things about it:
- only one person can be in the delivery room with you. some ladies found this difficult saying they didn't know how they could choose between their mother or their husbands.
- we got to go into the delivery room. we didn't even wash our hands first, just went in and touched anything we wanted.
- after the baby is born and before i go downstairs to my recovery room the following things happen: the baby is cleaned and weight and given to my birthing partner (dan), i am stitched up if necessary, if i am able to stand up i can take a shower, otherwise they will freshen me up, and (my favorite) give me a cup of tea. i haven't ever talked about how important tea is here. maybe i will have to make a whole post about it. but it is important and why i was surprised that a cup of tea will be given to me, i'm not sure but i was. and it made me laugh.
- for an extra $250 i can have my own room instead of sharing (as long as there is room). otherwise my delivery and 2 -3-day-stay will be $405 ($5 is the booking fee).

it is strange to think about this baby actually coming out of me and then having to take care of it. everyone tells me that you never really feel ready and even afterwards you never really feel like you are qualified but the Lord gets you through each day. :) i'll just rest in that truth.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010


being pregnant far from friends, family, and the familiar has had it's challenges. one of these is trying to find things for me or this coming baby. maternity clothes have proven quite difficult to find. but lately God, being perfect, has supplied for my needs just in time. until last week i was still able to fit into my normal trousers (pants- but i am training myself in this new vocabulary because pants mean something else here and it is awkward to talk about in public). my friend misty had sent me two pairs of trousers but since it is getting warm in the states all she could find to send me were short or thin and short-sleeved tops. and God knew that while these were helpful it is getting cooler and cooler here and i would need something to keep me a bit warmer. so a lady from my bible study showed up with two bags of maternity clothes from her daughters- thankfully mostly long trousers and long sleeved tops! wow. i hadn't even shared my need and God was providing for me.
last week we also received news that we were receiving a cloth diaper grant from Cotton Babies. they are providing us with half of the cloth diapers we will need! it is such a gift from the Lord to have things supplied and we just praise Him for His generosity towards us.


Monday, May 10, 2010

sneezing my head off

Today turned out nothing like we expected. First, some background: this month we’ll be demonstrating how to make high-quality thermal compost as a sustainable alternative to chemical fertilizer. We tasked all of our trainees with gathering the needed materials, which are (for the most part) green plant matter, dry plant matter and manure. The manure was proving difficult/costly for most churches, so we thought of a way to help without continuing the long legacy of handouts. We (us and Joseph and Vivian) decided last-minute to go to a chicken farm, buy manure in bulk, and sell it to the participating churches at cost. Well, actually a little bit above cost to cover fuel, but still way below the price on the street. We left the demo farm at 11:30 and headed toward the farm. First, of course, we had to find a place to leave Joseph's motorbike that is on the way to the farm but also on the way from the farm to our first dropoff spot. Not a problem, really, it's just that stopping anywhere entails greetings, small talk, and goodbyes. So it chewed up 30 minutes. But again, not a problem--this is Africa.

We "pitched up" at the farm (as they say) at 12:30, which we thought was a reasonable time to expect service, since lunch time here is a strict 1pm. But it turns out these workers take lunch at 12, meaning there was no one there to shovel manure into our truck. Oh, and there also wasn't any high quality manure left, just the low quality stuff. Hmm. As is often the case here, if you stand around and talk and insist long enough, somebody thinks of another idea. So we eventually hopped in the truck with a guy from accounting who took us to this manure pile, then another, then another, and finally to an enormous pile of decent manure. Somehow this pile didn't make it into the original calculation. Rather than wait for the manure-shovelers (and have to pay them), we thought it reasonable to do it ourselves. With one shovel between us. You know how some things seem way easier before you do them? I forgot to mention that the manure was dry and dusty.

Anyway, we shovel and scoop by hand for 30 minutes, after which we, and our truck, are covered in manure dust. I wasn't sneezing that much at the time, but after a few hours, after the dust had worked its way in....I was a mess, which only claritin and tylenol PM could solve. I wasn't that worried, because I've gotten loads of dust in my lungs before, wheezed for a night, and been better the next day. This time, I wouldn't say I was all better the next day, but certainly by day #3. But back to the truck....we drove to three churches to unload the manure (again by shovel/hand). Home by 6pm isn't so bad, I figure. But I have no regrets--we rescued three compost demos, the pastors were grateful for a good deal, and we experienced the delightful bewilderment of a day in Africa that went nothing like planned.

And we get to do it again next week...this time with an extra shovel.

loading up a sack by hand!
unloading at a church


Thursday, May 6, 2010

the wedding of the year

Weddings (Christian weddings, or "church weddings," as opposed to "traditional" marriages) are a big deal here. More people go into debt, it seems, to throw an extravagant wedding celebration than for any other reason. Weddings here are an interesting blend of Shona and western culture, and no two are alike. We've been to three weddings so far and the one last weekend was definitely my favorite (our pastor's only son, Tendai, was the lucky guy).

So, as with weddings in the states, they require a lot of coordination. But, unlike the States, transportation is scarce here, so offering to help with transportation is a big deal...and that's what we did. Honestly, I thought I would just be carrying chairs and people from the ceremony at the church to the reception a few miles away. But the night before the wedding I got a call from Tendai's "transportation manager" asking me to drive to the mother-in-law's house (about 30 miles away) to pick up people and gifts at 6:30am. Not so bad, really, but there's more. So I drove first to the "tm's" house and then in a caravan to the mining village where mom-in-law lives. All in all, we were two pick-ups, two cars, and two minibuses...and by the time we left they were all packed. So back to Harare we go.

Zimbabweans have this great tradition of honking their horns incessantly as they approach the site of the wedding, to let everyone in the neighborhood know that he and she will soon be off the market. Actually we did the same thing as we were leaving the wife's village as well. It's kind of obnoxious when you're an innocent bystander but behind the wheel it was kind of fun. :) Every moment, from the donning of the dress to the after-party, is caught on video. To that end, I had a video man standing in the bed of my truck so he could capture the caravan as we drove through town. When the bride finally reaches church and disembarks, she is not allowed to step on the ground. Instead, women take turns laying their "zambias"--cloths which are usually wrapped around their waists as an extra layer--down in front of her. This energetic game of leapfrog continues all the way to the front of the church!

The ceremony itself is pretty standard--vows, rings, sermon, pronouncement. [As a side note, this was the only wedding of the three we've been to that was done in Shona (the others in English), which I was so pleased with. I know, English is the cool, modern, cosmopolitan way to go here, but vows in a second language?] Then, strangely, the cakes come out (well, they were there all along). Instead of the wedding cake(s) being a much-anticipated dessert for the guests, it is conscripted into service of the Shona custom of honoring your in-laws. So, everyone watches while the groom gets on his knees in front of all his in-laws and offers them a tasty morsel, and then the bride does the same. Finally, the rest of the cake is cut up into marble-sized pieces and distributed to the guests right there in the church. After three weddings, I still find myself saying, "that's all I get??" But then again the Shona aren't really dessert people :) So after much ululating, dancing, arm-waving and whistling, we all leave the church and go to the reception. Food, and lots of it, flows freely. The Shona are not shy about saying (from the pulpit even) that a celebration isn't a celebration unless everybody is fed. Now, of course there is music and a DJ. I'm sure that every wedding I go to boasts larger loudspeakers than the one before. I mean, these were size of small house. And loud. If there's one thing I really don't like about the culture here, it's that bigger is always better, no questions asked. We sat as far away from the speakers as culturally acceptable, and with any luck our baby will have working eardrums. So after speeches, dances, presentation of gifts (which are announced and celebrated, one by one), it was time to take the mother-in-law back to the village. So off we go, with a truck bed full of gifts. Some people were worried about theft of the gifts at stoplights, so I tried not to stop at them. We unloaded the truck in the dark, said our goodbyes, and I got home around 7:30... So weddings are a big deal here...and being a part of the madness made for a good day :)

Monday, April 26, 2010

a few pictures

ok so i have been holding out on posting preggy (as they say here in zim) pictures but here are a few. sorry they are all of me and few include dan but someone has to take the photo!

today: the pregnant ladies of the house (we think the cat is pregnant at least.)
today: so much goodness for $1!
april 11 in the "i'm so glad i brought this green dress last year"
april 16 at kariba dam with claire and julie
after our Easter date!


Friday, April 23, 2010

holiday at Kariba

this past weekend was independence day in zim and therefore a three day weekend. we took this opportunity to head north to lake kariba. lake kariba is a huge man made lake (250km long!--google it!) which formed 50 years ago when the dam wall was finished. we were excited to see the dam and even more excited that the sluice gates were open while we were there making the view simply amazing.
we rented a house with two other ladies- our friend julie and one of her friends claire who has quickly become one of our favorite people in zim. it was nice to be with other missionaries- talking about the trials that we find as foreign workers here and enjoying God as we rested from our work. the house also came with a jolly man who was the cook/guy who takes care of everything while you are there. thankfully he is shona so we got to practice our shona and learn new things about zim from him. since none of us are used to having constant house help we didn't utilize him as much as other guests- he often told us that we weren't giving him enough work to do. i can't really describe it well so i will just let a few pictures do the talking.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

a very Zimbabwe day

Last Saturday reminded me of many things I love about Africa--hospitality, simplicity, are-you-kidding?-roads, communal living, and that attitude that says to the persistent problem, "I bet this will work..." Joseph, Vivian and four other relatives stayed at our house Friday night, to give us a head start the next morning. We left only 30 minutes later than scheduled, due to underestimating the time it takes for four adults to take a bath. It's a beautiful drive from Harare to Mutare, and that went off without a hitch. We passed through Mutare town and about an hour later turned off the road on to a manageable dirt path which led us to Joseph's parents' home, their "musha." I so enjoyed their homestead--fields of sorghum, a hot spring, countless baobab trees, a river, livestock, and quietness. Oh, and watermelons--who would have thought watermelons thrive in their hot, arid climate--but thrive they do. Three of us went through half a dozen--just splitting them open, reaching in and grabbing bites. After a while you can just drink out of them like giant cups.

The watermelons added to the guinea fowl eggs and bread made for a fine lunch in my opinion, but of course we were expected to stay for a real meal--sadza. Joseph kindly reminded his mother that we still had to trek three more hours to Vivian's musha that day, and she kindly let us leave. (I know it's so un-African to stay only 4 hours, but something has to give when someone's "oh, and while we're in that part of the country..." consumes 4 extra hours.) So off we go to Vivian's rural home, in Rusape. Her parents live much farther down a much-less-defined dirt path. The rainy season had taken its toll, meaning we drove very slowly to straddle gullies and dance around uneven ground. Finally we arrived, although it was within a few minutes of our ETA back in Harare (hmmm..). They were happy to see us and understood that this was just a drop off (I was only returning with Joseph-the rest of them stayed). Still, they quickly made a small pot of sadza and we nearly burned our fingers eating it as quickly as possible. Not that we were trying to be rude, but driving in the dark poses huge we were about to be reminded.

Just out of eyeshot, I drove a little too close to a peg in the road (nobody knows what it was doing there) and slashed open my right rear tire. I immediately knew this was going to be a long night. Being in a village, we were quickly surrounded by people trying to be helpful. Some were helpful, and some had been drinking (it was a holiday weekend, after all). The first delay was caused by one helpful guy grinding the sides of my allen key in the process of removing a stuck screw. After an hour, we finally got the spare on and inflated (thankfully someone had a hand pump). After 5 seconds of driving on it, the tire separated from the wheel, and so we were back at square one. Eventually someone volunteered to walk to his home (about 20 mins away) and get a not-so-bad wheel from his "scotch cart," which is a cart usually pulled by cows or donkeys. Why not? I said. Anyway, he got the wheel, we put it on, we started driving, and it lasted all the way to Harare. Actual arrival: 1am.

Monday, April 5, 2010

maneta here?

that means "are you tired?" to which i always respond, "ndaneta (i'm tired)". this most often happens at church after i have stood to try to sing and sat back down 6 times, sat through a sermon constantly changing positions on my hard chair, and getting through about half of the line of people to shake my hand after church. (everyone shakes everyone's hand forming a big circle as we end church- about 200 people.)
this sunday, i got the same question and after i answered the lady asked if something was wrong. i replied no, just tired. then she asked, "is it the stomach? because it is getting bigger?" and i said yes, it is the stomach getting bigger. :) only a few people openly talk about my pregnancy at church- the rest just comment on my stomach getting bigger.
we did get to share with our close friends that we are having a GIRL and we got lots of smiles, hollers, and high fives. :)


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

holding the beautiful and sad at the same time

for a week now i have been wrestling with how/what to write. last wednesday, dan and i got the news that caleb, the son our of our friends matt and kylee was born. he was a bit early because kylee had eclampsia and was taken to the hospital that morning. normally the best way to stop eclampsia is to take the baby out and then the mother's blood pressure normalizes. so we went to bed praising God for a new life and our amazing friends- the boden family. on thursday, we were awakened by the news that kylee did not wake up from the anesthesia and died after seizures and bleeding in her brain. this was shocking and difficult news to hear. this isn't how the story is supposed to go. but it is how the story goes- it is how our loving, perfect Father willed this story.
i told you about kylee a few posts back- in "i'm glad i'm not an elephant". kylee is one of the reasons i now want to be a mother. she was one of my closest friends- always loving me, speaking truth to me, crying with me, and rejoicing with me. she was beautiful in her love for her husband, children, and family. she hated sin and loved the hurting so much. and because of her hatred of sin, she longed for heaven more than most people i know.
as we cried, prayed, processed, and talked about kylee- i couldn't help but struggle to figure out how to hold the sadness of our loss and hold on to the beauty of her finally being in the home she always longed for and for the beautiful little baby that she left. i don't know what it will be like to grow up without a mother, especially for caleb, who never met his mother but i do know that God will meet all of their needs. God is only good and beautiful. He has a perfect plan that we don't understand. on sunday, i spent time reading and thinking about how beautiful Jesus' response was to the family and friends mourning the death of lazuras. john 11:33 says, "when Jesus therefore saw her (mary) weeping, and the jews who came with her, also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled." and then the famous verse 35, "Jesus wept". i take great comfort in the truth that Jesus weeps with those weep and that the Holy Spirit is the Great Comforter.

we praise You oh LORD for the life of kylee and that You were her center. we praise You that she is now with You in the place that Jesus went to prepare for us. we ask that You as the Great Comforter and healer of our hurts will be near to us and especially near to her family, whose lives are now greatly changed by her absence. may we all cling to You and hope in You alone. in the name of Jesus we trust You in this life to be better than we can imagine. amen.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

funny shane

recently we sent out an email update that started with: Greetings and love from the three Vissanis in Zimbabwe (one of us is the size of a bell pepper, we are told!).

this is what our friend shane sent in response:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

pictures that go with the previous post

CHAMPS conference

the new (to me) sewing machine!
18 week bump

random things

lots has happened in the past week and i thought i should share a few things. our week was mostly taken up by Foundations for Farming's biannual "Champions" conference. About 200 people gathered from many surrounding countries to learn about FfF and two new ministry branches: Foundation for Health and Foundations for Family. dan and i were kept busy helping to do all the IT visual stuff like power points, music slides, and dvd's. it was surprisingly a lot of work but well worth it to know that things had gone pretty smoothly.
i also drove by myself for the first time last week. the only other times i have driven in harare (twice) was either with dan in the truck or following dan in another car. i didn't go too far or have to cross the city center which is where all the crazy driving is but i did manage to run my errand and join my fellow quilters for a morning. i am quite proud of myself. and while we are on the subject of quilting, the other important thing we did this week was buy a second-hand sewing machine! i never thought i would be so excited about my own sewing machine but i am. we heard through a friend that an ex farmer's wife was selling it for pretty cheap so we bought it! and now i can get lots more sewing done at home. i should probably branch out and sew some clothes- wait would that make me one of those stereotypical missionaries? maybe i will just make baby things.
and i will wrap this up with two funny stories from our little neighbor, tatenda. this morning he came over while his mom went to the store. we were having breakfast and he told dan that he could make tea for us. dan already had coffee so i decided i would have a cup a tea. so tatenda got the mug, put in sugar and milk and added hot water. when dan asked about the tea he said, "that is tea. there is a mug, sugar, and milk." dan then informed him that he needed to add some tea leaves (we have loose leaf for now) to actually make it tea! then after i had my tea (making sure to sip around the tea grounds) i asked him what we should name our baby. if a boy: tatenda, like him. and a girl, well tatenda would work as well. he went on for a while and then said, "if you have a girl you could always name her beyonce." i don't think that one will make it on the consideration list.
pictures to come but the internet is too slow for now.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

our friend ryan

yesterday we said goodbye to our first official visitor from the states - ryan. he and dan met 2 years ago, the first time dan went to mti and have been great friends since. he now works for nmsi in the media division, specifically in the video communications department. he came to zim on a month long visit to east & southern africa to visit a few of the missionaries and ministries that nmsi has in this part of the world. we had the lovely privilege to host him for two weeks so that he could get footage of the work the three families do here in zim and spend some personal time with us. it worked out perfectly for us because we got to join him on some of his visits also getting to know the work that we have heard about but not seen first hand. we were so excited to spend time with the Edwards' family and learn about the work of Ebenezer Agricultural Training Center in the southern part of zim. they have a great blog. ryan also has a great blog if you want to check out his thoughts about zim. and while we didn't do many grand things we did enjoy lots of fellowship and normal life together. my most triumphant moment was when we successfully took two buses to meet dan in kuwadzana one afternoon. i have only taken the bus there once and it was the first month we lived here and with shona friends showing us the way. i was quite proud of myself that i could do it without constantly having to ask for help. we also had the bonus of being in the most packed bus i have ever been in- a record or 26 where one would think only 17 could ride safely. we did manage to take him on a visit to a cave that near by and actually remember to take photos.

finally a baby bump! (you have to look hard)
the cave has an amazing blue pool at the bottom!
doesn't ryan look official?