Thursday, March 3, 2022

February 2022

February was a busy and honestly exhausting month. We had so much to do, and we are starting to feel the crush of everything we need to do in the next 4 months to be ready to leave for the US. Let's recap.

We set foot on American soil! No, we aren't back in America yet, but we did go the the American embassy in Lilongwe to renew a few passports. Did you know that embassies are legally considered territory of the countries they represent? So we can go to America right here in Malawi! Ok, it's not quite the same, but it was still an interesting experience. Also Jude's face in the picture above? Priceless.

This was our first time visiting Lilongwe as a family, so we spent two nights there and made a fun little trip out of it. We ate at a few yummy restaurants, explored the city a bit, and got to spend some time with two cool American missionary families (both of whom also have a ton of kids, so we felt really understood and at ease, which was wonderful).

Jude turned 13 this month, which doesn't even seem possible! How is my 10lb 3oz newborn now a teenager?? I love this picture, because you could tell he was thinking, "ok Mom, I'll humor you with this picture you want of me with these huge ballons, but I don't get the point." Haha. A few days before his birthday, I stumbled upon something I had written the day before his 10th birthday, and it made me weep all over again. I never shared it, because I didn't feel like I had a nice conclusion for it, but I want to share it here now to share a bit of the rollercoaster of special needs parenting:
10 years. I can’t believe it. Last night after I tucked him in, I wept. Hard.

Every parent feels that pang of sadness watching their babies grow up, wondering how it’s possible that the time has passed so quickly. But parenting special needs makes these milestones so much more complex. With each passing year, the chasm between him and his neurotypical peers widens. There is so much to grieve about what autism steals from him and us. On the eve of this big milestone, I was overwhelmed by all of the things he still can’t do, and how different this life is from the one I’d dreamed of for him.

But in the midst of my weeping a still, soft voice spoke to my heart and reminded me that he deserves to be celebrated on his birthday. Please help me celebrate him, I prayed. And I turned to the source of our only true comfort in this world, God’s Word. 

I flipped instinctively to Lamentations 3, and prayed along as I slowly read the words:
“My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, 'My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD.' Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.”

And then in the very next verse came what I knew I needed to hear, and I continued to pray the prophet’s words as my own: “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’ The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.”
Like I said, I don’t have a neat bow to tie it up with. Just the perpetual rawness of the grief and struggle to trust the Lord with his plans for Jude. He's such a sweet, affectionate kid. And sometimes he gives us peeks at how smart he is inside and his sense of humor, which is a delight. He loves hiking and riding in the car, and is basically up for pretty much any adventure we can come up with. We are so thankful for him, and we love him so big.

You know who else we also love? Our homeschool community here in Zomba. They are just the absolute best, and we are so stinkin' thankful for them! We took this group picture at our meet-up this month, and it makes me smile so big.

Freddy is proving to be fairly patient with all of the kids' love (and it is A LOT of love).  

We had a guest, Zack Thurman, here for a week preaching at a few churches and teaching preaching to the pastors in the modular pastors school. He and Josh started at Boyce College together, so they've known each other a long time. He was an encouragement to have here.

Sunrise behind Ntonya mountain. Not our house.

While Zack was here, we did something we've wanted to do for a long time: hiked to the top of Ntonya mountain, which is right behind our house! It's only 1.75 miles to the top, but with an elevation gain of 1,700 feet! All the kids did great, and we were so pleasantly surprised by Abe and how happily he hiked! Up until last year he would still get tired and insist on being carried on Josh's shoulders for most of the way, but he was in the front of the pack all the way up the mountain with a great attitude. He started to have a bit of a fuss on the way down, but honestly most of us did at that point, because we were tired, wet, and hungry.

 As soon as we got to the top, it started raining (it is rainy season, after all), and it rained on us the entire way down. It was crazy, and we were SO wet and muddy by the time we got to the bottom! It was one of the most difficult hikes we've ever done, especially with the slippery mud on the way down, but we are so glad we did it! If you want to read more about that hike, you can check out the post I wrote about it on my adventure blog.

And that wraps up a crazy month, with no sign of things slowing down between now and... I was going to say when we leave in June, but honestly things are going to be pretty crazy while we're in the US, so probably between now and... a year from now?

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