Holy One,

shock and save me with the terrible goodness of this Friday,

and drive me deep into my longing for your kingdom,

until I see it first-

yet not first for myself,

but for the hungry,

and the sick

and the poor of your children,

for the prisoners of conscience around the world,

for those I have wasted

with my racism

and sexism

and ageism

and nationalism

and religionism

for those around this mother earth and in this city

who, this Friday know far more of terror then of goodness,

than, in my seeking first the kingdom

for them as well as for myself

all these things may be mine as well;

things like a coat and courage

and something like comfort,

a few lilies in the field,

the sight of birds, soaring on the wind,

a song in the night,

and gladness of heart,

the sense of your presence

and the realization of your promise

that nothing in life or death

will be able to separate me or those I love,

from your love,

in the crucified one who is our Lord,

in whose name and spirit I pray.

Ted Loder

I suppose something I love about Africa is it didn’t matter if it was already March,  if you hadn’t someone yet after January 1st, they would still say ‘Happy New Year.’

That’s great news for procrastinators like me. It’s almost March, true, but I suppose it’s never to say,

Happy New Year!

I suppose I’m still clinging to New Years because it’s a great time to look back on the past year and see all that’s happened. This year was a year in particular to celebrate. I’ll fill you in.

At this time last year, we were just returning home from India. I was teaching Wilderness Medicine and Scott was working on the farm.  We really didn’t know for sure where we were going to live and what we would do in the States.  I was still feeling pretty sick, and we were both trying hard to process all the past years have meant.

Scott fishing at Homestake Res.

This year finds us in a much different place.  We’ve put down roots outside of Boulder, Colorado. Our place is small but feels luxurious to us, with a trail near by, a wood stove, and no need to put on mud boots to travel from the bedroom to the bathroom.

Scott is in grad school at University of Colorado, doing a research fellowship and studying ground water. I’ve been working again as a nurse practitioner at a community medical center nearby, and continue to teach wilderness medicine when I can.

The biggest and best news, as some of you already know, is that we’ve added a family member!

Keltie (named after Scott’s great grandfather) was born on December 23rd, at 11:30 at night. He’s been bright eyed and interested in the world since the moment he arrived. He was  7 1/2 pounds and 20 inches when he was born. Now, at 2 months, he’s a whopping 10 pounds, but he’s gained 3 1/2 inches. He’s a tall, lean human, and so strong!

As you can imagine, life’s changed a bit to make room for him- I’ve had the luxury of taking a few months off of work, and Scott struggles to study groundwater modeling when there is an adorable version of himself giggling next to him, but all have been changes for the amazing.

Ngor at 14 days

It’s hard to describe what our experience of meeting babies and seeing them thrive in other cultures has added to our own parenting. I remember the twins that greeted me at our Therapeutic Feeding Center in Sudan, Ngor and Achan. If you recall from the beginning of this blog, they were 14 days old, less then 2 kg each, and had high fevers from Malaria. I thought there was no way they would make it.  We started crushing AS/AQ tablets and feeding them milk in tiny tubes and somehow, day by day, they survived.  3 months later, I encountered them as happy, healthy babies, and understood there was more to survival then all we have up our sleeve in America.

This returns to me time after time. In the midst of parenting, of all the competing ‘shoulds’ of raising children (they should sleep on their back,they ‘should’ gain an ounce a week, ‘ they ‘should’ cry it out or be held all the time, they ‘should’ have organic baby food and bedding, I remember the little ones I met, who often shared blazing hot Tukuls with rain and snakes and scorpions and shared a breast with a sibling, who didn’t have diapers, who’s mamas weren’t eating organic food, or food at all at times, who continued to thrive. It has helped us to celebrate the advent off this little person, and trust, in the end, that it’s God who makes babies, and that all of our knowledge and technology are a gift, it can also be a curse. It seems to make us think that we’re in control, and if there is anything in this life that reminds you that you are not in control, it’s a small human, with his own agenda, wails and giggles.

Achan and Ngor at 2-3 months

 

To say that we’re grateful for this season would be a profound understatement. It has been a marvelous journey to parenthood, and ever wonderous unfolding. Thanks for joining us.

We’ll keep this blog going from time to time, but if you want in on the daily journey of life with Keltie, drop us a line and we’ll give you the address of a blog we’ve been keeping as he has joined us.

Happy New Year, and thanks for stopping in.

December, 2010

I suppose that

‘traveling with Scott and Glad’ means us much traveling backwards to where we’ve been as it traveling as anything else in this season. It’s not that we’re not still moving. Life is fully of the richness of Autumn, small person kicking inside and squash soups and studying for Grad school. It’s just that there are days that draw my attention to where we’ve been, and the path, so full of mercy, that brought us here.

Today is the one year anniversary of my evacuation from Malakal,  of all the small miracles it took to get me to Nairobi, to a hospital, and back to health. It also marks the last time I saw many of those faces I loved, and likely the last time I’ll see them again.  For better or worse, a person like me can’t forget the ones I’ve loved, and there are nights I lay awake and remember them, pray for them, miss them as dear friends who live across the world,  who laugh, even things to laugh about have grown thin, because they are alive today.

I am grateful, and I remember, as Scott and I sit before the burning wood stove, eating rich foods and being together, that my friends there still walk down muddy streets to get to the clinic where mothers still line up, holding their babies, waiting, hoping for miracles.

Please continue to pray for Sudan, for Margaret, for the clinic staff and the commissioners, all moving towards elections in the spring and the unknown. I will, too, and feel so grateful for a chance to have known and loved them, and the chance to love them still.

When wind the blows October

into my bedroom window,

cool breeze carrying news of snow soon to fly,

I promise that snuggled there

between down comforter and soft sheets

I will not forget you,

I will not forget what it all means.

When wind the blows October

into your Tukul window,

humid air carrying news of the rain still to fall,

Hot nights and muddy streets

will be the distance between us,

but you will be no farther from heart then you were

then,

and sound of children singing themselves homeward

will still be the song that echos in my ears.

Last night I dreamed I was in Sudan, and the rains had begun.

Malaria season was upon us,  and I was summoned to travel to a nearby village to treat a sister who was very ill with Malaria. I put together a kit with all the familiar supplies; Rapid Detection Kit (RDT), Artusunate, Amodaquine, Quninine, in all their familiar packages.

It was just getting dark, and the area had been instability in the area, and our base manager said I couldn’t travel alone at night. Tabea, a German doctor and constant ally in Sudan, spoke up and said she would travel with me in her familiar German Accent.  Just as we set out on bumpy roads,  the rain we had been smelling in the air began to fall.

I awoke to the sound  of sprinklers out my window, watering a lawn in the early morning, and fragile sunlight making it’s way in the window. My husband sleeps peacefully beside me in on soft sheets. No Mosquito nets, no heat, no Malaria, no Africa.

I have left Africa, but Africa has not left me. I have left Africa, but Malaria never will. I am here in the comfort of soft carpet, abundance of food and nearby bathroom, but Margaret  still welcomes too thin children with burning black at our clinic at the end of that muddy dirt road.

well, life on the farm is kindof laid back, it’s nothing that a country boy like me can’t hack,
it’s early to rise, early in the sack, thank God I’m a country boy…’      John Denver


I’ve got to admit, there are days out here when I actually wake up with this in my head (or maybe it’s because my suspender clad lumberjack is playing it on the ipod to wake him up at sunise so he can get to work. Either way, John Denver got it right. Life on the farm is pretty darn laid back, for me anyway. I’m not the one weilding the chainsaw 8 hours a day, feeding in the chickens and bring in in the eggs.  For me it’s a pretty fabulous place to read, sew, play my fiddle, make giant corn flapjacks  and go for walks to the nearby waterfall.

Last week we got a new batch of baby chicks. They are fuzzy, chirpy, and so darn soft. They live in a small incubator room in the farm, and life for them consists of cedar bark dust, a warm light, food and water, and frequent visits from the giants who love to play with them (that’s us).  It’ll be about 2 months before they get to join the big chickens in the family coop, and up to 6 months before they are join the ranks of the other egg layers.  When they start laying, the current batch will go into ‘retirement’ which is actually not as ominous as it sounds. They got to live with a grandma down the road who keeps them for a few more years. If you come to visit us at the right time, you might just get a door prize and leave with a chicken in your back seat… sounds like a good motivation to visit, hmm?   Morning and evening chores consist of feeding the chickens, letting them in and our of their condos to room the chicken yard, and collecting, washing and boxing the eggs. We get about 60-80h  brown  eggs a day. You are likely to leave with a few cartons of eggs as well as your new chicken when you come to visit.

We’ve been thinking about farms and food lately  with a keen awareness that outside our little haven of chickens and big garden plot there is a pretty complicated world of  agriculture and industry. We watched Food, Inc last week and felt pretty sad about  the state of agriculture these days.  We’d recommend it, if you’re interested. It was sad, but also encouraging in some ways, and it always amazes me how much the things we do here both big and small, affect the lives of people around the world.

The farm used to be a working nursery, so there is still plenty of soil, pots, seeds and greenhouses to play with. I’ve been planting herbs and delighting to watch them grow. It’s amazing to think that last year I was planting tomato seeds in vitamin containers and lugging water from the Nile across cracked soil  to make them grown. This spring could not find me in la more opposite setting, with abundant everything, and brilliant green everywhere I look , from mossy trees, to springing daffodils, to the bright green grass creeping up through all the nooks and crannies.  It does make me wonder where I’ll be this time next year, though these two years would be hard to beat.

Every time I open the green house door, fingernails full of soil, hands full of trays of new seeds

Trees in the lower meadow

waiting to grow in dark earth, I breath out a sigh of ‘thank you’. I know that the whole world doen’t live this way, with quite, birds chirping by day, frogs croaking by night,  and time, generous time to read, create, and think and play, and I know I won’t always either, so for today there is an extra measure of gratitude. Gratitude for strong bodies, living families, freedom from fear, a bed without mosquitos and creepy crawlers and abundance on all sides.  I wish that I could bring my friend Margaret here to live here with me, to enjoy these moments, to rest from all her hard work at the clinic just as malnutrition season begins again in Upper Nile, but I can’t. It seems to the next best thing is to love this enough for the both of us.

My favorite 'furry' trees on the farm

spring!