12.30.2011

Working hard for his $

In 2006 Daniel bought a small shark vacuum. It has been one of the best things (materially) he has brought to the marriage! We have dark green carpet in our house (think 1980's), and it shows everything! If I don't want to pull out the big vacuum cleaner and drag it all over the floor, the shark comes out and picks up the crumbs in no time at all.

A couple of weeks ago the handle on the shark broke. Boo! Instead of just buying a new one, my Mr. Fix-it husband thinks he can somehow rig the handle back on. In the mean time, we're shark-less. However, last week Daniel spilled something on the kitchen floor, and instead of using the broom, he decided to get on his hands and knees with the handle-less shark and pick up the crumbs that way. Riley observed the whole thing, and in true 2-year-old fashion, he wanted to be included in the fun! Thankfully the camera was close by...

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This video is only a few seconds long, but believe me when I say he did this for at least 15 minutes! He was so proud of himself when he finished, and we had a clean kitchen floor!

A Month Already?


Ella Grace, I can't believe you're already a month old! What an absolute blessing you are to our family! I prayed and prayed for a happy, healthy, content baby, and God saw fit to say "yes!" to all of my prayers! Everyone told us that if your first child was easy, your second would be a nightmare. You are proving every one of them wrong, and we are so thankful! You're an excellent eater and sleeper. You usually eat every 3 hours, but at night you typically have two 4-hour stretches between feedings. Love those! The only times you cry are when you're hungry or have some gas. You love to be swaddled, and most of the time when I swaddle you, you fall fast asleep soon after being wrapped up. My favorite part of the day is our afternoon naps we take together in the recliner. I love holding you on my chest while we both recuperate from the morning with big brother. Speaking of him, Riley absolutely adores you! He loves to kiss your head, help feed you, talk to you, play with you on your playmat, console you when you're upset, and tell you he loves you. I knew he would be a great big brother, and he has definitely surpassed our hopes of how he'd treat you! I believe the two of you will always have a special relationship.

We are so thankful the Lord chose to add you to the Bramlett family! I know He has big plans for your life, and I am excited to be able to walk with you as those plans unfold. Happy 1st month, baby girl! I can't wait to see all of the changes and developments each month will bring! We love you, Elizabeth Grace!

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B-A-Y-L-O-R


Well, they did it! The Baylor Bears are the newest champions of the Valero Alamo Bowl! Woohoo! Thank you, ESPN, for streaming the game live on your website! Not all of us have cable or satellite, so it was wonderful to be able to watch it on the computer! I didn't stay up for the whole game, though, because lil' bear likes to eat a couple of times a night, so I try to get sleep when I can. :) I just finished feeding her (1:40 am), and I read the good news about the Bears winning! I'm so proud to be a Baylor Bear!

12.27.2011

Favorite gifts

Without a doubt, this was my favorite gift this Christmas! I am so thankful for our healthy baby girl. It's currently 4 am, and I just finished feeding her. I am bleary-eyed, completely exhausted and wonder when I'll get another full-night's sleep. BUT, this miracle from above is worth every bit of it! Thank you, Lord, for blessing us in this way!
Thanks to Ya Ya for the bow and adorable shoes!

And this was, by far, Riley's favorite gift this year...
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Since this video was taken, we've fixed (or should I say, Daniel fixed) a strap for him so he doesn't have to worry about it slipping down anymore.

After seeing his guitar, he was content and decided he didn't need to open any more gifts (literally - we ended up opening the rest of his presents for him!). Since Christmas morning, he has woken up every morning asking where his guitar is. As soon as he finds it, he says, "Do you like my guitar, mama?" He's so precious with it! Can't wait to see how God uses this little musician of ours!
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12.25.2011

Merry Christmas!

As I shared in my last post, we haven't had internet at the house for a while now. I tried to be patient for so long, and then I finally lost it last week. Blame it on postpartum hormones if you want, but Daniel realized pretty quickly that it was time to take action. So, my Christmas gift from him was a booster which allows us to pick up the internet from the church all over the house (whereas before I had to sit in one certain spot and sometimes hold the computer up in the air, depending on the weather). I am currently sitting in a comfy recliner, holding my baby girl, and typing away...love it!


But, the real reason for this particular post is to wish you all a very Merry Christmas from the Bramlett crew!
Riley got a guitar for Christmas and it had to be in the picture because it's now a permanent fixture in his hands :)
  

This was taken last night before the Christmas Eve service (don't you love the cheese face??)
We have so much to be thankful for this Christmas - 2 healthy children, a wonderful church, loving and helpful family - but most importantly, we're thankful for our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. We are nothing without Him, and every good and perfect gift truly comes from above! Happy Birthday, Jesus, and Merry Christmas to all of you! We love you!

12.06.2011

Alive and well

Yes, I am still alive! Between not having internet at our house and Ella deciding she wanted to come a week and 2 days early, blogging has been impossible lately. But, I wanted to take a quick minute (as I sit on the floor in the hallway at church) to introduce you all to the newest miracle at our house...



For those of you who don't know, our sweet Elizabeth Grace (Ella) was born on Saturday, November 26th at 4:17 pm. She weighed 6 lbs 11 oz and was 19 inches long. We were in the hospital 2 days and then headed home on Monday, November 28th around lunch time. Ella is a precious little girl. She looks a lot like her brother when he was born - around the same weight and length, yet has a petite frame that screams, "I'm a little girl!" :) I can't seem to kiss her adorable cheeks enough!

The original plan (and we all know that only God's plans are the ones that really unfold, so why do we even plan?!?!) was for me to go in for a C-section on Monday, December 5th at 7:30 a.m. My parents were going to leave Maryland on the 1st and drive down so they would be here in plenty of time for the birth on the 5th. Daniel's mom and grandmother were going to come down the 4th and spend the night so they'd be here too.

Saturday morning (11/26) as we were beginning to decorate the house for Christmas, I felt something strange, yet knew I had not wet myself. I calmly went to Daniel and said, "Not to alarm you, but I just had some fluid come out." He got the deer-in-the-headlights look and said, "What do you mean fluid??" So, I called the doctor and waited for a call-back since it was the weekend. My doctor happened to be out of town (of course), so I spoke to the one on call about 30 minutes later and she said to wait about 30 minutes and if nothing else happened not to worry about it. I went ahead and got in the shower (just in case!), but 3 hours passed and nothing happened. We continued decorating for Christmas and I figured it must have just been a fluke. Then, around noon, it happened again. I called the doctor back and she said I better come on in and get checked just in case it was my water breaking. So, Daniel and I quickly called the babysitter (who was already on alert from earlier in the morning), packed our bags and headed to the hospital. We got there around 1:30 pm and after checking me, the nurse confirmed that my water had broken and we would have a baby that day! So much for our plans, right?! Ella decided she didn't want to be a December baby, and she was coming whether we were ready or not!

We began calling family members and friends, and thankfully, Daniel's dad and brother were able to jump in the car right away and head for the hospital. We also had several church members come to be with Daniel after the birth. A little before 4 pm I was wheeled into the operating room and at 4:17 pm I heard Ella's first cry.

right before I was taken to the O.R.
Meeting Ella for the first time
"Mama, why did you have to disturb me? I was so warm and cozy inside you!"
Miracle from above
Proud big brother holding his baby sister

I'm still in shock she's here, but I'm so thankful! Several weeks ago I spent a long time praying and giving the labor and delivery over to the Lord. I knew if I didn't I would be a nervous wreck the closer it got. I told Him that I knew He knew the timing of everything and how it would all work out. I certainly didn't expect the plan to unfold in this way when I was praying, BUT I know His plan and timing are perfect, and Ella was born exactly when she was supposed to be. What a faithful and loving Father we serve!

I'm not sure when I'll be able to update the blog again, but hopefully sooner than later! I'm thankful I had these few minutes to introduce you to our sweet miracle and share a few pictures. To see the whole album, go here.

11.03.2011

35 Weeks

I have officially arrived at the uncomfortable stage of pregnancy, and I am counting down the weeks until I see with my eyes the feet that have been pounding on my ribs. :) I remember with Riley thinking, "the last few weeks of pregnancy really aren't that bad, in my opinion." Yeah, I was a little sore, but nothing like I am now! If I sit for too long, it takes me a while to get moving again. Oh the joys of the body stretching, the baby sitting on nerves, a sore back, etc. However, I keep reminding myself that it will all be worth it in the end!

If all goes as planned (and when does it ever when babies are involved?!), I will go in for a c-section on Monday, December 5th. I am praying hard that my blood pressure will stay normal and I won't have the complications I did with Riley-bug. So far I haven't had issues with swelling like I did with him, so I'm taking that as a good sign.

Baby Ella is right on track with her growth. I took Riley with me to my last appointment, and I wish you could have seen his face when he heard her heartbeat. It was precious! The rest of the day (and even a few days after), he walked around telling people, "I heard Ella's heartbeat!" He was so excited! I can't wait to see how he reacts when he gets to finally see her in person. He already has such a sweet love for his little sister. I know he's going to be a fun, yet protective, older brother, and that makes my heart smile! Before you think him too perfect of a child, know that he certainly has his moments where I can tell this baby thing has him a bit scared. He frequently crawls around the house saying, "I'm a baby!" He has also upped the severity and frequency of his lovely 2-year-old tantrums. So, I'm well aware that adding another member to our household is going to be a HUGE adjustment for him. But, I think once he gets passed the initial shock of his territory being invaded, he'll embrace her with open arms and realize the value she'll add to our family. Here's to hoping this happens sooner rather than later! :)

The Bramlett Bakery

The past two years I haven't been too concerned about what Riley would wear for Halloween because I knew we could put him in whatever we thought was cute and he wouldn't care one way or the other. For instance, for his first Halloween (2009), we found the most adorable giraffe costume. 
 And then last year (2010), my sweet mother-in-law sent this lion costume. Couldn't get any cuter!

This year, however, I knew would be a different story! Mr. Opinion and Strong-will has made himself known, and I wasn't too sure what he would "approve of." I figured he would either be Elmo or one of the characters from the Cars movie. But, when I started looking at costumes and how much they cost, I wasn't too thrilled with the idea of buying a costume.

Daniel came home one day and said, "I've got the perfect idea for Halloween!" I was a bit scared to hear his idea (he can get a little crazy sometimes with his 'ideas'), but I said, "Ok. What is it?" He replied with, "You dress up as an oven with a bun it, I'll be a baker, and Riley can be a loaf of bread!" I thought this was pretty clever - had some apprehensions as to how we were going to come up with Riley's costume - but agreed this was doable and we'd do our best to make it happen. So, I present to you the Bramlett Bakery...

In case you can't read it, my shirt says, "Bake: With Care" on the left and "Timer: 5 weeks left!" on the right. I googled "Bun in the oven costumes" and found a website showing how to make my costume. I modified it a bit (was supposed to be a huge box covering my body) so I could help somewhat with Riley.

For Riley's costume I just bought a brown pillowcase from T.J. Maxx, cut out the head and arms, and used some good ol' gold puff paint. It reads, "Nature's Own 100% Bramlett"

The back says, "50% Daniel, 50% Laura, Ingredients: Love, opinion, fun, strong-will, humor, tantrums, compassion, and grace of God."

Heading to the town's Trunk or Treat

At our church's fall festival...we won 2nd place in the adult costume contest!
I was a little worried that I was going to go to all the trouble to make Riley's costume and then he'd refuse to wear it. Thankfully, the episode of Sid the Science Kid we'd watched earlier in the day talked about costumes and dressing up for Halloween. I was able to remind him of that and got him excited about his costume. Thank you, Sid, for helping us with this process!

Can't wait to see what our two little ones will be next year! A friend asked if I was going to save the box so I could wear it again next year...HA! I said, "Um no! No more buns in this oven!!" :)

10.29.2011

Singing about Jesus

When I was about 20 weeks pregnant with Riley, I began singing to him when I laid down in bed at night. I knew he could hear my voice, and I wanted to begin teaching him the love of Jesus at a very early age. I would sing whatever song(s) popped in my head, but every single night I always included Jesus, Name Above All Names. It's such a simple song, but it's always been one of my favorites and it covers so many attributes of Jesus. Here are the words in case you're not familiar with the song...

Jesus, name above all names
Beautiful Savior, Glorious Lord
Immanuel, God is with us,
Blessed Redeemer, Living Word

After Riley entered the world, Daniel and I both continued to sing this song to him at night but added a couple of others, too. There's Just Something About that Name and Sweetest Name I Know entered the mix. So, for the past 2+ years, Riley has heard these songs over and over and over. I call them our "Jesus Medley," and friends, there is SO much POWER in simply speaking or singing the name of Jesus! I cannot tell you how many times Riley has been throwing an uncontrollable fit, one of us begins singing about Jesus, and he calms down in seconds. I love that I serve a risen Savior whose NAME causes evil to flee!

A couple of months ago Riley began requesting to sing his own "Jesus Medley" at nap time and bed time. After we finish praying, he immediately says, "Let's sing Jesus Loves Me." Once we're finished with that one, he wants Jesus Loves the Little Children and then we always end with Oh, How I Love Jesus. How precious it is to sing these songs with my 2-year-old! 

This morning I was working on our halloween costumes (another post about these to come...) when he grabbed his Bible (the one given to him when he was dedicated at our church in New Orleans), sat down in his chair and began singing song after song about Jesus. Thank goodness my camera was nearby! I quickly turned on the video and caught him singing Jesus, Name Above All Names, Sweetest Name I Know, and Oh, How I Love Jesus

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10.28.2011

Reading

Riley loves to "read," and his book of choice right now is The Little Engine That Could. Hopefully you'll be able to somewhat understand him in the video. Usually he starts at the beginning and "reads" through each page, but this day he kind of got caught up on the same part..."all the little boys and girls won't have any toys to play with or good food to eat!" He's very concerned about the boys and girls...too sweet. I told Daniel it's going to be hard to tell when he actually begins to read because he memorizes books so quickly and can recite them just about word for word. It's so fun to watch him learn and grow on a daily basis!

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10.25.2011

A Girl's Weekend

A couple of weekends ago I was able to fly to Jacksonville and surprise my best friend, Kristen. I've known this crazy girl since 2000 when we met at Florida GA/Acteens Camp. She likes to tell people I hated her at first (not true!), and it did take a few weeks for us to become friends, but once the friendship formed we were inseparable. In fact, I convinced her to leave Florida and transfer to Baylor (ok, maybe the LORD had a lot to do with it, too). We were roommates my 2nd Senior year (yeah, it took me 5 years to graduate), and I loved just about every minute of it...lots of GREAT memories! So, when the time came for me to marry the man of my dreams, I didn't have to think twice about who I wanted by my side. She claimed she had no clue what it meant to be a maid of honor, but she did exactly what I needed her to do...kept me laughing and asked me right before walking down the aisle, "Are you sure you want to do this? I have the getaway car out front!" :)


About 5 months after I became Mrs. Daniel Bramlett, I graduated from seminary in New Orleans. I begged Kristen over and over to come to my graduation, but she kept telling me it was impossible. I finally gave up and decided it wasn't going to happen. My parents arrived on a Thursday afternoon, and after seeing them for a short time, they claimed they were going to their room to "rest" before dinner. Little did I know, but they were heading back to the airport to pick up my surprise...Kristen! I was so shocked and excited to see her! So, 3.5 years later, it was my turn to surprise her! Even though we both always thought she would get married first, her time has come and she's going to become Mrs. Richard Robinson in a few short weeks! Guess what the only problem with this is? I can't be at the wedding!!! I will be 36 weeks pregnant on the day she says, "I do," and my doctor said, "You can't!" :( I still tear up whenever I sit down and think about this fact. BUT, God was gracious enough to provide a way for me to fly in for her bridal shower! If I can't be there for the BIG day, at least I could take part in this way. I'm not the best at surprising people because I can't lie worth a flip (which I guess is a good thing?!), but I think she was genuinely surprised!

Blindfolded by our great friend, Rachel, and waiting to see who she's come to pick up at the airport

The beautiful location of the luau shower

Such a fun night!

The happy couple - Richard & Kristen

My matron of honor and fellow prego friend, Anne (she's having a little boy at the end of January)

The crazy parents of the bride!

Great times catching up with friends
An added bonus to the weekend was I got to spend some quality time with another of my closest friends, Liz. I've known Liz all of my life (literally - our dad's are best friends). I was able to go to church with her on Sunday and then spend the rest of the day and night with she and her precious family.

Liz, Summer and I - best friends from high school
I know with sweet Ella coming it's going to be a long time before I'll get to have a getaway like this one again! I'm so thankful the Lord worked out all of the details for me to go to Jax. for the weekend. It was a much-needed break, and He reminded me of all the wonderful friends He has placed in my life over the years. Friendships that last over distance and time are rare, and I'm so grateful for the ones He's blessed me with. 

10.24.2011

Learning how to blow

A few weeks ago, we took Riley to one of his friend's birthday parties. As we were leaving, we were handed a small box with fun prizes in it as a thank you for coming. One of the prizes was a party horn. Riley liked it, but really had no clue what to do with it. A couple of nights later Daniel decided it was time to teach him. I was able to get it on video, and as you can tell, we laughed a lot and loved watching our little guy learn something new!

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10.07.2011

31 weeks

Yes, I know - I don't "look like I'm in my 3rd trimester," but believe you me, Ella is alive and well, moving day and night! :) It's hard to believe we'll get to meet her in just 8 short weeks! My actual due date is December 10, but since I'm having another c-section, she will be entering the world December 5.

I am really missing the energy and happy tummy I had during the 2nd trimester! I'm back to feeling nauseous and have absolutely no energy. I'm hoping it's just a 31 weeks thing and next week will be better! Currently my house is a wreck and I only cooked one night this week. I'm so thankful for an understanding husband who is willing to eat cereal and sandwiches a lot right now! :) Needless to say, blogging isn't high on the priority list right now, either. Praying for a restful weekend and a brand new attitude and burst of energy next week!

9.21.2011

New Favorite Spot


Riley has a new favorite place in our house...the kitchen sink. Most of the time, it does not bother me for him to carry his stool over, climb up and attempt to help me wash dishes. However, there are times when my type-A goes crazy and I just have to ask him to get down. I know, horrible mother. I try so hard to be patient, but it's just not always there! In fact, I've started leaving the dishes to do while he's eating (contained in his booster seat), napping, or after he's gone to bed for the night. Yesterday afternoon I was feeling a bit more patient, so I let him climb up and "make soup" in the sink. As he was 'cooking,' I had a little conversation with him that I think you'll enjoy.

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What a sweet, big 2-year-old! I'm just hoping that a few years down the road his love for washing dishes and cooking will be just as strong! :) I may just have to show him this post to remind him!

9.17.2011

Beautiful Feet

I will reveal my name to my people, and they will come to know its power. Then at last they will recognize that it is I who speaks to them. How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring Good News of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!
Isaiah 52: 6-7

My husband and three other members of our church will be using their beautiful feet this next week to tell Peruvians about the love of Christ. Let me just say how excited I am that within a month and a half of each other, we've both gotten to go to another country to share His story! Wow! God's plans and ways of providing are absolutely amazing!

(L to R) Leslie, Daniel, Elizabeth and Cody
The team left Thursday night and drove down to Houston where they caught their plane early Friday morning headed for Lima. They were able to enjoy a 5.5 hour layover in Panama City, Panama before arriving in Lima late Friday night. Today they were gathering supplies in Lima and then headed to the mountains! It's about a 6-hour drive on some pretty scary roads, so much prayer is needed and appreciated! They will be spending the week in Huayacundo Arma, Peru - a small village that does not currently have an evangelical church. There is one catholic church that stays locked up except when the priest comes once a year. Oh, and he charges for confession when he does come. Wow! Anyway, their goal is to share Christ and hopefully lay the groundwork for a new church plant. Our church has partnered with this and 4 other villages in the area, so this is not just a one-time mission trip. Whatever seeds are planted this time will be watered many times over in the years to come. Pray the seeds will take root and GROW!

We will miss him, but are so excited about this opportunity he has!
The team and families
Saying goodbye to Daddy
As Daddy's away, Riley, Ella and I are missing him, but having a good time. The weather has been wonderful, so we've been able to spend a lot of time outside, which Riley loves! A great friend from seminary is coming with her 10-month-old to visit for a few days next week, so that will help a lot, too! As my mother-in-law said, Riley will be able to practice his big brother skills! :)

If you think about it, please pray for our team this next week! Pray for boldness, strength, unity and a willingness to do whatever the Spirit leads them to do. Thank you!

9.15.2011

Her Name

In case you have trouble deciphering these pictures (like I do!), her feet are at the bottom left with her legs going up towards the top right of the picture.

As I said in my last post, Daniel and I were ready to call our child by name! Up until this point, we had not been able to decide on a name for a boy or a girl. This was so different from when I was pregnant with Riley because a week or two before my 20-week ultrasound with him, we had both a girl and a boy name picked out. When we found out it was a boy, we immediately started calling him by name. I don't know why it was so difficult this time, but I guess we just needed the extra two months to think and pray about it.

When we got in the car after my appointment on Tuesday, we jumped into the name discussion. I was afraid there might be some arguing and difficult moments involved, but God was so gracious to lead us TOGETHER to the right name for our girl. So, if you haven't seen this on Facebook and you're not a family member or heard us talking about her at church, here's her name...

Elizabeth Grace Bramlett

We will call her Ella. The exciting thing to me is that I have always loved the name Ella Grace. In fact, if Riley had been a girl, that was going to be his name. When we found out I was pregnant this time, I mentioned Ella Grace and Daniel wasn't too keen on it because he didn't feel like there was much meaning behind Ella. He really wanted a Biblical name, and we both wanted a name that was more significant to us than "we just liked it." So several weeks ago the names Grace Elizabeth and Elizabeth Grace came to me. In case you didn't know, Elizabeth is my middle name, and I love Grace because it's only by HIS grace that we're even pregnant with another child! I mentioned them in passing to Daniel and asked him to just think about them. I then heard from a great friend in New Orleans who is due the exact date I am and is having a girl as well. Guess what they're naming her? Grace Elizabeth! So, I thought maybe we should lean towards Elizabeth Grace. :) Anyway, fast forward to this past Tuesday when we started talking about names. Daniel said, "Now what were the names you mentioned a couple weeks ago?" So I told him and he said he really liked Elizabeth Grace...not only because it incorporates my middle name, but also because of the Biblical character, Elizabeth. At first I said, "Ok, well let's call her Ellie." My husband then said, "Why don't we call her Ella?" This shocked me! Just a few weeks before he didn't care for the name. However, he said now it carried more meaning because it would be short for Elizabeth. So, there it is! That's how we came up with her name! Not only will she bear my middle name (just as Riley is Daniel's middle name), but I get to call her by my favorite girl's name! God is so good! I love how He always works out ALL of the details, if we will simply wait on Him!

9.14.2011

SHE cooperated!


If you remember, almost 2 months ago to the day, we attempted to find out if our 4th family member was a boy or girl. Unfortunately, the baby did not care to share that info with us on July 15, so we had to wait until yesterday, Sept. 13, to try again. MUCH prayer went into yesterday, and I'm excited to say SHE finally agreed to let us in on the secret!

I'm thinking, though, we've got either a strong-willed child or a shy child entering our world soon! The ultrasound tech (same guy as last time) took all of the measurements again this time and said when he was finished with that we'd look for the sex. When it was time to start looking, he said, "I'm afraid your baby is being stubborn again!" My stomach dropped and I thought, "no!!" He said he was going to go get Daniel and while he was gone I should poke around on my belly and roll from side to side to try and get her to move. I did both of those, but I also had a little chat with the sweet girl. I said, "Listen, we don't care about the pink or blue stuff or whether or not we need to paint the bedroom. We just want to be able to call you by name! We want to pray for you by name! Please let us know what you are so we can do that!" So after the pep talk and some poking and prodding with the u/s machine, we were finally able to determine that it was indeed a girl. However, she kept her knees together and ankles crossed the entire time! Such a prim and proper little one! :) Needless to say, we are SUPER excited about our precious daughter!

I'll share her name tomorrow and how we came up with it. Right now, though, big brother is refusing to take a nap due to some mean teeth attempting to come in, so I better go check on him. See you tomorrow!

9.11.2011

Swaziland - Day 4

On Thursday, our 4th full day in Swaziland, we headed to the community of Ngowane (N-go-wa-nay). I think everyone on the team was a bit nervous because this would be our first time doing homestead visits. A homestead is a piece of property where a family lives and there are usually multiple huts on this property - cooking hut, adult sleeping hut, children sleeping hut, living room hut, etc. Our goal when visiting these homesteads was to share the Gospel in a very clear way and give the people an opportunity to come to Christ if they hadn't already. After sharing with them, we were then supposed to invite them to the afternoon Bible study we were having at the local school. We divided into teams of 2-3 people plus a translator.

Here is a typical homestead

On our way to Ngowane, we came across this dam...out in the middle of nowhere, but beautiful!

View from the dam's welcome center - last potty break before the rural area!

Very rough road to Ngowane

When we arrived, we split into our teams and began walking in opposite directions looking for homesteads to visit. My team lovingly appointed me as the first person to share the Gospel because "I had been a missionary before." :) So, as we're walking down the road looking for a place to visit, we came across the woman pictured below. We greeted her and our translator began a conversation with her. The next thing I knew, the translator was looking at me saying, "Okay, you can share the Gospel with her now!" Talk about jumping in feet first! :) That kind of took me off guard, so I said a quick prayer and began talking. I'm sure my words were a bit jumbled and not quite as clear as they could have been, but I'm thankful the Lord is the one who actually saves people, and it's not based on OUR words or lack of words! She claimed to be a believer, so we asked how we could pray for her, prayed, and were on our way looking for the next place to share.

We came to this homestead where we found two men outside working on a car (sure wish Daniel had been with us!) and a woman (the wife of one of the men) working around the yard. The men were not interested in talking with us about spiritual matters, but the woman invited us into the round hut pictured below.

My friend Jill was able to share with her and she, too, said she was already a believer. She did ask us to pray for her family, though, because her husband is not a believer and it makes life at home very difficult. It was obvious she was very broken over her husband's spiritual health, and she asked us to pray for peace in their home. I shared with her that true peace will not come until all family members are believers. She agreed, and we prayed with her.

The second homestead we visited is pictured below

When we arrived here, we found this 19-year-old girl, Pilile (Pi-lee-lay) home alone. She was very willing to sit and talk with us, but she did not seem to have much hope. After sharing the Gospel with her, she said she believed in Christ and went to church. She then asked several really good questions and we were able to point her to different scriptures in the Bible which answered her questions. She shared with us that the reason she was home that day and not in school (she's a senior) was because her mom is an alcoholic and she had come into her hut early that morning and beaten her. We prayed with Pilile, and when we finished I looked at her and tears were just rolling down her face. Needless to say, this girl captured my heart and I will never forget the time we spent with her. Please say a prayer for her, if you get a chance!

After leaving Pilile's, it was time for us to meet up with the rest of the team for lunch before our afternoon Bible studies. We got a quick picture with our new friend, Khetiwe (Ke-tee-way) before heading out. We met her on the road when we met the very first woman, and she went with us everywhere we went after that! We called her our tour guide because she kept saying, "I'll show you which homesteads to go to!" She was awesome!

After lunch we walked over to the school for Bible study. We all began in this classroom with singing and prayer, and then the children headed outside while Rachel and I and the adults stayed inside. We taught them the story of the paralytic man who was healed by Jesus when his friends carried him to the house where Jesus was teaching and lowered him through the roof. After we were finished, we asked if they had any questions, and they asked some great, CHALLENGING questions!

My teaching buddy and roommate for the trip

Steve Allen (missionary) told us that after Bible study was over he was going to sell some Bibles to the people. He said they used to give them away, but people were taking advantage of them, so they had to start selling them for a minimal price. He asked all of the people to go outside and line up on the other side of the door. I asked why he did it this way, and he said if they stayed inside and brought the Bibles out the people would surround him and just start grabbing - that's how desperate they are for Bibles!

So, Maria, one of our translators, would crack the door, take their money, and then hand them a Bible very quickly. He only had 12 to sell that day, so once they were gone, they were gone.

I could not get over how eager they all were to get a Bible AND how limited the supply was. Steve said his Bible budget each year is only $800. That's enough to buy 5 boxes of Bibles with 16 Bibles in a box. I knew immediately that I needed to share this with my church. I did, and the gracious people in my church have donated money to go towards Swazi Bibles. I pray that one day every Swazi will have the chance to own their own Bible!