In the Garden

Garden Photos

I know many of you are in the thick of winter, huddling in front of fireplaces with your paws wrapped around mugs of seasonally divine hot drinks. We, however, are entering into summer. Our summer solstice fell right before Christmas, so our sun wakes up before 4:30 and keeps us company until about 7pm. With that sun comes some serious heat (heat index of 145 degrees on Christmas!), enough rain to keep the crops going, and long days of productivity.
Back in late November, I took a few garden shots and wanted to update our blog with photos. With a friend visiting, then a Babymoon, and my pregnant brain combined, I never got around to it. However, it’s perfect to show you some comparison shots of how things have changed in exactly a month.

Categories: In the Garden | 3 Comments

Not-so-quick Updates

Lately in our Lives:

[If you’re a blog-skimmer, just scroll on down to the pictures at the bottom.]

  • My parents visited for 2 weeks. We loved every second of it!
  • Kitchen construction is mostly finished. Sean installed a pantry. I organized the shelves. Sean put in plumbing, I like washing dishes in the new sink. Let’s be honest, Sean did almost ALL the work, but I shared in the enjoying of his hard work.
  • We’ve decided to live in Swaziland at least 4 years! (Just two more, 4 total). We’re adding one extra year to our original 3-year commitment. While we could get really excited thinking about the Post-Swaziland phase of our lives, we realized it’s just not time for that yet. However, with a baby coming in February, we feel comfortable committing to just one year more for now. We’ll re-evaluate as time goes on. Largely, we feel like we’re only getting started in some of the community work, so it’d be leaving too soon if we closed up shop in a year. We’re discussing how having a child will change our focus (obviously) and how it’s likely Nicole will shift her focus from lots of out-of-the-house ministry work, to more ministry with a child in tow, and from the house. We’ll keep you abreast of those shifting tides.
  • Nicole’s going to work on an intern-application process. Like most things we do, we can’t imagine this being like too many other “conventional” internship ideas, and we have no idea if people will come. However, Nicole felt an urge to prepare some in this direction, so that IF and WHEN someone inquires, we’ll be ready. We don’t have much space for lots of people, nor are there lots of “projects” that we need foreign hands to complete, but we DO love sharing our lives, love sharing what we’re learning, and enjoy pouring into the lives of people considering full-time ministry, overseas work, etc.
  • Summer is kicking up with a few days of rain blessing our land. It just makes you want to dance!
  • I, Nicole, am feeling pretty good as I hit the half-way mark in my pregnancy. Taking advantage of second-trimester energy to kick up the exercise, planting, garden labor, and all-things-crafty in my free-time. There’s a lot going on in my heart these days, mostly joy and peace. And no, I probably won’t post belly photos. I’ll spare you that much skin. 😉 Clothes-on photos may be found from time to time.
  • After a few weeks off with my parents coming, I was excited to head back to the hospital this week. The newspaper reported some very sad news while I was “off” that a laboring woman was told to leave the labor ward and walk around outside (common practice if she’s not into active labor yet). Apparently something happened, which resulting in her squatting over the tile floor and pushing her child out. Reports declared the child died from head trauma, while nurses didn’t rush to attend to mother or baby. I have no idea IF it’s true, if the mother was still in the labor ward, or was indeed walking outside. The negative publicity certainly affects people’s desires to birth at this specific hospital (yes, the one I volunteer at). The trauma to the mother, and nurses who seem to have neglected her points to a broken, hurting world. My heart aches for more to be done to make sure the safety of these babes and mothers. My heart aches for hospital leadership to lead the staff towards greater compassion, better practices, skill development, and personal & professional times of refreshment (can we say “Overworked?”). I’m thankful I have relationships with the nurses that point me to lean in and ask questions before pointing fingers. I’m thankful I have relationships with a few moms that allow a bit of education and empowerment to color their choices and actions.
  • I keep meeting more and more young, single expecting women. In our little Masini community alone, I met four (three whom I didn’t know about). Oh Lord! Our lives are broken without you. Single mothers are incredible women, yet my heart aches for the hardships facing their young, unemployed persons. Show us ways to educate them, connect them to employers, and draw them to You who gives all love, self-worth, and answers that we often seek through others and ourselves. May I be a bit of the hands and feet to help them on the journey. May I be eager to give many cups of cold water, advise mothers of these young mothers on when to take them to the hospital, and empower them with education, so they might have CHOICE over their ambitious, budding lives and those of their children. Lord, heal our heart and our land from fatherless children and broken-hearted young mothers. There is another way. Let us find it together. 
  • Sean’s organizing some “farm visit” days with a permaculture farm here in Swaziland. I guess we’re first on the list and hope to connect loads of cool people to loads of other great people, so the ideas may flow & creativity blossom along with our crops.
  • Thor keeps chasing goats out of our yard. He joyously watches from under the truck for any unsuspecting goats who venture in our front gate. With a simple, “Yah Thor,” he bolts down the driveway. He has just to butt heads with any horn-bearing mama goats, but Sean did catch his being drug out of the yard by a goat. He says Thor attached himself to the poor goat’s ankles. Serves the pesky, plant-devouring heathens right! We give him lots of treat and take him everywhere dogs are allowed (and some places they’re not).
  • We felt really, really, REALLY loved by family, friends, and some strangers when my parents surprised us with gifts from some youth and adults from Greenford Christian Church (our first care package!), some very crafty friends, a few random friends, and family. People blessed us with encouraging notes, notes of joy and prayers for our pregnancy, and all around LOVE. I think I’ll just read one every day until forever. 😀 Slowly I’m churning out the thank yous, but if you sent something – thank you!!!


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Categories: aDventures in Doula-ing, In the Garden, just for fun, Swaziland Updates | 5 Comments

In a List, Us

When time is short (like now) and fresh ideas fail me (ahem), I resort to lists. They inspire, center and focus me. And let’s be honest, checking things off all nice and neat satisfies me.
This week and lately:
– Sean audits a two week course at African Christian College, just 30 kilometers away on Community Development. Studying, reading, writing papers, and planning presentations usurps his usual time.
– Nicole caught a cold. First in a long time that she took a ‘sick’ day.
– Nicole runs the homestead all solo (well, Thor helps too!) she planted the last round of spinach, potatoes and tomatoes for this fall.
– Nicole and Thor chased too many dogs from the garden. Over and over. We’re scheming ways to keep them out, and plan to patch a few fence holes.
– Sean’s gonna climb with a friend on Saturday to exert some energy.
– Nicole’s taking Glorious, her two kids and an assortment of other children from our neighborhood to a game park. It’s “Family Day”, and kids under 13 get in free. Pony rides. Face painting. Educational games. And a game drive. She can’t wait to share this with the kids. Almost all who have never been to a game park, or seen a live zebra. Although such wildlife used to be known out their front door. She hopes to remember to take photos.
– Sister Winter blew in. Chilly nights have us snuggled under blankets, and cool mornings threaten to keep us in those blankets past the alarm.
– Sunshine warms us up to 70s during the day. The sunflowers still greet all who venture down the driveway.
– Brown moves in. Dust gathers and settles and stirs around. With no rain to tamp the soil, or water the earth, she heads towards winter.
– Nicole tools away at editing our second chapter in the book. If you’d like to be a chapter editor, we’re taking all the help we can get!
– Nicole gears up for her three days working at Genesis Clinic in Joburg next week. She’ll be mentored by other doulas, attend births with midwives, and get to see women birth exactly how they wanted to. Plus it’ll be warm baths and showers at the hotel for four glorious nights!! Hello mini-retreat.
– Thor dug up a small snake. His parents heard him growl and came running (albeit in circles, looking for weapons) to kill it. No one was harmed. And we’re once again, indebted to the faithful canine.
– Thor’s courage amazes us. He takes on cows, heifers, calves, and bulls all the same – with tenacity. He chases large dogs away, continuing to terrorize them down the road, even after they turn and bite him.
– We phoned a few dear friends and family in recent weeks to catch up. Maybe we missed you, but know we think of you often. Message us if you’d like to be in our next round of calls 😉

– We can’t believe it’s June. And winter. And like six months into this year!!
– Having lived in our new place for six months, we’re really settling in. Hitting a stride with our schedules and routines and relationships.
– Sean prepares to teach Thursday night “bible study” at our church. It’s cool to see them dictate to him what and how he must teach them. He’s bravely transitioning into teaching into siSwati. (What a champ!)

Categories: In the Garden, Swaziland Updates | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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