Wednesday, June 22, 2016

real life ninja's only

please notice the purely awesome ninja icon on your google chrome tab or as the bookmark icon for my new website.

Oh, right... I have a new website. It's still getting some final touches, but it's up and running. Eventually you can go there to see or purchase my artwork, and to purchase one of my brilliant word pun greeting cards that may or may not be appropriate... but they are funny.

So please, go visit... 


Much love from Goma, 
Jenn 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Going Clubbing

Not that type of clubbing ;) 


Blackman (our resident famous rapper) and Fred (UJN renowned breakdancer and Generation Hope English instructor)taking a selfie with me on the way.

I am fortunate enough to work with some of the most motivated and inspiring young leaders in Goma (and, in my biased opinion, all of Congo). The Generation Hope program is designed to teach the students leadership. A good leader leads by example and by serving others. That's my belief. These students take these lessons and go to their neighborhoods to teach others. Some people call this discipleship. These small groups throughout Goma and surrounding towns and villages are called “clubs”. Un Jour Nouveau has over 70 clubs started by leaders between the ages of 14 and 21.
Some of my students. Noe is doing some weird squatting pose in front :)

One club in particular is led by one of my favorite students, Noe. This young man asked for a minute of my time my first week in Goma. He was already in my Wednesday afternoon English class where we started off studying the book of John. (Personally, I think John is a great place to learn leadership principles from Jesus. And of course we do this in English). I sat down with him and about 3 other students where Noe showed me the new schedule they had generated for me. I was to meet them every Monday and Friday, as well as the regularly scheduled Wednesday and Thursday classes, from 6am-8am to have extra English lessons. Although I was incredibly impressed with his initiative, 6am any morning doesn’t really work for me. So we compromised on a 2pm class.

Before I left, Mama Komeza told me I was wearing my scarf wrong. She  took it off my neck, wrapped it correctly around my head and said that prepared me for life in the neighborhoods.

Noe is a great leader; he's smart, ambitious, kind, very thoughtful, and he’s got a great sense of humor (which I highly value). His club is held in a small, one-room school house in a neighborhood about 20 minutes away by car. There were 15 other young people present this particular day. The conversation was on treating others with respect. One guy brought up the fact that he doesn’t respect prostitutes because they choose a disgusting life… this turned into a very lively conversation, as you can imagine.


If there's one thing I’ve learned in the time since I really started to believe what God says in His word (and it's not just that He exists, See LINK)… since living on Hanover Place in DC, living in Haiti and now living in Goma… Through all my frustrations and heartbreak, it’s this: we are all broken by the sin in our lives; the sin just looks different depending on life decisions. This simple yet profound reality… who am I to judge you?

But honestly, many times I do. Many times I find myself critical of other peoples choices, not knowing the circumstances of their lives that may've led them to make that choice.  Determining “how far someone has to go” to be a “better person” isn’t a fair view of them; I don’t know how far God has brought them.

In my experience, love really does cover a multitude of sins. It has for me. But that doesn’t mean we don't address issues of brokenness in our lives. It means addressing them with truth AND kindness. My students and I have discussed this at length. I’ve learned that truth without kindness is destructive and kindness without truth is irresponsible. Love and acceptance… learning to accept where someone is in life and choosing to love him or her. Would I encourage someone to remain in a situation that's dangerous or not good for their health? No. So why would I encourage someone to live in a situation that has profoundly destructive effects on their soul?

Personally, I have been really fortunate to have people in my life to call me out on the things I do or have done that are not good for my health, soul or otherwise. But without relationships built through love and acceptance, I never would've received the encouragement and correction. It would've felt like judgment and condemnation, and I would have carried it as shame and bitterness.

There have been people in my life who've said corrective things to me without having established a relationship with me (and sometimes without kindness). I carried those remarks as shame, condemnation and eventually bitterness. It was destructive. I don’t want that for other people. I want genuine, loving relationships for people because those kinds of relationships change lives.


 Noe does just that. He is building relationship, earning trust and he's able to facilitate tough conversations. He did a beautiful job of shutting down condemning comments and promoting respectful and kind conversation. I did speak up occasionally to pose questions for them to think about and alternative perspectives to consider.  But I want them to think for themselves and I want Noe to feel empowered to lead. The reason I was there was to observe and listen; the reason they wanted me there was to hear my perspective and thoughts. We managed to find a nice balance of both.
I'm not sure why I left my backpack on to stand up and talk...



I was (and remain) incredibly proud of my students, and I'm honored to have the opportunity to work with Un Jour Nouveau.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Chukadoooooo!!!

I said two blogs ago... "But I will… mark my words. I will ride a chukadoo down a hill in the near future."

This is a Chuckadoo going down the road by my house. 


Well, today I had a meeting at the British Embassy outpost here in Goma by the border of Rwanda. The reason I tell you it's by the border is so you understand that there is a lot of traffic there. Big trucks waiting to cross, lots of cars and a lot of motos waiting to pick people up after the cross. After we left, we were walking down the street when a chukadoo driver jumped off his very patriotic chukadoo, laid it on the ground and went into a store. The police officer sitting outside saw me eyeing the chukadoo and said "hey white girl, take the chukadoo" (in Swahili and French mixed). So I did. 

I picked it up. There were so many moto drivers and pedestrians there watching and wondering what I was going to do. Of course I was wearing 3" wedges (I do that a lot here...not sarcasm, I do)and I'm sure most people were thinking I would just pick it up and look at it and then put it back down. 

Wrong. 

I've seen this done enough to know how to get started...


So I gave Dieudonne my purse and I used my left leg to start to push, I maneuvered around Raj... our driver picking us up, and then when I had enough speed I jumped on with both feet and started down the ever so slight declining road to Rwanda. My form was excellent


as you can see... my form is excellent. The guy in the green t-shirt running after me, then turning around laughing is the chukadoo driver. 

Please also add Chukadoo ninja to my repertoire. Since I didn't actually know how to use the brake... or even if this chuckadoo had one... when I got to a certain speed and looked up to see a car coming toward me, I decided to jump off and turn around. Otherwise I was planning to rush the British embassy yelling with my best British accent "SANCTUARY"... but then I decided "maybe not".

Chukadoos are HEAVY. They are solid wood. So after I got that sucker turned around (btw. the shock system was pretty comfortable) I skated my way back up the street to return the chukadoo.


I returned the chukadoo to it's rightful owner with a loud round of applause from the moto drivers across the street. Next up. World domination. 

Much love from Goma. 



Saturday, April 16, 2016

Easter, water bottles, Zamuda...nailed it.

I love Easter… it’s my favorite holiday.

The Un Jour Nouveau Chapel celebrated Easter (Pâques) with multiple events. Baptism in the(super cold) lake, A killer service with SOOOOO much dancing and singing, a huge party after the service (complete with a massive buffet of home made goodness) to celebrate our 2 year anniversary as a church… and then I was able to go to a concert at another church. I love the local concerts here. They are SO. MUCH. FUN! Singing and so much dancing… and a great workout.

Unfortunately, 13 of the kids from Minova were back in Goma with Malaria. Four of them needed to be admitted to the hospital, including Augie. The kids who were doing better than the 4 in the hospital were staying at Mama Zamuda’s house, including Sifa. 
 originally it was just going to be a picture with Jojo (my ninja turtle) but we were rushed by 3 others. 
 I think Arsène was going for fish face.
Sweet Esther was so sick. She muscled up a smile, but just wanted to cuddle
Sifa loves to share. But she wants to feed you. One bite for her, one for you...potatoe straight to the face! And occasionally up your nose. Jojo and Arsène know this and sit close to get extra food. 
 Vicky, my Belgian counterpart, giving Augie a kiss to wake him up. 
 Augie LOVES Esther. It's so cute
Poor little guy was so sick again, but not to sick to take his first selfie with my phone. He pressed the button. He's a smart one.

So, even though it’s an unfortunate situation, I was able to have Sifa with me ALL DAY for Easter! Here is a picture of Chad and I in our matching Easter outfits (the entire church wore the same fabric)… sifa is playing peek-a-boo (a game I recently taught her) behind the desk.  

She is seriously so different from the little girl who did not smile, did not look at you… so different. It’s the coolest thing to see her personality. Also… a very cool thing was to see Chad get baptized along with 19 other people! Halleluuuuu-yurrr!

Sifa is obsessed with water bottles. I have a theory. It all centers around her trauma. Being stranded with no food or water for two weeks has done a serious amount of damage. She is still very insecure about whether, when she sees food or water, she will actually be given any. She usually carries water bottles around with her like baby dolls. If you try to take it from her she will freak out. Case in point. We needed to wash our hands to eat after church. We went to the bathroom, I took the bottle and put it to the side of the sink so we can wash hands. The water bottle is literally RIGHT THERE on the sink and she started screaming and tears streamed down her face. I reassured her I would give it back, made her wash hands for a few more seconds, then gave it back. As soon as I put it back into her arms, she stopped screaming and the tears went away. Immediately.
 She was debating whether or not to go share with Chad

Then we walked outside to go to the buffet line. She saw people sitting at tables with food and again freaked out screaming with tears as she reached for the food. Of course everyone is looking at me like I’m hurting the child. I again, reassured her that we were getting food. She screamed for a few seconds longer then finally trusted me after I cut in line and grabbed a plate. There is a long road ahead of her for healing. Augie as well.


They are both easily calmed with my sunglasses. If they start to get upset we just put the sunglasses on them and they calm down. Sifa does this funny "ehhhh" sound, smiles and lays back for you to admire her. 

But she is really cute with her water bottles. She waddles around and collects them. Then she looks around and decides who she wants to give them to. She waddles over to you, gives you the bottle like a gift with a huge smile and proudly walks away. It’s a big deal for her to chose you. But don’t get too excited. She will come get it back in less than 2 minutes to take back her bottle!

Mean while, Mama Zamuda… she is in HEAVEN! She is part of UJN's daughters of Congo women. She lives in one of our houses (with 2 other women) while she is getting back on her feet. Literally. This woman lost her entire family during a rebel attack. She suffered severe physical assaults during her rape and it took years for her to physically heal. Even now, because of the severity of her attack, her hips and legs did not heal properly and walking is very hard for her. She doesn’t let that steal her joy. She is the meanest chair dancer I’ve ever seen and she even has a few moves she can still hustle out while standing with her massive walking stick. Half of the pictures we take together are blurry because she’s dancing so much!A woman after my own heart. 
 Mama Komeza, Zamuda and Esther. Getting this picture was hard because Zamuda wouldn't stop dancing and singing! 
Mama Melena, me and Zamuda... dancing and giving thumbs up

She always wanted to take care of orphans; it was her dream. For the past week she had a house full of kids. She LOVED it. I went to the ouse everyday to see the kids. Each time I came and Zamda was home, you would find her sitting in the living room laughing and looking out for the kids. When the kids were released by the doctor to go back to Minova, Zamuda was so sad to see them go. In her words, it was “terrible” they had to leave. “especially Sifa… I love her”


This woman makes me smile just thinking about her. She really only speaks Swahili, and on occasion will blurt out something in French. Every now and then she repeats what I say in English. Last week, as she was saying good bye to the kids, she said “thank you” in perfect English. I loved it and said “nailed it”… which she repeated. I died laughing. It was the cutest thing. When asked if she feels better (she was in the hospital for her heart) she says “Iks beddah now”! She gives the best hugs and she also does THE BEST Congolese yelling thing at church. She’s a very thoughtful woman and very opinionated. One thing I love, rather than calling me Muzungu (white person) she calls me rafiki wangu (my friend) and on occasions she says Jenni… but mostly "Na kupenda sana Rafiki wangu"(I love you so much my friend".


this was caught on tape... right after she said "nailed it"... I lost it...clearly!
Esther caught this moment when she was in the hospital. I climbed into her bed and Vicky and I prayed with her. 

much love from Goma...

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Minova... the first of many reunions

Recently a photo journalist came to do a follow-up story on the women of Minova. Two years ago, there was a major rape trial held in Minova (the small town where Mama Masika lived). Mama Masika was a driving force behind this. She gave the women encouragement and strength to stand up for their rights as victims of sexual violence.  There were also men who were victims during this time. Sadly, there were very few convictions and many of the predators were never charged with crimes, only the subordinates.  Still, the women are doing very well and finding healing. But it’s harder now with Masika gone. More on this in a minute.
Minova

I was able to go with Diana, her fixer, and the Un Jour Nouveau psychologist/head of security. Honestly, as much as I wanted to meet some of the women and hear their stories, I wanted to go and see Sifa and the other children in Masika’s center. When we finally arrived, I made the rounds saying hi to the kids, giving kisses and fist bumps (they love this). When I found Augie (on one of the older girls backs) he immediately started smiling and then laughing. Then I found Sifa. She had just woken up from a nap and was crying. As I rounded the corner, she recognized me, put her arms up and when I picked her up she stopped crying. After I changed her diaper (which is a thin piece of cloth, not actually a diaper. She immediately started smiling, laughing and making the silly faces I taught her in the hospital. The reunion was beautiful!
Augie, Me and Sifa... the band back together again.
bath time for chubby baby... 

I think we have the same smile.

Jojo practicing his name on their "chalkboard"... all the little guys are watching.


We stayed in a local Catholic Parish. It was clean and safe and that is really all I needed. However we looked at a few “guest houses” hoping to find something a little nicer… instead we found a place that gave you a bible on each bed and a condom on each night stand. We got a good laugh out of this, but chose the stay in a place a little less sketchy.
The sketchy place... 

Our Parish bedroom

Dining room. The food was pretty good. Super fresh

a VERY simple bathroom.


sunrise at the Parish

The next morning we drove as far as we could, then parked the car and walked out into the countryside to meet up with some of the victims. One woman in particular was about 65. After her attacks (when M23 came through) her husband left her. Now she sells juice to make a living, but she struggles to provide for herself. She has an amazingly positive attitude despite her situation. She says Masika used to come and visit with her, give her counseling and pray with her for healing. Now that Masika is gone, it’s been very discouraging for her, but Desange (Mama Masika’s adopted daughter who is taking over the organization) has been coming and carrying on her legacy. It’s very hard for the women here to know who to trust, but they trusted Masika. Now they are building relationship with Desange and learning to trust her and receive counsel from her.



Me and DesAnges

I told this woman she was beautiful in Swahili and she lit up. 

I also partially fulfilled my goal of riding a chukadoo down a hill… It was REALLY muddy so I chose not to go all the way down the hill… didn’t want a broken leg while I was at least a 30 minute walk out in the bush!  But I will… mark my words. I will ride a chukadoo down a hill in the near future. (a chukadoo is a bizarre bike looking scooter transporter thing. They are specific to the Eastern part of Congo, specifically the Goma region. The guys that "drive/ride" them ride them like skateboards down the road. I want to take one on a hill. This one was a smaller one, because the boy using was only about 12...the ones in Goma are MUCH bigger).

DesAnges trying to pull me back

On our way out, we stopped in a displacement camp to meet with another victim. My goal, living in another culture, is to always be respectful of the peoples dignity. I don’t come in with cameras take pictures, without asking, especially when I am not associated with the people in any way. (at UJN, we are family so everyone takes pictures together ALL THE TIME!). This was a very sensitive situation, so I chose to leave my camera/phone in the car. So as Diana went into the hut with the woman and her fixer, I stayed outside with a quickly gathering crowd of the residents of this camp. It started out with all the kids staying a good 8-10’ away… the moms even farther back and the men all gathered together about 15’ away just watching… “what is this woman going to do”.  Actually, a lot of the men started to take pictures with their phones and one guy even had a camera. Which is how I ended up getting all these pictures!
slowly moving in...

Keep in mind, I am very tall. Here in this camp, most of the people are very very short. The children were somewhat scared of me initially. I squatted down and started to use the limited Swahili I know to say hi and ask names, how you are… and then started offering up fist bumps, or “chinzs” (again, they love this!)… pretty soon, the circle closed in on me and we began playing games. I also started to teach them English. I would say something in Swahili and then have them repeat it in English. It was so fun. Eventually, the kids started clapping and singing, to which I began to dance. (My DNA does not allow me to hear music and not exhibit some sort of movement). One of the kids went home and got his big drum. It turned into a very exciting dance party. The matriarch of the camp was a TINY, old woman with tribal tattoos on her face.  We danced together, she taught me a few moves. I wish I had a picture of her, she was beautiful. So beautiful! 
 Learning a few moves from the Matriarch with the red scarf on her head. They gave me an umbrella because the sun was hot and I am "so white"! 
oh yeah... this move was caught on camera. It's all in the hips.


The plan is to eventually go back and do some sort of kids camp here. The people of this camp have been displaced from fighting in their villages for more than 15 years. They are often over looked, so we are trying to plan some activities for the kids there in the next few months.
a view of the camp from the road.

much love from Goma...

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Plumpy nut... Sifa and Augie 2.0

The past 2 weeks feel like a year. It’s so hard for me to begin to think of what to write about Sifa and Augustine (Augie)… especially Sifa. Let’s recap. Mama Masika, a 4 time rape survivor, devoted her life to restoration of rape victims and their children (most of whom are born of rape). I went to visit them for the first time mid January. I was introduced to two babies who were found (no relation to each other) with the corpses of their dead mothers… two weeks after massacres took place in their villages. Masika heard about an attack, hiked up to look for survivors, found the kids and took them (Sifa and Augie) to the hospital. After one week, and not finding any surviving family, they were released to her, and that is where I met them. We don’t know their ages, their real names… we know nothing.


Sifa and Augie on Sunday, February 21st.

So what do I know? I know God has given me the capacity in my heart to love big, bigger than I ever thought possible. But these kids… whoosh! I can’t even… Maybe it was knowing their past, or I guess not knowing their past, that was so connecting for me. Maybe it’s the far away emotionless expressions they carried in their eyes; that void of hope and joy that drew me to them. A desire in me to see them restored to the fullness of who they were created to be.

I am not sure, I can’t even really begin to understand and at this point I don’t actually care. They are already so intertwined into my story, it doesn’t matter. Sifa faintly smiled in her sleep the day I took her to the hospital (February 19th)… I held that image in my mind for days because it gave me hope; this is not all for nothing. In her deep subconscious… somewhere in there, that small, brief smile showed me a faint glimpse of the innocent child who was still there.  She’s not gone.


I took this just after she had that slight 
smile, February 19th. She looked peaceful for the 
first time since I met her.

Whatever it was, they were on my mind night and day. I couldn’t close my eyes to sleep without seeing their faces. I love them so much. I woke up at 5 am every morning with anticipation waiting for the sun to come up so I could go to the hospital and see them. I wanted to give them their baths and feed them, especially Sifa. Augie was doing so much better than she was. She didn’t sleep easily or much; she was in so much pain. On Saturday (Feb 20th) I came to visit; Sifa had been awake for a while. Augustine was sleeping and Rachel was exhausted, so I took Sifa to give her a break.  (Rachel is Mama Masika’s oldest daughter, 28, who was staying in the hospital with the kids... all on the same bed).


Sunday before church, she reached for me when I came 
in and was actually making eye contact for a while. 

We went outside for fresh air, and as I sang to her, she fell asleep. Finally. After that day, she actually started looking at me and reaching for me when I came. This is a huge milestone for her. She did not engage in eye contact for a very long time. She would look off into the distance, and if you tried to move yourself to be in her line of sight, she would just keep looking somewhere else. She then started keeping my gaze for a second at a time when I sang to her or when I was talking to her. Eventually when I put her down, she started to watch me. Sunday was a great day, lots of emotional improvement and she even walked for the first time since they found her.

Augie too, was feeling better. They were both coughing less starting to show signs of being emotionally present. Monday morning was the same. I came back at lunch with one of our staff members to pray for the kids. We thought we saw a sly grin on Augies face at one point, as if he thought of something funny and curled up one side of his mouth. Sifa, although she reached for me, was slipping away again. By the time I came back later that evening, she was in critical condition. She had a high fever, her heart rate was so high the doctor could barely keep up the count… and she slipped back into her zombie like state of emotionlessness.

The nurse came to talk to us and prepared us for the worst, but reassured us the doctors would do everything they could. “It is in Gods hands now” she said. This is where my previous post came from. I love this little girl so much. I did everything I could to keep it together in the hospital, but I was dying inside. It was hard to watch them take her lifeless, but still alive body out of the room to the ICU, where I could not go. I was holding Augie, who was oblivious and just looked around with his adorable bottom lip popped out.  They both had been fighting for their lives since the day of the attacks. They were both emotionally and physically tired. Sifa’s body was giving in. I kept thinking, “ok God, this is it… do I really believe you. Do I actually trust you like I say I do”. I made a decision there; "Yes" I did. I would continue to pray and no matter what happened, I trust what He’s doing, because I do believe what He says.

Back to Rachel for a minute. Now, when I say staying at the hospital, please erase everything you know about hospital stays. The smell of a hospital; erase it. Hospital beds… erase that image. Cleanliness… erase it. Erase everything you know. They are in a community pediatric room. We tried to put them in a private room so they could have some quiet and maybe sleep better. But we were told they needed to stay with the other critically mal-nourished kids because they are all monitored the same and on the same feeding schedule. There are bugs. That’s all I will say about that. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than the rural hospital. Some of the beds have two mothers on the same bed. The room is full. When I come in the mornings, there are mattresses that have been pulled out into the middle of the floor so 2 of the mothers have a place to sleep. This was not an easy job and the responsibilities put on her were huge.


there is a camaraderie in this room. 
The women all become friends; I was fortunate 
to be included in it. Every time I came I 
received a warm "Karibu Muzungo" 
(welcome foreigner)... eventually, some of them 
started to call me Jenni. 

Sifa and Augie sitting on their bed back in the corner.

Rachel may be the strongest woman I know, literally. 

Tuesday morning the doctor allowed me into the ICU. She was stable; her fever had gone down, but otherwise she was the same. The doctor decided she needed a blood transfusion. She received an IV port in her neck, and a blood transfusion. Tuesday night Sifa was back in the community room. She looked so helpless and miserable. She could not move her head because of the IV, she still had a fever and was soaked in sweat. I would rinse a rag with cold water, lay it on her head and switch it out every few minutes. I laid on the bed with her for at least an hour singing to her, praying and changing her sweaty, hot rag out for a cold one.


4 IV ports in 2 weeks. Her tiny veins kept blowing.

Now I know I’ve said this before. Joy is a choice. When I see her laying there in pain, struggling to breath, I have a choice.  I choose joy. It’s not easy, but it gets me through the hard things. And I believe strongly that in the face of death, God shows us life. He has never failed to bring life and show joy to broken situations. I think for so long, I focused on the situation, not on the choice I have in responding to the situation and I missed out on a lot of joy.

Case in point. Monday night, after they took Sifa. I wanted to go home and cry. Instead I stayed to play with and love on Augie. He was sitting with me on the bed;I was talking to him and being goofy, probably more for my sake than his since I was still trying to hold it together… and he smiled. HE SMILED!!!! This is the baby I held, soaked in pee, at the funeral that had been emotionally detached since I met him. His adorable smile turned into laughing. As I got more and more excited for his smile and laughter, he laughed harder. We were all ecstatic! This was his first smile since he had been found. His smile... his deep, belly shaking baby laughter was a gift of love, joy, peace and hope in the face of the Sifa's uncertain recovery. This Hope I have is an anchor for my soul. I let loose. I cried anyway… tears of joy.


His first smile... (yes it's a girls onesie). I don't have the laughing. every time I started to film, he would stop.

Wednesday, Sifa was doing much better. She was sitting up again when I left her that morning. Later that evening after work… I walked into the room and as I walked over to their bed… this is what I saw.

this was her first smile...  it's a gift 
I was able to capture it!

I almost screamed. I’ve prayed for this moment since the first day I met her. I immediately pulled out my phone, took this picture through tears and then started to film. I was so excited… she too started to laugh at my excitement. I have never heard more precious or adorable sounds. EVER. These two babies laughing… it was unbelievable. UNBELIEVABLE.



Yes, we have matching dresses. They ran out of 
fabric for Augies shirt. So we are having 
another set made with different fabric. 

These kids are miracles. They should not have survived 2 weeks in the bush, alone, no food, no water, (by the way, “Mayi” which is Swahili for water, was the first word she said to me). They should not have survived the torrential rainstorms we get almost every night and the cold, wet chill of the mountains at night. They should not have survived the malaria and bronchitis with how severely mal-nourished and worn down their tiny little bodies were (Sifa, who is older, weighed in at a whopping 7 kilograms and Augie 8.5… they both gained a kilo the 12 day they were in the hospital). And I certainly don’t understand how they can survive the kind of trauma they've experienced.


Love is powerful. God is love.  So yes, God has given me the ability to love big… but these experiences, they stretch you. Every time He allows my limits to be stretched, my faith, my trust, my confidence... I end up feeling as though my heart exploded only to be made bigger to hold that much more the next time. This expanded capacity to love and be loved is not something I could have ever done on my own. This is all God.


 Sifa loves to play ball 

Augie loves to get belly szurberts... (don't 
judge me. I don't know how to spell that). 

Sifa and Augie were checked out of the hospital this past Monday. It was so bittersweet for me. I am beyond gratefully to God that they are healthy and so much better, and out of the hospital… but my heart aches because they are no longer just down the street, where I could see them when I want and spend hours with them each day. They are now hours away. Please, please, please continue to pray for them. They still have a long road to being fully restored to health. They are doing well, but not out of the woods yet.




Much love from Goma…


Augustine Masika before and after with plumpy nut 
all over his face! 

Sifa Masika before and after. Sassy, joyful and 
so incredibly beautiful