Ongs in Malawi

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"I scared the lions will bite me"

Posted on May 18, 2012 at 7:05 AM Comments comments (0)

The glorified picture of mission looked so rosy 10 years ago when Pete and I made decisions to follow God's call and let him use us wherever and whenever. But on this side of  being parents of three beautiful kids. It is much harder than we had anticipated to drop everything and go. We always knew were were going to be leaving with 2-3 Onglets, but now that they are a reality, I'm finding that a lot of my emotional energy surrounding our big move are spent on preparing the kids.


Don't get me wrong. We trust that God will take care of them. We have personally experienced that and know that God loves our kids so much more than we do. But we also understand that we need to exercise godly wisdom in preparing the kids adequately for the big move. We are so aware that it is OUR choice to go, not theirs.  We feel that it is important that they feel a part of it too (thus the kids website).


TEAGHAN our 5 year old is a sensitive routine kind of girl. We are the most worried about her, being the oldest and most 'knowing'. We've been decluttering a lot and giving away old toys, so much that she had a bad dream recently that we had given away her much loved baby sister Caya. :( She has a few friends here and will miss them when she moves. She also has a dairy allergy so will find it a challenge not to have her favourite soy items available. However, it's been so amazing to see the way she has handled a few big changes in the past few months and really maturing through them. We thank God for these glimpses of reassurance.


LUCAS our 3 year old is an easy going little guy. He is outgoing but has lately been feeling very insecure and clingy. He is resisting anything that is new - places, people, preschool, food, etc. He recently told us that he's worried about going to Malawi because he was scared that the lions might bite him! :( He's reverting to sucking his thumb a lot more now. Thank God that he is very good at expressing ihs feelings and so will tell us when he's happy or sad.


CAYA our 1 year old is Miss Social Queen and loves interaction. We're not too worried about her since she's so young. She'll grow up a little African! We'll probably worry more for her reverse culture shock when we return on our first Home Assignment in 3 years time.


All three kids love their grandparents and will find it hard to be away from them. I'm sure the grandparents will miss them lots too. Thank God for Skype.


The kids are generally exctied about the Big Move but we would really apprecaite your prayers for them. Please pray for opportunities in the coming weeks for them to open up to us, that they'll find the words they need to articulate their feelings, and that we find the words to reassure them. We have a sign at home that says 'Home'. We bring that with us to each new place we go to. The idea is that it reminds the kids that no matter where they are, as long as we're together as a family, that is where Home is.



1st World Detox

Posted on February 1, 2012 at 5:15 AM Comments comments (0)

To prepare for our move to Malawi... we're undergoing some 'detox'.

Detox from 1st world 'luxuries'.
Not that you can't get stuff in Malawi, but we've been told that they are reeeeally expensive , hard to find, or of bad quality. So it's probably a good idea for us to get used to using less/none of some of our comforts for now.

Here are a few things we're 'detoxing' at the moment:

Pete: Hair gel... so expect to see a fluffier Pete from time to time!
Jo: Pantene shampoo... apparently Palmolive is much much cheaper *sigh*
Teaghan: Her favourite soymilk... she's learning to drink homemade or generic brands
Lucas: ??
Caya: Disaposable nappies (or is that detox for the parents??)


I deliberately didn't pack my usual Pantene when we recently went away on holidays, and lo and behold what did they have at the holiday house? Palmolive! I tried it and it made my hair frizz out at the ends and all matted at the top... detox fail! Tried it 2nd night with a tiny bit of generic conditioner added... detox success! Back home now... just let me enjoy my last two bottles of Pantene then I'll get back onto it :)

The teacher in me says a reward chart is a good idea for all of us... I need some encouragement :) I think my bribery, I mean positive reinforcement, is going to involve chocolate.

~ Jo

Zero for the Devil

Posted on January 8, 2012 at 5:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Sometimes it's kinda comforting to face 'spiritual attacks' from Satan, cos it means that you must be on the right track for God! I remember that during our mission application process, whenever we moved a step further in the process, something bad would happen. It was clearly Satan trying to discourage us.

And so there it was again as we prepared to go on our first deputation visit at the cantonese and mandarin services at my mum's church Ashfield Chinese Baptist.

The night before, as we went to turn on our computer where the powerpoint presentation was stored, it refused to turn on. This happened months earlier and the computer could take up to 10 hrs to boot but it was fixed with a whole new motherboard. It was 10pm so we really didn't have 10 hrs to wait! So we put a prayer request status update on Facebook using Pete's laptop and waited. 30 mins later, it booted up again. ONE for God, zero for Satan.

Caya has been sleeping thru to 8am for the past week. Hooray!! But of course she had to wake at 5:30am the night before our deputation (nothing like being greeted by a poo at 5:30!). Considering we didn't get to bed til 2:30am and had to be up at 7:30am. It was not what I needed. But we all got up on time and out the door on time. TWO for God, zero for Satan.

On the morning of the sharing, I put my contacts in and they stayed dry and fuzzy. Very strange. I blinked and I blinked, and I cleaned them and cleaned them again, and they were still fuzzy. I prayed, it cleared up. THREE for God, zero for Satan.

We got to the church, and gave the powerpoint to the tech guy, but the screen was so bright that our presentation was 'bleached out' - you couldn't read a thing!! Thank goodness we arrived early so there was time and the tech guy changed the font colour. FOUR for God, zero for Satan.

Overall, PRAISE GOD that everything went very well and we were much encouraged by the people we met and those who have pledged to support us in prayer and financially :)

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Leaving behind familiarity

Posted on November 9, 2011 at 4:45 AM Comments comments (1)

REALITY

Ok... so reality is starting to sink in...

We're moving to Africa.
We're MOVING to Africa!
We're moving to AFRICA!!
WE'RE moving to Africa!!!!

There's a million things going thru my head right now. Excitement. Fear. Apprehension. Anticipation.



The whiteboard we moved from Pete's study upstairs. It is now our Malawi board with a mere 9 blocks on it, one for each month left in Australia... :(

LEAVING BEHIND
It turns out that we won't be able to ship a cargo container over as we'd previously thought. It is way out of our budget.  All we can take are what we can fit into our suitcases onto the plane...

It took me a while to digest this and I had a cry over things I would love to bring. Mainly it's the kids stuff, stuff that I was counting on to make it home for them when we arrive in a foreign country, stuff like their bunkbeds (Teaghan just loves her top bunk, everything that is special to her goes up there!), cot, 'treasure chests' (each child has a trunk to fill with their special things to take to Africa), and the train table and picnic table I made for them.... Then there are all my cake tools, mixer (its super heavy), sewing machine, etc...All that represents familiarity in the midst of change.

Since then, we've learnt that there is something called 'unaccompanied baggage' that you can buy. It is baggage that doesn't go on your plane but gets there all the same... YAY!! The cost of doing this is much more affordable. We still won't be taking the beds but we can at least take the treasure chests and my mixer!

MADNESS!
Working all that out in my head was a rather emotional experience.

First there was the beginning of grieving this familiar life that we'll be leaving behind. Then there was the “am I being materialistic?” – though I know in my heart that idolising 'things' is very different to the grief associated with the huge move we're about to make. It’s MASSIVE! We’re leaving behind the life we have built over the past decade – friends, things, places - to move to a 3rd world country we’ve never been to! Madness! 

I was much encouraged by a fellow Australian missionary currently serving in Malawi who reassured me via Facebook that it's ok to feel like this and that it would actually be wise to bring a lot of the things you either cannot buy there or would be too expensive. YAY! I'm so thankful for missionaries who understand the emotions we're going thru :)

Thankfully, we serve a God who loves and cares for us. 
God has blessed us tremendously with good things here and we will miss them, but he will no doubt continue to provide us with good things in Malawi beyond our imagination. I’m looking forward to what surprises he has in stored for us! But it is still hard to say goodbye to the familiar and be faced with the unknown. Much like losing someone you love. It is painful, but God provides. He will give us what we need, including strength when times are hard and we miss home along with its familiar comforts.


Funnily, once I'd gotten used to the fact that we can't bring much, now when I look around the house, I actually can't see much that we need to bring! and I'm very much looking forward to seeing what awaits us in Malawi!

Stay tuned for an almighty garage sale closer to July!! :)

 ~Jo

The first of many goodbyes

Posted on January 4, 2011 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Yesterday we got the first real taste of giving up something precious for our journey ahead.

Yesterday we said goodbye to our beloved family pet - Moonbie the cat.

We had to give her away as we cannot take her to our rental house at Morling, or to Africa when we leave the year after.




Thank you God

We are continually in awe of how God takes care of us  in small steps through things like these. In His perfect timing, he has provided for Moonbie a wonderful new home with a lady who lost her own beloved cat a year ago. Without her, Moonbie would surely be going to either the RSPCA or the Cat Protection Society where she'll probably live in a caged pen until...who knows? We are so happy knowing that Moonbie will be well loved and pampered at her new home.

Packing Moonbie's things to go to her new home


Unpacking Moonbie's possessions at her new place


Moonbie exploring her new home


For those of you who love pets, you'll understand how hard it is to say goodbye to a furry member of your family. For those of you who aren't pet people, I'm sure you can imagine how hard it is to say goodbye to any beloved thing - especially an animal that you've loved, nurtured, fed, and included as part of the family for many years.


Early days with Moonbie

We brought Moonbie home 5 years ago as a 6 week old kitten before we had kids. So she was a little like our 'first child'. I even had photos of her in the delivery suit as I was pushing Teaghan out into the world! 

Moonbie has been with us as we've moved into our own place, then later as we welcomed the two kids into our world.



Moonbie has slept on our bed since the day we brought her home. She was great with the kids and never attacked them even when they pulled her tail and yanked her fur. But all I had to do was walk pass and I'll get a flying cat momentarily attach itself to my leg, leaving me with bloody scratch marks! Pete never got attacked because he was the provider of her food and clean litter box.


Emotional goodbyes

It was an emotional time for us as a family as we settled Moonbie into her new home, with the two of us adults trying not to lose it and the kids at first seemingly unaware of what it meant to "take Moonbie to her new home"... that is until halfway through dinner that night, when I mentioned that Moonbie wasn't coming back and reality finally dropped on Teaghan like the flying cat attaching itself to my leg. It came suddenly, it clung on, and it hurt. Poor Teaghy sobbed and sobbed as she wailed: "Moooonbie!! I WANT MOONBIE!!!!". Going upstairs for bath time brought on more tears, as the kids' usual daily routine before bath was to scout out Moonbie (who would usually be sleeping happily on our bed) and squeal at her until she hid under the bed.

Daddy read Teaghy one of her fav stories on our first night without Moonbie. I found a grey soft toy cat while we were clearing our stuff, which Teaghy took to bed with her.


On top of our own sadness in losing Moonbie, it was heartbreaking for us as parents to watch our little girl experience her first real taste of losing  a loved one. We couldn't help but think how much harder it would be for them to say goodbye to much-loved family and friends when we actually leave for Africa. Thankfully, Lucas is too young to really understand. He knows Moonbie's gone - for once he didn't go looking for her before bath time, but he seems to be handling it quite well otherwise.


Fuel for the journey ahead

We're learning a lot about missions through this... that there's a lot more to missions than raising money followed by a simple plane trip overseas to share the Gospel. There's a lot of seemingly 'non-spiritual' aspects that some dismiss as almost 'non-prayer-worthy', but all of which God uses to teach us about his awesome self and how he's interested in even the small things. It is through these 'small' things that God uses to constantly reassure us that he cares for us and will continue to care for us through our journey.


Saturday will see us say goodbye to a lot of our stuff at our garage sale....

Next week will see us say goodbye to our townhouse and neighbours... 


Goodbyes are never easy, but maybe we'll get used to this?


Trusting in God's strength for this leg of the emotional journey.

~ Jo