27 December 2011

Innocent, Christmas, Baby and Me

A recap and update on our family:
Innocent – The house is so quiet!  Innocent returned to spend Christmas with his great-grandmother (Fred’s grandmother, called “Dani”), and on the way back, Fred took him for an admissions interview for the boarding school we are planning to send him to.  We didn’t realize how competitive the admissions process is, but Innocent impressed the school officials and they offered him a place!  Although I’m sure it seems strange to Americans to send a six-year-old to boarding school, it’s really the best educational option here, and Innocent is so excited.  He was also really excited to go home and tell all his stories about life in our house, but he made sure that Fred knew that he was planning on coming back to our house before he reports to school on 4th January.  We now have the list of school supplies he needs, so I’ve been embroidering his name on his sheets and underwear while Fred collects pencils, notebooks and soap.  It’s kind of fun being the “parents” for back-to-school time!  We’re both planning to go on the 4th to deliver Innocent to school and make sure he’s settled in.
Christmas – I got some really kind comments and emails after my last blog post about celebrating Christmas, including an especially helpful and encouraging email from a friend who is a retired missionary to Southern Sudan and Uganda.  I made peanut butter fudge for Fred’s family’s Christmas celebration and lemon hand scrub for Dani.  With Innocent’s “help” I made homemade lemonade-flavored pixie stix (including sealing plastic straws closed over a candle…no joke) for the boy to give to his family.  All things considered, I think I went through an entire kilo of sugar (roughly 2 pounds), but everything turned out quite well.  I spent several days leading up to Christmas alone as Fred traveled with Innocent, so I made myself some Christmas decorations using scissors, crayons and recycled paper from the office.  I don’t have enough internet credit to post photos, but I made a little red-and-green paper chain, some snowflakes, a Merry Christmas banner and…drum roll please…a Christmas tree!  It’s my pride and joy, consuming 11 pieces of paper, complete with a star, ornaments and garlands.  Fred made it home Christmas morning, and we spent the day resting and listening to Christmas music, then I got a fantastic Christmas gift…a restaurant opened in Shirati!  I’m not joking that there were NO restaurants in this town, only a couple of bars that served nasty chips and meat.  We had chicken masala and pilau, and Fred shared a bottle of champagne with some friends while I drank non-alcoholic cider.  It was nothing glamorous, but a really nice way to spend Christmas.
Baby – I’m getting more and more inquiries about baby names, but it’s still not settled.  I read somewhere that the Luo tribe (Fred’s tribe) tends to believe that the name just comes with the baby.  This goes totally against my hyper-planner nature, so I have spent considerable time thinking about names, but we’re not locked in to anything except a first name for a boy, which I’ve wanted for years.  No spoilers here, but if you’re really interested, just email me.  Today marks week 34 of the pregnancy, about six weeks to go.  I’m not too uncomfortable, except always hot, and not growing as noticeably rounder.  The baby is still very active, but I can tell it’s getting a little tighter in there.  I’m really not very nervous about the birth, but I really am getting nervous about being prepared for the baby.  We got our crib, which is beautiful, and while Fred was traveling I finished the crib sheets (white, blue, green, orange and pink stripes).  Now I’m working on the matching bumpers, all by hand.  My mom and grandma are sending me some supplies to help with all these sewing projects, as well as a few essentials, and hopefully the boxes will arrive soon to ease my mind that the baby won’t be wearing a tea towel for a diaper.
Me myself – This Christmas season reinforced my sense of isolation here in Shirati, but along with that sense of isolation came a lot of peace.  I have come to be grateful for this season, which has pushed me toward greater reliance on God for my strength and growth.  I’ve also had a great opportunity to learn about being a wife, and, although there have been a few ugly, emotional episodes which I wish I could blame entirely on pregnancy hormones, I have learned so much about praying for, loving and submitting to my husband.  I know I’ll look back on this time as a gift given to Fred and me to enjoy settling into married life with very minimal distraction from outside.  I’ve also been given the opportunity to really dream about the life God has for us, and my role in that as a mother.  I’m reading a couple of parenting books, including The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson, which is challenging me to invest myself wholly in the children God gives us.  Everything I’m learning in that area is a whole blog post in and of itself, so I’ll save it for the future.  All this to say that isolation is not always a curse, and although I’ve been tempted to view it as such from time to time, today I’m reminding myself of all I have to be grateful for.

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