A season of redemption

As I sit here on this Saturday morning at the Global Village hotel, I am nursing some poorly brewed coffee and listening to the chatter of all of our staff meetings.  This weekend we have about 200 participants coming to serve all over the country of Belize.  God’s redemption for this country is in full effect and we get to be a part of it!  We are truly so blessed!

I pop in and out the ear buds of worship and just sit in awe of the incredible staff team The Lord has assembled here in Belize.  God, you are truly up to something amazing.   Some celebrations from this past week of ministry.

Families Serving Together in Western Belize

This past week we had a team from Alabama (Roll Tide….or….War Eagle, depending on your perspective) serving in Western Belize.  This team was unique because there were several families serving together on the trip.  Throughout the week, brother served with brother, mother with father and parents with children.  The night of the last evening the team shared affirmations of what they observed in the each other throughout the week.  The Spirit was in the midst as sons affirmed their parents.  With tears flowing, these ‘bama boys spoke life into their mom’s and dad’s, celebrating what they saw the Lord do in them during the week.  Families that serve the Lord together, conquer the enemy together.  God’s redemptive work was on display!

Food for the Least of These

Texts come in like this every week -“We did 9 sacks of flour, 4 sacks of rice, and 4 sacks of sugar at the orphanage Bro.  Crazy stuff!!!” We had a team serve last week that was so committed to serving the least of these that they purchased almost 2 TONS of food for one of our orphanage partners.  The director was astonished.  He looked at our TL and said “we are the only facility right now in Belize accepting new residents.  We are averaging 4 new children a week and we were thinking through the food costs.  This is a HUGE blessing”

Sowing and Reaping

There are servants of God that serve God out of pure intentions.  Literally there are two such men in Belize that could be described as men after God’s own heart.  One is Eustace Pate; the other is Pastor Ed Perez.  They spend their life’s energy serving the Lord, serving their families and serving their communities.  Not once do they complain about their situation, living or otherwise.  This week they reaped from sowing.   Eustace had long dreamt of having a storage facility at his house for tools, so he could go around and bless people by fixing up their homes.  This week a team built his storage unit and gave a love offering to help start his tool collection.  And then there is Pastor Ed…his roof had been leaking for some time, and he redirected efforts to his teachers.  Each time we wanted to do something for his family, his house, he deflected that blessing somewhere else.  Either to the children of the community or those serving and working with them.  This past week a team rebuilt his entire roof and gave him a new bathroom!  Praise God for blessings being bestowed on these mighty men of God!

Another story from the week – at our house

Amy and I often look at our kids and ask ourselves do they get it?  Are they being shaped by being here?  Do they understand?  We see the kids through our eyes.  We hear the crying, do the punishing, and often times feel tired, discouraged and even defeated.

Well Madeline blew our minds this week.  This week Madeline comes up to me and Amy in the kitchen holding two Barbie-style dolls.  Not again I thought….what does she need?  What did Jojo do?  Here’s our conversation….

Me: Why are you crying Madeline?

Madeline: I have two dolls

Me: Yes that’s right honey.  What’s the problem?

Madeline: I have TWO!  Some of my friends have zero.

Me: That’s right Madeline.  That’s sad.  Some people don’t have toys.

Madeline: Well I am going to give one of my barbies to one of my friends.

Me: (after a moment of stunned silence).  Ok Madeline.  (I then explain that giving something to someone means that we don’t have it anymore and we can’t ask for it back).

Madeline:  I know daddy, I just don’t want my friends to be sad because they don’t have any toys.  I want them to be happy.

Me: Ok Madeline, pick which one and then you can give it to your friend at school today when mommy or daddy takes you. (all said with tears welling up)

Amy ends up taking Madeline to school extra early that day and Madeline grabs the toy to give away.  She runs inside the school and hands it directly to her friend, tells her friend it’s a present for her just because Madeline wanted her to be happy and have a toy.  And when I heard the story I promptly lost it….in fact is it a little dusty in here??

We are sowing all the time here.  Sowing, sowing, sowing.  With the kids we often don’t know that they get it.  This week The Lord gave us a glimpse of the work He is doing in Madeline, Jojo, and Elijah here in Belize!  Praise God for sowing and reaping. The Lord will use our children in way that we cannot even imagine to continue his redemptive work in all the world!

His work continues this week. The staff teams that I was watching earlier have all left.  The place is quiet now.  Teams are coming in. God, he is up to something.  He is redeeming Belize for His Glory.  Belize a light to the nations and the Key to Central America.  Thank you for being a part of what he is doing here in Belize, in our family, in our staff, in our teams, and throughout the whole country.  You are sowing.  I look forward to sharing with you the reaping of harvest that we see this summer!

Praises / Prayer Requests

  • Praise – Elijah gained 1-pound this past month!  It seems he is on his way to gaining some great weight!
  • Praise – First week of trips were great!  Staff are adjusting.  God is moving.  Miracles are happening.
  • Prayer Request – Continue to pray for Elijah to gain weight!  The boys needs to plump up some more.
  • Prayer Request – We have 200 participants coming into the country this weekend.  Pray for life-change among the participants and for God’s glory to shine in each of the villages we are partnering in.  If you want to follow along with the teams that are serving this week in Belize.  Visit our Trip Journal’s Page.
  • Prayer Request – stress for me, Josh.  Work is busy and causing some serious stress on me currently.  Pray for the stress to slow down and for me to be able to give it all to God.
Pastor Ed's roof (or lack thereof)

Pastor Ed’s roof (or lack thereof)

These two baking cupcakes for daddy's birthday

These two baking cupcakes for daddy’s birthday

He LOVES big people food

He LOVES big people food

Jojo at craft time at a VBS in Western Belize

Jojo at craft time at a VBS in Western Belize

Madeline swinging

Madeline swinging

We have staff dinners each week.  Last week's dinner was nacho bar

We have staff dinners each week. Last week’s dinner was nacho bar

The completed roof!

The completed roof!

Staff at last night's dinner.

Staff at last night’s dinner.

 

 

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Missionary Mommy Advice – Stop registering for all that junk

Amy LOVES giving parenting advice.  She is passionate about cloth diapering, breastfeeding, and sleeping.  One of our friends recently found out she was pregnant and asked Amy for advice.  This series hopes to capture that email exchange for posterity sake!  Missionary mommies, mommies on mission or anyone in general…ENJOY!

I remember it so well.  I get the first positive pregnancy test, rush out to buy the next 5.  Excitement, hilarity of jumping up and down (even though it hurts the tender below the neck / above the belly region).  I remembered telling Josh and then we both circled the calendar for our next date night….Coffee and then BABY REGISTRY!

We remembered how awesome it was registering for our wedding at Crate and Barrel and Target.  We remembered the fun scanning of useless items that we thought were “cool” but totally were never going to be used.  Hmm never to be used….that thought popped up as we looked around the house and saw the Rooster clock hanging in the kitchen (sort of useful) or the large oddly shaped really colorful glass center piece on the dining room table that is just oddly shaped enough that it is totally useless (cool, not useful).

As date night approached, we were psyching ourselves up to NOT make the same mistake.  Only useful stuff we kept telling ourselves.  Nothing “cute.” Nothing “neat”.  And then we got to Target.  And well let’s just say baby clothes are just cute.  Josh went CRAZY!  Before I knew it he scanned 20 things as I had my back turned.  I don’t know if he watched some Western or something before coming down but he was going crazy with the scans, shooting that gun all over the place.

We had to have a towel that was shaped like an elephant, one like a flower, and one shaped like shark.  Never-mind that we had 4 perfectly fine sets of “normal” towels at home that we got from our wedding!!!

And then there were receiving blankets, sleepers, sleep sacks.

Oh and the outfits.

Then the showers came.  And people BOUGHT us stuff on the registry and OFF of it.  They bought us things that were “cute / nice” And they bought a lot of it.  Insanity.  Who knows how many newborn outfits we had? 15? 20? And Madeline wore those closes for 2 weeks tops!!

Once we had Madeline, reality hit.  We really didn’t need what we registered for and we could have used some guidance on what to register for.  So here goes.  From one missionary mommy to the next, here’s what you need with a new baby!

Things to Buy:

  1. Diapers – preferably cloth.  If not cloth, you need a lot of diapers and some at every size.  Don’t get all newborn or premie or even size 1.  Our kids wore size 2 diapers for the longest it seems.  So bottom line stock up on a lot of different sized diapers. I liked LUVS the best.
  2. Wipes – again preferably cloth.  You can wipe baby’s bottom and throw them in with your cloth diapers and wash them all out.  Trust me it’s not that big of a deal.  However, I would get a couple of different varieties of disposable wipes.  Some babies are known to have reactions to specific wipes. Best bet is unscented and I liked target and walmart brand way more than Pampers.
  3. Crib – Our babies slept in the crib from night 1.  Josh couldn’t handle all that rustling around so go ahead and get a crib of the basic variety – no need to overspend on something that they sleep in / on.  Babies all over the world sleep on floors so a super-crib is not necessary. As far as crib mattresses go make sure it is firm and it should be fine. We got our for free from our neighbor and has been fine even now on the 5th child.
  4. Crib Sheets – 3 sets – And let’s get real.  Things don’t need to match.  Just get three fitted sheets so that when your baby drools, blows out a diaper, or throws up everywhere, you have the quick extra sheet or two in the middle of night for your husband to change while you nurse.  And if it gets bad one night, a towel works well too.  No need for more than 3 sheets
  5. Bumper – We did NOT buy the 400 dollar crib “set”.  We didn’t see the use in it although if Josh found a Dr. Seuss one he probably would have purchased it.  The baby could careless if the room is decorated fancy or not. You can’t use half of what is in those sets, Anyway, we used a breathable bumper.  Bumpers are great because when the baby busts out of the swaddle and starts flailing those arms and legs around, the bumper prevents them getting caught in the crib rails. Also, our kids sleep with their face pressed into the side of the crib. The breathable bumper gave me some piece of mind that they were getting some air while sleeping.  Finally, bumpers keep those pacis inside the crib.  Now in the middle of the night while you are sleep-walking and shush-patting your kid in the middle of the night, you aren’t trying to grab a paci with your toes from under the crib. It’s right there!
  6. Pacifier – Only Madeline took one but boy did we go through a lot of them.  She would bite through them and then I would get another one and Josh would LOSE his mind.  Let’s face it though, he was going to lose his mind if she was up screaming at night, so buying pacis was the lesser of two evils.  I suggest two or three (back-ups for middle of the night or car ride disasters). I would keep one in a safe, arm’s reach place in the car and one in the dresser of baby’s room, one in diaper bag and baby had one…so I guess that’s 4 but who’s counting?  We used Mam brand.
  7. Trashcan – OH this is one of my biggest pet peeves.  Don’t buy a diaper genie  or diaper champ or diaper whatever to throw diapers in.  Trust me I haven’t met a genie or a champ that can help with the smell of dirty diapers. It’s all a scam! Get a 1 dollar trashcan from Walmart or equivalent, then use plastic grocery bags, stuff the bottom of the can with extra bags so you can quickly change the bag in the middle of night should the need arise.  You can then tie up the bag and throw it out of your nose’s range.
  8. Monitor – We’ll we were suckers and bought the “prevent’s SIDS” monitor with the motion detector pad for underneath the mattress.  It took a heart-stopping two times for that alarm to go with Madeline before we threw it away.  I would recommend a video monitor.  Not so much for when the baby is small, but we would LOVE to still have a monitor now so we could watch Madeline and Jojo play at night when they go to bed.  If nothing else for your own entertainment.
  9. Swaddling Blankets – We learned from our good friend Matt P that swaddling was essential and there was no such thing as too tight of a swaddle.  I swear when Josh swaddled Jojo I thought his small head was going to POP off!  Anyway, I highly recommend lightweight swaddling blankets.  We used Aiden and Aiden Ones brands.
  10. Burp Clothes – There is no need to be purchasing all fancy clothes to wipe up spit.  That’s insane!  We used Gerber cloth diapers.  They were cheap and absorbent.  We recommend doing the same.
  11. Boppy with 2 covers – I do go back and forth on a boppy.  But it was quite useful just to put around my stomach and lay the kids on so they could nurse.  We used it a lot at home  As for the two covers – I recommend two due to spit up issues AND get something NEUTRAL then you can use it the next time around.
  12. Diaper bag – Let’s be real. We got some cute stylish over the shoulder bag with Madeline and then we had Jojo and an over the shoulder bag just wasn’t practical. Here’s the real advice get a book bag.  They are easier to carry and much more functional.  No “diaper bag” is big enough for 3 small children.
  13. Stroller – We have used several different types of strollers.  We started with the Graco travelling system – the one where the car seat snaps into the stroller.  This was used for shopping trips almost exclusively or church.  We also had a single jogger that we used for walks around the neighborhood and when the kids were old enough Josh went on many runs.  In fact Josh and Madeline won a race called the Pancake run using that stroller.  When Jojo was born we graduated to a double stroller and double jogger, and had a smaller “umbrella stroller” that we used for Jojo.  Josh was against the smaller stroller but he wasn’t the one trying to wrestle an alligator of a double stroller into or out of the trunk of our car with the two screaming kids all at the same time.  Anyway, I have had friends that love Bobs.  Figure out your uses of the stroller and then find a type or variety that works for you and your new family.
  14. Car seat – Babies need to be safe in the car.  I would start off with one that can be carried so you can leave your sleeping baby in it on shopping trips.
  15. White noise – I am a big believer in noise while sleeping.  Since we now live on a highway, have two of the dogs that played Cujo in Stephen King’s movie that live beside of us and have the roosters and turkeys from Old McDonald’s farm all over our yard, white noise while sleeping is essential.  I recommend a small fan or a sound machine or white noise songs on repeat using an old phone or IPOD.
  16. Bottles and nipples – If you are breastfeeding you will only need a couple. My suggestion would be to find one that works and then get a couple of those.  Kids take bottles differently.  I would just get the first set of nipples.  If the child doesn’t take that bottle then you don’t end up with a bunch of parts you can’t use. Nipples are only a few dollars.
  17. Bottle Brush – Get a brush that can clean inside the bottle and inside the nipple.  Things get nasty!  A good bottle brush or two are great!
  18. Baby carriers – Slings, bjorns, ergo, moby wrap, etc. They all have their own pluses and minuses. I LOVED the Bjorn for the first little bit.  We had a sling when Madeline was small but Josh dumped Madeline out of the sling once on someone’s deck at a BBQ, so let’s say that was the end of using that.  Anyway, Bjorn for small kids (up to 25 lbs) and then an Ergo for when they are bigger (up to 40 lbs).  But that’s $200 in carriers which seems like a lot.  Jojo loves being held so if I need my hands free when I cook or clean and he’s whining, I will still strap him in the ergo….yes, still….please don’t judge.
  19. Baby Bathtub – We lived without one for Elijah and had one for the other two.  It was doable but a hassle.  If I had to do it over again, I would have a baby tub for Elijah.  Get something simple, it doesn’t need a million toys on it. After they can sit up the blowup duck tub from Target is awesome.
  20. Pack and Play – Most useful item – other than car seat, stroller.  We carried this everywhere.  Every week at small group, we set set up the pack and play with some white noise and our swaddled baby was passed out for hours.  Get something super easy to transport, set-up, and enjoy some freedom from “bed time” but still with the baby on a schedule! You don’t need to waste your money on the one with the changing table. We got ours from our neighbor at a garage sale for $10 and still going strong. I will say the generic bassinet level is nice but not necessary. Don’t spend over $100 for one it is a waste of money.
  21. Breast pump – that was covered in the breast-feeding blog.
  22. Baby gate – Necessary if you have stairs.  Less necessary if you live on a one floor house.  If you need containment, move some furniture around to create a nice play area while you close your eyes for a minute…..not that I have ever done that before, while one of the kids was awake!
  23. Highchair– My suggestion get a strap on highchair/booster seat. You end up buying one thing instead of 2. If you buy a highchair you will end up having to buy a booster seat. Also you will have to find a place to store the highchair when you are done. I have friends that have told me the seat will take up a chair, but won’t that kid take that chair eventually. Also it is portable and so you can take it with you easily to friends and family. We got a cheaper one that the padded part was plastic. This means I don’t have to wash anything. I can just wipe down the whole seat and it is ready for the next meal.

Things to Borrow OR Get at a Garage Sale or Consignment Sale

  1. Bouncy Seat – We had one for all three kids.  It’s nice to have something that the baby can sit in while you are making dinner.  Nothing fancy just a seat that bounces and vibrates. These are $30 plus in the store and you can get them for $5 at a consignment sale.
  2. Swing – Madeline slept in one for 2 months because of her reflux.  Jojo didn’t like the swing and Elijah didn’t have one.  It’s a hugely expensive item and I would hate  to have someone spend $300-plus on something that my kid wouldn’t use.  Bottom line – borrow if you can.  If you have a kid with reflux, make an effort to borrow one to see if it helps soothe.  Easy to live without.
  3. Play mat – Madeline used her’s a lot.  She laid on it and swung her hands and feet at the dangling things above.  Jojo was more interested in grabbing his sister’s hair than playing on the play mat and with Elijah…well he had two kids to entertain him. A play mat is nice to have but not worth the purchase.
  4. Jumperoo – Now this item was my saving grace.  I honestly don’t know how I would have made dinner without this in my life.  Borrow if you can, they are expensive.  If you can’t borrow, I highly recommend saving or angling with that well-off relative of friend and  getting one!
  5. Bumbo and tray – We had this seating device for the first two kids and not for Elijah.  It was great to have especially when we went places like the beach and we had a mobile kid that we wanted to contain. I
  6. Rocker/Glider – We had one for each kid and it doesn’t matter one way or the other.  I suggest at a minimum a comfortable chair or something in the nursery for the middle of the night nursing sessions but a “rocker” or “glider” isn’t necessarily a necessity. You don’t need a $500 one they are going to spit up on it and make it not nice very quickly especially if you have a reflux kid.
  7. CLOTHES– You will receive WAY to many clothes especially little sizes. Depending on your child they might never wear these. Only Madeline wore newborn sizes. My suggestion DON’T take off the tags except for a few outfits in the newborn and 0-3 months sizes. Then if you end up with a small baby or giant one you can take back the stuff you don’t use and use the money to buy the clothes in the sizes you do need, they grow fast.

Things that We Lived without (and you can too!)

  1. Changing Pad – a waste of $25.  Use a towel placed on top of a dresser.  Always have a hand on the baby when you are changing them and voila you have saved that money, which means….DATE NIGHT!
  2. Changing Table – there is no need for a separate table that you use to change the baby.  We have a dresser with a towel.  Any flat surface or even the floor works wonderfully! Don’t fall into the trap of needing a different piece of furniture! Once they start rolling you want them on the floor.
  3. Crib Mattress Cover – Here’s a little secret – All crib mattresses are plastic on the outside; therefore, you don’t need this!
  4. Baby Detergent– This is not needed at all. If your baby truly has a reaction to fragrances and dyes then you will have to use a detergent for everyone that they are not reacting to. So save your money and just get a Free and Clear detergent for everyone and wash all clothes together. This also allows for you to have less outfits for the baby because you just add their clothes to yours versus doing separate loads.

Again this is just one missionary mommy’s recommendations to another.  We could get into toys, books, etc, but we are talking about the essentials.  Know this: people will want to get you stuff.  Prevent this.  If you have everything you need, tell those people, who still insist on buying the cute small outfit that your baby has already grown out of, to get you a Starbucks gift card or a gift card to your favorite restaurant for Date Night.  In the long run, happy well rested (or well – caffeinated equivalent) parents are a better gift to your child than a pink and polka dotted tutu onesie.

So go out and register, make it a fun date night, just remember that YOU control the registering gun NOT YOUR HUSBAND!

Blessings,

Missionary Mommy