Recently around our house

So many things have been happening around our house the last few weeks. Along with the normal routine of life, we’ve been:

  1. Hosting two warmshowers guests. For anyone not familiar with warm showers or couchsurfing these are online networks that connect travelers with locals willing to host them in many countries. Warmshowers services touring cyclists. We’ve had such positive experiences every time we’ve hosted someone. This time we hosted 2 at the same time. Lily is biking to the West Coast and Leon is biking to Hong Kong. You can follow Leon on his travels on his website. Reuben was able to bike with both of them to Burlington on his way to work the next morning.
  2. We went on our first bike ride with all four of us. Eden sat on her kids seat on Reuben’s big dummy bike and Harper sat on a little kid’s seat on the front of my bike. We didn’t go too far from home but we had a blast.
  3. It has been raining a lot here recently (which my garden loves) and Eden has also been playing a lot more with her neighbour friends. Last week, when it started to pour, Eden and Madison played outside in the rain and the puddles.

  4. What has been taking up some of my time recently has been sewing. I’ve been making some birthday gifts for some family members (which I will post after the gifts have been given) but I’ve also been consumed with a compassionate project. It came to my attention in the last few months that many women in developing countries don’t have any sanitary products and so they miss school, miss their jobs, can’t continue with their ordinary life while they are menstruating. A friend of mine was really passionate about doing something about this and approached me about making some cloth pads. After doing some research into fabrics and a pattern, I contacted several companies to see if they would donate the required materials. I was overwhelmed with the response! All of the materials have been donated and a “Pad Party”, a night to sew all the materials together, is taking place on June 17 at Little Bird and re-diaper, a local storefront in Hamilton that sells consignment kids clothes and cloth diapers. I’ll be posting pictures of the event along with all the details. Each woman will receive 10 cloth pads and a wet/dry bag to hold the clean and soiled pads in. The pads will be delivered to Home of Grace Care Centre in Kenya this summer. Here are some pictures of the samples I have sewn together:

    It’s been a fun and rewarding project. There are so many people interested in helping. The event has about 18 people already committed to come and help sew these products together.
  5. Reuben has been very busy in his spare time developing a website with some very interesting family information – will be launched soon!
  6. And just for fun, here’s a picture of Eden with straight hair. She saw me straightening my hair the other day and wanted hers done too:
  7. And to add to the randomness of this post, here’s one of my new favourite quotes from Eden:

    Eden: Mommy, is Harper dirty?
    Me: No. Daddy just changed his diaper and he had a bath the other day.
    Eden: Then why are we going to a baby shower?

The selfishness of inaction

pat. pat. pat. pat.

It’s 4am and I stand above the crib in my 6 month old’s room, rhythmically patting his back in an attempt to get him back to sleep after a nighttime waking.

pat. pat. pat. pat.

In the dim light I watch as he slowly calms and starts resting.

pat. pat. pat. pat.

Did I mention it’s 4 am? And I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in 6 months? I am so tired. A full nights’ sleep would give me so much more energy and brain power. I start feeling sorry for myself. Poor me.

An image flashes before me.

I push it aside. I don’t want to think about that. I haven’t thought about it in weeks. I don’t want to.

The image flashes again.

A memory. A horrible memory of Africa.

I continue patting. I continue thinking of me and my woes. I feel a nagging feeling, a pulling at my heartstrings. A baby, a mother, a brother, a grandmother. NO. I don’t want to remember. I’m too busy feeling sorry for myself.

Slowly, gently, I feel God speak to me through the softening of my heart.

Here I am, a privileged person to have travelled to Africa and seen first hand the issues of poverty, AIDS, starvation, lack of clean drinking water, lack of education and most of time, I want to forget. I want to believe it was all a dream, that a world like that just cannot exist. Sure, it’s a coping strategy. If I thought of the devastation around this planet, I’d sink so far into a depression I don’t think I’d ever come out.

Here I am. I went there. I saw it. And still, inaction. I want to forget.

The dim light in the room illuminates my healthy son sleeping on his comfortable mattress in his hardwood crib with a crocheted blanket that his great grandmother made laying on top of him. Africa is so far away.

The image flashes again and this time I cannot ignore it. It’s a beautiful day in South Africa and me a few others are surrounded by ugliness. We’re in an informal settlement, a slum. We’re going on home visits of people in the community suffering with HIV/AIDS. We come to a one room tin shack with a dirt floor. As we approach, I notice a towel on the floor, an older woman in a chair, a young woman lying on the ground and, in the darkness, a boy about 7 years old behind the woman. Lizzie, the social worker, lifts up the tattered towel to reveal a small baby underneath. I have to look carefully to see if the baby is breathing.

“The towel is to keep the flies away”. And it’s true. As soon as the towel is lifted, flies settle all over the baby.

I find out the baby, a girl, is 8 months old but looks the size that my son was at 8 weeks. Her mother is crippled. Her brother is disabled and cannot go to a school for there are no schools for disabled children. Her grandmother stays as much as she can to help. But what help can she bring? There is no food. A dirty empty bottle lay by the baby.

I shake myself out of the trance to find myself weeping. I look around me and see a healthy sleeping baby, a furnished room, heat spilling in through the vent, dressers filled with clothes and diapers. Toys littering the floor. A house that is clean and safe. Two healthy parents to take care of this boy etc. etc. etc. Africa feels even farther away.

Nosipho. Lillian. Angelina. Sammi. Those are their names – the baby, the mother, the grandmother, the boy. They are real people half a world away.

How could I have hardened my heart to these individuals? I have denied their very existence so that I can justify my life and what I buy and what I do with all the many resources I have. I imagine that Angelina is born in Canada, crocheting a blanket for her granddaughter. But she doesn’t have the resources, the education, health, that my grandmother had. She didn’t choose to be born into Apartheid, into poverty.

Here I am, craving, begging, pleading for a full night’s sleep and Lillian is pleading for her next meal, a Dr., ARV’s, food for her children, education for her son. I feel so selfish. I am so selfish, most of the time.

Here I am, half a world away and I can make a difference.

    I can be compassionate and radically generous by giving more money, by going without my wants in order that someone will have what they need.
    I can pray for health, for hope, for MCC and the organizations they work with.
    I can remember daily the many struggles in Africa. Whether you have traveled there or not, you know the devastation of AIDS and extreme poverty, you’ve seen pictures, you’ve heard stories. We aren’t ignorant.

It’s a choice to be inactive, a selfish choice.
It’s a choice to live with radical generosity, a compassionate choice.

Video of Eden singing her ABCs

Eden loves to sing, and often make up her own songs. We’ve been trying to get a good video of Eden singing for a while now. Finally got one a few days ago — it’s just the ABCs, so maybe we will post another one when we capture her singing a song of her own making.