Well, Richard (the b!)…
Today you are fifteen years old. Unbelievable. I remember when you were just a wee thing and your mom and dad wanted to go out for a couple of hours to have a nice dinner together. They brought you to me to babysit, and just a few minutes after your mom and dad left, you started to cry. I couldn’t do anything to make you feel better. I tried to give you a pacifier, but it made you mad. So I tried to feed you, but you just screamed at me. I walked through my unit of the triplex talking to you, singing to you, rocking you and bouncing you, but you would not be pacified. You wanted your mother.
It has been a year now since she left us. I have been so proud of you this past year. I wish I could be there with you to celebrate your birthday, and to remember your mother with you.
Forever now, your birthday, which has been a source of such fun and specialness for you will be shared with the memory of the day, well, you know. And on this birthday, your first without your mom, I am just about as far away from you as I could possibly be. In the physical realm anyway. In my heart, I am right with you.
I love you so much Richie. And I am awed by the person you have been and are becoming.
(posted in absentia)
Thirteen years old. Wow. There’s one thing about doing this missionary thing that isn’t so hot. You miss lots of times like this. You’ll only turn 13 once, and I won’t be there to see it. I imagine you’re thinking much about your Mom these days. It’s been almost a year since we last saw her.
You’ve been amazing this past year, you know. Your mother would be so proud of how you have handled yourself. I know there have been some times that were frustrating and times you didn’t make the greatest decisions, but still you have amazed me. You had to grow up a lot right away a year ago. But you’ll always be my “little” miss.
I am so delighted, and blessed, and proud to be your Aunt.
I love you soooooooo much!
(posted in absentia)
Gracious. Little Jon Jon is in the double digits now. Ten years old.
Whatever happened to that squeaky, scrawny, little red faced baby that Alaska wouldn’t let go of?
Rumor has it you will be visiting Colorado (and me) in August and will be there when I get home. By then it will have been three months since I last saw you. At the rate you seem to be growing, I will not be surprised to find that you have grown taller than me. Yes, Jon, I KNOW, that won’t take much!
So, little man, on this verrrrry important birthday, I am reaching across the continents, the ocean, and the miles to give you a big fat hug and kiss, and to make you sit on my lap while I do it!
I sure do love you….
(posted in absentia)
There are reporters traveling with the Zambia Teams this year. Following is the reporters blog entry from Saturday:
A ‘devastating’ day; overwhelming need
An AIDS orphan living in Chiwala, 14-year-old Baron Zulu, receives treatment for a badly infected sore on his ankle. In the foreground, Teen Missions team leader Linda Norris of California, an emergency room nurse, administers aid. Joy Kalusa, 24, a facilitator at the Teen Missions AIDS Orphans rescue unit, lends a hand.
CHIWALA, ZAMBIA — Craig and I spent the last 48 hours with the footwashing team — a group of American teenagers that traveled to Zambia to wash the feet of children orphaned by Aids and give them new socks and shoes.
We traveled on the back of a truck through 6-foot-high elephant grass and onto clay dusty roads that turned our clothes red. The hour-long ride ended at the Teen Mission Rescue Unit in a Chiwala — a series of remote villages that still answers to a local chief and where the witch doctor is feared.
Nothing in the world could have prepared Craig and I for what we were about to see. Two hundred orphans, the majority without shoes and wearing ragged clothes, waited patiently in line for their feet to be washed and for a new pair of shoes. It was easy to see how AIDS had ripped through this region. Some, like 14-year-old Baron Zulu, had already developed terrible sores and ulcers on their legs that needed immediate treatment. He sat there crying as nurse Linda Norris cut away the dead flesh before dressing the wound and asking him to return tomorrow.
As word of the missionary team’s arrival spread through the area, mothers with sick babies began arriving looking for malaria medication or something for fever and coughing. The need was overwhelming. It was a devastating day. Craig and I did our best to report the story calmly, but it was difficult not to become affected. All we could do as we left the rescue unit to return to our base camp in Ndola was to sit in the truck in silence.
The blog is being updated regularly – click here.
Click here for the full report from the team!
Click here to see photos taken by Linda’s dad while at Boot Camp!
To read about visit day one click here.