Segunda

In Angola with Saving Moses, I met a 3yr old little boy who was severely malnourished. His mom, Lucia, is a beautiful, engaged and very concerned mom who has a beautiful little baby girl, Josephine, who is about 2months old – bright, cheery & zesty! Segunda is very emaciated but I have really high hopes that he’s going to make some rapid improvement & be released within the next few weeks. Please be praying for Segunda & his mom, Lucia!

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Amazing

I’m with Saving Moses here in Angola where we are providing malnutrition formula every day, 4-6 times a day for

I would love to bring you with me to meet these heroic moms & their lovely babies because you would be deeply touched to hear their stories, to sense their strength & watch their genuine love. Every time I come here I meet new moms & get to catch up with some moms & babies from previous years. Today, we were able to visit with Angelina & her little girl Desorae, as well as Marcella & her son Belito, both families who we have met with for a few years now. Both moms & their kids are pregnant & doing extremely well 🙂
To be really honest with you, these trips are always really hard on my heart (it’s extremely difficult to see babies who are emaciated or bloated because of malnutrition & are frequently inches from death). But I must also say that this trip has been really rewarding because I am also able to see the MASSIVE difference we are able to make every day by providing malnutrition formula. It brings me indescribable fulfillment to know that we are feeding not just today’s babies but also investing in each baby’s potential & future. How could we do anything less?

Today’s pictures: peekaboo, mom Angelina & her daughter Desorae 🙂

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Welcome to Angola!

Heat, humidity, crowds, chaos & haze. We’ve been traveling now for over 40hours & we’re closing in on “almost there.” I’m presently sitting in a waiting hall for domestic flights & trying to get a little oriented. I had a nice but BRIEF chat with some Chinese guys from Shandong province, where Mao was born and in a few hours, we get to visit one of our biggest malnutrition clinics.
Whenever I visit Angola, I’m always reminded that its only been in the last 10years that there has been any stability whatsoever here. They had more than 30 years of a MASSIVELY brutal & inhumane civil war & before that, Angola was a Portuguese colony for over 300 years. This is important because wherever there is political instability, babies often experience the most significant impact because the infant mortality increases proportionate to the quantity of instability: long instability = masses of dying babies / high infant mortality. So for the next few days, we will be visiting our malnutrition clinics, meeting some wonderful moms & seeing how the benefits of consistent therapeutic milk plays out for malnourished babies who would likely die without our help.
Stick around w me thru this blog, Facebook & twitter so we can make this journey together 🙂

Repetition creates improvements

I’m writing this on my way with www.savingmoses.org to Angola for my 4th visit in 4 years. I have some friends with me & we’ll be visiting our 6 malnutrition clinics where we provide therapeutic milk for babies who would likely die without our clinics. I have mixed thoughts & feelings about this trip but I LOVE that we get to be part of God’s immense & tangible expression of genuine love to babies.
Babies are totally wonderful & in some ways, they represent the best of humanity. I love their innocence, trust, curiosity, joy & zest for life. And while this may sound initially kind of twisted, I love to hear babies cry in our malnutrition clinic because their silence can indicate something awful especially with malnourished babies.
So come along with me, stay tuned to his blog, Facebook & twitter & we can share this adventure together 🙂

very, very small but oh so important

 I just returned from Angola having seen such amazing things happening with Saving Moses!  This was my 3rd trip & I am now working through the heart stuff that comes up from my visits to this amazing country.  On this trip, I saw beauty in faces, actions, love, compassion, care and touch.  The babies that we get to feed with Saving Moses are nothing less than captivating, not only for their eyes, faces and irresistible cuteness, but even moreso for who they are.  Jesus said in Matt 25:40, when you are you kind, gracious & generous for the least of these, you do these things as unto Me.  If we as humans cannot be generous, gracious & deeply moved by the smallest among us, then we probably need to put ourselves into environments & opportunities to connect with genuine love lest we become heartless, cold and even barbaric.  Saving Moses is about genuinely loving the smallest expressions of Jesus, who could possibly die without an ongoing tangible love that we get to express.

Thoughts while traveling

Angola ’12

Well, I’m back on my way to Angola for my 3rd visit with Saving Moses. I have mixed thoughts & feelings about this visit. My first trip to Angola was extremely impacting because I didn’t have any clue what it would be like to look face to face with infant mortality. My 1st trip to Angola gave me this introduction. Last year, our visit to Angola didn’t have the same 2×4 shock of the 1st trip, but it was every bit as impacting. Maybe last year was more powerful than my 1st visit because we were able to make more friendships like Manushe & her daughter Celestina, Angelina with Desorae & a follow up visit to Belito from our 1st trip. It was nothing less than pure delight to get to be with my nun friends as well, so I’m very eager to catch up with them again, hopefully, on this trip.
I never want to get mechanical on these trips, which means that I always want to keep my heart soft, tending & feeling. I can trust that God will guide & direct not only our physical steps, but also the experiences for my heart as well. Be sure that any journey on which your heart travels always keeps God as your closest traveling companion. Stay tuned for more updates 🙂

An Update from Saving Moses in Angola

Well, we’re concluding our 2nd trip to Angola & I’m quite a mixed bag of feelings & thoughts.  In some respects, this trip has been more difficult than our 1st venture & it seems like I’ll have some sorting out to do for a fair amount of time.  There are several discussions that I’m having with God, along with many questions.  So in some respects, I guess that’s good because these interactions certainly keep our relationship genuine.

Alot of my conversations with God are also filled with gratitude.  I’m very thankful for His patience with me as I grow, His wisdom in how He handles me, His grace for my humanity and most of all His love, which I’m unable to describe at this point.

I think I’ll be working through this trip for awhile.  But be sure to watch for a video update tomorrow – I worked on one & when I get in a wi fi friendly area, I’ll upload it & it will certainly warm & encourage your heart 🙂  In the meantime, here’s a cool pic of my friend Jody who has become delightfully attached to Celestina, a beautiful & very healthy 3month old little girl 🙂

 

something cool to watch from Angola :)

I’ve still been pondering alot about my experiences in Angola & I’m finding that @savingmoses seems to never be far below the surface of whatever activity or conversation in which I’m involved.  Some things that I’ve noticed about myself since returning from Angola include:

  • I think I’m more compassionate – I find myself extending patience, grace, acceptance & love to people more than I have in the past, even though I’m presently in a fairly stressful season of life
  • my dreams seem to be more vivid or I’m remembering them better when I wake up.  I’m not dreaming about Angola, but I seem to be having fairly meaningful dreams
  • I find myself thinking in increments of $30 because I’ve figured out that I can keep a baby from starving to death for about $30 / month w saving moses.
  • When I see babies now, it seems like my immediate subconscious reaction is to ask how much they weigh & I’m asking myself if I’ll ever get back to the “so cute” first reaction.
  • I also find myself having REALLY BIG THOUGHTS, maybe even grandiose plans, about how to keep babies from starving to death

This is a really honest window into my thoughts over the last few weeks.

I’m also working to develop some video skills, so if your brave (wink), take a look at this link & let me know if you like it or any suggestions for improvements 🙂

http://www.vimeo.com/16482102

What I find myself unable to say about Angola

Since I’ve returned from Angola, I’ve been trying to work through this experience & I’m not really sure if I’m making any progress.  There were many things that we experienced, but one experience has left me without words & very raw.  Truthfully, I think this experience has probably forever changed me – Im presently unable to express myself but I want you to know about Angelina.

Please read the post from our photographer, Steve Stanton

http://stevestantonphotography.com/blog/

He has put into words some of this experience and maybe sometime later, I’ll be able to talk about this, sharing in my own words what I find myself unable to do now

 

Processing Angola

I’ve been home for about 36 hours & I’m trying to work through some thoughts & feelings, which are rather jumbled around.  Its complete bliss to get to be with my family – they are nothing less than spectacular & I’m thoroughly grateful for them!!!!  At the same time, I’m also trying to process this last week.  When I see a baby now, I have this instinctual reaction to ask how old & how much do they weigh.  When the mom tells me the answers, it feels like I shatter into a million little pieces in my heart & thoughts as I think about the babies I’ve just seen, held, touched & am trying to help.

One such family is a single mom with 2 kids – Marcella.  Her youngest son, Belito, is about 14months old & struggling with malnutrition.  Marcella has had 6 kids & only 2 are surviving today – the 4 who died never made it to 6 months old.  I met Belito & Marcella at a malnutrition clinic we visited & I was able to visit her everyday when we were in Angola.  We got to visit her home, meet her oldest son who is 8yrs old, meet her mom & exchange greetings with her neighbors.  Belito weighs about 13lbs & is 14months old.  He is very weak & frail.  His mom is trying super hard to help him to get better.  As a single mom, she doesn’t really have a job & there’s no gov’t support or subsidies to help her, so her way of getting money to buy food is to slowly sell off whatever she has that’s valuable.  She used to have a job selling bananas, but since Belito has been sick, she hasn’t been able to stay with the banana selling.  She lives w her mom, who has a job washing clothes and this helps Marcella a little bit.  When we asked how we could help her, she said that some rice, beans & oil would be super helpful.

I talked quite extensively with Marcella, seeking to understand how she arrived in the current situation.  When I asked about her husband, she explained that he left her because he felt that she couldn’t take care of his kids because they kept dying.  He doesn’t give her any support & she’s never learned to read or write.  In our conversations, I asked her what would be some things that she’d like to achieve & she said that she would like to get back into the studying she had been doing before Belito got sick, so she could learn to read & write.  We talked about various job possibilities & what she’d like to be doing in the future to earn a living.  This was all a very powerful conversation for me that occurred over the course of 5 days.

I very much want to help Marcella – she’s a kind and intelligent woman who deeply loves her son.  Before we left, we bought her the rice, beans & oil, but we also bought her some formula & porridge for when Belito gets discharged from the malnutrition clinic.  I explained how to mix the formula – quantities of water (boiled please) along with scoops of formula & then how to mix these w the porridge.  All in all, at this point, I’m not sure who has benefitted more from this friendship – Marcella or me.

Angola, while being being an extremely poor country, is very rich with the quality of her citizens.  The picture attached isn’t of Marcella & Belito (they are the picture in my last blog), but is a VERY common scene.

Lets Make a Difference in Angola

Today was pretty hard core. It’s after 9p & I’m struggling to process this day & it’s events. We drive to a more remote city / town & visited a medical clinic w some volunteer Portugese medical students & doctors who were doing everything possible to preserve life under unbelievable conditions.
I’m not sure how much I can share at this point because of how this is affecting me. How could we consider a day to be successful when possibly only 1 infant died of anemia & malnutrition instead of 4? What about the family that has contracted tuberculosis that is a strain resistant to the 1st line of drugs? Is the 2nd line of drugs for tb available?
How about the 6yr old sister charged to watch her 4 wk old brother? Or the single mom who needs a job & whose 14month old son needs food?
And yet the good news of today is that one of the severely malnutritioned babies we visited yesterday we were able to look in on & it looks like she’s going to make it!
When you do something to “the least of these”, you’ve done it to Me – Matt 25

Angola – lets help!

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Well, today was unreal. We were able to visit a malnutrition clinic for babies & I’m finding it extremely difficult to find words to communicate how this is affecting me. We got to meet the moms of these babies & it was really incredible to meet these women. I met a mom who had traveled approx 400 miles to bring her daughter who was born with a clef pallet & having difficulty feeding her baby.
Please check out my facebook page to see a brief glimpse of some dear people I met today.

Savingmoses in Angola

Well, it’s been an interesting day!
I landed in Angola – my 1st time to come to this country &  it’s quite amazing. Angola has recently come out of more than 25 yrs of civil war & there are still approximately 12 million landmines scattered around the countryside. Angola has about 13 million citizens to give you some perspective. So part of my intro to Angola, a crash course, was the quickie landmine schooling: red is bad & blue is safe. So my friend, whenever you’re down this way, watch out for any fields with red on the trees – avoid these fields.

We were able to visit a school &  feeding program associated with  the school. I’m attaching some pictures of a normal classroom &  the teacher for this class. We met some very great kids & tomorrow we’ll be visiting some very small people with some very severe needs. So come back tomorrow & you can also keep up to speed w me real time on twitter & facebook if those float your fancy.

Beautiful Angola!

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I just landed from a bit of a whirlwind visit to Morocco w mom & the group trip. Morocco is a very fascinating country & at some point, it would a great privilege to get to spend some time there w the people.
As for now, we’re driving through the countryside in Angola & I’m getting a feel for this huge country. Only recently has this country had any stability, coming out of almost 30 gets of civil war. Part of my introduction to Angola was to learn that red signs mean that an area has NOT been cleared of landmines & blue signs mean that the land mines have been cleared.
The avg family has at least 5 kids & probably at least 2-3 kids die per family. There’s not much of a public school system here so the literacy rates are super low.
I know that we are going to see some very intense & even outrageous things, while meeting some very fantastic people. I’m planning to blog everyday, paying special attention to @savingmoses – remember, Angola has the world’s highest infant mortality rate, due to malnutrition, lack of basic medical care & poor water supply. Let’s change this country!

Saving Moses goes to Angola

We are very busy trying to finalize all of the arrangements for our 1st trip to Angola in about 2 weeks.  Alot of people don’t know too much about Angola, so here are some things to help you understand why we are going there:

  • Angola has one of the world’s highest infant mortality rates one baby out of every 6-10 born doesn’t make it to the age of 5
  • Angola had civil war for around 30 years;  when a country is unstable for this long, its most vulnerable citizens are the quickest to suffer the greatest (hence the need for SM in Angola)
  • Angola is the 2nd highest producer of diamonds & petroleum in sub-saharan Africa
  • It is located in the southwestern part of Africa, north of Namibia & south of Congo
  • Angola was a colony of Portugal for close to 400 years & received its independence in 1975

Decreasing infant mortality in nations like Angola can have some relatively easy solutions:  clean water, immunizations & adequate nutrition.  One of the things I love about Saving Moses is that things that we would consider “little” can save lives.  Let’s do something to give an infant a fighting chance to not only survive, but thrive.