Sunday, August 03, 2014

Making all things new.

We are back in Nairobi, and I have to say it feels strange. I was just really hopeful that when we returned from Cape Town (after 3 IVF tries), we would have exciting and happy news to share. I had imagined it in my mind. I had prayed and wished for it. But we are back, and there is only the same sad news.

Slowly, I'm learning to give God control of this struggle. He has been so patient with me. Infertility has brought out some ugly sides of myself that I never knew existed. I've struggled with jealousy and can be so selfish when I am wrapped up in my own pain. But I know that He is working on making me more like Him.
This suffering is producing perseverance...and this perseverance: character. In the end, I'm clinging to the hope that He WILL make all things new!

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."
Isaiah 43:18-19

Despite the heartache, the beauty of Cape Town was healing in a way. Ruco still traveled for his job, but not as much as he usually must. It was the perfect place for us to be together to grieve...but also to trust, learn and grow. However painful it has been, I am thankful for the way He is changing us. He is doing a new thing in and through us!!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

choosing joy

I hope you all had wonderful holiday celebrations with family and friends! I was blessed to be with my family in the US for Thanksgiving and then Ruco’s family (and two of our dear friends) in Nairobi for Christmas! In between those two events, we worked in the Philippines helping with Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts. So, lots of traveling (I know you are surprised). We actually came back to the Philippines for another month. So, that works out to:

Nairobi à US à Philippines àNairobi à Philippines (since last time I blogged). Phew!

Here are some photos from our Christmas and New Years holidays back home in Kenya: 

Our first time at Maasai Mara national park...

We interrupted some "one on one" time with these two

A VDM Christmas on the Kenyan coast (Malindi) special!

First time seeing a mama and her little cubs on safari!

We were so excited the Harper's came to visit us! We love them so much!
Working in the Philippines has also been such a rewarding experience. I am not sure we have ever met a people group as kind and gracious as the Filipinos…and talk about resiliency and HOPE! People are moving on and attempting to rebuild their lives despite total devastation. SP is coming alongside churches and communities to implement WASH (Water and Sanitation/Hygiene), shelter, and feeding programs. It really is partnership because the Filipinos work with us day after day with smiles and encouragement FOR US (when we are supposed to be the ones serving them)!! There are so many lessons I am learning here from these amazing, AMAZING people.

Families have their businesses back up and running

So much beauty despite the destruction 

I want to have joy like that…not dependent on my circumstances.

We have really been so thankful that we were able to travel and work together over the last 2 1/2 months! We love being together so much, and in the midst of our current struggle, we are trying to embrace the wonderful life we have together instead of “focusing on the emptiness.” I feel that I must come to a point in this journey when I choose joy and choose to move on while still anticipating that God can perform a miracle for us!

I am the luckiest.

I currently love this verse: 

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen, and no cattle in the stalls, YET I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD, I will be joyful in God my savior!!” Habakkuk 3:17-18

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Oh, the places you'll go...

I can't believe its been 6 months since I last blogged. So many things have happened in that time, and we've been so many places--both physically and emotionally! :) 

In May, I had my 30th birthday and we celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary here at home in Nairobi! Then, at the end of May, Ruco and I traveled to Cape Town so that I could have my second laparoscopy surgery. The doctor that I had found in Cape Town was amazing (Dr. Dawie Slabbert). I can't say enough good about him. He is a strong believer, and I really felt that God had led me to find this doctor. He was able to successfully remove most of the endometriosis (stage 4) and  "restore natural anatomy." 

Right after surgery in Cape Town
 We were so happy! The surgery was successful, and it all worked out with our insurance to have it all covered. Our family (Ruco's mom, dad and brother) had traveled to Cape Town and we all got to be together for a few days. We stayed with Ruco's grandparents who live in Cape Town and I was really spoiled with my mother-in-law and grandmother (in-law??) there to help take care of me after the surgery. It was a sweet time. 

A winery we visited with my VDM family 

Afterwards, when our VDM family went back to Namibia (and we remained in Cape Town), Ruco and I got a little cabin in Hout Bay. It was freezing cold, but it was magical. We had a rental car and would drive up and down those mountains, through state parks, to Ruco's favorite restaurant when he was a kid, and to eclectic coffee shops that reminded us of living in the Bay Area. I absolutely fell in love with Cape Town and loved the time Ruco and I got to spend there together.

our cabin in Hout Bay 

Cage diving with great whites...ahh! 
Stunning CT

Hiking up to Cape Point
After our South Africa trip, we headed to Juba, South Sudan where I accepted a short-term work assignment for the summer. We had a blast! We met so many amazing people and loved getting to know more of South Sudan. All summer, I thought incessantly of all things baby. I was just so hopeful after the surgery! We had tried to conceive for the prior 2 years, but now we knew what the problem was, and it was all fixed! Surely, it would happen soon! So, each month when my period would come (post surgery), it was absolutely devastating. I questioned God's purpose in all of this. It was crushing when someone would mention that children are a "blessing from the Lord." I know that this is true, but this fact makes it apparent that God is withholding this blessing from us. Additionally, because I can wrongly be so works oriented, I would conclude that God is punishing me or that we aren't doing enough for Him. If we were, God would desire to bless us with a baby! Friends quoted this verse from Psalm 84:11: "For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly." So, automatically my mind would think, "well, then, we need to walk more uprightly!" My understanding of God and his infinite love and grace was so muddled through my pain and hurt. 

When we went back to Nairobi, I was extremely sad. What we had envisioned for our life just wasn't panning out. I felt crushed and defeated. Infertility, or longing for something to this degree, is extremely painful. As Proverbs 13:12 says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick..." My heart was extremely sick, and I was so easily swayed emotionally by our circumstances.

Then, in September, Ruco and I received our "home leave" vacation, as we had celebrated one year in Kenya. Instead of going to the US though, we knew we needed time together (just the two of us). My trip planner extraordinaire created a trip itinerary that took us through South East Asia again (Malaysia and Cambodia this time), and then the Maldives and Turkey. This trip was exactly what I needed. I can't even put into words how good it was for my soul. I cried out to God daily, expressing my hurt and pain. And while we didn't fall pregnant on our trip, what I did receive was a new and deeper understanding of the love of Christ. The more I would cry out to God, the more I understood that He is the one that provides true and everlasting joy to my heart, and He is GOOD and loves me so much. And I understood this verse so differently: "For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly." Because God is good and gives good things to his children, this withholding is good. He is infinitely wise, and if he is withholding a pregnancy from us, it is the best thing for us right now. Because He says, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11. 

Angkor Wat  sunrise

We rode tuk-tuks everywhere in Cambodia!
Malaysia-snorkeling with reef sharks and sea cool! 
Visiting the Angkor temples in Cambodia!

The BEST travel buddy!!

a bosphorus cruise in Turkey 
In this season of sorrow, I am resting in the knowledge that His grace is sufficient for me, and His power is made perfect in my weakness! I will boast all the more GLADLY of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me! (2 Cor. 12:9). I am broken. But through my brokenness, he is restoring my relationship with Him. And through that restoration, He is making me whole again (with or without a baby). 

I am so excited to see His GOOD plans for us unfold, whatever they might bring. But in the mean time, I am attempting to be content in any and every situation (Phillipians 4:12). :) 

rainbow in Cape Town

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Life, love and infertility...

I haven't blogged in such a long time. I've missed it! It's pretty therapeutic for me to sit and write out my thoughts...

We are settling in fairly well in Nairobi. It's really beautiful here. Nairobi is a bustling city but at the same time, you aren't so far removed from gorgeous nature. Right outside the city is a national park (with lots of animals). Last weekend, we went for a lovely drive and explored so much of the rural landscape right outside the city on our way to do a tour of the Kitengela glass company (very cool place to visit by the way). The weather is ideal in Nairobi--it's 66 degrees right now as I write this post. :) We are loving it here!

Climbing Mt. Longonot here in Kenya! 

At the Kitingela Glass Company last weekend

We moved here almost 7 months ago now...I can't believe it! We have some good friends already, mostly because Samaritan's Purse is so much like a family to us, and when we are working for SP we have instant family/friends built in. However, we still feel like we have a long way to go to really make Nairobi home. We recently heard about a married couple's bible study that meets on Thursday nights. I think becoming a part of this group will help us feel more settled as we get into the Word with good friends! God always provides a family for us wherever we live.  The first couple of moves we made, I always worried about that. Making friends was always at the top of my worry list because relationships are so important to me. But honestly, I don't worry anymore. Like I said, God has always provided for us.

We love living closer to Tred again!!!!

My sweet friend Heather! Thankful for her friendship here in Nairobi!

Ruco travels a lot with his job. I have also been working with SP on a project in South Sudan so have done a bit of traveling for work too. So, we are just trying to get used to being apart more frequently as part of our work. This doesn't come easy to me (or Ruco), as we sincerely love being together. But I am praying God also makes this aspect of our lives easier for us too and just allows us to immensely enjoy the time when we actually get to be together! 

A photo from my recent trip to South Sudan for work 

Visiting Ruco's parents in Swakopmund, Namibia for Christmas! 

I also have spent A LOT of time in the US recently. I went for the first time in November for my youngest brother's wedding, and stayed for maybe 4 weeks or so. Then I went again in January for a big family vacation (Disney) for my nephew's 3rd birthday and stayed once again for about a month! I wasn't planning on being in the US for that long, but had some health issues come up so had to stay around longer.

My brother and beautiful new sister in law! They got married end of November!  So happy for them! 

While I was in the US, my doctor actually did a laparoscopic surgery to check out some pain issues I was having and found that I have stage 4 endometriosis. :( During the surgery, the doctor has a tiny camera to take photos and also a laser to remove any endometriosis he finds while doing the surgery.

My mom was with me for that surgery and my Grandmama drove all the way from Lousiana to go with me to my follow-up appointments. I was so thankful that they were there to support me emotionally. At my first follow-up appointment after my surgery, my doctor showed me what a normal woman's insides/photos look like and what my photos actually look like. The endometriosis has made my reproductive parts and intestines all stuck together and not where they should be at all. The doctor was actually not able to laser off any of the endometriosis because of the severity and location of the endo, and explained that in my current state, there is a 0% chance of Ruco and I conceiving a baby. It was all hard news to hear, but I was so glad to have my Mom and Grandmama close to support me.

Mom and I at Disney! 

My sweet Grandmama and I

My doctor suggested I have a second more invasive surgery to clear out the endo, but sent me to a reproductive specialist first for a 2nd opinion.

When I went to see the specialist, he confused me and stressed me so much that I just scheduled my plane ticket to go back to Ruco in Nairobi! He recommended IVF and not the surgery. He said before they always recommended the surgery because that was all they had to treat endo. However the surgery creates scar tissue and endo to grow back worse. Also it can harm my eggs because even the most skilled doctors have a risk of cutting off blood supply to the ovaries, and so then we wouldn't be able to have biological children. So doctors now recommend IVF.

Its been hard news. I never thought we would be an infertile couple. You just never think it will happen to YOU. We've been trying to get pregnant for a really long time, and it's an extremely painful process. Each month feels like a loss.

However, I'm thankful to know now what the problem is and can move forward with a decision either for the 2nd surgery or start figuring out the finances for IVF. We are praying hard and trusting that God has a beautiful plan for us. He's never failed us, and I am resting and trusting that He is faithful and knows what is best for us. Even if we NEVER have biological children, I know that He is God and He is faithful and loves us SOOO very much.

Thanks for all my friends/family who have prayed and written us personal emails to check on us. I wasn't sure about sharing the news of our infertility in a public arena, but it seems like infertility is more common than I ever realized, and its been amazing to receive support from other women going through the same thing!

While I was still in the US, I was sitting at a Starbucks working on a paper for my Masters program. I was really struggling as I'd just received the news about the severity of the endo when a friend I hadn't seen in YEARS walked up to me to say "hi." Within a few minutes of our conversation, she shared with me that she and her husband have also been struggling with infertility. It felt like such a divine appointment considering I don't live in the US, and she said she rarely gets a day off of work. It was so nice as I realized, "I'm not alone!" and God can use this trial so that I can encourage others with the encouragement He gives me. Since that meeting, I've had countless conversations with women also going through infertility. Most recently, I've found out that American friends here in Nairobi have also been trying to conceive for the same amount of time that Ruco and I have. Hearing the wife tell their story and the way she has dealt with infertility encouraged me so much!

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive form God." 2 Cor. 1: 3-4

I'm so thankful for the opportunities that God has given me to be comforted by Him and by the women He has chosen to use in my life. I also pray that I will be a comfort to others! Our God is sooo good and we are leaning on Him during this time, and I know we will get through it together.

Phew, so that's mostly an update. There is more to share, but this is turning into a book! I will try to do another update soon! Thanks again for all your love and prayers...we miss all of you!


Sunday, October 07, 2012

beautiful Namibia

In September, just before leaving beautiful Namibia, Ruco and I did a "living desert tour" in Swakopmund. Ruco's parents live in Swakopmund again (Ruco lived there for 6 years growing up) and I loved exploring their cute German town for the first time. Swakopmund is surrounded by the gorgeous Atlantic ocean on one side and beautiful Namib desert on the other side. It's SUCH a unique place. We are looking forward to going back and spending Christmas there this year.

On the living desert tour, we spotted lots of these funny chameleons. Our guide brought food for them, but it was SO cold that many of them didn't even try to eat. Their tongues would move SO slow going for the food! 

The roads in Namibia are SO desolate. Not many people out and walking around. This is NOT the Africa I am used to (busy roads with pedestrians and bicycles)!! :) 

I had NEVER seen desert sand dunes like this. Throughout most of Namibia, I kept saying "oh this looks like Arizona!!" or other places, but once we got to Swakopmund, it was a whole other desert than what I had experienced before! 

We spotted one of these dwarf snakes, and I guess they are rare to spot? I think I declined the offer to hold this one.

I love the colors of these bright geckos! Our guide would dig them out of the sand when he would spot their tracks under the sand...crazy! 

We also spotted a horned adder (well our guide did). I was REALLY not interested in getting close to this guy. Apparently VERY poisonous.

We also had time just to sit and enjoy the dunes with cold drinks. It was gorgeous! Our God is SO creative! 

A skink. I did hold this guy. Very strange thing.

Overlooking the beautiful Atlantic. Swakopmund is so unique that it has the ocean AND the desert! Love it. 

This is Spitzkoppe. We camped here one night at the base of it. It was an amazing experience! 

The dancing white lady spider was forced out of her home by our guide. Then she danced a little jig to show us how angry we had made her!!

It was fascinating for me to learn so much about Namibia on our trip. I can't wait to go back!