For the past two months we’ve had two lads from the UK come and stay with us and volunteer with Beyond Ourselves. They graduated from secondary school last July and as part of their gap year, before heading to University, they’re here with us in Zambia for three months.
Admittedly I was a little apprehensive about having them here during this season of our lives. Having just welcomed Ben into the family, I wasn’t sure about adding two teenage boys into the mix as well. Thankfully they are very flexible and really easy to be around and, actually, the blend of a young family and these gentlemen has been quite a nice mix. It helps that Jacob loves them and they are happy to kick a ball around with him for ages. This has been a big help as we juggle Ben and other life and work tasks. Somehow they managed to get Jacob to call them by their real names rather than just ‘daddy’ – the title he bestows upon nearly everyone else. Even I haven’t managed that yet, although he has started calling me Auntie Melissa which is a step in the right direction at least!
Much of what they’ve been during their time here has been preparing for teams that are currently out working with Beyond Ourselves for the next couple of weeks. They’ve been building an early years, outdoor learning area at one schools, and preparing for the building of a similar area that a team is currently building. They’ve done loads of practical labour but have also spent time in the classrooms being assistants and helping specifically with improving literacy.
For the next two weeks they will be in Kitwe staying with the visiting teams and then they will be travelling until they head home to the UK. Our days of being a family of six are sadly over. We will miss them, and all the laughs they bring.
Last week ago Ben turned three months. Isn’t it funny the way that a period of time can seem so incredibly short and at the very same time unbelievably long as well? It feels like the other day we were in Lusaka rushing to the hospital but as I think about these last three months, and all of the challenges of them, I feel like they have been years.
These first few months with Ben have been stretching. The continuous excruciatingly broken nights and the incessant crying from a colicky/fussy baby can feel like you’re loosing your mind at times. I feel like I’ve found new realms of grace and depths of love over these last three months. That is what happens when you come to the end of yourself, you realize there is a whole different well to draw from when you are on empty.
Two things have continually surprised me over during these last three months…
- How little sleep one can live off of and still remain sane, somewhat capable of daily tasks, and even enjoy life for the most part. A hideous night doesn’t mean life is terrible, it just means I’m tired (and more likely to cry at the small things!).
- How you can love someone who challenges you day and night and night and day, who does little apart from pee on you, cry and scream, demand milk seemingly all the time, take away all of your free time, and generally turn your world upside down and make it very uncomfortable, and yet your heart can swell with love for this tiny person.
During the last few months Ben’s had a few health concerns as well. Last week we were in Lusaka and had more tests done there. Thankfully most things were really positive – he no longer (or never had?) a whole in his heart, which is fantastic news, and his thyroid seems to all be working well too which again is great. There is still some concern over the size of his tongue, however the doctor said to keep an eye on it and see if he grows into it or not. We’ll see the pediatrician again in a few months and hopefully we’ll get the all clear then.
So we’ve made it through the first three months. We pat ourselves on the back, it’s been some of the hardest months of my life. A friend of mine recently sent me an email and said when she was going through a similar phase with her eldest daughter, her mum said that her child just wanted her to always remember the early days (months) of her life. Between his exciting birth and these first few months, it seems Ben likes to do things in an unforgettable ways!