“Sawubona.” The cashier quickly double-takes to my face.“Did you just say ‘Sawubona?” “Yebo! One can’t stay in Swaziland more than a year and not learn some siSwati.” As I drive home with my chicken breast and bananas in the front seat, I can’t help but smile. Somehow, it still surprises me when Swazis aren’t expecting me to say hello in their own language- it’s just one word and it seems the base of politeness when living in another country. Their reactions range from silent looks to each other (did she just say that?), to giggles, to plain shock. It makes me think about how easy it can be to just show someone that you care, that you’re trying, that you don’t expect them them be anything but themselves. God did so much more for us by taking on flesh to be a part of our world. He showed us He cares, that he’s trying to have relationship with us. He takes us as we are, my little greeting pales in comparison to that. I know that I have a long way to go in my mindfulness of others, but I’m happy to start with “I see you.” (Sawubona) I pray that this year God keeps working on me so I can love others better. What are you praying for yourself? If you feel comfortable, feel free to reach out to us so we can be praying for you as well. As they say here, “Compliments of the New Year!”
Last Sunday, Brandon drove out of country to pick up a short term mission team. We were so excited because the team was from our home church but also anxious as this was the first short term mission we would lead by ourselves. Later that same day, I started cramping and bleeding. I was 12 weeks pregnant. I thought it was just a little scare, like we had with Zach. I had so looked forward to the next week when I would have my first ultrasound and get to share the news with our friends and family. By Wednesday, when the pain had only become worse, I knew it was serious. I was told to leave the team and go home to rest. I felt God prompt me to make an appointment with my Swazi doctor despite my intentions to ignore the pain. The following day, my doctor said I would need surgery as soon as possible. Within 24 hours we had dropped everything to see my primary OBGYN in South Africa. He gently told me that my baby had most likely passed away at 8 weeks, but my body took a month to recognize the baby’s passing. I felt horror, grief, and disappointment. I don’t know why these things happen. I don’t know why these things happen to me. I laid there alone in my hospital gown for hours awaiting surgery, looking at an unfamiliar hospital room, on the other side of the world from most everyone we know….