Thursday, March 25, 2010

The bump has arrived

Jason and I have been running around like crazy getting ready for me to head to the States for my sister Rachel's wedding and I realized today that I haven't posted any pictures of my belly lately! There is actually a visible little bump now and I'm quite proud of it!!!

This was taken a few days before the bump became apparent. At this point I was having tons of hip pain and not walking around well.

Then about a day before I hit 11 weeks I woke up one morning and Jason looked at me and said, "Hey, I think I can see the baby!" I ran to the mirror and discovered that he was right!!! Then I noticed that I had just run to the mirror - no hip pain. I don't know why the baby decided to wiggle around and make his/her appearance, but I was happy about it!!! My hip has been fine since then!

At 12 weeks I went in for my second ultrasound. I hadn't gained any weight yet and even though the bump was sprouting a little I was getting nervous about the baby - first time mom jitters I guess. We took the 12 week picture in front of the little house where the doctor does ultrasounds before I went in. I don't look very nervous in the picture, but I was. We had to wait for hours and by that point I was getting pretty anxious. The good news is that we got to see the baby and he/she is doing great!

If you are experienced at checking out ultrasounds you will see the baby right away. In case you don't, look in the mostly black circle near the top (just a little bit farther up than the really bright spot - my full bladder). In that circle the baby is laying at the bottom. From left to right you can see his/her giant round head, then the little round body, then you can barely see the tiny legs kicking around - he/she is about 2 inches head to rump in this picture.

We got to see the baby waving and rolling over. It was so cute and it made the baby seem so much more real. I loved it!!! We also heard the heart beat. Since the baby was rolling around the heart was beating pretty fast - 149 beats per minute.

Right now I'm 13 weeks and we took this picture this morning outside on our little veranda. It's hard to see the belly in this one, but trust me it's there. I'm still wearing all of my normal clothes at this point and I am confident that I will fit into the bridesmaid dress for Rachel's wedding May 1st, but soon after that I think I will have to bust out some maternity clothes :-) Good thing I'll be in the States for a little bit to pick up some cute ones :-)

About two weeks ago all 6 of the pregnant missionaries in Guinea-Bissau got together for a party. We ate SO much food and were waited on all day by our proud husbands. At the end of the party we took a picture lining up by the age of the baby.

The pregnant missionary women. Left to right:
Tanya, 5 months, first baby, twins, from Norway
Suerda, 4 months, second baby, from Brazil
Fabiana, 4 months, first baby, from Brazil
Me, 3 months, first baby, from the US
Nete, 3 months, first baby, from Brazil
Rosania, 2 months, third baby, from Brazil

So, that's the latest little Atkins info :-) I'm really looking forward to coming home for Rachel's wedding, seeing lots of family and friends, and eating lots of yummy food (for the baby). I'm not looking forward to being separated from Jason for 5 weeks, but we will be back together soon. Thank you so much for all of your prayers for us and our little guy/girl :-)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

serious thoughts about women in Guinea-Bissau

Monday was international women’s day and since there is never a reason too small to take a holiday in Guinea-Bissau, everything shut down :-) Supposedly the men go to the market and cook for their wives while the women chill all day, but I don’t know anyone who actually did that.

Serving up yummy Guinean food for a large group

Because Monday was a holiday, I had a little extra time to catch up on some reading on the internet. I did a little searching for news about Guinea-Bissau and I started noticing that lately our country has been appearing on lots of different lists. One of the 10 poorest countries in the world, right near the top on the list of the most corrupt governments, infant mortality through the roof, 1 in 13 women die in childbirth or pregnancy related causes, AIDS is on the rise and the literacy rate is terrible, and it’s ranked by the World Bank as the worst country to invest your money in a new business in 2010 because of instability, corruption, and lack of infrastructure.

Just before telling her that she had lost the baby. This happens at least 10 times more often than actually delivering a baby out in the village.

Bearing all that in mind, a new list came out this week in honor of international women’s day that shouldn’t have taken me by surprise, but it did - the 10 worst countries in the world to be a woman. I bet you can’t guess one of those 10... yup... Guinea-Bissau. Female literacy is low, spousal abuse is high, and we’re one of the only countries in the world where female genital mutilation is on the rise. When you focus on the stats, the picture is bleak for the women of this country.

I know a lot of women here. Some of them are just like the statistics would lead you to believe, uneducated, beaten, and without hope. I’ve been in a village during a mutilation ceremony and felt oppression so thick I could hardly breathe. I’ve looked into the eyes of woman dying from AIDS because her husband takes medicine himself but doesn’t think his wives are worth enough to treat. I’ve talked to women, covered in bruises, blaming themselves for their latest beating. Some days the heartbreak is overwhelming.

But I also know others. Over the past year, through Ajuda Bajuda and my women’s Bible study at church, I’ve gotten close to so many strong Christian women. The message of Jesus Christ has changed their lives in so many ways! The church in Guinea-Bissau is building schools, digging wells, and training families how to love one another. Christian husbands are sending their daughters to school, staying faithful to their wives, and arguing using words instead of fists.

It just brings me back to the cry of my heart – Guinea-Bissau needs Jesus. Desperate people need Hope, battered people need a Fortress, lost people need a Savior. Satan’s got this country so wrapped up and he’s ruining lives left and right! Join me in praying for this beautiful country – that it would change because God changes the hearts and minds of its people; that people would find the peace, hope, and the reason for living that they’re searching for in the life changing message of Jesus Christ.

A group of Christian women from the islands worshiping God as they watch the waves.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Construction and Cooking

The rainy season is drawing nearer everyday which means that Jason’s been busy. Actually, is there are word that means more than busy, like 6 times busy – if there is, that’s Jason. In the dry season it never rains, but once the rain comes it will rain everyday for months. Good for crops, good for wells, good for keeping the dust down, not so good for building with compressed earth blocks.

Nilton and Jason making some blocks in the youth center

The blocks that come out of the block machine are super strong, durable, and all-around awesome, but just like super man, they have their kryptonite – water. The blocks can’t get wet. You get around this by covering the buildings that you make with plaster and paint. The only problem is that the walls need to be done before they can be covered. Right now the block machine has two major projects: the new machine shop at the Youth Center in Bissau, and several buildings at the new Center that Wade and Katie are building in Mansoa (a nearby village).

God has been blessing the construction projects and despite seeming hundreds of setbacks and delays (welcome to construction in the third world, or actually just about anywhere…) the buildings are going up. The foundations are in and the walls are climbing skyward. In the next two months we just have to finish the walls, run all of the electrical and plumbing, build and install tons of windows and doors, install roofs, and generally batten down all of the hatches for the rain. It sounds doable, right? If only because we know that with God all things are possible :-)

Jason and his crew taking the block machine and all of it's accessories out to Mansoa

A pile of blocks fresh from the machine in Mansoa

Now that Jason’s got a great group of guys trained on the actual running of the block maker, he’s been spending most of his time, measuring, and cutting, and welding, and assembling, and chopping, and a variety of other man-type tasks. I’ve been trying to capture various pictures of him at work, so her are a few of the latest.
Jason using the arch form that he designed and built to make a pretty doorway on the new mini-clinic at the youth center. It's used to clean and bandage up small wounds of the kids in our neighborhood.

Showing Abby how the plasma cutter slices through steel like butter

Jason's looking forward to the shop being completed so that he can work on a table instead of on the ground!

Jason and Nilton welding up the water tower for Wade and Katie's house in Mansoa

As for me I’ve been doing pretty well. I’ve got work up to my eyeballs with Ajuda Bajuda and the women’s group at church, but it’s good to be needed, right? God has been continuing to bless my language and I’m not getting tired as fast listening to Creole as I used to. I can go for several hours at a time now without needing a break! God’s been bringing many friends around to our neck of the woods and there haven’t been very many days in the last two months where Jason and I have eaten with just the two of us at the table. It’s a blessing to be able to have people share our food and our home with and I’m quickly gaining a reputation as an amazing cook. Not sure if the praise is totally deserved, but I do try :-)

We were missing Tim Horton's so we fried up some cinnamon and sugar donut holes and make some good coffee.

Nicole munching on a turkey leg - soooooo gooooood!

There's a great squash here, bobra, that tastes just like pumpkin. It's in season so I've been making all kinds of things with it - principally, pumpkin muffins.

I had a serious fast food craving so I cooked hot dogs over the flame of our gas stove while our friend Anna (from Germany) made some french fries.

As far as the baby goes, I’ve been thanking God everyday for how not sick I’ve been. I’ve been dealing with a fair amount of tiredness and my nose can pick up smells a mile away, but besides that all of the other changes have been pretty minor. I haven’t posted any pictures of myself lately. There’s not a lot to see yet, but I know you guys are curious, so I’ll post the last few week updates anyway :-)

Standing in the baby's room in front of the wall that leads to our room. Once we get all of the doors and windows in the baby's room we will break a hole in the wall where the window is and put a door there.

Sydney and I hanging out in front of the baby's room. Sydney is laying in what will be the new doorway to our house.

The most exciting thing that happened over the past few weeks is that we found a doctor who has an ultrasound machine and training on how to use it. We went there about two weeks ago to see how the baby's doing. As you can see from the picture below, you can't really see much yet. The circle is the baby's sac and the white line inside it is the actual baby. The cool part about the visit was that we got to hear the baby's heart beat. It made it feel so real.

Just for fun I thought you might like to see a few more pictures of my hair when it was braided, and then after it was unbraided…

Sewing with the curls

All of the fake hair that I took out and the 80's style that remained