Last week, I posted on Facebook that we would be having some temporary house guests coming to stay with us for about a month. Well folks, they have moved in. Mama Abigail is an 18 year old teen mom, who has suffered from cerebral malaria. (Cerebral malaria is a severe form of malaria that can result in major neuropsychiatric symptoms and even death.) She has two children, Abigail (3 year old girl), and Aliyah ( 2 year old boy) who were both severely malnourished when we first meet them. Initially their grandmother brought them to our home clinic because they were sick, and for about a month now they have been receiving local medical treatment as well as refeeding treatment. The hospital nutritionist has recommended 4 weeks of supervision before they go back home. We need to make sure the babies are getting continued nourishment, as well as physical therapy to help stimulate them, and help them walk. 

In the past, mama Abigail has been suspected of drinking the children’s refeeding mixture because it started running out to fast, and I’ve noticed that she can eat, and eat, and eat and never seems to be full. The first night she was here, we had a few table scrapes set aside that we were going to bring out to the compost. She came into the kitchen, and ate them all. This leads me to believe that she has probably experienced starvation and neglect in her life. Maybe she grew up not knowing where and when she would get her next meal. So when she has food in front of her, she will consume it, until nothing is left. This time together will not just be healing for the children, but hopefully for the mama as well. This truly is like a child development class. Showing her how to change diapers, wipe the babies, bathe the babies, play with and cuddle the babies. We are starting at the beginning, and it has had it’s challenges.

“Suppose one of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and from inside he shall answer and say, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 
"I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.  And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.” Luke 11:5-9

When I read this passage in Luke, I felt like I could relate to the neighbor who did not want to be bothered at midnight. 'I’m in bed, my kids are in bed… please, just keep your children quite until the morning, I can not operate on no sleep.' Wow. What an ugly thought to have… but every night since mama Abigail has been here I’ve had that thought multiple times. It should not be a burden to care for the least of these. But at times, it can certainly feel that way. Jesus goes on to tell us in that chapter that if a father is asked by his son for a fish, he certainly would not give him a snake instead. If we know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more shall our father give of the Holy Spirit to those who ask. So why have I not been asking for more of the Holy Spirit?! I can not live up to the standard Christ calls me to, trying to do it in my own strength. My mind and body have limits, and this pregnant mama needs rest! But, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!

But, you know what? Mama Abigail has never been shown how to comfort a crying baby at night. She is just as tired as I am. So, she just lays there and let’s the baby cry all night. The first night she was at our house, when the youngest baby cried, she just shook him, as he was lying down thinking it would help. Multiple times she had to be shown how to hold her child tenderly in her arms, and sway him back and forth. She has also been shown how to give her children a bedtime, and how to establish a nighttime routine with them. Finally allowing her children to have an afternoon nap (which she was strongly opposed to in the beginning) has also been a great success. At first, Aliyah would just cry so she would pick him up and let him have his way. But he has responded amazingly to his mother holding him, rocking him, and then laying him down. Then mama gets to shower, wash clothes, and have a couple hours of time for herself, which she loves. (But I make sure they are up by 3:30pm so they sleep at night) Last night, at about two or three in the morning, again Aliyah was crying pretty bad. So I had to peel myself out of bed, after listening to him cry for I don’t even know how long, :) and she was taught that at night, sometimes a baby gets a soiled diaper and you need to change it. So we did a diaper change, gave the baby some gripe water, and I had her hold him in her arms on their bed and rock him for 5-10 minutes. He slept pretty good after that. (I’ll go ahead and mention that homes here do not have ceilings on any room, just walls, and doors. The bedroom Charlton and I have is the only room in the house with a ceiling.)

Have you ever realized you were “trying” to operate in your own strength? 

I’ve been allowing Satan to steal my joy! Why? Because I have not been persistently asking my Father, and seeking the Holy Spirit. I’ve been allowing the continual criticism from others, lack of sleep, preparations for the day, and making sure everyone is fed, healthy, and happy to wear me down a bit. Not anymore, I will not give up joy. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We need to be striving for these fruits, we need to be asking for these fruits… and when the tests and trials come, we need to be operating in these fruits. 

With Love,



  1. I just love you guys so much. Natasha your posts are so inspiring and I can't get enough of your pictures. I could just sit and cry at the amazing work God puts before you. Last week Katherine wanted to know if Ava could get on a plane and come see her. We miss you and are praying for you all. God Bless


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