30 November 2007

November fun

It's hard to believe that it's the last day of November. We just downloaded some recent pictures and enjoyed them so much that we thought we'd share a few with you. Below you'll see 2 pictures from the first time Joshua and Patience jumped in a pile of leaves. The next 2 are from our lovely Thanksgiving Day walk through Fairmount Park. To see all our leaf jumping and Thanksgiving pictures, go to our web album.

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28 November 2007

the slide popped

That's Liberian-American for "Mommy, the slide shocked me thanks to this strange dry American air!" Patience isn't always terribly articulate, so it took a minute to translate this one today. In this part of the world, it blows my mind that some people have never experienced static electricity.

27 November 2007

here we go again... Ugandan reflections: part 1

For those of you who have wondered what it's like to go from being a couple to a family of 5, here's a reality check from one mommy's perspective. While some things have been easier than anticipated, other things continue to amaze me. Things like how I managed to learn 2 foreign languages but can't remember why I walked into the next room. Or why I can never get anything crossed off my to do list (assuming I remember it long enough to write it down). Or how I can look at our blog and realize that I haven't posted in 11 days even though I'm certain I just did. Or how I can live with guilt every day over thank you notes and birthday cards that haven't been written but still can't motivate my brain to write them in the evening (as if it takes a Ph.D. to write a message). Or how I can repeatedly forget when Peter asks me to post his Ugandan reflections, even though I simply need to proofread and copy them onto our blog. So for those who missed round 1, I am reposting some of Peter's thoughts from his trip to Africa in May. For those who have already read this post, keep watching for parts 2 and 3 over the next few days. I'll definitely have them up before 2008 (as long as someone reminds me several times).

When we started this blog, the intention was to keep our friends and supporters updated on our life, ministry, and prayer needs. Over time, things have shifted to "all kids all the time" because, let's face it, our kids are more interesting than we are. However, in an effort to swing the pendulum back to a more holistic view of life, I (Peter) would like to share a few things that I've been processing over the past few months.

Back in May, I went to Uganda for the Amahoro Africa conference. Amahoro is a word used across much of the continent and is roughly translated as “peace.” It is similar to the Hebrew concept of “shalom,” which conveys a peace that comes from rightness in the world – or at least a desire for it. This is the beginning of a series of posts sharing my reflections on the conference. Sorry for the length. It was quite a week.

What stands out most in my mind is the almost overwhelming need of the African continent. There are so many things that have conspired to keep it impoverished. Lack of natural resources means lack of economic opportunities which means lack of education which means lack of skills which means lack of quality job opportunities for individuals and would-be business people. Lack of basic health care means disease. Malaria runs rampant. Drought creates tenuous agricultural conditions.

This says nothing about the human element. Colonial rule sapped the limited resources and kept the continent from developing industries to compete in the global market. Government officials take advantage of their positions to help themselves instead of the people. Others wage violent conflict with the established governments because of perceived injustices or simple lust for power. Institutionalized discrimination or persecution as in the Sudan today or Rwanda in 1994 plague the continent. How does a nation find real healing and unity after those events?

Through it all, children suffer the most, forced to be soldiers or sex slaves, losing parents to violence or disease, dealing with disease themselves, and being denied even a basic education. The average life expectancy in many countries is not even 40 years, and the mass of people who cannot read or write dwarfs those who can.

For the church in Africa, other questions surface: What does African theology look like? Are they doing theology for themselves or is the West doing it for them? Where do they turn for a contextualized gospel? How much of what they practice is the non-essential trappings of Western Christianity and actually stymies the growth of legitimate expressions of African faith? Who are the role models for church leaders?

I came away with several personal challenges. I, and many concerned Christians in the US, must be more intentional and informed with my politics and influence as a voter. What does it mean to work for justice for Africa in the US? What business practices do I allow to go unchallenged or even support which do not permit a level playing field? (Check out this August 9 post about Pfizer’s activities in Nigeria.) What am I willing to give up or sacrifice in order to promote the economic health and independence of Africans? Who speaks for me as a Christian if I do not? What can I learn from Africa that will help me embrace and be reconciled to “others” in my own context? As a member of the Body of Christ, what can I do to alleviate the suffering and support the ministry of my fellow members, even though they are thousands of miles away? (In case you haven’t heard, half the world lives on less than $2 US per day, and nearly 20%- over 1 billion people- subsist on less than $1 US per day. Guess where a lot of those people live?) While these thoughts could easily become depressing and overwhelming, I believe they can also motivate me and others to action.

Stay tuned for some stories about some of the people I met and things I experienced in Uganda.

16 November 2007

hot in the mouth

Yesterday when we picked Joshua up from school he kept saying things about it being hot in his mouth. In the chaos of hauling 3 kids off the playground during the afternoon exodus, I was very confused. I wasn't sure if he meant hot as in spicy or hot as in a burning sensation. Then I realized that he was seeing his breath for the first time in his life, and it looked like steam or smoke! Just another one of those moments when we realize how drastically our kids' lives have changed. It's going to be a very interesting winter.

12 November 2007


Joshua and Patience are fascinated with the leaves turning colors, and I've narrowly escaped numerous car accidents as I slam on my brakes to look at amazing trees. We have a great park up the road from us that has some very colorful trees, but unfortunately the weather hasn't cooperated with our schedule to allow us to wander the park. Tonight, however, we were determined to go before darkness fell. We went in an entrance 5 blocks from our house that we've never tried before. The bad news is that the trees in that section of the park were not the dazzling maples we've been seeing, and most of the trees had already dropped their brown leaves. On the up side, that end of the park is incredibly cool with an old train track, a deserted stone house, a great creek, and an old bridge. We felt like we were far out in the country, yet we were only 5 blocks from the place where someone stole Peter's side view mirror 2 weeks ago! Because of the heavy cloud cover, darkness fell entirely too quickly, but we'll definitely be back to explore some more as soon as we can. We brought home some huge leaves and put them in a glass bowl on the table so we could admire their beauty and remember our exciting discovery.

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10 November 2007

it's official

On Thursday, Joshua, Patience, and Garty were readopted and now legally bear the name Bowersox. It was a simple court proceeding, but the older two were very excited. Mommy was even a bit emotional as the judge was asking if I understood the implication that henceforth it would be as if they were born to me. After our hearing, we celebrated by going out to breakfast for the first time. We chose Friendly's because it was convenient and we had a coupon, and we're so glad we did. They gave the kids big balloons, and everyone felt very celebratory. Joshua kept asking if his teacher would call him "Joshua David Bowersox," and I said probably not unless he told her it was his new name. Evidently when we dropped him off, he marched in to class and announced to everyone that he had a new name. The kids were quite confused about how that could happen, so they discussed it. There's nothing like showing up at school late and completely disrupting everything the teacher is trying to accomplish. Here are a few pictures from the excitement, including a picture with the judge who coincidentally is a friend of my dad's (proving that I will always and forever be "Dr. Dunbar's daughter" no matter what my last name is).

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06 November 2007

seriously obsessed

Those who know me (Becky) well know that few things in the world excite me as much as food and travel (which is significantly connected to food). After deciding that I wouldn't sell cookies this Christmas for 3 little reasons, I was so sad that Peter and I decided I should definitely do it. Because today marks 7 weeks until the big day, I decided it was time to put my list together and email it to local friends, family, and former customers. By the time I went through my recipes and finished my list, I had added cakes, breads, cheesecakes, and cupcakes to the cookie options. By the time I had written the necessary descriptions for the items, my sweet tooth was going crazy. By the time I emailed the list out, I was nearly giddy with excitement about getting started with my baking. I know I'm nuts, but I posted my holiday baking list for the few of you who enjoy reading dessert descriptions as much as I do. (I know I'm not the only one who reads menus online just for fun!)

malaria strikes a friend

Yesterday Peter was chatting online with a guy he met at the Amahoro conference in Uganda. He told Peter that he was in his second day of malaria. Peter assured him that we have a great network of prayer warriors (that's you!), so could you take a minute to pray for a quick recovery for Nyanga Grace? He leads a training and church planting ministry in Uganda. Here's a pre-malaria picture he sent.

02 November 2007

you are invited

Today I've been sending out Evites for our upcoming Thanksgiving Open House to our family, friends, and supporters who live in a reasonable driving distance from our place. However, we realized that some of our most faithful supporters over the past year have been blog readers for whom we don't have email addresses. It's also entirely possible that we missed some emails we should have sent. So if you have blessed our lives and ministry this year as you have prayed, provided financial support, offered much needed words of encouragement, showered our kids with gifts, or helped us in any other way (which is basically all of you), you are invited! Because we appreciate you and would love to catch up on your life, we hope you can join us for some delicious desserts and great conversation at our Thanksgiving Open House. It's a small thank you for being a big part of our lives. In order to keep the group small enough to have plenty of time to visit with each of you, we have 3 different times you can choose. Please join us Friday, November 16th at 7pm, Saturday, November 17th at 7pm, or Sunday, November 18 at 3pm. If you're interested in joining us, please leave a comment or send us an email so we can send you an Evite. If you can't make it, please know that we appreciate you so much even though we're terrible at sending thank you notes to let you know.

01 November 2007

Halloween recap

Our kids' first Halloween was memorable, but not in entirely good ways. Tuesday evening around 11pm I (Becky) checked in on Garty because he seemed to be starting a cold. He was burning up and wheezing "like a 90 year old asthmatic" (in Peter's words). We kept him with us all night so we could keep his fever under control and avoid running upstairs when his wheezing woke him. I got very, very little sleep. Peter got a few hours more. By morning it was all we could do to get Joshua dressed and out the door with his costume. Garty was getting worse, and the doctor had an early appointment available. When the doctor walked in the exam room, she immediately turned around and led us to a different room for a nebulizer treatment without even doing an exam. Garty fell asleep with the mask on because he was so beat. It turns out that he has a severe case of croup. 2 breathing treatments, 1.5 hours, and 1 dose of steroids later we headed home with instructions to keep Garty calm, give him steroids for 3 days, and go straight to the ER if he got worse again. Later in the day we went to Joshua's school for the Halloween parade (with permission from the doctor). Garty perked up a bit being out in the fresh air and seeing lots of people. He was having so much fun on the slide that we finally had to hold him because his wheezing was getting out of control. With all the chaos, we would have happily canceled Halloween, but Joshua and Patience had been practicing saying "trick or treat" all week. I took them to a few houses after dinner while Peter stayed with Garty. Sleep was better last night, although we were still up quite a bit. Today he was almost back to normal. We're praying that neither of the other two come down with it. So tonight I'm hoping for a good night's sleep. Unfortunately Peter just left town for 3 days, which generally that means restless nights for me. So, there's my whiney post for the week. Here are a few pictures from the bit of Halloween fun we were able to squeeze in.
Joshua as the Incredible Hulk & Patience as a fairy princess

Garty as a stocky brown baby with croup