April 2017 Evan & Natasha Richmond Update
Where should we have a baby?!
With the turn of every year, we welcome a few new girls into our dorm. And while we are so excited to welcome four new munchkins to our existing seventy, these four are not the only new ones joining our family this year. We're expecting a baby in March 2017!
We couldn't be more excited and our girls are just as thrilled. One day the baby started kicking and I reached for one of our youngest girl's hands so she could feel it as well. With wide eyes she looked up at me and asked, "did you eat a baby?" Yesterday one of our girls asked me, "Does the baby have all of it's parts yet?" Meanwhile, my six and seven year olds are trying to understand how to get the baby out of me. Some of the "wise" eight year olds told them they would "cut the baby out".
The last few months have been a whirlwind--getting Christmas presents ready for each child (see our latest blog, slideshow, and thank you message from Christmas at Zimpeto: Pennyless at Christmas), planning a New Years Party for 200+ children at our centre, and running daily programs to keep our seventy girls entertained during school holidays.
We made the difficult descision to give birth in Canada largely due to the lack of safe medical facilities. (And of course, because I don't think our baby's grandparents would have it any other way!) For prenatal check-ups we've been travelling to South Africa every two months to make sure baby is staying healthy and well. After researching up and down the airlines that would let us fly the latest into pregnancy, we finally found one that would let me travel up to 32 weeks. And so, as you can imagine, wanting to soak up every last minute with our incredible little ladies here in Mozambique, we booked our flights right on the 32 week mark.
The other night as I started to pack my bags (Evan laughed, the thought of packing won't cross his mind until the day before we leave!), it started to hit me. Leaving our dear little ones here in Mozambique for a couple of weeks on our yearly visit to Canada is hard enough, the thought of leaving them for a few months brings me to tears. While we are undeniably excited about welcoming our new little one and spending time with friends and family in Canada, as we hug each of our precious ones here the season becomes bitter-sweet.
It's hot. And I mean hot! With temperatures in the 40s, this Canadian girl is definitely feeling the heat this year! As much as I love these sweaty palms and kisses, I'm awfully excited for a true Canadian Winter! Comically, I can no longer wear my white shirts here in Mozambique. The girl's spend most of their time rubbing my belly and hoping the baby will kick. Needless to say, my white shirts are now stained with a large circle of dirt!
Our plan is to spend the two months prior to my due date in Canada and return to Mozambique when our new little one is three months old. We want to have enough time for our baby to get the necessary shots, vaccines, and be within close proximity to the amazing medical services Canada has to offer for the first couple of months before returning to the great unknowns and risks of a developing nation. There is never a dull moment here and always something to keep you in constant prayer. The girls are already counting down the months until our return. They are all to excited to meet our little one and introduce them to life here in Mozambique.
Our parents have graciously offered for us to stay with them while were in Canada. While at home we'll also continue serving the ministry remotely (there is always lots to do in improving the website, center administration emails, and technology trouble shooting for our social welfare files). Before the baby comes, I hope to speak at schools in Ottawa about our girls in Mozambique, speak at churches, and anywhere else that will open their doors. I will also be trying squeeze in as many day to day supply teaching days as possible while I am healthy and fit enough to do so, and complete a course that will further my effectiveness in helping our girls academically upon return to Mozambique. Due to living in Mozambique for the last two and half years, I am not eligible to receive any sort of maternity leave or benefits. We were very fortunate that the school board granted us a leave of absensce over the last two years (alternatively we would have been kicked of the board's supply teacher list). When we return, Evan will be supply teaching. Our hope is to earn some extra cash while at home to cover the additional baby expenses for the coming year that weren't in our original budget and to help cover costs incurred in Canada. Since a lot of our budget for living in Mozambique is consumed by yearly expenses (flights, residency permits & insurance) we are still very grateful for the help of our amazing North American support team.
Many who read our blog perhaps are unaware that neither Evan nor I are paid to work in Mozambique. We left our full time jobs with the school board almost three years ago on a leap of faith and pursuing a calling so deep that words could not explain (read our first blog post in Mozambique). Over the last two and half years in Africa, God's incredible provision has never ceased to amaze and leave us in awe. We have been supported and encouraged by our incredible team of monthly partners that have made every minute here, every wiped tear, and every smile possible. Our Canadian team has covered us in prayer and blessed us with the finances to make it all possible. Without you it wouldn't be possible. Thank you for believing without seeing and answering God's call. Thank for believing in something greater than yourselves. And thank you for believing in a bigger and brighter future for our girls and Mozambique at large.
We've been asked a few times lately whether we will continue to need financial support while we are in Canada? The answer is Yes. While we might not be physically in Mozambique, our girls still will be. We want to make sure that they are well looked after and taken care of in our absensce. Sanitary pads, special snacks for our HIV positive girls, literacy programs and the like, we want to make sure that our girls will not go without while we are away. Your continued sponsporship over the next few months helps us to continue caring for the girls even from a far. My parents never left us with a babysitter when we were children without making sure we first had food for dinner and everything else we needed; our hope and heart is to do the same for our little ones in Mozambique. Also, many of our expenses for our work abroad are annual ones (medical insurance, immigration residency permits, international health insurance, etc.), these expenses remain constant and unfortunately are not reduced simply because we return to Canada for a couple months. These costs to serve in Mozambique will also increase with the addition of our little one.
While in Canada, we also hope to expand and build our prayer and financial support team for our return to Mozambique. We are so grateful for the supporters that we've gained over the past two years. As life's circumstances and seasons change, we've also lost a few along the way. We trust that as God shuts some doors He is bursting other windows wide open. Please join with us in prayer that we would be able to connect with more people who are interested in partnering with what God is doing in Mozambique during our time in Canada.
The girls are already asking us who will celebrate their birthday and give them a little gift while we're away. We smile and say, don't worry, we haven't forgotten, we'll make sure you are celebrated, we'll make sure you'll continue to feel the love of the Father, and enjoy the little blessings of childhood that for so long you were robbed. And we're comforted and amazed to know that our heavenly Father loves you more than we ever could. He dreams even greater dreams for your lives than we ever could.
For more info and regular updates, please refer to our blog evanandnatasha.blogspot.ca