A Glimpse of Family Life on the Fund-Raising Trail
By Tiffany Gaines
Wow! What a weekend! Fundraising is NOT EASY! After loading all 200 tons of our stuff into the car for a 3 day trip with a 10 year old, 1 year old and 6 month old we had to wait 45 minutes for the thick layer of ice to melt off of the car before leaving our driveway. Five minutes down the road we smell something terrible and realize Josiah has thrown up all over himself and the carseat. We are off to a great start.
We pulled over in the below freezing weather on the side of the interstate and stripped him down, cleaned him up, changed his clothes, and cleaned out his carseat. For those of you that enjoy a good five senses approach our entire van smelled like a sippy cup that had been found with a clump of milk in it. Nice. After briefly debating turning back and staying home with Josiah I determined that he had probably gotten hold of an old cup of milk (mom of the year award) and we would survive. The worst was over. As usual, I was oh so wrong.
After a LOOOOONG car trip we made it to Hattiesburg, MS. We met our friends Cy and Stephanie Stafford for dinner. We were also blessed to meet and eat with Granny, (Stephanie’s mother) Katelyn Stafford, and her babies Aiden (3) and Hadleigh (20 months). After great fellowship and food we retired to the hotel for the night. (Courtesy of the Kensington Woods Church of Christ).
I was not feeling well at all upon arrival to the hotel but assumed it was fatigue mixed with fried foods (I’ve been on a “real foods” kick for a month now…). Again, I was amiss in my diagnosis. I managed to bathe and dress the boys for bed and feed Levi while Daniel rocked Josiah to sleep before the real horror hit. I was in and out of the bathroom all night, along with holding and feeding Levi. Eventually I met Daniel on one of my trips. He thought it would be a good idea for both of us to be sick at the same time. Without too much detail, by the morning we were unable to use the tub because it had gotten so bad between us. We ended up laying lifeless in the bed as our 10 year old picked up the slack and took care of the boys. I vaguely remember waking upon occasion and seeing Abby reading to Josiah and hearing Josiah opening and closing the refrigerator over and over. Soon, we had to force ourselves up as we had a lunch appointment with the elders and we didn’t want to have driven so far just to miss it.
Since the tub was indisposed until housekeeping arrived (we did the best we could but I needed a good coat of disinfectant before entering the vicinity again…) I pulled my hair into a ponytail, threw on some clothes and dragged my children to the car. The ladies at KWCoC were kind enough to fix lunch for us and we visited with them for awhile. We weren’t able to eat much but felt very honored that they were all so kind. Following lunch Daniel met with the elders and Stephanie, Granny, myself, and my kids drove over to Katelynn’s house for a place to visit and let the kiddos run. Katelynn is so sweet and hospitable I secretly want to take her to TZ with us. We got along so well and she is a great mother and wife. Our kids played together all afternoon and I chatted with she and Stephanie. It was a nice, relaxed afternoon after such a horrible night. Cy and Daniel arrived later and we left for supper.
We ate supper at Newk’s. I was feeling much better but I could tell Daniel was still feeling a little rough. I guess after 9 months of hyperemesis gravidarium a little stomach virus can’t hold me down too long. When we got back to the hotel it was around 8:30pm. I told Daniel to go ahead and get some sleep and I would put the boys in bed. He jumped at the chance and was asleep in .2 seconds from when his head hit the pillow. After a LONG 2 hours of alternating crying babies I hit the hay myself. (To be quite honest
I was a little regretful of my kindness about an hour into the cryfest. Oh well. Do I still get points for my attempt at being giving?!)
After a restless night, (do mommy’s ever actually have a restful night?)we were up bright and early for 9:00am worship. Daniel gave his missions presentation during Bible class. (If your congregation hasn’t heard it I HIGHLY recommend it!!) He preached about Crazy Harry for the worship hour. (a.k.a. The Gerasene man possessed with Legion in Mark 5) This also is a great lesson by an outstanding preacher. I struggled through half of the sermon with the boys until I carried one and drug the other out. We had lunch at a locally owned restaurant called The Movie Star. It was a country buffet and delicious. We had a good visit with many church members ending, ofcourse, with a screaming baby and sleepy toddler. We rushed back to the hotel for a nap. Josiah was asleep in minutes while Levi screamed for 2 hours. No nap for us. I chugged down some coffee before evening worship and steeled myself to make it through service. Cy had a wonderful presentation on the work in TZ. It made me happy and proud to be a future part of the work. I am thankful that if I have to leave my family for 3 years it will be to serve our God in such a great capacity! The good folks in Hattiesburg were so kind and supportive. I am very thankful to have met them.
With a bit of renewed vigor we were off to Chili’s for more food and fellowship. (I’m pretty sure I’ve gained 5 pounds this weekend!) I held Levi and fed him while we ate. After an hour of more TZ questions for Cy and Stephanie we all parted ways. I was secretly very sad to tell Katelynn bye. Hopefully we will cross paths again… when I talk her into moving to Tanzania. J It’s always nice to find a good Christian friend. We got back to the hotel and realized that we had left Levi’s bottle at Chili’s. We called and they had no recollection of a bottle. This wouldn’t be an issue except that he has a special nipple for his cleft and although his lip is now fixed, he’s never used a regular nipple. The only place to get them is a children’s hospital or online for $15 so we were in a bind. Daniel went to Walmart and bought a couple of different regular nipples and I prayed he would take them. I lived in fear all night worrying that he would awaken, starving, screaming, and angry that the nipple wasn’t working “right.” When he did wake up hungry I held the bottle in his mouth for over an hour, from 4 to 5, and he only managed to drink between 2 and 3 oz of an 8 oz bottle. I mentally prepared for a long trip home.
He fell asleep after working so hard to eat. We met Cy for breakfast at the Cracker Barrel. I lifted Josiah out of his carseat and immediately knew something was up. I was right. It WAS up. Up his back and neck. On the short drive to the restaurant he had managed to poop everywhere. Luckily I had one outfit left. I scrubbed the previously puked on carseat the best I could, grabbed his clean clothes and diaper and made my way to the bathroom. I cleaned him up and we had a very pleasant meal with CY. Cy and Stephanie Stafford are amazing people. They have left American life behind for 15 years (and counting) to take the gospel to East Africa. They love God and souls of all kinds and have sacrificed seeing their grandbabies grow up to benefit the kingdom. They are funloving and hardworking Christians. I am so thankful they will be there to hold my hand through this journey.
Two hours into our trip Levi was still refusing to suck from his new bottle and screaming like a banshee. I exaggerate none. It was a total scream fest to Tuscaloosa where we rolled into the gas station on fumes. Our minivan was calculating 3 miles to empty as we coasted in, our nerves on pins and needles
from the screaming baby and possibility of running out of gas. We fueled up and decided to go for lunch. I attempted feeding Levi some more while physically holding his lips together around the bottle nipple to create better suction. He took 2 more ounces before passing out again. So much work!!
We took a break and drove to the Paul Bear Bryant museum in Tuscaloosa while we were nearby. Abby was excited. We love Alabama football! J Roll tide! Upon leaving we found a parking ticket on our windshield that is void to visitors after going through a long mail in form process. Oh well. Just one more thing. No worries at this point! We drove to Burger King for coffee, they ofcourse had none so I waited as they made some, took my 5 creamers and splenda (don’t judge) and headed for the road again. Daniel received multiple phone calls about the work amidst near constant crying until both babies fell asleep. Bliss. I would have wet my pants before I stopped that minivan and woke them up. They slept all the way to Hartselle.
Hartselle is special because my best friend lives there. She is the friend that you can call up after not talking for a year and say, “I need you.” And she says, “come on!” She fed us a great home cooked meal and allowed our kids to run wild, fed my Levi the rest of his bottle (I was sooooo glad!!), and made me chocolate pie!! Those 2 hours were a great near end to a stressful drive.
I popped in Nemo for the last 3 hours of the drive and thankfully Levi, Josiah, and Abby fell asleep for the remainder of the trip. I know Daniel was exhausted from driving the entire time. I was pretty tired myself. We were looking forward to our bed and a good night of sleep. We pulled in the driveway, carried the kids in, and felt successful for about 10 seconds. Well, at least crying means they are alive and well, and we are so thankful for that!
During this trip we definitely had to “ride loose in the saddle” to survive. We took the challenges in stride knowing that a greater good was coming from our misadventures in parenting. We met so many wonderful Christians this weekend who desire to further the work in the Lord’s kingdom. We saw people, young and old, who love one another and seek to save souls. I am ever so grateful to Cy and Stephanie Stafford for “hosting” us even when their actual home is in Africa. They saw us through each and every meal and sought fellowship with us as often as possible. The elders at KWCoC and members were eager to learn about us and support us in our work. They welcomed us with open arms and were excited to add new members to the mission team in Arusha. I learned so many things I needed to know about our future work and am nervous but even more excited to begin our adventure.
God is always good and is always at work. We just need to open our eyes to the wider spectrum and see outside of our “small disasters.” Although this weekend was tough physically, it was filling spiritually. Many ask how I will manage a 10 year old homeschooling and 2 small boys in Africa. I will manage just as I did this weekend and everyday. I will survive the small things and push on for the good things God has planned for us. If I wait for the “perfect time” to go, I’ll never go. There is NO perfect timing. We, as Christians, must use everyday as the “perfect day” and strive to do as much as we can with each day. Waiting for the perfect day just means we will never get around to evangelism because as you can well see…perfect days don’t occur. But, even on the least perfect of days God’s glory will shine through just as it did with us this weekend.
What are YOU waiting for? Evangelize! Not ready to move to Africa? We are. Feel free to help us! We will take all the help we can get. As you can see, we definitely need it! To God be the glory!