We will continue...........

So, our last few posts have been filled with a lot of updating....a lot of newsy things, as we have been in the midst of transitioning back to living Stateside. There's been a lot of great movement in our plans for settling. We are grateful that God is continuing to lead our family! 

Many of you may be asking the question "what now for the Dellesky family?" 

While we will be making our home here in the US, we will be continuing to support our ministry, MamaLove in Tanzania. Our calling to help mothers and babies has not changed. The way it works itself out in these next few years, will look different than it has in the past, but God is guiding the shape of this new season. We will continue to support MamaLove and the wonderful women who are serving in it.

We believe God created this ministry and will continue to grow it just as He sees fit. We have been overwhelmed at the privilege it has been to be on the ground in Tanzania to start this ministry. And we are thankful that God is continuing our partnership with MamaLove and have the honor to watch it grow!

We'd like to share an article that was written by doTERRA essential oils company, who donated monetarily to the start of the ministry. They are an amazing company and we've been able to use their amazing oils to care for the mothers and babies we serve. Thousands of dollars in oils were donated to our efforts and we are so grateful. MamaLove will continue to enjoy these oils for the care they give. I will be making sure of that!! Here's the link:

http://www.doterra.com/en/ourCaring/healingHands/projects/otherProjects/mamaLove

February Follow Up Letter

If you're wondering what it is like to transition back to your home culture, let me be the first to say, it is not easy. Even though we have been back for over 6 months, we still find things that catch us off guard. New experiences continue to happen and we adjust; figuring out finances and employment and new routines that will eventually feel normal.

When we came home, we were not prepared to make a life in the States indefinitely, so we've had to catch up real fast on what we needed to make our lives sustainable. It's been "restarting in America 101." When we left almost 4 years ago, we gave up everything; my husband's seniority in his teaching career, our home, our cars, our financial future, and our children's sense of American education. There are days when we ask ourselves, "Was it worth it?". I can't say I can give a yes or no answer to that. Although I would like to feel good about every decision we have made, I'm not sure. I know that we followed God's leading the best we knew how and I am absolutely sure that the efforts we invested in in both countries where we served will continue to have lasting effects and grow into exactly what God has intended. In the end, the thing I've realized is that I'm not as important as I once thought. Our Father gave us the privilege to be a part of what HE was creating. And that call has not changed just because we are on the other side of the globe. But, to be completely honest, the cost we feel now has been enormous. Almost losing my life was not what I had pictured when God invited us to join the fight for his women and babies. But, do I regret it? Not for a moment. 

Though we have great needs right now, we are also experiencing the changing power of trials and living in the suffering of the unknown. We've realized that some of our closest moments to God, some of our most character molding seasons are these ones when we feel the most desperate, the most alone, the most in need. We have been forced to make decisions about how we will handle these times. And I have learned, as one who has suffered much in the past year, that even when I have lost all hope, God has not. Learning to walk through darkness has also brought me the most light.

It might not be the lessons I would choose for myself or my family, but they are the stuff that can take dirt and make gold.

So, if you wonder if we feel relieved that we are here, the answer is yes. But are we feeling stable? Not by a long shot. And, I'm not sure that's exactly what God's goals are for us. Sure, every area of our lives as a family and as individuals need external stability, and we pray that you, as our supporters would work together to help us see that to fruition.....but we are learning that true stability can only come from choosing to let ourselves be in the eye of the storm, which is the actual presence and promises of our Father. That we are sure of. 

Here is the follow up letter to last month's update. 

May you and yours know the love that not even death can steal. 

  

Dear Supporters,

Let us begin by expressing our gratitude for each of you who have reached out to us following our first update a few weeks ago. Thank you for showing your support and care. This transition has involved many different aspects of re-establishing a life here.

This letter is to give you more information about how we are working out our transition period.

Employment:

One of our first priorities is to secure a full time job for Teddy. Since being away, his teaching license has lapsed so he is working online classes to reinstate his teaching license

Jamie has been able to begin working part time with a local midwife, filling in for prenatal/postpartum check ups and doing admin work. This has been a real answer to prayers as she is unable to hold a full time job right now with her health being so unpredictable.

 Counseling:

 We are engaged in counseling as we process all that has happened and how to transition well.

Health:

Jamie is still seeing different doctors in order to find better health. Teddy has started physical therapy for his back

Schooling:         

The kids are very engaged in Bexley schools and this has proven to be a grounding force for them

Here are some ways you can support us in the next 6 months:

Financial Needs:

+$3000 for our Missionary Debriefing program in CO in March

+Funds to purchase another vehicle so we both can work

+Funds for our family to have a time of respite. It has been strongly recommended by our leaders that we plan a vacation for our family. We do need a rest from the daily stresses of this transition.

+Funds for medical bills – Jamie is still searching for answers to improve her health through working with various doctors to address the ongoing health issues.

 Prayers:

For Jamie’s journey to find health

For the finances to continue in the next 6 months of our transition

For continued healing for our family

For God’s guidance in making our home here in the States and our continued journey to find what our vocations will look like here.

 We are thankful for your support and your love.

Blessings,

The Dellesky Family

  

BitterSweet Update

Dear Friends, 

As we enter into a new year we have spent the past couple of months thinking and praying about our work in Tanzania, the life of our family, and our future. After seeking a lot of input from friends and pastors, we have arrived at the conclusion that God has asked us to not go back to Tanzania.

Since we last updated you, Jamie has undergone a series of medical tests that have revealed more of what is going on with her health. Jamie has been diagnosed with a form of Colitis. That is one of many Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. The good news is it is treatable, but not curable. The type of Colitis she has also carries a low risk of developing colon cancer. Jamie has started a course of treatment and is still awaiting one more biopsy to come back. The issue that the doctors are still concerned with is her continuing rapid weight loss. Please continue to pray for her as she has a much longer road to wellness than we expected.  

 In addition to this most immediate health concern, we have grown in our awareness these past few months allowing us to see how much the past 4 years has taken its toll. We simply need to focus right now on our health and the health of our family.  

 We’ve been working with a missionary sending agency, Amoveo Send, to help us unpack what this all means for our lives and we have agreed to do our best to follow their lead (along with some other pastoral advisors).

 It has been strongly recommended for us to continue our home assignment as planned through July 2016. The goal of this home assignment was to take a furlough/sabbatical to re-enter, rest, renew, and re-launch addressing our emotional, physical, spiritual and ministry health and wellbeing. Just as there is a great deal of preparation involved in being “sent” to the developing world, there is also a period of transition for returning from the field. For this reason, we will still need to maintain our support team, including financial support, through July 31st. We’ll be following up with you in a couple of weeks with a plan for how these next 6 months will go and we’ll also include a budget for our re-entry expenses, including a week-long missionary family debriefing retreat with Mission Training International in Colorado in the month of March.

We ask that you would prayerfully consider continuing your financial support through July 2016 to help us finish resettling.

 In our time with the DAR Vineyard, we are proud to say that we helped create and sustain a vibrant ministry to pregnant women and their families, that will continue to grow in the coming years. Even though we will not be living in Tanzania, we plan to continue to partner with MamaLove to further all that God wants to do.

 We want to share with you a letter from our Lead Pastors, Jeff and Adrienne Cannell. As we close, we want to thank you for your faithful partnership. Please feel free to contact us any time.

           The Dellesky Family


Dear Friends,

Thank-you for faithfully praying and financially supporting the Dellesky's ministry over the past several years. I was honored to be able to observe firsthand the ministry to the most impoverished mothers and children in Tanzania.

Through education, medical care, prayer, and many cups of tea, the Dellesky family has persevered through extraordinary hardships to demonstrate the love of Christ to the most marginalized in Tanzania.

As all of you are aware, Jamie has suffered extraordinary physical illness and suffering while serving in this capacity. Despite this major obstacle she was able to serve great numbers of women. Prayerfully following strong medical advice and wise counsel, the Dellesky family has decided to leave Tanzania and move back to the Ohio.

Every ministry effort God's people engage in is temporal. Ministries and churches serve for a season, be it months, years or decades, but ministries are not eternal, the Kingdom of God is Eternal. My goal as a pastor is to plant churches throughout my career, as well as inspire and cheer others towards following Jesus in new efforts.

Jamie and Teddy have truly served as an inspirational and encouraging presence towards many others, taking great risks to engage suffering with the Love of Christ.

It is important for all of us to finish well in our commitment to God's work through the Dellesky family. I urge you to continue supporting the re-initiation of their life in Ohio. Let us all together honor Christ by finishing well alongside the Delleskys after they return from a season of very fruitful ministry. Though saddened by the painful afflictions that they have endured, I am truly excited to once again serve alongside them as they see what good things God has set forth for them in Ohio.

Please join us in welcoming them back and supporting the transition.

God Bless You,

Jeff and Adrienne Cannell

Lead Pastors

Central Vineyard Church

Jeff Cannell

jcannell@mac.com

October Update

Hello Friends,

We hope this update finds you well. It’s hard to believe it’s almost November! We’ve now been back in the States for almost 4 months. It’s been a bit difficult to know how to give adequate updates over the last few months. As we mentioned before, we were advised to really rest and recover for the first few months back home in the States. We realized we really had to take that advice seriously.

As many of you know, Jamie contracted Typhoid and Amoebic Dysentery in June. We are eternally grateful for all who prayed and loved us during that time. We remained a bit quiet about all that happened, as we have had to walk through a process of debriefing and counseling to work through the emotional and physical trauma this has been. The medical crisis almost cost Jamie her life. There may be many of you who weren’t aware how critical it was, being on the other side of the world, but now we wanted to be very open about the seriousness of all that happened.

Words can’t express accurately just how present God was and is with our family during this time. Jamie has faced a slow road to recovery since coming back in June.  She is under the care of a doctor, who is doing ongoing tests in hopes to find a path to continue healing. She was told it can take up to a year to make a full recovery.

Some Questions You May Have:

What is a furlough and why is it needed?  

A furlough is a time for a missionary family to take some time to rest and process their time on the field. In many cases, missionaries face very hard and stressful lives working in another country. Some even face emotional and physical traumatic events that need to be processed and given time to heal. It is recommended that after a few years of service overseas, a family take this type of sabbatical. At the same time, we are and will be praying and working on what our future work will look like as well as working to move that forward.

Do you still need financial support while on furlough?

Yes! A family on furlough is still doing a part of the “job” of ministry, which is to rest and recover so that they can be ready to continue the work God is guiding them in. During this time, our family will be engaging in stress debriefings, Marriage and family counseling, and spiritual direction counseling. We do still rely on your faithful support during this time.

We have put together a compilation of the last 6 months of our life and ministry in Tanzania and our re-entry back. It includes MamaLove, Jamie’s teaching trip to a birth clinic in Madagascar, serving in the Salasala quarry, Jamie’s struggle to make it through the infections, good-byes, coming home, hellos and our reestablishing life right now.

We hope it gives you a glimpse into the beauty of all that God has done so far. We hope it speaks what we just can’t adequately describe. There is nothing our God cannot do and we are learning that deeply in our life and work.   

As always, if those of you supporting us have any questions or want to get together to talk more, please contact us. 

Dellesky Update September 2015

Dear Friends,

We have been in the States for over 2 months now. It has been a lot of work with our transition, but we are finally settled in a rental in Bexley, Ohio. The boys started school in August and we have been so pleasantly surprised how they have transitioned. The school system is really good, so that helps.

The last that most of you had heard from us, we were in a bit of a health crisis while we were leaving Tanzania for our year- long furlough. So much has happened that I wouldn’t be able to fill these pages in a concise manner to share it, but the gist of it is this; Jamie came down with typhoid and amebic dysentery. It’s been a very trying time for our family as Jamie’s life really hung in the balance.

As of now, Jamie’s health has been deteriorating slowly. She has not regained health since her return, in fact she has gotten worse.  We are seeing a Dr. that is now testing her for parasitic infections and will hopefully be able to start her on a regimen that can begin to help her recover. Most likely, before that treatment can happen, she will need to have IV Nutritional Therapy in order to strengthen her weak body. The Dr. estimates at least 4 months to get to a better place, but she should be seeing improvements with the first month. We pray!

We are praying for God’s wisdom and guidance in all of this.

Please join us in prayer as we continue down this road of finding healing.

Please keep our whole family in your prayers. For those of you who have asked how you can help, here are some practical ways: making a meal for our family  (you can contact Becky Slagle @ 614.404.6184),  picking up groceries, gift cards to grocery stores, coming over to pray and say hi. J   Please feel free to reach out to us anytime.

Thank you for your faithful financial support. We are relying on your faithfulness as we adjust to all of this and make our way back to health.

We will keep you up to date as we know more.

We are confident that God is with us, that He has not left us and in fact, His love is more evident than ever through this very hard time of trial.

May you feel His love with you and your families. 

Love, The Dellesky Clan

It's About Time.....

I think this post needs to start with an apology.

Yep, It's been 6 months since we have given any inkling that we are still alive here. We are. 

It's taken a long time to get to the place where I felt inspired to write.  

But, it's about time we post some news, updating you on our lives. The past 6 months have been filled with some of the most joyful victories. We were able to minister to many women in MamaLove as well as be a part of a rescue mission for a beautiful mother and her unborn child. Our boys are excelling at school and sports and feel this is home. 

 I have seen God move in miraculous ways.

Multiple physical healings, massive obstacles instantly moved from the path we walk on, feeding hungry children on a Saturday, and playing with 27 beautiful preschoolers in a one room schoolhouse in Salasala. I watched the hand of God keep me safe in a few car accidents that could've gone terribly wrong, and last but not least, the growth of our home church, Dar Vineyard, as we strive to keep following Jesus, standing in the gap against injustice and pouring out His abundant mercy to those in need. 

In all these things, I stand utterly amazed to see God. What an absolute honor it is to have a front row seat at the work of God for his people. I am truly humbled.

But these past 6 months have also held some of the hardest moments of my life. Countless sicknesses , car accidents where I am forced to flee from those chasing me down afterwards, power outages and broken generators, having no water for days on end, financial hardship, family stress, friends robbed at gunpoint, and let's not forget my children's unidentifiable rashes, fevers, stomach pains and sprains.

Many times, my body, mind and soul are worn thin. 

Now, before I go on,  let me stop here and  preface the rest of this writing.

It is hard to tell the things that are hard.

For me, I often feel like there's some unspoken rule that we have to abide by as missionaries, cross-cultural workers, global citizens {whatever name is popular now}. It seems like if we tell the hardships, if we really tell the world just how hard this really is, if we let our pain pour out of hearts through the vast online world, that we will be letting someone, somewhere down. 

Follow me here. 

As people who relocate to far off places to be "full-time" Christians and serve God's people through acts of love and kindness and mercy, there is a persona you {unknowingly or maybe knowingly} take on. People say  to you "I could never do what you do"  or "How do you do what you do?" "Keep Saving the World!" {insert ego inflation, please}

But, why am I given a place like that on the scale of all the  "good people" or even more perplexing "a good christian". Sigh.

If we were honest, real honest about the stress we face, day in and day out, about how sometimes, you just want to pack up and leave because you may never make sense of the suffering you see, that the work requires all of you and somedays there is just not a lot left over for the ones you love. If I told you that the intensity of continuous stress causes physical aches and pains as well as sicknesses. Or that, according to research,  1 in 2 people who come to DAR as missionaries develop an identifiable mental disorder {including anxiety & depression} in their first year. What would you say? 

Which one am I? Am I the 1 or the 2? I don't know. If I told you about the accidents we witness, the nursing mother's who have no food, the pregnant mother whose husband just beat her....I could go on... If I told you.....

But I won't, because my point is that many of us, cross-cultural workers, keep those things out of the public eye. And keep on the happy face of being a missionary. Here we are, having so much fun, "saving the world".  I will be the first to admit I do. And I am willing bet there are many other people who do.

Well,  today, I am questioning why? 

Maybe we feel we will let people down if we expose the intimate reality of hardships that come with this life and work.  We may want to keep our persona of being the "strong and courageous" servant of the Lord, in tact. {I mean, who wouldn't want accolades for having "great faith"?  Or maybe we feel like that's what is expected of "missionaries". 

Maybe we are scared of sharing our hardships because they are too heavy and hard to wade through. And we know that nobody but us can carry that part of the cross we've been given.

Do we feel like we are "complaining" and a good missionary shouldn't complain? {which is huge load of crap} I should know, been there, done that....... 

And maybe there's some of us who just simply don't want to share hard things because we can't find the words to convey it. 

But, I think God is calling me out. Calling bullshit on my insecurities of communication with those who love and support us. I think He is teaching me, day by day, to be authentic, even if it means people will think less of you, think that you are "complaining" , even if I am betraying my desire to only live in all that is good and deny the rest. 

The hard truth is that the absolute "fill your whole body" joy of following Jesus exists right along side the suffering that comes with it. I've realized we rarely have one without the other. It's a part of living life this way, as a nomadic followers of Christ. We have been called to a life where suffering for the sake of the Gospel is a given. { I am pretty sure it says that somewhere in the Bible} 

And maybe I haven't wanted to admit that.

But, lately, God is teaching me that He won't let me  hide that part away from the world.

{that may or may not be called denial} sigh. 

So, it's about time I shared some of this...... Life is hard.  {and}  God is good.

 I may never be able to convey just how hard it is, but at least I can try. Missionary life is HARD. Period. It is  a fun, exciting, adventurous, breathtaking, faith- making, joy- producing REFINING FIRE.  AND it is hard.{even as I write this, we have no water coming to our house and the electricity just blew, and I am still recovering from Typhoid} 

It's a struggle that many times you do not feel like you win. Like that movie you just watched that had no climax nor a  happy ending. You keep moving forward, get knocked down, stand back up, make some strides, get knocked down, stand back up.......on and on and on. 

Here's the light at the end of the tunnel  {I assume you were all wondering when I was going to get to that}

I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. My dreams and hopes of participating in God's kingdom here on earth are rooted here. Our hearts are woven into the story of redemption that God is creating here. We don't desire anything else. 

But missionaries are no different than every other human on this planet. We don't have some super strength that allows us to lift cars with our bare hands or leap buildings in a single bound. We can't keep being knocked down without getting bruised and battered. We don't have some secret serum that keeps our hearts from breaking when the suffering around us seems too much. If we want to keep going, we MUST learn to rest and heal. Otherwise, the scar tissue that forms from each wound and the bones that don't quite heal from each tiny stress fracture will begin to add up.  Eventually a bunch of little scars and tiny fractures add up and cause the body to breakdown. 

After much prayer and counsel, we are returning to the US in a June for 12 months in order to strengthen our support system back home. We need to raise more money in order to thrive over here. We are going to catch our breath a bit and finally have some family rest time. It's been a LONG 4 years. We know Jesus is inviting us to invest our lives here in Tanzania longer and in order to do that, we have to reorganize our support foundations. We have heard God's voice clearly on that.

But, most of all, we hear him beckoning us to REST. 

Missionaries NEED rest. We are not heroes, but rather people who continue to say "yes", that is our only super power, our only courageous act. When we just say {albeit at times it's a whisper} "YES, I will continue on, Lord". Sometimes your "yes" is all you have to keep you going. 

and then all of God's people say "AMEN".

I'm glad you took the time to read this very lengthy blog post. Congratulations for getting through it! 

It's about time it ended! 

Be back soon {not 6 months from now, I promise}

 

 

Catching Tears

Yesterday, I held a mama in my arms for 45 minutes while she deeply grieved the loss of her newborn baby.

This is a mama we had the privilege of serving and loving during her pregnancy. She is beautiful, inside and out.

This was her first baby. She lost him in the hospital after a long time of laboring and finally an emergency c-section.  Her baby was full term and healthy. Complications during labor and birth led to her son passing away within hours of arriving here.

The possibility that this complication may have been prevented runs through my mind, over and over as I catch her tears on my arm. What if something could’ve been different?  I cried out to God for my sister.

I have been well acquainted with grief in my short life, but I really cannot imagine the pain she feels right now, as I have never lost a child.  But I know so many women who have.  I have heard it said you never quite get over that deep of a loss.  

I could feel pieces of my heart breaking off as I held her, as I stroked her cheek & kissed her forehead, so deeply wishing my love could alleviate her pain. Pain that is so deep she could not even speak words.

But she could cry.

And I could hold her.

And as I held her, I prayed fervently that my arms would be His, that my words, as little as they were, would be His, that my love, however imperfect, would be His. 

In those moments, I felt the heart of God pouring out of me. I felt His divine love for her racing through my arms and my kisses.

There are no easy solutions, as I so often am looking for in this life, just being with her, in her pain, in her sorrow, in her dark valley was what I could offer.

As I stilled my heart to be present with her, God gently reminded me that He knows the deep, searing pain of losing a child. That He feels her pain in ways I can’t even comprehend.

That He is the one that promises He will never leave her side, that NOTHING we go through in this life can take away His love.

Sometimes, I have to admit, it seems like that might not be true, when we are in the midst of our pain, our trials, our suffering.

 

But, then I am jostled out of that thinking when I am in a place like this, a place where I have the privilege of God bestowing His presence through my willingness to love.

I know His promise is true because I experience it through times like these, times when I can see and experience God’s love for another human being.  

And, I believe that when I am going through my own trials and sufferings, I can bear in mind this truth, that He has NOT forsaken us.

That the pain of this life, come as the hurricane that it is, cannot and will not separate us from His love. Here in this life and in the next.

That is our Hope.

That is my sister’s hope. In the midst of darkness, the light of His presence boldly enters and sits with us, holds us, kisses our forehead, and catches our tears in his hands...because He Loves Us. 

A Typical Day

The weather here today is reminicent of a fall day back in the US.  Amazingly enough, I am actually wearing a little sweater. That will last for only another few hours, until the African sun rises into the middle of the day. But, I am thankful for this breeze & the feelings of well being the cooler weather brings me. 

Our house starts to awake around 5:30 am. It's still dark outside as we rustle about, getting school clothes out, making breakfasts and packing lunches. As tired as I am in those wee hours (anyone who knows me can testify, I am NOT a morning person!) I enjoy the quiet & the peacefulness of the outside. In a city where the hustle & bustle is constant, it is a welcomed rest to find those mornings. 

So the family is out the door by 7 am & I sit with my chai, my bible, and my journal. I work on waking myself up & sitting in the peace of the Father's presence. Sometimes, I may just doze off, but the Lord's peaceful presence sometimes will do that to a girl! 

Today, I have a few meetings planned & will run around gathering some food to make meals this week. I enjoy my weekly rhythms of work & provision, although on any given day, things rarely go as expected in terms of time. But, that's life here.....and as hard as that is for my Western organized brain, I see how it helps me to let go of expectations & rely on the "one foot in front of the other" philosophy of life. (although, it is true, you can take the person out of their home culture, but you can't ever fully take the home culture out of the person!) Eitherway, throughout my days, I am working my way into new ways of thinking & resting. 

We have settled into our new home, which is closer to our community & the women we are serving. We counted this was our 16th move in almost 3 years! Let me just answer your question now, yes, we are a little crazy. :) But, we are feeling settled now & basking in some deep thankfulness. 

The boys will be at school until about 4 pm. They have futbol after school ends today ( most days) & will come home to do homework, share dinner, rest a bit and then to bed. The weekdays are pretty regimented with this schedule and we work hard to make sure we get enough rest & play.

Most days, I move between meetings, errands, visits in the quarry, studying, meeting with mamas, and preparing food. 

 

We are at an exciting time right now. Our ministry to mother's and babies, to families- is growing more feet & we see God providing leadership and provision for our next steps. This is encouraging to us in so many ways. I will be sharing more as the weeks and months go on, but my time in the quarry with women I am building relationship with has been most satisfying these past few weeks. One of my ministry partners, Holly, has just gone back to the States for a furlough and I am missing her! She would make the weekly visits into the quarry with me and she really was my translator as she speaks swahili really well. So last week, I ventured in to talk with two of the women I normally am in contact with. Well, it was a comedy of errors from my end! Even though I am really making strides in my language learning, I am still speaking like a toddler. But, in my persistance and motivation to learn, I went on the visit without another translator. I was able to hold a conversation and let the women know we were coming in on Sunday to do the Cycle Beads. But, there were so many times when my communication was halted for lack of understanding or because I just didn't have the vocabulary to take the conversation further! I was feeling very insecure! But, still thankful for being there. So to top it off, as I was leaving, I stopped to talk with some young girls in their 20's (the age group I have been praying about making more connections with). They were eager to call me over and ask me about my tatoos! ha! But, once we got past our initial greetings and niceties, I couldn't understand much of what they were saying. So we giggled alot and I finally had to go. As I am walking away and giving final goodbyes, I completely trip over a large rock in the dirt road & fall right down! There are people all around observing this mishap & I just stand up and laugh out loud! Talk about feeling humbled and a bit embarrassed! 

As I walked out, I thought " that seemed like a disaster!". Then I heard the Lord speak to me, "Despite what was accomplished, you did it. You took the effort and uncomfortable steps to reach into deeper relationship & it's completely good and well to feel humbled in any way you can."  So I left with a huge, dorky smile on my face. I will continue to visit with our without a good swahili speaker, even as humbling and frustrating it is.... I enjoy the relationships being built, even if we can't understand each other at times! 

 

Please keep praying for our family. For all that God is moving in here. For the mothers and babies of Tanzania. 

 

oh, and keep coming back as we continue to try to post more frequently! 

Now, off to the day! 

 

 

Can Love Truly Cast Out Fear?

The past two days have held sacred moments with 2 different mothers-to-be, one just starting out her pregnancy journey & one coming to the end. These hours I have spent with them were filled with laughter & tears, prayers & conversation about the realities of motherhood here. Each woman is walking a different path, but both shared the complicated emotions that are created when one is pregnant here. Both shared the gripping emotion of fear. Fear from the knowledge that 1 out of 6 women in Africa will lose their newborn. Fear created from seeing & hearing other women in their families, friends, communities who don't come home after giving birth. 

From the moment she knows she is pregnant, she has to deal with this fear. Throughout her 9 months of carrying her baby, she battles it. And as her time nears to give the gift of life, she fears her's or her baby's will be taken away. You might not recognize what's lying underneath the beautiful smile or the gracious greetings, but it's there. I see it. I feel it. I know it. She knows it when we talk, but we may never actually say the words.

There are coping mechanisms we all use when we are scared. In pregnancy, and especially in the face of losing one, an easy thing to do is to disconnect from our unborn child. One may say that seems ineffective because we, as women, long for our children. We long to hold the baby growing inside of us, we long to become a mother to our child. But, when the risk of loss is so great, our souls tend to disconnect without even being aware of it. I have had many things in my life that I have used this defense with. It's not easy to break through it either. Even though, your heart wants nothing else. It's scary, vulnerable & exposing to make the decision to connect with something in which the thought of losing it is so tragic. 

But these past two days have shown me that my sisters here have tremendous capacity for connection in the midst of the fear of loss. Women have deep wells of love that continue to be unearthed in every trial we face. Every threat of loss, where fear wants to steal our joy, God can grant the grace & love needed to move forward. To put one foot in front of the other & choose love. Choose engagement. 

Not that it's easy. To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure I could face some of the hardships women face here & come out as strong as they do. Maybe I underestimate God's power in me, or my own ability to love, but when I hear the hearts of my Tanzanian sisters & understand the fear that exists in the unknown outcomes of giving birth, I am continually in awe of their courage.  

We try to stand with them wherever their standing in the moments we spend with them and God always shows up. And for that, we are thankful. After the education, conversations, tears & laughter, embraces, & words of encouragement, we know that the deep need for release from fear can only be done by God's Love and presence. So we pray. And we let God have the stage. The truth is that we are the hands and feet of Jesus, but the territory of the heart belongs to God. When ministering in a place where heartbreak is epidemic, the joy of God's presence, the lightness of His burdens, the deepness of His love, & the strength of His hope is the only answer for our soul's weariness. It's the only remedy for our suffering souls. Only His love can truly cast out fear.

I sit with wonder & thankfulness as I reflect upon my times with each mother this week. I am in wonder because I have the privilege of supporting these mothers, of ushering in the work of God's love and watching women's spirits lighten because they've experienced it. I am grateful for the skills & tools I have learned to help ease fears, to give mother's education where they want it, to create a safe space for women to talk & experience the loving presence of the Father. I am thankful for those mothers.

 I am in awe that I am not doing this alone. That I am here with my dear friend, Lyndi, with whom I share the deep love of the Father for His women and children. Together, we are endevoring to follow God's heart in ministering his love here. Together, we truly believe mother's and thier babies' are worth fighting for. That fear will not win in the end & that all we have to do is show up. God will do the rest. 

 

 

Staying in Touch......

We've been hard a work...thinking about ways to keep our communications up with our partners now that we are living here in Africa. Just with any good working system, sometimes change is in order to make it more effective and keep it running smoothly. 

Since we've been here, we have found that it is hard to maintain communications on our website. For various reasons, but mostly, we do not have capabilities to upload pictures & write long posts as we have in the past. BUT, communication with our partners, friends, and family is of great importance to us. As we are experiencing the reality of serving women & families in Tanzania, we want to be able to share as much of our lives as we can. We have always said that you, who partner with us, are invaluable to the work of saving mother's and babies, and therefore, we want you to be sharing in the reality of the joys & pains of this work. 

That being said, we have found it challenging to accomplish this to the degree our hearts want to. (Thus, our little amount of activity on our blog!). SO, we've spent some time re-thinking our paths of communication based on what we find our abilities are, living here. We have come up with a few strategies that may help this area. 

For now, we will be posting our day to day updates & pictures on these 3 avenues: 

http://delleskyfamily.tumblr.com/

https://www.facebook.com/delleskyfamily

Instagram @:  jleedellesky  & delleskyfamily

 

We have found that these are the sites we can access best right now in order to keep everyone updated consistently. Please bookmark these for quick updates throughout your week. 

 

We will still be writing longer story updates on this blog, but it will be less often. We will reserve this blog for the deeper stories of our work & lives. So, keep checking here also! 

I actually will be sitting down to write such a story in my next post..... coming soon, as the stories are still unfolding as we speak! 

Happy Sunday.....

Jamie (for the Dellesky Clan)

 

 

 

Transitions & Toenails

We’ve now been here in Dar for a little over 2 months. It feels like much longer & yet, we feel we are just beginning to settle in & walk the path before us. The first month was a trial by fire for sure. On top of all the usual cultural adjustments & emotions of entering a new life, we had a lot of “extra” challenges that gave us a good taste of the things you encounter living in Africa. But, we limped our way through it & have grown in our faith in ways we, of course, couldn’t have any other ways. Times like these are always opportunities for us to learn a little more just how much God loves us. At one point I realized I could tell the story of our acquisition here by the state of our nails. Right? I mean, if they are clean & well manicured (especially my kids), then I know we have had time for self-care. When I surveyed all our finger & toenails 5 weeks in, they told a crazy story. Well,  We are now in the beginning of our 3rd month, and all our nails are cut & cleaned & I even have beautiful pink toenail polish to prove we made it through a very trying transition.

It has taken me this long to write a post, not for lack of a story, but because there is so much story, that I have not known where to start. In the midst of our transition here, so many amazing and encouraging things have taken place. We were able to spend our Christmas with the Buckley family (all of them!), which hasn’t happened in over 6 years. We realize everyday just what a huge gift it is to be here with them. They are our very dear friends who we used to share life with half a decade ago. We’ve lived on different continents for the past 5 years, so we are still amazed how God has brought our paths back together.  They are leading the church we are partnering with to reach out to mothers and babies here. The Dar Vineyard church has now become our church home & it has been so life giving to our family to become a part of it. It is through our church here that we are able to enter into relationships with the families in the Sala Sala community. For the past year, the people in the DAR Vineyard have been investing in the quarry (Sala Sala) where many families live very hard & difficult lives. The women of the quarry work all day long, in the scorching sun, breaking rocks with large hammers for very little money. (I have a whole new respect for African women). This is one of the main ways they provide for their children.  It is a community in so much need. One of our church’s priorities is to serve the people in need around us with the love of God, giving time, resources & hope. We have now become a part of that.

So, for Christmas, we were able to be a part of a Sala Sala Christmas celebration for the families here. Every week, the kids of the quarry come to a kids club just for them. This Christmas party was a time where all the children’s families were invited to come. Our church partnered with the kids club to provide a nice dinner for all the families. I was excited because this was the first time I would meet a lot of the women I have been praying for over the past year.
We organized for people in our church to donate Pilau (an African meal of rice, amazing spices & beef).  We were amazed at the outpouring of resources! We had enough food to feed over 300 people!!

It was such an amazing night! Our children were able to be a big part of it, in fact, Parker took video footage of the preparations & the event. He made a beautiful video collage that we are so proud of. We hope to put it on our site soon.

After having our first large outreach to these families, we were quite blown away with encouragement. We are so proud to be a part of this church & to be partnering with these people who have a heart for the women & children of this place. And we are especially proud of our friends, Doug & Lyndi who are pioneering the Vineyard movement in Tanzania.

On other fronts, Teddy and the boys are really enjoying the school, Haven of Peace Academy (HOPAC). Teddy gets his sweat on as he teaches multiple Physical Education classes a day in the hot weather of Dar. Each of our boys have really found a place there, making new friends, enjoying being with their old friends (the Buckley boys), & really excelling in their academics. (yeah!!)

As for me, I have had a full last month. I started language classes everyday & I have started to visit the women in the quarry to begin relationships. I have already had opportunities to give care for some moms-to-be and some young moms who had lost their babies. My heart has been filled with such anguish for them yet such joy to walk through these things with them. I am learning to so much about the culture & the state of women’s lives.  I am also in the beginning stages of researching the process of creating a safe place for women to birth. I am taking these first few months to really immerse myself in the culture & in understanding the lives of women here as well as learn the language. It’s so vital to relationships. I will also continue to make health connections & learn about the health system here. The efforts of these months will, hopefully, give me a good sense of the needs of moms and babies & figure out how we can get started in meeting them.

God has been showing me many things as I make myself available to learn. There are many layers to the realities of women’s lives here & I have been thinking a lot about how I should communicate that. There are things I am more comfortable sharing in private newsletters, and thus will limit the details of some of these realities on this journal.

It is hard, sometimes, to figure out how to communicate all the changes, experiences, hopes, hardships, challenges, & joy that life brings here, but we are committed to trying the best we can.  We do love sharing all that the Father is doing here, as He is so very present and we are confident that He has led us here & we are being carried by His hands.

We miss so many of you & hope you know, though we are far, our hearts think of you often. We have landed in a wonderful community of people here who are pouring out their lives for those around them & we feel a place has been prepared for us here.

We are thankful for every one of you who have been journeying with us & we know this is just the beginning of so many good things!

Keep trekking with us! 

To Know You Are Loved

Today was my birthday. Yep. Turned 38. It was like any other birthday, taking inventory of my year, wondering if I feel any different....perhaps older, maybe a little slower, maybe clothes are fitting a little different.... but really, the questions I found myeself asking were more made of the substance of love than anything else. Who is loving me & who am I loving. 

As the day came to a close, here's what I came to: I am so loved.... by so many wonderful people around me, my family and friends... they blow me away.

And all of that culminated in my deep understanding of how loved I am by God, my Father. Seriously. He tells me He is so in love with me. How can I be so lucky? How can it be true? The creator of this world, of our people, furiously longs for me. For my heart. I am so pursued. I am so wooed. He never leaves me alone.... constantly telling me how He loves me. Seriously. When I am at the deepest places of feeling so unworthy, He is there. When I am so desperately aware of my inadequacies, my failures of love, my selfishness, my unholiness, my disengagement of the gifts I have been given... the list can go on..... HE IS THERE.  The other night, I laid in my bed crying..... over the fact that HE LOVES ME SO MUCH.  

It's almost too much.

But, then I remember, His love is not based on who I am. It's based on who HE IS.... and my heart leaps. Suddenly, I am filled with sheer & utter joy because NOTHING is based on me. It's ALL on Him. And my Father is amazing. He is faithful & fierce in His pursuit of me. AND, I can give myself to Him, I DO give myself to Him, brokenness and all... and it is not only His love that prevails, but His plans and purposes. Thus, I can walk confidently into this next journey of our lives.

What would it change if we lived as if all of our lives pointed to only one thing...to know we are loved. 

I don't pretend to be overly educated, nor do I think too highly of myself when it comes to philisophical discussions...but in my small world, I would venture to say that giving your life so that others might know they are loved may just be something worth living for. May the Grace of God's love walk with us into this new place we will call home and these new people we will call family.  

Tanzania, here we come.  

                        

 

 

Our Time Has Come

The last few months have been very busy (as you can see by our lack of posts!). I (Jamie) have finished up the last of my clinical training and I am proud to say I am a fully trained midwife!!!! Hoot Hoot!! This dream that started as a little seed in my heart over 3 years ago is now being realized. That's something to celebrate!

Now we are in the throws of packing and preparing to leave for Tanzania. We will depart from the States the second week of November for our new home in Dar es Salaam. The past 8 months here have been filled with so many good things. God had much more planned for us here than we thought.... as He always does. We have thoroughly enjoyed reengaging life here with our community & the people we love. There are so many things we will miss here. We are all truly and deeply thankful for the time we've had here.

And that is what makes this part of the journey hard. Our good byes have started and they will continue until we step on the plane. So many good byes........

....and on the other side of the world, so many hellos. So many new things to learn & explore. Everything from how to get food, driving on the other side of the car, learning to speak Swahilli, a new school for the boys & for Teddy, new friends... and lots of new mothers and babies to love.

So, over these next few weeks our hearts hold in tension the now and the not yet. Our eyes will be wet with tears and our hearts full of so much love as so many of you will send us off filled up. And for that, we are so grateful.

If you think of us over the next 3 weeks, you can just picture us doing exactly what we always are doing right before we leave a country.... packing & packing & packing & packing & more packing.... etc.... I somehow think "this time, it will be more simple".... mmmm, NOT. We are pretty simple people, but I just don't think I can move my family across the world in less than 14 suitcases. If any of you have, please tell me your secrets!!!!! I am one mom who is always looking for more simplicity.... I just think I am in the wrong lifestyle for that!


Please feel free to drop us a line before we leave. We'd love to hear from you.

Lastly, we will be updating our blog as we can and for those of you who support us, we are working on streamlining the way we receive donations so we will get you that info before we leave.

Here are some ways to follow us on our journey:

Instagram/Twitter/Tumblr: @delleskyfamily