It’s baby time at The Luke Commission. Hosanna Nomsalihle VanderWal made her earthly appearance on her father’s 37th birthday.
Hosanna was born March 29th shortly after noon in their beloved adopted home – Africa. She weighed 3 kilograms or 6 lbs. 9 oz. and appears to be another of God’s perfect creations.
Harry and Echo want to thank each of you for your prayers, for your attentiveness during Echo’s pregnancy, for the joy you expressed about the latest little VanderWal long before her birthdate. Echo is doing well, though recovering from her 3rd c-section probably will take more than a day or three.
Hosanna may be called Anna. That remains to emerge. For now it’s Hosanna.
Her middle name, Nomsalihle, is SiSwati for Gift of Faith or Grace. The words “grace” and “faith” are the same SiSwati word.
Therefore, the first baby girl in the VanderWal family, joining four older brothers, means Glory to God for the Gift of Faith. Little Nomsalihle -the “hl” pronounced with a “shl” sound. If you’d like to try, it’s “Nom sa lee shla.”
Right up until the end (or the beginning), Harry and Echo did not select a name. The boys offered many suggestions. Well-meaning TLC visitors and staff members threw in their ideas.
Harry and Echo wanted a Biblical name. That opened the door to more speculations and suggestions, often laced with laughter.
Zion, for instance, was reading aloud from his 2nd grade storybook a few weeks ago when he came upon a girl named Faith. He stopped. Then he slowly reread the sentence about the girl’s name.
“I’ll be right back, Grandma. I need to find Mom and Dad.”
Seven-year-old Zion ran to Echo and asked: “Can we have a family meeting, so we can decide on the baby’s name? I’ve found it. Her name should be Faith.”
The triplets waited for this baby sister “forever,” said Zebadiah. “I can’t wait to hold her,” he’d say frequently.
A couple of weeks ago, the family unpacked a couple of grey tubs full of little girl baby clothes and accessories. (Everything of value in Eswatini at The Luke Commission campus is stored in grey tubs.)
“Come on, boys,” joked Luke. “Help me make fun of all these clothes. Pink, pink, pink! Look at this pink kombie driver hat!”
And the hilarity began.
Jacob was a little more philosophical. “No one can take this baby away from us.” The VanderWals have often cared for abandoned Liswati newborns, whose mothers leave them at the hospital fearing they are HIV positive.
Jake became attached to these babies. Along about the 6th month when each baby looked healthy and well-cared for, someone would come along and reclaim the baby.
Harry and Echo are grateful to Dr. Tim Berios for agreeing to help two Americans working in Eswatini who he had never met until two weeks ago. Truly God moves in mysterious ways… The hospital staff was hospitable and helpful during difficult moments and first encounters for the extended family.
American volunteer nurses Rebekah Sartori and Melody Miller took tender care of Echo throughout her pregnancy.
Grandparents Kalvin and Janet Tuinstra had the privilege of being present for Hosanna’s birth.
The Liswati staff calls her “our TLC baby”. They each submitted SiSwati names for consideration. Their influence in this new baby’s life remains to unfold, but it will be great and make her a girl most blessed.
“She’s so cute,” declared Luke, holding her close to his heart. “Isn’t she so cute! She’s finally here.”
Thank you, Jesus.