Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Many things about daily life work differently here, and not having need for a recipe to make my own salsa at home (I just buy it!) I haven't used some of these skills in many months. My life in the suburbs of the US just didn't keep me up on water filtration.
So here's my list of 'oh yeah' moments from what I remember of last week:
Oh yeah! I used to turn the hot water heater on for 2 hours everyday...
Oh yeah! Cadbury's cocoa powder is the one without sugar...
Oh yeah! Whole oats are called jumbo oats, trucks are called lorries, bleach is called jik, pants are called trousers, flip-flops are called slippers (I'll cut it off for the sake of time) here...
Oh yeah! Never count your cash in front of the ATM, people watch you...
Oh yeah! One can never have enough small change...
Oh yeah! Always lock all doors and close all windows when driving...
Oh yeah! Soap powder stops the ants from coming in in January's dry season...
Oh yeah! Don't brush teeth with tap water...
Oh yeah! The sun is up year round from 6:30 - 6:30...
Oh yeah! Mosquito bites are really itchy for about 4 days...
Oh yeah! I am a mosquito magnet...
Oh yeah! Cooking on gas is wonderful...
Oh yeah! I love passion fruit juice with a passion...
Oh yeah! It's such a sacred privilege to know brothers and sisters from other languages and cultures...
Monday, January 26, 2009
I still haven't unpacked the camera, but have some pictures to share of her Seattle party thanks to 'auntie' Carrie and facebook:
Funny story about the cake is... we were trying to make things simple for ourselves moving out & driving 7 hrs on Sat. hosting a huge party after church on Sunday, so Grandma tried to order a doll cake at Albertson's or some such bakery. They apparently had not received any of their usual shipments of frosting due to the flooding of Interstate 5 and truck routes being cut. They simply could not fill an order that week. [Like they couldn't make frosting with butter and sugar!!??!] My Dad saw a Disney princess doll that came with a horse during the Cmas rush, and my Mom had cake pans made for stacking tiers, so we just made due. It turned out much less expensive and certainly good-looking enough for a 2-yr-old! She was in it for the candles and chocolate anyway! =) It did take time that I really didn't have, but creative arts really are relaxing and fun to me, so God knew what He was doing not delivering that icing on time!
You may be wondering how Anna is adjusting here in Africa... She left at about 3 mos. old and returns 21 mos. later to the place of her birth. It took her at least a week to get used to the fact that she doesn't need to wear her coat outside (it has been in the high 80's and low 90's everyday but one). But it didn't take her any time at all to figure out how to greet people with her right hand or sing a Swahili praise song! =)
written form: Hakuna Mungu kama wewe
how she sings: "hakuna Gugu aa wewe"
English translation: [there.is.no God like you]
At first I was concerned that she mispronounce God's name, but now that I think of it she doesn't really have her 'G's' down and says "Dod" in English - so what can I expect? She continues to meld her worlds. She thinks the baby on the wipes here looks just like John Spencer. She asks when we can play at Tate's house with her doggie. When she prays each night, she thanks God for 'Dampa's house'. She continues to remind me that at Andrew M.'s house she slept in a big bed (and has been napping in Joel's bed to prove she can do it!). She's recently tried to challenge her brother at Wii tennis! Sometimes I have to remind myself, 'She's only just turned TWO!'
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Amsterdam airport having flown half-way across the world instead of
sleeping... now for 'the sequel'.
We were all thrilled to walk around freely and be out of the
airplane. Amsterdam is one of our preferred airports because it is
well-organized and includes some helps for families (like lots of
baby changing rooms near bathrooms, and day rooms for those with
long layovers who NEED a good nap). We planned only a 2-hr layover,
so there wasn't much time to enjoy the place. It was midnight our
time, so we didn't feel like having a big breakfast. The boys were
very excited about getting to walk on the moving sidewalks (they
think of them as escalators really). So excited, in fact, that Joel
ran along, tripped and cut his chin open on one. We carry the bulk
of our toiletries on, so we dressed it right there in the
terminal. If it scars well, it will make a nice cross with his
stitches scar from last summer! (a week later it has all but
disappeared without a scar...)
We finally got to our gate, which was not 'open' until 30 minutes
before boarding. It was wonderful to be surrounded by various
nationalities again. The airport was very international, and there
were lots of women with head coverings. I always feel they 'out-do'
me in modesty, and wonder whether I should do more. I don't feel
bound, but rather challenged. The family of five in front of us was
Dutch - Nigerian and had gorgeous children that probably spoke 3
Flight No. 2 headed south is only 9 hrs (a few minutes less actually
because the Dutch are uber-efficient). Kent sat with the boys and
soon all 3 were konked out. Next to Anna and I was a lovely Kenyan
woman named Ann (and sometimes goes by Anna!). She was a God-send
and very gracious with Anna, helping her eat her bizarre airline
food and playing games with her. Despite having slept only 4 hrs in
24, Anna did not sleep much and was 'loopy' but cheerful. I was
pretty delirious by that point having slept only 3 hrs before
flying and about 3 between the two flights (about 6 hrs in 48!), so
I cannot recall which movies I watched as I was able - but I know I
got a couple of them in.
We walked off the plane in Africa and were
immediately met by moist, warm night air. It was warmer than I
remembered/expected. Many other things were exactly the same. The
five of us with luggage move pretty slow, especially when exhausted,
so we were at the end of a very long visa line at customs. I had
filled out most of the paperwork already, but Kent hadn't dug out
our papers yet, when a kind national man came up and ushered us into
another shorter line. It was not the one we were supposed to go to,
but what does a sign really matter? He then asked for our luggage
stickers to go check on our bags for us while we paid. Red flags
went up through my sleepy stupor, and we realized a couple minutes
too late that he was 'helping' us in order to be paid for his
favors. We declined his 'services' just in time!
We finished the visa processing and just needed to pay in US cash.
Kent presented him several bills for the exact amount (having
planned this out), and he gave back one $100 bill. He said that any
cash with a date older than 1999 is no longer accepted. Oops! We
have heard of this in the country of our work, but never here! It
turns out he had enough small change with correct dates to make up
for it, but it shocked us for a minute.
We went to the carousel where James was pulling our bags off all on
his own! And all of them were there! God is good! I never expected
something so good. We loaded it all up and started wheeling toward
the customs folks and the door, to find that there were no customs
folks at the counter! Maybe that's one advantage to traveling with
children who take forever...? Three of our colleagues were there
with hugs, keys and 2 vans to pick us all up with our gear. We
arrived at our temporary home to gorgeous roses/lilies, baked goods,
2 meals in the fridge and a schedule for 2 more coming! They took
such good care of us, and it has been good to get reacquainted a bit.
Even though it was daytime at home, it was nighttime here and we
were definitely tired enough to sleep. We all climbed under the
mosquito nets and slept great... until about 3 am! We snacked the
kids, read another story and we slept again. Sometime around 8 am we
woke up again hungry. We ate. I located the towels, the shampoo, the
soap. You may know that feeling of wanting to wash the 'airplane'
off of you... Kent climbed in the shower first, only the realize
that there was no hot water! We had completely forgotten about
needing to turn the hot water heater on ourselves to heat up the
water (which takes about 2 hours). Oh yeah! I guess we used to do
So that's how we got here protected and well. Ten days later our
fatigue is still wearing slowly off. A cold shower is not so bad for
a first moment of 're-culture shock'. This house has a major ant
problem, which has not been fun, but at least Anna's not up at 4 am
singing "Jingle Bells" at the top of her lungs anymore! We've only
lost power for an hour or so, which is impressive for 10 days I
think. The boys started school up again this week, and we have
routine again. Still no internet aside from the office, but I think
it's silly that I feel like I'm in withdrawl after 7 days without
More on transition and plans later.... hope this travelogue has been
somewhat entertaining if not informative!
Thursday, January 22, 2009
a rare breed. Some have large expense accounts and can afford fun
gadgets and goodies like you find at jetwithkids.com - I mean how
cool is a carry-on suitcase that converts to a scooter?! Then
there's the rest of us. We have a couple tricks up our sleeves, but
our most crucial 'tool' was prayer.
We checked in and booked seats online beforehand. We arrived at the
airport Tues. morning a good 2 1/2 hours ahead of time. When we
hauled our bags up to the ticket counter the woman there must have
been due for a break. She said, "You're going where?!" "This is
one-way?!" "With 13 bags?!!" with ever-increasing pitch, and seemed
determined to make our lives miserable. She found a box that wasn't
taped tight enough, a bag that was 2 lbs. overweight, and didn't
want to check us in if we couldn't verify our visas for Africa
(which are traditionally purchased at the airport and is totally out
of her 'jurisdiction' anyway!). So as we frantically tried to get
our leadership on the phone for her, we were praying hard... asking
God to remove obstacles like he had so many times before.
Within a few minutes she was laughing, joking with Joel. She said,
"Are you guys Christians? I could tell, because I am too." And it
was smooth sailing from there on.
We got each kid their own carry-on backpack with wheels. The boys'
booster seats flipped upside down and fit perfectly on top for them
to wheel around. I prepped them for security. Labelled baggie of
liquids out. Coats off. Shoes off. They each had shoes that remove
easily (crocs and rainboots are great for this!). We also got to use
the new 'family' aisle (which sounds much more elaborate than it
should - it boiled down to not having upset businessmen right behind
our three kids trying to get coats and shoes on and off). We got a
$19 umbrella stroller so Anna could keep up during our midnight
layover. We stopped for coffee/hot chocolate and picture-taking, so
we didn't make it to the gate for 'pre-boarding with young
children'. Everyone always smiles when little pig-tailed 2-yr-old
Anna strolls by wheeling her own carry-on bag behind her!
The boys acted so grown-up sitting across the aisle from us watching
movies and eating airline food! They had a wonderful time for the
first 10 hrs. Some of their favorite things in life are found in
airports: trains (okay subway? to the satellites at SeaTac),
airplanes, escalators or moving sidewalks, X-ray machines, large
open spaces, other kids, movies, and I have to admit even I am
impressed with all those little vehicles buzzing different things in
and out of the planes.
I had planned to give Anna some benedryl to help her drift off to
sleep. She does not sleep well on the road. I gave her some halfway
through our first flight and it seemed to have absolutely NO effect!
She was still bouncing around like a ping-pong ball between us, not
even willing to wear earphones. I always bring a few new toys in
their carry-ons, and a few books or games stashed unseen in my own
bag. With the boys I didn't need any of them. With Anna I ran out. I
think she slept maybe 90 minutes of that first 10 hrs.
To add to the excitement, right about the time we were over
Greenland or so (i.e. in the middle of NOWHERE!), we hear an urgent
request for a doctor about 8 rows in front of us. From what I gather
a young man went into diabetic shock and fainted. This would be the
one flight where there is NO doctor on board! There was, however, a
nurse practitioner who stepped up and they stabilized him quickly
with an IV stuck to the overhead compartment and everything. As God
would have it, a short-term mission team from the Portland area was
headed to Uganda to work on building an orphanage I think and they
were in the same row as this very sick young man. So they really
mobilized and had the row cleared and helped everyone out. One of
them was even gathering trash while a flight attendant was busy.
At 10pm our time (7am Amsterdam time) we touched down with 3
exhausted children in the last row of the plane. Everyone made their
mad dash for the front of the plane and had to sit back down for the
paramedics to reach row 30. It all took a really long time. Anna
started singing her version of the ABCs at the top of her lungs. It
was probably 20-30 min. but felt three times longer! I felt bad for
those around us enduring off-key ABCs after a 10hr flight... what
can you do?
Amsterdam and beyond will have to come later. I have to save
something for a sequel, right? =)
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Thanks for all your prayers! We are all well.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Today little Anna is 2 years old! Today we are moving out of our house to fly to Africa in a few days! I sit among the piles of mess, as the furniture gradually disperses (yay craigslist!), and realized that we will not be in communication for a couple days. We have been flooded with hugs and prayers this past few weeks. If only I could bottle it up and take small doses every week for months!
We were extremely blessed by a wonderful group of ladies who have a prayer quilt ministry (hi ladies!!). They made each of us throw quilts that were so gorgeous! No flimsy airline fleece for us! These wonderful blankets are going in our carryons! As you can see, and much to my dismay, Anna mastered the art of posing for pictures with a cheesy face before her 2nd birthday.
We are feeling more and more excited to leave. The kids have their awesome monogramed carryons (thanks to Janice!), new toys and quilts to fill them, new lightweight coats that fit, etc. God has provided above and beyond our needs once again. There are too many stories to tell of how good He has been to us! Now if we could only get to the airport...
(for those who don't know I-5 has been indefinitely closed due to flooding)
Thanks so much for your prayers, hugs and helping hands! We'll miss you all lots!