Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dinner in the desert

give me your ideas! I've run out of new ideas when it comes to making dinner in Loki and the grocery selection is slim, since everything has to come on a truck from Kitale- a 12 hour drive on  washboard dirt roads...only the heartiest of produce can make it, no dairy except for a few shops that have yogurt or buttermilk every blue moon or so. What should I make? This is what I can buy around here:

spaghetti noodles
macaroni noodles
red beans
canned kidney beans
canned chick peas
canned mushrooms (expensive)
tomato paste
chicken or beef bouillon cubes
white flour
corn meal
coconut milk
peanut butter
olive oil
canned green beans
canned corn
canned fruit (very expensive)
butternut squash
green pepper (sometimes)
avocados (sometimes)
mangoes (sometimes)
passion fruit (seasonally)
powdered milk

Friday, May 14, 2010

Dog Bites, Ticks and a Monkey....oh my!

Back in the BIG city of Nairobi after two weeks upcountry in Lokichoggio on the border of Sudan. Loved the quiet, the time to focus on the kids (no horseback riding lessons, Bible Studies, homeschool co-ops to run to, or traffic to sit in while trying to pick up a few groceries), seeing the beautiful Turkana women with beads piled up to their chin regally carrying firewood or jerry cans of water on their heads.

Loved the fact in a place where the women sport mohawks, my son (with HIS mohawk), or our three white kids riding around town on the roof rack was a source of giggles for the locals!

A Typical road in Loki

Two weeks upcountry with no prior commitments to keep me busy. We got through or homeschool day at lightening speed! So then I looked around the house, belonging to missionaries on home assignment, what could I do for them while they are away? They have two dogs, covered in ticks -a year without their owners to care for them and pilots through the house for brief periods of time left the dogs in need of a lot of TLC.

Griffins and Isaiah
Even though one of the dogs bit Olivia our first day in Loki, I almost didn't blame his bad behavior because of his sad condition. Pulling my tweezers from my makeup bag, I pulled probably 200 ticks off Mabior, the white dog who had it worse off. Twiga had maybe only 100, most of them between his toes and the pads on his feet!

The pup with the ticks and over active jaws

I googled "ticks" to find out they don't drown in water, but rubbing alcohol would work. I found mouth wash, that would have to do. It worked a heck of a lot better than smashing them with a hammer, which was our first method of elimination of the ticks....that is until Jerry smashed a fairly "juicy" one and my clothes and I became splattered in dog blood, Yech!!

Most of the ticks I removed from the dog.
Notice the variety!
They're in mouthwash because they will not drown in water
So here's the proof, the TMI picture to go with the TMI description of my time pulling ticks off dogs, and not forgetting to check my kids meticulously for ticks too! Thanks to friends in Nairobi sending up lots of dawa (medicine) for the dogs- a tick/ flea bath and Frontline, and for the yard ( a good strong pesticide) we knocked those ticks out of there!! I hope they stay away at least until the owners return in a month, but that may be optimistic with those relentless and nasty ticks.

Loki Grocery Store

Lucy transporting a chicken
Another chapter in the battle of the ticks, was taking a friend's great advice to heart, that chickens would eat in hopes of purging the yard of hiding ticks, the kids and I tried to lure chickens from the compound through the house into the backyard with a trail of bread crumbs and popcorn. We couldn't have done it without Olivia's Turkana friend, Lucy, who wasn't afraid to pick up the chickens and rooster and carry them to the backyard, while the Hurds preferred to flap our arms in a rather chicken-like manner and attempt to herd them into the backyard!

The compound manager wanted the chickens out of the backyard, and able to go their roost at night...but a sudden rainstorm made us wait.

Now it was dark and raining and we still had chickens in the backyard, huddled on top of each other in a poultry pile. The kids and I held out towels to hopefully keeping the chickens from running, and Jerry lunged and faked trying to pick one or the other up to toss over the fence, as the chickens were in no mood to be herded out the way they came. Finally Jerry managed to get a hold of one chicken, who smartly grabbed onto the top rail of the chain link fence and refused to be pushed over. She kept bouncing back up to the top of the fence, clinging tight with her talons, like a jack in the box! The next few didn't grab on and went over flapping and complaining. So, if you're bored and upcountry, you should try the herding chicken game!

Girls fetching water for their families

Bugs come big in Loki! The spider was dead in the pool.

I was privileged to visit a women's cooperative, with the kids, and Jerry,  where  they learn to bake bread and bead necklaces to sell. It helps women with few options to provide for their families' needs. It made my heart beat a little faster to find a place I felt I might fit in rather well, helping keeping the ladies co op going, by teaching them crafts! How fun!

 Women's jewelry making co-op

Rafiki, Olivia's vervet monkey, with a cat
The day before we were to leave, Olivia's Turkana friend, Lucy, arrived to visit, a  monkey attached to a long leash trailing behind her. We oohed and ahhed at the little guy in wonder....until she informed us that the monkey was a gift for Olivia -then we were quite speechless! I heard my mother in my head, saying, "Rabies, rabies, rabies!!" after our dog bite experience. BUT, he was pretty darn cute, and Lucy was being incredibly generous to give the pet she had raised from a baby, when she found it in the jungle. (She said jungle, but remember...we are visiting in the DESERT. Hmmm.) I came up with a brilliant plan....ask Lucy to care for the little guy until we move up to Loki! So he's there, waiting for figure out what to do with a pet monkey!!! When we do return, I will bring rabies vaccine for him, I guarantee it!!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Breanna vs. the ditch

Last Tuesday. But first let me explain the state I was in before what happened. I had been sick with the flu a few days, starting to feel a bit better, but still weak and sometimes feverish, sometimes flu brained=spacey. Also, I was not taking my required prescribed medication for clinical depression...why would I do that? I was trying to save some shillings. My scrip costs us about $125/ month here, thanks to the available Indian generic, however, $125 is still a lot when you have not had your medical insurance company reimburse any of your medications this year so far and it seems to be coming out of pocket, for the time being, and you're trying to save as much as possible for the time being in order to have LOTS of fun when Mom and Dad visit the end of November. This is a silly argument, and I now know my little experiment to see "if I actually still need it, anyway" failed miserably. It was a rotten week and a rotten day. I had agreed with a vendor to pick up 50 pictures made from Banana tree bark to send to the US for Christmas gifts. He would only be at the westgate shopping center that Tuesday (a traveling craft/ artisans' market). I had asked him to make these 50 pictures, and had already delayed pick up one time. So, I sallied forth with Jerry's gps (global positioning system) to enable me to easily arrive at this shopping center which is rather complicated to get to in my estimation. Sadly, Betty, our gps, was having difficulty connecting to satellites, so I had to travel mostly from memory, which you will remember is somewhat compromised due to flu...but the artist has been calling all day to find if I'm still coming with his windfall. Because of traffic, I can't get into the left lane I need to be in to turn, so have to go around, in the process, I find a pretty sad road I choose to shortcut across, and follow van in front of me who seems to be maneuvering around the rain filled holes in the road rather well. I follow him up to turn onto the main road I was supposed to be on anyway. Off he goes. Off I try to go, but am held back, by, I assume, a curb. I give it gas, rock back and forth, it's a no go. By now, a handful of Kenyan men walking by have stopped to watch the mzungu (term used for us westerners here). I decide to take a peek at this curb I'm stuck on. Wowie, wow, wow! (As Junie B. Jones would say). It IS a curb I am hung up on, but I am straddling a 4 foot wide cement culvert, my rear tire is hanging over it, useless, and my front tire has been punctured between the curb and culvert and is very flat. I am amazed I did not drive headlong into the thing and totally wreck the car. Now the handful of Kenyan men watching me and observing my handiwork is about ten or 15 guys. They offer to help, but expect payment (likely because I'm mzungu). I have no cash on me but 5 US dollars I was planning to exchange at the shopping center, as well as getting Kenyan shillings out of the atm. So, in Swahili, the men discuss the exchange rate for a US dollar to determine if this is reasonable payment. I get the gist of what they are saying, but am frustrated at my very small grasp of Swahili for a situation such as this! I get in the car and call Jerry, now maybe 20 guys crowded around the car. I'm not sure they are going to help. Jerry answers, I ask if he's busy and he says, "Yes." I find out later he is actually sitting in an airplane getting ready to take off to do one final test he must take before submitting his paperwork, finally, to receive his Kenyan Pilot's license. I instantly start bawling. Normally I am not a crier. In fact, I'll usually say, "It's just a fact. I don't cry." But the combination of the flu, my poor unmedicated chemically imbalanced brain, possibly having ruined the car, and being helpless in a crowd of strangers that could easily take advantage of me, well, I lost it! 

Jerry said he was on his way. 

In the meantime, the group of men picked up and moved the car out of and away from the ditch and changed my tire. I gave them the $5 and the change in my wallet. One guy in the crowd complained, several other guys assured me it was fine and to not worry. Thanks God, for those kindly guys! 

I hobbled over to the shopping center, I was only about a mile away. I pulled into the parking garage and bawled. When I saw Jerry I bawled again. 

He bought mea latte at a coffee shop and went and found the guy to get the pictures from. He bought pizza for dinner and drove home with me, leaving the motorcycle in the parking garage. What a guy! He only looked at the damage after all that and didn't seem particularly annoyed. I love this man!

oh and btw, to any close friends, family or medical professionals reading this, I will never voluntarily be without my meds again, lesson learned. :) Thank you, God for meds!

Just so you know...

Yesterday our next door neighbor kindly informed me that his maid had spotted a "rather large"snake in their yard and he thought they had scared into our yard. Lovely. He didn't know what kind, just that it was "rather large". He said he was going to get some of the gate guards to help him try and get it out. So, not knowing what we're looking for, I informed the kids and wisely headed,  my househelper, Truphena's advice to close the doors so it doesn't come inside (yikes, I hadn't even thought of that, THANK GOD she was here! We usually leave our doors open most all the time for breeze...we're on the equator here, you'll remember, no fall weather now) I also put our dog outside to perform his guardly duties and hopefully alert us if he discovered the snake in question. I'm not deathly afraid of snakes, though I would likely not choose one as a pet....but here the poisonous snake possibilities are many: puff adder, mamba -green or black, even cobras in the desert regions. Several minutes later, we were trying to carry on with home schooling, but were overwhelmed with smokiness. Smoke is normal....lots of neighbors cook on charcoal stoves just outside their kitchens. This was no charcoal fire. They were burning paper and lots of it, blowing right in our front windows (and not wafting very quickly out the back windows) they were trying to smoke the snake out, but they were about to smoke us out as we weighed going outside and facing a snake or staying in coughing. I got our our rotating fan and it made breathing and schoolwork manageable again. But I thought about our neighbors and the guards trying to smoke out the snake at our fence line, I imagined they might smoke him out, but probably into our yard and not into their waiting trap. That was yesterday, still no sign of the snake. Pray it's just a garden snake!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Prayer of a Four-Year Old

Lately Isaiah's been volunteering to pray at dinner and bedtime and we love it! Not just because of his willingness to talk to our Big Daddy, but how he does it... with eyes apparently squeezed shut, but if you look close you can see his eyes- a little sliver, and he holds his fingers up by his eyes, as if to keep himself from peeking. He even scrunches hi nose up. We'll get a pic someday when we can figure out how to snap a pic and maintain reverence in the prayer :) Here's a sample:

Deah Gahd,
Thank you for Gahd and mommy, daddy and my seestahs, and Keely[our dog, Kilimanjaro, we call Kili] and Caspian [our kitten]. Thank you for Mommy feel better and daddy pass he test. Amen (Big Grin)
Mommy was still sick and Dad had not yet passed his test, but he prays in such faith! Or just can't get his tenses right :) While we know the latter is true, we still love it when he prays because of the former.

My Perfect Iced Tea

Boil about 4c. water and pour onto one decaf constant comment tea bag and two decaf black tea bags. Let steep. Add two serving spoon size spoons of Splenda. Pour into 2 liter bottle and fill with cold water. Shake it up good (with lid on :) enjoy!

OR if you happen to live in Kenya and can't find constant comment tea or decaf black tea...

Boil about 4c. water. Grate the peel off an orange and lay out on a plate to dry. Eat the orange while still juicy and don't wait 4 days to try and eat the thing like I may or may not have done once. Put three black tea bags (sorry, no decaf....just be sure and drink real water throughout the day :) in saucepan with a sprinkle of grated orange peel, a few cinnamon stick pieces, a dash of ground cloves, a dash of tropical heat tea masala (spice we can get here, but you sad schmucks in the US likely cannot, ha!) By now your water has probably cooled, so go again, THEN pour it over your tea and steep. Add two serving size spoon fulls of Splenda while your Splenda stash holds out. Pour into 2 liter bottle. Add cold filtered water. Shake it up good, with the lid on. Enjoy :)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

"It is very kind to send us food, but this is Africa and we are used to being hungry..."

Sorry, my first post in months I meant it to be a little more lighthearted....but Sudan has been on my heart for years, and is much of the reason we choose to live and work here in Africa. In fact, I had a dream I lived in Darfur with my children -before I even knew where Darfur was. This dream occurred years before we planned to live in Kenya in order to somehow help the people of Sudan

As the time draws near for the first vote in 24 years in Sudan and a referendum for the independence of Southern Sudan is proposed....almost all I talk to who have recently been in Sudan believe war is imminent.

I have been studying up on the Sudanese civil war to understand their history.  Right now I'm reading Emma's War by Deborah Scroggins. What are your suggestions for further reading?

Last week my husband flew into Sudan for the first time since we've been here in Africa, and he will much more once his Kenyan pilot's license is granted(remember, TIA, This Is Africa, everything takes a long time.) to me, my husband and our co-workers, this is important. But I don't pretend that OUR family is making some great sacrifice. We do not live in Sudan and our children do not have pictures to draw, like Aisha does...

"It is very kind to send us food, but this is Africa and we are used to being hungry. What I ask is that you please take the guns away from the people who are killing us."  -Aisha, a child in the Darfur region of Sudan, who was eight years old when her village was attacked.

The International Criminal Court is accepting supporting evidence of children's drawings of the alleged crimes committed in Darfur.

Here's the story and the kids' drawings

Monday, June 22, 2009

Electronics everywhere tremble at my name!!

Lots of aspects of life in Nairobi are different in the states, most of them I take in stride...traffic, bars on the window, sounds, food, weather all remind me of living in Costa Rica. Even driving on the left side of the road, I've found, surprisingly, to not be too big a deal....but the electricity, and the change from 110v in the US to 220v here has proved to be a thorn in my flesh!!!

You would think it would be obvious....the appliances we brought from the US have a different plug then the wall outlets. But there are adapters that make 110v plugs work here, for those things like laptops and portable dvd players that can often run on both, it’s all good. BUT for all the other stuff, we must use a transformer.

Not long after we got into our new house, I borrowed a neighbor’s US vacuum cleaner to vacuum the one swath of carpet we had that the broom was just not doing the trick on. She warned me, “It’s a US vacuum, so you’ll need to use a transformer. Adapters and transformers do not look or sound the same, yet I though she said adapter. A burned smelling growling minute later, I realize I need a transformer. I use the transformer but the damage is already done. I bemoan my naivete to Jerry and the fact it will cost us a new vacuum to our friends. They refuse to let us get them a new one, too nice.I don’t dare ask to borrow another electronic! One would think the vacuum would have been sufficient to teach me all about voltage in Kenya.

Much to the kids’ delight, household items we shipped via slow boat to Kenya back in January have just arrived, with a few US appliances! I’ve already told Olivia to plug in the charger to a remote control car in the wrong power strip and now it’s on Jerry’s stack of stuff to try and fix. Then, in trying to set up a tape deck for Olivia to listen to, that has belonged to Jerry since high school, that he insisted on bringing because it can run on 110 OR 220, I told Olivia to just plug it with the adapter. Funny noise. Burned Smell. I forgot Jerry said you had to flip a switch on the back BEFORE it would run on 220.!!!! I have promised to consult Jerry now before I plug ANYTHING ELSE in!!!

I always say electronics have an attitude problem when it comes to me. Maybe they are just afraid.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

What I was Made For

Two weeks afer arriving in Kenya (January 09), I was fulfilled. We had the oppostunity while at Africa Based Orientation (ABO), in Machakos, Kenya, to participate in ministry at area churches and schools with the theological college's students (we were living & learning during orientation school at the college). Our second Sunday there we visited Machakos Academy with another family and also a single missionary. I got the chance to teach the 1st-3rd graders' Sunday school class. I had a blast! It was fun, and SO rewarding!! This is what God designed me for! You see, I've wanted to teach children since I was a child. I've felt God calling me to teach African children since I was in high school. It was a powerful experience to make a Bible story come alive for these children in a way they might not have experienced before.

We are now searching for a church home in Nairobi (and would greatly appreciate your prayers in this endeavor!), and I can't wait 'til we find one so I can involved in teaching again!

I hope to someday volunteer at a national school here, but don't know how or when God will provide that ministry since he's called me to use these gifts to home school our own three children. I'm so grateful for the tastes of that fulfillment I felt in Machakos, and that -for a teacher- I'm ina land of boundless opportunity!

Pole Sana!

which means, "so sorry" in Swahili, for having written NOTHING here since arriving! Not that I've had a lack of potential material in our 3 1/2 months in Kenya....just a lack of energy trying to keep up with life and the family here and have enouigh left over for creative thinking at the end of th day!!! So I will now finally write some posts I've had waiting in the wings of my brain...and promise to do a better job keeping up here now that we're settled at home here in Nairobi!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

In Kenya!!!

(Sorry, this is the same post from our dust, heat and dreams blog, but I am super tired and jet lagged, dizzy.)

We made it! Early Sunday morning(Jan. 18) Kenya time we arrived after an unexpected stop in Cairo, Egypt to try and fix a water problem on the plane. An AIM AIR pilot met us in customs to help us through and welcome us! The airline misplaced one of our 15 checked bags, but they already knew about it, so we should have it in a day or so.

We are tired! We crossed eight time zones, so our bodies will need time to adjust to Kenya time. They say the best cure for jet lag is sleep, so benadryl helped us last night when the kids were was only 6pm in Indiana where we had left from, but 2 in the morning in Kenya!!
We are at a guest house for two days before we head off to orientation(henceforth to be referred to ABO, which stands for Africa Based Orientation in AIM circles) in Machakos, a couple hours southeast of here.
Grace is busy making friends already. Isaiah is a little overwhelmed with eyes easily tearing up when mom and dad are out of eyesight. Olivia's doing well so far(She did not faint or "freak out" in the plane or the airport as she predicted. Thank you for your prayers!), eager to explore the area, enjoying the flowers, weather and a surprise dvd copy of Prince Caspian I just produced to help pass the time while I slept this morning.
We are excited to finally be here! We thank God for His provision for preparing us to come and for safe travels!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I Fly Out tomorrow for New York (gateway to Kenya for us)

But, I, of course, am procrastinating from doing the things one should be doing before leaving on that flight in the morning to move overseas like: washing clothes; weighing my suitcases once more just in case and making sure my carry-ons contain no sharp dangerous objects like deadly tweezers or terror inciting nail clippers; searching under every couch, in every drawer and other nooks and crannies for treasures my children have squirreled away somewhere here at mom and dad's; giving my children a bath; going to bed...but instead I adding the following to this blog:

Four Places I go over and over and over:
Starbucks- when I have a gift card!
Aldi- cheapest grocery store
Dollar Tree- cheapest store of random household and other nonsense item
Goodwill-cheap if you find a treasure!

Four Places I'd rather be right now:
1) in Kenya already
2) at Target with money
3) with my awesome husband (he and Isaiah are in Chicago waiting for an Amtrak train to take them to New York via Pennsylvania. The girls and I fly out tomorrow and arrive BEFORE Jerry and Isaiah in New York -the length we'll go to save a buck or hundreds- so that we can be briefed at AIM headquarters before we fly to Nairobi, Kenya in east Africa, our new home!)
4) in bed already done with the stuff I'm currently avoiding doing

Four (okay, 6) Places I like to Eat:
N&J Cafe- a delicious Mediterranean eatery in Wichita, KS, where we lived once upon a time
Rosti Pollo- in Costa Rica, a rotisseri chicken place with lots of other yummy Costa Rican foods!
Queen Sheba- Ethopian restaurant in Worthington, MN, where we lived once upon a time most recently
Taco Bell
Red Robin
Burger King

Four TV Shows I could watch over and over and over:
The Office
30 Rock

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Go time! No sweat.

Wowie wow wow! (That's what one of my favorite kids' book characters, Junie B. Jones, would say!) Just about a week 'til we fly across the big ol' pond Africa bound! I'm excited, and thrilled to see the culmination of years' worth of preparation...finally the dream we've worked toward is on the horizon! What an incredible journey!!!
I'm not nervous, apprehensive or worried about any of it....not the flight/train connections, not entertaining the kids on the long transatlantic flight, the jet lag when we get there, whether all our luggage will arrive and in what state. Maybe it's because both Jerry and I have made numerous overseas trips, we just don't seem too concerned about those details, praise God!

Well, AIM takes a lot of those details out of our hands, and if it's hands- no need to worry! They submitted our visa applications, purchased our airline tickets, transport us to the airport, arrange for our pick up in Nairobi and delivery to the mission guest house, our first stop to rest and get over jet lag (which, by the way, sounded to Grace like something awful, "jet lag! That sounds as bad as getting your blood drawn!" She's a trip! Ne'er a dull moment in this family!!
My only concern really is that Olivia will share Jerry's and my excitement at finally arriving in Kenya and drinking in all the sites and sounds of that rich and vibrant place! I pray she will make good friends fast. As I mentioned, I'm sure, I believe for her that will be the key to releasing her anxiety and embracing our new life in Africa.

We won't be "at home", in the home we'll be living in Nairobi at first. First couple days are at the guest house to decompress, then three weeks in Africa Based Orienation AIM provides to give us all the info. we need about Kenyan/ African culture, language learning (Swahili), and everything else we need to know to survive our first few months in Africa. We'll even get a personal "guide" to show us how to ride local public transport (which makes me chuckle....after countless buses and taxis in Costa Rica, I think I could handle whatever Nairobi can throw out us, but I'm glad AIM's got ALL the bases covered. After orientation, we spend 4 weeks with a Kenyan family to experience in person all we've learned about the culture, and more I'm sure! Please pray Grace can keep her opinions on food to herself!! It's hard for me to make a meal she will eat without complaints, so brand new cuisine makes us worry she'll embarass or hurt the feelings of our Kenyan hosts....we have of course discussed it all with her, but she has trouble holding back her emotions :)
FYI, a typical Kenyan meal would probably consist of: meat (beef or goat) or beans, sukuma wiki (“Sukuma wiki” is Swahili for “push the week.” Sukuma wiki is kale, cooked with fat, tomatoes, onions, salt, and beef flavoring. This is also a main food of East Africans because it is inexpensive and easy to grow. The locals can eat this many days in a row on very little money and it gets them through the week.) and ugali (Ugali is a main food of East Africans. It is made with maize flour and water and is cooked until the mixture is hard. It is served in large brick-shaped pieces and is usually eaten with meat, chicken, fish, or vegetables.

I know I've been writing sparsely on this blog, there has been lots to keep us busy as we prepare to move overseas, as you can imagine. After the first three months in Kenya, when we're finally into our rental house, I DO plan to write more and share all the new and "fun" adventures we're sure to have living in Nairobi, encountering big bugs, new foods, new neighbors and a host of other new challenges we haven't yet considered. Will let you know once we've arrived in Kenya! PLEASE pray for us and thank you for your friendship and encouragement all along the path of this journey!!


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Up all night, but the packing is DONE!! I must say, I really hate moving, but think we've picked the wrong profession in that case!

Sure are looking forward to Nairobi's warm weather we'll get to experience first hand in less than a month!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Packing today!!! Ugh! I think this is the FINAL pack! This is the stuff we're loading into a rented trailer and taking with us tomorrow to headquarters in New York for shipment to Kenya. Pray, pray, pray we get it all done with as little pain as possible!!!

Jerry and I are also feeling frustrated that we see no chance for time alone for the next three months as we spend Christmas with family in cabins in West Virginia, travel to Kenya, spend three weeks in dorms at Africa Based Orientation and then 4 weeks in a Kenyan family's home. Please play we can find stealed moments for closeness!

Monday, December 15, 2008

7th Anniversary

Seven years and still so happy together! Though we're not together today (he's 722 miles away, in fact), he called me first thing to wish me a happy anniversary. He's taking care of the family, getting us ready to move to Africa. We'll celebrate when he gets back, along with celebrating reaching 100% support!
My man is so incredible he is now in Minnesota loading our stuff that was in storage during training into a trailer in weather with a predicted HIGH of -3 deg, low of -13!! Now THAT's LOVE!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

fear, other feelings, and the rest of the story long since I have written, but so much I have wanted to say!!
There's been so much to do...packing, printing & mailing newsletters, writing LOTS of thank yous for jaw dropping generosity, filling out Kenya visa applications, making travel plans, shopping for Christmas, shopping for a move to Africa, celebrating an early Christmas with my family, celebrating Thanksgiving....just a lot!

The countdown to our financial clearance deadline last week was a nailbiter! It was the day when we found out of our target date to leave for Africa in January was going to happen or if we would have to wait until July. My feelings vacillated between fear and peace. The peace He provided, never fails me with calm when needed...and He knows when we needed it. Seemed like if I was stressed with details, worry, Jerry was a rock. If he was stressin', I was cool. We work so well. God knew that full well when he brought us together :) About the fear over the deadline...years ago fear ruled my life, but since my return to Him from my prodigal days, it's not been the debilitating frightening pain as before, just little meanders when I forget who's really in charge and got us all in His palm. And the dream helped to bring clarity to the situation....I dream vivid dreams all the time, often very strange, I think perhaps caused by depression meds, but most the time I just find them entertaining. Every now there's one so real that I wake shaken to the core. The last one of those was the dream in high school of being on death row and walking to the gallows under the glare of a poisonous crowd, save one friend that was the only one that wanted me to live. I was hung in my dream. Woke up choking. Yikes. This dream was worse. It was that I saw a snake had found it's way into our house and in the scuffle to try and get it out, Grace and Isaiah were bitten...and died. I literally felt the anguish and loss in my dream, and felt I lived through days of loss. And then I woke up to the "problem" before me, a mere money illness, no death, no loss of a precious child. Just another wacky dream or God's creative way of bringing things into perspective? :)

Given my own experiences with God, how I could've doubted Him is tragic...but really I didn't DOUBT, just wasn't sure His timing was aligned with ours. So I'm delighted to say God moved that mountain! He brought in $15,000 in donations and $3,000 in monthly pledges in 4 weeks!!! Only GOD can do that! Hallelujah! I am so excited to finally be going to Africa! We're at the culminating point of literally years of praying, planning and preparing and am just jumpin' out of my skin with joy!!!

The only dampening of this happpiness is for my precious first daughter. Olivia is very anxious, nearly paralyzed with fear. She just doesn't know what this move will look like for her and is leaving the familiar. I cry out to God for peace for her that I feel. I KNOW God will certainly provided for her emotional needs as he does for the financial ones, but will appreciate your help in taking it to the Father. I am praying that she will quickly make good friends in Kenya, I believe that if that happens, she will be able to relax and everything else will fall into place for her.

Olivia and Jerry are in Minnesota now gathering the belongings we left stored there when we went for training in North Carolina. I think this is great timing for Olivia to see her good friends again and bid another farewell. They're staying at her best friend's house and Olivia was even recruited at the 11th hour to participate in our church's kids' Christmas play, which she will just love. I just wish I could be there to see it. It's so fun to watch her with her friends, like a flower that opens to the sun in the morning, -having friends that love her for who she is brings out the real wacky fun-loving, creative, good-natured loyal Olivia.

I mentioned how my life experience with God has given me freedom from fear...let me elaborate a bit...I became pregnant with Olivia my freshman year in college, in the midst of a depressed, lonely, dark, rebellious period in my life as a prodigal, running from God and my family in trying to discern my true identity. Becoming pregnant as a single college student at the Christian college my parents' attended, and being the daughter of missionaries, I was devastated...but I now know she saved my life, probably...certainly saved me from more heart ache. Because when alone in that bathroom stall reading a positive pregnant test, I knew my choices would now effect another life beside my own only. Had it not been for Olivia, I might have fallen into drugs or had more bad boyfriends in my history, I probably would have run from God much, much longer. But pregnancy is the hardest indiscretion to hide :) I had to face head on the turmoil inside that was causing me to make my life an effective tornado of bad decisions. It was awful walking around campus being the one every one knew had messed up. It felt awful telling Mom and Dad over the phone long distance in Costa Rica what I had done. Bringing my parents to tears was like being stabbed. So thanks to God bringing Olivia into my life, I stopped smoking immediately, eventually cut loose the bad boyfriends bringing me down more than building me up, and eventually (after a LONG 9 agonizing months and 2 weeks after her birth) gave in to God because of the persistent prayers and presence of my Mom and her words I'll never forget, "You can always come home." They were a salve to my soul. So with a one month old Olivia, I went back home to Costa Rica with Mom and lived home again for a year while seeking healing and redemption from God and my parents and myself, all the while struggling to learn how to be a single mom. I was forgiven and clung to His incredible grace like a security blanket. I knew what depths I was capable of without Him and how undeserving of His great love I am! This is when the height of fear fought to take residence within me. I believe now it was the enemy seeking to keep God's plan, that we now see coming to fruition, from occurring. I could not sleep at night, when I tried to still my mind to sleep, thoughts of the depths I'd sunk to plagued me, movies slowly played of horrible scenes I had willingly participated in and hideous fears wrapped their icy fingers around my heart. Irrational fears that Olivia's biological father would somehow legally take her away from me forever (even though he had attempted NO contact, or to support her in any way). I was lonely and incredibly guilty since my choices meant she was growing up without a father, and that she would one day have to face the fact that he had chosen to not seek a relationship with her. I was sure I had destroyed both our lives and doomed us to a welfare existence. I SO dreaded going to bed because that's when that merciless frigid hand would squeeze harder and harder and make me feel smaller and smaller.

I don't remember a specific turning point. I just know it got better, the more I hungered for and sought God, the easier it was to sleep, to trust. It took years, but God took the fear and gave me joy, "His greater joy"!!! I can't help but shake my head in amazement that through His grace and that of my family, we made it through college -as a single mom & todder; and an amazing man, brought by God, somehow fell in love with this flawed and broken person and saw beauty and wanted to also become Olivia's true father by adopting her a year after our wedding in Costa Rica. Yes, I klnow that was a huge run-on, but breaking up the incredible miracle God has done in this life....just couldn't do it. So now, you know the story and can share our amazement that God has taken the life I shattered and arranged all those broken pieces, made a beautiful family and made our dream for family ministry, to serve his purposes in Africa through aviation, imminent. Wow!

My God is in the business of miracles. I praise You, Jesus!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wish all days could be like today

(I wrote this a couple weeks ago and forgot it was waiting to post!)
Wish all days could be like today...The perfect home school day in our household:
-because I was able to get up on time ( I love to BE up early, and get a lot of stuff done before much of the day is gone...but I don't like to GET up early. I'm a night owl, not a morning person. It takes me a while and a cup of coffee to get going in the morning...and usually by the time I've stumbled out of bed and have my coffee, I must rush to get Grace & Isaiah ready for preschool: dressed, hair brushed or gelled (Isaiah's mohawk), and fed breakfast), and I usually throw a sweatshirt on to camouflage the fact I'm still in my pajamas when I drop them off)
-I got Grace and Isaiah to pre-school on time (they're supposed to be there at 8, at which time they have stories read for them for 20 minutes while their teachers do devotions with the director, then their teachers take them to their Grace let's me hear it when they're late and have missed story time)
-Olivia actually got up when I told her to so she was dressed and fed and READING by the time I came back from dropping off the littler squirts (She is like me- a night owl and not a morning person- and I usually have to holler at her about ten times to get up, after turning on her light and opening up curtains and leaving her door open so she can hear her brother and sister being loud; and then I usually resort to physically pulling her up to sitting and making her climb down from the top bunk so she's on her feet)
-I got the dishes washed and kitchen cleaned up while Olivia read and did math (I can't face the dishes at night, I'm usually so wiped out from the day and just want to hang out with Jerry and relax before the bedtime routines begin...but it's hard to find a good time during the day to get them done. Morning is ideal, but I don't want to have Olivia wait on me while I wash when I actually get something done that needed to be done while she's working on her own, it's stinkin' awesome!!) Added to the fact is that she did math on her own, WITHOUT COMPLAINT, WHINING, or TEARS...which is more often than not the norm -which is why math, along with spelling, handwriting and language arts- are the first things we do, so the stuff she likes more: history & science, are a treat for doing the necessary evils)
-We were focused and got A LOT of studying done (I get distracted easily, if I'm not careful I can waste an hour on the computer when I had intended to look something up super quick and get back to teaching. Unfortunately, Olivia's the same and likes to try and multi-task also....but I have to keep an eagle eye on her to make sure she's really paying the most attention to the priority task at hand- learning.)
-We were done with "school" before noon!! (At our best, we can get "school" done in 2 hours and have the rest of the day for whatever, however, with distractions and interruptions, some days were not done until late afternoon!)

I've been very blessed so far this year to have only one student, as we took advantage of the opportunity for Grace & Isaiah to go the MK Station (Missionary Kid Pre-school, here on this mission center) 8a-12p weekdays. We leave here this weekend (We left Tuesday, Nov. 11) and I will then also start home schooling Grace in Kindergarten work (and Isaiah when he wants to be helpful; and keeping Isaiah busy with something else when he's not helpful). I am in awe of the home school moms I know who school multiple children and have more than one under school age child. 

PLEASE Comment and give me your tips, Wonder Moms!

Don't misunderstand, I love teaching, love home schooling and love that I get the opportunity to do so. I am blessed to have the privilege to be home with my children!! The biggest difficulty with it we have is (big surprise) avoiding being derailed by the "tyranny of the urgent": housework, phone calls, potty training (which we are in the midst of with Isaiah, which means an alarm goes off every 15-30 mins. and I stop whatever I'm teaching to dash off and take the boy potty....or clean up an accident and change his clothes), getting drinks for kids, snacks for kids, setting up a game on the computer for the littler kids, paying bills, making meals, doing laundry, checking e-mail, checking e-bay, writing/editing/stuffing envelopes with/ labeling envelopes for/ sending newsletters, updating the blogs :), taking a get the idea.

Why did we choose to homeschool? It started out with just a couple reasons, but we have since added to that list with the new reasons we've discovered. At first, we started home schooling because we planned,  since getting married,  to go into overseas missions and are interested in being posted in an outlying "upcountry" location and not a large city or mission center, which would make our family well suited for since we are home schooling  (because we would not be "tied" to living and working only in  areas with appropriate schools).  Second, since I got a degree in elementary education, it seemed silly to me to send my child to school when I was capable of teaching her on my own, while at the same time being certain a strong foundation of faith and good character is being developed in her. Though, I should say, I don't believe a degree in education us necessary to home school. I think any parent that truly desires to provide the best education they can for their child is capable of doing so; there is so much good home school curriculum out there for both the seasoned educator and the parent with no teaching experience.

In one our first years home schooling, the decision was cemented for me as our educational method of choice, when while doing a Bible assignment reading, and in response to questions I asked about it, Olivia chose to give her heart to Jesus. I got to be an integral part in her conversion BECAUSE we chose to home school!! I also got the joy of being the one to teach her to read...and the list goes on!

I know my children, their strengths, weaknesses, learning styles and ways to motivate them better than any teacher in a classroom of dozens of students could.
We get to:
tailor what our children learn and when they learn it. We include biographies of missionaries and as we learn about people around the world, we pray for them!
Build intimate and meaningful relationships with our children.
Tailor  teaching to fit our children's dominant learning styles.
Give our children in-depth, personal attention in any subject with which they struggle or excel. We are able to teach our values and beliefs to our children and address their questions when they have them.
Protect our children from the negative influences they may encounter outside the home. 
We can Nurture our children's natural (musical, artistic) talents so they thrive and grow.We are able to address "big issues" with our children when WE feel they're ready. Share with our children the common, everyday joys of life. 
Teach them how to manage a household, cook and clean so they are more independent and prepared for life on their own. Help our children mature through the difficult times in their lives. We can even take vacations during the school year (and make them educational)!
(the following reason is copied from a blog I came across of a home schooling family with 13 children. I liked how she phrased this, so I copied it in, her original post is at:

 "Not only do we believe that parents should be the primary adult influence on their children's lives, but we also believe that siblings should be each other's best friends. Family should ALWAYS be a greater influence than peers.

When teenagers spend 7 hours per day at school ... and 3 hours per day in after-school extra-curricular activities ... and 2 hours per day doing homework .... and 8 hours per day sleeping ... that only leaves a couple hours per day for relationships with family members. It is nearly impossible for siblings to be each other's best friends, if they never see each other.

If our older children were gone 10 hours per day, they would not have very close relationships with our youngest children. However, because they have all spent their days working together, learning together, and playing together, our children are VERY close to the siblings that are even 10-15 years younger or older than they are."