Living, Learning & Loving La Vida Nueva

Sunday, December 30, 2012

"All My Bags are Packed.....

.....I'm ready to go."  Okay, not really and not really.  But, close!  I keep thinking of the song Leaving on a Jet Plane by John Denver.  Jonathan and I spent the better part of Christmas Day trying to get a handle on our packing status. Since we moved out, I have felt completely scatterbrained by all the things that were still floating around.  We got rid of so much stuff and yet I still felt like there was way too much to fit into our nine suitcases.  For days I have been wanting to bring all the suitcases up into my parents' room (which they have graciously donated to us while we are here at their house) and set them out where I could see what's in them.  Up until now, the room has looked like a tornado came through.  The main problem was, nothing had a home!  You can't clean up when there isn't a right place to put things.  The few suitcases we already had packed fairly full were in the garage.  The rest of our stuff was floating around with no place to call home.

Christmas day we sorted, whittled and packed things into tons of suitcases.  We left a few outfits out to rotate over the next week and a half and the rest of our stuff will be zipped up soon.  I still have medicines and toiletries to find a home for, along with our vacuum sealed memory foam mattress pad and my most beloved pillow. I like my sleep, can you tell?

If you are easily bored, you might as well click the (x) now.  This is not going to be my most exciting post.  But, if you are interested in what one might pack in nine suitcases to move to Africa, you should continue.

First is my house bag.  This baby has my favorite things from home decorations to kitchen utensils.  I have packed my salt and pepper shaker collection, favorite kitchen knife and measuring spoons, Jonathan's hotpot from his bachelor days, the table runner I won in a drawing last year, a wooden sign from my in-laws in Spanish, two small frames filled with pressed flowers which I bought on our honeymoon, my cookbooks and aprons, and some hand made quilts and blankets.  I haven't weighed this suitcase yet, but I don't think it's at the limit.  I'm sure I will come across a few more things I'd like to throw in this bag.  Oh, and in the top are a couple books on health care and a disk called "Where There is No Doctor."  Jono is reading up on some medical things just to familiarize himself for instances which would otherwise catch us off guard.


For the next bag I made a list of contents to put in the outside pouch.  The house bag is too random to try to list everything.  But, this bag is pretty much filled with my clothes.  Scarves and gloves are in the top, my summer, winter and maternity clothes are tucked in here, too.  I hope to get my pregnant winter coat in here along with my winter robes.  I think that will put me at about 50 lbs.  It kinda stinks to be packing my entire maternity wardrobe this time around.  I had those massive lovely clothes packed away, ready to be brought by a visitor at a later time.  But, I suppose this is as good a time as any. :o)


Right now my ABO bag is combined with Kyle's ABO stuff.  This will have to change.  This is the one suitcase we will take with us to orientation in Kenya.  Africa Based Orientation is a three-week training seminar where we'll get a giant briefing on life in Africa.  I still have to finalize what all we need to take for this, but right now I have our clothes together and I have bug spray on my list of things to get.  Because the food at ABO is completely authentic African cuisine, I will also be packing tons of crackers, granola bars and oatmeal packets in case my ultra-sensitive belly can't handle the vast difference in food choices.  Thankfully, the intense nausea has subsided but I am still battling with occasional kick-backs from various things I eat.  The little green photo album on the top of this bag is for Kyle.  I printed off pictures of all of his aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and great grandparents so he can know his family even if he is on the other side of the world. 


Please excuse the poor quality of the next photo.  I don't know how to work my camera.  This red suitcase is quickly filling up with Kyle's and Ellee's things.  I purchased winter clothes for Kyle for the coming winter (southern hemisphere).  He also has lots of his books and a few of his toys in here.  For Ellee, I have a few special things already picked out, as well as basics like a new paci, the breast pump and the Boppy.  I am taking this Boppy with me if I have to wear it around my waist on the plane.  I absolutely loved using it the entire time I nursed Kyle.  If I have to, I'll go buy a vacuum seal bag for it, or I'll slide it in with the mattress pad before we vacuum that out.  Okay, so this is the baby bag. 


More boring clothes.  Wouldn't life be easier if we didn't have to wear these?  But, I digress.  This bag isn't anywhere near full 'cause it's only holding my jammies/lounge clothes and church dresses.  We will likely put the mattress pad and whatever else we vacuum seal in this bag.


I hate that all my pictures are so terrible.  Sorry!  This is Jonathan's summer suitcase which still has tons of room.  The other is Kyle's suitcase he's living out of right now. We won't be taking much of that stuff because we're headed to summer weather.  So most of what he is using right now will be headed for the consignment pile come January 7th.


Before you fall asleep, we're almost done.  On the right are my winter clothes I'm wearing right now.  Some of these will be coming and some will be staying.  This suitcase will actually become my ABO bag.  Next is Jonathan's winter bag and the other is his church bag.  The couple of suit coats and ties he is taking along will go in there, too, real soon.  I'm not sure what these things weigh, but I think they are well under and we will be able to fit lots of little items in around Jonathan's things.  Thus the lists.... I don't want to get to Africa and feel like I can't find any thing because we have so many suitcases. 


I don't really know when we'll be able to unpack, but I do know that for now.... We are (almost) packed.  Before you comment and say "make sure you mix up your suitcases a little in case one gets lost", I am planning on doing that.  I just wanted to get all of our stuff sorted but as I actually zip things up, I'm sure I'll rearrange a lot.  My lists will need some adjusting.  Most importantly, I will tuck special house items in each bag because I can't bear the thought of my house bag getting lost and all of my precious things being gone.  We are also marking all of our bags with bright teal Duck tape.

The only other bag I'll be packing is for my sweet little Ellee.  My mom will bring that as her second checked bag when she comes after the birth.  A friend has offered me the chance to go through all of her daughter's clothes and pick out some special things to take for Ellee.  I cannot wait!

I'll leave this post without dwelling on the extreme sadness I feel right now. So....

~Abby

Friday, December 7, 2012

Last Days

Nothing has made the idea of moving to Africa a reality quite like getting out of our apartment.  Over the past months we have spent our lives preparing for this giant move.  With the Lord's help, we have raised thousands of dollars in monetary support.  We have filled out visa forms, gathered loads of official documents, made tons of copies, gotten vaccines, completed medicine exams.... the list goes on.  For months I have been following the weather of the town we are moving to, which by the way is still chilly and rainy during these summer months in the southern hemisphere.  But, even after doing all these things and telling nearly everyone we come in contact with that we are planning to move to Africa in January, it has seemed like a far off thing that would happen eventually.  Actually packing our suitcases, gutting our home of almost everything we can't take with us, and parting with many sentimental baby items has made this idea seem so real.

Working on my suitcase

Sorting Jonathan's keepers and goers from his throwers and givers

The start of three huge van loads to the Goodwill

My keep-no-matter-what-take-if-it'll-fit pile

I haven't loved everything about living here. Certainly, I could've done without our obnoxious neighbor and especially her constant cigarette smoke.  The apartment itself isn't anything special, and in fact we have come to realize in the past two years that it was pretty poorly constructed.  But, it has been home and it has been the first place in our married life (and my whole life really) which I got to decorate all on my own.  There were plenty of things I would've liked to have changed, namely the wallpapered bathrooms and kitchen.  However, here we hung decorations, set up a darling nursery for our son, I had a wreath on my door.... I had a real kitchen where the appliances all worked and the water ran out of the faucet in a steady stream.  Most of all, this is the home where Kyle has changed from a seven pound infant to a twenty five pound little boy.  It is hard to look around and see him all over this place and know that these memories will fade even more quickly once we're out of here.

People move and that's the way life is.  We could just as easily be moving down the street or across the country.  All the same sentiments would apply as far as the home itself goes, because obviously you can't pack memories in a suitcase and you have to rely on your mind to hold on to them.  Of course, if we were moving across the country, we would've rented a moving truck and we wouldn't have had to part with so many of our things.  But, I think what makes this move especially hard is not knowing at all what to expect on the other end.  I know we will be renting a place to live, but I don't know if it will be a round hut or a concrete house.  I know we are supposed to have access to standard kitchen appliances but I have absolutely no idea what kinds of groceries we'll be able to find in rural Africa.  Somehow I doubt I'll be making a lot of barbeque meatloaf or baked mac and cheese.  I don't know if I'll have a wreath on my door or curtains on my windows.  I just don't know what setting up "home" in Mokhotlong, Lesotho is going to look like and it makes leaving this comfortable home difficult.

I remember when I really felt my heart completely surrendering to the call of missions, I said I didn't want to be comfortable.  And I meant it.  Saying it and doing it are very different things.  While I wouldn't want to be doing anything else and I can't imagine feeling satisfied with life if Jonathan worked a normal job and we lived in a normal house, it it still very uncomfortable for me to pack up and actually go.  I am being forced to find comfort in my God, my Protector and the One in whom I find strength.  I find comfort in my husband and I am thankful that I am not going alone.  When I look at Kyle, I am comforted that I get to keep him with me, although it hurts me to be taking him from so many others who love him so deeply.

Whenever I try to imagine stepping off of a plane and planting my feet in Africa, I can barely grasp what it will feel like to think, "this is home now."  I want Africa to be our home and I truly hope to be more African than American one day.  I am thoroughly excited about tackling life there, no matter what it might throw at us, and I've even thought about what it will be like if they don't have cheesecake.  I love cheesecake.  I day dream of Kyle playing in a group of black children and I try to imagine what kind of critters he might come walking through my door holding.  After two years of watching my husband work faithfully serving chicken to people every day, I can't wait to see him doing what he loves to do, study and teach the the Bible.  Going is exciting and thrilling and I can hardly believe it's me doing it.

Leaving is so much harder than going.  I feel like a part of my heart is being crushed when I think about leaving for three years.  I have to remind myself that we aren't dying.  I just can't bear to think about my little boy being five before he comes back to visit his aunts and uncles and cousins, some he won't have even met yet.  I know people have been doing this for years, and I know people who are doing it right now.  But it is so hard to think that I am doing it.  It seems as if now that is it getting close, time is in fast forward.  Where I have been looking at everything in terms of months, I am now seeing everything in terms of days.  And they are few.  A dear friend and fellow AIM missionary wrote us this week and said, "Close well, cry well, hold your loved ones for a long time!"

I know my God will sustain me.  I know He will sustain our family and dear friends here at home.  I pray that the peace we feel knowing we are serving Him will outweigh our grief as we leave and months from now when we are homesick.  I pray He will keep us safe and healthy and that we will be able to enjoy many furloughs here with our loved ones.  And I pray He will keep me from being a blubbering mess for the next month and that I will be able to enjoy these last days rather than dread the coming of another.

Last night in the rocking chair I nursed that sweet boy in many many nights.  He loves books.

Last night in his comfy crib.  Sorry it is blurry, I was trying to be quick and not wake him up.  He still woke up, but he went back to sleep.... eventually :) Sleep tight, little buddy. Lightning and Simba are coming with, don't worry.

~Abby

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Trooper

 Yesterday my sweet little guy had to get his last "standard" baby shot as well as a blood draw done with the pediatrician.  Then, today he had to get his yellow fever vaccine in order to travel from Kenya to Lesotho.  I didn't have to get the YF because I am expecting and it is a live virus vaccine.  But, Jono got it and he said it was painful.  This coming from the guy who had his wisdom teeth yanked out and didn't need any pain killers afterwards.  I was worried about how badly Kyle might react to the shot as he isn't exactly a huge fan of them.  Typically he complains for a good day or so after he gets any.  But, not today.  My big trooper was easily consoled with a lollipop.


Just to be sure that Mr. Baby was a-okay, we stopped into Sonic for some ice cream, too.  He was good as new after that.  Ice cream will do that to you.


~Abby

Friday, November 9, 2012

10 Weeks

These past few weeks have been some of the longest of my life.  I remember being "nauseous" with Kyle.  But, I only remember "getting sick" a handful of times with him.  This time, I am spending my days going between the couch and the bathroom.  My appetite is almost non existent.  Kyle is probably eating twice as much as I am.  Even when something tastes good, I can't eat more than a few bites before maxing out.  I'm miserable.  I can't even imagine dealing with this until 15 weeks (the average time that I'm hearing this "morning sickness" lets up).  Over the past four and a half weeks I've lost 10 lbs. Under normal circumstances that might seem like a good thing.  But, right now I feel so weak it's scaring me.

Yesterday at the doctor I had another ultrasound done to determine a due date.  The little 10 week old baby inside me was kicking and waving like crazy!  My due date is June 7th but as I learned all too well with Kyle, babies come when they get good and ready.  Since this baby will be born in the southern hemisphere, it will actually be a winter baby!  I love winter.  It means lots of little booties and hats and warm blankies.  Can't wait!

I started a third nausea medicine yesterday, Reglan.  So far Phenegren and Zofran have had no effect on me.  I'm praying this one is successful.  I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed with trying to get my house packed up and life ready to move around the world two months from tomorrow.  Words cannot adequately express how thankful I am that my family is here to help me out.  I feel completely helpless; I can't change Kyle's diapers without getting sick, I can't cook without getting sick.  I can barely open the refrigerator without gagging.  Basically I'm good for nothing and I hate it.  So, I'm so glad my mom, dad and sisters are able to help me especially since Jono is in the middle of an extremely busy semester. Although, he is doing the best he can to help with Kyle when he isn't at work.  Thanks, babe!

I am also thankful that despite my sickness, the baby is growing and developing well.  Apparently it doesn't take a whole lot to sustain a little life.  I can't wait to meet you, little baby, and I can't wait to feel better so I can be more excited that you're in there!

Sorry the picture is backwards, I'm using PhotoBooth as I'm too lazy to get my real camera.

~Abby 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hurdles

When we began moving towards Africa, one of the major hurdles in my mind was the shots.  I know it sounds pathetic.... and it is.  A few weeks ago, we had blood drawn for our physicals.  Although I used to despise getting my blood drawn, after one pregnancy I got pretty used to it.  Shots, on the other hand, I haven't had much opportunity to get used to.  So..... I hate them.

I'm glad to have them over with.  Jonathan got all three we were supposed to get while I only had to get two.  I'll have to carry a medical waiver until I can get yellow fever once I wean 2nd baby.  I don't mind.  I'll avoid mosquitos and all will be fine, I hope.

For your enjoyment, here is a photo of me laid out on the floor, feet up in a chair, attempting to not pass out as our super sweet nurse administered the miserable things.  I told Jono I'd feed him salad for a week if he posted the video he took while she was doing it.  But, I guess I'll share a photo so you can at least get a little laugh.

She gave me a Dum-Dum to keep my mind off of it.  


Jumping hurdles over here.  Africa, here we come!
~Abby

Friday, October 12, 2012

Wednesday

The week after we left candidate training at Africa Inland Mission in February, we saw the breakdown of our needed outgoing expenses.  The $37,000 bottom line nearly made my jaw hit the floor.  I had guessed that $15,000 sounded like a plenty large enough number to have to raise, on top of thousands of dollars worth of monthly support.  We were thinking that monthly support, requiring churches and believers to commit to a constant withdraw from their bank accounts in order to supply our needs, would be the most difficult thing to raise.  Looking at a that five digit figure made us change our minds.  "Where exactly does $37,000 come from," I thought.  We certainly didn't have it to offer and didn't know where we would encounter that kind of money.

Of course, we didn't expect to find it from one source.  We've made many contacts and faithfully, the Lord has provided through an abundance of sacrificial gifts.  Also, because we don't receive any financial support from AIM until we leave for the field, our monthly supporters who have begun sending to AIM already have helped grow our outgoing account significantly.

A large miscommunication happened over the past months as we have been trying to track the amount of money being donated to our account.  Of course, we've received many gifts which we have passed along to AIM to be deposited into our outgoing fund.  But, when gifts are given online, or as monthly support is sent straight to AIM, we have a more difficult time tracking our financial status.  So, over the past months, as we have prepared to send out our update letters, we have asked our "go-to" person at AIM the balance of our outgoing expenses.  Each month we received a percentage.  And each month we have been blown away at the increase from the past month.  Well, it wasn't until last week that we realized that the percentage we had been given didn't include the car I mentioned in my last post.  We knew about the car, so we thought our percentage included that large fund also.  But, alas, we were being quoted the percentage without the car.  Two weeks ago, we thought we were at 96% on our outgoing expenses.  Then, once we uncovered the miscommunication, we went back to about 55%.

I was shocked.  Jonathan was shocked.  We didn't know exactly where the communication break down happened and it didn't really matter.  What mattered was that $17,000 was still left to be raised in less than two months and we were determined.  Although, I admit to saying, "so much for leaving in January" and crying hard for about five minutes.  Lacking $17,000 and knowing it has to come in within less than two months is an overwhelming feeling.  I like to stay on top of things and I don't like feeling completely helpless.

We made a large number of contacts that night.  We prayed that night.  We set what we thought was a very lofty goal of $10,000 for this month.  Maybe we have a lack of faith since we weren't praying for every penny this month.  We figured, $10,000 this month, $7,000 next month.  I felt crazy praying for that amount of money to come in over a few short weeks.

On Tuesday I received a call from an old friend of Jonathan's family.  I've heard his name over and over again and somewhere in the recesses of my mind I knew that he lived in North Augusta.  He had read in Jonathan's parents' newsletter that we were still in need of financial support in order to move to Africa.  He is on the leadership board of his small church in N. Augusta and was asking if Jonathan could come Wednesday to their leadership meeting.  With less than 24 hours notice, Jonathan's boss graciously let him off of work over the lunch hour to attend that meeting.  He shared with those four men about our heart and plans for ministry in Africa.  He shared our needs and our desire to leave in January.

Jonathan came home from that meeting Wednesday encouraged by the interest expressed by the men with whom he had spoken.  We were excited to see how the Lord would use this unexpected contact to answer our prayers.  That evening, we received a phone call asking where they could send a $5,000 check.

My jaw nearly hit the floor..... again.

Wednesday night, I overheard Jonathan tell Kyle as he put him to sleep, "Okay, buddy, we don't have to pray for $10,000 any more.  Now we only have to pray for about $3,000."  Kyle folded his hands and the two of them proceeded to pray for the remainder of our goal.

It is not even the middle of the month and our prayers are already being answered.  Not including that check, over the past two weeks ~$2,500 has been given in one time gifts.  Is it too greedy to now start praying for the whole remaining amount this month so we can rest peacefully next month? :) Lord willing, about $3,000 comes in for our monthly support.  So, we are past our goal of $10,000 for this month.  $5,000 + $2,500 + $3,000 (October monthly support) + $3,000 (November monthly support) = $13,500.  We might as well move on to praying for another $3,500, see from where God brings that, be done with the $17,000 all together and throw a party.

Our remaining monthly support is down to $450/month.

Even when our faith is small and our prayers are weak, He is faithful to answer us.  "If we are faithless, he remains faithful." 2 Timothy 2:13

Keep praying, folks.  Our God is answering!
~Abby

Thursday, October 11, 2012

As Time Continues...

...I feel like I am standing still.  Actually, I sort of feel like I'm moving backwards.  I had high hopes a few months ago that this month of October would be a relaxing one before I had to begin packing in November.  I've lost all hope of that.

Less than three months from now we hope to be in Africa.  And before last week, that was seeming more and more like a fact and less and less like a hope.  Now, there is one thing standing in our way.  There is a word that makes people squirm in their seats.  There is one thing that I am increasingly tired of talking about.

Money.

Over the past months, I have gotten very used to discussing money and our needs in order to move to and serve in Africa.  I'm still tired of it, but at least it has gotten easier.  And I have seen God provide for our support through many unsuspecting avenues.  And yet now, as we sit a little over a month and a half from the financial cut off date for leaving in January, I see the dollar signs and my faith seems as big as a grain of salt.

To me, our monthly support seems so close and yet so far away.  We have about $550/month that still remains.  A few weeks ago, we were much closer to being set on our monthly support.  Now we have second Baby Saint on the way and our monthly requirements went up.  I am trying not to be anxious about that and trust that God knew we would be expecting at this time and He will provide for our needs.

Our outgoing expenses have been a big headache.  For starters, the ~$37,000 target was like sticker shock at its worst.  About $22,000 of that covers everything we need in order to move to Africa, including our medical exams, shots, support mail outs, airfare, extra baggage allowances, language acquisition course, house set up (to furnish our rental home) and appliance set up (since rentals don't come with any), our orientation school, and I think that is about all.  On top of all that, we also have to purchase a rough and tumble vehicle for traversing the Lesotho mountains.  That's an additional $15,000, which includes the $2,000+ in taxes we get to pay for it.  Right now, we have everything except for the car fund covered.  That means we still have around $15,000 more that has to be raised before we can be cleared to leave.


Both our monthly and outgoing numbers seem high to us.  I've had people tell me that I shouldn't feel guilty about the amount of money it requires to be a foreign missionary and that I shouldn't expect to survive on next to nothing simply because we live on "other people's money."  We don't look at it as other people's money; it's God's money.  We understand that people give to the Lord and the Lord provides for our needs.  I've also heard it asked why our targets are where they are since the cost of living in Africa is significantly lower than it is here in the US.  The only way I can explain it is, as missionaries, there are many things within our budget which wouldn't be necessary for the average American.  For instance, we have to put a significant amount of money away each month to eventually bring our family back for furlough.  We also have to pay a ~12% administration fee to cover the services AIM's offices provide for us.  And we have factored into our budget money to cover ministry expenses like regular country-wide travel.
I will say that although the numbers seem high, when I see the itemized list, I understand perfectly why so much money is required.  Believe it or not (and I didn't), the ~$1,000 allotted in our outgoing for medical expenses appears to be less than we're gonna need for physical exams, blood work and shots for just Jonathan and me.



I like a plan.  I like to be prepared well in advance.  I like all my ducks to be in a row.  Having no idea where the money is going to come from puts me in a tough situation.  How many times have I heard, "God is never in a hurry, but always on time"?  While I believe that, I have a really hard time accepting it.  I don't want to be nervous on Thanksgiving that our money isn't going to be there on December 1st.   I'm finding it nearly impossible to not be anxious about where the money is going to come from.

We really are trusting that God will provide in time.  We have to because we can't wait until December 1st to begin getting shots, packing up our apartment, planning what we'll need to take or leave behind.  We are planning to move out of our apartment in the middle of December to save on rent since we'll be traveling a lot between the holidays and visiting with our families before we move.  Another reason it all seems so unnerving is that for over a year I've been anticipating a move in January.  Now that things look unsure, I'm struggling as I try to prepare to leave everyone without really knowing if we'll be leaving then.  The remaining funds seem like a giant cloud following me around daily.  We are praying big things and expecting big answers.  Will you join us?

~Abby
**I wrote this blog on Tuesday.  Then Wednesday happened.  To be continued.....**

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Second Baby Saint

I am having a hard time grasping that I'm now the mother of two.  It has been hard enough to believe that Kyle baby is my own.  But to think that the I now have twice the blessings seems..... unreal.


During the middle of my teenage years, I began having trouble with ovarian cysts.  As far as I know, they don't really run in my family.  But, I had my first at age 15 and my second at 19.  They were both very painful and bothersome.  Moreover, both of the doctors I went to for treatment warned me that with my propensity to ovarian cysts, it could be nearly impossible to conceive.  Hearing that at 15 was hard.  Hearing that again at 19, after I was already married and deeply longing for children one day, was terrible.  The second doctor I saw told Jonathan and me that it could take us many years to conceive, if at all.  Boy, was he wrong!  Within weeks of treating that cyst, Kyle was conceived.

My pregnancy with Kyle seemed like a dream.  Okay, besides all the barfing, exhaustion and back pain; that isn't exactly my idea of a dream.  Nevertheless, I really couldn't believe that we had actually conceived.  I couldn't believe that I was really growing a baby inside of me.

Over the past year and a half, I have often wondered if Kyle would be a solitary blessing.  Jonathan and I discussed adoption even before we were married and expect to adopt as many children as the Lord directs.  In addition, I still want to birth more biological children.  I love being a mother.  I haven't ceased thanking God for answering the cries of our hearts for Kyle.  And I am now overjoyed that He has answered our prayers for another child.

Actually I think I had another cyst rupture in August.  That was the reason for visiting the Ob-gyn during our trip to Mexico in early September.  By the time I went in for that sonogram however, there wasn't a cyst. And actually, I was already pregnant with this baby at that time, we just didn't know it yet.  So, as it turns out, my propensity to cysts isn't inhibiting our ability to conceive at all..... It seems to be helping!

I went to the doctor yesterday expecting that I was a little over eight weeks pregnant.  During a sonogram, they determined that I am barely six weeks along.  Somehow the rupturing cyst effected things and I was a bit off.  I'm a little discouraged to think that I'm actually two weeks behind what I thought I was.  But, I am thankful that so far things look good.  I'll go back in a month when they can take real measurements and hopefully set a reasonably accurate due date.  Right now, it looks like it'll be sometime in early June.


We are still anticipating a big move in January.  Things really depend on our support right now, but I won't go on about that when I really just want to think about my sweet second Baby Saint.  I will say that adding Baby Saint #2 raised our monthly support target and I am trying not to be anxious about that.  Regardless, assuming we leave in January, I will continue visiting my doctor here until then.  I have positively no idea what medical care will look like in Africa.  Part of me is hoping for a hospital birth and the other part of me is gearing up for a hut delivery.  I am thankful that I have already birthed one baby and did so with a bum epidural.  I feel reasonably confident that I can get this baby out without any meds at all.  Not that I am guaranteed to have much choice in the matter.  But, I at least feel a little more at ease with the thought after going through what I did to get Kyle into this world.

Excited seems like a pathetic way to attempt expressing our emotions.  We are more than excited.  We are thrilled and can't wait to meet this little one!  So far, I am most looking forward to baby kicks in my belly, holding this baby for the first time, breast feeding again, and hearing those first coos.

Mama loves you, little Baby Saint. You will be such a sweet blessing to our happy family.  I can't wait to kiss your soft tiny lips.

~Abby

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Nineteen Months


My sugar baby is nineteen months old today.  Say it ain't so!  He is becoming so much more of a little boy these days.  I know should come up with a new nick name for him besides Sugar Baby, but I'm having a hard time letting go of it.  He is so sugary sweet, how could I?

Last week he had his physical done (that sounds funny doesn't it, a physical for an toddler...) to be cleared to move to Africa.  He weighs 24 pounds and he is 34 inches tall.  He's following his daddy's growth curve in the twenty fifth percentile for weight and the eightieth for height.  Tall and skinny, just the way I like him.

He is a strong and healthy little guy which is easily attributed to his constant activity.  There isn't an ounce of laziness in him.  He goes nonstop from the minute he wakes up till nap time.  Then he recharges for four hours.  Then he goes nonstop again until bed time.  Bed time is later than I would like, but I trade four hours in the afternoon for a late night toddler.  It works out because it allows Jonathan to see Kyle even when he gets off of work late.  Plus, we like him, and we really like spending time with him.  Often times after we put him to bed, we find ourselves looking at pictures and videos of him on the iPad.  I'm so thankful that by the end of his loooong nap, I'm really excited to see him again and that he brings such joy and excitement into my everyday.





Whenever I asked him to smile for the camera, this is the face we get.




Same face.  Maybe he is anticipating the flash??

For the whole first year, I sat amazed at his physical development.  Now I am in constant awe of his cognitive development.  Many of his words are becoming easier to understand.  He is always adding new words and phrases.  Some of my favorites are: Oh no!, Night Night which sounds more like Ni Ni, and Bible which is actually Bye-bee.  He loves his Bye-bee.  He also understands nearly everything we ask him to do.  He is consistently becoming more obedient and I hope that continues.  He recently learned how to turn the iPad on, unlock it, browse through the Apps and find his games.  By himself.  I shake my head in wonder.  His favorite game is one where you go through the whole barn and put each animal to sleep by turning off their lights.  Precious!  He loves animals just like his mommy.

As of today he is officially weaned.  I was afraid I would be a wreck and I still shed a tear, but I think he is more upset than I am.  He doesn't quite understand why he can't have his "mowk", so I am left trying to divert his attention.  It works for the most part.  Nineteen months of sweet snuggle time with my boy has been more than I ever dreamt of.  Although I wanted to breast feed him so badly, I'm still surprised we managed to work it out.  If it weren't for loads of determination and cheerleading from many encouraging mommies, I probably would've quit.  And I am so glad I didn't.  It has been the most rewarding part of motherhood thus far.

In a nutshell, we are still smitten.  Probably too much.  Maybe that is why God has given us another baby.  Yep, we're expecting in May!  I'll get a sevenish month break before I'm stuck in a rocker again. ;)  We are absolutely thrilled and I'm already so in love with the new little one in my womb.  I'll write more about that later....

Mommy loves you Kyle baby.  Thanks for making me a mama.  You'll always be my sugar baby!


~Abby

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Our Home Away From Home (Part 3)

On Saturday we went back to the village of Victoria where we used to go every week.  Our church, Iglesia Bautista Cristo Te Ama, still goes each week to this village to do discipleship groups.  This place is out in the middle of no where and to this day I don't know how they ever found it.  The children were almost as excited to see us as we were to see them.  When we drove up they all squealed, "Jonathan, eres tu?"  Jonathan said he wanted to reply, "no, I'm someone else now!"  I saw my old friend, Gretal, although I barely recognized her as she's changed a lot in two years.  The children were absolutely smitten with Kyle.  I never had to wonder where he was, all I had to do was look for the flock of kids and assume he was in the middle.


Twins :) 










It was a long, hot, great day with the people there and Kyle seemed to enjoy all the new sights and smells.  As late afternoon approached, he was more than ready for a nap and we headed back to the car to drive home.  He climbed up into the drivers seat while Jonathan was going to tell the others we were on our way. 

"I'm pretty sure you turn it on like this...."


".....And then you change the gears like this....."

".....then you drive like this."

What is it with boys and cars?  He is well on his way to knowing how to drive.  How did he learn? Purely by observation, I assume.  Speaking of cars.... As you can see, the rental was a manual transmission.  Jono has little manual experience and for the first two days, I was afraid for our lives.  By the end of the week, he was a pro!  Glad to know he can drive a stick in a pinch.  There is a term in Spanish for this wonderful guy I married.  It is "todologo." It means : one who can do a little of everything.

Oooo he's so handsome.

We spent most of Sunday at the church.  I have a whole blog post brewing in my head about that wonderful place.  For now I'll just suffice it to say that I am humbled and challenged by the believers at CTA.  We enjoyed singing Spanish songs again and listening to Pastor Martin's sermon.  I remember the first week we were in Mexico in 2010, I tried so hard to understand the sermon and left with an extremely painful headache.  Now I understand everything he says and can follow along in my Bible with the passages.  Jonathan sang "Yo Ire" (I Will Go) by Steve Green in the evening service.  I was in the nursery calming Kyle most of that service.  By the weekend he began to show signs of too much vacation.  However, I was able to slip out long enough to sing along to our favorite Spanish hymn Santo, Santo, Santo and to hear Jonathan's song.


We were so sad to have to leave!  I could kick myself for not getting more pictures of our hosts, but I did make Marta pose for a picture before our departure.



After stopping by Chedraui to pick up some of the most delectable donuts ever to bring back for Brad, Hannah and the rest of the family, we made it to the airport.  We flew right over Kyle's nap time and he did manage to zonk out.  I knew there was a reason we brought Lightning McQueen along with us.  He probably would've slept the whole flight if the flight attendants hadn't continued to knock into his feet with their cart!  Rude.


You can see the famous donuts in this picture.  They came on the plane with us and I wanted to eat one so badly!  We hadn't had any lunch and it took so much self control not to dive into them.  I settled for cookies and Fresca from Delta.  By the way, a large part of the reason we fly Delta is because of their in flight cookies.  

We had a delightful, refreshing and encouraging week.  I am so thankful we were able to make the trip before we leave for Africa.  Cancun really does feel like a home away from home to us and we love the people there.  We look forward to returning after our first term in Africa and telling everyone at Cristo Te Ama about what God is doing around the world.  Until then..... Los extra├▒aremos!

~Abby

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Our Home Away From Home (Part 2)

Once we left the hotel zone, we headed straight for our friends' house, where we spent the remainder of our trip.  Scratch that.  We stopped by the doctor first.  You might be a missionary if you go to the doctor while on vacation.  It is significantly less expensive to visit the doctor in Mexico and I had some necessary business to go over with him.  While I fumbled through medical talk in Spanish, Jonathan took Kyle over to another McDonalds to play with some pretty little girls.





Even in Mexico he can't escape the ladies!  All the kids we encountered were fascinated with his blonde hair, blue eyes and white skin.  One of the nursery workers told me after the service on Sunday that all the children where asking why Kyle's skin was white.  They probably thought he had some serious disease which vastly altered his skin pigment.  I think the phrase we heard the most during our week there was, "que hermoso!" in response to our sweet baby Kyle. Yeah, we think so, too.

Anyways, so when we were through with the doctor, we went to our home away from home.  We stayed with precious friends who live on the outskirts of town.  They have a beautiful house.  Before we left in 2010, they would always emphasize that if we ever wanted to come back, "aqui tienen su casa."  It really felt that way.  It was as if we were completely at home in their house; they were such welcoming and accommodating hosts.  The dad is a facial surgeon; he was the one who took Jonathan's wisdom teeth out for free right before we moved away.  He speaks some English and their daughter is fluent in English.  It helped having a way to translate things that are still difficult for me to say in Spanish.  The Mama is like a mom to me, although she is much too young.  She really took me under her wing while I was there and helped me get settled into Mexican life - Mexican cooking especially.  They also have a son who we didn't see much 'cause he stays busy with futbol, naturally.  We enjoyed many hours of chatting back and forth mostly in Spanish with the occasional Spanglish phrase here and there.  They are devoted followers of Christ and we had many encouraging conversations discussing the need for discipleship within missions and the church in general.  I ache when I think that we won't be able to see them again for at least another few years.  We are so thankful for their prayers and support and the friendship we share.  Of course they had never met Kyle and it seemed that they enjoyed having a baby around for a week.  He took right to their pool and their dogs and eagerly asked to visit both often! 

Look, Mom, no hands!


The water wings get me every time.  I could just eat this child up!!!


We planned our trip around a few things.  Futbol, Victoria and church.  Futbol games are on Thursday evenings, so we made sure to be in real Mexico by then.  As we headed to the (unusually late) game clear on the other side of town, we stopped by our very favorite empanada stand near the field, Blanca Flor: Absolutely the best smoothies and empanadas on the planet.  I'm still in love with my peach and banana licuado.  Although, I forgot to ask for it "bien molida" like I used to and it came a little chunkier than I like it.  Oh well, it was still delicious!!


Kyle seemed pretty pleased, too.

Maybe if I just play in the middle, they won't notice me.


Once we got him off the field, he ran the whole rest of the game.  Back and forth, back and forth over the bleachers.  Pastor Martin was laughing the whole time at how busy he was.  So much for watching the game.  We did realize something as Jonathan played with Kyle and the other kids at the park.  When you throw a ball at an American kid, he will pick it up and throw it back.  When you throw a ball at a Mexican kid, he will kick it back.  I guess that is why we play football here and they play futbol there.

We mostly hung out on Friday.  I got my hair cut with my all-time favorite hair cutter.  We tried to do some shopping but were pressed for time.  We had lunch with precious friends from the church.  Delicious tacitos, rice and quesadillas.  I wish I had some more right now.  With a great big cold Fresca.

The weekend was hot and busy and I'll write more about that later.  To be continued....

~Abby