Living, Learning & Loving La Vida Nueva

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Settling In

After an exhausting day and night and day of travel from Atlanta to DC to Zurich to Nairobi, we arrived safe and sound last night along with our 9 pieces of luggage, two car seats, stroller and pack & play.  I could hardly believe everything made it.  Although, on each of our flights we sat for a long time at the gate.  Eventually they came over the intercom to say, "We're sorry for the delay but we have a lot of baggage to load."  Well between the three families and two single girls moving to Africa, I think we donated our fair share of luggage to the loading crew.  Everyone's luggage arrived with us on our last flight, an answer to prayer for sure!

We were greeted by quite a few pilots from AIM Air who assisted us in gathering and loading our luggage onto two vans.  We fought traffic to Mayfield Guest House where we are all spending a few days trying to get over jet-lag before we head about an hour south for orientation.  Once we arrived here last night and got checked in, I was so out of it I had a hard time just getting things together to get in the bed.  We had missed quite a few meals because of the time change and naps on the plane so I had to feed Kyle some crackers in order to give him his malaria medicine.  We got that taken care of and then filed through the bath to rid ourselves of plane stench.

Mr. World Traveler

Speaking of plane, Kyle did better on the flights than I had hoped.  The first flight to DC, he napped the entire way.  The second flight (over night) to Zurich, he was awake for the entire 8 hours excluding about a half hour cat nap.  He fussed some on that flight, but fought sleep the entire time.  Our lay-over in Zurich was almost non-existent and we lined right back up to board the last flight.  Once we got airborne, I suggested he go to sleep to which he replied, "Poe" (pillow), "Que" (Curious George), and "Bla" (Blanket).  I handed him all the players and he knocked out in about 20 seconds.  We all slept pretty continuously for about half of that 7 hour flight.  He fussed some when he awoke, and let us know he was ready to get down.  But, in all, he didn't make any huge scene and he didn't keep the entire plane awake.  That was my fear.

So, once we got settled in, we slept most of the night until about 4AM.  Kyle woke up chattering constantly and wanting to read books.  Somehow (through patience on his part and prayers on mine) Jonathan managed to get Kyle to settle down again about an hour later and we slept hard until 9AM.  In fact, I slept through the breakfast alarm.  Jonathan assures me it was very loud.  I had one ear plug in to keep the sound out the ear not attached to my pillow.  A rooster started crowing about the time Kyle woke up at 4 and Jono suggested maybe he had jet-lag, too.  After that there was a family of birds chirping loudly outside the open window, and cars going by, people talking, etc.  The ear plug solved all those problems.  But, it caused me to skip breakfast.

We got some juice from the kitchen and ate a granola bar.  I felt pretty dizzy and weak up until our nap time right after lunch.  Kyle and Jonathan seemed fine, although Kyle was obviously very sleepy.  So, we napped and then woke up and went to the store to get a few essentials.


Some Nutella, peanut butter and jelly, crackers, and juice were those essentials, along with shampoo, conditioner, and soap.  I purchased the cheap-o shampoo and opted against the egg scented one.  GROSS.  Who wants their hair to smell like eggs?  If I had the camera with me, I would've documented that bottle so you would believe me.  Apple was a familiar option so I chose that.

Dinner was delicious: a bacon quiche, cole slaw and fresh fruit.  I ate like a horse.  Although I was awake for lunch, I felt so poorly I didn't eat a whole lot.  I wished I could've eaten more dinner but I ran out of time.  The kitchen crew finally booted us because they were ready to clean up... and I was still eating.  Fortunately, I was running out of space anyways.  All of our meals are provided here at Mayfield along with the room for about $40/night.

The weather is wonderful, just cool enough to be very comfortable and a nice, dry breeze.  I can't really believe how good it feels.  Maybe tomorrow I will be less jet-lagged and we can spend more time outside at the park with Kyle.  For now, he is playing in the closet while I sit here at the desk or on the bed.

If I knew how to work my camera and if I didn't have a bouncy one year old, the photo wouldn't be blurry and you would be able to read that his shirt says, "jungle explorer."  :)

We are here at Mayfield until Tuesday, then we head south to Machakos for orientation.  I'll update when I can!


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Thank You

Over the past months, Jonathan and I have been on a wild ride known as support raising.  God, in His goodness, brought in our support so quickly compared to many other missionaries we know who are raising support.  When I look back at the months that were covered up with phone calls, e-mails and meetings, I thank God for orchestrating it at just the right time.  In early October, it looked as if we were too far away to make our January departure date.  Then over just two weeks, we watched the flood gates open and the differences grow smaller.  We were cleared to leave despite a slight shortage on our monthly support and we haven't looked back since, except to recount the faithfulness of our God who provided at exactly the right time.

My extreme sickness with this pregnancy started in mid-October.  We didn't have one more support meeting after that.  If our support had not been raised before that point, I do not see how I could have physically handled trying to coordinate or attend meetings.  I praise God for raising our support before I got so sick.

Now, as I sit in a hotel room the night before I depart for Africa, I am once again amazed.  A simple post on Facebook notifying our many prayer warriors of the remaining monthly shortage has prompted more families to commit to support us monthly as well as donate one time gifts.  We are overwhelmed.  We are fully supported.  When I look at the list of people who represent so many thousands of dollars and countless prayers, I am moved to tears.  Words cannot express what I feel in my heart.

At times I begin to feel like it's just us going out to do this.  And I lay awake at night and wonder if I am crazy.  Who up and leaves their family to move to a remote town in the heart of Africa?  Who takes their child a world away from his grandparents, not knowing what kind of communication we will be able to maintain?  Who spends weeks making trips back and forth to the Goodwill only to look at the trunk of a car and realize, "this is all I own"?  Who takes a shower wondering if this is the last hot water I'll enjoy for years?  I really do feel crazy.  Maybe I am!  But, there are a lot of crazy people behind us who are cheering us on.  And I am once again reminded that I'm not the only one making sacrifices.  A long list of faithful believers are praying and giving on our behalf so that Africa might see the light of Christ and be changed for eternity.

My sweet sister in law wrote a song called "I Will Go."  If I were tech-savy, I could link it to this page.  I am not.  However, I can copy the words so you can understand why this song is so special to us.  She wrote it in high school after reading about the martyrs of the faith.  When Jonathan and I first began writing about our mutual interest in missions, he e-mailed me the file of this song.  My 17 year old heart could barely comprehend the wisdom behind the words in the second verse.  Now I understand.  And now I have to look deep down into my mother's heart as I sing these words, to test and see if what I am saying is true.

Lord, do I love you enough?
Enough to sacrifice every other love?
And Lord, am I willing to stand 
On my own, and place my dreams in your hands?
My desire is to the walk narrow road
And if suffering is where you've called me,
Father, I will go

I will go, I will do
What I know has come from you
I will say what you command me to say
I choose your way
Lord, I will go

Lord, it easier now
To pledge my hopes and dreams to you
To make a vow
But, Lord, it will not always be
For one day you may bless me with a family
And I'll desire to hope and dream for them
So I pray you will give me strength
To say once again,
I will Go

And if you call me unto death,
I will not hold on to life
But willingly I'll choose your way
And I will go

I will go
Father, here I am

Despite the ache I feel and the struggle I now know as a mother and protector of my children, I can still say, "I will go."  However, if it weren't for all of you, I wouldn't be able to go.  So, thank you.

Until Africa,

Saturday, January 5, 2013

My Best Girl

My heart is in my throat as I even attempt to begin this post.  How do I summarize the countless memories I have with my very best girl?  It seems impossible.  When Kaylee walked into my life in early high school, I gained one of the sweetest friendships I think I'll ever know.  After that, we were attached at the hip until I got married and moved away.  When our senior year of high school came around, we had the wonderful opportunity to visit Hawaii with my parents for a special trip.  Nearly two weeks of Hawaiian bliss with the best company, an experience I certainly will never forget.

Feb '08

 Both of us were home schooled and we "missed out" on that delightful experience known as senior prom.  Fortunately, neither of us cared a bit.  At this point, we didn't have boyfriends so we opted to go out to dinner with our daddies.  We ditched the prom dresses and stuck with our trusty jeans....

April '08

After a whirlwind of changes, a year later, Kaylee and her mom were hosting my bridal luncheon.  Here we are two days before my wedding...

Despite the miles that marriage and college put between us, we have remained in close contact and seen each other regularly.  This summer, I had the privilege of attending her wedding.  Here we are, two days before her wedding at her bridal luncheon...

And then they were hitched!

After she was married, Kaylee and her new husband moved from Illinois back down south.  Over the past six months, we have soaked up the short time we knew we'd have back together, regularly eating together on her lunch break.  I can't really explain how good it has been to be able to go back to "old times" and just relax and visit together.  

Yesterday, we found ourselves saying the goodbye which has been looming for months.  When I fully surrendered to the call of missions in 2006, with Kaylee by my side, I didn't realize the impact it would have on my precious friendship.  Of course we are thankful for Skype and e-mail but nothing will ever compare to the countless hours we've spent, curled up in each other's beds or sitting on each other's kitchen counters, eating ice cream and talking until the wee hours of the morning about God and life and our futures.

I'm gonna miss this girl.  It hurts.  But, I cherish these many years of friendship which don't end here.  And I am thankful for a friend who encourages me and supports me in my journey around the world.  I know she'll always be there for me..... Anytime.


Friday, January 4, 2013

A Mama's Mama

Yesterday I enjoyed a special treat which was given to me by a precious friend.  For Christmas, I received a gift certificate to a local spa for a pedicure.  The envelope read "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" (Romans 10:15) Having only had one other pedicure in my life, I was pretty stoked.

With only four days here at home before we depart for Atlanta, Mom and I (okay.. I) decided to make the outing a last time out together for the two of us.  We enjoyed lunch at Red Bowl and then I relaxed while the nice pedicure lady rubbed my feet.  If I didn't have a million to-do's floating around in my head, I might have really been able to relax.  I did the best I could, all things considered.

Before I continue, I have to let you in on what happened while trying to find the spa.  I knew the place was located right in the same shopping center as Red Bowl.  I didn't realize there were two nail places.  So, we walked into the first one and were blasted by the smell of chemicals.  Mom said the gift giver had mentioned how serene the spa was so it didn't exactly seem like the right place.  However, I saw a little sign that said, "Gift Certificates Available" and thought it must be here.  So, the non-American guy (read: Vietnamese) comes from across the salon saying, "sit down, I take you now."  I proceeded to attempt explaining my certificate and appointment and the guy was just insisting, "I take you now."  After fumbling through the purse for the envelope, I opened it and looked at the name on the certificate.  Then I looked at the name of the place we were in.  Wrong place.  Now holding my gift certificate for the other nail spa, the guy looked completely deflated.  That might be an understatement.  He was still insisting he could "do for me." I was thinking, "No, you can't do for me and you won't take me now because my gift certificate isn't even for your place!"  It was so awkward because he wouldn't give me the certificate back.  He just kept staring at it, I guess trying to figure out how to make me stay regardless.  Finally I reached for it and said, "can I have that back now?" And we walked out.  A couple doors down, we found the right place.  Very serene.  Beautiful music.  No chemical smell punching you in the face.  And then we laughed, hard, about that poor man's disappointment.

The spa people were really interested in our giant move and we talked about that the entire time.  That's what we talk about everywhere we go.  No one can really believe that we are moving to Africa.  I want to say, "yeah, me neither."  And most people's follow up question is, "how old are you?"  When I reply with 22, they typically say I don't look older than 16.  Then I try to hide my irritation by saying, "yeah, people say that often.  I guess I'll appreciate it when I'm 40."

Now my toes are ready for the southern hemisphere.... flip flops!

Really, it was just nice to spend a couple hours alone with my sweet mama.  The world knows that my mom and I are tight as ticks and I am going to miss her terribly.  Sometimes I wonder why I am so crazy to sign up for this lifestyle since it is going to take me so far from home.  But, yesterday, as I was getting ready and fighting back tears I was thinking about Christ.  And I thought about how he left his home in heaven, and a Father who loves him more perfectly than I can even imagine, to come to this miserable place we call home.  I thought about how much he must have longed for home.  Being from America, I tend to like the way things are here.  I enjoy the luxuries we have here which much of the rest of the world doesn't offer.  And I can't help but wonder at times why I'm leaving what is familiar and comfortable for what is completely unknown and much less luxurious.  This is not to sound like I am likening myself to Christ, by any means.  But, it helped me get out of my miserable sadness and think that, if Christ would leave what is better than I can even imagine for a life here to save me, how can I complain (even inwardly) about leaving what I know for His sake?  I don't want to leave.  These goodbyes are gut wrenching.  Living these last days feels surreal and my heart aches.  But, the sacrifice is immeasurable compared to that of my Savior.

I'm gonna miss my mama.  If I'm being honest, I'll miss her more than anyone.  I can't imagine life when I can't get ahold of her easily and ask her the questions I don't know how to handle.  For today, however, I am thankful that I've spent two wonderful years as her neighbor and 22 as her daughter.