Living, Learning & Loving La Vida Nueva

Friday, August 16, 2013


Taken the weekend before we left America.  Hannah and I were both about 17 weeks pregnant.

My big brother, how I love and miss him!!

Familyfriends are people who are your family but who are also your friends.  It's been eight months since I last hugged these two.  It feels like forever.  I so miss the sweet friendship we shared for the years we were close by each other.  It started before we left for Mexico, the first time Brad brought Hannah out to lunch with our family after church one Sunday.  After that, the four of us clicked.  Sometimes I still look at photos of them and can't believe they are really married but I'm so glad they are.  Do you know what it is like to have familyfriends?

When we were kids, I remember my brother getting so excited about going to Six Flags as a family.  So much so, actually, that he'd make himself sick with excitement.  (He's not going to be happy about me announcing that to the world.)  That's just about how he was the day Hannah was flying into Mexico to join us for a month in May of 2010.  He was giddy!  And so was I because I knew a proposal was coming soon thereafter.

Us at our favorite place to eat in Cancun, California Pizza Kitchen.... How 'bout some caramel pecan cheesecake, Hannah??

....And the other side of the table.

We had her completely fooled and she was shocked when he popped the question.  A year later, they were married and the rest is history.  But for the sake of memories, I'm recounting history to illustrate how much I miss them.  After they married, they moved to Charleston which was a lovely weekend destination for us.  We'd pack up every couple of months and go hang out with them for the weekend in their cute little studio apartment.  Our lazy weekends consisted of fake poker, basketball, sweets, beach, food, sleep, sweets, shopping and did I mention food?  It was heaven.

At our favorite place to eat in Charleston, Kickin' Chicken, with our other brother, Eric. ;)

And cheesecake to go!

We like cheesecake.

Lazy weekend snuggles 

Kyle's first dip in the ocean

Then they moved to Columbia and were even closer.  We went up there even more regularly to hang out, especially when Jono needed to use the library at CIU for his seminary papers.  Often times my other brother, Ryan, would join us, also.  Hannah always greeted us with something wonderful for dinner.  Then we'd go to Nestle Tollhouse every time we were together to demolish giant cookies with loads of icing between them.  Makes me want some right now.  I'll have to make some... soon.  We always had a big breakfast on Saturday morning before hitting the pool or mall or just sitting around in the living room.

The last time we went to visit, I was still so sick with Ellee.  I called my brother and told him I hoped he'd clean the toilets and he said he already had just for me.  Jonathan had to spend a whole day at the library and we hung out at their apartment.  We did venture out for lunch at our favorite, Jimmy Johns, but I only made it through about a fourth of my sub. It was so very bittersweet knowing it would be ages before we'd be able to hang out like that again.  Hannah and I laid on the couch, both pregnant with itty bitty bellies, talking about babies and life.  

Kyle preferred ice cream to cookies but he just didn't know any better at the time.  We'll teach him.

Cookies and coffee

It's memories like the sweet ones I have of spending time with our familyfriends that make it easier to be so far away.  But what wouldn't I give to be with them this weekend, trying to beat the ever lucky Hannah in poker or devouring a giant Double Trouble cookie after a delightful supper?  Or sitting with my feet in my brother's lap as he rubbed them on and off as his focus alternated from rubbing to football back to rubbing?  It is so hard sometimes to be on the other side of the world.

Now we both have new babies and can't wait for them to meet!  Since we are planning to go back to the US for missions conferences next spring, we are looking forward to crashing their new town home with our now family of four for old times sake.  You can bet we'll eat cookies and try to steal each others poker chips and visit long into the night after the cousins have gone to bed.  

I love you both so much and can't wait to squeeze your necks again!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wishy Wishy Washer Woman

When Jonathan and I first were married and lived in Illinois for 6 months before moving to Mexico, I went to the laundry mat every Thursday to do our wash.  It cost about $10 maybe $12 a week to wash and dry our normal three loads.  We used our change tips from Cracker Barrel so it never really affected the budget as we never counted our change tips.  I didn't thoroughly enjoy hauling all our laundry from the apartment into our car, driving down a few streets, hauling it all into the building and sitting there awaiting the bell signal telling me I could go back home.  But with coffee brewed and a plethora of magazines, I made the best of it.... often chatting on the phone to my mom or best friend.  

Upon moving to Mexico, we were delightful to find that there was a washer and dryer on the same floor as the small apartment we were renting.  It meant braving the wind and sometimes rain to go change around our clothes, but it beat hauling to the laundry mat for sure.  I did laundry every Friday.

Then, when we moved to SC, a thoughtful friend offered us a washer and dryer for free about a month after we moved into our apartment.  I thought I was in heaven.  A real, working set of laundry appliances there in my own home.... I couldn't believe it.  And I appreciateded them because I had spent two years doing without.  I was sad to say goodbye, but thankful we could pass them along to my brother and SIL when we left.  

We got to Kenya in January and quickly learned that laundry at Africa Based Orientation was either done by my hands or someone else's.  After getting gyped by the laundry lady everyone else was using (I hate getting gyped),  we decided to do it on our own.  Having never washed more than a barely soiled shirt by hand before, I sat observing how the Kenyan students washed their laundry before we dug into our own filthy, dusty clothes.  It was then that I got my first hand-washing blisters.  We did hand wash through our home stay and in the village we stayed in for three weeks after that. 

Then we moved here where I've had a lady doing our laundry for the past few months.  However, knowing how much work it is, I deliberately tried to keep as much out of the weekly wash as I could.  I'd be willing to bet there are items of clothing I've been wearing since we got here which have yet to be washed.  If it didn't stink, have spaghetti sauce on it, or look like it'd been dragged through the sand box, it went back in the closet.  Well, our working relationship didn't go so well (for some reason unbeknownst to me) and the washing lady quit a couple weeks ago.  So, I was left to do it myself.  I am more convinced than ever that I don't know how the local people here do it.  A washing machine here in the capital is no unusual thing, but up in the mountains, and certainly in the villages, all the laundry is done by hand.  I can't fathom it, really.  My fingers and wrists hurt just doing the little bit I've been doing to keep up over these past few weeks.

I started using cloth diapers two months ago knowing I'd be left to wash them by hand.  I certainly wasn't going to add them to the laundry lady's load.  So, I (along with my mom and sis while they were here) have been washing, wringing, rinsing, wringing, wringing, wringing diapers for the past two months.  I knew going into it I'd be doing it and it wasn't so bad, really.  I had my normal routine every night.  Regardless, I was desperate for a washing machine.

When a local friend announced she was moving I asked her if she still had her washing machine for sale.  She did and I immediately told her I wanted it!  It has been sitting in our downstairs for a while now, because there wasn't any easy place to hook it up in the apartment we're living in currently.  But, after a little detective work, we found a reasonably simple solution.  A failed call to a plumber who tried to charge us out the nose set us back a week or so.  Eventually, however, we got in touch with another local missionary who knows all about plumbing.  He and Jonathan have spent the past few days working it out and buying the necessary hardware.  They installed most of it Sunday and Jonathan finished it up Monday after retrieving a couple more parts from the builder's store.  

I am thrilled.  I'm totally stoked!  I feel like no one loves their washing machine as much as I love mine.... although it's probably not true.  The fact that it takes up a large space in the kitchen doesn't bother me a bit.  I'm just entertained sitting there watching it swish and swirl my clothes to cleanliness!  I'm about to go put some extra pre-paid water on the meter and wash everything in the house!

This is the African me.  Can't believe I'm putting this photo into cyberspace.

Now I'm left to wash in the bathtub what the bathtub was purposed for in the first place.