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....


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.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012


 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.