Thursday, December 18, 2014

Did I say 90 days? I meant 30.

Today I want to share for different reasons: for us to look back and remember, for our families and partners to feel connected, and for others who might be looking towards this same process. (Maybe some of this will help you feel slightly more normal; just don't let it scare you off!)

We often hear "How are you feeling?" "Are you ready?" "Are you excited?". We are a great many things, including almost ready. Practically speaking, at least. We all process things differently, and that in and of itself can make life interesting! We have been as prepared as possible technically, through AIM and JAARS, and through our own efforts. Alot of what we have been told almost seems meant to deter you. (For instance, the blog "A Life Overseas" has an excellent post entitled "Top 10 reasons not to become a missionary" or some such exhortation ;-). We know many people who have come home much sooner than planned because it wasn't what they expected. Our pilots wive's small group has special speakers each week, most of which have shared their struggles and how to be prepared and/or deal with them. At times I just want to say ok, enough! We know it's hard! Can't we just deal with it as it comes? I guess forewarned is forearmed, or however it goes.

People often remark on the most obvious things that seem challenging. Having to eat different foods. Being separated from your family. The possible dangers that come with living and flying in less stable or developed parts of the world. What we think about, really, are things that go beyond that. Things that wear on you after years and years. Things like regular transition, often with limited notice or totally beyond your control. So many goodbyes, people coming and going in and out of your life, and that of your children. Living on faith, also known as living on support. We love our supporters; but knowing that you really have to take each day/month at a time can be challenging. And the constant responsibility to those churches/supporters. Not really fitting in anywhere you go, which probably goes double for our children. Lots and lots of travel. And I love travel! Things like visas always running out or requirements changing. Basically, everything being more complicated. I've heard culture shock can come back to bite you in the butt even after you've been there a decade or more. And knowing that whenever we do come back, we will be significantly less prepared financially for our life as older people than many of our peers will be.

We are excited. I am very excited. Haven't been this excited since my kids were born. But the word "excitement" is for things like going on safari for the first time. It isn't a good word for any of the things mentioned above. (Just FYI, I'm stealing this thought from a friend here, a fellow pilot wife.) So if you ask if we're excited, some days we might have to be honest and say, "No. But we are resolved." Staying behind our rose coloured glasses won't do any good in the long run. (And letting the rest of the church keep their glasses on doesn't help either.  We're all in this together. ;-) We are all to count the cost before we begin. Often times I hear people's stories and say, I couldn't deal with that! I don't want that! But we remember, His grace is sufficient for every moment. So, we continue one day at a time.

"Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God's throne. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so you do not grow weary and lost heart."  ~ Hebrews 12:1b-3

Our days right now are filled with

God-moments of grace

Sharing a few last special times with family
Unwrapping a very special gift from my mom. A quilt with all our families pictures on it, on beautiful african fabric.  
Seeing Kenya accidentally, everywhere we go. Which I don't remember doing before recently!
Enjoying some special activities.
He's such a stud ;-)

Incorporating a little bit of normal Christmas into our abnormal life right now. 
Saying some difficult goodbyes 
Anticipating the coming of the baby Jesus through Advent, and the eventual second coming of King Jesus  
paperwork. paperwork. and more paperwork. 
Christmas cards. Newsletters. Prayer cards.
stuff. stuff. and more stuff. piling up in every corner and on every available surface. 
end of orientation supper with our group, none of which we will be working with. 
getting more luggage. hopefully our last!  
last flight of orientation. And last flight for quit awhile, about 6 months.
Another thing not on here: doctors appointments. And lab work. And last minute shots. The kids have done (mostly) well.
making gingerbread houses
LOVE the vacuum packer. I'm amazed every time I see its magic! 

Finally packing our crate!  Praying our Kenyan work permits come through so we can get our crate sent off soon. 
getting boxes in the mail. pilot shirts. prayer cards. travel guides. converter box. rechargeable batteries. 
Packing up Patrick's tools. We have to alot of tax on the items in our crate, and not as much on the luggage we bring with us. (Perhaps none at all. Its the law to not have to pay tax on luggage you're carrying with you. But apparently some customs officers disagree with that. So we'l see.) So Patrick took all the tools out of his toolbox and we stuffed it full of socks and underwear. Cheap stuff! But in case it crossed your mind, wow, all those tools are pretty heavy to put in luggage you have to weigh. You're right! Once ziplock bag is going in each piece of luggage. All 15 of them. ;-)
Watching Innkeeper Caroline in her Christmas program. Her job was to shake her head vehemently when Joseph requested a room. And she did it really well. She does it to me all the time. :-) 
Caroline's teacher at the MK Station. Another person who has invested in the life of one of my children, who they will never see again.

Important announcement:
This is the last post from our blog. We're going dark. 

Just kidding. :-) It is the last post from our blog. But we're just switching locations, so our website and blog will be all in one place. We hope this will be more convenient and interesting for our current followers and new folks alike. You will be able to get the basic details of our ministry, flying updates from Patrick, Africa Inland Mission, really neat videos, sign up for our newsletter, prayer requests, our testimonies, helpful links, partnership suggestions,
and other things, all in one handy dandy location.
You can go there now to mark it in your browser. We will continue to share on FB when we update it. You can expect to hear from us one more time before we leave, with ways to pray while we are finally (FINALLY) going!!

Merry Christmas! 

Monday, November 10, 2014

New England: picture scrapbook of most recent cross country road trip (warning: this is a break from ministry stuff. pure family fun.)

My kids are troopers! Such pros at making sandwiches at random rest stops across the country ;-) 

Many families have hobbies, things that are part of their family culture. Oftentimes these things aren't always enjoyable when there are small children involved. But then they pay off in the long run, so its an investment into the health of the family. (When I was young, my parents put a huge investment into us skiing. I gotta tell you, it was not always enjoyable for them to lug around a 3, 5, and 7 yr old with all their winter outerwear and ski equipment. and yes, we started that early. every weekend, every winter. there was ALOT of crying and complaining. i remember. but hey, after we grew up a little, we had so much fun doing that special thing together.) We don't have the time or resources to invest in any of the usual things (dance, sports, or music), so, sort of out of necessity but also because I love it, I decided traveling should be our thing! I was trying to remind myself of this as I sat for what seemed like an hour in traffic, just trying to get across the George Washington Bridge into Manhattan, by myself with the kids, in quite cold and rainy weather. I just wanted to take them to New York! It was right on the way. I wanted them to see it. Alas, as it worked out, they didn't get to see any of the commonly accepted important things. Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Rockefeller Plaza where Patrick and I got engaged, Central Park. But hey: they got to see Little Senegal, people!!!! ;-) 

 Where they drank bisaap, buiy (no idea how to spell that, actually), ate some really wonderful fish and rice (the best I've had in the US), and heard an awful lot of Wolof, French (the lingua franca of West African immigrants) and a few other African languages, and experience an actually quite authentic African market. After which, Caroline informed me that she wasn't too sure about (my paraphrase) people who wouldn't speak to her in English. Instead of being worried, I prefer to think she's doing well by being aware, at 3, that people even speak different languages, and that her heart (and first, hopefully) language is even called English.
Cross cultural mission accomplished. And then we left Harlem and went, over the course of many hours in traffic, through every increasing areas of, well, whiteness, until we reached. . . 

Cape Cod! (Yes, I am that parent, who regularly says to my parents, you guys don't know how lucky you are, most people never get to have these experiences! I'm afraid I've already worn that one down. Already. ;-) 

Oh how we love Auntie Lara. She graciously hosted us for a full 5 days, alongside her unbelievably busy regular life. She toured us around, showed us many wonderful places, and hooked us up with so much even more wonderful food. And we do love food. And fall. And water. All things that the Cape has plenty of. 


A foghorn went off, apparently. 

I borrowed Lar's nifty bike, and she found rentals for the kids, so we were off to explore. Event a picnic in that cute little basket. 

Right after this picture, my adventurous boy went one rock too far, and took a somewhat polar plunge. all the way up to his armpits. live and learn! 

Grandma Jan, thank you for the recent surprise in your card. The kids used it to get ice cream! 

We found so many horseshoe crabs. 

A pizza place up there has such a great name. I used the bag all week. :-) 

Since early US history was just last year for us, we had a great time doing some of the historical stuff in Boston. Learned alot of new things. Like Paul Revere didn't actually shout "The British are coming." That would have been silly, as he was British at the time, as well as everyone else around him. Who knew? Other than everyone in Boston. 

ok, there's a slight chance the kids enjoyed feeding the squirrels in the Boston Commons more than the Freedom Trail Walking Tour. They actually came up and ate out of their hands. Normally I think wild animals should scavenge, not eat french fries. But you know Caroline. I just didn't have the heart to stop her. I sure hope they enjoyed our french fries. They were fresh rosemary and sea salt french fries, from a super yummy food truck right there. How come we've never lived in a place with food trucks? Somehow I'm not sure if street food in Nairobi will be quite the same. . . :-) 

The ducks, in the Boston Commons. They're famous. Not sure why. 

If you ever go to Boston, in a city where alot of the tourist attractions are not cheap for a family, the all day on/off trolley tour is a great deal. We had a really good time, and the kids didn't have to walk everywhere. 

We stopped at the Harbor, 

and it included a boat trip around the harbor, which was also something you could on and off of, and ride as much as you wanted. 

So we got off on the other side, at the shipyards in Charlestown. Where we found the USS Constitution, and its great museum there, with an even great children museum upstairs. (Donation encouraged. But still way cheaper than most things.) 

They had so much fun pretending to be sailors. 

A Boston icon, apparently. If you are a cannoli person. When I go running, I rarely waste breath to sing along with the iPod. Except, recently, to one song that I just can't help. I'd like to write another version. "All about that food, bout that food, bout that food." Which is often characteristic of my traveling. And incidentally, contributes to the topic of the actual song. (All about that bass, bout that bass, bout that bass. . . ;-) which then, in turn, brings us right back to running! 

Thank you Lara, for a wonderful, special, memorable trip. I will carry it with me through many years in Africa, till next time. 

I promise you, we are now back at work. just about 60 days and counting.