Thursday, October 16, 2014

what's really happening with less than 90 days to go

I can't believe we are almost halfway through our time here at JAARS. It has been challenging in some ways and encouraging in others. (I guess that about sums up life in general.) It is a unique environment, with many opportunities to meet other people, some at the same stage as we are, and others working here after having put in their time on the field. Living in community in this way has been a new experience for us. Apartments, sharing a laundry room, mobs of kids everywhere, unavoidably running into people wherever you go. Nothing highlights your shortcomings quite like living in community! But good practice, for sure. Although we will not be living at a center or on a compound, the missionary community is pretty tight, for better or for worse. We are learning to appreciate that ;-). 

chalk drawing of the Kenyan flag 

an early morning nature study. Anytime we find a bug, Caroline wants to adopt it. I usually at least let her carry it around for awhile. And just fyi, this spider was not poisonous. :-) 

Lots of fun times with our Charlotte cousins. 

Visiting a horse farm where they do therapy

We enjoyed a rare occurrence last week: some of our partners came to visit JAARS! (We do have supporters in Virginia, but most of you are down through the middle of the country. Basically in a straight line, north to south. And not close at all to NC) These guys, a father, son and a friend made a special day trip for their birthdays. They got a special tour of the hangar, and got to experience a little bit of life at JAARS. They are pilots (2 fixed wing and one helicopter), so they felt right at home. 

These top 2 pictures happened a day apart. My mom met a young man, a former MK, who had been in the military, and was injured in Iraq. He had amnesia and severe brain injuries, and is now in a wheelchair. He communicates through a small typewriter he carries around on his lap, which speaks for him. He graciously invited us to come watch his horse riding lessons, which was a neat experience for our family. It really got me thinking. The veteran, 30 years old, Christ follower. The Coast Guard pilot (in the midlle, above), 30 years old, Christ follower, and our partner. Did something go wrong in one of these men's lives? Did God make a mistake in allowing one to be nearly killed in an accident, and now to be living a completely different life than most of us could ever imagine? We have no idea what plans God has for our life, or how He can use every day events or extraordinary ones for His glory. Who are we to say well, I'd only like to bring you glory in the way I choose. Maybe its more about bringing Him glory by the way we submit to His will and graciously accept what He allows to come to pass in our lives. 

JAARS Day is a time for the community and others to come learn about JAARS (which is the center here in NC) and the ministry of Wycliffe Bible translators. There are alot of hands on experiences, such as these different instruments. I love Charlie, using his as a hat. If you can't play it, wear it? 

Oh the irony. How many FB posts or newsletters have I seen describing the difficulties of traveling overland, in bumpy trucks, for hours, at times even days, at a time? Flooded rivers, flat tires, forced to camp on the side of the road. Thankfully they didn't take it that far in this simulation. We voluntarily subjected ourselves to this experience. It was, however, quite bumpy. Quite. I was with the second group, which consisted of the driver, me, and 3 little girls. Poor driver. There was alot of shrieking. We had to sign release forms for this. And we paid! We paid to get bumped around in a safari truck for 20 minutes, fully expecting to get stuck in the mud, and at times maybe tip over! We survived. But I gotta tell ya: 12 hours of that would be ROUGH. 

Another exhibit was this "recording studio" booth set up, where they made recordings of the kids either sharing or reading Scripture. Obviously, there was opportunity to learn about heart languages, oral cultures, and the creative ways we (the greater we) are sharing the Gospel with the world's unreached. 

Hannah is now thinking we are actually called to Korea, the country who claims the beautiful outfit she tried on. Charlie picked a Chinese costume. 

A big part of my life here is "wives orientation." Not big in terms of time, but big in influence in my life. I don't like to be overcommitted, it stresses me out. So when I heard my presence was expected at this weekly event, for a full morning, I balked. What about homeschooling, etc. But wouldn't you know, its my favourite part of the week. I treasure that time so much. I will get a picture later, but it was at one such meeting that I was given a copy of this interesting book, "Where There Is No Doctor." Some of you might be thinking, that would be quite useless, I would never be, or take my kids, to where there is no doctor. And honestly, I sort of lean in that direction too. I get scared. (Did I just say that out loud? ;-) When I moved to Senegal to be basically a community health worker, I received two copies, one in English and one in French. (There is a Swahili version, as well as many others.) It's pretty graphic, but very basic, and a very useful tool for many people. We will have easy access to very good medical care while in Nairobi. But its still handy. The theme of that Monday morning was basically "your family's health while overseas." There's no point in trying to be obtuse. Obviously there's some scary stuff out there, especially at this juncture in history. Whenever I think about waxing eloquent and profound about some serious topic, like say, taking my precious pumpkin shirted children any closer to Ebola, and my oh so (not very) spiritual thoughts on that, I always come up empty.  So I won't try. But I want them to know they are here for a purpose too. 

Last weekend we celebrated my brother in laws 40th birthday, and Canadian Thanksgiving. It was a really special time. (Gosh, I over-use that word. Thesaurus, anyone?) I also find myself unable to articulate what it feels like to know I'm spending the last family holiday (with this side) together, for a long time. At this point, just really praying to be able to appreciate the time we do have with our families and not allowing the impending goodbyes to ruin it. I love my family, and I love Patrick's family, who is now also very much my family. (On a lighter note, I also took video of Patrick and my mom doing Wii dancing. That gets your mind off of being sad ;-) 

So, when we say something about shipping our crate, I bet you were thinking about a container like on that Somali pirate movie. (Captain something?) Yea, its more of a big cardboard box. But this baby will be packed to the gills. There will be no breathing room in there whatsoever. This is why being at JAARS is so helpful. The gentleman above is in charge of sea freight, and is helping us through this process. We can have a spot in the warehouse to just start accumulating, packing and repacking as needed. The one thing he cannot do, unfortunately, is get the Kenyan government to issue our work permits in a timely manner. So, we will be leaving our precious cardboard box here until we get there, get our work permits (apparently they are quite backlogged), and then we will send back for the crate. I know it will seem silly, looking back, but this was probably the first, "what do you mean it isn't going to go according to my plan, and now I have to be flexible" moment. We had it all planned out, when we were going to send it so it would coincide with our arrival and we would get into our house within a few months and be all settled. Easy Peasy. Alas, now we are hoping to get it six months or so after our arrival. In addition to household items we will either borrow or live without until it comes, it will have clothes for the kids for next year, and school curriculum for next year. We also have a few bags to leave here, until someone comes to visit. One is full, the other will be empty until we get there and realize what we need and then order it on amazon and have it sent to someone's house so it can be brought in the aforementioned bag. And that part actually is easy. 

So I thought hey, I've got nothing to occupy my mind, let's start learning another language! Ha! Everything I need to do to survive, go to church, and even have friends, I can do in English. So it isn't that I am concerned about being able to communicate. I guess I am just excited about it. And I know how much speaking the local language in Senegal meant to me. So I assume it will be the same way. Just because my new friends, neighbors, store clerks, market vendors, and church will be able to speak to me in English doesn't mean I don't want to be able to speak to them in Swahili. The only sad part is, I'm pretty sure there is definitely not room in my already addled brain for Wolof and Kiswahili both, never mind in addition to the very basic survival French and a few lonely phrases and vocabulary words in Spanish still kicking around in there. Sooo, everything else is getting the boot. Bring on the Swahili :-)