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Showing posts from 2009

A Christmas to forget

Christmas day started out early (5:45!) but good. We had electricity and I knew where to find the coffee in our new kitchen, so what more do you need? Stockings were fun to open with the kids, they loved and appreciated their things, we went through the Christmas story, and then opened gifts. Thanks to a fantastic church partner who sent presents, the kids had things to open since we hadn't made it shopping what with moving. The few gifts we had brought with us from the US were wrapped in napkins and curtains because that's all we could find! The day started to go South when I started cooking for the mission dinner. In a new kitchen and things only partially set-up, everything took longer. I finally got the dough made for orange spirals, got the piecrust baking, and started the pie filling. After stirring it for 45 minutes, I decided it simply was not going to solidify like it was supposed it, and only then did I realize the stovetop was not working. And neither was the oven a…

The Worst Christmas Pageant Ever

Oh wait. That wasn’t a pageant…that was our LIFE!!! This will go down in history as the craziest Christmas ever, and that’s saying a lot since I was recovering from childbirth and moving states and preparing to move continents last year!A time-line may help explain.Monday, 10am, we get the word that renters have been found for our house and they need to move in by Dec 27(Sunday)! No boxes, no packing supplies, no problem. We’re pros at moving! We’ll clear out the apartment so it’s ready for our things to go in. Whoops, the keys to the big front door are locked up and the only one with access to them is out of town for 2 days. Tuesday: we clear the (badly) furnished apartment by carrying everything out a narrow kitchen door, so it takes all day, and then start packing up our house in the 5 boxes we have, unpacking them in the new apartment so we can reuse those boxes for more trips. The truck isn't available because the keys are in the same place as the front door keys.Wednesday: …

Grandpa Harold Kurtz

I know I’m a little young to be considering my own mortality, but then again, I never thought I’d be contemplating my grandfather’s death. I can clearly remember telling a friend (in an awed tone) that he was 60 years old and still traveling the world. Now it’s my parents who are nearly 60 and grandpa passed away on Friday afternoon at age 84. And until last year, he was still traveling the world! He went on donkey treks through the Ethiopian bush, celebrated church growth with leaders in frozen Siberia, worked with untouchables in India and gypsies in Romania, with Korean and Peruvian believers…all with one simple dream. For every people, an indigenous church; for every church, a mission vision. He was a man with a vision, with principles, with passion, and I am so proud to have known him! The world lost a champion for responsible missions, for empowerment of the 3rd World, for us in the 1st World to take note of what they can teach us about faith, and family, and perseverance.He has…

It's beginning to look more like Christmas...

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As of the latest word, we're NOT moving after all, until February or so when our permanent house is available! So, with that in mind, the kids convinced us to get the tree out. By the time the 3rd ornament was up, Isaac had already pulled the whole tree over (thanks, Chad, for catching it just before it crushed him!). So, we got creative, and it now sits on top of our deep freezer. Rather odd vantage point, but you can actually see the ornaments better because they're at eye level! Perhaps we're starting a trend...
I almost didn't bring our ornaments, thinking they would be safer in storage and I would be so sad if we lost them all. But we all had so much fun rediscovering our favorites and recreating the memories of when we got each ornament, I was glad we did bring them after all. There was only one casualty, and it wasn't a critical loss. And bonus!!! Several of the ornaments were wrapped in American Kleenex, and you have NO idea just how soft that feels! (OK, ye…

Swim Gala

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For the end-of-term sports, the kids had a 'swim gala' where the whole school competed over two days. Anya's started at 12 and finished at 5pm, and she raced in race 3 and race 65. Now is that cruel and unusual punishment for parents, or what??? I guess they wanted to make sure everyone stayed the whole time to cheer the other kids on! Anya came in 4th in her individual race and her team won 1st place in the relay.
Ethan raced 3 times (with his 'noodle'!) and came in 1st, 4th, and 2nd. Not too bad for someone scared of the 'big pool' 2 months ago!
Anya continues her swim lessons in January, and we're taking a break with Ethan. He'll still swim during PE once a week, and we may get a membership to the pool so we can all play there when the days get really hot. Who knew there would be such a great pool here in Lilongwe??

Look who's ONE!

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I’ve decided that 1 year old seems a lot older with your first baby than with your 3rd. Compared to Anya’s independence and Ethan’s near-independence, Isaac hardly seems out of the baby stage. Of course Chad suggested having another baby so we could see exactly how much Isaac has grown, but I think I’m going to pass on that one right now! One year ago we were stuck in the biggest snow-storm to hit Salem Oregon since the 1960’s. We were praising God’s timing in that Isaac was born and home from the hospital before we got snowed in, huddled around a pellet-burning stove to keep warm. We had no house, no jobs, no responsibilities, and a ton of unknowns looming ahead of us. Isaac was a tiny, eating-and-pooping machine.Now here we are, sweltering in humid, tropical heat in Southern Africa, settled in semi-permanent housing, with responsibilities and a job as soon as we can learn a foreign language, a few less unknowns ahead…and Isaac is just a bigger eating-and-pooping machine, only now th…

It's stinkin' hot, it must be December

Thanksgiving was a success! We had lots to be thankful for, and tons of great food! The piglets turned to pig-fat jelly (yum!) so we had roast chicken instead. As the only Yankees in our mission, let me pass on words of wisdom to you Northerners...If you ever get the chance to celebrate a food-involved holiday with Southerners, you should take it! Let me tell you, they know how to cook up a Thanksgiving feast!!!
This past week us ladies all got together and quilted Christmas table-runners and mantle scarves! It was my first time quilting, and actually really enjoyed myself. As a rather conservative-art soul, I did quake some at having to pick so many different patterns to be sewn together, but it turns out the earth kept revolving even with florals and plaids and stripes next to each other!
In other news, the computer crashed again (which meant we couldn't transfer money so we couldn't grocery shop) and Malawi is having a major fuel shortage (think 6-8 hour lines, violence and …

Holiday Spirit

Holiday spirit. It’s a foreign concept for me right now. I suppose back in the US the Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations are out in full force. I imagine the evening news is full of reports about consumer spending sandwiched between desperate ad campaigns by toy and clothing and car companies. I can’t say that I miss that! But I just cannot believe that it’s half-way through November already. A friend said her sons were coming to visit soon, right before Thanksgiving. I said, “Thanksgiving? I thought you said they were coming soon”. I hadn’t looked at a calendar recently! And every day temps are in the high 90s. Sometimes it rains and we add humidity to the heat. I was not expecting this heat. (Yes, I KNOW it’s Africa! But the internet said moderate temperatures for Malawi!!!!)
The ladies in the mission all gathered to plan Thanksgiving dinner and what holiday craft we should tackle for the annual ‘women’s craft week’ in December. It’s a whole new level of culture shock to be sitti…

Still kickin'

We’re still here, and we’re doing well! Sorry for the silence for so long—computer problems happen all over the world, it’s just harder to fix them in some places! So what’s been going on in Malawi over the last month, you ask?

Anya has been bumped up to a higher-skill swimming group (she’s a shark now, not a stingray!) and her legs are often sore but her ego is soaring since she wins most of her races. She also had a field hockey tournament where her team won both the tournament trophy and the “spirit award”. While she was in as mid-field, her team’s defenders never saw the ball (puck?) because it never got past her! She loves our new Rotweiller Jake and her pet chameleon that lives in the tree outside our window. We also had a brief relationship with a hedgehog (quite cute and only a little stinky) but we couldn’t get it to eat anything so we released it in the dog-free yard of our friends. She stayed up until 1am crying about that one!

We had a meeting with Ethan’s teacher, and disco…

Health Education

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We traveled 3 hours north to the small town of Mzimba the last weekend of September. The Robertsons and Rudds, fellow IMB missionaries, are there doing evangelism, community development, and leadership training with 2 of Malawi’s 14 Bible schools. Once a year the students' wives travel to the Bible schools to attend class, and this year I was invited to teach health education. I readily accepted, but I was shaking in my flip-flops before I began. How was I going to connect with semi-literate village women on matters of health and wellness!?! After working with migrant farmers in Yakima, Washington, I've been used to suggesting the inexpensive home remadies whenever available. But it's a whole new level when you're talking to people who can't afford to heat water because firewood is so expensive, or who don't always have the means to buy salt for gargling or who have never even seen a band-aid.But God was present, and God was glorified! The 14 women were attenti…

The greatest fan; 1925-2009

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I'm convinced that The Ohio State Buckeye's cheering squad will be a little quieter this year. Not that they aren't as awesome as ever (one of these days they'll pull through in the big game), or that we love our Jim Tressel any less than before. It's just that Mary Pumpelly, affectionately known as Gert to many of us, has passed away, and the loss of her voice, hoarse from yelling at the TV screen, is significant.
She will be deeply missed, for she cheered for us all as emphatically as she cheered for her Bucks. She spoiled our children, and cooked us endless meals, and made a heavenly cheesecake (as long as Jordan was there for dinner). And oh, how she prayed for us, getting us through more trials of life than we even give her credit for, despite arthritic knees!
She was godly, and she was fun--a perfectly wonderful combination. Who will ever forget the way she made the poor young airport guard blush, when, after a particularly thorough search of her titanium kne…

Wazungu

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I'm used to being stared at here. There's just no way to blend in when you're in Africa! And staring doesn't seem to be rude here the way it is in the US. So I smile and wave, and then I ignore it. White people are called wazungu in Chichewa, from the word 'to turn in circles'. I've heard that is from the days of the early explorers, as they were constantly lost in the jungles and turning in circles to find due-north!
So I'm used to the staring. But the other day we stopped at the side of the road a ways out of town to let the kids climb on some rocks, and I stayed in the car to feed Isaac. Within minutes I was totally surrounded by about 25 kids, all with faces pressed up against the car windows. I was beginning to feel like an exibit at a zoo, as they started tapping on the glass, and I wondered if they were going to try to feed me, too! But it was just too much when one little girl picked up her baby sister, held her to the window, and said, "Loo…

First Day of School

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School has finally started! We're still adjusting to the schedule...for a non-morning person, it's been especially painful for me. The kids have to be there by 7:10am! Anya's teacher is from the UK, Ethan's is fresh from the US, and the kids love both of them. They're in class from 7:10 until 12:30, and then they have swimming lessons in the afternoons on Mondays and Wednesdays and Anya has a 'sports hour' on Wednesday as well. This quarter it's field hockey. I can only imagine 50 first and second graders running around whacking each other with hockey sticks, but supposedly there aren't too many fatal wounds! It's been nice to have our language session with a few less distractions, and they come home excited every day about the new friends they're making. Ethan is especially excited to finally be a "school-ager" and came home from the first day announcing, "School is actually pretty fun!" Now if only we can keep up the ex…

Trees

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Now there are many things in Malawi that are different than we're used to. I could post pictures of the roads, for example, in all their pot-holed glory. Or perhaps the food, with the sun-dried fish, but it would loose so much by not being able to upload the smell along with it. So instead, let me elaborate on the trees. One night in bed before we left the US, Anya began crying because she loves to climb trees and she was just sure there would be no trees in Africa. Oh ye of little faith! Just look at what she gets to play in now...huge trees, green trees, and what are those things growing in one????

Game park photos

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We had a wild time in Liwonde National Park. It's not quite what Kenya's parks are, but I finally got to see my first elephant! And thanks to my daring husband, I saw them plenty close! A grumpy teenage male decided he didn't care for us, and Chad taunted him just a bit by reving the engine. When the bull trumpted and charged towards us, Chad said, "Oh, don't worry. They always fake-charge at least twice before they really hit you." Now isn't that reassuring??? Anya was wailing, "Please daddy, I don't want to die today!" Oh, the joys of safari! =) But later that night as we were driving back to the lodge we stopped the car, and a herd of 9 mother and baby elephants came and surrounded us, calmly eating from the nearby plants. I didn't get a photo because I didn't want to scare them, but it was an amazing experience. It may be a no-brainer, but elephants are HUGE!!! We also saw lots of impala, waterbuck, warthogs, zebra, reedbuck, kud…

Newton's Third Law for Christians...

I once read a story about a college freshman who was struggling in class and her mom finally convinced her that she should study. When she came back from the test, her mom asked how it went.She laughed and said, “It was so easy, I’ll never waste my time studying again!”I think that’s just like me sometimes. When things are hard, I moan and complain. When God gives me the ‘answers’, I sit back and get cocky, feeling like things are easy. Our transition here to Malawi has felt “easy” overall, but when I really consider the last few months what I see most of all is God’s grace. It has felt easy, but not because it was simple in human terms! The good-byes, the 36-hour plane trip, the shock of driving, shopping, and cooking in Africa, 40/40 challenges, the robbery, language headaches, the loss of status I’ve felt in leaving the professional world…when I look at each thing we’ve come through, I’m amazed. And yet, in all honesty, my overall feeling is that it’s been remarkably easy.So why th…

A day in the life

What does a day look like in Lilongwe, you ask? Let me tell you the grand adventure of life here!
The day starts at 4:50am with the call to prayer from the local mosque, who's loudspeakers are pointed right at our house, I swear. Chad gets up, and Miriam rolls over in denial, praying the kids didn't wake up (that's a 50-50). At least 3 times a week Chad gets out to run 10-12 kms (6+ miles) "just to help him wake up". Overachiever!!! My only consolation is that everyone laughs at the crazy white guy running!
The nanny arrives at 9am, so Isaac is securely tied to her back (which he loves!), the kids are banished to play outside, and we start language study. At 11am our tutor arrives, and we do more formal learning drills until 1pm when our smoke starts coming out the ears.
After we grab a bite to eat, we head out to talk to people and practice what we've just learned. I usually go up the street and talk to all the guards at each gate and Chad talks with the guys …

CSI-Lilongwe

So this master thief used a car jack to pry apart the bars on the window, slid the glass planes out of the window (they're removable here!) and grabbed the computer which was out on the table because I had been trying to send e-mail that night. He sweetly left a whole hand-print on the wall when we reached over to unplug the computer, because the bars were so dirty. Not just a finger-print...the entire hand, fingerprint swirls visible to the naked eye! The police came by, interviewed everyone, informed us that they were unable to use the handprint, and suggested we rent out a spare room to a police officer to keep us safer (yeah, like that would make me feel better! Sometimes the police are worse than the criminals!!!!). And then they arrested our poor sleepy night-guard who said, "Officers, I know nothing. I was sound asleep!" At least he's honest. He probably doesn't even know what a computer is, how to use it, or how valuable it is on the black-market here, bu…

Lake Malawi

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The word is officially in...Lake Malawi is AWESOME! Chad's mom was here for a brief 5-day visit so we managed to make it to the Lake for an afternoon. It's about 2 hours away, not too bad for a day trip. We weren't sure what it would be like, and I was afraid to get my hopes up too much. But I was speechless to think that we're so close to such a relaxing, wonderful place! There is a hotel right on the beach, and they charge to swim in their pool but use of the beach is free. The sand is soft, the surf was impressive and gave Chad a good hour on an ocean kyak trying to ride the waves, they let us use the beach chairs and umbrellas to lounge under, and they brought us freshly brewed coffee. I can not tell you how good it felt to relax and sip coffee in the sun, watching the kids play on the beach! It helps me handle the ups and downs of life just to know there IS a place we can get away to if we need. So if anyone wants to come visit... =)

Lessons learned in the first 2 months

I've picked up a few pointers since we've been here. I'm not sure this will be of help to anyone else, but let me share anyway...

1. Tins of baking powder and bags of flour actually CAN get used up! I never knew that. When we left the US, I think I gave my mom the same tin of baking powder I bought 10 years ago when I got married and thought any respectable home owned the stuff. But when making rolls, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, cakes, cookies and tortillas from scratch, you actually use it!!!
2. I love debit cards. Really love them. And I miss them. I am not sure I will ever get used to using only cash. Especially when the biggest bill is worth $3.25. That means my shopping trip today, which came to 9000 Kwacha, ($60) was paid with 18 bills. We have to use fanny packs to carry a week’s worth of money, because it won’t fit in a wallet!
3. Always have at least a week’s worth of money in above-mentioned fanny pack, because you never know when you’ll be able to access the …

Relative wealth

Relative deprivation: the term used for how all of us feel like we’ve got less than other people. Well, I’m having the opposite problem. I’m doggy-paddling to keep my head above the relative-wealth pool I’m in now!

Our crates arrived last week, so all Friday and Saturday we unloaded them and carried in boxes, bags, and garbage cans full of our stuff. Our house-helper, gardener, and night guard were all here to help carry things in.

As we opened the first crate, we realized it must have been dropped at some point. The book case came out in pieces. The desk was splintered in several places. Plastic containers were shattered, and the freezer door was dented so badly the seal is compromised. Our missionary friends were all so sorry for us, seeing our broken things come out one by one. I didn’t shed a tear. I was too caught up in the knowledge that our 3 Malawian helpers were carrying in more stuff than they will ever own, combined.

Every load of laundry Musa helps fold makes me aware that we…

Photos at last!

http://picasaweb.google.com/pumpellys/WeReInAfricaNow#

Click on this link and you should be able to see a slideshow of our recent photos. We'll see how this works!

Back from the Bush

We're still processing all that we experienced and learned over the past month, but I wanted to let you all know we're back and we're well. There's no way to describe all that we did, but I'll do my best without boring you too much.

For 12 days or so we spent the mornings meeting with whoever would talk with us in the market-places and inner-city neighborhoods of Lusaka (the capital). We were assigned a different topic each day, (like health-and-medicine, witch-doctors, life-stage ceremonies, etc) and in teams of 2 with a translator, we just talked. Africa is like that...you can go to a neighborhood and perfect strangers have the time to sit down and talk for as long as you want! It was a great chance to "pick their brains" on how they experience life, how they think, etc. In the afternoons, we had lectures and forums from Zambian church leaders on different topics to prepare us. We rode the local transportation, ate local food in the markets, and attended…

Week 2 and still trucking!

We left the US 2 weeks ago today. It's hard to imagine how so much change can fit into 14 simple days! But life is good, and we're still having fun. No tummy-illnesses yet, full adjustment to the time change, and I've even cooked several meals and made a chocolate cake from scratch! I mean, that's MAJOR!

We worshiped today in a local Baptist church. The simple structure (dirt floors, plank-board benches) was surprising, but the singing was out of this world. The Malawians can sing, let me tell you! And the songs were local, not American songs translated. It was truly beautiful, and even the kids did well for the 2 hour service despite it being in Chichewa!

We leave at 6:30am on Wednesday for Zambia, where we'll have another month-long adventure completing cultural tasks in the capital and in the village. In some ways it will no doubt be challenging, but we hear good things about all that we'll learn. We return May 22nd, and then we'll fully settle in to our l…

God's abundant blessings

I wrote last week that it was time to get some keys on my poor key chain. How God loves to answer the prayers of your heart with more than you can ask or imagine! We are now in Lilongwe, moved in our own house after 10 months of transitional living. As we arrived from the airport, they handed us our own set of keys...all 21of them for the house, 2 for the gate, and 2 for the car! That's 25 keys, all different, all necessary, and no master. My key chain runneth over!

Malawi is beautiful, full of birds and tropical plants and sunshine. We're adjusted to the time-change, doing ok driving on the left side of the road, and still struggling to eat much more than peanut butter and jelly, but we'll get there.

When we got off the plane last Tuesday, Anya stood on the tarmac, turned in circles, and sighed over and over again, "Home, sweet home, sweet home!" Ethan collapsed on the ground, spread out all limbs, and sobbed, "I just can't do it anymore!" Chad and I…

Leavin' on a jet plane

Our bags are packed, we're ready to go... sounds like a John Denver song! We spent yesterday morning in a marathon errands circuit, hitting all the last minute stores for all the 'indispensable' things (from marshmallows and jello packets to a swimming suit for Isaac and plastic diaper covers) and we hope to not have to ever see a Walmart again for a very long time. Yesterday afternoon and evening we packed, packed and then packed some more. Everything has fit into 10 suitcases and 8 carry-ons. The dilemma now is this: do we make one of the bags overweight, pay the small fee, and carry less carry-ons through the 4 airports on 3 continents (Richmond, Chicago, London, and South Africa), or do we save money and just figure it'll all be over in 36 hours. Hmmmmmm. A wise aunt of mine once said there really are some things that are fixed by throwing money at it. I'm thinking this is one of them!

We're taking family photos with Chad's family today, eating one last …

April prayer guide

1 Pray for the Malawian believers, that God will fill them “with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col 1:9).
2 Thank God for the excellent training we received before leaving for the mission field, thanks to faithful and sacrificial giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering every year
3 Pray for unity among the Lilongwe team as we will work together for God’s glory. Pray that we will be a blessing to the team when we arrive.
4 Pray that all our “to do” list would get done and that we would have a special last day with Chad’s family
5 Pray for the next 2 days as we travel. We leave at 2pm Yakima time for London via Chicago. Pray for meaningful good-byes. Pray also that we might sleep on the plane!
6 Pray for traveling mercies; safety during our day in London and as we leave at 7pm (11am Yakima time) for Africa. Pray for patience on our part, and good attitudes/behavior from our tired kids.
7 Praise God that our travels are over!! We arrive in Li…

Five days to go

We're down to the wire. We have two suitcases packed, and piles of clothes, diapers, and bottles of Advil, bug spray, and sun screen scattered all over. It looks as though a Walmart vomited in our room!!! And I'm excited, and I'm in shock. Every time I pack a cloth diaper, my stomach does a flip-flop. I'm not sure why the cloth diapers hold so much power over my psyche. I used cloth for Anya, my first, here in the US. It could be because I also tried to use cloth for my second, and it only lasted 3 weeks before I collapsed in fatigue and overwhelmed-ness (is that a word?).

It also could be that those soft, white innocent diapers represent all the ways that life in Africa will be more challenging. Cooking from scratch, for example, as in no seasoning packets or cans of beans. How on earth is my family going to survive if I have to think ahead enough to soak beans for 24 hours before I can make chili??? It should be an interesting first month of cooking again. I foresee l…

Ending well

No creative juices are flowing today, sorry! We're winding down our time in orientation now, with just over a week to go. The final commissioning service is next Wednesday the 26th, and then we're done. Our tickets are booked, leaving Richmond for Malawi (via Chicago, then London, then Johannesburg) on April 5th, arriving on April 7th. Our first Sunday in Africa will be Easter. There's something sweet about that...new life celebrated in our new life.

We're anxious to get out there, and we're sobered as we think of the final good-byes, the changes, the stresses we'll no-doubt go through. Pray for us, that we will finish this 'race' of Orientation well, finish the 'race' of our American lives well, and that we would start our new Malawian 'race' with energy, zeal, and excitement; all while running the 'good race' in our public and in our private lives, for His name's sake.

Porcine etymology

We had the lecture on Culture Shock and transition on Friday. A lot of it was familiar, since Chad and I both remember well the adjustment back to the US in college. But they warned us that we had likely gone through some degree of culture shock in adjusting to orientation. That made me think back. Hmmmmm. Is that why I wanted to stay in our small apartment for the first couple days, rather than venture out to meet new people? Is that why I can't drop the baby weight? Must be!!!!

It also made me think about the kids. They've done SO well adjusting, but there have been minor bumps in the road now and then. Perhaps they did go through a minor culture shock. Trouble falling asleep. Increased shyness and independent playing. Unusual questions...wait. That isn't part of culture shock, is it? Well, it wasn't part of the lecture, but let me share one event, and you be the judge. As Ethan was struggling to go to bed a few weeks ago, he looked up at me with big green eyes filled…

Half way through

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We've just completed week 4 of 8 in our training schedule. At times I think that 4 more weeks seems like so long, and in the same moment I can't believe it's only 6 weeks until we'll land in Africa! Things are going very well, and they seem easier almost every day. Isaac is in a good routine of waking up only once during the night, with one all-nighter about once a week. Anya and Ethan are in a great routine of going to school, and they love their teachers and their new friends. And the really great thing is that their closest friends are going to Africa too, so we'll be with them again for our quasi-"Man vs Wild" African orientation in Zambia (called 40/40)! That's an answer to one of my most fervent prayers.

We've had some great times. Ethan survived sucking up peas through his penne pasta WITHOUT having to do the himlich, though it was close. Chad and the kids had an awesome jam session with Africa drums, singing about the snakes at 40/40. Chad …

Christian Community

When we realized we'd be at FPO with Isaac as an infant, I was quite upset. I knew how hard it would be. I comforted myself by saying (almost daily) "Well, Miriam. At least you won't have to cook" and "I'm sure there will be lots of people willing to help". It calmed my spirit, but I don't know how much I believed myself. Plus, I'm not good at asking for help.

There is no doubt having kids makes this process harder. I sometimes look with envy at the couples enjoying their time, being carefree and socializing with others, and then us parents are tired-looking, with no energy left for socializing after the kids fall asleep. But it turns out I was right about people wanting to help out! This place is amazing.

Yesterday during dinner, one new friend insisted on holding Isaac while we ate. When she had to leave before we were done, another woman we hadn't even officially met yet came over and asked if she could hold him for us. We sat and visited f…

Field Personel Orientation (FPO)

Wow! They weren't kidding when they told us to "expect intense!" We're two days into an 8-week FPO and I'm exhausted. Yet it's an amazing experience at the same time...funny how often God works with that dichotomy. We're being stretched spiritually, pushed into more reflection, prayer, and focus than we've had time to do before, and being held accountable for growth at every turn. I want to cry, and then I'm deeply grateful, and then I want to rebel all in a whirlwind cycle of emotions every minute or so!

We've been on this campus before, and we had awesome times visiting and sharing until all hours of the night. Of course, that was without kids. I'm finding it much more difficult with the three little ones. Anya and Ethan love their teachers and their new class-mates and are so excited to have friends again, but they're showing some signs of stress too. Not eating the food, resisting bed-time, ignoring rules, bickering. Nothing the ot…

First-day jitters

Well, for the last 8 months, we've been anxiously awaiting training, the final step before getting to the field. More than once I was sure it would never come. Then we arrived in Virginia and it seemed to actually be within our grasp. Then Isaac got sick, and at 4am in the hospital with no chance of sleep, I imagined all sorts of reasons we would be held out of this training for another 3 months. But Isaac is a trooper and he's doing great, weight holding steady and starting to climb again, cold symptoms almost totally gone. And here we are, the day before we move our things over to the facility just outside of Richmond. Classes don't actually start until Wednesday, but it feels like the day before boarding school. Tomorrow we learn where our "quad" is (apartment-like place we'll call home for the next 8 weeks), and might even meet our house-mates! We'll have private bed-rooms and a bathroom, but shared living room with 3 other couples or families. We'…

Prayer Request

Isaac's "first cold" which started on Tuesday turned worse on Friday. His new pediatrician was able to get us in, and warned us to keep a very close eye on him, given his young age and his severe congestion. At 3am this morning we had to go to the ER because of his respiratory distress. Almost 5 hours later they discharged us with the diagnosis of RSV, a common upper respiratory infection that is notorious for causing trouble in young babies. In fact, the ER doc described it as "a cold from hell." That may, indeed, be what what we're dealing with. After all, at this point in our journey, we anticipate a step-up in spiritual warfare. What better way to distract us than with a sick baby and no sleep???

Isaac has been doing much better this afternoon, and through it all has remained so preciously sweet-spirited. We pray tonight goes well. There are no treatments for RSV other than "tincture of time," prayer, and watchful waiting. We appreciate all of …

Goodbye Pacific Northwest, Hello Virginia

We made it to frigid Virginia, where we're staying warm against 0 degree weather (what's with this winter???) and recovering from a trying trans-continental flight. I won't mention the airline, but I'm quite convinced they were 'United' against us the whole way! =) First, imagine trying to check in 10 50-lb bags, 3 car seats, and a stroller while also managing 5 carry-ons and the 3 kids... at the check-in kiosk where we had to do the work ourselves, then pay for each piece of luggage (despite being within our weight and bag allowance!) and then carrying them all over for x-ray screening, all while being scolded for blocking the 2-way traffic with our things. Sigh.

Then we were told at the security gate that we were specially selected for "some extra attention and assistance". Great, we thought. We could use it!!! Little did we know what that really meant is we were selected for full security screening, with pat-downs, some bizarre puffer machine that f…

Adjustments to Being Five

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Isaac is 4 weeks old today, a fact I can hardly believe. As a whole, we've all adjusted very well to what I feared could have been quite rough. Granted, we've only just begun a year full of changes, but so far adjusting to 3 kids has been much easier than going from 1 to 2.
Some examples of our success: Isaac is already up to 10 pounds. Might we actually end up with a normal-sized kid? Nursing has finally become easy, and we haven't had to supplement with formula or use a pacifier at all. Perhaps that's why he's 10 pounds! Anya and Ethan haven't shown any sign of jealousy or frustration with their brother, despite how much of my time he takes up. Ethan insists on giving him a morning kiss, a lunch-time kiss, a "nursing-time" kiss, and on and on. We are getting enough sleep to be functional and pleasant (most of the time!), despite the fact that 8 hours of broken sleep are DEFINATELY not the same as 8 straight hours. Probably not even the same as 6 str…