Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Trip to Kenya

This past weekend we traveled with some of our teammates to Kitale, Kenya. Our trip had two purposes:

1. To help with a conference for teen girls that Melanie (a friend from the states) was hosting.

2. To renew our tourist visas. We are in the (really long) process of trying to get work permits. But until then we can only get one 90 day tourist visa at a time. 

The drive over was honestly long and hard. The roads were awful and I get carsick. It took us almost 2 hours to cross the border into Kenya. But it was all good when we finally arrived. I was not prepared for how much cooler the weather would be in Kenya! My kids each have only one pair of long pants that fit (I didn't think they'd need them in Africa - wrong!) and they each soiled theirs in the first 12 hours we were there. Classic. I ended up having to borrow some warm clothes for Molly.

The place we stayed was called Karibuni Lodge. I loved this place! It was different houses and cottages spread out over their compound, which was gorgeous. It is run by an African man (who is an amazing cook) and his British wife. We held the conference at Karibuni so I was there all weekend. 

We had about 50 girls come for the conference. The message that Melanie delivered was about a woman's identity in Christ. It was a really good message, even for me. God really blessed our time with these special girls! All of the girls wanted to hold Molly. I let them, but after about an hour of being passed around she was DONE and wouldn't let anyone hold her but me. They all loved her. While I was helping with the conference as much as I could, Chad took Graham swimming with some other kids. We enjoyed wonderful food and fellowship the whole time we were there. 

I didn't take any pictures so I am sharing some of the ones that Melanie took:

Team Retreat

Living and working overseas, especially Africa, is exhausting. Not only do you have the demands and stresses of the actual work that you were called to do, you also have the stress of trying to communicate, all day, with people from a completely different culture. There is also the stress of (for Chad) of the constant questions: people asking for money, our landlord asking about home repairs or rent, our guards asking something about the compound, your wife asking you to fix things (hehe), etc. It never ends, and it can wear you down.

That's why our team regularly takes a weekend off strictly for R and R. A week and a half ago we traveled with our team to Jinja (2 hours away) to stay at Kingfisher Resort. What a place! We all stayed in concrete huts that were split into two rooms, perfect for a family of 4! There were 3 swimming pools, a restaurant, and an amazing view of Lake Victoria. 

We pretty much just hung out, talked, read, swam (especially the kids), ate, and generally had a great time. I enjoyed tilapia from Lake Vic at almost every meal, delicious! We took a boat ride to see the source of the Nile and saw lots of birds, monkeys, and a huge monitor lizard. We went out to eat at The Keep, a western style restaurant (MILKSHAKES!).

A highlight for me was meeting Katy Davis, author of "Kisses From Katy". If you haven't read this book yet, go get it. Now. Katy took her 14 (no joke) adopted children to swim at the Kingfisher pool while we were there, and I recognized her right away. Knowing she lives in Jinja, I always keep an eye out for her when we're there. She was very kind. 

We had an amazing time at our first team retreat, and returned home rested and rejuvenated. I can't wait till the next one!

Molly 11 Months!

Well, this is it folks! In only one month we'll be celebrating little girl's birthday. I can't believe it. I'm so proud of her I could just pop. Here's what she's been up to this month:

She is wearing size 18 month clothes and size 4 diapers. A few 12 month things still fit.

After a week of no morning nap, Molly is back to 2 naps and is sleeping better than she ever has. Her morning nap is 45-60 minutes and the afternoon nap is usually 90 minutes. 12 hours at night. It only took me 11 months to figure her out!

Molly is just about done with baby food. She loves to eat whatever we're eating, and its a big mess. She eats 3 meals a day and 1-2 snacks. I've been a lot more lax with her on allergenic foods that she's not supposed to have yet because of the lack of food options that we have here. She eats eggs, peanut butter, cheese, etc. She is nursing 4-5 times a day.

She is learning to drink out of a sippy cup and she really likes it (brother has one, after all!). She can even drink out of the kind with no handles.

She was very sick for about a week (thus the bad sleeping) before we figured out that she had a mango fly maggot imbedded in her ankle. We thought it was a spider bite. Once it was popped out she got better. Yeah, that was pretty much traumatizing for me. TIA!

Molly has really improved her balance. She can stand holding onto something lightly with one hand. I really think she could stand on her own but she'll figure that out soon.

She can walk forward holding a push toy.

She road on a boat for the first time, loved it.

She still says Mama several times a day. She has repeated Dadda and bump twice each.

She is learning baby signs, the only sign she repeats so far is more. She has started an annoying habit of shrieking when she wants more food so we're hoping this will help!

She loves to ride on the swings and side of our new playground (with help of course) and has even enjoyed the trampoline. She's just pretty much up for anything.

We love this girl so so so much. From her soft little curls to her chubby little toes she is just a joy. We are so thankful that God has blessed us with such a sweet natured girl (who is finally napping well too!).

Our Mission Team

I thought you might like to meet our mission team, otherwise known as our extended family! We get to see the wonderful people almost everyday. Living in community here is a pleasure and a necessity. 

At the front left is Roger Fletcher. His wife Joey is not pictured. Roger is the temporary vice chancellor of LIU until a new permanent replacement is found. Roger and Joey have become like grandparents to all the kids on the team. We love them and are so thankful for their servant hearts. Chad works very closely with Roger at LIU. 

Next to Roger is J.P. and Jill Robinson. Their kids are the two older kids in the middle: John Mark and Riley who are 10 and 7. J.P. heads up the work of Mbale Church of Christ and all of the village churches that it overseas. Jill heads up the women's sewing ministry and is also a nurse, so I am coming to her with questions all the time. They have been here about 18 months. We lived on their compound for the first several weeks we were here. Graham loves to play with their kids and has a fair amount of hero worship for John Mark. 

Above Jill is Ty Hayes. Ty is the newest member to the team. His job is to teach and eventually find a permanent educational solution for ex-pats in Mbale. He lives on the Vigil's compound. He is an MK from Kenya.

Next to Ty is Vince and Joy Vigil, our next door neighbors. Their kids are Elias and Alegra, who is being held by Roger. Vince heads up Good News Productions International. They are the most experienced team members so they get job of helping all of us through various questions and problems. They have been here 4 years. Joy and I have been doing homeschool preschool together everyday, and having a blast doing it. They just left for furlough in the US and won't be back until February. We are really going to miss them!

So now you knows the names and faces of the people who are encouraging and helping us every day!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Graham is 3 and 1/2!!!!

Graham is 3 and ½ years old today (what?). It feels like we just celebrated his birthday! I thought this would be a good time to catch you up on what this little guy’s been up to. I do so many posts about Molly these days and its quite time for one about Graham!

Graham insists on dressing himself. Usually when he wakes up he turns on the light, takes off his jammies, gets dressed, and starts looking at books. All without making a sound. What a big boy!

Graham likes all kinds of foods and is generally not a picky eater. Some of his favorites are eggs, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese sandwich, pancakes, and baked chicken. He will generally not eat any soup or anything covered in sauce.

I don’t currently know Graham’s height and weight, but he is very tall! He is wearing size 4T clothes, but I don’t know how much longer he will be. He is in size 11 shoes.

Graham is talking so well, it’s hard to believe now that he ever had any speech issues. He’s able to say anything that he wants to express. Sometimes things come out really funny like when he says, “mmm, that sounds delicious!” Cracks me up!

Graham loves to play by himself or with other kids. He especially likes to play outside (especially now that we have our super cool playground set up AND a new trampoline!).

Graham likes his TV time and some of his favorite shows are Mighty Machines, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (thanks to netflix). He loves just about any Disney movie, and we have a few!

We have been doing 3 year old pre-k with our friends the Vigils (sadly they are about to go on furlough and we will be going at it alone). Graham loves it! His favorite thing is music time. This kid learns great through music! His least favorite is coloring or really anything fine motor.

Graham knows all his ABCs and most of the sounds they make. He also knows all his colors and shapes and recognizes some numbers. He sure does love to learn!

Graham does not take naps anymore, but he has a quiet “rest time” in his room every day. He plays quietly and is really good. He has no trouble going to bed (usually around 7:30) and sleeps till 7:30 or later. We continue to be thankful that he is such a good sleeper!

We are incredibly proud of this boy!! And although we’ve learned that the preschool years and adding a sibling can introduce some challenging discipline issues, we are loving every minute that God has granted us. I can’t wait to see what the next 6 months holds for him!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Book Review

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

This book has been all the rage lately, and I wanted to see if it would live up to the hype. I think the reason it has been so popular is that it is a real page-turner. I often found myself staying up late to read the next chapter. But I certainly wouldn't read it again and I don't think I would really recommend it. The main reason for this is the (what I would call) inappropriate content. There is too much use of foul language, sex, and violence for my taste. It's a story about a man who comes home and discovers his wife is gone. He goes through the motions of filing a report and beginning to search. But then he discovers that all the evidence is pointing toward him - that he murdered his wife. However his wife has left behind clues that are making him question the entire disappearance. It's a bizarre, sad story with a frustrating ending. That being said, I couldn't seem to put it down! And I hear they're making a movie out of it...I think I'll skip out on that one.

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

I LOVED this book. It was recommended to me by my teammate/friend Jill, who I'm learning has impeccable literary taste. This book was written by the author of "My Sister's Keeper." I haven't read any of her other books yet, but I do plan to now. The Storyteller is narrated by several different characters in the present day and in Nazi occupied Poland. World War II is one of my favorite time periods to read about, and although this story is fiction (which was sometimes hard to remember), it did not disappoint. The characters are realistic and the story will touch your heart. I highly recommend this one! Be aware, however, that there are some really sickening and brutal images about the holocaust within this story. 

I would love to hear what YOU have been reading lately that's good!