Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Welcome Home!

Marie carried her own baby like this for most of the trip.  Like Mama.

Wow.  What a crazy last  couple of days!!!  Thank you so much for all of your prayers for our trip back to Salone!  The trip was awesome!  Marie watched movies for hours and was thrilled with the fun meals and snacks she got on the plane.  She’s always travelled well, so the real question mark was Ben.  But he did great!  Slept for most of the time which allowed mommy to even get in a few winks!  Thank you so much for praying.

I wish I could describe my awe and thankfulness when we walked into our house Thursday night.  When we left, our house was just the bombed out remnants of a house that once was.  We were just planning on being gone for 2 months so we put all our belongings in the center of the house and covered it with tarps.  Should be fine for 2 months.  But then we ended up being back in the States for almost a year and a half!  You pack a little differently when you’re planning on returning in 2 months. You save things that you might not have saved for 1 ½ years. Yikes.   The other missionaries that live on the compound also left (or stayed in the States) because of the Ebola outbreak and although they tried to put keep all of our stuff protected, there was just no way with the way we packed and with the things we left in our boxes.  

That’s where my angels come in. Two of our missionary couples spent HOURS getting our house ready for us.  Not only did they have a huge part in overseeing and helping with the construction, but when it came time to go through our MESS, they rolled up their sleeves and worked their hineys off.  I don’t want to gross you out too much so let’s just say that some of our clothes had to be thrown away because the rats ate too much of them.  There was one box that was in the corner that, when opened, had maggots in it.  MAGGOTS!  I mean….that’s love right there.  And you would NEVER know it!! When we walked into our house it was spotless.  Our bunk beds and cribs were put together, our solar fridge was fixed, our cabinets were installed, our mosquito nets were hung, towels in the bathroom, I could go on and on.  Perfect!! I still keep finding things that were done for us.  I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to repay that kindness.  Courtneys and Campbells…..THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!

I was DREADING the jet lag with the kiddos but I think it's been the best of any returning trip!!  Marie and I did have one girls night from about 12am-3 where she got to watch movies and I unpacked boxes.  But only one of those nights?? I'll take it! 
So for the last few days I’ve been trying to get everything organized.  We have everything from Peter’s and my separate households when we were living in Sierra Leone before we were married, the 8 suitcases that we brought with us, along with all of the things that we sent ahead of us on the container.  It’s a lot of stuff. A lot.  Even though our house feels like a MANSION compared to the camper that we were living in, there is some serious “whittling” going on. (Like whittling things down.)  I'm not sure if that's a real term or if I just made it up.    

Ben's pretty much just hanging out as usual.  Although he seems to wear fewer clothes here.....
Marie is having a great time playing with her friends here at the damsite.  The day we got here one of the dogs on the compound had puppies so the kids have had a fun time peeking in on mom and her eight puppies!!  (I thought one was hard enough!)  She’s so thankful to be back and just told me that tomorrow her black friend is going to come over to play. J She became friends with one of our security guard’s daughters at the end of our time last year and although she told me that she’s nervous that her friends will laugh at her because she doesn’t speak krio anymore, she’s been practicing it on everyone she can.  J  

This one is specifically for Nana.  She wanted you to see her eating a fish head.  This was not allowed when Nana was around in the States. :)
My unpacking and organizing took a turn when we realized the severity of the flooding that has recently occurred in Freetown.  Apparently the majority of the flooding happened while we were in the air. The last report I heard was 30,000 people were sleeping in the biggest stadium in Freetown because their houses were washed away.  The pictures are just incredible.  Fortunately, when we were in the States my husband never let me take anything to Goodwill. Since we were sending a container I constantly heard “Emily, you can’t get rid of that.  Someone in Sierra Leone will want that.”  One of the pastors that we work with had his retaining wall wash away but his house was spared.  His neighbors were not so lucky.  Many of them are sleeping in his house.  We started going through all of our container boxes looking for tall the extra stuff we had.  These people have lost everything!!  The rain has stopped and we’re praying it stays dry!

Overall we're doing really well! Peter is staying busy and after a year of pretty much being together all the time, it's weird having him go to work every day! But after being bored stiff sitting around all day in the States, I know he's excited to be working again!  The other night was pretty emotional as some of my inevitable homesickness started sinking in.  But as I started down the road of woe is me, I forced myself to stop and think.  My first year here was probably one of the hardest of my life.  So many changes, so much death, so much feeling like an outsider.  But when I think back on that first year, a lot of those difficulties fade away and I remember it with fondness because that was one of the years I grew fastest in my faith. My relationship with Jesus became so much sweeter, so much deeper, because my circumstances drove me to my knees.  This year has that potential. We're living in a new environment, (relatively) new marriage, new baby, new homeschooling, etc.  I know that I'll be faced with many choices about choosing self pity vs. thankfulness.  So if you're wondering about things you can pray for, that would be one for me! I know that my attitude and mood can set the tone for the entire family and I desperately want to have an attitude of "considering it pure joy!"  

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Everybody load up!! It's time to go!

It's 5:30am here.  We're going to Sierra Leone in 2 days!!!  I just had one of those nights where you toss and turn all night because your brain just refuses to stop running.  Thankfully, Ben woke up early and put me out of my misery.  This is part of the reason for my "no brain shut off."  Lots left to do!

This is our "packing room."  It's become our "dumping room."  Oops.
I remember when I was single and every time I went somewhere I was pretty much packed a week before my trip.  I would actually end up having to UNpack because I jumped the gun and needed things that I had already packed away.  We're moving to Sierra Leone for several years in 2 days.  Want to guess how many of our 7 bags I have packed right now?  Hint:  Less than one.

In two days our family is embarking on our next great adventure.  I've begun doing all of my "lasts."  Last time I'll do this, last time I'll see this person, last time I'll eat that.  Incidentally even my husband has been Americanized a bit.  Last week we were driving by some corn fields and he said, "Oh that corn!  I'm going to miss that sweet corn!  *pause*  And microwaves.  I'm going to miss our microwave." :)

It's been a long season of waiting and we are so excited to take this next step.  I lay awake thinking about all the different opportunities we're going to have while we're over there.  I'm excited to get to watch my husband take on this new challenge of his job.  I think about expanding the well drilling and the Bible Institute and am so antsy to get back!  And honestly, I'm excited to be settled somewhere!  Do a little nesting!  We have been SO blessed to get to live cheap by staying in a camper in my parents' backyard for the last several months's a weekend camper.  No space to hang the family photos.  Last night I spent an hour picking out material to make curtains for our new house.  After making a decision that I'm fairly certain would end up on a "pintrest fail" website with colors and patterns being all crazy, I proceeded to buy some "no sew" stuff because.....who am I kidding.  If I have to sew those curtains by hand they're never going to get done.

There are of course times when I get emotional thinking about all the people we're leaving behind.  That's always the hardest part.  The people.  Last week I was sorting through a bunch of our stuff and stumbled upon some notes that people sent while I was in the process of getting custody of Marie.  I started crying.  (Obviously.  That's what I do.)  It was so sweet to remember all the people that supported me during that time.  However,  the thing that resonated with me the most was how much Jesus loves me.  He has used so many people to remind me of that fact.  My world is changing so much.  Even though I've lived over there for years, going over there as a wife and mom of 2 (one of them being a baby...a tiny little baby just waiting for me to "break" him) seems so new.  So different. So many more things to think about. It's easy for fear to begin to wedge it's way into my heart and mind and threaten to take my joy.  But when I think about Jesus and the fact that even though I'm leaving a lot of my security in the States, I'm not going alone but with an incredible Helper, I have peace.  And joy!  So much joy!

Thank you for being a part of that!  The Lord has used so many of you to remind me that we're not alone and that He will provide what we need, wherever we are.