Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Celebrating!

In July, we got to celebrate a baby that will join our mission family this fall.  When our families here in West Africa have babies, they typically travel to another country to give birth in a place where we have some medical staff who can help oversee their needs.  Where they go depends on where they live and what kind of risks they might face in childbirth.  Our friends headed out last week and we can't wait to meet their little guy once the passport and visa dust settles and they get to bring him home.  Before they headed out, we hosted a fun time of celebrating with our mission family.  With a bit of teamwork, we were able to provide lots of typical shower fun including...

Decorations
 Yummy food
 Fun games like a bottle drinking/burping race (I'm pretty sure the Orange Fanta likely helped the burping part!)

 There was baby food eating
and speed diapering.
And of course, some gifts for the baby and his big sister.

We are so thankful for our mission family and the friendship they provide to us.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Our Relaxing Summer

This past school year was a booger.  With the responsibilities of the guest house plus the realities of homeschooling five children, plus Ryan's frequent travel, it was rough.  I kept telling myself we could do it, we could push through, I just needed to make it to summer and catch my breath.  Then, we made the decision to travel to East Africa for medical care and it happened so quickly, that we got launched into our "relaxing" summer a bit faster than I'd intended.  We wrapped up a few weeks of school in a few days, put some things on the "it can wait 'til next year list," and locked the school house door.  But, not before we dissected some owl pellets we hadn't gotten to yet.  What can I say, I'm not sure how long those things keep in this tropical climate.

 Two thumbs up for owl vomit!
 Don't let the face fool you, he loved finding mole and vole bones.

Then, we headed our separate ways, and Abe and I went to spend a couple of weeks in Kenya.  Those couple of weeks turned into the entire month of June and I got my chance to relax.  Living in a guest house with no closets to organize, no curriculums to flesh out, no staff to oversee, and no house to keep up with forces a person to relax.  So, for a month, I got to sleep a bit more and my Kindle and I got reacquainted.  There were definitely some stresses during that month, but they were the kind that stretch your heart and mind, not your clock and calendar.  It was a productive time.  

We came home the last day of July and launched into a month of busyness.  Ryan and I both had a pile of work waiting for us, so we spent the first week taking care of the most urgent things.  That only lasted a few days though because Friday brought the 4th of July, so we took the afternoon off and celebrated the Red, White, and Blue with some other American friends.

 We finished up our celebration and then headed to the airport to pick up friends who had come to spend a week with us.  We'd been planning that vacation time for many months, so we put work on hold for a few more days and enjoyed their company.
 They brought us insane amounts of loot, which we are trying to pace ourselves in using.  There were so many goodies, we weren't sure what to enjoy first.

We spent a few days here in our city and then headed down to the coast, where we've been wanting to go since we got to Ghana.

 We started out by visiting the Cape Coast Castle, which was owned by the Swedish, the Dutch, and then the British.  For part of that time, it was used for the holding and export of slaves who were sent to the Americas and Europe.  It was an amazing piece of history, which provided such a contrast of beauty and horror in one place.
 Here is the view from the castle
Here we are, midway through the tour 
 This is the door of no return, where slaves exited to the ships that would carry them away from Africa forever.

 Here's the current city of Cape Coast, which has a heavy fishing culture

 We enjoyed lunch at the restaurant next to the castle.  The food was okay but the view was spectacular.  To the left was the castle and straight ahead was the Gulf of Guinea.

 Then we headed to a great little hotel on the beach.  It was situated up on a cliff, with an amazing view of the beach and a pathway down to the shore.  The first morning we thought we'd walk on the shore and since some local kiddos were using the pool for their swim lessons, that was a good idea.  Though, we couldn't resist watching them for a few minutes on our way down.


Abe loves the ocean.  He asks often if we can go today.  If only it was that simple.

 The water was super rough so we saved our swimming for the pool, but the rocks and sand still provided lots of entertainment.
 Not to mention the 1/2 built boat on the shore, which made for some good exploration.


Abe has been begging for a kite, but we couldn't find one here that we were willing to pay the asking price for.  Our friends brought one and Abe loved it.  We've already worn it out and it took some serious convincing to persuade Abe it had no flight life left.  I think we'll throw a half dozen dollar store ones in our suitcases next time.

We spent one whole day at the hotel, enjoying the sun and the pool.  The next day, we saw the other coast "must-dos".  We walked the 7 rainforest rope bridges at Kakum.  


Here was the view, as we stepped off the platform onto the first bridge.  I wasn't so sure this was a good idea.

 
The narrow board didn't do much to reassure me.



But the view was pretty spectacular.

 
Though, when the bridges got clogged, I wasn't so thrilled to be just hanging above the rainforest.

But, we survived!

Then we stopped for lunch at Han's Botel, where you eat with the Nile crocodiles.  We opted against the photos of us petting them.



Finally, we headed to the Elmina Castle, which also served as a slave castle.   It is the oldest European structure in Sub Saharan Africa.  While it is older and larger than Cape Coast, I will say that we learned the importance of a good guide.  We had a fabulous guide at Cape Coast and, well, a not so fabulous guide at Elmina and it made a big difference in the experience. Either way, we found both of them amazing.




The door with the skull and crossbones entered into a death room that was used for captives who attempted escape or caused trouble.  The boy climbing the pole, well, he found the tour less interesting than the rest of us.

It was a great visit with our friends and we made some fun memories.  We saw them off in mid-July and then, my relaxing summer came to screeching halt.  I divided the next two weeks between school planning and guest house catch-up, at a frenzied pace.  We ate lots of spaghetti, tacos, pizza, and other easy foods that the kids could put together.  But, we got it done and school resumed this past Monday.  We've got a week in the books already! 

and that's what I did for my relaxing summer vacation.







Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sweet Sixteen

I'm not sure why the good Lord gave me the privilege of parenting my favorite 16 year old, but I'm so glad he did!  She truly is a special girl (somehow I got 5 really special kids!)  In honor of her 16th birthday today, since we can't be together, I wanted to share 16 things that I love about my Abigail Grace.  Since I'm not in the same country as all of our old printed photos, you'll just have to trust me that she was one beautiful baby and a pretty terrific toddler too.

So here they are Abby, 16 things that make you my favorite 16 year old!

1.  Your love of shopping


2.  Your beautiful smile

3. Your sense of humor

 4. Your compassion

5. The kindness you show to little ones

6. Your "reasonable" thrill-seeking side

7. Your creativity and perseverance

8. Your willingness to try new things

9. Your love of family

10. Your uncanny ability to get your siblings to do just about anything.  It's good for them that you're such a rule follower!


 11.  Your love for the "least of these."


12.  Your amazing fashion sense (well, once you grew out of your DC Cupcakes t-shirt!)


 13. The energy with which you celebrate others


14.  Your unparalleled ability to sniff out a good cupcake, cheesecake, smoothie, frozen yogurt, candy store....


15. The loyalty you show in your friendships.


16.  Your patience with me, even when it means wearing matching outfits far longer than any child should have to. (And yes, your father and I will supplement your therapy bills someday!)


Happy Birthday Baby Girl!  I hope it's a great one.  I pray that you will follow hard after Jesus all your days and I'm so proud of the woman you're becoming.