Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Close of Service

Just wanted to give a quick update. Things are going fine in Pretoria, after a few initial hiccups. The PC office was strangely quiet when we arrived at 8:15 on Monday morning. Although we emailed PC a few times before we arrived to touch base about our Close of Service 10-14 Oct, nobody mentioned that Monday was a public holiday in the U.S. so nobody would be there to start our medical checkups and interviews. So, we spent Monday hanging out watching movies and at the mall. It was a little torturous, after running 24/7 for the last few months, to be forced to slow down so suddenly. But this little "break" is probably a good thing, ultimately. I'm generally happy to be working long hours...I consider it a privilege to spend myself on behalf of the most vulnerable, who are so close to God's heart. But this is really a test of whether I truly believe what we've been learning and saying for these last few years, that we are before we do. I know God loves me not for the work that I'm doing but just for being me. I just need some practice in loving myself even when I'm twiddling my thumbs in the waiting room at the PC medical office or taking a walk or visiting with the Australian tourist at breakfast this morning.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Coming home

Finally, our itinerary...

09 Oct - Pretoria for Peace Corps Close of Service
14 Oct - Cape Town holiday
22 Oct - Zambia for Hands workshop
02 Nov - Chicago with George
08 Nov - Minnesota, finally!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Baby shower

Had such a fun shower tonight for Jen and Pragcidence. The highlight was that as each of us arrived, we received a slip of paper with instructions for how we can pamper them, so throughout the baby shower they had foot massages, manicures, etc. It was fun to treat them in that way, and it gave us each an opportunity to sit next to one of them and get to chat. I wish I would have taken a picture of them to share with you!

I also enjoyed trying a new crochet project...hats for the babies. Jen's having a boy and Prag is having a girl. Here they are:
It was a nice afternoon with the ladies!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Gino

Nephew Gino at 2 months old...care to add a caption?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Movie Night

We watched E.T. and ate caramel corn last weekend. Jed had never seen it!

Marc, Kristal, Tyler, Alicia, Lynn, Lize-Marie, Jayme, and Jed in our living room.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Boo

We caught Boo having a nap in this position the other day. So funny!

Me and my dog...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Legogote

Saturday we hiked Mt. Legogote (meaning "lion"). It's the mountain we see everyday near the office and from Hands Village. What a fun time with friends!

From Legogote: Peebles Valley, where we work and live.
We could see White River, Masoyi, the Farm, and ASM.

Alicia and Tyler

Emmanuel and Floyd

Kristal and Marc

You know who...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tonight

Thinking about little Peggy tonight. Not sure why. Wondering if she's safe, or if she's cold. Praying.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Gradually's 9th Birthday

What a fun day!

Gradually and two of his friends spent the afternoon at our place. They loved the swing...


and the trampoline...


the birthday cake...


But the biggest hit were the balloons...




We went to a concert, a talent-show-style fundraiser for a nearby village project, and had a sleepover. The kids (including Jed) all had a great time. :)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

World Cup US/SA 16 reunion

So, here we are 11 days into July already. We've been back in South Africa for a month already. Two weeks after returning to SA we had a little get together with some of our old Peace Corps friends. 4 of us extended for a year (Me, Brooke, Tom Barker, and Nick Verono) and two more of our friends have come back to South Africa (Rose Zulliger, and Keri Dodge). Keri is working just up the road at YWAM/Ten Thousand Homes and Rose is getting a masters in public health down at University of Cape Town.
From L to R (Brooke, me, Tom, Nick, Rose, Keri)

We got together to reminisce old times and we also got to watch the USA in the world cup, well, not live, but we got to go to a bar together and cheer on the red, white and blue.
Go USA

Unfortunately, the US lost to Ghana 2-1 in that game. Disappointing, but at least we got to go down together. It was great to have each other and it definitely made the game more fun. For the US we were playing the last African team surviving and we were the definite minority at the bar.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

New nephew

I've been so busy posting these pictures to Facebook, I forgot not everybody has access. My new nephew Gino, born July 6th...






Isn't he adorable? I can't wait to hold him and kiss him!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thank You Grace!


I would like to thank the Quilters of Grace Lutheran Church who generously donated 12 quilts for Brooke and I to take back with us to South Africa. It is winter here, and although it doesn't get nearly as cold as it does back in the states, temperatures can dip to freezing and below at times. Here is a picture of Emmanuel and his neighbor Derek with one of the quilts that were donated. Emmanuel was part of my Junior Achievement program last year. He lives on his own in a cinder block house with no insulation. You can tell by the smile on his face how blessed he feels!
Emmanuel on the left

Grace Lutheran Church also sent back many new pairs of socks, soap and face cloths to give out to those in need. They also allowed us to host our "Taste of Africa" dinner at their church. Thank you so much for all you have done! The rest of the quilts and donations are on their way to Swaziland today with Robyn and Samantha!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

World Cup

The World Cup is being played in South Africa! For those Americans and Canadians out there, the World Cup is the soccer, sorry football, World Championship played once every four years. And unlike the World Series it actually involves teams from all over the World, even the US has a team. Ok, so many of you Americans do know what the World Cup is, maybe I'm just spending too much time with my English friend Dan Waspe and his brother, Rupert, who just happens to be visiting his brother in South Africa while the World Cup is taking place (coincidence?). I must admit that without Dan and his brother, I probably wouldn't be paying as much attention to the World Cup as I am, but any reason to be able to dress up in the stars and stripes (and maybe get under an Englishman's skin) is good enough for me.
From Soccer
Dan and his brother Rupert at halftime (I think Dan is saying this is the greatest day of his life
Until he found out his brother got him tickets to the Eng v. Slovenia game a week later.)

I had the good fortune of being invited to go to the Chile v. Honduras game by Dan. The game was played on the 16th of June at Mbombela stadium just 40 minutes from where we stay. As many of you know from our other posts about Kruger Park, we are just minutes from one of South Africa's greatest wildlife habitats and that theme plays out in the stadium. From the support structures that are meant to look like giraffes to the zebra stripped seating area.
From Soccer

From Soccer

I've read and heard from many that the vuvuzellas are incredibly annoying and hurt your ears, and yes, the vuvuzellas were humming, but to be honest to me the loudest noises at the game were coming from the speakers (in typical African style) before the game and at halftime.
From Soccer

We got to the stadium just over 3 hours before kickoff because we were told you needed to be at the park and ride at least 3 hours before the game to make sure you get to the game before kickoff. A group of about 50 of us arrived at the park where we were greeted by ticket takers telling us the stadium wouldn't open for another 15 minutes. We were literally on the first bus to arrive at the stadium!
From Soccer
This is how many people were in the park when we arrived (they all came on our bus)

Three hours before game time finally arrived and we were allowed to enter. They asked to look into our bags to make sure we weren't carrying any contraband (aka anything that has a logo on it that isn't Coke, Sony, McDonald's, Budweiser, MTN, or one of the other "official sponsors"). We were then asked to walk through a metal detector. Dan carried his 4 year old son through with him and was told by the attendant, "The red light went off." Dan said, "Ok," then walked away. I was next in line and told to stay put while she called over her supervisor. When her supervisor arrived she asked, "what does it mean when the red light goes off?" The supervisor responded, "that means the person is carrying some kind of metal. You should ask them to make sure their pockets are empty and tell them to walk through again." By this time Dan was long gone. Let's just hope terrorists aren't the first to arrive at sporting events! My walk through the metal detector was uneventful.
From Soccer


With 3 hours to kill before game time we decided to walk around and see the sights, eat our sandwiches which we were allowed to bring in, and take in the World Cup atmosphere. This consisted of joining in cheers with the throngs of Chilean fans there and trying to decipher what the Hondurans were saying. Think back to my 2 years of Spanish in high school, I'm pretty sure I heard, 'tengo' and 'taco.' Which means I have a taco. Now I'm not sure, but I don't think the Hondurans were cheering about having tacos. The Chile cheer was much simpler. One fan would shout, "Chi, Chi, Chi." The rest of the group would answer, "le, le, le." Then in unison we would all shout, "Viva, Chile!" The other cheer was, "Ole, ole, ole, ole, Chile, Chile," and no not the Sven and Ole kind, but the bullfighting, "ole" as in Oil of Olay.
From Soccer

We were asked to engage in some soccer banter; luckily I had two Englishmen with me so I didn't need to say much, and I had read on the press guide that both teams had a player named Suazo, that would key their attacks. So every once in a while I would say, "It all depends on how Suazo plays." And regardless of the fan base I would get nods of agreement.

The final score of the game was 1-0 Chile. One goal in 90 minutes. It was exciting, but not like American sports are exciting. The thing I think Americans will never get about soccer is that it routinely can and will end in a tie. Without even so much as an overtime or a shootout? In America we want a clearly defined winner!

So the reason we had to take the bus to the game is because there is no parking area at the stadium. You can't get dropped off or picked up outside the stadium and there is no walking on the roads that surround the stadium. So after the game 35,000 fans poured out of the stadium and waited for buses to come pick us up. We ended up waiting for 2-1/2 hours. I have since heard that with subsequent games at the stadium they have streamlined the exit process with better marked areas for where each bus will pick up and where they will be going. In the end the biggest reason we didn't get on a bus sooner was the 4 year old we were carrying with us. For some strange reason Dan didn't want to try to push to the front of the line and risk getting hit by a bus?
From Soccer


From Soccer

In the end I'm glad I can say, "I was there" (the official FIFA slogan at all ticket sales outlets). All in all my first professional soccer match and first World Cup game was fun. Although, unless the US gets to host the World Cup again it might be my last match for awhile. We also ended up going to the fan park in Nelspruit that night to watch the South Africa game. It was packed, cold, and South Africa lost, badly, but we still had a good time.

From Soccer
The official Coke theme song for the world cup



From Soccer
Me with Marc Damour and Tyler Ralph, supporting South Africa

I think I might have even impressed my English friend Dan enough for him to root for the US, should England find themselves out before us.

From Soccer

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Taste of Africa

Great thanks to everyone who supported our Taste of Africa night at Grace Church on June 1. We had about 60 people attend. Highlights of the night included seeing nearly everyone eating authentic African cuisine (including chicken, pap, soup, ifisashi, and chakalaka) with their hands, so many great questions from the audience about our experiences and Hands at Work's support for orphaned and vulnerable children, and fun prizes. In all, over $2500 was raised to support essential services like home visits, education, and food security for orphaned and vulnerable children in some of the poorest communities in Africa.

Jed's dad, Wally, and my mom, Gina, along with
other family members helped prepare dinner

Ladies from Grace Church volunteered to take tickets and help with clean up

Materials describing Hands at Work in Africa were distributed



Centerpieces like this one, including a variety of South
African goodies, were given away at the end of the night

Me and Jed in our "africa" T-shirts

For more information on how you can help, go to www.handsatwork.org and click on "Get Involved."

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Megan's Wedding

The wedding weekend was fantastic! We went to Elbow Lake Lodge and such a great family time. Megan was gorgeous, and we're so happy to welcome Blake into the family. What a great guy!

Emily Law took beautiful professional pictures, and you can see them on her Flickr account by clicking here. The following are a few that Kim and I took...

Dress Rehearsal

Megan and Blake with Pastor Holly from Grand Forks

Wedding Day - Kim doing Megan's hair


Bridesmaids almost ready to go!

Me and my cousin Billy

Megan and Uncle Bill

The real thing

Bridesmaids

Husband and wife

The reception

Brooke and Jed

My cousin Ryan, Holly, and Lilly

Mike and Sisi Kimmie

Pops and Gram

The best picture I got of Megan's dress

Dancing the night away