32 and counting…

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I am five days away from my 32nd birthday. I know a lot of people who down play their birthdays and say its just another day. I am not one of them. I think I’ve tried the low key birthday before and just was not a fan. I’m pretty sure it all stems from the year that I threw myself a hawaiian theme birthday party with colorful plastic leis and little umbrellas in the drinks. I was 12 and it was awesome, just asked the lucky girls that were in attendance.

Actually I think I have my Mom to thank for special birthdays. When my sister and I were little my Mom started a tradition of serving us breakfast in bed on our birthdays. It started the day off on a special tone. I can remember getting up early to help prepare breakfast for my sister as her birthday is a month before mine. It was exciting to take the tray up to her room and walk in with a silly smile on my face to be the first to wish her a happy birthday. The tradition was that the siblings of the birthday child would sit on the edge of the bed and watch the birthday child open cards and eat breakfast and help celebrate the start of their special day. I love every bit of this tradition.

There were a few rough birthdays years. Years where I expected the day to be special but was disappointed by how un-special it turned out. (There was even a year where the entire day fell apart and I ended up crying myself to sleep, we don’t speak so often of that birthday) After a few of these less special birthdays I learned that it was up to me to make the day great. So for the last few years I took work off on my birthday and would create a special day for myself. I have gone out to breakfast, gone hiking, kayaking, shopping downtown Seattle, and got my butt kicked in a family game of croquet. (I think my Dad secretly practices so that he can bet us)

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Two years ago when I was turning 30 and feeling a bit unsure about it, some of my very good friends threw me a very glamours backyard party. My Mom made me a dress. (There isn’t anything this woman can’t do) It was magical. As friends were arriving and enjoying a cocktail before we sat down to a beautiful dinner outside under the stars I kept thinking to myself this is what birthdays are all about. Its a chance to bring friends together and celebrate.

This year my birthday magically felt on our R&R. So keeping with my tradition I will not be working and I will be in place where going out to breakfast is possible and perhaps even some fun shopping, good cheese and nice bread, and a movie in a movie theater. (Its the small things guys) My brilliant husband even orchestrated a trip to the spa the day after my birthday. (So perhaps we are celebrating for two days this year) Its going to be a special day. I will miss the gathering of friends and family and would prefer being with everyone over a day at the spa, but knowing that K and I are on vacation without a responsibility in the world sounds pretty magical as well. Perhaps, I will convince K to have a hula contest with me, it was a real hit when I turned 12. Twenty years later I think hula is still a great way to celebrate a birthday.

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many thanks…

The last three months have been such a whirl-wind of family, friends, and enjoying all our favorite things from home. We truly were spoiled by family and felt really loved. It’s been a really great time to catch up on life with friends from all over. While we’ve been home we’ve visited five different states, never stayed longer than 10 days in one place, got really good at living out of a bag, baked to our hearts content, celebrated the finalization of our friend’s adoption, lost a lot of card games to my Grandpa, the General, had many many trips to Costco, ate lots of Mexican food, had many late nights and early mornings, and lots of great memories made with K’s Dad before he died. It has been a bitter-sweet time in our lives, but looking back I will remember more of the sweet than the bitter.

I have to thank our many friends who have housed us, loved and supported us over the last three months.

Russell and Emily, thank you so much for listening to us while we felt lost and needed to dream again, we love you both and our hearts are so happy that we were able to share in your adoption. Someday we will raise children together and have weekly meals… get excited for someday.

Neal and Emily, thank you for sharing your home with us, as we were in transition and trying to figure out if Portland is where we wanted to be. The door is still not shut on Portland, its more of a just not now situation. Also thank you Neal for driving hours to come to the funeral… it meant a lot.

Scott and Leia, you guys are so giving and have supported us so much over the last year; more than we could ever ask for. Thank you for letting us land at your house often, and for making us laugh a lot! Leia I will miss you most often… cause being in Africa makes me think of you so very much.

Megan and Dan, the week we spent with you was so fantastic for us. I have always been so thankful for your friendship and so appreciate your love and support. You both are so great for joining us at a random hotel in D.C. for the night. It was the best way to say goodbye to the states. We love you and your family so very much. Some day it would be great to live in the same part of the world again… just saying.

Josue and Nicole, thank you for spending time with us even when we were falling apart. Every time we have a grilled cheese sandwich we will think of you both. Also we are wicked excited to make plans for our Tanzania adventure this summer.

Ashley, Livy, Beth, Katie, and Polly, girls without you I would not have made it through the rough spots. Thank you for listening to me and encouraging me through the hard places. With friends like you I feel like I could do anything.

George and Dottie, we cannot thank you enough for all that you’ve done for us. Your home has been such a wonderful place of rest for us. Thank you for all the conversations about the future and asking us the hard questions. And don’t worry George, we won’t ask you to be a reference for future jobs. J

K and I have already to dug into our new positions in South Sudan with Non-Violent Peaceforce and are loving every minute of sweating and being without power. We are really excited to be back in Africa, where are hearts are. The last three months have been wonderful to be home, but it has become apparent to both K and I that we are made for the work we are doing right now and we cannot help but go.

And so in the famous words of Dr. Seuss’ “Marvin K Mooney, Will You Please Go Now”:

“The time has come,

The time is now.

Just go, go, go!

I don’t care how…

I said go and go I meant,

The time had come.

So … Marvin went.”

And go we went.

adusting to life in Juba…

I find it super amazing as to what become normal in a very short period of time. We are coming up on being in Juba for a week now and most of life here seems to be pretty normal. When we left Seattle a week ago we were freezing; wearing sweaters, coats, sleeping in hoodies and down comforters. Today we are sweating wearing shorts, t-shirts, and sleeping without even a top sheet. And it all seems normal. We even went out for drinks on Friday night with some of our colleges at NP. Even the steady diet of rice and beans seems to be normalizing in both our heads and our stomachs.

There are still somethings that seem to be a bit harder to get used to, like the lack of internet. It took me the better part of the morning to email my family yesterday. K is working so very hard to see what we can do to increase our internet capacity and if anyone can do it, it is him. But in the mean time there will be a lack of pictures on the blog. But hopefully that will be changing soon.

We are still processing the last few weeks before we left home. It was a crazy hard time for us as K’s Dad passed away four days before we left for Juba. We haven’t had a lot of down time to really process out all the events of the last few weeks, but are extremely grateful for the time we had with family and friends. I am convinced that K and I have the best friends a couple could ever have. Ever. We have been completely blow away by the love and support.

Well there is a Saturday market that is calling my name, so that is all for now. More adventures to come.

cape town and other adventures….

K and I just got back from our second trip to Cape Town, South Africa on Friday. We had an amazing time with friends and seeing the sights. Our first trip to Cape Town was in February in the midst of their summer. It was so very warm and lovely, we both just fell in love with the city. This time our trip was in the middle of winter, yet we still found our hearts over joyed to be in torrential down pours and have to snuggle in bed at night to keep warm. I think its official that we love Cape Town regardless of the weather.

We stayed with a friend of mine who I met when I worked with Mercy Ships who is from Cape Town. It was so great to hangout and get to know her husband and two beautiful girls more. We had a wonderful time and felt so spoiled by their hospitality, seriously I got coffee delivered to my bedroom… it was pure heaven! They also took us to a really great market Saturday morning we we ate great food, drank great coffee and enjoyed looking at all the goods people were selling.

I swear in another life I am an artisan bread maker who sells bread at markets like this one. I just love the atmosphere and the people. The market is just teaming with creative people who are passionate about their crafts. Did I mention that I loved it, thank you Vanessa and family for taking us!

On the one beautiful day that was sandwiched between crazy storms K and I went up Table Mountain. The view from Table Mountain is breathtaking and has to be experienced first hand to know how amazing it truly is.

It was chilly and windy at the top of the mountain but not a cloud in the sky and one of those experiences I will alway remember.

Later in the week we drove out to wine country, which I’m sure you will be surprised to find that we loved. I feel like I’m just telling you I loved everything… but come on guys you have to believe me when I say its one of the most beautiful areas.

Each winery we went to we had to pick our jaws up off the ground and wipe the drool away. From the amazing valley views to the old dutch architecture to the most modern minimalist decor we were over come with its beauty.

And then of course there was wine… does anyone else need more convincing that you need to visit?

Well we are back in Zimbabwe and ready to take on the next month and a half. I will be working on a well project. I’m hoping to rehabilitate 10-15 wells in some pretty rural places and K continues to manage our fleet of trucks, procure supplies and all kinds of HR tasks as well. He does so much its hard to keep it all straight. We are anticipating the next month and a half to be busy and fly by quickly.  So we will hold on tight and enjoy the ride.

while we wait…

We’ve been told we will have an answer regarding our future project funding within the next 14 days. But in the mean time we took a day trip out to a lion park and hung out in some amazing landscapes and saw incredible animals.

This guy and his friend decided to join us for a Braai. (South African BBQ) Don’t you just want to touch him?

Lions are the most amazing animals ever. The end. We happen to be at the lion park during the meal hour and let me tell you it was amazing. The growling noises and aggressiveness while food is involved is frightening.

This guy is a bit grumpy that another lion is so close to him while he eats. He was giving a little feed back to the approaching lion to steer clear. It was his goat’s head and he wasn’t giving it up. I wouldn’t mess around with that kind of look.

Here is a guy I was willing to pet. There weren’t many at this park that I would want to extend my hand to touch. We were told that this guy was roughly 300 years old. He was a bit moody but if you were 300 years old I think you’ve earned that right.

Last weekend we went on a little hike with some friends. We hiked up to these balancing rocks. They are pretty awesome, and the view was stunning. I think Zimbabwe is really starting to wedge it’s way into my heart.

On our hike we passed by some prehistoric rock drawings. I have to say it was super impression to think that these drawings had been there for something like a gagillion years. Pretty great.

Speaking of great, let me introduce you to Debbie and her husband Delan. Debbie works in our Medair office in Harare and Delan is the optometrist aka miracle worker who was able to get me eye drops when I had my run in with the bug. Debbie and Delan took us out for a hike to see some of Zimbabwe’s great views. It really is a beautiful country.

While waiting is hard we are doing our very best to enjoy each day in Zimbabwe. Cause who knows where we will be living next month!

thoughts on Christmas…

Due to the fact that K and I are in the middle of some major transition and not even having a home of our own right now we are not decorating for Christmas this year. And surprisingly I’m super okay with it. We did a big Christmas decorating spree last Christmas. Many of you might recall my holiday branch.

Holiday Branch

But just cause we aren’t using our own Christmas decorations this year doesn’t mean we haven’t been decking the halls of other homes. My Sister, Brother, K and I went and picked out a 15 foot Noble tree for my parent’s living room. I know we say this every year but this is truly the best tree that we’ve ever had in their house.

Last Year's Tree

Even though Christmas this year seem like just a day on the calendar this year because we are moving to Zimbabwe shortly after the new year I’m really focused on making it really special with our families. Its important to me to know that our holiday traditions are more than just presents and food. I want to know that its the relationships that we have, the family connections that we hold are what makes the holidays special. I want to know that right now as we prepare to move across the world and leave those relationships and connections. I want our family and friends to know how important they are to both K and I. It is because we have such strong family and friendships that we feel confident to go to Zimbabwe and do what we have been created to do. Its an amazing feeling. I want to truly celebrate the birth of Christ and marvel in the joy and life that we have through His birth.

As cheezy as it is to end with this, its pretty much the way I’ve been feeling. So here it is:

“Its the time of year when the world falls in love, every song you hear seems to say Merry Christmas, many your new year’s dreams come true. And this song of mine in three-quarter time wishes you and yours the same thing too.”