coming home…

Coming home. Makes me smile just thinking about it. K and I are jumping on a plane Thursday to go home for three weeks. We are both excited beyond words. Not only do we get to spend time with family and friends but we also get to celebrate my sister’s wedding. It’s going to be a great time. Now I just have to get myself through the next three days and then the two days of travel. Fortunately, for us, we have a longer layover in Amsterdam where we are able to take a train into the city and see some good friends for an hour or two. It will break up the long flights back to Seattle.

I cannot wait to be in cooler weather, to drive on paved roads, to drink good coffee, sleep on soft beds, and to hug my family and friends. Before we scheduled this trip home it did not feel like we had been gone for that long, but now that I know we are going home it feels like I have not been there forever and every second I have to wait until I am there feelings like an eternity.

Also some very exciting news… Birdie will be joining us in the states! K and I have been talking about when to transition her back to the states and the timing has worked out just right for this trip. Birdie’s journey will be slightly longer than ours as she has to make a short visit to Uganda before she can fly to the states, but she will be stateside within a week or so of us. It will be a bit of an adjustment as she is not a fan of rain or any kind of water, but then again she is a street dog, who is highly adaptable.

Its not long now, only four more sleeps and we will be on our way. See you soon Seattle!

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eight days and counting…

I cannot tell you how many times I check my phone daily to count the days until our next R&R. It feels like a lifetime ago that we were walking the streets of Greece with my parents, enjoying good coffee and eating as much greek salad as we could shovel in our mouths. The last several weeks have been extremely trying. Both K and I have been sick. (I am just now getting my appetite back after weeks of just crackers and 7UP) We also had to say goodbye to a good friend, who was heading home after a year and a half in South Sudan. Life here feels a bit empty without her, I keep waiting for her to come into my office with some crazy story or a weird food combination for me to try. I am laughing less these days without her, its been rough. So needless to say that we are more than ready for a break.

This little one wanted to give me a dirty rag... and then all the kids laughed.

This little one wanted to give me a dirty rag… and then all the kids laughed.

There have been some high points in the last several weeks as well. K has been battling with the elements (literally) to get supplies up to a remote field site. He loaded a large truck with supplies and day after day he tracked their progress (or lack of) and heard about delays due to weather, mechanic trouble, flat tires, and communities physically delaying the truck, you name it and it has delayed this truck. When it looked like the truck just wasn’t going to make it K chartered a flight to fly in supplies to this field site. (This is the man you want in charge of getting you supplies!) So he chartered this flight and bought all new supplies to send and loaded the plane. Can you believe that the chartered flight and the truck arrived with in hours of each other to this field site? You have to laugh, honestly more supplies at this field site is a win for everyone. It was a ton of work and coordination, but worth it… right K?

This little one was super happy to see her reflection. I couldn't help but smile.

This little one was super happy to see her reflection. I couldn’t help but smile.

I have been battling donors, project reports, and new proposals. A few weeks ago I was successful getting one of the proposals that I wrote accepted by a new donor. Its short term funding, but will really help bridge a funding gap in our programming. It was a really great feeling to have this proposal accepted. I felt like I might actually be good at my job! When sharing the news with my brother he kindly reminded me that even if it wasn’t accepted I was still good at my job. Love that guy.

Another reflection lover.

Another reflection lover.

I was able to spend a few days out at a field site, which I loved every minute of it. I was able to attend a community meeting and inter-act with the local community. I had so many memories of being in communities in Zimbabwe. It was a great trip to see our field teams in action. I did not see any scorpions during my visit which was a bit of a let down, but cause I was on high alert for these little creatures. But I did have a lovely wake up call by a baby bat, so not all was lost.

Little man super bored during a community meeting was pretending he was driving a motorcycle. It was awesome.

Little man super bored during a community meeting was pretending he was driving a motorcycle. It was awesome.

We are both tired and ready for some time just the two of us in Nairobi. (K has booked us a trip to the spa for my birthday!) And we are super pumped to meet up with our friends Nicole and Josue in Zanzibar and live on the beach. I can’t wait to take deep breaths of ocean air. It’s going to be amazing.

And Birdie keeps growing. I love that K is wearing the same shirt in both pictures.

And Birdie keeps growing. I love that K is wearing the same shirt in both pictures.

But for the eight remaining days I going to enjoy every moment of turning on our bathroom sink tap and have the shower turn on… don’t even ask because I have no idea.

the first three months…

Its amazing to me that K and I have been in Juba for nearly three months. Some days it seems like we have only arrived yesterday and others it feels like we’ve been here for years. I’ve heard it said that a year in Juba is like seven years every where else. I can not argue with this statement. Life is a bit more challenging here, even just getting the basic things can become a long and trying experience. I watch K as he battles to get the supplies and vehicles for our project and I find myself being so proud of him. He works long days, his phone rings constantly, he battles cultural differences left and right, he has to creatively come up with solutions to problems in transportation, and he has a staff of 30+ always knocking on his door asking for things. Its impossible to watch him work and not be proud. But this guy needs a break.

Boys hard at work.

Boys hard at work.

Tomorrow afternoon K and I will board a plane for Greece for our first R&R. WE CAN NOT WAIT. But wait it gets better. Two weeks ago when we were planning this trip we Skyped with my parents and invited them to join us. It was a shot in the dark and before we spoke with my parents both K and I said that it would never happen. My parents love to travel, but we were only giving them two weeks notice and they have alot of responsibility at home as they take care of my Grandparents who live with them and full time jobs and you know… just stuff that life throws at you. But K and I decided to ask cause we love mixing it up. But I would just like to tell you that I’ve got amazing parents who are constantly surprising me. They said yes. So not only do we get to spend the next two weeks in Greece, we also get to be with my parents. I cannot tell you how great it will be to hug my Mom and Dad and spend time with them. I feel like I have been given such an amazing gift I do not even know how to express how thankful I am.

Our goals for the next two weeks are as follows: greek food, hugging parents, greek food, fast internet, sleep, hugging parents, drinking nice greek wine, greek food, seeing beautiful places, and greek food. Should be amazing.

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.

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.

new endings and beginnings…

The winds of change are blowing. (pretty awesome start to the blog post huh) But its true there is some major change for K and I in the next few months. As it turns out we will be ending our time in Zimbabwe at the end of September. The Zimbabwe team is having to down size due to lack of funding, so K and I are moving on to another adventure. What adventure you ask? Well you are in good company because we are asking that very same question. We aren’t quite done with our international living (sorry moms) so we will continue to pursue other jobs beyond the boarders of the US. K and I have loved living abroad and all the challenges that come with it. Some days are rough because I miss family, friends, and Target, but we both know that we are right where we are supposed to be. I’ll keep you posted as I know things, but for now we are living it up in Zimbabwe. And speaking of living it up, two weekends ago we went camping at Victoria Falls. I used the term camping loosely because we slept in beds, but the beds were in a tent, so it counts. The falls were absolutely amazing and well worth the trip. We went with our colleague who is an amazing photographer and she captured some really great ones of us. I promise we aren’t posing, we just really like each other.   We also went on a sunset river cruise on the Zambezi. K kept calling it the booze cruise, but it was really amazing. We gently cruised down the river and saw amazing wild life. The Hippos were my favorite. And then the next morning we got up and had coffee and this really beautiful hotel that is up on a hill over looking a waterhole in the bush. Elephants often wander through to get a drink. Well we didn’t see any elephants but we did have a special guest join us for coffee. Monkeys are totally unpredictable and often dangerously aggressive. So we were all a little taken back that this mother and baby monkey got so close. And mother monkeys are the worst because they will do anything to protect their baby… but we gave her a little distance and control of the sugar jar and it all turned out okay.

 

It was a really great weekend and I’m so glad we were able to visit while we are still in Zimbabwe. Its crazy here but we are loving every minute of it.

large and small adventures…

We survived moving day. Well, just barely. Poor K made it up the driveway to our new house in Bulawayo right before he passed out. Well not literally passed out but he certainly pushed it more than someone with strep-throat should. K slept most of the day on Thursday while I tried my best to direct the movers with the rest of our team. I’m pretty sure he has had a fever for the last several days. If fact funny story. We left Friday for our visa trip to South Africa and normally fly out of the Harare airport to Johannesburg (Joburg). However, now that we are living in Bulawayo we are now flying out of the Bulawayo airport, which is a converted airplane hanger. Needless to say its a very small airport and security is pretty minimal. In fact I left my leathermen in my carry-0n and it was discovered in the x-ray scanner, no big deal I was allowed to take my knife into a room with all the checked luggage and slip it into my bag. Simple.

After than minor knife debacle it was smooth sailing until we landed in Joburg. We dis-embarked (I love that term) the plane and quickly got into the non-African residence line to go through customs. We’ve done this four times now so it’s not really anything we think too much about. However, this month at the front of the line there was a man standing behind this camera asking everyone to take off their glasses to have their faces scanned. No biggie I thought, things are always changing and you just have to roll with the punches. I got scanned no problem. K got scanned and the man politely asked to speak with him in private. Ok… not really that bad right? K came back in line and I inquired as to the conversation the two shared. K looks at me totally serious and says that he needs to go with the man to the airport clinic after he is cleared through customs. The camera which the man was standing behind was a heat sensor camera and it detected that K was running a fever. So in my not-thinking insensitive way I say “Well that sounds exciting.”  Little did I know that K had already gone to defcon 1 (which is the highest deacon, not 5), imagining quarantines and anal probes. His response was not so light hearted.

We were quickly cleared through customs and ushered to the airport clinic. K was directed to fill out some paperwork and then the woman behind the desk took his temperature with an ear thermometer. She acknowledged that he did in fact have a fever and that he was experiencing flu like symptoms, but okayed him free to go. We were in and out of the clinic in 5 minutes and to the luggage carrousel in no time. K turns to me once we were on our own again and says “That was close I was almost quarantined.” I in turn said “I know it was kind of exciting.”

Ah the adventures we have. I’m pretty sure our mom’s are doing some deep breathing exercises right now. Don’t worry Moms we are good. I currently am sitting at our favorite coffee shop in Joburg enjoying a beautiful coconut latte and loving free unlimited wifi. Life is good.

We are going on a big 8 day road trip through Swaziland and down to the coast for snorkeling beginning on Monday, but for now we are resting and loving our king size bed. K is on the mend and I’m loving every adventure large or small.