Tuesday, June 13, 2017

We are in the States

Repost from July 2014

There must be something in there, but they are all looking different directions, so don't know where it is!

Thank you, Nashville zoo, for fueling Benjamin's argument that dinosaurs are not extinct!

Caleb's 15th Birthday

My sister and her girls

My Sweet Grandparents

My dad with 2 of the grandsons

Partial Family Picture

Ben and Ethan

BraveHeart, I mean, Caleb at the Scottish games.

Caleb at youth camp with 150 of his closest friends!  We are honestly so grateful to our church family who hasn't forgotten us.

Ben had been talking a long time about returning to "the States" which to him means anything in the US.  After we arrived, we traveled a lot and we'd talk about where we were going.  We'd talk about going to Florida or Georgia or North Carolina or Tennessee and Ben would follow along until we'd list who lived there and then whoever was talking was in for a heated debate with Ben about where that person really lived.  To Ben, there is "the States', where family lives and Abidjan which is home.  Geography lessons with a stubborn 4 year old don't go so well.

We have finally gotten to at least briefly see all of our closest family.  We look forward to seeing those we haven't yet seen and all the rest over and over until it is time to return.

We've had a very exciting stay so far.  Since all medical concerns were cleared right away, as soon as we got a vehicle we hit the road.  We've spent time in the panhandle of Florida with my family, passed through AL to visit for a few minutes with my brother's family, been to North Carolina twice to visit our church family and sell our rental houses (woohoo!!!), went to South Carolina with our church youth group for camp, went to the Atlantic coast of FL to visit my mom and grandparents, went to Georgia for some Scottish heritage fun, made a quick stop in an eastern TN town to see Mike's brother for a few minutes, went to the zoo, lived with my in-laws (oddly enough they are still speaking to us! ;)), and spent some time with Mike's other brother and enjoyed watching a couple of his kids play ball.  It was great to have my baby brother here with us a few times and we are looking forward to having more of my family in now that we have some space of our own.

Ben has stopped crying every day to return to Abidjan, I won't tell you if I have or not. ;)  He's discovered some pretty amazing things he can get in the US such as; Cheetos, chocolate donuts, strawberry pop tarts, string cheese and... (drum roll please)... MCDONALDS!  His dad is trying to convert him over to Chick-fila and that process is coming along nicely.  He thinks play places are wonderful!  He thinks school (aka Sunday School) is the best thing ever.  Who knew that little people could go off with a bunch of other little people during Sunday worship (which is only 1 hour instead of 3) and play in a room with toys and coloring sheets and eat goldfish?  Something tells me we'll have some reprogramming to do in Africa.  He does enjoy playing outside with his friends at some of our African churches some Sundays, but utter chaos in the African sun is apparently not quite as much fun, although he loves it too.  He's hoping to get into a little bit of Tball in a few weeks.  I'm sure he'll love it if we can keep up with practices, games and a newborn, along with our speaking engagements and travel.

Karis loves going from one family to another and spending time with her cousins.  This will be the first time in her life in a public school setting.  She is hoping to attend public school this fall with her closest cousin in age if we can work out all of the details.  She also wants to play softball on her team as well.

Caleb had an unfortunate howdy-do into the wonderful world of orthodontics.  We got here to find out one of his permanent teeth is turned the wrong direction and they are trying to correct the problem.  He's already gotten all of his hardware in place and had a little oral surgery.  Caleb is going to carry on with his online school, switching to public for one semester was going to cause a lot of problems.  We just found a fall baseball team and hope to get him signed up this week.  Everybody wants their turn to play America's favorite pastime.  With all of the interruption for last year, Caleb is just now finishing up school for last year and will only get a couple of weeks break before starting again.  He is a little sad about that, but he has gotten to go with us on several trips taking a break here and there throughout the summer.

Mike's been itching to get back to some of his favorite American things too.  He's been trout fishing very successful with his dad.  He also got to play a little disc golf with my brother.  One of those trips included a little mishap with some bees, but no pain no gain, right?  Check out his Facebook for a video of his encounter!  He is also hoping to play a little fall softball.  I think we are all going to wind up in the looney bin trying to keep up with all of those practices and games.

We've gotten to speak in a few churches already and are looking forward to some serious traveling in October and November.  We love to see familiar faces and meet new ones and we love to talk about our home and ministry.  Telling everyone that I can find about my sweet African sister, Viviane, keeps me from missing her quite so much.

We are all just waiting for our littlest one to get here now.  Ben has named the baby "Ty".  I don't think that will make the birth certificate, but something tells me he will be called that, if not always, often.  I've been reminded how great it would be if babies came lined up with a definite birth date.  It would make planning travel a lot easier.

We've been blessed in a lot of ways already.  To be able to connect with some churches and other organizations has been a blessing.  Many helped us to be able to get a vehicle to drive that we can all fit in even when the baby comes.  We sold our rental properties that have been a thorn in the side for the past 7 years (actually longer, but that is the time we've been in Africa).  Mike's parents were kind enough to host us for 7 or 8 weeks as we waited for a place to stay.  Trinity Assembly of God has been so kind to let us old Baptist missionaries borrow their mission house for the rest of our stay.  Parkwood was so sweet to invite our kids and allow the whole family to have a little spiritual renewal week with them near Myrtle Beach.  There are those that have given up their beds and opened their homes to us in such an amazing expression of love and hospitality.  Many have kindly tucked a little this or that in our pockets along the way and we are really counting our blessings for the kindness and grace of God in our lives as expressed through His children.  Thanks to all of you that have made a rocky return to the states a little more bearable.

For those of you in the states, we hope to be seeing you soon.  Our calendar is getting full, so be sure to contact us soon if your church had wanted us to speak while in the here.

I hope you are having a great summer.
With love,

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