Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Settling In

It's hard to believe that it has been almost a week since we left the United States! We began our travel to Tanzania on Tuesday evening, July 21. Several of our family and friends came to KCI airport to see us off.

Here I am with Anna, my sister-in-law, Katie, and my niece, Noel.

Me with my sister, Jen (Doesn't she look amazing for just having had a baby a few weeks ago?)

It was also special to have my dear friend, Mandy Buckley, and her family come and see us off. They had loaned us their Dodge Ram truck to use during our last month in the States. The truck was a HUGE help in getting our 12 bags and 7 carry-ons to the airport

It was a difficult goodbye in some ways, but we could also sense our loved ones' excitement about what God has called us to do. This made the goodbyes seem more bearable. As Paul's dad said to him as we said goodbye to him on the phone in Chicago: “We love what you're doing for our Lord!” That encouragement and similar words from others have stayed with us as we've begun our adjustment to Tanzanian culture.

Waiting in London to catch a train to the international terminal for our flight to Tanzania.

Our first views of Tanzania from the airplane.

Tanzanian ladies walking along the side of the road.

We landed in Dar es Salaam on Thursday morning, July 23. We were exhausted after so many hours of flying and very little sleep, but we knew we had to do our best to stay up all day so we could begin acclimating to the new time zone. (Tanzania is 8 hours ahead of the Midwest.) We tried, but the kids and I ended up crashing for a little while.

Thankfully, we had some distractions to keep us awake for a little while. Our friends and future Dodoma neighbors, Jonathan and Rachel, came by with another colleague and had lunch with us at the hotel restaurant. It was nice to have our first meal with people who speak Swahili so we could get the hang of how eating out works around here.

Somehow we made it to bedtime without napping again, and when we turned out the lights, all of us slept hard.

Speaking of hard, that definition can definitely be used for the hotel mattresses. We're thankful to have a room with a bed for us and one for the kids, but the mattresses are about as soft as an American box springs. We have tried to compensate by putting sleeping bags under our sheets and by adding extra pillows, but we still wake up with sore lower backs and hips nearly every morning. We're praying that the beds at language school are softer.

We tried to make our bed a little softer with an air mattress on top, but we eventually took that off and told ourselves we'll just have to acclimate.

We're looking forward to starting our mission's 3-week orientation program tomorrow morning. We have now been in Tanzania for five days, and though it's been nice to have several unstructured days to adjust to the new time and culture, we're looking forward to having a schedule again.

I probably won't be able to post again for a while, since our internet access will likely be limited for the next few weeks, but I did want to post a quick update and a few pictures while I had the chance.

Thanks for your prayers for us and our continued adjustment to life here in Tanzania!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Saying Goodbye

Today, we begin the journey that we've been working toward for nearly 5 years. At 6pm CDT, we'll say our final goodbyes and leave for Africa.

It still feels a little surreal to think that our little family is really getting on that airplane this evening, but our bags are all packed (and hopefully at/under the airline weight limits), most of our to-do list is complete, and we're beginning to feel the excitement building.

I think the kids understand just a bit of what's going on, but they are most excited about using their new backpacks and neck pillows on the airplane to Tanzania.

Oh, but then, there's the goodbyes. I hate goodbyes, but I need them at the same time. I need to have hugged my moms and dads (one of the best things about being married is getting to have more than just one set of parents in your corner), my grandmas and grandpas, my sisters and brothers, my dear friends, and all those other important family members and friends who are such a huge part of my life.

The goodbyes are only for a little while, but I still need them. Closure is important, even if there is email and Skype to keep us connected across the miles.

I'm excited about today and what awaits for us at the other end of our long plane trips, but I know full well that those airport goodbyes this evening will be one of the harder things I've done in my life. I have my Kleenex handy.

Friday, July 17, 2009

How Much is 50 Pounds?

I haven't pondered the answer to this question much until this week. But now I have a pretty good answer for you: It's not much!

50 pounds, the weight limit for airline baggage, is easy to attain when you're trying to fit three years of stuff for a family of four (which includes two growing children) into full-sized footlockers and suitcases. It's unbelievably simple to reach your limit...and FAST!

Our biggest problem: We own heavy stuff and didn't even know it.

Here are some random heavy items in our suitcases:

1. Bottle of shampoo - 2 pounds
2. Children's curriculum books - 8 pounds
3. Batteries - 5 pounds
4. Pressure cooker - 10 pounds
5. Play Dough 4-pack - 1.5 pounds
6. Baby Boy (Anna's beloved life-sized doll...Thank you, Grandma) - 3 pounds
7. Paul's Greek and Hebrew Bible - 3 pounds
8. Children's gummy vitamins - 2 pounds
9. Chaco's sandals (I might just wear these on the plane to save the weight) - 3 pounds
10. D-size Maglight flashlight - 3 pounds

If you add up these 10 items, we're already nearing the 50-pound mark. And we haven't even started talking about clothes. (We sure have a lot of those!)

Suffice it to say, packing has been a process for us, but we're getting it all figured out. Hopefully, we'll get it all right here at my parent's house, so we won't have to be rearranging on the airport floor.

Ready or not, in 4 short days, we'll find out.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A New Nephew

Babies are so much fun! Although I'm excited beyond words that my kids have exited babyhood, there's something absolutely wonderful about being an auntie to a baby niece or nephew.

On July 7, our new nephew Nathan Luke Snowden entered the world. He was due just a few days before our departure date, so I was praying that he would come early (as was my sister). It's hard to believe this little guy will be three years old when we come back on our first furlough.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Yesterday, Josiah attended his first baseball game. We were given tickets for amazing seats at a Kansas City Royals game. (Thanks, Dr. Kanne!)

Seated in the second row above the Royals dugout, Paul was able to get some amazing shots of the game. And thanks to some generous fans in the first row, Josiah came home with two foul balls and a batting glove.

He must have had a good time at the game because now, along with wanting to be a deep sea diver, he thinks it would be fun to be a baseball player when he grows up.