Just a quick update that Erin is safe and sound (and doing research and service) in Haiti. The flight was uneventful and the work is good. She has noted that electricity is difficult to come by, so updates may be limited!
Reed and I had a little get-away to Montreal, Quebec, this weekend. I’ll be doing some research here this week as part of my sabbatical project, and it was real bonus to get to kick it off with my husband as my travel buddy. We were quite delayed out of Portland Thursday night, but thankfully, we made our connection in Newark and arrived in Montreal Friday morning. It was rainy, windy, and cold to start, but the skies have cleared and I am looking forward to a few warm, sunny days here. There is a lot of evidence around of a brutal winter here, so I think the québécois people are ready for spring!
Friday we got to know our neighborhood; we are staying downtown, not far from the University of Quebec where I’ll be working (we are also very close to McGill College, so there are lots of students around). We found some crêpes for a late lunch, and I enjoyed chocolate fondu for dessert. We got a few groceries, rested a bit, and made our plan for the weekend. In the evening, we walked to Benelux, a brewery that got high marks online, even from Portlanders. It did not disappoint, and we went back Saturday for another pint of “American IPA,” which doesn’t really even make sense. Anyway…
Saturday we ventured out via bus and metro to Vieux Montreal (i.e., the old part of the city). We first visited the Basilique Notre-Dame de Montreal, which is basically a smaller version of the one in Paris. It also contains Chapelle Notre-Dame du Sacré Cœur, which is a smaller chapel behind the main altar…this is where Celine Dion was married, if there are any fans out there. We hit a few souvenir shops…no big purchases as we are good on hockey and winter gear. Well, and Reed is repulsed by all of the maple flavored sweets.
We walked to Chapelle Notre-Dame de Bon Secours, which in Montreal‘s oldest chapel, dating back to 1771. It is also known as the Sailors’ Church and has model ships hanging from the ceiling, which I was quite fond of. We walked to the port, and we were still searching for what people like so much about Montreal. So far, it was a bit less than impressive. Then we wandered onto St. Paul Street. This was what we were looking for. It is a quaint, old cobblestone street with lots of cafés and shops. We settled into a little French-inspired café and had some quiche for lunch. It was delightful.
We sojourned on to the other side of the city to see Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal. This huge shrine on a big hill is where pilgrims flock in hopes of miraculous cures. Brother Andre, a humble cleric, attributed his curative powers to Joseph, and Andre petitioned for donations to build the oratory. It is the second largest dome in the world, after St. Peter’s in Rome. It was finished in 1967, 30 years after Andre’s death. He was canonized as a saint by Pope Benedict in 2010, as the two posthumous miracles required by the Catholic Church occurred in 1958 (cured cancer victim) & 1999 (boy emerged from a coma). At the oratory, you see discarded crutches, canes, and wheelchairs, supposed evidence of healing. We took in a mass while we were there, which was good of course, and we checked out all of the Oratory’s features, from the crypt church to the votive chapel and the dome, of course…even Brother Andre’s heart is on display! It was an interesting experience…you’ll have to ask Reed for his take on it all!
Today we enjoyed lunch at an English pub with a large selection of Scotch. The Manchester United vs. Manchester City match was on, so it was quite a boisterous crowd. Reed packed up and I left him at the bus stop, headed to the airport…definitely the low point of the weekend. I walked to the Musée des Beaux-Arts (art museum) and strolled through the many exhibitions for a couple of hours to take my mind off his departure. I enjoyed seeing works from Degas, Monet, Renoir, Matisse, Rembrandt, Rodin, Picasso, and Dali. I walked back to the hotel in the warm sunshine, so that helped me feel a bit better too. I’m just not the same person without Reed by my side!
I am so thankful for our weekend escape and the new memories that were made. Now it’s time to get to work on my research so I can jet back home on Friday! Here’s hoping for a productive, and quick week…
We arrived midday Saturday after an easy journey, and our American Institute of Foreign Study (AIFS) guide, Tony Langan, was at the airport to meet us. All but one of our students was on our 10-hour flight from San Francisco, and the other one was waiting with Tony when we arrived. Tony sent the students in one taxi to their home stays, which are in a suburb of Dublin, about a half hour or so from city center. He rode with us in our taxi to settle us into our accommodations at Trinity College, right in the heart of Dublin. We have a nice apartment and feel quite lucky.
Sunday we ventured out for a stroll through the Trinity campus and Temple Bar, a neighborhood of cobbled streets (complete with shops, bars, & LOTS of tourists) for lunch and groceries. The weather is lovely, a mix of sun and clouds and mid-60s. Here’s a recap of what we saw and did…
Just a quick update to let everyone know that we all made it home safe and sound last night. We had some interesting mishaps along the way, but we persisted on and all parties are back at their respective homes. We have lots to think about…to remember…to continue to learn. It was a wonderful adventure, made perfect by sharing it together. We are thankful to God for watching over us, and we pray our sponsored children and their families also feel His protection. Here are just a few pics from our day in Mhlosheni, Swaziland. (We weren’t all together for the visits, so I don’t have those for everyone yet.)
Well, I’ve got my Gumby on. It is Thursday night as I write this…I should have been about ready to go to the airport to collect my family. Instead, I am wandering around our modern apartmentS (yes, that’s two, two-bedroom apartments, suitable for the 8 of us) at the lovely V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. I have included a photo of the view from our room…if you look closely at the left-side horizon, you can see the red Lego guy that was built in the harbor for the 2010 World Cup. In case you’re curious, the “V&A” stands for Victoria & Albert, as it was Prince Albert who built up this harbor for his mum (as they say in England), Queen Victoria, back in 1860.
Anyway, the family is finally flying, though they didn’t leave until about 5pm Cape Town time. This means they’ll arrive in Johannesburg around 8am Friday morning. Then they have to rebook their hopper flight down to Cape Town. Why on earth South African Airways couldn’t do this for them from DC is beyond me. So, I cannot rebook our airport shuttle yet…and I had to pay 250 Rands to book their Robben Island Ferry that was scheduled for tomorrow. Give me a “G”…give me a “U”… (you get the idea).
Yes, I’ve got my Gumby on…so must the seven travelers making their way across the Atlantic and down the continent of Africa. Tomorrow at this time, it will all be a fading memory (well, maybe not that soon), and I’m sure there will be good stories to tell. Reed is doing great through it all – he’s such a trooper. I hope they can start receiving more of those “journey mercies” our Swazi friends talk about from here on out…they have earned them! May I ask your permission to retract my “cross slowly” philosophy in this situation? Please, oh please, airplane, can you cross over to me as quickly as possible?!
Oh, and the rain just started…it is scheduled to be with us everyday while we are together in Cape Town. That’s not a plan-changer when you’re in Oregon, but it can be here as things like the Robben Island Ferry and Table Mountain Cable Car don’t operate in foul weather. G-U-M-B-Y!
It is always helpful to be a flexible person, both in body and spirit. However, on days such as this, we see how easy (or difficult) it is to get our Gumby on. I shall explain…
After speaking with my family late last night, I didn’t sleep well. The Oregonians and Iowans met at the gate in Dulles International Airport in Washington DC…I was on the phone with Reed when he spotted my dad, which was fun to hear. Then I learned that their South African Airways “direct” flight to Johannesburg (via Dakar, Senegal) was delayed due to mechanical difficulties. I was restless all night, imaging seven of my dearest family members in a faulty plane.
Still, I assumed all would resume normally…I kept telling myself to stop worrying (“don’t borrow trouble” is a favorite mantra of mine these days). I got up this morning, took my last walk to Good Hope Studies, and logged into my email. There I found my update from Reed. The good news was that everyone was safe and sound. The bad news was that their flight was cancelled.
When a 17-hour flight gets cancelled, fairly significant changes to everyone’s plans ensue. First, there is the extreme emotional let-down after counting the days – and then hours – until we are reunited. (At this point, I don’t know when they’ll be arriving in Cape Town, so I cannot even resume my countdown.) Next, there is the feeling of the sands of time slipping through my fingers…our time together in Africa felt fairly limited to start with, and this does not help matters. Finally, there are the details to work out…re-booking shuttles, ferry tickets, etc.
Of course I am not wishing they were on that airplane with mechanical difficulties. Of course I am glad they are safe and that there will be another airplane to bring them to me. Of course I feel hugely disappointed. Learning through these Gumby moments is not what we choose, but we grow through them…we become more flexible, which is good for our souls. I am going to have to keep reminding myself of that until they arrive!
I will update as I can…thank you for your prayers on our behalf.
There are surely many relevant films out there addressing issues of global concern, humanity, et cetera. As promised, here is a list of films that I recommend; I use them in my Global Psychology class. Don’t worry if you’re not into psychology…they are not psychology films per se (though all of them are relevant as they deal with the human condition). If you read about them online and find you’d like to watch any, I have them on DVD and you’re welcome to borrow them.
Beat the Drum (HIV/AIDS in South Africa)
Beyond our Differences (humanity’s connection through faith)
Cry, The Beloved Country (Apartheid; read the novel first)
Dear Francis (HIV/AIDS in Swaziland)
God Grew Tired of Us (the “Lost Boys” of Sudan)
The Human Experience (homeless in US, abandoned children in Peru, lepers in Ghana)
Finally…my family arrives today!!! We have been apart for 40 days…aren’t there a couple of good stories in the Bible that take place over 40 days? 😉 I can hardly stand waiting these last few hours until I get to greet them at the airport. It is sure to be one of the sweetest reunions of my life, perhaps only second to the first time I met each of them.
Reed, Jackson, and Abbie, I love you so very much, and I am deeply grateful to God for blessing my life with you. Also, thanks for putting up with my hair-brained idea to do this!!! The photo today is of you three…it was the last time I saw you (at the Portland airport on May 12).
I am even more blessed as I have some “bonus” family members coming along with my sweet little family: my parents, Dave & Becky, a niece from Iowa, Tess, and a nephew from Oregon, Connor. Tess and Connor graduated from high school last month, so we thought it was the perfect time for them to tag along to South Africa and Swaziland.
We will stay in Cape Town until Monday, and then we’ll travel north to Kruger Park for a safari. I have been dreaming about taking our kiddos on a safari since I experienced my first one, over six years ago now. I can’t wait to see the amazing animals through their eyes! To end our trip, we will go to Mhlosheni, Swaziland, to visit our sponsored children – all 12 of them across the 8 of us! This, too, has been a dream of mine since I first met our sponsored children.
After 40 days of great moments and lots of life lessons, amazing blessings are surely in store. Of course, all of our days – even those average and below average days – are blessings. But then there are those amazing, once-in-a-lifetime days that fill our sails and warm our hearts. My prayer is that I can appreciate all of the days God gives me, no matter what they hold. Still, I must say a big “THANK YOU!” to the man upstairs for carrying us all through the past 40 days apart.
So…as I am able to locate wifi, this blog will shift to a travelogue of our family adventures. Tune in (or out) as you please. Thanks for going along on the ride thus far…