Tag Archives: Family

Our arrival & first full Dublin day

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…

Home

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.)

From Swaziland w/ love

Believe it or not, our first accommodation in Swaziland has wifi connectivity! The two teenagers with us are quite pleased. Okay, so are the two 40-somethings. 🙂 Anyway, I thought I would post a few more people pics for your enjoyment…

We arrived a bit late this afternoon (surprise, surprise), but everything went smoothly with the border crossing, etc. We are staying at the quaint Timbali Lodge in Manzini tonight and then will move on to Milwane Reserve (in traditional beehive huts!) tomorrow night. We had delicious pizzas for dinner (Abbie said they were the best pizzas she’s ever eaten; Connor said they were the best he’s ever eaten in Africa…I think his sense of humor comes from his dad).

Our World Vision partner, Bonginkosi, greeted us as well…it is great to see him again so soon. His smile grew very wide when we presented him with a giant bag of his favorite Skittles. Tomorrow will be a good, long day visiting our sponsored children. I am so looking forward to sharing this together as a family.

I doubt we’ll be online tomorrow night, and then Friday begins our journey home. If I can, I will post pics of us with our sponsored children, but I think it is not very likely. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the photos (they include one of my students, Kelsey, who joined us on safari)!

From Kruger w/ love

Just a quick post on our drive from Kruger Park into Swaziland. We don’t expect to be able to be online once there. We have had a fabulous experience here and have seen lots of animals, and we each have our favorite sightings. We were incredibly lucky to see five lions up close as well as two cheetahs with a fresh kill. Considering there are only around 200 cheetahs in all of Kruger Park (which is about12,000 square miles), the latter was very, very fortunate. More pictures are needed to tell the tales, but here is one of us so you know we are all fine and the lions didn’t eat anyone! 🙂

Films and family (finally!)

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…

20120621-090719.jpg

"Gotcha Day"

Well, overnight a change indeed! We are so happy!!!!

I probably will have just a few moments to post this, so let me just give you the quick details. The nannies from the orphanage arrived a few minutes early this morning, which was a real treat, for sure. The only problem was that we had no interpreter there yet…so we just rolled our video tape and shot a close up of our Abigail (we knew right away who she was). After a few minutes of this, Li Na made it down and things moved quickly from there.

As you can see from our very first family picture, things started out quietly. Abigail seemed at peace for the first few minutes and then, as the screaming of her friends became louder and louder, Abigail decided she’d give it a try. And man did she ever. We both tried to console but to no avail. All in all though her big brother (“Ge ge”) gave us enough practice in similar situations, so we weren’t worried. What finally did the trick was taking her out of the room and walking the halls. She settled down quickly as I sang Zip-a-dee-do-da (one of Jackson’s favorites, too, at her age).

As I was keeping Abigail happy, Erin was left to complete the initial paperwork, which went smoothly. In fact, things are going so smooth that we’ll have the final notorization on her adoption forms in just a few hours. This is unusual (there’s usually a 24-hour waiting period) but we’re not complaining, it will be so wonderful finishing the adoption process so soon!

As you’ll see in the photos below, she is doing well, all things considered. Poor thing must think her world has been turned upside-down, because it has. After talking with her nanny, we know she’s a fit in our family. When asked what her personality was like, the nanny laughed and said “Well, she’s very active…and she really enjoys taking things from other kids!” Sounds like she and Jackson will get along just great — after he learns who the boss is!

I’ll post more pictures as I have a chance…

IMG_1254_edited.jpg
Our first photo together, just moments after we met!

DSC_1464.jpg
Hello, Abigail, women ai ni, xiao baobao (We love you, little treasure)!

DSC_1463.jpg
Concentrating on her blocks!

DSC_1467.jpg
Sleeping peacefully…

DSC_1466.jpg
…on mom!

IMG_1270-1.jpg
After her nap, we met with a Registrar of the People’s Republic who officially proclaimed our adoption official. We’re holding the “Red Book” in our hands that contains the official adoption record, which authorities will want to see from time to time.

IMG_1269-1.jpg
Abigail’s Welfare Center Directors, right after we signed the papers making her adoption official!

Change, overnight

Change, overnight…

Abigail. Tonight is the last night you will spend not knowing Mommy or Daddy.

Tomorrow is the first day we will walk together.

While we were awake into the night, anxious to meet you, you were sleeping,

unaware of the love and life that is waiting for you in the bright morning of a new day.

I feel joy!

Change, overnight.

I know this feeling…

Jackson. I remember these feelings. Yes, just before I met you.

Then, as now, we waited for you to come into our life.

Then, as now, I knew I had but hours

until I would hold you in the bright morning of a new day.

I feel joy!

And I cry.

Change, overnight.

I know this feeling.

And a gift is given…

I soak in warm moments of remembered joy, present joy; the gift comes into focus.

It is not that we are giving you so much, Abigail.

It is not that we have given you so much, Jackson.

The gift given is in both of you, to us.

In you we see angels dancing and the nearness of God’s love.

Doubt fades away and we sing the song of heaven.

I feel joy!

And I cry.

You are grace.

Change, overnight.