Monday, December 28, 2009

Holiday Happenings

Sophia and Daddy with the first of a several 'gifts' we've been given in our travels. Call it a meal on wheels--Sophia hasn't really made the connection but thinks it's funny when the chicken gets to ride in the car with us. For daddy it's brought back memories of long road trips with his father, the venerable pastor. Sharing the back of the car with a virtual menagarie of 'gifts' that clucked and baa'd at every bump. The stories still make me giggle but the generosity of the people who share so much when they have so little isn't lost on me.
Christmas Eve, Sophia & Kaga make popcorn! In the family courtyard. Even in Africa we got colds and both Nate's parents were cut down with the flu over Christmas. Due to a dry year there's been alot of dust in the air so it's taken awhile for all of us to adjust to the weather. Feeling better and appreicate your prayers!
Santa even comes to Chad! Sophia was so surprised to see a package of M&M's and a little car that lights up--opens it's doors and sings a strange little Arabic song. She loved it! So have the little kids around here!
Our family stopping at Nate's mother's village of Gore (pronounced Goh-re) outside Doba Christmas day with Kaga Tele--She used to care for Nate & his older brother when they were babies. A priviledge to see her. We came back several times and enjoyed every trip. Almost like stepping back in time to see how this industrious lady lives off the land. Shelling huge bushels of peanuts, chickens, drying sorgum, baobob fruit and anything else edible.
Kaga Tele's kitchen!
Traveled down to Doba Christmas day and visited Nate's best friend from childhood and his new bride. Armand & Prudence. What an amazing experience! Traveling towards the oil fields you can see a civilization changing (for better and worse) villages with street lights and cans of diet pepsi! Armand gave us an incredible view of the changing landscape here since he's an agricultural consultant. Also got to visit an evangelistic crusade being lead by local pastors on Christmas day (We dropped Nate's father off for the service) The evangelical crusade started over the holiday with people then setting out on foot in groups to the nearby villages for door to door witnessing. As the child of missonaries this was an incredible Christmas gift to witness. So was visiting a local church of 650 and hearing Nate's father preach.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Grandma & her twin sister. I'm covering my head b/c we're about to pray. When we first got here in the early hours of the morning. I'd thought I'd lost my make-up bag. It was crazy how much it through me for a loop. Granted I was running on only a few hours sleep-but it was like someone was asking me to go naked. Now, it seems even funnier when I see how badly it didn't matter. The funny part was Nate's reaction--I was trying to be brave but he was very empathetic--almost too empathetic. Helped me let go a little. Letting go of self and letting God in. It's been very cathartic!

Paris and Chad Pictures

Wow see the family resemblence? She's not worried-just copying Great Grandma (Kaga) My mother-in-law's mother. She is getting very good at reading people and copying what they do. Lotz of handshaking etc. . .
This moment made my year and definately my trip. Kaga is was unsure if she'd ever see us again and told us that if she didn't see her again until heaven it would be okay.

Of course Nate would slip this 'important' picture in with all of our family pictures. I've learned to let him gawk whenever we're at the airport. Every vactation it seems like we come home with more pictures of airplanes than of people!! Hazard of the road I guess!

Sophia at the Louvre. It was closed so we spent the day at the Musee D'Orsay. A good way to stay out of the cold and I got to wander with Monet's, Degas',Mucha's, Manet's it was a wonderful Christmas present from my family to see these all with my own eyes. After this we wandered up the Champs Elyses Christmas Market, drinking hot chocolate and hot wine!

Merry Christmas from Great Greatpa & Great Grandma! A trip to the Eiffel Tower and one or two around the carosel across the bridge. Then bowls of hot Onion Soup at another outdoor Parisian Christmas Market. Very pretty, very cold, but very pretty!

Anyone remeber this scene from the new Sabrina? Taking pictures with a scarf!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

We've Arrived!!!

The Chadian people have a beautiful custom that I've grown to cherish. Upon entering a crowd or a room every individual takes a moment to shake hands with EVERYONE. Women, children-you name it-everyone gets greeted. As a foreigner in far away place this little action gives me so much hope and dignity every time. No matter how much of a barrier of language or culture divide this welcoming gesture has become a humanizing bridge making me feel at home over and over again multiple times a day. It's also a wonderful metaphor for the warm, friendly people we've encoutered at every stage of our journey.
We arrived in N'djamena,Chad about 2 am Friday morning. The late night trip was softened by the fact that we got to fly in first class! But sitting next to a Norwegian UN Nurse in full battle fatigues and blue barret brought a little reality into our picture. N'djamena is a stepping off point for Darfur and so there is a considerable UN presence here. Think of the movie Sahara without the explosions and the treasure and you'll get a picture of our surroundings.

On Sunday we headed South about 7 hours by car to the family home in the south. It's a bit cooler but the mosquitos are out in force. It's also a little less heated politicaly so it's a little more relaxed.

We got a chance to see Nate's grandparents yesterday. Very touching. I'm really honored to be among these beautiful people, they are gracious, kind and full of joy. Even among dust and poverty there is a beautiful sense of life here. The smiles and laughter will always stay with me.

I've never been to Chad but Africa as a whole hasn't changed much for me-except that everyone has a cell phone and you can buy bottle water on the street corner!

I can tell that the prayers of all of you are lifting us up b/c of the peace that is overwhelming us even when the little inconveniences take their toll. It's also been powerful to have my time in Africa as a child come back and serve as a foundation here. I'm very thankful for that and the fact that we can experiece all of this together.

Sophia is doing well she made quick friends in Ndjemena with her cousins--the language difference didn't mean anything to her and they little cousins cried when we headed south.

Down here it's a little tougher, the children are a little more timid but we're using baloons and treats to help her bridge the gap. Her bravery is extraordinary and I can learn alot from her warm heart in the face of so much unknown. I'm thankful that she developed a taste for rice and sauce since she's been eating like a champ! She's even picking up a couple words in French. She asks about Shueyvill at night and wants to know if Nana & Papa went on a trip too? Thank you for your continued prayers over her transistion.

Lastly, I'm so thankful for my amazing husband, his people and the Godly legacy he comes from. What an amazing adventure we're having and I'm so proud to come home with him. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! (Did I mention it gets up to 90 here and down to 68 at night?)
We love you all and are so thankful for your continued prayers!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Countdown Begins. . .

Less than one month to till Nate, Sophia & I head to Chad, my husband's home country. It's crunch time. For the record we're only going to be there for two weeks. But like any adventure, we'll live a lifetime in every moment. We appreciate your prayers as we prepare to be reunited with family & friends.

Our official itinerary is:
1. December 12 through the 16th in Paris
2. December 17 through January 5 - N'djamena and Southern Chad.
3. January 6th in Paris
4. January 7th - head back to Iowa
Please pray for every step of the trip.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Oh look, my daughter's the raisin fairy!

Everyday musings from my house:
"Daddy! The new mayor just won by 62%." Sophia informed Nate this past month. Obviously impressed.
"Oh?" Daddy asked.
"Yep, he's going to give Pooh Bear band-aids to all the children!"

"Mommy, I'm not scared." Sophia informed me during a Disney movie."I'm just looking under my blanket."

"Would you like A or B?" Nana asked Sassy giving her two options for lunch.
"Nana, that's not letters. It's cheese!"

"I think I just took an anti-biotic and a pro-biotic?" I remarked to Nate confused. Without missing a beat. "May the best pill win!"

Monday, November 09, 2009

Tuesday Tips: A Couple of Page Turners & a Hole in the Wall

The Bellini Card by Jason Goodwin
I read it in four days. It's my favorite combination; historical fiction & mystery about Renaissance art with a great Byzantine Empire & Istanbul twist. A couple gory parts but that's why I love reading--easily skippable. Other than that very good & clean! (Available at your local library--support your library donate your time and/or books!)

The Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith
I've read several of McCall's books but I don't share them here b/c I personally find them so-so. However, the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series (this is one of them) are great! Especially paired with Lissete Lecat as an audio book! Her African accents are sooooo good! This one is especially good! It's like being there! (Also available at the Cedar Rapids Public Library)

Thai Flavors-Iowa City. Fabulous little place with great fresh cuisine. Coconut milk, fresh ginger, lemongrass, peanuts. If you love any of these in combinations you'll LOVE this place.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Dark Day's of Motherhood

Friday was a bad day as my family's learned to call it. Fibromyalgia strikes again. This time though something is different. This past year I began praying for God to help me with my health. Although, I've been battling with fibro symptoms for over fifteen years in numerous forms, I'd never specifically asked the Lord for help. Until being Sophia's mother brought to light just how sick I'd become. The chronic, ongoing, fatigue's become crippling. Hearing your toddler crying --No mommy don't lie down again. Pounded me with another kind of pain unlike anything I'd felt before. The inability to engage, my beautiful little girl, day in and day out.

Nate's flexible schedules brought another voyeur into my difficult days. I'm eternally thankful for the kindness and grace my husband and my family have extended to me. But it made me see just how private my pains become.
You're not supposed to see this. I'd joke, at his concern over the groggy, somberness that no amount of coffee can kick. Think of it as trying to go to work with the flu, or a persistent hangover. Personally, I feel like I've got molasses running through my veins. My whole body is running sluggish and the engine in my brain just won't turn over.

This has been my life, until recently. A culmination of health choices & answered prayer, my family has witnessed a reanimated mom, sister, daughter, wife. Maybe that's why the blog's been a little quiet. I have so much more energy and so much to do!

It's been odd--to be on the other side of the looking glass. I keep thinking--is this how everyone else feels??? No wonder I never got anything done! The other day I spent all morning at play group, then took Sophia to the library and THEN went grocery shopping!!! All in one afternoon. The other day, in early morning conversation with my mom I moved to help her make a bed. She stepped back startled. "You don't want to crawl into it?" She asked trying to play down her amazement. It's been the little things that have helped me see how life is changing. (Hopefully, it's not just a flash in the pan.)

This Friday helped me see just how bad, my bad days had gotten. Instead of being the norm this was the anomaly. Every little thing about the day was difficult, like I couldn't stay ahead of her. She'd get upset and I couldn't think fast enough to discipline or redirect. The stiffness, flu like symptoms, frustration all add up. I could see just how debilitated I could be--for my little girl. Most days I can stay ahead of her, coaching, modeling, creating a structure that would help curb the frustration for both of us.

In the midst of a terrible day, I've got much to be thankful for. My amazing family that gives me support & grace. My little girl who's never stopped loving mommy no matter how tough the day's get. My faith for reminding me that God really does care about my health & body. And especially for good days!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Sophia & Unca Banga--On his way to Army Officer Training. We're so proud!
Sophia 'trick or treating at Gigi's!
Look at my little cheerleader pose! I have no idea where she gets it!
My brother Dana dressed up as his hero--the Roaming Gnome!
Sophia & her 'boys' as she calls them. Iron Man-Asher, Darth Vader-Gabe and little Zig Zag!
My little cheerleader with Uncle Fester & Grandmama (from the Adams family)

These two crack me up!!!! I had to share!
Sophia enjoying her sugar binge!!!
Trick or Treat with Sassy's biggest fan--Nana!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Uncultured Persons

Check This Out! My amazing family has a whole 'nother venture to brag about! And their amazingly comfortable too!

Texas: Big Family Country!

Sophia & Cousin Hannah! Linda & I took the girls to a local tea room for a 'real' tea party! What a treat! They've been inseparable. I'm not sure they're going to handle being apart!?!

Joseph with Baby Joshua!

Sophia & Uncle Nodji (the first of LOTZ of family greetings Sassy got a little overwhelmed)
The happy couple. Our Chadian cousin & his "African Queen"

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Day in the Life . . .

Of the Ndjerareou family:
Nate discovered he only needed 150 miles to qualify for four free tickets (on two separate airlines). We'd been hoping to get to Dallas for a Chadian wedding.

Late Tuesday, Nate called from San Francisco--all Friday flights are booked but if we're willing we can leave Thursday morning from Cedar Rapids? Graciously, my husband offered to take Sophia on his flight and let me come later by myself. The fourth ticket would go to Banga!

Here's the hitch. . . Nate would leave San Fran Wednesday night spend the night in the air or airport (hopefully) landing in Cedar Rapids around 8:55am Thursday morning. Sophia and I met him at the airport with extra clean clothes, suit and blackberry charger.

After tonz of prayer and a little anxiety on my part (plane travel is like dating--you have to expect disappointment!)Miracle of miracle it worked! I got to spend about 10 minutes with him before kissing both Sophia and Nate and they were off again!

It's a funny thing traveling sans bebe! Suddenly, I'm getting nice comments about my shoes instead of Sophia's! The guy behind the counter was overly helpful informing me that my flight wouldn't be delayed because a pair of eyeballs were traveling with us. (Yeah it took me a minute too. I don't mean to be disrespectful that what he called it!! ) Turns out my flight is a med-flight and that nothing much would be delaying us!

Exhilarating information! Granted I'm just going to a wedding but you're catching the spirit of matter right! So without baby, well-coiffed (I actually had an hour by myself to get ready) and pumped up about the med-flight mission!

The guy at the metal detector seemed overly concerned about my new metalic necklace. Without thinking I winked and said: "You gotta live dangerously right???"

What can I say?? My flirting skills are REALLY rusty! This probably wasn't the BEST thing to say to our certifiably jumpy TSA crew!! I'm not sure that I pack my brain but I did make it through security.

I'm really looking forward to spending much needed time with family. And if our crazy plan works (I'm writing from the airport.) We'll be in time for the marathon African cooking day! I don't know what I'm more excited about? Eating the food or participating in the cooking? Hopefully I'll learn a new recipe or two!


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