Sunday, August 29, 2010

On the Road Again

We made it through the first part of our big trip! After 10 hours and covering 573 miles on the road, we arrived to Nicole's house in Athens, GA. We were able to get everything we needed in both our cars and we even had enough room to see out all our mirrors and windows! Other than a portion of I-95 being closed, Nicole's phone being dead, random country Georgia roads, and driving in and out of rain, it was a rather uneventful trip.

It was funny to see the change in geography as we left south Florida and made our way up to Athens. We left the flat terrain and palm trees of Jupiter and made our way to the hills, tall pines, and sleepy old towns of Georgia. As we made it farther into Georgia, it felt like we were driving back in time through the quaint communities where the courthouses sit in the center of town. While ten hour drives are never much fun, it was cool to see the difference of culture and the style of living in rural Georgia compared to what we became used to in West Palm Beach.

As we spend the next few weeks with our families, the south Florida chapter of our journey has come to an end. It was an exciting final week of packing and seeing everyone we could and soaking up the time we were able to spend with great friends. There were many late nights and early mornings but it was completely worth it to get in a last few laughs with some amazing people who have been so supportive of us through this process and we look forward to when we'll be able to see them again.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

1 Month

...'till we land in Geneva, Switzerland! Thankfully, we have a red-eye flight so I am planning to pop some Tylenol PM in Chicago and hopefully not wake up until stale airplane food hits my little fold-down table somewhere around Copenhagen. Cheers to one last month in the good 'ol US of A. Here here!

Dear Clothes, Please Pack Yourselves.

I hate packing. And poor David has moved with me enough times to learn that not only am I lousy at it, but I am great at annoying and distracting anyone else who is actually good at it. This week, I'm babysitting while he is at home packing, which is great because it keeps me out of his hair while he loads up everything we are going to need for the next 3 years.

But that's the problem. How in the heck am I supposed to figure out what I want for 3 years? I know that I am going to Switzerland in September (and that I will freeze there) and that our outreach is in Africa (in the middle of their summer. Awesome.) but I don't know where in Africa, and I have no clue where the Peace Corps will decide to send us. Plus, we will be spending almost a month in America before we leave and I don't want to tote all my DTS stuff around with me - the logistics of this are driving me absolutely crazy. Can you tell?

Most of this anxiety comes from a real life experience that happened just days after the best day of my life. We were headed off to Antigua for our honeymoon, and when we got to our hotel in Atlanta before an early morning flight, I realized that I left almost all of the cute clothes (that I bought specifically for the honeymoon) in Athens. I had a total. meltdown. (which immediately made David second-guess his decision to marry me) and vowed never to let that happen again.

So, I'm making lots of lists about what clothes are where, but mostly I am giving a lot away. Yesterday, I found boxes full of clothes that I brought down from Orlando and haven't worn in the YEAR that we have been here. I have brand new clothes in my closet that I have no intention of ever wearing, and shoes that I have no idea what I was thinking when I bought.

I'm totally guilty of emotional and impulse buying (especially since most of what I'm giving away was something I thought I got a great "deal" on) but moving has made it painfully obvious that I have way too much stuff. I think today will be someone's lucky day at Goodwill...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ready. Set. GO!

It's hard to believe, but our time at Christ Fellowship and The Ascent has come to an end. Yesterday was our last Sunday attending The Ascent services and it has started to hit us how much we are going to miss our church family here. We have had some amazing opportunities that have been provided through our church over the past year and we have built relationships with some wonderful people.

We have had the opportunity to help people grow and be discipled through connecting them with small groups. We delivered Thanksgiving meals to those in our community who wouldn't have otherwise had food. We went to Haiti! Twice! We celebrated Christmas by spending less on gifts for each other and giving more to help build clean water wells for people in India. We helped host a Super Bowl Party for the homeless in West Palm Beach. We have been led by a pastor who has challenged us about what it means to sacrifice for the sake of the gospel and who has encouraged us in every step of our journey over the past year. While those are a few of the highlights, the list of great experiences we've had at The Ascent could go on and on.

For us, leaving our friends from CityPlace is bittersweet. We hate to go because we see God working and transforming lives and God has put amazing people here that we will dearly miss. But, we are excited to go out into the world with the support of our church family. We will look to them as Paul looked to the Church of Philippi - thankful to them for keeping us in their prayers and encouraging them to press on in the faith.

"I thank my God everytime I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on the completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Philippians 1:3-6

Friday, August 20, 2010

Time is Tickin'...

It's crazy to think that we only have one week left here in West Palm Beach! I finished my internship at church this week and we are trying to do everything we can and see as many people as possible before we head out on our big adventure. We are soaking up our last few days at the beach, enjoying the beautiful sunsets, and snorkeling every chance we get. We have also started the painful process of PACKING.

To be honest, I usually don't have much trouble with packing. I've moved a number of times over the past few years and I figure out ways to get everything in suitcases and boxes and fit it all where it needs to go. But this seems to be new challenge that can be a bit overwhelming. We are packing things that will be going to three different locations (the LaHaie house in Georgia, the Aldridge house in Virginia, and things going to Europe & Africa with us) and we have to fit it all in our two cars! Fitting everything in our cars could be rather tricky since we made multiple trips to get it here and we rented a van the first time while I'll be driving a Honda Accord for this trip. I'm no expert on cars but I think there is a space issue when comparing an accord to a mini-van and I'm thinking our local Goodwill store could be receiving a large donation from us this week.

It's sad, but even when we try to become more simple with our lifestyle and move away from materialism, moving reminds us of how much stuff we have. Stuff we don't need. Stuff we don't use. Stuff we don't even want. Or as one of the ways the dictionary defines stuff: worthless things or matter. While the experience of packing everything and moving over the next week will be time consuming and frustrating, I'm hoping it continues to be part of the process of us not letting our STUFF have control over us anymore.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Week's Gone By...

And I'm still covered in bruises and scabs and rashes from Haiti. I love it though because I won't be back for a while and I feel like I left it all there on this last trip. It has been a little easier to process everything and readjust back to the US again this time, since we'd done it before but being in Walmart still freaks me out a little bit, and when I woke up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night the other day, it hit me how much easier even something as simple as that is in America - I didn't have to crawl out from under my mosquito net, find a flashlight, take toilet paper with me, or reapply horrendous amounts of Deet. I didn't have to live by the "if it's yellow, let it mellow" law (hooray for flushing!) and I could wash my hands with warm, clean water and soap. And then hop back into my giant, amazing king-sized bed.

Anyways, here are some highlights from the trip (in no particular order):

1. We (and by "we" I mean people that can do construction. Not me.) built 12 bunk beds for the base we stayed at in Gonaives. Hopefully other teams will come down now that they won't have to sleep on the floor.

2. I saw a goat be slaughtered in the backyard. And then I saw every part of him served for dinner. I'm a pretty adventurous eater but I was also once a vegetarian, so I went without meat for the week.

3. We had to walk through a waist-deep river to deliver Bibles to a mountainside community. The family we talked to was pretty intense too - they said they don't practice Vodou but they also said that they like the idea of Jesus but are scared of him because they have made a pact with the Devil. V-O-D-O-U. They let us pray for them though, and we're continuing to do so now.

This amazingly fat, awesome chunk of a baby was at the clinic we set up in the mountains. He has got to be the fattest baby in Haiti and I wanted to stuff every ounce of him into my suitcase to bring home.

4. I hiked to the top of a mountain....twice. The first time was awesome - people were standing on the sides of the mountain singing and praying. The second time those same awesome people laughed at me when I fell and landed hard on my buttbone.

5. We got to hang out with the kids from the same orphanage we visited in May. We gave each one of them a new pair of shoes and prayed for them. They are the sweetest, most thoughtful, appreciate kids I've ever seen.

6. We had Vacation Bible School for the neighborhood kids. There were a few sweet ones but most of them were the exact opposite of the orphanage kids. They can sing a mean "Papa Abraham" in Creole though.

7. Baptized Hector at the beach! Hector was one of our translators on the May trip and while we were there, he said he wanted to accept Christ. There was no time to baptize him last time, so John and Maula decided to do it the Sunday we were there. Maula packed his whole church into tap-taps and took everyone down to watch.

8. Went back to the same Vodou compound (Souvenance) we visited in May. This time, though, the head hauncho (?) wasn't there, so someone let us walk around. They weren't cool with us taking pictures there and kicked us out when we tried to discreetly pray. I stole a rock. If you're interested in learning more about Souvenance and the annual festival held there, check out this website. The pictures are awesome.

These "punishment trees" are in the compound so people can roll around on the roots to punish themselves.

Main vodou sanctuary.

9. Gave new shoes to some of the neighborhood kids.

Jessica, Ricardo & Sabrina with their new kicks.

Cristupher's new shoes. He sat on my bed and farted in my face one morning.

10. Rode on the top of a school bus again! Actually, unless someone puts cushioned seats up there, it may have been my last time riding on the top of a school bus.

All in all, it was an awesome trip. Thanks to everyone who kept us in their thoughts and prayers while we were gone. Next adventure: Switzerland!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Save The Date(s)!

Time is quickly winding down, so we've set some dates for where we'll be for the next month and a half. We want to see everybody before we leave for Europe though, so here are our plans:

Aug. 28 - Leave WPB!

Aug. 29 - Sept. 10 - Virginia

Sept. 10-23 - Georgia

Sept. 24 - Fly out of ATL!