Thursday, January 29, 2009

Claire's quotes for the week

1. I'm going to go to Heaven and ask God why He doesn't have a face.

2. (Upon arrival at the Lima airport)
Claire! We are in Peru! Aren't you excited?
Yeah! Now we can go to Kenya!

3. We are going to go home on Saturday so I can go to ballet on Monday.

4. In Peru you have to put the toilet paper in the trash can NOT in the potty!

5. (coming out of her room about 30 minutes after being put to bed)
Mommy!! Little Baby is swimming in a swimming pool just like Ford and I went swimming in a swimming pool today!!
(she is fascinated by the fact that Little Baby is swimming in my tummy naked. She was worried at first that "she" was cold but I reassured her it is like a warm bathtub. She says as soon at LB comes out we will put some jammies on her!).

6. I have Jesus and God and Noah in my heart.
(I think Noah may be played up a little too much on the preschool scene).
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Random pictures from before we left

Ford loves to brush his teeth. L-O-V-E-S it. He goes into the bathroom at random times during the day and demands a good brushing. This particular night he had just finished his bath and couldn't quite wait to get his jammies on to start brushing. Too funny.
My mom sent Claire this cute polka dot rain gear and needless to say it was a big hit. We were on our way to church in this picture. There was about a 30% chance of rain that morning but it was there wasn't a cloud in the sky when we took these pictures. We definitely got some looks and smiles on the way into church with our little polka dot princess twirling her umbrella in the sunshine.

This is Daddy and Ford hard at work during our extreme home makeover in the days and hours before our departure for Peru. He was actually quite helpful and jumped right in to spread pinestraw. It was really cold outside but he took it like a man. He is a really good helper to me all of the time and loves to clean up. He know where everything goes so I can send him on little errands around the house to get things or put things away which is fun for both of us.

OK, that is the end of our Birmingham stuff. From now on it will be straight up Peru but I'm pretty much done for tonight so I will pick up with an update on everything again tomorrow.
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Happy Birthday Claire!

I realized that I hadn't even downloaded any of these pictures today - we were in such a tizzy before we left I'm surprised I didn't forget to do a lot more! Here are pictures from Claire's crazy party at Kid's Gym. She's been planning this party for approximately 6 months. It was lots of fun and I know she will have lots of wonderful memories of her 3rd birthday party. I tried to talk her into a cute cake with daisies on it but she wanted Dora - of course. I guess my days of picking out things are quickly coming to an end with her!

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Swimming Peru style

We are very thankful that we have a cute little pool the kids at our apartment building. We checked it out for the first time yesterday and it turned out to be great (although we learned it gets morning sun so we should plan accordingly so as not to be so chilly in the afternoon shade next time). I was worried about needed some extra arms to handle both of them in the pool by myself but luckily Claire can stand up just fine and hopefully I can find some floaties for Ford so he can have a little more independance in the water. I'm sure as my pregnancy progresses I will find the water more and more inviting. I've got a lot more to update and hopefully will have time to do so soon!
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Monday, January 26, 2009

Bags of milk and first load on the line

Yesterday was a wonderful day! We went on a 2 hour walking tour with the group of the Miraflores area to get acquainted. I'm quite directionally challenged so I need all the help and orientation I can get. We ended up at the place above. What you see is one happy little girl! She was so excited to see the ocean and as if that wasn't exciting enough there was an ocean front playground as well. This is a really neat little shopping and dining area called Larco Mar that is built into the cliff on the edge of the Pacific. We had lunch here and made a short visit to the playground (next time we will wear tennis shoes because the hot sand in the sandals was not a big hit with the Princess). From here we made the 15 minute walk back to our apartment (yep - only 15 minutes!). It was nice to enjoy some family time with Rhett before he started his intensive study program today.

So many people have asked how you can pray for us so I will keep updating you when things arise. The first one is for Ford to adjust to everything here mostly in terms of sleeping. Several days of exhaustion have caught up with him and although we are chipping away at his sleep deficit he is still having a hard time sleeping. He just needs lots of hugs and snuggles that we are happy to give at all hours but I'm not sure starting to co-sleep at 15 months is a good idea with a new baby on the way in a few short months. There's just not enough room in our bed! Anyway, just pray that God would grant him a peaceful rest and he will find his packnplay homey and inviting!

Any ideas on what this is? Yep, it's a bag of milk. I searched high and low trying to find fresh milk at our grocery store. I found a whole aisle of the boxed condensed/dried variety but the whole cold section was filled with jugs and cartons of yogurt - no milk. Finally I saw these bags at the bottom of the yogurt section. Interesting. Ford seems to really like it and he is not much of a milk drinker so I guess it is really good. I'm sure I'll have lots of stories from the grocery store where I suspect I will be going every other day or so. I was so impressed with how nice it is. I would describe it as a cross between Whole Foods and Fresh Market except smaller. Very nice and the prices are really good. Except on peanut butter. We plopped down almost $7 for a jar yesterday. By far the most expensive item we bought.

Here is a first . . . my first load of laundry on the line in my lavandaria. I hope Claire doesn't mind be posting pictures of her Dora and Ariel undies on the web! When Rhett came home from class today there I stood - barefoot and pregnant - hanging clothes on the line and making dinner with two little ones around my ankles. He thought it was really cute. I'm still undecided.
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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Home sweet Lima

We have had another busy day getting settled in our new temporary home here in Lima. Just a little background - we are staying in a very nice area of town called Miraflores. It feels like a city unto itself in this very large metropolis. We are really enjoying city life and looking forward to this new way of living - even if it is temporary. I told Rhett tonight that the hard part was over - we have traveled here with two small kids, managed ALL of our luggage, figured out how to get local cell phones, found an apartment and made our first trip to the grocery store. Did I mention that people don't speak English here? I guess I just kind of figured most people would understand a little bit but that is completely not the case. I promise I will be much nicer and more understanding to non-English speakers when I get home. I see people getting frustrated with us and giving us the "why don't you speak Spanish?" look. Sorry. I should have paid much more attention in my high school Spanish class. I clearly realize that now. Too late.

Anyway, we are finally feeling settled in our apartment after a big moving day from our hotel today. We have our internet up and running so we are feeling connected and ready to get into a routine. Here are some pictures of our new place. It is in a newer high rise building on 28 de Julio Avenida (which is Peru's Independance Day but also my birthday so I thought that was pretty cool). Just so our parents know - it is very safe. There is a door man and security 24/7. Feel better? We are on the 13th floor which I guess some people wouldn't like (either for the height or for the number) but I figure if I don't think it is unlucky it's not and height doesn't bother us (don't worry it is safe for the kids and we are being extremely careful, Mom.)
This is the kitchen. It is a brand new apartment so it is squeaky clean and very nice. It is sort of a pseudo-kitchen because there is no stove or oven - just a double hot plate, toaster oven, microwave and griddle. We will make due just fine with that. It is about the same size as our kitchen at home :)
You can see everything a little better in this one. The whole apartment is 67 sq meters. I'm not sure how that translates but it is quite cozy. Plenty big for us though. It has lots of great storage and a walk-in closet (gasp) in our room. Not something we have at home so that is a treat!
This is Ford in my lavandaria. It is basically an open air laundry area off the kitchen. There is a washing machine (no dryer), hot water heater and big sink out there. I will hang our clothes out there to dry or take them downstairs where there is a pay dryer.This is Claire and Ford's room. The perfect size for little people!

This is one of the two bathrooms . . .

This is our room . . .

This is our small terrace . . . (the railing is very high and safe, Mom)

This is our city view. If we were on the other side of the building we would be looking at the Pacific Ocean but alas we are looking at the highway. Oh well. Definitely lots of city noise that is taking a while to get used to especially since there is no A/C and we have to leave the windows and doors open for ventilation. At one point while we were walking on the street Claire said (clearly annoyed) "Why does everyone honk so much in Peru?!!". At first she thought it was neat that people were honking then it started to get on her nerves - ha! One of the many different things she is taking in here.

This is our living area. I should have taken pictures before we brought all of our stuff in or waited until after we had it all put away but you get the idea. It is a wonderful little place we are excited to call our own for the next 2 1/2 months. Tomorrow we are meeting with the group of course participants to go on a walking tour of Miraflores and have lunch. Then the kids and I will be heading back to the apartment while Rhett does a course orientation and goes to a cocktail party. Monday is the first day of the course and our first "real" day with Rhett being gone. I plan on making a stop by the playground and the kiddie pool at some point and probably another trip to the grocery store. Since we can only buy as much as we can carry I guess I will be making frequent trips. Maybe I'll figure it all out eventually! It was quite an adventure today. I'll post more details on that later!

Friday, January 23, 2009

A long day . . .

Well, we are here in Lima! We were anticipating a very long day of travel and it was but, honestly, it wasn't that bad. I should probably back up a little bit. I was meaning to post last week before we left but we decided earlier in the week that we were going to put our house on the market while we are gone sooooooo I was extremely busy trying to get our house "show ready" in addition to packing our family for 10 weeks. I'm so glad we are doing it and our house looks amazing (if I do say so myself) - way better than it possibly could if we were actually living in it! So if you know anyone looking for a wonderful house in Homewood send them our direction in mid-March. We are hopeful that someone will fall in love with it the way we did and want to make it their home too.

So this is the end product of all that packing - 3 large duffle bags, 3 suitcases, 1 car seat, 1 double stroller, 2 backpacks and 1 rolling carry-on. We barely made the 50lb limit with each bag weighing in between 46.5 and 49 lbs. Whew!

This is what our duffle bags looked like before one somehow broke loose on I-20 just east of Birmingham at 70 mph. It cost us 15 minutes and put a hole in one of the bags (nothing we couldn't duct tape at the airport!) but luckily our undies weren't scattered all over the interstate so for that we are thankful. That was really the only big hiccup on our long journey from Birmingham to Lima.

Here we are just before we left in Atlanta. My parents and my precious sister in law and (even more precious nephew) met us to say farewell and help us get settled at the airport.

Here is sweet Ford on the first flight. We were so thankful that he had a seat - it made it so much easier!! The kids did absolutely amazing!! There were literally no breakdowns or problems with them at all. They really just had a really fun adventure. We left home at 7 am and got to our hotel around 1:30 am so everyone was well worn out - including Mom and Dad. We got settled into our hotel and hit the pavement today looking for an apartment. We found a fantastic place that I hope to put pictures up of soon. We are going to take care of the final paperwork and hopefully move in tomorrow. We should have internet there in a few days so I will have more time once we get moved in to update on us. We had a siesta this afternoon and went to get local cell phones and have a good dinner and some ice cream. Now we are just trying to get Ford to fall asleep in a small hotel room with all of us - a big challenge for a tired baby.

Thank you all for your prayers. We appreciate it so much and will keep you updated on more specifics of how you can keep praying for us soon.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Comfortable Christianity

My friend Lorie Newman wrote this article recently
and it just so resonated with me. I felt like I could
have written most of it. I love it because it just
really describes meeting God outside of a "church"
building which is where I believe He intends for us
to meet Him, experience Him and learn about Him.
If we step out of our comfortable church buildings
into some unfamiliar territory we allow God to show
us who He is a what is really important to Him. You
never walk into those comfortable church buildings
the same again once you see God working in His
church - His people. This is a reflection of my own
experience with Christianity and I echo Lorie in
saying that I will never be the same.

Comfortable Christianity: Lessons from Africa

My most important spiritual lessons were not learned
in a Sunday School classroom, a Bible Study group,
or a Sanctuary. They were learned in the presence
of poverty, death, and suffering. They were learned
from the eyes of a hungry orphan, the words of a sick
widow, the smile of an abandoned little girl, and the
shame of a homeless man.

I can’t go back to the way I was. I’m not the same
person I used to be. Even in the simple things I do
every day, I will never do them the same way as before.
I’ve been changed. And I can never go back.

I used to get impatient if I had to wait more than 30
minutes for my food at a restaurant. That was before
I saw orphans at the Thulwane Care Point in Swaziland
who had not eaten in days.

I used to complain under my breath when I realized
someone had taken the Expo markers from the
classroomwhen I was preparing to teach my weekly
Bible Study.That was before I met a missionary in
Africa whotaught children about Jesus under a tree
each Sundaymorning and counted it the greatest
privilege of her life.

I used to stand before my closet full of clothes and
complain because I had “nothing” to wear. That was
before I met an orphan in Swaziland wearing rags.

I used to waste food every day. To toss half of an uneaten
meal in the trash meant nothing to me. That was before
I met my adopted daughter and saw pictures of her
tiny emaciated frame and found out her birth mother
abandoned her because there was no food in their
Haitian village.

I used to go to the mall and drop $50 for another pair
of shoes I really didn’t need. That was before I held
the shoes of a little seven year old Swazi girl as she
played. Those shoes were her most prized possession.

I used to arrive early when I would speak at retreats
so I could make sure my lectern, lapel mic, and music
were working properly so every detail would run
smoothly.That was before I met a female pastor in
Africa who preachedthe Word of God straight
from her heart to a full congregation with nothing
but a small tattered bible.

I used to complain about my mattress because it was
10 years old and I thought it was not comfortable like
the ones I sat on in the store. That was before I saw a
small boy in Haiti sleeping on his “bed”—a pile of dirty
clothes in the corner of a dirt floor shack.

I used to get frustrated when I had a doctor’s appointment
at 8:00AM and at 9:00AM I was still sitting in the waiting
room—the air conditioned waiting room that had a TV
and magazines. That was before I saw a desperate mother
in Port-au-Prince who walked all day in the heat to bring
her sick baby to a Mission Clinic.

I used to secretly sigh when I would get letters in the
mail from Christian ministries asking for donations to
help them support their programs. That was before I
became close friends with the director of an inner-city
ministry and saw first-hand how that ministry changed
countless lives with very little resources.

I used to walk into church with my big leather bible,
ready to be blessed by the pastor’s weekly message.
That was before I worshiped in a cinderblock building
with African Christians who had nothing of earthly value.
They taught me more about worship in two hours than
I had experienced in my entire life of “church-going.”

I used to want to protect my children from the horrible
atrocities of this world by keeping them safe under my “wing.”
That was before I put my 15 year old son on a plane with 18
other teenagers and 3 counselors to spend his summer in a
Third World nation. He came home completely ‘wrecked for
the ordinary’ with deep spiritual insight he’d have never gotten
at home under my motherly protection.

I used to read articles about AIDS and thought compassion
was just to pray for them. That was before I invited a widow
who was HIV+ and her son, to spend Christmas with
our family several years ago. She taught me about
true compassion.

I used to think that homeless people were in their situation
because they drank too much, took drugs, or had somehow
caused their own despair. That was before our family
ministered to a homeless family. The father had been
laid off and theycouldn’t pay their rent. God showed
me that they were nodifferent than me.

I used to see statistics about the 154 million+ orphans
around the world, and frankly those numbers where
too overwhelming for me. That was before two of
those orphansbecame my own children. Those
statistics are now verymuch alive in my soul.

I used to think compassion was saying a few prayers
for the sick, the outcast, the orphan and the widow. I
used to think if I gave some money once a year to a
ministry, I had done my part. But that was before.
That was before God patiently showed me true compassion.

What about you? When was the last time you decided
to ask God to break you free from your comfortable
Christianity to show you how to learn real and genuine
compassion? Ask Him. But, friend, beware. You’ll never
be the same and you’ll never go back.

Africa_113 Lorie is a busy homeschooling mother
of six children, including twins and two
children who were internationally adopted
—one from Haiti and one from Liberia.
She has taught and ministered in Bible
Studies for over ten years. She and her husband Duane
are founders of Reaching Hands Orphan/Adoption
Ministries. Through a partnership with Children’s
HopeChest,Reaching Hands Ministries enables
nearly 300impoverished African orphans to receive
regular food,clothing, and education. You can visit
her website at

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Little Baby 21 weeks 3 days

Here's a little sneek peek at the newest little Shirley! We were so excited to "meet" out little sweetie today. He/She weighed in at a whopping 1lb 3oz! (It's nice too know someone else is gaining some weight!) We managed not to peek at the private area but can't help guessing based on the portrait above what it's gender might be! The 4D pictures aren't that great since the placenta is in the front but I think he/she is still quite cute :) We were thankful to see 4 chambers in the heart, 1 brain and 2 kidneys. Little Baby does have a little swelling in their kidneys just like Ford did as a fetus and a baby but we've walked down that road before and know what all that entails. We will just watch it and pray that it resolves on it on as Ford's did. Anyway, that is our update on our new little person. I can't wait to kiss that sweet little face!
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Sunday, January 04, 2009

It's Kenya!!!

So after months of prayer, lots of internet and blog research and a many family discussions we finally have a location that we will call home this year! It is Kijabe, Kenya!!!! We are so excited and can't wait to see what God is going to do through us there. Here's a little introduction:

Kenya is located in East Africa and is bordered by Somalia, Ethiopia, The Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania. Kijabe is located about an hour NW from the capitol city of Nairobi. (I've actually visited Kenya once in 2001 for about 3 weeks. I was part of a mobile clinic short term mission trip and we traveled basically right past our new home during our journey!). Here is a little blurb I found about Kenya and Kijabe to fill in a few details for you.

Kijabe is a large mission station that is home to Kijabe Hospital, a CURE International Hospital, Moffat Bible College and Rift Valley Academy (a boarding school for expats and children of missionaries from all over Africa). There is a lot going on at Kijabe! Here are the signs that welcome you to Kijabe (notice "mortuary" is clearly marked on the KH sign. "Casualty" refers to the ER).

Here is a picture of the outside of the hospital where Rhett will be working. He is very excited about his professional opportunites there. Some of the hospitals we were looking at were very small and Rhett would have played the role of the "The Doctor" meaning that whatever walked in the door (woman in labor, sick kid, some one needing minor surgery) Rhett would have been the most qualified person around meaning he would have to step up and deliver (no pun intended). Needless to say, besides being a little intimidating, we felt like he has spent a lot of years training in care of sick adults and God clearly lead him into training specifically in infectious diseases and tropical medicine so it would be a good use of those skills to put them to the best use as possible. Besides, Rhett is an expert in treatment of HIV/AIDS (he would never say that but I can :) and in case you haven't heard there is a big problem with those diseases in Africa. So at Kijabe Rhett will have the opportunity practice Infectious Disease medicine and devote time to HIV ministry as well as have a lot of teaching opportunities. They apparently have fantastic lab capabilities here (including a viral load machine - Rhett was really excited about that) and are a PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in Africa) site which is exciting for him too. There are medical students and Residents - both African and visiting from Europe and North America so there will still be a rich academic environment. Rhett is most excited about a real flexibility in how he divides up his time and will hopefully allow him to really seek God's direction in ministry there.

We were looking for a place that had access to "unreached" people which means people who have never heard or had access to the gospel. We knew Kijabe was the place for us when we found out that about 30% of the patient population is from an nearby unreached country. So it seemed as though we had found a place where the unreached people were actually coming to us! There are apparently a lot of opportunities to reach people in refugee camps along the borders (in case you didn't notice most of Kenya's neighbors are having some serious issues like civil war, famine and cholera epidemics) and go into some neighboring countries as well. Kijabe sits on the edge of the Great Rift Valley and although most people think of Africa as being quite hot the high elevation here (about 7,000 feet) and winds can make it quite cool (cold enough that we will need a fireplace to heat our house!). Here's a peek at the ole view . . .

So that is Kijabe 101. I'm collecting lots of information and pictures by stalking a lot of blogs from people that live there so I'll have more info and pictures forth coming. Please pray for us as we start this journey. There are a lot of details between here and there but we look forward to the day we settle into our new home in Kenya!