about the kids, Travels

Botanical Garden outing

Near here, there is an amazing botanical garden with more variety of evergreen trees than I could have thought existed. The kids had lots of fun exploring the forest and all it had to offer. It’s well set-up with labels on everything, a greenhouse with tropical plants, a maze, eating wild strawberries and blueberries (which turned their tongues blue!) and more. Before going into the forest, we also walked around the castle in Tharandt, though for some reason a lot of the pix didn’t come out so good, sniff. It was a good, tiring excursion!

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about the kids, Travels

Cold Germany–March 2012

It was so cold for us when we got back. Now, what the Germans call a “warm spring” has come around, though for us, this is still winter weather, ha!

Waiting for the train

Making friends 😀

Not sure what he’s got against picture taking…

Goofing around with Oma

A huge Easter bunny made out of bells in the train station (more Easter pix another day)

My pretty girls!

Great fun at a playground!

Totally in his element–climbing high!

Near…far…where ever you are…

about the kids, Travels

Some pix

I will be getting more pix from the camera I’m borrowing; until then, a few pix from our trip here and our first days here.

Cherise reading to herself and her teddies on the train 😀

CC and Jordan shared a bunk since one bunk was taken with our stuff. It was a long and boring ride, but uneventful and safe, thank God!

I shall call her squishy and she shall be mine and she shall be my squishy…lucky me, get to steal this little one whenever I like 🙂

Cherise at the reading corner we did one week. At home, there is no sleep-over complete without Cherise doing a story.

about the kids, Travels

At last, pix from our trip up north

These are just adding to what CC already posted on hers.

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A pretty little park we took some of the kids to after we went around visiting some friends. It was getting dark, but they enjoyed themselves anyway.

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The moon was so pretty that night, I loved the contrast. I didn’t have my camera, but was borrowing for this trip.

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Beautiful Charlotte with beautiful flowers

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Cherise loves to pose as much as her sister does, ha!

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We went for an outing for a day. Thankfully, we had a guide who took us to some of the most beautiful areas surrounding the town we were in. It’s not called the land of clouds for nothing!

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At one of the first stops along the way. Thankfully, most of this fog cleared and we had a wonderful view of the hills (the 4th highest hills in the world) and waterfalls.

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The sun breaking through the clouds.

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The legend behind this rock is that there was a giant in the land (we heard 2 different versions, one that the giant was good, the other was that he was an ogre, heh) who eventually died and this was his basket (in this area, people carry huge baskets on their backs) which turned to stone over time. I don’t know how huge the giant must have been to have a basket this big though!

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The plains of Bangladesh!

Travels

Another trip into the Sunderbans

This time I had the chance to go with the team to deliver food packages to a village affected by Aila. It went very well, the team of volunteers were great, and the people there so grateful for the food. More details to come, just a few pix for now, am waiting on some more from other cameras.

ailarelief1It was hard work, was on my feet for hours, but was so worth it. Thank the Lord, my heart behaved that day and I only felt it mildly. Still catching up on rest, though, it’s far away so left early and were back late.

sunderban1High tide on our way to the village. By the time we were done, the tide was out and we got to walk through the clay mud up to our knees! It was definitely a worthwhile experience and lots of laughs as we had to wash off our legs once we got onto the boat.

sunderban2The walls that separate the islands with villages from the river. Many of these were destroyed completely and some are still not completely repaired meaning that with all the monsoon, there’s more flooding.

about the kids, Travels

Recent pix

Sorry for the delay on these!

CCb-day 1My beautiful 11 year old! For more pix from her birthday, check out CC’s blog.

fun at park 1Having fun together at the park on Sunday.

sunderban 1I was blessed to accompany a scouting team in to the Sunderban area to assess the Aila cyclone damage, needs, etc. I won’t get into that part of the trip as it’ll be in an upcoming newsletter, but I wanted to post some pix of the beauty of the area–the largest delta in the world! Above, clay brick furnaces in the background, shrimp farms in the foreground. The sky was amazing that day!

sunderban 2Mangrove swamps. At high tide, the water covers this area too.

sunderban 3The river we crossed to get to the villages on the other side.

sunderban 4A tree lizard. Almost missed it too, it was fast!

sunderban 5The kingfisher posed for us shortly and then flew off.

sunderban 6A double rainbow on the way home.

Travels

Trip to Bangalore

It was so inspiring to visit Bangalore…12 years after I left…and see people I knew and make new friends. If you follow the HIM site, you’ll know why we went, so I won’t expound on it right now, but the Family there is great. We went 2 days earlier as we had an appointment and also the flights were just cheaper that way, so we got to enjoy a party, attend a GM retreat, and spend time with friends. I didn’t take many pix as my camera isn’t working right now, so these are from Peter’s, which he kindly loaned me.

firstsariAbi (we lived in the same home so many years back) and others brought along saris to dress in traditional for the event. She had brought an extra one so asked if she could tie it on me. I was only to happy to comply. It was my first time and she also took the time to teach me how to wear it, so now I know, heh.

withstvclrI was so incredibly happy to meet these wonderful people again. Claire is one of those people I just love and they helped me so much the first time I was here to learn about India. They have beautiful kids and I hope they know how much I love them.

Thanks to everyone in Bangalore who organised the whole event, those who put us up, and made things so inspiring.

about the kids, Travels

Visit to school and village

Last Saturday we were invited to go to the opening of the new wing of the school that the Family India is running and maintaining in a village about 40 kms outside of Kolkata. I won’t write or post much about that part of our trip right now as there will be news of that in an upcoming newsletter.
When the ceremony started, we joined the honored guests in walking to the school. The little path was lined with children of all ages, who threw flowers, clapped and blew on shells which sounds like a deep horn. The children were smiling and laughing the whole way, happy that we (all together 3 Family adults and 3 representatives from the company) had come for the opening of the new wing of the school that was all paid for by an insurance company here.
However, we also went walking through the village and just the trip there was wonderful in itself. As soon as we got out of the city, the rice fields started. It’s currently harvest time, but it still was refreshing to see so many fields interspersed with palm trees and other fields. CC took a bunch of pix in the village which will be going on her blog along with her impressions of the place.
People live a simple, uncomplicated life and even though they are what we would consider desperately underprivileged, they seemed happy and unconcerned with financial crisis, stress, and worries. They reminded me a bit of what the African American said in response as to why he was so happy: no one will give them credit. It was refreshing to be out of the big city for a day, walking by the river, enjoying the wild-life etc. It’s amazing how quickly we’ve become city slickers; the kids getting all excited about ducks, goats, etc, ha! Of course, there were special treats too: we saw a kingfisher swoop down and catch a fish (he hid in the foliage so no pix, sorry!), other beautiful birds of paradise, dragonflies in several different colors, etc.

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The river is also used for fishing; the whole place was so peaceful!

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All the girls from the welcoming committee took a liking to CC and Cherise. Although they didn’t speak English, they all knew the universal language of smiles.
momcherisetreeCherise looks a bit frightened; that was because Peter and I told her that she’d have to climb that tree for a picture, heh.

squashroofA sight I haven’t seen often; squash growing on the roofs.

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about the kids, read this, Travels

In India at last!

So, we made it to India safe and sound, thank the Lord! It was an exciting trip from beginning to end, but all in all it went very well, with the kids behaving exceptionally well and we arrived with all our luggage in tact and all accounted for. It all started in the hours of the morning as we stepped into the freezing wind and frost. We quickly bundled up in hats, scarves and gloves and started the 2 ½ hr drive to Berlin. Somehow we got off the wrong exit and I spent a good 30 minutes fretting that we wouldn’t make it. But make it we did, and we, by ‘chance’ got to the right terminal right away. Our bags were checked, weight and all (thanks for everyone’s prayers for this one!) and we were soon doing our first bag scan. The kids loved every bit of the adventure, from pulling their little suitcase carry on bags to going through the different scans, boarding and finding our seats and of course, the flights themselves. We had a short flight to London where I found out that CC does get air sick like her mom and Cherise got a bit sick but refused the ginger that helped CC and I not get sick at all after that first flight. Both the girls had a bit of pressure in their ears but learned how to blow it out so that the second flight was less painful for them both. In London we were able to take our time getting to the next terminal, doing the next scan and even had time to wait. It was a bit overwhelming at first for us all: the huge airport, the fact that you’re not allowed to take liquids in so I had to buy water once in, getting from terminal to terminal by bus, etc, but we did make it in the end. The flight went well and the kids again did very well. I was so thankful I had prepared them way in advance and they knew they’d have to sit quietly for a longer period of time so they were really on their best behavior, which is more than I can say for quite a few of the other kids on the flight, ahem. We ended up staying in the plane for an extra hour on our arrival in Delhi as there was a delay with another plane that was in our gate. Cherise fell asleep shortly before landing and slept through the whole ordeal but had a bit of a rude awakening as she was sleeping in her sweater still and found out just how hot it was on the ground here. Customs went well, Jordan managing to make the customs man grin at his antics and I was able to track down the 4 trunks fairly easily, thank the Lord.Peter was waiting for us (poor guy, it was 3AM by this time) and we were able to sleep the rest of the night and into the morning at a home before getting to the train station. Now that was a whole story for itself. We hadn’t been able to get confirmed tickets ahead of time so we went early, but found that only the two of us adults were booked and we’d have to talk to the conductor once on the train about getting more sleeping bunks for us all. After being at the train station for a few hours in the heat we weren’t really excited about doing the whole thing the next day again so decided to pray that it would work out and just go with it. When we got on the train, we found that both Peter’s and my seats had been double booked, so now there were 7 of us trying to share 2 seats. Thankfully, our co-passengers were very nice and after some switching around we were all able to at least sit down. The kids made friends with some other passengers and by the time night rolled around, the conductor had found space for the other two passengers and CC was invited to share a bunk with another girl her age. So Peter slept with Jordan in a bunk and Cherise and I bunked together. We did mange to sleep and got to Kolkata safe and sound. Everything here is a new experience for the kids. They are excited and inspired about being here and are just taking everything so well in stride. We all like the fact that there’s no more ‘warm winter clothes’ needed right now and the home here has been very good to us; we have a nice room with balcony and I’ve got another room to set up for school. Some of the food is still a bit spicy for them, but they’ve been very good and try everything. So, a new adventure has begun and with the Lord’s help has gotten off to a good start. We don’t have broadband at this time, but I’ll do what I can to keep this place updated and even post pix from time to time (sorry, I have basically no pix from the trip, I was holding Jordan’s hand most of the time and didn’t want to have to worry about losing the camera at any point). Thanks to everyone who supported this venture and for all your prayers. Please continue to keep us in your prayers, that we’ll adjust well and also get the longer-term visas we need. Thanks!

Travels

Bye, Bye Europe!

So, finally, we’re off. I’ve spent the last four days packing and getting ready (though I don’t know that I’ll ever be really ‘ready’, heh). We have a short flight to London, from there about 8 1/2 hrs to Delhi where we’ll get picked up for the last leg of our journey: a 20 hr train ride after a night in Delhi. Of course, we’re all really excited, and I’m incredibly nervous. Any prayers for our trip would be appreciated, especially that all our baggage makes it at once with no delays or damage. That our connecting flight is punctual, that I find my way around with the kids and that we all stay healthy as well.

It’s a new beginning! Thanks so much to my mom and Chris who put us up and put up with all the extra noise and people in this little appartment. Thanks, Mama for your advice, counsel, love, and support. I love you!

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Thank You Lord, it’s done!

So, our tickets are booked! We’ll be leaving here on the 18th, arriving in the wee hours of the 19th in India. The Lord’s timing was perfect as we thought we had lost the chance to get that ticket cheaply, but when I went to check yesterday, only the day we had originally set as an ‘Etta date’ was cheap again! Now we’re looking at a booking that will take us to India at last! Any prayers for this will be welcome; I still have some packing to do, and I’m so excited I’m having trouble sleeping just when I really need my strength. Thanks!

At this time, just the kids and I will be traveling ahead as we still need some more funds for Jo’s ticket, but living here is becoming very expensive and we’re eager to be on the field as well. Pls pray he can get the funds quickly and find an equally cheap flight to join us in the Lord’s perfect time.

After all this waiting, and ‘planning to go’, it just feels so incredible to be ‘going’. The Lord really knew how long I could handle the waiting and true to His Word never gives more than we can bear. I know new learning experiences, trials and tests are on the way, but all I can say is: Bring it on! I’m excited about all the Lord wants to do next, even though at this time I’m still on a bit of a ‘bend’ and can’t see the full path ahead. Where we go is His plan, we just follow and continue to yield in the every day things and He makes it easy to yield to the big things.

The home we’re going to sounds very nice; I’ve been in touch with them for well over a year and feel like we’ve gotten to know each other a bit which is always good when starting ‘fresh’ like that. I realize (as do the kids) that it’s going to be hot, but since we know, we’re at least mentally prepared, ha! The kids have started getting things together, doing the last bits of school they could do before it’s all packed away and generally trying to be good so mommy can work to get everything done in time. CC desperately wants to update her blog before we go, so I’ll make some time for that.

about the kids, Travels

Busy, busy, busy…

that’s why the lack of posting, that, and my laptop is having internet issues, seems to be a hardware problem, so I’m dependant on using Jo’s or my mom’s depending on what’s available at the time.

We got our visas! We would like to book our tickets for next week, but the prices have gone up astronomically, so pls pray for wisdom as we decide how to go about it, as well as supply for the rest of the funds. Thanks!

The kids got to go to the zoo yesterday which was a special treat (thanks Chris!) for them to get out and about and see interesting things and for me to finish some work in preparation for our trip. I will post pix (as will CC in her new found commitment to outdo me in getting more comments than I do…which she already does, heh) as soon as I can.

The weather has warmed up again nicely, sun shining and flowers blooming, but thank the Lord it seems that the cold spell gave my sinuses a break so my hayfever is much more manageable.

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News and stuff

It’s that lovely time of year–my favorite–when the sun starts to shine more, days are longer, trees start to get green, flowers are blooming, everything is twitterpated, and ‘love is in the air’. Of course, I’ve used enough tissue to qualify for a small landfill, my nose is serious competition for Rudolph, my eyes probably glow in the dark, and as much as the kids love looking at flowers, my first thought is, “run!”.

Other than that, we’re excited. We have nearly enough funds and we’re planning another trip to Berlin next week to apply for the visa now that my papers arrived. I wanted to say thanks to those who have fasted and prayed for us so far. I can’t really fast, but I’ve had a month’s fast of worldly input and used the time to read, pray and get closer to the Lord through all He’s teaching me. I’ve been working on scanning our paper photos, putting the girl’s school records into a file (so I have less books to lug along), and getting things ready for the long trip. Any prayers for the preparations are appreciated. We still need funds, we need to find out how to get our luggage there, and the timing needs to be right on with the Lord’s timetable.

about the kids, Travels

Last trip to CK

So we did it for the last time. We took the kids to say good bye to our friends up in Ck. It was bitter-sweet; seeing those we’ve grown so close to over the years. Of course, we didn’t visit everyone, we’ve been slowly working on that over the last few months, but we did see our closest friends. We’re all going to miss them so much!

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Clive and Angela, the kids’ “honorary grandparents”. These precious people have been through so much in their lives but still come out on top, thankful for what they have and enjoying life. The kids love them to bits and we’ll really miss them. They used to come over weekly for our ‘church in the home’ and are now working through the 12 FS. They started out as one of our ‘projects’ and became some of our dearest friends.

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I don’t know what we would have done all these years without Jasmine. She has been a huge help with the NGO, translating, helping us with projects, doing newspaper interviews with me, she was vice-president of the NGO for a year and would also help with the kids from time to time. I love you so much, girl! We’ll miss you! Ars wouldn’t be there in the pic with us if it hadn’t been for Jasmine faithfully praying for him and drawing him closer to the Lord. He’s one of the coolest guys I know (don’t be put off by his looks, it’s an image, he’s really a wonderful guy), totally sold on the Lord and the Word. Wish we could have seen more of him in the last yr, but I hope we’ll stay in touch.

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Verica, friend and children’s doctor who’s helped us in many ways and was a favorite ‘aunt’ to the  kids. She helped work out check-ups for me when I was pg, helped others get the needed medical help when needed (in this country it’s all about who you know), and was also a huge help with the running of our NGO. She gave the kids this ‘meter of chocolates’…you can tell it’s made them happy 😛

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I managed to get a few pix as we walked through the park after lunch. It was a foggy day, but I don’t think I have any foggy pix of the 1000 yr old tree 😀

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Or of the Cakovec castle…