Home Assignment: Feeling the Love

We aren’t really home. I’ve mentioned that. But we do have a lot of people who have taken care of us so far on our home assignment journey.

  • We always had a place to stay, whether an entire house or one bedroom or in little Bear’s case a laundry room or kitchen!Tent
  • We enjoyed meals in homes, meals in restaurants and meals in parks.
  • We enjoyed fresh produce from backyard gardens and farmer’s markets.
  • Little Bear received clothes and toys.
  • I received much needed maternity clothes!
  • We’ve made many new friends and caught up with old ones.
  • People have given of precious time and finances.
  • Church members have organized lunches, dinners, get togethers, lady’s nights, baby showers and more.
  • Pastors have given up their Sunday sermon time.

We have received an outpouring of love from our community that spans from Florida to North Carolina to Michigan to Minnesota and to Washington State, with so many states in between. Thank you. We appreciate you. We appreciate your sacrifice. We appreciate your time. We appreciate your friendship!

No Home, Home Assignment

This is such a funny concept. Not funny, haha, but funny weird, strange and abnormal. We are on home assignment and yet we are not home. We don’t even have a home for the 7 months we are in the United States. We have places to stay. We have other people’s homes. We have hospitality shown to us in many ways. But we are not home.

For me this is the hardest part about home assignment.

I am a wife, a mother, a homemaker and yet there is no home for me to make. Our space is not our own. We are living each and every day in close community with others. My main job is to take care of my family and yet I am displaced from my kitchen. My grocery shopping consists of picking up snacks for the road and occasional fruits. We have stayed in 14 homes with at least 11 more to go; sometimes staying no more than one night in each place. We are habitual guests.

Already, Little Bear slept in airports, playrooms, kitchens, closets and under tables. His little tent bed is moved from space to space but thankfully he adjusts quite well. At his young age he has traveled more miles, seen more of the United States and visited more countries than I had when I got married!

Each home treated us exceptionally. We are grateful for the hospitality extended to us, the chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones. We love the personal time spent in each home as it gives us the opportunity to connect more closely and go deeper.

Now imagine being a “couch surfer” as a family of three with one on the way for 7 months. Can you imagine it?

Facebook…

I have a love/hate relationship with this social media giant.

I hate that I get envious of other people’s posts about the awesome lives they are living (Read about my house envy here.). I hate that it skews my vision of others’ lives because of course who wants to post the terrible, horrible, no good very bad days for the world to see? I hate that it causes me to compare my body to others. Can we please stop posting pictures of itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny bikinis on the beach?! I hate that I waste precious time while my son naps scrolling through checking out posts or clicking on meaningless articles when I should wash dishes or write blogs, things that are difficult to do when Little Bear is awake!

Most of all I hate that Facebook is the home of sensationalism, that it is a platform to spread unchecked facts, hate, bitterness and inappropriate photos.

Yet, I love how it makes the miles almost disappear. I love that I can keep up more easily with close friends all over the world. I love seeing pictures of my friends’ kids, fun activities and motivational stories. I love that it gets information out quickly to a wide audience, like how this blog will post to Facebook automatically! I love how it mobilizes people to pray, like with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and recently when Little Bear had a really high fever.

Knowing that people in different time zones were praying for us even while we tried to get some sleep was priceless! More and more I am learning the peace that comes through prayer. I’m so thankful that Facebook enabled me to get the word out quickly and then notified me that people were interceding for us.

I don’t think I’ll give up Facebook but maybe I can work toward giving up some of those bad habits that Facebook brings out in me!

Cloth Diaper Nightmare

I hate bodily fluids. Blood is ok but everything else, especially the kind we don’t like to talk about over dinner, the kind that comes out “the other” end, royally grosses me out. And changing diapers involves being intimately acquainted with this particular kind of bodily fluid, well more like bodily solid, unless of course… well, never mind, you get the point!

In fact during one of my first babysitting gigs the little 2 year old had such a nasty one that I actually told her not to move, left her in the room by herself and called my mother. She, of course being reasonable, told me that she wasn’t coming over to change it for me so I’d better get my act together and do it. And I did, holding my breath all the while.

This being the case, cloth diapers are the embodiment of nightmare for me.

Unfortunately or fortunately, Bear and I are fairly practical and frugal. Since paper diapers are extremely expensive over here and a friend quite sweetly gave us her gently used cloth diapers, I was forced agreed to see reason and use them.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean I like them.

Bear is pretty much immune to being grossed out in any way, so generally I shake what I can off into the toilet and leave it in the bath tub for him to deal with when he gets home. Lame, I know. And yes, he is an extremely wonderful man!

However, THIS week, this week he is gone. I can’t leave diapers in the tub for 10 whole days; one, because I would run out and two it would stink to high heaven. Being the dutiful mother that I am I took one particularly stinky diaper mounded with, *ahem*, and went to dump it in the toilet. To my absolute HORROR I heard a gushy plop. When I looked down there was a slimy, nasty pile on the bathroom floor. (I am thankful it didn’t land on MY foot or the rug.)

I must be more grown up than my high school self because I didn’t call anyone. I calmly, well mostly calmly, grabbed some tissue swiped it up and quickly flushed it down the toilet. Then I rinsed the rest off of the diaper and gently laid threw it into the bathtub.

Therefore this week I am especially thankful for our washing machine that allows me to touch the dirty, poopy, wet, smelly diapers as little as possible.

We Love Music

We love music! Both Bear and I played musical instruments growing up (Although his was short-lived!). All of us enjoy the time of praise and worship at our AIC church. Bear and I also really love country music but finding clean lyrics over the radio is hard. Therefore much of the time we listen to Bear’s collection of classical music, Klove or the children’s catechism CDs given to us for Little Bear. The CDs put Scripture to music and teach many of the basic truths we believe. Little Bear and I dance together in step with the music quite often. He claps his hands, bounces and “sings” right along with whatever is playing. He even gets emotional when sad or mellow music is playing but perks right back up when a happy song comes on.

His face really lights up when Bear sings to him just before bed. We recorded Bear singing “Jesus Loves the Little Children” for the times when he travels and can’t sing to Little Bear in person. So far he sings it in three languages; English, Hausa and Bariba. We’ll have to work on adding Kiswahili and Arabic to the repertoire! Listen to Bear singing below.

Keeping Dry at Work

IMG_0934

Wet, rainy day. Bear is thankful for a dry hangar in which to accomplish his work.

Bear Working

Staying dry inside the hangar. (photo credit: My father)

Little Bear working Copy

Little Bear getting ready to do some welding work. I promise he is totally fine in this picture. (Photo credit: My father)

I am Privileged

We are thankful we can read.

Little Bear has already been exposed to numerous books in his short life. We read Bible stories to him each night. He owns quite a few baby board books and even a book that reads to him as he turns the pages. While he can’t read yet he will because we can. According to CIA Factbook an astounding 99% of people can read in the United States of America. What a privilege!

Unfortunately this is not a percentage shared by war ravaged South Sudan. After years of fighting with the North and now an ongoing conflict within, South Sudan is struggling to educate her children. In South Sudan only 27% of the population aged 15 years and above is literate. The literacy rate for males is 40% compared to 16% for females. (World Bank 2014) This is one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world.

Check out literacy rates around the world. Are you among the privileged few? Click on the map to go to an interactive website documenting literacy rates.

World Literacy Rates 2014