Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I know it's a few days early, but I wanted to make sure I wished y'all a very happy Thanksgiving. I hope you can spend the holiday with your families and enjoy it to the fullest. We left Alabama this morning, and we arrived in Americus, Georgia. Jay's parents have opened their home to the entire team this we'll be spending Thanksgiving here in Georgia. I'm looking forward to making memories with the kids as they celebrate their first Thanksgiving! I will miss our annual Thanksgiving at our house with my cousins (and this year, my sister's boyfriend will be there which would have been a blast!), but this is an opportunity of a lifetime.

I'm sure we'll be playing lots of board games and "Spoons" (which we taught the kids how to play tonight---see pictures in the post below.) I made a quick Walmart run to buy Sorry, Chutes and Ladders, Trouble, and Old Maid. As well as a soccer ball (our kids, especially the boys, are champion soccer players : ) and a kickball. Tonight, the kids were asking, "Antie Ashley! Can you please come out and play hide and seek with us?" So we spent about an hour outside in the dark hiding and seeking in trees, behind garbage cans, and anywhere clever.

This past weekend was a blast. I stayed in a host family with four bouncy, energetic girls: Rose, Neha, Zurufah, and Maria. It definitely kept me on my toes! Our host family was incredibly sweet, and they outdid themselves in order for us to feel welcome. They took us to see Madagascar 2 which is hysterical. I just really enjoy the humor in the Madagascar movies, so I laughed pretty much the whole way through it. So did the girls--I had to cover Neha's mouth several times in order to stifle her laughter! :P I also made a quick run to the local used bookstore (always a treat!) and picked up some good reads including "The Lucky One"--Nicholas Sparks' new book, which I'm eagerly anticipating. 

I'm always amazed what a small world this is. Last night, the kids sang at a church in Alabama. I met a girl from Liberty who was home on break. We started talking and discovered we have some mutual friends, we're both passionate about Africa and spending time over there, etc. It was encouraging to meet a fellow LU student in Alabama of all places. 

Have a blessed holiday and enjoy it to the fullest. 

Some pictures....

[These look small, but you can click on them to see them full size.]

With Lincoln and Gift in a host family's home (Alabama) last night. Kenzie and Aiden were their precious kids.

Enjoying a beautiful fall day with Suresh and Martin in Mississippi. It was perfect weather for throwing the football (and I taught them how to better play frisbee.)

We're spending Thanksgiving week in Georgia. Here's Alan and Prava playing Spoons with the kids. We taught them how to play tonight, and they got really into it.

Taylor playing Spoons with the kids.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Walkin' in Memphis....

Ahhhh, a day off! And in Memphis, TN, nonetheless :) It's been quite a wonderful weekend and has gone by way too quickly. This morning, I woke up at 8:30 and drove down the street to Starbucks to buy a pumpkin spice latte for myself and a caramel machiatto for Prava. [I actually look forward to driving when I can...which is about once a month on our day off.]

After breakfast, Prava and I did a bit of shopping. The afternoon was spent at Taylor's sister's home in Memphis; they had us staff over for a delicious Thanksgiving meal. (I get two Thanksgiving dinners this year--yippee!) Creamy mashed potatoes, a boiled turkey (wonderful!!), green beans, pineapple, chocolate pie....mmmm. Taylor's sister has four adorable children who persuaded me to play several rounds of Hide and Seek. There are only so many hiding spots indoors, but the coat closet and the shower worked pretty well :P

Downtown Memphis at night is quite an experience! Prava, Alan, Kory, and I drove into the city tonight and spent a few hours on the famous Beal Street. We enjoyed dessert at the BB King Blue's Club. Despite the mob of people in the crowded place, it was really enjoyable to relax while watching a live blue's band play energetic oldie's songs. At one point in the evening, I got a phone call from Christi, and she told me I was on speaker phone with Erin, Anna, Lauren, and Dachelle who were right there. It was a blessing to hear from them, but it only made me miss them more. :/
[Alan, myself, Korey, and Prava tonight in Memphis. [Yep, my sweatshirt is a bit large for Prava, but it kept her warm!]

[The live music inside the blue's club tonight....]

[A picture of this famous theater]

In the past week, we've traveled to Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. Tomorrow after our morning church services, we'll be headed back to Mississippi for our evening concert and then to stay for a few days.

Last weekend, when I was staying in a host family with Martin and Suresh, poor Suresh became sick with a high fever. I gave him a cold bath which helped bring his fever down, and we spent a lot of time the next day reading books and watching movies (The Lion King!) as I nursed him back to health. It feels like just yesterday that my mom was taking care of me when I was sick, so it was odd to play that role when Suresh was sick.

The kids sang at an E-Women's conference in Jackson, MS last weekend. There's nothing like 3,000 women/moms enjoying our kids sing---their enthusiasm is awesome as they all say "awwww" the whole time the kids are performing. haha. Afterwards, Taylor, Prava, and I stayed to watch Avalon which was a great time of worship.

Hope this finds everyone having a wonderful weekend!

I will leave you with a picture taken in the costume room before a performance last week...Maria put pick-up-sticks in her hair, and this was the result.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Several states later...

[Check out the photos from the past week below this post]

It's funny how I updated about a week ago, yet so much happens in a span of 7 days. In the past week or so, we've been in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and today we arrived in Jackson, Mississippi.

*A humorous recent event occured during our last stop in Texas:
It was a peaceful night in our host family...I sent 9-year-old Gift to the bathroom to take his evening shower. Little did I know what he was about to do. Shortly thereafter, I was about to tuck Gift and Lincoln in bed when my jaw dropped open as soon as I looked closely at Gift's head. "oh my gosh, Gift! Why are you missing a big chunk of your hair in the front!?? What did you DO!?!" He stood there, looking stunned (he knew he was guilty though.) I ran downstairs to the shower, flung open the door, and found a razor laying there....Gift had apparently decided he needed a haircut, so he attempted to do it himself. It looked absolutely ridiculous, and I suppressed my laughter as I scolded him. (He also had a chunk of hair missing from the back.) After tucking the boys into bed, I called Taylor, and we both laughed and agreed we never thought Gift would be the one to pull that stunt. The next day, Jay shaved Gift's head...and the other Ugandan boys wanted shaved heads too. They all look quite handsome with their new haircuts.

*A generous church invested in the lives of our kids by giving them each an awesome Bible, so we passed those out last weekend. I've been really encouraged (and convicted) to watch how eager the children are to learn more about the Bible and to read stories. Last week I read a Bible story to my boys at bedtime. One night was Daniel in the Lions' Den, the next night was David and Goliath, etc. Their English keeps improving, yet I still have to stop and paraphrase while I read. These are the times I treasure...I hope they can return to Uganda/Nepal with a deeper knowledge of God's love and the Bible in general.

*Exciting news! Our little Isaac joined God's kingdom last Sunday when Taylor lead him in a prayer of salvation. He asked if he could know God and accept Jesus into His heart. What an awesome thing!

*It amazes me how clever some of our kids are....the other night, I was with Gift and Lincoln at a host family's house, and I exclaimed "Oh my word!" about something. Without missing a beat, Gift looked at me and said, "Which word?" Our outburst of laughter only encouraged him to say, "Antie, which word?" every single time I say "oh my word." He's our quietest boy, but he is hilarious when he gets going!

*We spent the last few days in beautiful Arkansas. The fall-colored trees in the mountains of AR were breathtaking. My mom is hilarious and mailed me a package which contained some Halloween candy as well as a baby pumpkin. She's the best :)

Now we're singing at an E-Women conference in Jackson, Mississippi this weekend.

Photo update

Last week, I stayed with 5 of our boys in a host family home. They wore me out! Their energy is endless. Lincoln is missing from the photo, but here are the others: (left to right) Jimmy who's cheesing for the camera, Isaac, Ezera, and Gift.

Alan and some of the kids at a pumpkin patch/exotic animal place (more on that in a second.) The kids' smiles here are wonderful (it's hard to take a picture where everyone is smiling!), but Alan looks slightly silly (he was imitating the kangaroo's expression. ha)

Playing with a lemur in its cage! I'd love one for a pet....hmmmm....

We took the kids to a place that raises exotic animals. It was one of the most fun days thus far (in my opinion.) There was a huge variety of animals we got to see up close....notice the beautiful tiger in this picture.

Look at these cute little guys! A breed of porcupines....way too adorable. Don't they look like something out of a cartoon!?

Gift, Suresh, and Jimmy painting pumpkins!

There's never a dull moment with our team. Here's Mr. Isaac (who is 100% all boy...seriously!) with a cheek covered in gold glitter (he was decorating pumpkins.)

In love with this darling baby kangaroo...

With sweet Yeshoda and Neha

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Heading to Arkansas....

This will be a quick post, but I hope to write a longer update with photos this weekend. 

I just wanted to say that I am really looking forward to when the anticipation of Election Day is over.  Hopefully you all voted....I voted absentee which was a hassle, but I'm glad I did it. I'm not a huge fan of either men, but I think McCain/Palin is the better choice. I just want to find out who our next President is instead of hearing so many complaints about the candidates. By the way, I strongly feel that if you didn't get around to voting, then you don't have a right to complain about the man who will be our next president. 

On a random note, have you guys ever watched "Jon and Kate Plus 8" (they're from Hershey, PA...!) or "17 Kids and Counting?" They're shows on TLC which I have recently discovered, and I enjoy watching them. I have so much more respect for mothers since I started this job and taking care of the kids! :) I have no idea how the parents (on "17 Kids and Counting") have survived---there's no way I could ever have 18 children. It makes me want to faint just thinking about it :P