Thursday, December 8, 2016

|| morning drive ||

While my parents were here, we went to a lodge in one of the national parks.  It is a newly opened lodge.  We'd heard great things about it from friends but still weren't quite sure if it was going to be as good as we'd heard.  Well, it completely exceeded our expectations.  Wow.  What a treat.  

Of course, the main highlight and activity at a lodge is a game drive.  Reading the brochure, I found out there was the option for a 3+ hour game drive or a quick hour or so game drive.  I said to the guide - there's no way my kids will last 3 or more hours on a game drive.  So we will just go on a one hour game drive.  

Unknowingly (and luckily), that little bit of information was swept to the wind.  We assembled at the early hour of 5:30 and off we went!  

Here we are crossing the river to get to the lodge's vehicles on the other side.  At this point, I definitely did not think we would be driving around for more than three hours with (turns out) very calm children.

Within two minutes of our start, we saw our first game.  Hard to spot leopard.

The drive was perfect for Liesl.  It hit all of her high points: being outside, riding around with family, and looking for animals.  Those three plus hours absolutely flew by.  

Liesl sat in the front with Omie and Opa in her car seat.  And 12 week old Jules sat in the back with us in his car seat.  The biggest challenge for me were the biting flies.  But we just covered Jules up good with chitenge and he slept through most of it.  Somehow, the front seat passengers escaped the flies.  :)

The last afternoon drive, we finally saw lions.  That was surreal.  It was a little stressful for me because I was so concerned with keeping Jules absolutely quiet.  But, we did it! We were as close to 10 feet or less from the lions.  Unreal.  

As we drove through the bush on that first morning, watching the day break, I couldn't help but feel so lucky to raise my kids here.  It is definitely a challenge in some areas.  Life is not a cake walk (but is it anywhere, really).  But a peace and happiness washed over me.  My kids are so so so lucky to grow up here.  Experiencing the bush.  Getting to go on game drives at two years old and three months old!!!  The enjoyment of outdoor living and freedom!  Wow.  I know many more opportunities like this await us as a family and I want to seal these precious memories in their mind forever.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

|| books ||

^^ Joy loves Little House on the Prairie books  :)

Soon after moving here, I was given the task of the library at our church.  At the time, there were a few faithful kids who would come and get a book but not very many.  I was actually quite surprised to see the selection of books for such a small church.  What a treasure!!  For someone who loves books, it was amazing to see the resources available here.

Within a few months, I began a little contest for the kids.  Each book read and returned merited a star on a fish.  For each five stars, a prize was given.  A simple enough promotion but what a motivation for the church kids!!  Library usage for the kids' side absolutely soared.  To get a free pencil or pen or eraser is a REALLY BIG DEAL here.  I even had to clamp down a bit on who was able to check out books because we started to have kids move away (which is common) and then books get lost.  

My friend gave me Dr. Seuss decorations that she didn't need anymore.  So last year while in the States, I bought these punch cards.  So if they keep and finish one punch card from start to finish, they will have received four prizes.

This feels a bit unusual to ask but I've been wanting to post about the library for a while.  For those of you that live near my parents, do you have any old books that are just lying around?  Any books that your kids aren't interested in reading?  They don't have to be brand new or even in excellent condition.  We have a lady who repairs damaged books each week.  :)  My friend, Marian, and I who run the library would love new additions to the kids' books section!!!!  These kids are not exposed to books like we had growing up.  Even in school, lessons are copied.  To have a Bible is a luxury, so you can imagine books are even more rare.  And what an opportunity to expose some of the kids who attend our church to good books.  SO, if you have any spare books, would you be willing to drop them by my parents' house or give them to her at church?  They are getting ready to ship a barrel here in a few weeks.  We would be so grateful!!

Gershom and Sylvester are just two of the boys who will say a very big THANK YOU!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

|| again ||

We did another bonfire tonight.  Funny how much joy the simple pleasures of life bring us.  Having dessert (puds as we call it here) and coffee around a fire is such a nice treat especially if we have guests.  Conversation ebbs and flows.  A few wayward glances up to the stars every now and then.  The stillness and quiet.  

I'm so glad I threw some logs into that hole about a year ago now.  We had just taken a fruit tree out of the garden and I was anxious for a fire pit. A few logs later and our fire pit was born.  The rains are almost here and then we will wait until next year to enjoy it again.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

|| give us this day ||

One of the most humbling things about living here is the stark contrast of my family's life against the backdrop of the lives of many of those around us especially in regards to hunger.  

Each Sunday, about 100 boys and girls are in my Sunday school class and most of them are hungry.  There's no government hand outs Monday to Friday the entire year round for breakfast and lunch.  Their food for the day is just a pot of nshima. relish (cooked cabbage and tomato or another vegetable that is comparable), and maybe a bit of protein (eggs, beans, fish, or chicken) on a good day.  

I'm telling a real cute story in Sunday school that walks us through the Lord's Prayer.  It is one of my favourites to tell.  This last week, I taught the part of the prayer that says, "Give us this day our daily bread."  It is a bit saddening to know that some of these kids literally don't have enough to eat.  Not all of the kids are starving per se, just a handful come from absolutely destitute families.  But according to our first world standards, 90% of them are hungry.  

As I think of raising our kids here, I definitely want to teach them compassion to other children.  It's not a child's fault that they come from a home where the money is wasted on beer.  Or maybe there's just not a job available for the adults in the home.  What an EASY way to show Christ's love in sharing a bit of our abundance to those who are more destitute than us.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

|| flying solo ||

Well, this post was supposed to be up last week.   :)

We decided at the very last minute to let Liesl go with her cousins and aunties and grandma on a little trip.  At first, we were not thrilled with the idea but after mulling it over decided to give it a go.

It was actually perfect timing.  There was a massive pool at the hotel where they stayed and all Liesl has been talking about is "swemming".  I must get her a kiddie pool soon for the farm!!

I had a to-do list a mile long to accomplish without a two year old undoing all the work that has been done in the day.  I realized by Thursday that there was hardly any work for my maid to do!! Ha!  Apparently 75% of her work is cleaning up after Liesl.  I didn't get everything done (still have to paint our bedroom and do office work).  But there was a great deal accomplished and it felt so good.  

Tuesday, we drove through to my sister-in-law's house to pick Liesl up and bring her home on Wednesday.  We just couldn't wait to get her!!

I'm sure this is the start of many more outings with family.  In the future, maybe she'll even fly with her brother to the States to see her grandparents there.   

Thursday, September 15, 2016

|| struggle ||

These women here are some of the strongest women I know.  Last week, I was struggling to lift a 50 liter container of hot water into the machine for the laundry.  (We have to haul hot water for our laundry because I insist that we wash certain loads in hot, hot water.  Anyways, I digress.)  I can lift the container if it is filled with about 42 liters but definitely not to the top.  And most certainly, I struggle to carry it from the hot water tap to the machine.  As I was pouring the water into the machine, I looked at our laundry girl and said, "I want to be strong like you women."  She smiled and said, "Muh-dam, suf-fah-RING brings pow-wah."  Suffering brings power.  

These are some of the happiest people on earth.  Ask any foreigner that lives here and they can attest to this fact.  Yet, their suffering is immense to those accustomed to life in a developed country.

The women that we employ as maids are incredible in their work ethic.  A few ride their bikes over 30 minutes to get here.  No biggie.  Except, they've probably gotten out of bed at 5:00 to bathe their kids before school and send them on their way.  Then cycled here, bathed in the laundry, and started their work at 7 am.  During planting season, you will most likely find them in their field at 4 am to hoe and plant before getting their kids ready for school, then cycle to work, then work for us all day long, and proceed to cycle home.  Then, there's a good chance there's some house work to be done.  Although, families all live together and pitch in with the daily tasks (sweeping, washing clothes by hand, and making the porridge and relish), there's still tasks to be finished.

But, please don't feel badly for them.  They are strong, strong people with an incredible sense of humour.  Because, suffering brings power.

If there's one thing I want to remember with my two kids is that struggle brings strength.  It is only natural to want to provide the best and easiest for our children.  And in some areas, I'd say it is required of us parents (health, education, spiritual development).  Yet, in physical things, struggling through with a task only allows for personal growth.  The kid in my class who had to work at 16 in the famiy business and buy his own clothes and pay his way through the youth group was the one with the straight A's.  

I think this is a battle that all parents have to battle within themselves through their children's years.  I know for me that I will have to be ever conscious of it.  Struggling produces power.  And I want my kids to be strong and useful!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

|| double the blessings ||

I'm typing this at 3:54 am.  :) :)  But really, what a blessing that I've only had to get up once in the night now three days in a row!!!  Wooooohoooooo!  Also, we are on limited internet usage for the rest of the month so now is about the only time I can update quickly in peace until the weekend.

Having two children is: amazing, fun, stressful, hectic, tearful, busy, sweet, grand, fantastic, and busy!  But my goodness, it really is double the blessing.  

Often, mothers of one child will worry before the pregnancy of the second that she will not love the second as much as the first.  A friend gave me such beautiful encouragement before I was pregnant with Jules.  She said, "With each child, it is as if God puts an individual mansion of love in your heart.  Each one has it's own special place of love."  I thought that was such a beautiful illustration and I never worried if I would love my second as much as the first born.

It is true that it is double the blessings but my goodness, my attention is divided.  Woooooooow.  I cannot multi-task!  Yesterday while feeding Jules, Liesl was quietly into all sorts of things.  The other day, she found the dry erase markers to one of her birthday gifts.  It was completely my mistake for leaving them "hidden" in the box yet accessible to her in her bedroom. Well, after I finished getting ready for the day, there was a beautiful masterpiece on her white bedroom wall.  Luckily, dry erase marker comes out very easily.  

I count it such a privilege to be a mother.  It is a responsibility that weighs heavily on my heart.  I feel ill-equipped to guide these precious souls through their childhood years and point them to their Saviour.  

I'm so thankful for the promises in the Bible.  Promises for wisdom when needed (James 1:5), safety through the night (Psalm 4:8), and constancy of the Living Word (Isaiah 55:11).  These are such precious promises I cling to. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

|| Mom ||

Someone just had a birthday!!  My heart was breaking last night because I wasn't there to celebrate with the most special Mother on Earth for her big milestone birthday.  So, I planned to write a little post to honor her.

One of the best things about my Mom's influence in my life right now is how strong she is.  Not once does she ever whine or make me feel guilty that I live on the other side of the world.  Sure, there's times that she says, "Wish I could be there with you." But, she has been nothing but supportive of my life here.  She loves her son-in-law and loves visiting here!  One of the things I determined years ago was that I must have my parents' 100% support in whoever I married.  I got that and it has completely paid off.  I cannot praise God enough for my Mom's encouragement in my life.

I also praise the Lord for her health.   It is a miracle straight from Heaven above that Mom is here to reach her 60th birthday.  Even though we may be 20 hours in a plane away from each other, she is just a phone call away.  On the morning I gave birth to Jules, she was the first one (and only - ha!) I called and said, "Mom?!"  After "Hello" (she might not have even said that!), her words were, "Are you going to the hospital?" :)  I know I can call her day or night if there's an emergency.  How blessed am I.  I have dear friends that I grew up with that lost their mother to cancer.  They can't call her.  It breaks my heart to think of them.  

So, Mom, 11 weeks from today, we will be waiting at the airport with bells on our feet!!  We can't wait to see you and Dad and for you to meet your third grandchild.  Thank you for your love that only a mother can give and I came to more fully appreciate only after I became a mother.  Mwah!!  Love you!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

|| he's here ||

Our little champ is here!!  One week ago at this time, he was born on a Sunday morning.  

So many blessings surround his birth.  We were on the road to the hospital at 2:30 am.  Arrived at the hospital at 4 am.  He was born at 6 am.  Discharged at 12:30 pm.  Home on the farm at 3:30 that afternoon.   Whew!!

We probably should have stayed in the hospital for one night, or at the very least stayed at my SIL's house, but I really just wanted to come home.  I had said to Leon, My dream birth experience would be to drive through in the middle of the night, deliver the baby, and then come back to the farm that same day.  I wasn't specifically praying that would happen.  I knew the Lord would have His hand upon whichever scenario occurred.  But how neat that it happened exactly that way.  

His name Jules is from his paternal grandfather who passed away years ago.  But from the legacy he leaves behind, even those of us who have never known him are touched by his memory.  He sounds like an incredible man.  He was a strong man full of love and kindness, hardworking and caring for others.  That is exactly how we wish to raise our little guy.  

And that big sister up there ^^^ is absolutely making her parent's hearts burst in the past week with her adoration of her little brother.  It is seriously the cutest thing ever.  She is absolutely smitten with him!!  Even though she will only have one brother, I hope that their relationship is as sweet growing up as mine was with my two brothers growing up together. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

|| freedom ||

It is a bit of a funny feeling being over here and celebrating the 4th of July.  First of all, Monday was freezing cold -- overcast and cold -- which is quite the opposite to how most of you experienced the 4th.  Secondly, I am an American not married to an American so we don't quite celebrate the same way as if we were both Americans living on another continent.  But anyways, the 4th is all good fun.  And it is quite cute how my in-laws get excited about the holiday.  

Our pastor and his wife always have a crew over to celebrate and it feels as 4th-ish as it could possibly feel -- a cookout, volleyball, and shooting.  AND, I even managed to find blue jello this year so I made the quintessential kids' dessert of jello cups.

Which leads me to the point of my post.  I am so thankful as an American who is a Christian first and foremost, to be raising my kids over here.  

I cannot tell you how grateful I am to raise my child in freedom.  Sure, there's plenty of drawbacks.  But, when I really stop to think about it, there's far more advantages than disadvantages, especially as a Christian.

I follow a few news outlets on my Facebook feed but rarely click through to read the actual news story. The headlines give me enough information about what is going on back home.  I am absolutely horrifed at some of the things I read!!  Has America fallen that much in three years?  Or am I getting more sensitive to the craziness because of living in a semi-conservative culture?  I think it is a combination of both aspects.

Sure, there's plenty of sinful things that happen here which is an entirely different conversation.  But, to have the freedom to raise my child in a Christian manner without ANY fear of repercussion is invaluable in today's society.  People (white people) actually look down upon you for letting your child misbehave. You are expected to raise your child in a decent manner.  

It is so refreshing in today's world to have this freedom and I am so, so, so very thankful.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

|| stretch ||

For the past six weeks or so, there have been two girls from my home church here on a missions trip.  Prior to that, there was a young man, also from my home church, who was here for a little over a year and a half on an internship.  Let me tell you, my 21 year old self really envies them.  I am so glad that more kids from "back home" are getting on a plane and flying to new places.  

I'm not going to go back and over analyze my time between high school graduation and marriage.  I travelled with my family plenty.  Also, the youth group through my church travelled aplenty in my teen years.  But I didn't take many/any (I went to visit a friend in Mexico once) missions trip in my 20's.  It's not something I necessarily regret because I don't really remember turning down opportunities. 

But if I could encourage any young readers to my blog, it would be to say this:  travel, experience another culture, stretch yourself emotionally, physically, spiritually (even at home), make yourself uncomfortable.  

Obviously, every one's path is different.  But my goodness, my adjustment to new life over here would have been easier if I would have just pushed myself out of my comfort zone a little bit.  I had no idea that I would live on the other side of the world.  Most certainly, God's hand was evident in my life preparing me for life in another country.  But, I would have really done myself a favour if I'd been a little more flexible in those in-between-years.

So, you 20 year olds!!  Don't be scared!  Come visit!  Take a missions trip somewhere "scary".  :)  Learn a new hobby.  Learn about another culture.  Fill up those "empty years" with lots of experiences. I know those years aren't "empty"'s tough paying a cell phone bill.  haha!  But really, you will never, ever regret money and time invested in travel, learning, and growing.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

|| my shop ||

Before Leon and I were married, he insisted that I prepare myself for life here by developing a few skills or hobbies designed to keep me busy and make a little spare pocket change.  Within just a few weeks of arriving here as a newlywed, we realized that "hobby" was homeschooling his two nieces.  But still, Leon knew it was important for me to have another way to make a little extra cash.

Hence, I opened a shop.  I'm sure it looks VERY (very, very) basic to you all, my first world readers and, it is!  But this little shop has really been a delight to run.  In this picture, it is half empty and even as I type this, it is even emptier.  My stock is waiting on transport that will arrive tomorrow.

Twice a week on Tuesday and Saturday mornings, I open up for our workers.  They can buy things they need here on credit.  The total is then deducted from their wages at the end of each month.  

The people here live quite simply and are exceptionally frugal so a little goes quite a way.  For instance, they will buy a bottle of lotion with a small bottle of liquid glycerin.  The glycerin helps stretch the life of the lotion (don't ask me how it works, I just do what I'm told! ha!).  Rice, sugar, salt, cooking oil, canned fish, and sometimes mealie meal is for sale.  Candles and matches, washing powder and washing bars, batteries, bathing soap, lotion, vaseline, toothbrushes, and toothpaste are all part of my regular stock.  

Having a little extra source of income is great as a farmer's wife.  Also, this fulfils the "nerdy number" side of me that I find a weird sort of pleasure in.  I love keeping stock, figuring out totals and profits, etc...  Yes! I am nerdy number person.  :)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

|| week day walks ||

Another peek into my daily life...different than the norm in the States...but here it goes.  :)

Liesl decided to ditch her morning nap sometime in late February.  I was really nursing that morning nap because I needed her to have some down time so I could be free to concentrate on homeschooling.  I was a littttttlllllle devastated when I realized the morning nap was finished.

Then, we went through an adjustment time of what to do with a very active (and sometime loud) toddler while the girls were doing school.  I really wanted to pull my hair out for a few weeks.  

Then Leon suggested using my maid to help me watch Liesl.  Most moms here use a maid in some capacity for baby sitting their kids.  After Liesl was born, it took me a long time to get it into my brain that I had an extra set of hands.  But also, we are absolutely resistant to having a maid exclusively for our child.  

I love (big, puffy, red heart) my maid, Zondi.  Her husband works for Leon.  Her little girl is six months older than Liesl.  She is quiet and super helpful.

Monday to Friday after breakfast, she takes Liesl in the pram for a walk.  She stays on our farm road between the dairy and main house so I can sort of spot them from my house. Liesl loooooooves her morning walk.  Sometimes, she even says, "Bye, Mama!" and climbs into her pram.  

It has worked out gloriously.  Now I have a bit of uninterrupted time to devote to the homeschool.  I can get a shower quickly.  It is really a mom's dream to have 45 minutes to an hour each day of "free time" to devote to another activity.

I can see this post will lead to other posts about having a maid to help and also challenges and benefits of raising kids here.  Stay tuned!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

|| applesauce ||

A while back, I asked on a mommy Facebook group some ideas for snacks and lunches.  Because there's not many convenience foods, I really struggle with snacks and lunch ideas.  I had a very few suggestions, but it was mostly *crickets*.  :) 

But soon after that, I remembered one convenience food in the States - applesauce!!  Most of the recipes I found online were for crockpots and I don't have one.  I tried making applesauce on the stovetop and it didn't come out that nicely.

This week, I told my maid to buy a specific type of apple in the market.  But unbeknownst to me, they were yucky and mealy.  So I thought I'd try my hand again at applesauce.

I nailed it!  It tastes just like my Mom's except she would put Red Hot's in hers for a bit of kick.

So here goes the recipe if you're interested.

You need:

8 apples
2 cups of water (too much; you can use less but I'll tell you how I made it work)
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of cinnamon

Peel and core apples.  Chop into chunks.  Put in a 2 quart saucepan with water, sugar, and cinnamon.
Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 2 hours.  Leave the lid off so the excess water cooks off.  Once cool, quickly whizz in the blender.  

We are going into winter here and I struggle like anything this time of year.  You all are posting pictures of county fairs and berry pies and flip flops.  And I'm over here like -- give me another scarf and a pair of boots in my frigid house.  But I am determining to make the most of this season and eventually, I will come to enjoy it.  

Homemade applesauce is a baby step in the right direction for me to enjoy winter.  It truly is a comforting, beautiful, winter smell in the house plus the taste is great.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

|| pay day ||

I forget how normal events of my life are "Interesting" to you all, my friends and readers.

So...since pay day is tomorrow, I thought I'd share more about that process.

Once a month, we have a payment to the government for each permanently employed worker.  We pay 5% and the employee pays 5%.  It is similar to Social Security.  They can receive their contribution once they turn 55.  Because of this, the farm's salary cycle is from the 10th of the month to the 9th of the next month.  

I do all of the wages on Excel spreadsheets.  There are several different categories of workers and different levels of daily wages.  It was very confusing to me when I first began!!  One spreadsheet is for our employees that live on the farm; we provide their housing.  One spreadsheet is for employees who live off the farm; we are required to give them an additional 15% of their salary towards rent.  One spreadsheet is for those who are over 55 but don't have to pay into the gov't contribution scheme.  One spreadsheet is for casual workers (not permanently employed and seasonal workers).  Within each of these spreadsheets there are general workers, dairy workers (skilled labor), a builder who receives a higher wage because he is "skilled", workers who receive a fixed salary, watchmen, and casuals.  Oh....and also, we have two farms which is two different Excel files with wages.  Whew.  

Lucky me, I like Excel.  Each month, I have to count up the days worked and enter in for each employee plus the amount of overtime.  There's also bonus' that some workers receive (dairy related).  Once a year, we pay leave pay which is the same as paid vacation.  They receive 2 days per month of the year.  So that would be 24 days paid vacation per year.  And also, if they decide to leave employement, we pay them a little over 2 days per month that they were employed by us.  

Another aspect of wages is congory (local word for -- I owe you money!!)  Sometimes, a worker is given an advance in their wages or a loan that is paid back over a series of months.  I also run a shop with the basics for them to buy on credit (which is another post).  They also can buy loaves of bread and eggs from my chickens in the morning at register.  If we slaughter a cow here, the meat is sold to them on credit and also a friend will sometimes sell his sour milk (don't cringe -- they like sour milk).  All of this is complicated by a severe case of "preggy brain".  Last month, I completely messed up the congory list by charging February twice instead of February then March.  This shorted me well over k1,000!!!  And I didn't catch the mistake until it was far too late.  

I am a numbers nerd (inherited from my dad!) and quite enjoy doing the farm books and wages.  I just require a bit of quiet time to concentrate.  Alone.  And quietly.....! (without my 19 month running around wreaking havoc! haha!)  This month, I was able to get most of it done Sunday night after church and it has been so nice to have one of my monthly duties finished so early.

In preparation for tomorrow's pay day, I will fill out a pay slip and staple to an envelope, then fill with the appropriate amount of cash.  The workers sign their name or stamp their fingerprint on the (Excel) spreadsheet and it is filed away.

I love the exhilaration of a job finished.  And this little aspect of the farm helps me to feel a part of everything.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

|| three years ||

Ahhh, yes.  The obligatory "Anniversary Post".  :)  

How in the world has it been three years since I've married this man?  One year seemed right.  Two years seemed....yep....still plausible.  Three years.  I just can't believe it.  And some of my friends have been married 10 (or more) years.  They're rolling their eyes at the infancy of our marriage.  Ha!

I told Leon we don't have to DO anything for our anniversary.  (Anyways...what is there to DO in this town but go to Pizza Hut!)  But please, don't invite anyone over for dinner.  Let's just BE together.  Great!  And that man went and organized the cutest little anniversary dinner outside in the garden.

I have been dying to do a dinner in this specific spot.  His sister and nieces helped him.  It was soooo lovely and magical (a littttttttle bit of a dramatic description but still...).  

Menus -- starters -- candlelight -- baby monitor (lol!)

Leon and I look back on the past three years as an absolute miracle of a loving God that has orchestrated our marriage.  

Here are our pre-marriage stats:  
-we talked once a week, maybe an hour
-a bit of texting each day
-seeing each other 10 weeks total before marriage
-and our marriage counseling session consisted basically of "Yep, it will be very hard because you two are so different.  Good bye and good luck."  Pretty much.  So yah-----suuuuuuper helpful.

I moved to the other side of the world with him and had no idea what it was like to live in another culture.  I had traveled but still came back to the good 'ole USA and it's customs and thinking.  Running the farm has been a struggle for various reasons since we set foot here after our honeymoon.

Nothing has been easy about our life.  And I mean, absolutely NOTHING.  But God has taken two different people, similar, but different, and helped them to learn what it means to truly love and sacrifice for one another.  

This man is the best dad.  Even last night, he was the one walking the house with our little sicky baby, insisted I get out of bed at 2 am and bathe her to reduce the fever, is the one who brings her her milk bottle in the middle of the night, plays and prays with her, takes her with him on errands every chance he gets, works endlessly and tirelessly, and has helped me become a better me.

I'm so grateful for the struggles we've been through....the spiritual struggles as well as the physical struggles of running the farm.  One day when the light breaks through and our milk production is higher than it is now, we will look back on these tough days as an absolute blessing.  They have shaped us and molded us into better people.  Struggle has only made us better.

And there's not one other single person in this whole wide world that I'd chose to walk down that road with other than my husband.  He is amazing and I love him very, very much.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

|| adjusting ||

^^ Sunday afternoon, 2013

There was a time when I used to think, "I'll just never, ever get it."  Living here was so new. Everything was so different.  It wasn't that I missed home.  But I felt as if I went from being a capable person to being a very incapable person in a matter of a few plane rides over an ocean and a continent.  And I thought the feeling would never end.

I remember my sister-in-law giving me the shopping list for the restaurant.  I would say, "No, I know for sure they didn't have allllll of these items."  Then, she would patiently explain where they could be found and yes, they were there.  

The brands on the store shelves were different.  The packaging was different.  The names of items were different.  I would buy canned Hunt's diced tomatoes just because I knew what they were!!!!  :)

For a fairly non-adventurous person, it even surprises me (now that I think back) three years into this marriage thing, that I am happily married to someone in a different culture than mine halfway across the world from everything that was familiar.  

But I know why I did it.  Because it was God's perfect plan for me.

^^ crazy, wind-blown, holiday hair but deeply happy

I can only give praise to God for how He has helped me.  I have learned so much.  If you could hear me say it in person, it would sound like this:  I have learned sooooooooooooo much!!!!!!!  I have learned about forgiveness and mercy, happiness and contenment, trust and FULL assurance in God's love for me. 

This week, we left our baby on the farm with my MIL and nipped to the big city for our monthly shopping trip.  Now, sans responsibility, I zipped around the city by myself checking out places I've been wanting to for ages.  I felt like I had conquered the world.  

Every time I leave here and go away on holiday, my heart becomes more knit with my life here.  Let me say, I've never once dreaded the plane ride home.  When that plane lands, my heart surges with joy to be home.  Leon and I are so grateful to raise our baby girl here.  The people have endeared themselves to me.  The healthy, simple way of living filled with hard works gives me pleasure as I drop into bed each night. 

So those of you still wondering how I'm doing, let me say this:  I am fine.  And I really hope to give you a peek into my life through this little blog so that you can see that life here is good.  It is really, really good.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

|| three languages ||

Liesl is non-stop talking these days.   Most of it is in English simply because I am around her the most during the day and I speak English.  However, her little brain is learning how to process three languages.  I love the fact that she will be fluent in three languages.

So many Americans only speak English.  To be able to communicate in another language besides one's own is such an advantage.  

So how is she learning three languages?  Do we sit her down and go through vocabularly flashcards to teach her words?  Does the mother need to know as many languages as the child?  Do we wait until she is old enough to understand one language and then increase to two then to three? No, no, and no.

Simply, the one who is speaking to Liesl speaks their native language.  I speak only in English to her.  My husband speaks Afrikaans.  And the maids (and others) speak Bemba to her.  

The rule is that each of us should not put in words from the other language simply so Liesl learns how to process the three languages.  But that doesn't exactly happen.  I grew up with a few German words sprinkled in my vocabulary and I've done the same with her.  Sometimes, I say to "sit moi" (sit pretty or sit nice).  And Leon puts in a lot of English words in his vocabulary.  

Another great thing is that I have effortlessly been learning Afrikaans since Liesl has been born.  Because Leon primarily speaks his native tongue to her, I have learned from the very beginning simple phrases such as "Papa is going now"  or "Wait a minute" or "Stop crying or screaming".  In a pinch if I want to say something privately, I can speak a bit to Leon in Afrikaans.  

The newest thing that I have been noticing is Liesl speaking Afrikaans.  She says many things in English.  But just lately, has been saying more Afrikaans.  It is so neat to me to hear her speaking another language.  

I would most certainly encourage anyone with a background in another language to speak that language to their children.  It is so beneficial!!

Friday, March 25, 2016


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Thursday, March 24, 2016

|| our little cottage ||

Not that it matters in the grand scheme of life, but I've been wanting to do a little post on our house for quite a while.  I couldn't imagine what life was like here in Z before I met Leon.  But let me assure you, it is quite normal.  Yes, there are many inconveniences but it is normal.  I don't live in a mud hut and yes, I have indoor plumbing and electricity.  :)

Luckily, Leon and I have similar tastes in decor which has made making our house a home easy.  I really wish I'd have taken pictures from when I first moved in.  Myy goodness, how it has changed!

It is a tiny little thing but our house is full of character and we love it.

Looking through these photos, I see a list of to-do's.  We had fully intended to have our permanent house built by now but that hasn't happened.  I jokingly have said we'll be here for the first seven years of marriage but I really don't think that's a stretch.  Good thing we love our home.  :)

This table is the perfect fit for us.  We can pull out both leaves to make a full sized table.

After Liesl was born, we added the two rooms to the right.  Before, there were no windows on this wall because the pool is on the other side of the house.  But having two rooms with windows has made an incredible difference in the lighting.  Also, my brother-in-law built double thick walls and insulated the roof.  So this half of the house is much cooler.

Bookshelves made by my brother-in-law.  They are so handy and there's still more books in storage!!

My little corner.  I added new Christmas cards and the calendar this week.  Makes my space a little more appealing. Perhaps I'll be more motivated to sit down to do office work?!?! Haha!

Liesl's room is airy and bright but a little too white.  I've dragged my feet at decorating.  No Home Goods or Target or Marshall's here to steal a quick deal.  Also, I despise hanging things on the walls here.  All of the walls are plastered. In other words, made with bricks then plastered over with cement again.  So to hang a picture is a mission and it is permanent.  

The crib belonged to my two youngest sister-in-laws then to my two nieces.  I had no idea the family had kept it.  Until one day, they sheepishly mentioned it was in storage.  They didn't want me to feel obligated to use it for Liesl but I love family heirlooms.  It was in disrepair but easily fixed with new drawers and a fresh coat of paint.  

I have fully intended to paint this wall in chalkboard paint but have never gotten around to it.  :(  And now with another baby coming and the insertion of a second bed here, I'm not exactly sure what will be the plan for decorating.  Anyways, we shall see what happens in the future.  Maybe the nesting stage will bring more progress here.

Our bedroom is the plainest and needs the most decorating help.  The chair was bought in SA and just needs to be recovered.  Leon really wants a tufted headboard so we're waiting on that.  

We just bought new curtains in SA but I don't want to hang them until we repaint the room.  

And the biggest change is this unsightly closet  area.  We're talking of built-ins which would be great as we will be living here for a while.  

What makes this house work is that I have a locked (!!!) storage room with all of the extra things in it.  I probably go to storage once a week to get something or put something away.  Everything of mine from the States has been shipped in barrels.  So that is what we keep our extras in.  

I'm so thankful for a cute, little house to make a home.  We are truly content living here.  I know one day when we move to our permanent, new, bigger, made-for-us home, we will miss this little cottage.