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Friday, July 29, 2011

Take Off

I am currently sitting in the Washington D.C. airport at the Ethiopian Airlines gate.  I have another 2 hours before boarding my 14 hour flight to Ethiopia followed by a 2 hour lay-over and then a 6 hour flight to Lilongwe, Malawi.  I am a bundle of emotions and I know that even if attempted, I wouldn't be able to put into words.  Mainly though, I'm extremely hopeful and excited.  I feel so thankful for this opportunity and I want to remain in a posture of thanks and of appreciation for this experience.  I know I will grow tremendously through this and it will change me significantly.

For now, I am just breathing and trying to remain calm during my day of travel.  There is so much that is out of my control and I'm realizing that worrying doesn't get me anywhere.  I will work to enjoy a good book, music, sleep, and prime time people watching!

I will blog as soon as I am settled and have internet.  I am scheduled to arrive at 2 PM Malawi time on Saturday.  Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers.  Africa, here I come!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Overwhelmed

I can hardly believe that this is my last week in the U.S.  I have spent so much time knowing this is coming, but it is finally starting to sink in as I go through so many "lasts."  I realized it on Sunday at church as it hit me that I will be in Malawi next Sunday.  I'm realizing it as I continue with good-byes and when purchasing items that I hope will last me for a year or close to that. I am however; overwhelmed in the best way possible by the amount of support and love that I feel.  I feel surrounded by family and friends who believe in me and who have said they will be here no matter what I need, be that a word of encouragement, prayers, or financial support.  Your love and support is providing me with peace and the courage that I need when I feel as though I do not have it on my own.  I know I will start to feel less overwhelmed once I arrive on Saturday (I will post as soon as I have internet access so you know I've arrived safely!)

As for a financial update, I would love to give you one, but I'm not quite sure with where I stand. I am not given clear information about how much or when people are giving.  However; I do know that between the one time donations and the online donations that have been received, my first three months of expenses have been met!  I am incredibly thankful for the overwhelming support I have received.  I couldn't do this on my own and I feel so thankful for your love and encouragement.  I am seeing the Lord's provision and it absolutely amazes me.  When I know more, I will let you know!

As for now, it's back to packing and last minute details.  Part of this journey is learning to trust.  It is difficult to have to put this into action, but I know that it is through this that I will grow.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Texas road trip

A theme in my life lately has been travel.  I continued with this theme Friday when I packed a smaller bag from my bigger bag and headed out from Virginia with my mom, dad, sister Hanna, and her boyfriend Greg.  We embarked on the 22 hour drive to Dallas, Texas.  We came equipped with walkie-talkies, two Garmens, and snacks.  We traveled in two vehicles, one being Hanna's car and one being a moving van.  I am so thrilled for Hanna's new job and for her move to Dallas.  I am so thankful that I am able to be a part of this move.  I know it will help to be able to picture where she is living and to know that I've been to her apartment.  This makes me feel so much closer to my sister and it also brings me comfort to know that we can both relate to so many changes in our lives.  


My Aunt Louise and Uncle Manny live about 25 minutes away from where Hanna will be living.  We have been staying with them this week as we've been apartment hunting and helping Hanna to settle in.  I have been overwhelmed by the love I feel from my family and for the amazing hospitality.  We have eaten the most incredible food including steak and chicken with homemade chimichuri sauce complimented with roasted potatoes, salmon with a yogurt cucumber dill sauce and asparagus, and barbecue pork tenderloin with collard greens and smokehouse baked beans. We have sat around the table at the end of each meal, enjoying each other's company.  These meals together and the time spent sitting around and talking, have been some of my favorite moments.  We also watched Jeopardy together last night and I absolutely loved hearing everyone's affirmation, mainly the line, "Good one, Honey" addressed to just about everyone in the room.  

I will fly back to Richmond on Thursday and then have a week to finish up with packing before heading to Africa on the 29th.  For now, I will continue to enjoy time with my family, knowing we are creating memories that will carry me through when I am a continent away.  

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Fully present

Recently I was able to spend time with one of my dearest friends from college.  Since moving to Seattle, I haven't had a lot of time with her and when we do see each other, I treasure the moments of catching up and seeing her face to face.

She has a 13 month old daughter named Berkeley. This visit was the third time I've seen her since she was born.  Each time I'm amazed at how much she's grown and how much she reminds me of her mother.  I loved playing with her and seeing her many smiles and hearing her little giggles.  As I was getting ready to leave, her mom said to her, "Give Christy a kiss."  Without an ounce of hesitation, she leaned forward and gave me a huge kiss.  

This moment was such a visual of how I hope to approach my time in Africa.  I tend to want to plan things out and make sure I know what I'm getting myself into.  There are so many unknowns as I prepare for Africa and this stretches me out of my comfort zone.  However, I know I must be fully present and take it on the same way Berkeley did with that kiss.  I want to enjoy every day and every new experience that comes my way.  I don't want to over analyze it.  I was thinking about how wonderful it was to be on the receiving end of Berkeley's kiss.  If she had been hesitant, I would've backed away in order to make her more comfortable.  Instead, she showered me with so much love and it became such a wonderful moment for me.  I want to approach my time with people this same way (ok, not kissing them) but with the same joy and the same reckless abandon of a child.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Family Time



I flew into Virginia on Thursday afternoon.  I have somewhat become adjusted to only seeing my family twice a year, but I miss them terribly and it's always the best feeling when we all sit around and talk.  We had game night the night I arrived and laughed so hard it hurt.

The next morning, we piled into the car and drove to Pennsylvania for our family picnic.  The car ride over is always quite the event as my father is an intense driver to say the least and gives the rest of us lots of ammo for joking on him.  We sang songs, slept, and almost got whiplash from Dad's breaking on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Today is our family picnic.  I'm looking forward to spending time together and savoring the moments.  I am so thankful for this month with family before heading to Malawi.

Above is a picture of my sister Hanna and I.  She is moving to Dallas in two weeks and I get to help her move.  I'm so thankful that I get to spend time with her before she heads off on her adventure!