02 October, 2008


We are settling back into life in the States. However, much of our hearts is still miles away. We are fortunate to be able to stay in touch with our friends in Nigeria via the internet, but it is still just not the same. We feel so blessed to have fallen in love with so much and so many that we feel the pain of being so far away.

As many of you have requested, here is a brief update on our lives:

We are living in Pleasant View, TN, just a wee bit northwest of Nashville. We love our home and are enjoying slowly reconnecting with friends and family. Right now we are all in a rush to try to find warm clothes to wear since we've lived in tshirts and flipflops for the last 2 years. 60 degrees seems much colder than I remember! The cooler weather is allowing us to enjoy our favorite time of year for the first time in a long while-and oh, how we've missed the turning of the leaves, tobacco smokin' barns, pumpkins all around!

Jon is enjoying working at VCE. He doesn't mind the bit of traveling he must do because he loves cruising around in his dream vehicle, a black Rubicon.

Lauren is taking a full load at Austin Peay State University after graduating from high school a year early. She has had the joy of jet-setting around the country to visit friends she met in Nigeria. In less than a week, we will be celebrating her 18th birthday!

Mattie Grace continues to play her flute in the middle school band. She enjoys her new friends at school and is looking forward to high school next year!

Naomi is running for middle school Vice President. She has a platform of changing the school, community, and world with some lofty ideas. She spent the summer at various camps, with her favorite being the Herbitology one-where she learned about played with snakes, lizards, etc.

While I am job hunting, I have been fixing up our new house by stripping wallpaper, painting walls, and enjoying cooking while watching wild turkeys and deer walking through our backyard.

This month holds so much to look forward to:

Visits by different family members and friends
Helping with Shoot for the Future
Lauren's BIG birthday
Camping with friends
Fall Break
Weekend in the mountains with my girlfriends
High School reunion
Preparing for the upcoming holidays!

There is the update. More to come later.

18 July, 2008

Ten things I am thankful for and am fully enjoying:

Comfortable beds with nice linens
Hot showers-at any time!
Internet-to stay in touch
Constant, reliable electricity
Clean tap water
Nice roads
Freedoms in America
Efficiency of doing laundry-never thought I’d take joy in washing clothes

Nine foods I am enjoying:

Sonic – Happy Hour ½ price drinks (love the ice)
Penne Rustica from Macaroni Grill
Sam’s Hot Dogs
Coke Zero
Variety of cheeses
Boneless, skinless (featherless) chicken
Chinese Buffet
(if I don’t stop-Nutrisystem will be on the list!)

Eight acts of kindness from others:
Places to stay
Cars to borrow
Camps for girls to attend
Grandma and Cousins to love on the girls for an extra week
Old Fashioned Pounding
Friends who listen to us ramble about Nigeria
Emails, support, and encouragement
Visit from friends who ‘understand’ why we miss our other home

Seven foods I miss:

Pounded yam and red stew
Jollof Rice

Six songs I’ve been listening to lately:

We’re Really Not That Different
Rains Down in Africa (OLD song by Toto, but I DO miss those rains!)
My Next Thirty Years
Whatever It Takes
Someday We’ll Know

Five things I miss:

Friends-oh, how I miss them!!
The Railroad
Glass bottles of Coke
The rains

Four things I wonder:

Will we be able to save enough money for Lauren (and me) to return to Nigeria for her graduation in May?
Will I ever feel settled here in the States?
How high will gas prices rise?
What job will I have in the future?

Three BIG things we need to purchase (after the house):

Beds for everyone

Two things I have (re)learned these past two months:

Patience IS a virtue.
Relationships are more important than things.

One thing I most look forward to:

Moving into our own house

30 June, 2008


Seems that goodbyes have been a large part of our lives this month.

Yesterday morning my grandmother passed away.
The girls and I are making a very quick trip to the east side of the state to say goodbye.

The Checklist

1- Job for Jon found. He loves it.

2- Offer on a house was accepted. We will be living in Pleasant View, TN. (Isn't that a sweet name for a town?) Expect to close and move in within a few weeks.

3- Job for Julie-hope to hear news this week.

4- Vehicle for Jon found. Will purchase soon. Is a Jeep a family car? Apparently so.

5- Vehicle for Julie- soon. Decided a Lincoln Navigator was just too much of a gas guzzler, but don't care for the body shape of a Pinto...hope to find one somewhere in between, but will probably be closer to the Pinto! :)

6- Trip to Charlotte for medical testing and debriefing- done.

7- Trip to Memphis- SO enjoyed the fellowship of new and old friends.

8 - is the number of different beds we've slept in this month.

Aren't you glad to be back?

One month ago we were still in Jos.

The one statement (with a question attached) I hear most often is: "I bet you are so glad to be back, aren't you?" I think the first few times I was asked this I looked like a deer in headlights. I know that I am expected to say, "YES!" but that isn't always true. Many days, more often than not, I am ready to go back home, to Jos. Then I am reminded that this is to be home now, and the adjustments are more difficult than I thought.

Don't get me wrong, I love all of the perks of the States:
constant electricity
clean tap water
a never ending variety of food
friendships rekindled
close to family
ease of driving

But, I also miss so much. Such as,
Sarah, my sweet Nigerian sister
glass bottled cokes
fruits that were so sweet
adventures at every turn
busyness of life
pounded yam and red stew
contentment with little
and most of all, dear friends.

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.

31 May, 2008

Continent Hopping

We left Nigeria at 8:00 this morning. At 8:00 PM we were standing in front of Big Ben, walking past Buckingham Palace, and enjoying the cooler weather in London. By 6:00 PM tomorrow, we will be in Nashville. Three days, three continents! Tonight we are staying at one of Jon's high school classmate's house with his three girls. As I logged in to check email (on a high speed internet connection!!), I was greeted by a few students who were also online. Within moments, I had four instant messaging conversations going on....each from a different continent! I am ever so thankful for the convenience of the internet and the way we can stay in touch and feel close even when we are very far apart.

We will catch the train into Heathrow tomorrow morning and fly out to Chicago and then Nashville. We look forward to seeing so many of our friends and family.

29 May, 2008

Worth It All

Monday was a day to swim and forget about all the hassles of the previous week and to enjoy a day without thinking of goodbyes. And it became a day I will never forget. After a quick lunch and some resting, we decided to brave the water and swim for a bit. When we got in the water, it was cold and the other side felt far away, but we were excited about the challenge and set off for the other side. The water was so muddy, we couldn't see an inch below the surface. We got caught in fishing lines and fishing nets with dead fish stuck in them. (Honestly, those fish really creeped me out.) The way over wasn't too hard at all. We laughed and talked all the way. The other side brought so much fun and we make incredible memories. At times it was cold. Very cold. At times we sunk into mud REALLY deep. We got a few cuts and bruises, but it was one of the best days ever. After a while though, we knew it was time to go back.

I was a little tired by this time and wondered where the energy would come from to get back across. The way back wasn't nearly as fun, in fact, it took some effort. The other side seemed further away the more we swam. Eventually we arrived, tired, cut, bruised, and sad it was over. But, it was worth it all.


Today we are finishing our packing. I feel as if I am on the other side of the lake. I do not want to swim back. Not sure where the energy will come from and I don't want it to end. But reality has hit and I began packing yesterday (finally!). The way back will be long and it might not be as much fun or as exciting. We leave smiling for what we have had here, but sobbing for all we are leaving behind. But, I can say with no hesitation, it was worth it all.



Friday (30 May) - drive to Abuja, spend night
Saturday - flight to London, spend night
Sunday - flight to Chicago, flight to Nashville, arrive in evening

Please pray for our final goodbyes, final packing, flights and connections, customs, etc.
We will be staying with friends in the Pleasant View, TN area as we continue to look for immediate housing, jobs, vehicles, etc.
We look forward to seeing many of you and catch up on life over the last two years.

23 May, 2008

A List

The last few weeks have been packed! We have celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, going-aways, and anything else we could find to celebrate. However we have been to the doctor more times in the last 2 weeks than we have in years. Exams are over. Today is the last day of school, ending with graduation tonight. Because we are still so very busy (and will be until the moment we step on the plane), I want to just share a list of all that we have experienced the last few weeks.

pain of stitches
shock of surprise parties
fatigue of malaria
inconvenience of no electricity
joy of a generator
labor of writing exams
hard work of studying for exams
fun of dressing up Nigerian style
taste of mint
mixed emotions of graduation
thrill of seeing alumni
goodness of key lime pie
congratulations of sports' awards
temperature of cooler weather
rhythm of the rains and hail
procrastination of packing up
sounds of a house full of kids
appreciation of a bore-hole
sweetness of ripening mangos
mud of soccer games
tears at senior tea
talent at art shows
music of concerts
pressure of getting everything done
concerns of the future
But most of all, the love of our life of the past two years.


I can remember when we were thinking of moving to Africa, a few people thought that the move would be the worst thing we could do to the girls. How I wish I could share with you the joys of living here from the girls' eyes. We love the culture here....it is a protective culture with many uncles and aunties (and brothers) to help guide and love.

One of the joys of living here has been the depth of relationships we have formed. The other day I heard one of our girls call someone "a brother from another mother"-a true description of how they see some of the kids who hang out at our house. We are so blessed to have some older guys who will come over (usually to eat, I think) and yet still pay attention to the girls. They help with homework, play ball, and talk about snakes (with Nai, of course)! I can tell that the bond has truly become like siblings because they also fight like brother/sister.

Growing up with only brothers, I knew what our girls were missing out by not having someone to care for them like only a brother can. The Lord also knew that need and has provided brothers that could not be better picked for our family than if we were bound by blood. Along with the girls enjoying their brothers, Jon and I feel as if we have gained sons. I love our sons! I am so blessed.

Recently I took a few boys into town for one to buy a phone. As I watched Naomi freely interact with these 6 foot boys from various parts of the world, I became a wee bit emotional and my heart smiled. As we crossed the busy street, one grabbed her hand to help her get safely across. Whether it is joking around or lending a hug, these boys have been there for my girls. My girls are blessed.

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. ~Carol Sobieski and Thomas Meehan, Annie

12 May, 2008

8th Grade Banquet

Great Anticipation
Much Preparation
Fancy Dresses
Sharp Suits
Roses Given
Muddy Ground
Food Devoured
Excellent Manners
Many Photos
Sleep Overs
No Slumber
All Over