life in Africa

SIX WEEKS IN AFRICA…an update on liiiiiiife.

I can honestly say I have loved *almost* every minute of the past six weeks of my life.  Seriously!

On the rare moments I feel errrr...maxed out, at least I have a constant theme song going on in my head thanks to Shakira and the World Cup.  It never fails to come to mind.  Circumstances with background music are always suddenly better.  Always.  Haven't you ever been to church?  Mood music, people.

We arrived and the insanity and hilarity began MOMENT ONE!  As many of you know driving in a foreign land is just strange in general.  Signs are different, roads are unfamiliar, everything is just a bit off…especially when one is forced to drive on the opposite side of the road AND drive a stick-shift on the left side!  Now, for those of you that know my husband he is a man of MANY talents.  One of which is that he, in fact, IS Google Maps.  No matter what country, what city, whether it’s our first time in that location or not, the dude can get us where we need to go…ALWAYS.  It’s a strange gifting, but one I’m quite thankful for.  That being said he’s not gonna win any safety awards for defensive driving anytime soon.  One might start praying from moment minus-one of arriving in an automobile he is commandeering.  So…back to my story.  Night one.  Arrive at the airport late.  I’m giddy and taking pictures of my feet and stuff.  Cheesy things that I had dreamed of doing since I was little.  Ya know, my feet, on African soil, calling it home…finally!  Jason is in ZERO hurry to get off the plane?  Why?  OH BECAUSE HE SLEPT THE ENTIRE FLIGHT!  Me, yep, eager beaver to get off the plane.  Re-circulating air, slight urine smell, stiff chairs, alwaysgettheseatwiththebrokentv (I do mean ALWAYS!), ya know…just ready.  So, we are the LAST people to get off the plane.  Haven is DETERMINED to pull her own suitcase, which is cute and all but in functionality and a DEEP DESIRE to leave the airport it can create a need to meet Patience the Person that dwells within.  (Note to self: NEED MORE REVELATION!)  Got our bags and made our way through customs without any problems except that the customs officials did have to ask Selah on several occasions to STOP acting like the bars in the waiting area were the tryout locations for the uneven bars event.  We are a circus and people stare.  Much to my amazement my family NEVER SEEMS TO NOTICE THIS!  Okay, geez, back to my story…we are finally in a rental van giddy as can be.  Jason hasn’t looked at a map but just going on instinct to our hotel.  I am relentlessly asking him to look at a map.  I mean, at this point it’s midnight.  Just MAKE SURE.  We’re driving, we’re driving, we’re driving, ohhhhhh all the while we are driving one should picture the stop-n-go motion of heavy HUGE CITY traffic.  No, there was no traffic on the road at midnight in Cape Town it was just the FEELING of that because of Jason’s not so graceful shifting of gears.  I mean, I just want you to get the whole picture, okay!?  Oops, need to u-turn suddenly!  OHHHHHH wow.  No turning radius on this bad boy.  Jason starts man-handling the gear shift like it’s gonna save his life!  He is thrashing and I’m so confused and asking what in the world is going on!?  He suddenly is NO LONGER IN OUR CAR!  (Pause for scene intake: we are downtown.  It’s dark.  At night.  We have somehow come across a street full of clubs.  Music bumping and actually some traffic coming RIGHT AT US! Jason not in car. ) I look up and to my dismay Jason is ATTEMPTING TO PUSH OUR CAR.  WHAT!?!?  The car didn’t DIE.  Yep, he just couldn’t figure out how to get it into reverse so with traffic whizzing by and SEVERAL strapping young men from da club coming to our aid he was able to back us out of our predicament while I took over the driving responsibilities the remainder of the way. (Okay, it was only like three more blocks, but STILL! Forever grateful for my parents teaching me how to drive a stick-shift in high school no matter how frustrating it might have been at the time, right Mom!?)

We arrive at our hotel.  (Can’t get into our rental home until the next morning.  No keys)  They immediately start referring to Jason as Lord Kennedy which has me laughing uncontrollably until they started calling me My Lady to which I looked around and in fact it DID look like a castle!  HA!  Stop it though, my name is Ashley.  Expedia booked us a SWEET HOTEL.  We didn’t even know but were super grateful for our posh beginnings.  It even came equipped with a washer & dryer!  WOOHOO!  I was ready to wash our travel clothes and get the plane smell OUT of our clothing.  A washer & dryer isn’t the correct saying anyways it was a washer/dryer in ONE.  So, the genius that I am I throw in the ONLY CLOTHES we brought in with us.  I thought to myself, “Hope this works because all of our other clothes are in suticases in a car that I have no idea the location of currently!  Ehhhh, it’ll be FINE!”  Welp.  Fast forward to the next morning and we are running late to meet with our rental agent to receive the keys to our NEW HOME…in AFRICA y’all!  Annnnnd I must’ve done something wrong with the laundry because Jason’s jeans are SOPPING wet…like wring them out dripping wet.  We try drying them again.  Instead, we WASHED them again!  So, in our fancy shmancy hotel my sweet husband put on his DRIPPING WET jeans and held his head high and waltzed right through that lobby to check us out with puddles in his wake.  It was awesome.

By the way, it was SLEETING AND HAILING the night we arrived.  SO BIZARRE for Cape Town but made our first several nights in our new home freakishly cold.  Cold was an understatement.  We were all on blow-up air mattresses on the floor and we might as well have been on a mountaintop full of SNOW.  Ah well, we were happy nonetheless. 

Three days later a group of 26 young world-changing, globe-trotting, hilarious, game-playing, Gospel-sharing students showed up on our doorstep and we were in for an adventure.  Unfortunately class at UCT was only in session four more days upon their arrival.  EVEN SO…they left us with so many people to follow up with!  Had they been here when school was in full swing we would have loads of people gathering.  These guys were humble, fun, engaging, generous and incredibly flexible. 

A few mini-adventures of their 3-week stay WITH US (yes, HALF OF THEM stayed in our home!)  One night a girl in her sweetest voice said, “Jason, our toilet is bubbling!” He didn’t think much of it as we had countless issues already with our toilets and plumbing in the four short days we’d been there.  When he went downstairs to check it out it was a fecal matter RIVER flowing through our garage.  I hate bathroom talk.  I hate even the idea of discussing it and this, by far, was one of the most disgusting things…EVER.  Through much dry heaving and gagging Jason mopped it up, cleaned it up, called a 24-hour plumber and still…to this day…is almost too traumatized to talk of it.  It was gross.  Ew.  I just shuddered thinking about it. 

Many many games of Nertz, Spades, Bananagrams were played with much passion.  I love me some competition.  And winning.  Stories were told, dreadlocks were made & friendships were formed.  I FELL IN LOVE WITH THESE PEOPLE!  It was soooo God that within my first week this amazing crew would show up, bless our socks off, encourage us & ride the waves of the unknown with us in our first month.  They loved people like Jesus does day in and day out and our city was deeply changed by their short stay here.  I’m certain of it!  Saying goodbye to them was terribly sad.

Then we had a few days of trying to get life in order and some details sorted out before our bestie BROOKE ELDRIDGE showed up!  Man, God LOVES ME!  In my first month I had a best friend visit!  Not only is she a dear friend she is ON OUR TEAM!  She committed to our team and this great nation in REVIVAL prior to ever seeing it so we touristed (word? No, don’t care.) it UP for a couple of weeks.  Played with penguins, drove on roads carved out of mountain-sides, went to where the locals are and had SUCH A BLAST!  Brooke keeps me sane.  She has a unique ability to KNOW EVERYTHING I’M THINKING, WHAT I’M GOING TO SAY, WHAT I LIKE…everyone deserves a Brooke in their lives.  Insanely refreshing, loves my kids like her own, happiest person of all time, incredibly effective with her time, passionate about Jesus and OTHERS, and helps me with the dishes with a happy heart.  Man, I LOVE HER!

Other updates: 

Kids are thriving.  They love the townships!  True really comes alive there.  And the beach.  HE LOVES THE BEACH!  We have a motto.  It goes something like this. “It’s a pretty day.  We should go to the beach!”  We are the only ones on the beach because we are crazy enough to go—it’s winter here.  We don’t care, it’s GORGEOUS!

Haven sings “My Soul Sings” at a deeper octave than any man I know but boy-oh-boy is it cuuuuute.  My kids love to worship.  With no television and STILL NO INTERNET they have plenty of time to do just that.  On occasion I zone out and notice Haven (eyes closed like she’s almost in pain and arms raised) is “worshipping” to “22.”  Um, oops, mom fail.  Love ya Taylor but not sure how that song surfaces on my ipod ALL OF THE TIME!

Jason is busy following up with people who want to know more about Jesus and also trying to get us a car, buy us appliances, set up house & home, get our visa situation in order, etc. etc.  Things here just happen sooooo slowly.  It’s good for us though. 

Selah is beginning dance classes again on Monday and she is very excited to meet girls her age.  Please pray for my kids to make amazing friendships quickly.

Oh, and we are still on air mattresses…some of us.  Our shipment doesn’t arrive now until SEPTEMBER. 

Homeschool begins shortly.  Sweet Jesus, help us all!

If I haven’t texted, or Skyped or overall been super communicative with you I’m sorry…we aint got no internets.  We have the data on our phones but that is precious and I’m burning through it at RAPID rates.  Oops.  I miss Sonic happy hour, Chick-Fil-A and fast internet with limitless downloads and data usage.  Oh and friends.  And syrup.  OK, I miss a lot of things but WE ARE THRIVING HERE!  Come join us!  You won’t regret it.  University students come back next week and we will be busy bees again and we are STOKED. 

Miracle updates: 

People have been saved, healed, set free on the daily.  No JOKE!

Also, I got insanely sick and wanted to be hospitalized with an IV of pain meds flowing through my body STAT.  Instead, we prayed and I was healed.  Like INSTANTANEOUSLY.  I sent out a mass text to friends and family that I knew would pray like crazy and within minutes I was feeling healthier than I had in YEARS.  Y’all, I went HIKING the next day.  Also, in that text mentioned we needed thousands of dollars for unexpected expenses.  Within 48 hours THOUSANDS of dollars had been committed.  Blown. Away.  I love the global Body and I LOVE MY GOD!  He so sees you.  He notices you in your need.  He is GENEROUS beyond compare.

I love everyone!

Isn't she lovely?  

Happy 4th of July y'all!  

True is truly in his element on the beach!

The happiest baby on the planet HANDS DOWN!  Mercy Rose is almost 7 months old!

Just love her.

Selah is always up for the next adventure!


oh how I love thee!

I LOOOOOOOVE love.  Who doesn't?  So, naturally, I love Valentine's Day!  Earlier in the week we had some sweet friends over for cookie decorating.  It was loud, hyper, high-pitched & a cuteness overload.  Seriously loved it.  The results weren't too shabby either...helped myself to plenty!  Although it was slightly difficult to get the kids to actually decorate the cookies prior to stuffing their faces.

cookie decorating!

(unsuspecting little sister got decorated with a heart smiley face!)

Valentine's Day started off just right with a hearty breakfast of champions and a Jesus Loves You party!  We all wrote encouragements to one another and stuffed them into our special envelopes (that I've been saving all year--hooray for remembering them!).  The kids were super stoked about their googly-eyed Valentine's to hand out at their respective parties at school that afternoon.  They came home with a loot of encouragements and candies.  Topped the wonderful day off with a hot date with my man!  We ate an AMAZING dinner thanks to Glen & Kat Miller (Gordon Ramsey ain't got nothing on him!) and then a surprise candlelit, rose-petal "indoor" picnic surprise afterwards.  Jason is always full of surprises and this year he out-did himself!  I LOVE MY FAMILY!  I feel insanely blessed to be in this season with our littles, full of chaos and yet SO full of joy.

Party Central!

My Valentines!  Geez, I love them.

syrup. even got in on the action this year...so fun!  I would love to devour one of those about...now.



...drumroll please...

...more drumming...


Perfectly sweet.  She was born December 19th at 1:13pm weighing in at a whopping 6 pounds and 3 ounces.  Measuring 19.5 inches long.  We couldn't be happier.  Labor was awesome.  Seriously!

(Doesn't she look JUST like Selah!? We call her 2point0)

We were so lucky to get to have "G" there for the delivery this time.  She loves him already.

The other kids have adjusted amazingly and absolutely adore their baby sister.  At the end of December Mercy was hospitalized for RSV.  Awful experience but we are celebrating her recovery after contracting it a second time.  We are expert snot suckers these days and our tiny girl is a fighter!  Please pray for her continued health and improvement.

It's never too late to do a little introduction, right!?  It needed to happen.  4th child.


Dusting off the blog!

Dusting off the ol' blog with a much needed update:

Our family is truly on the ride of our lives.  An adventure like never before.  Changes often come with challenges and we've had our fair share of both over the past several months.  Exciting, exhilerating & exhausting and yet full of joy and promise.  I love these days.

In August...
  • went to Portland with two of my greatest friends to get trained by Stumptown Coffee Roasters
  • we said goodbye to our friends and beloved church in Norman, OK.  That was SAD! 
  • we left a home/house we love
  • our kids started new schools
  • officially became a soccer mom
  • we moved to a city we LOVE (Waco, TX!)
  • moved into a rental home sight unseen (never again!)
  • we reconnected with old friends

In September...
  • we opened a restaurant.  Insanity.  Yet, God.  It's called syrup. and it is a blast with some amazing breakfast yummies and the most amazing employees on the planet.  I'm not even exaggerating.  I dare you to search the globe for better employees.  Won't find 'em. At least you won't convince me.  
I miss this little oasis on Main Street, Norman, OK.  God initiated this little project with us years before.  Alllllll profits go to supporting humanitarian and missionary projects worldwide.  If you are in the area, please eat there.  But beware.  It's addictive.  With coffee that's similar to crack you'll want to go back over and over again.  However, I can't take credit for it.  I barely even cook dinner for my own family.  It's 100% God-initiated, family-supported and run by friends.  We are just bystanders in awe!

In October...
  • we celebrated our favorite five year old's birthday.
  • we became curiously ill (sick for WEEKS!)
  • Selah Strawberry Shortcake made the news while trick-or-treating.  She was CUTE!

In November...
  • we visited our favorite city in America, home-sweet-home Portland, OR & got to re-connect with friends and our old church!  Such a sweet time!
  • Ashley had an emergency hospital stay (due to curious illness)
  • we drove to visit grandparents and great-grandparents for Thanksgiving
  • True lost four teeth!
  • moved into a second rental home after finding out the curious, incessant sickness was actually a mold infestation in our first rental!

In December...
  • settled into rental home number two and was extremely thankful for a bit of calm & nesting time before sweet baby Mercy came!
  • Jason's mom remarried and all the cousins gathered.
  • watched two of our best friends get engaged!  
  • had a sweet baby shower with long-time friends
  • we had our fourth blessing!  Mercy Rose Kennedy was born on December 19th!
  • we celebrated our first Christmas as a little family unit
  • Jason started the bar exam prep course 6 days a week for the upcoming Texas State Bar Exam! (prrrrraaaaayyyyy!)
  • Five out of six of us all got the flu!
  • Mercy came down with RSV and had to be hospitalized. Sooooo sad.

In January...
  • said goodbye to my best friend!  Kami and I have been best friends since my freshman year in college.  Her and her family moved around the world on adventure with Jesus!  
  • we are FINALLY healthy after being sick for FOUR LONG MONTHS!
  • we are preparing for our THIRD move in Waco. 
  • we are adjusting to long, sleepless nights and being a family of six!
  • we are FULL OF JOY and expectation for what God has in store.  

In February...
  • Jason will be taking the bar exam
  • we will complete raising financial support
  • we will send off for our visas to LIVE in South Africa!  (dream come true!)
In March...
  • we will be saying goodbye to friends & family
In April...
  • we will be watching some of our best friends get married!
  • we will be moving to beautiful Capetown, South Africa! (more coming on that soon!)

Why did we move to Waco?
GREAT QUESTION!  Our missions agency is based here and we are working diligently on strategy, planning, team-building and raising financial support so we can launch our dream team this Spring!

Phew.  You made it to the end.  Way to go!