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!