Saturday, December 23, 2006


OK, so it didn't snow. Bummer! In fact, it's still pretty warm and cozy over here. Not balmy, but comfortable. As in, I rarely wear my coat and gloves.

I saw The Nativity with friends last night. Strangely, I wasn't too excited to go and see it, having read some not-so-good reviews about the movie. However, it was a wonderful movie! I was disappointed that Mary was played with so little feeling, but other than that, I cannot wait to get this movie on DVD and show it to the kids in Kenya! I know they may have questions about the birth scenes, but hey, it might just open the door for their parents to sit down and have a chat about the facts of life. :)

So it's two days till Christmas, and I'm blessed to be with friends to celebrate. I wish I could be in South Africa, with the rest of the family at my parents' home. They've been going to the beach and spending fun times with the grandkids. Some other year I'll be there again for Christmas. God willing.

Danette and I are off to go and buy a few things so we can have friends over for dinner on Christmas Eve. What a blessing to be close to good friends, to be able to go and see movies, hang out, laugh and simply relax.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Things I simply love about being in the US

Today, I'm in Des Moines. It's about a two-hour drive from Cedar Rapids, and the only place in Iowa with an Apple store. I needed some help with my computer, so after 3 meetings with supporters, I headed west on I-80.

As I was driving, I had to smile at the things I was appreciating:
  • having a variety of great radio stations from which to choose
  • driving for two hours without having to ditch a single pothole or slow down for a single speed bump
  • drinking my favorite "food drink," Naked Juice!
  • listening to the weather forecast for the next few days: possible snow
  • paying just $2.27 for a gallon of gas, as opposed to paying $4.65 a gallon in Kenya!
  • seeing people driving to see their families, cars packed with gifts
  • having a vehicle to use thanks to a family at my church...
  • being able to use the Internet to make an appointment at the Genius Bar at the Apple store, and know that when I walk into the store, the guys will be able to answer every question on my list!
Things I'm still trying to get used to:
  • the abundance of life in the US
  • not seeing a lot of African people around me...
I had dinner with a person who wanted to know more about what we do in Kenya. I really do enjoy telling the stories of the things I had seen God do this past year. I especially love telling people about the work in Sudan.

Tomorrow, I need to head back to the Apple store to see again if we can figure out my outgoing mail configuration. Yes, yes, I know I had said earlier I loved knowing that they'd be able to solve all the issues on my list, but I ran out of time, so I chose to go back tomorrow morning. I'm staying in Des Moines this evening.

For now, I'm going to turn off my computer and read The Heavenly Man, the true story of a Chinese Christian.

It's one of at least six books I'm currently reading, yet another caveat of being in the US: having ready access to great books!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


I've been sharing at various church services and ABFs (Adult Bible Fellowships/Sunday school for grown-ups) recently, telling people about what God is doing in East Africa. It's been refreshing to step away and tell people about what's going on, yet also draining in a way. But tell, I'll tell. I'll boast in the Lord, because the good he has done cannot be left untold.

Right now, though, I'm heading to a place where I won't be doing much talking... the dentist's office. Hopefully, there's no work for him to do. Hopefully, I'll just get my teeth cleaned.

Then I'm off to Ely to meet someone from church, after which I'll see if I can get some work e-mails answered.

Tomorrow morning, I'll be heading to Kansas City for a 4-day retreat at the International House of Prayer. IHOP. Not the pancake place. I am looking forward to spending time away from the busy-ness of life in the US and simply focusing on God.

How's my support raising going? Thanks for asking. :) Slowly. Very slowly. I don't like asking for support. I have to remember that I'm inviting people to partnership, inviting them to be involved in what God is doing in Africa. But it's still not easy to ask. It's probably the part of being a missionary that I like the least.

On a different note: I just read another article on Blood Diamond, posted on World Vision's Web site. For my friends who are feeling like they have to hide their diamond rings now, don't worry... "Boycotting diamonds isn't the answer," World Vision says. The diamond mines in South Africa and surroundings provide a livelihood to thousands of people. Read the article to know what you're supposed to do then...

Off to the dentist. Open wide!

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Sometimes--if not always--it's easier not knowing the truth. It's easier going through life ignoring the truth and fooling oneself that everything's just wonderful.

One of many things that has caused me to travel down this road of seeking to know the truth, is seeing Blood Diamond today. It is an excellent movie (even though Leonardo DiCaprio's South African accent isn't consistent throughout the movie... But most non-South Africans will most likely not pick that up or be bothered by the inconsistencies.)

The movie made me feel very much like when I first saw Cry Freedom as an exchange student in New York... It saddened me immensely at that time that the bad guys in the movie spoke lines that possibly no-one but I understood as they were in Afrikaans, my mother tongue. Similarly, I do hope that the old man's line in the movie about oil (see the movie, you'll understand) would sadden Americans.

What does one do with knowledge such as that gained from a movie like Blood Diamond? I can certainly hope that it would affect consumers' behavior when it comes to purchasing the ring of their dreams. And beyond that, I don only hope that people will seek to learn more about child soldiers in other countries such as Uganda.

"If we refuse to embrace the truth," a friend recently said, "we are rejecting Jesus. He said, 'I am the way and the truth and the life.'" (John 14:6)

How can we know the truth and refuse the embrace it, yet say we believe in Jesus? Granted, Jesus wasn't talking about how one South African company controlled the diamond supply of the world and financing wars in order to keep the supply down. But I truly believe that His words do pertain to our social responsibilities, how we shop, what we speak out about.

As for me? Someday, if a man would decide to present me with a ring, I'd not want there to be a diamond in the setting.

I'll get off my soap box now.

Tomorrow is Sunday. I'll be doing a 5-minute presentation in all four church services. How does one summarize a year's experience in 5 minutes? I can but pray that God would speak through me and touch lives with the knowledge of what He is doing in Africa.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It's snowing outside. Just light snow, but snow, nevertheless. Perhaps when I get up in the morning, it will be all white outside. Soon, I'd have to find my snow boots, somewhere between my stuff somewhere in Danette's house.

Further to yesterday's remodeling post, the house is starting to look like a normal home, bit by bit. Perhaps we'd even be able to get a Christmas tree up this weekend. Perhaps I'd even be able to move into my room again and know where everything is.

I'm blessed to be able to help Danette during this time. I wouldn't want to be doing this job of moving and cleaning on my own! Plus it gives me something totally different to set my mind on... I've been meeting with a fair share of people and avoiding doing regular ELI work for the time being. Soon I'd have to get to it, though.

For now, I'll just appreciate the snow and the fact that I can go to cozy coffee shops and beautiful homes to visit with people about what God is going in Africa and in my life.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Joy of Remodeling

I'm at my friend Danette's house, and she's having some remodeling done. First, her hardwood floors were being redone, so before vacation we moved everything into 3 rooms. Once we got back last Tuesday, we could move SOME of the stuff back into their place, but not yet the living room furniture, because the floor guys had only done half of the living room floor (due to her baby grand piano having to be moved, and they didn't want to move it too soon onto the new floor.)

So, today they finally finished the last phase of getting the living room done. In two days' time, we can clean the walls and move back all the living room furniture to its rightful place. At that time, we can also move back all the spare bedroom furniture (and all my stuff that I'm storing at her house) from her room into the upstairs bedroom.

In the meantime, though everything was in place in my room (downstairs, on the main floor), I've since had to move stuff to the office and temporarily move into the basement because for the past two days people have been around putting in half a bathroom (toilet and sink) on the main floor. That means that they broke a wall into my room and into the kitchen. That meant lots and lots more dust!

Today, the plumber is working on putting in the toilet and sink. (More dust from having to drill through to the basement for the pipes.) Tomorrow, the builder will be coming to finish the dry wall. This means that my room is still a bit bare (except for the layer of dust on everything due to the wall being torn out). Once the plumber is done today, I think it would be safe to clean my room and move things back. Putting in the dry wall tomorrow shouldn't cause much dust in my room, I believe...

Next week sometime, we'd have to move all the office furniture to the living room (or to my room) so that the office floor can be done, and also the stairs to the upstairs bedrooms. But then it's all done. We're planning on having a New Year's party here, having good friends over to bring in 2007. It's only 3 weeks till then, eh??

But for now, what I'm looking forward to most today is
1. Getting a car (someone from church is lending me a vehicle, which I'm picking up this afternoon)
2. Getting together with friends for dinner at Panera's
3. SEEING THE LADIES AT TUESDAY NIGHT GROUP! I've really missed our Tuesday-night Bible study ladies. It'll be great to see everyone again!

Monday, December 04, 2006

"Your business is important to us"

I love American customer service. I love that you can usually return or exchange goods with no qualm. I love that you can sometimes call someplace and talk to a person... I had to call Qwest this morning to get a simple answer: What is their outgoing mail server setting? After holding for 20 minutes, hearing how important my business is to them, a person comes on asking me the same questions over and over, intermittently asking me to hold so he can verify something. Then he comes back saying they don't support Apple computers.

"Umm. This isn't a Macintosh problem. I simply need the outgoing mail server settings."

"Ma'am... I mean, Adele, you need to call Apple Support."

"No, that's not true. They will tell me to call my Internet Service Provider. Please just give me the information you'd give an Outlook user."

"Oh, you can call Microsoft Support."

"No, this is not a Microsoft problem. I simply need you to give me the smtp server information."

In the meantime, I get cut off, and despite the agent asking if he can call me back on this number should we get cut off, he doesn't call back. I call Qwest a second time, running through the whole story again. This time, the agent simply tells me, "MSN doesn't support pop3 e-mail... Contact your company to get their smtp server address."

ARGH! Oh, I love good customer service... At least I can access my e-mail the roundabout way, through webmail, but it's slower than doing it directly in Mac Mail. Oh, well.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Written when I flew through London en route to the US

London, Monday morning.

Sitting on the Heathrow Express, I cannot help but smile. I feel like a fish out of water, yet it feels like I’m in Hong Kong. It feels familiar. Comfortable.

“At Paddington, catch the yellow line to South Kensington,” my friend had written. The Subway map shows familiar names: Piccadilly Circus. Wimbledon.

At S. Ken, the subway walkway she had suggested me to take is closed, so I walk out on the street, trying to find my bearings. It can’t be too tough, I think. Except roads seem to be winding in this city. But every street corner is clearly marked, and it takes me but seconds to figure out where I am and where I need to be going.

An old London taxi and a red, double-decker bus round the corner simultaneously. I smile. I’m in London.

The Victoria and Albert Museum towers majestically against the blue sky. Somehow, all the buildings on this street looks like they’ve just had a fresh coat of paint....

Heading eastward on Brompton, I walk past several high-end kitchen and bathroom stores. One sink is several times my neighbor’s annual salary. I keep wondering what it would be like walking along these roads with some of our kids, if someday, perhaps, Hillary or Alex will walk around London, if Josh will run a race in this city, if Scopia will come to London for work...

I pass book stores, wishing they were already open so I can spend time paging through beautiful books. Instead, I keep walking. Slowly. Decisively. I’m meeting a friend for breakfast today, something I’ve missed doing far too many weekends this year.

Sitting in a trendy London patisserie, enjoying the best latte I’ve had in months, I watch traffic going by. Red busses. Proper British gentlemen. Ladies in hats. Waiters in crisp black and white uniforms. Stern people with funny accents. Not that the Brits sound funny to me.

I listen to worship music on my iPod. “Hallelujah to the King!” The King. My travel companion. My life companion.

F-f-f-freezing cold

Tonight, the bustling city of Cedar Rapids had its annual Christmas Tree lighting. For the occasion, the Cedar Rapids Concert Chorale sang Christmas music. I went because Danette was singing, but when we got there, they asked if I'd sing, too. So there we were, huddled around a humungous tree. It was about 15 degrees (that's -9C!) but we're next to the river and the wind was blowing. I am certain that wind chill was at least what it was yesterday evening: 1 degree (that's -17C!!) Ouch, yes! By the time we were done (we only sang two carols and then "Oh Christmas Tree...") my cheeks were literally numb from the cold! (There were more choir members than townspeople.)

Tonight, we're supposed to have snow. I'm not planning on going anywhere tomorrow, other than to a friend's house for dinner. I'll take pictures if we actually do get snow.