We Made It!

I may have failed at my commitment to blogging every week or so, but I am hoping for a little grace.  You see… we had a major event.  We moved to Africa last week.

In the weeks leading up to our departure, I cannot tell you how many times I thought about the content of my blog.  There were several noteworthy events that made great blogging material.  California was a success, my Dad came for a fun visit, we managed to get packed, and had a wonderful time with friends and family as we said our good byes.  Well… there was that ONE day…the one that wasn’t so good.

On THAT day we argued.  Someone at training really called it right; being a missionary is like putting Miracle Grow on your sins.  It was 2 days before our flight to Johannesburg, and Rob and I were in full bloom.  Our goal was to clean up the apartment where we were staying, run a couple of shopping errands, move our things to the Hyatt (where we would be spending our last 2 nights) and go to Castle Rock to share with a church.  OK… it was a full schedule, but Rob and I figured we could get it done, and anyway…what choice do we have, right?  We were leaving the country in 2 days.  It had to get done!

It became clear pretty quickly that our goals were lofty, or at least being thwarted!

Rob and I tried to divide and conquer the tasks, but it only amounted to major mis-communication.  Rob got stuck cleaning while I ran errands.  We were late getting out…which makes us late to everything else.  We agreed that I would pack the kids’ overnight bags for the hotel, but unfortunately did not agree on what would be in them (Rob thought overnight bag, I thought carry-on bag).  Too bad for us because that meant we were overnight at the hotel with no pajamas, swim suits or a change of clothes for the kids.  Because we were so late getting out, Rob went to pick up dinner for us while I dressed.  My last words-“anything but McDonald’s”.  Rob got turned around leaving the hotel and got into heavy traffic, so…no dinner.  We drove at top speed to Castle Rock for our 6pm appointment…at 6:15.  Naturally top speed was at the top of rush hour so it was way too slow for late missionaries on their way to share about their mission.  We arrived for our 6pm appointment just after 6:30 only to realize that we weren’t supposed to be there until 7pm.  We breathed a sigh of relief and went to grab a fast dinner.  The only option?  You guessed it- McDonalds.  Let’s just say it was a rough night.

It was rough.  We argued.  We stewed.  We blamed the other.  We barked at the kids.

I’m thankful I have a husband with a sense of humor (and if you know Rob, you know his humor).  In the end he made me laugh.  I love that about Rob.

I love that about Rob…

Getting everything to the airport was its own journey.

4 kids, 10 carry-ons, and 26 pieces of checked luggage (most of these were 22 gal. totes)

Everyone was in a sweat trying to keep up with the ticket agent, but we were all seriously relieved to have conquered the first hurdle with all that luggage.  Thanks British Air for the 3 bag allowance.  Thanks again for not charging us when most of the bags were over 23 kilos.

We had fun in London.  Sort of…  

It is hard to convince exhausted kids that touring London is fun, especially in the rain.  I admit, we didn’t do anything seriously touristy.  I find it remarkable that a family from the Northwest couldn’t tolerate the rain.  OK…downpour…but what’s a little rain?

Who can miss the red phone booth?  And Big Ben?

We braved the tube, which I believe you need special training and a certificate to successfully navigate, and we managed to ride a double-decker bus during rush hour.  All-in-all, I’m glad we did it, despite the less than ideal conditions. Now the fun part.  Africa!

We arrived in South Africa on Friday May 11 at about 9:30am.  It made me a little nervous when the customs agent who checks passports grilled me over Rachael’s passport.  I think she just wanted to be reassured that Rachael really belonged to me.  As soon as I told her that we adopted her from Zambia 5 years ago, she was good.  We forget that inter-racial adoption isn’t all that common in this part of the world.

The other part of customs…where you get your bags checked and declare your stuff…was remarkably easy, thanks to the help of our porters.  Without even asking us about the contents of our bags, they ushered us into the “Nothing to Declare” lane and out the door we went.  Thank you Lord.

What joy it was to find our dear friends the David and Martha on the other side!  One identifying marker to a great friendship is how you can just pick up right where you left off… and that we did!

Here is the entrance to the Derr home.

If you know the Derr Family at all, which many of you do… you’ll get a kick out of this… The “Upward” magnet on the back of a minivan is becoming the Derr trademark.

We arrived at their lovely home, ready for a rest and a shower.  The kids played, we settled in.  In the morning, we woke up to a beautiful view and a treat:


I took this picture from their back porch.



And this one.  Terrible, I know. 



It has been wonderful time of re-connecting….



3 thoughts on “We Made It!

  1. We are so thrilled for you guys! I’m sure you’re looking back on the past 12 months in awe of how God has provided and prepared. We can’t wait to join in six months! Please know we are praying for you!


  2. Oh, Jen, thank you for your blog. I have loved reading about your spiritual journey as you and your family physically journey to your next home. Your reunion with the Derr’s brought tears to my eyes! I am so happy that you are enjoying each other’s company. Hugs to all the Taylors and the Derrs, from the Barkers and Barnum.



  3. Wow! Wow! Wow! What else can I say? God is so awesome. I loved reading this and seeing your pictures, and knowing that He has you in His hands all the way, through mispacked bags and lofty schedules, quick tours of London in the rain, and all the way to the Derr house with a back porch view of Zebras!! That’s wonderful. I miss the Derrs too, and it’s good to “see” them.

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us!!!

    Please let Will know that our Writers’ Workshop Adventure class included him in our stories and thoughts all year long. We had many class progressive stories (everyone adds a sentence) where a character went to Swaziland and had adventures.


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