Monday, July 28, 2008

More Michigan

We got two more trips to the lake in before we left. On Saturday morning Jason spent time with Elnur while I reconnected with a fellow teacher from overseas. We talked for hours about everything and nothing as we walked on the pier. Then it was back to Holland for a night out with the Sopers.

As we drove to a large area of beach, we were impressed at how similar Lake Michigan's shore is to the ocean. Water stretches as far as the eye can see with waves crashing in and sand everywhere. It was great to look at pictures and talk about how different and hard life was a year ago when we all lived across the ocean in Central Asia but how stretching and good it was all at the same time.

We woke up to a pancake breakfast complete with a Mickey Mouse pancake for Emma then drove to Central Wesleyan Church. What a massive place!

After church we said our goodbyes and started out for the l-o-n-g trip home: 13 hours and 15 minutes! It went without saying that we would have done it again in a heartbeat for such a rich time with friends. Thanks Woodburys, Sopers, Elnur and Angie!

For more pictures from the trip, click here.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Reconnecting Up North

Lots of time over the last few days has been spent reminiscing about living in another country and what has happened with life since then. After living apart for a year, the visit has been a beneficial and refreshing time of catching up.

We are staying with Jed and Beth, their daughter Emma and new baby Sophia. They have a great house in the suburbs of Holland. Not long after we were here, we were already playing in the backyard jungle, swinging and loving every minute of baby drool we got from holding Sophia. But poor Jed! Just back from the doctor, we found out he has torn some major ligaments in his knee and will have surgery next week!

After some supper and talking into the night, we slept and met up with our forever friend Elnur. He has blessed our lives so much with his friendship. We found out he had not yet been to Lake Michigan so we drove down after our day together and waded in the chilly water as the sun set.

And those were our terrific first two days of reconnecting in Michigan...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Leaving Tomorrow

Tomorrow we leave for Michigan! We are so excited to see our friends who worked with us overseas: Jed, Beth, Emma, baby Soper and Elnur. Elnur just arrived in Michigan and was one of our closest friends during our year abroad.

We still have some packing and a list of things to complete before we pull out tomorrow but wanted to leave a few pictures from the past week.

For now, we're Michigan bound!

Monday, July 14, 2008

2 Brothers - 4 Days - 2,027 Miles

Jason's brother Travis has a girlfriend. Her name is Ashley. She lives in Upstate New York. So with the lull of summer, Jason and Travis decided to go check out Lisbon, NY.

It didn't even take three hours before we took a slight "detour." I, Jason, had just filled the gas tank and switched to the passenger seat to let Travis have a go at driving for a while. As I put my seat back I almost said, "Don't drive a sixth of the way across the country in the wrong direct," (a line referring to Lloyd's mishap in Dumb and Dumber) but refrained. Thirty minutes later, however, I was awakened by a sharp U-turn. I thought to myself, "We can't be on the interstate and if we're not on the interstate, we must be lost." I'll just say we missed our turn by about eight miles which led to the end of the interstate we were on which led to five more miles of wandering around which led to 20 more back to the interstate. Magellans are wonderful!

After passing through six states and driving for a few hours in rural New York the reality of just how far we'd come hit. The road sign said: "Canada - 15 miles". We chuckled to ourselves and thought, "Geez, CANADA is closer than her house!" After 16 hours of driving we arrived with blood-shot eyes. We were met with cool temps in the 50's! Both days there the lows were cool enough for a jacket and the highest didn't even reach 75! They don't even have A/C in their house because it rarely gets warm enough to need it!

Ashley's backyard runs directly into the St. Lawerence river, which is the divider between the U.S. and Canada. If you have a good arm, you could throw a rock from her back porch into the water! It was beautiful and green; such a contrast to the dry and hot conditions of the South.

Ashley's brother is my type of guy. He has a motorcycle, ATV, and snow mobile! So I ended up borrowing his dad's motorcycle and going for a ride with her brother, riding the ATV, playing a few video games and spending quite a bit of time with Ashley's brother and father. I wanted to give Ashley and Travis time together. There were several times it was just me and her father hanging out or me and her brother. It could have been weird, but they were cool and it wasn't awkward at all. Ok, maybe it was a little.

We went over to Canada one afternoon and had dinner. We actually had more trouble getting in to Canada than returning to the U.S.! At the border going over, the Canadian officer asked what we were doing and how long we planned on staying. Ashley's dad told him. Then he asked who we were. Her dad said, "These are two guys from South Carolina up for a visit" to which the officer asked, "Do you have signed papers from their parents allowing them to come with you to Canada?" I thought, "The last time my mom had to sign permission was for a field trip to the zoo in 5th grade!" Though we could have answered sarcastically, her dad simply said we were over 18. So we proceeded to have some Chinese for supper in Canada. I thought it was weird to eat Chinese there but supposedly they are known for good Chinese food.

One other highlight was a boat trip on the St. Lawerence. Ashley's dad has a little motorboat that we took out for a few hours. We saw a great sunset and some amazing homes on the river.

So after two full days, we made the 1,000 mile trip home on Saturday with no glitches. One final note: I believe I had the most unhealthy sequence of meals of my life on our drive home. I usually try to be somewhat healthy but completely obliterated any thought of that on Saturday.

The menu was as follows:

Breakfast: Cheeseburger and french fries

Lunch: Chick-fil-a sandwich and extra large french fries

Supper: Chick-fil-a sandwich and french fries

Now, two days later, I still feel disqusting from all that grease and will probably have quite a break before I have another order of fries!

- Jason

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

C for Car

After a wonderful Independence celebration complete with fresh blueberry cobbler, we started our week by conquering fears: Kelley singing solo at Central First Wesleyan. We think God was glorified. At least that was our hearts' intent amidst the nervous vocal chords and Jason's steady strumming.

Then began C week in the nannying world. C for cats, for crayons, for colors, for cookies (yum), and C for cars! And we indeed have made a step from SUV to car with a 2003 Subaru Forester. Or is it an SUV? Jason insists it is!

The first real challenge for the SUV/car was two car seats and a picnic in the park. Who knew driving to the park with a three and one-year-old could be so traumatic? It was, but the fun began when we finally arrived at Barrett's Place in Pendleton. Wow!

Since the Forester had its share of challenges, Jason decided to take our other vehicle on his longest road trip yet. This morning he pulled out at 5:30 a.m. with younger brother, Travis, to visit New York, Ashley McGrath (Travis's special friend), Tim Bowyer (hopefully), and Canada! After 19 hours of driving they reached their destination and will enjoy this northern state through Saturday then return with lots of pictures!

Finally, C has been for challenge. We recently heard a quote on a Family Life radio broadcast which we will leave you with for this week. Hope everyone is having a good one!

"God's financial blessings are not intended to increase our standard of living but to increase our standard of giving."

Saturday, July 5, 2008

In Progress

We are in the process of updating and changing our blog over the next few days. Keep checking back for new posts and a new look!