Return from Furlough, 2018

64EF0E2A-C513-4586-A2B6-0748C052A0A7It is so strange to be in America one day and two days later to be sitting under a banana tree in my yard in a remote village in Congo. The change in scenery while you are jet lagged makes it feel more like a dream. You sit in the little plane that came to pick you up while you fly over huts and tropical vegetation down below, before coming in for a landing on a grass strip. You taxi up to the hanger and there are all of the people you had to say goodbye to five months before, singing in Swahili and clapping; celebrating your return. You have mixed feelings about returning – leaving friends and family back in the states is hard and sad and you are grieving again while at the same time you are overjoyed to be back home and happy to see your friends and life partners here.

Imagine walking into team dynamics where you were missing for five months: you have no idea what they struggled with while you were gone, what they are still struggling with as you get back. You were checked out from their lives for five months, living a separate life, removed from the happenings and hardships. Imagine being gone from your home for five months, wondering how things are going and how well it’s being taken care of. Are your animals alive? You have both fear and excitement as you walk from the plane to your home, about to discover just how ‘bad’ or ‘good’ things went while you were away.

Well I’m happy to report that things went better for our place than expected while we were away and we are happy to be home. We are still jet lagged and Daniel is sick with a flu (he was up all last night throwing up and I was up with him) but we are happy to be home, settling back in. What does “settling back in” mean here? It means adjusting to a time zone that is 9 hours different than before. It means taking the multiple bags of things and opening them up, organizing the items (like new underwear, Tupperware, kitchen towels, food items, etc.) and putting them away. It means getting your house back up and running from putting rugs down to cleaning rooms that were locked up and dirty. It means working through the grief from leaving and the joy from coming back. It also means praising God for how well things went while you were gone for us.

 

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Spices, new food coloring and food items you can’t find here
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Unpacking usually takes a few days

Like how we came home to 8 Welsummer chickens still alive; more than enough to breed and make a start from, when I expected them to all be dead. This is an even bigger praise for me because we were too late in the season to hand carry more eggs back to hatch out some more. Such a huge praise and hopefully over the next couple of years we can replace our entire flock with them and use them in our community development program.

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Our 8 Welsummer chickens.

And how well some projects that we had done went while we were away. We added a door to the kitchen to add privacy options and the ability to close it for heat, noise, mess, etc. reasons. Another project which was a surprise to me was our master bath shower getting a rock wall. It’s exactly what I wanted done in the future and having it done while we were away was a huge and welcome surprise. It’s beautiful! A huge thanks to our friend and teammate Lary for having it done! I love it.

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The new Kitchen Door! Love it.
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Our new shower
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Such amazing rock work, I absolutely love it!

And how well our garden is doing. The plants are doing well and our workers did an excellent job of keeping the weeds down and planting new things for us. Our strawberries are flourishing, the raspberry is sending out shoots, our mulberries are HUGE and need moved, the roses are huge too and need moved out of the garden.

 

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Our garden is doing well
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The mulberries have gotten huge and overgrown!
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Roses are as tall as our house!

The other parts of the yard are doing great as well. My herb garden is doing great. Our palm trees have grown so much. Our other fruit trees are so much bigger as well it brings much satisfaction to look at their progress.

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Our palm trees are huge!
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All of my herbs, except for the chives, are doing well.

Our animals are doing wonderful. We have the American chickens like I said but our other animals are also doing great. Our African Grey Parrot is happy and singing, our dogs are doing well (though Emma has some sort of skin irritation that is going on), our kitties are still around (though I haven’t seen our large Tom yet), our chickens are alive and doing good, though they have stopped laying for some reason. We still have all of the eggs that they laid while we are gone to use to tide us over until we can get them laying again. We used an old fashioned preserving method called “water glassing” to preserve them and I’m happy to say it’s a success. Even the five month old eggs taste fresh.

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The flock. The price per chicken has gone up. Roosters are now $15!
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The flock free-ranging for the first time in five months
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One of our ducks died but the others are doing well
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Water-glassed eggs (pickling lime solution)

We have ‘hit the ground running’ as far as getting work and projects done around our place. It’s the second full day since being back and already Dave has installed our new bedroom lighting, new lighting in our pantry and has started on our new kitchen hood system. Most of our bags are unpacked but we still have a few to go and I need to organize and put away all the bathroom stuff. We are starting to do some trimming of trees and shrubs and roses, getting everything back under control. We are cooking and I’ll be getting back into gardening very soon. Are we crazy? Maybe, but it honestly does help stave off jet lag and reset you faster than falling asleep in a rocking chair in the middle of the day. Besides, we have missed our home and have been dreaming about being back so we could do these very things for five months.

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Our new bedroom lighting
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The lamps are dimable, adding ambiance
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The start to our new hood system

We were smarter this time and are taking a week of vacation before Dave dives back into work. It’s nice to have time as a family to relax before the stresses of the everyday take over. I am chomping at the bit to get started working on the new land but that is also going to take time. Looking over our fence at the plot, it is very over grown and the jungle is reclaiming it. The sooner we can get the fence up the sooner we can start developing it and getting things started. There are many things I’m looking forward to doing with this new land – moving plants, planting and acquiring animals.

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Things are so overgrown right
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I’m not sure if the farmers have given up on the crops here or not

So my living room is still a mess and things aren’t put away fully yet. We aren’t fully adjusted to this time zone yet (seriously falling asleep around 3-4pm each day) and there is a lot of work to be done around the place but we are happy and content to be home again. It will be nice to get back into our daily routine and back into life here after we actually are settled.

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Our dogs are happy to have us home
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Some small bananas are ripening
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This tree is overgrown
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Our blackberries are doing well and will be moved to the new property eventually
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Our pitanga cherries are growing

2 comments

  1. So sorry for the delay in sending this! It was so nice to see you all while on your furlough! 🙂 I loved reading your update following your return ‘home’ to the Congo. What an amazing thing God is doing through you and David – I thank you for your willingness and courage to go to the far corners and shine God’s light in amazing and unique ways. (Praise God!) I thank God for His faithfulness, protection, care, and wisdom provided to you both. May He continue to sustain you as you carry on with the work He has given. Big hugs from Spokane!!!

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