Thursday, August 28, 2008

family ties

as most of you already know, my uncle passed away on monday night while in the palliative care unit of baptist east hospital. thankful, sunday night, after everyone else had left the hospital for the night, ryan and i got a whim to go back up there and spend some more time with him. he was very peaceful and seemed to be getting some quality rest after a busy day of visitors coming in and out. we just sat quietly with him and held his hands until about 11:30. we both knew that he was going to pass away sooner or later, but i guess we just didn't guess that it would be so soon. my aunt susan, cousin amber and grandparents were there with him when he left for heaven, so i was glad to know that he wasn't alone. we had a service for uncle chuck last night in crestwood, where he's lived for as long as i can remember, and it was nice to see everyone who came out and said goodbye. uncle chuck had no kids of his own so in some ways, he was like a second dad to me. we spent a lot of time together when i was younger and it makes me wish we had more time to spend together now.

it has been a really tough week for my family, but it makes me appreciate how tightly knit we are. situations like these also solidify in my mind that come hell or high water, my family will see me through anything.

Monday, August 25, 2008

choas strikes

so by now i hope that you've figured out that i've made it home safely! unfortunately, since i arrived on friday, i honestly haven't had a moment to even think about updating... our travels home went smoothly and all the flights were pretty pleasant. i was even able to sleep a great deal of the time during our 15 hour flight thanks to jody's advil p.m. :)

when i arrived home, i was pleasantly surprised to see ryan waiting for me at the airport. i was expecting him to be working but he was able to convince his boss to let him leave to pick me up. sadly enough, that was really where the pleasantries ended! from the airport, we went straight to the hospital to see my uncle chuck (my dad's brother), who has been losing a fierce battle to lung cancer for the last 9 months. after talking to my family via skype from afghanistan, i knew that he was in the hospital but i really had no idea the extent of his stay. once i arrived at the hospital, my parents and ryan sat me down and discussed his prognosis and what to expect. needless to say, it wasn't good. he hasn't really been conscious or even opened his eyes in nearly 6 days now. since he has a living will that says he does not want life support, we are basically just waiting out the inevitable at this point. it is a really hard time for my family, who have come from all over the south to be together, but we know where he is going is much better than here!! it seems like this has really hit us all hard but especially my dad and papaw. please pray for them to have peace with the decisions they are having to make and for my papaw's alzheimer's to calm down so he can fully understand the reality of the situation.

in other family sister and her husband jason are getting a new addition today!!! they are taking at least temporary (but hopefully some day full) custody of jason's cousin's baby, little samuel. unfortunately, jason's cousin cannot take care of the precious boy right now and so they are opening up their home and family to him. born last week, at a little over 5 lbs., he is adorable!!! he's been in the NICU at UK hospital undergoing de-tox and treatment but the doctors believe he is now healthy enough to come home. i know this is going to be an emotional rollercoaster for my family, especially because we all love kids so much, but its good to know that God has truly orchestrated for little samuel to be with us right now. we will cherish him and love him for as long as we can!! there is a custody hearing on september 3rd but we have no reason to believe that he will be turned over to his birth mother at that time. if you could pray for protection for samuel and his best interest, as well as clear minds for my family, i would really appreciate it.

well enough drama for one entry! here are some of my favorite pics from the trip, enjoy!!

(water pouring from the deep well we dug in B.A. Community)

(my sweet new friends...the older girl even gave me a kiss on the cheek when i left)

(more kids from B.A. & their new school in the background!!)

(view from the clinic in I. Community)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

bags are packed :(

well, i guess it's already time for this trip to come to an end! it seems much shorter than what i was thinking... my bags are all packed up and i guess i have no choice but to head home. saying that i have really enjoyed my time here is an understatement. i have loved everything about this experience and would gladly come back!

there are so many images that i will store in my mind from this beautiful country forever. i especially loved finally getting to see I. Community yesterday. the views from the village are breathtaking and it was so encouraging to see how successful we have been with our clinic and our CDE (community development education) program there. i got to travel there with one of our CDE trainers and a doctor, both who are afghan ladies on our staff, and i enjoyed their company and getting to know them better. i was actually surprised when the doctor began asking me questions about prayer and "my book" (aka - the Bible). i got to share a little bit with her about my beliefs in a non-threatening way, and i know that was definitely a God appointment. please be praying for her and that God would use some of the things we discussed to make her more curious about Him!!!

this morning, we woke for our last breakfast in the guesthouse and it kinda made me sad. this place is almost surreal in many ways so i'm not sure i'm ready to return to reality yet...or take the 15 hour flight back from dubai to atlanta :( i didn't take nearly as many pictures as i would have liked to but i hope to post some when i get home. i'm not sure if i'll have internet this time around in dubai but we will see! please pray that our flight goes well and that we all make it safely to our destinations...



hi there,

sorry i've haven't been updating every day as planned! i must confess that over the last 3 days, i've found myself with my nose stuck in a book at every free moment possible. on the way over to afghanistan, i was bound and determined to finish the last 50 pages or so of Three Cups of Tea, which i did on the flight to atlanta. after finishing that, i thought for sure that i would pick up A Thousand Splendid Suns, which Joyce (my mother-in-law) gave me to read on the long flight over but i didn't find the motivation...that is, until 2 days ago. i started reading it on sunday, and on monday night, i stayed up until it was finished!!! i loved it and would definitely recommend it :) it was so funny how much more of the culture i understood after having been to afghanistan than i did when i read The Kite Runner. i also didn't realize how much i have really missed reading. i guess i was a little burnt out after college so i took a little hiatus, but it's all over now!..anyways, enough about my nerdish habits and on to my trip:

so, i have been keeping busy during the days around here too (when not reading). on monday, because of the national holiday - afghanistan's independence from the british in 1919 - we were sequestered to the guesthouse for most of the day. since we were staying in, we figured that it would be the perfect time for our staff planning meeting with the american and afghan staff. we met from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and then again from 2:00 to 4:30 which made for a long day. Things did however seem to move along quickly and were very productive. i think everyone was pleased with the outcome and the meeting reminded me of what an amazing organization that i am blessed to be a part of!! it's so awesome to see how God has truly pulled 2 completely different cultures and countries together, yet we're united with a mostly common purpose :)

yesterday, i went with the polish team and bob to S.D. community. we were able to see the clinics that we run in 2 different villages. the staffs at the clinics were very professional and seemed passionate about their work. there were many women in burqas holding sick babies waiting in the lobbies to be seen and i was glad to see that they actually had somewhere to go. it was encouraging to see what B.A. community has to look forward to when we are able to complete the clinic there this fall (hopefully)! we also went into one of the schools and were able to observe and introduce ourselves to some of the classes. knowing what the taliban did to discredit the education of girls in afghanistan, i was soooo happy to see the girls in the classrooms being attentive and hungry to learn. i never thought i would value my education as much as i do now knowing what a gift it really is...

last night we were supposed to have some guests from the ISAF (international security assistance force) over for dinner. unfortunately, on their way to our guesthouse, they realized that we are not in the "green zone" (aka - where it's safe for them to travel) so they had to turn back and return to the base. while it was a little disheartening that they couldn't join us for dinner, it was even a little more disheartening to realize that we must be in the "red zone"!! oh well, i still slept good last night :)

anyways, i think that's all i can write for now! i'm sleepy and my new book (finding faith by denise hunter - which i found in our guesthouse library) is calling my name. i'll try to update later tonight if i don't get drawn into another serious match of phase 10!

love y'all~

Sunday, August 17, 2008

long overdue

sorry, i meant to update again yesterday before bed with the happenings but wasn't really feeling like being tied to the computer last night. i apologize in advanced for the length of this entry!!!

well, i was supposed to go to I. Community yesterday but didn't end up getting to go because there were no other females on the staff available to escort me. according to islam/afghan culture, it would not have been proper for 1 woman to travel alone with a group of men. needless to say, i was pretty bummed that i missed out because i was excited but it was a good opportunity for me to see the B.A. Community Committee Training instead. it is truly amazing to see how the elders of the community want so badly to help themselves and their village. they were so involved and interacted well with jody and our other trainers. they thought of ideas, like chicken farming, and such, that our western minds hadn't even considered for them. everyone has gotten the impression that they really understand that we aren't just here for relief work, but want to help them help themselves develop the community into what they want it to be so that one day we can back out. i love that this trip is really pulling together so many pieces for me about our work and it is so encouraging to see what we talk so much about playing out in real life!!

after the Committee Training (and an afternoon nap, of course), we went to the most amazing restaraunt - Lai Tai. i had the best tai food that i've ever had! it was fun to get out and really see the city because until then, i was mostly sequestered to the guesthouse. when i spoke with ryan on skype, he asked me if i felt safe here or if i had been scared at all. my answer was that i feel completely safe here, UNTIL...i get in the car! the driving here is the craziest, i repeat, craziest thing that i've ever seen! they don't drive on any specific side of the road and honk at each other constantly. it's really funny to watch but i find myself constantly pressing on my invisible break :) after dinner, we came back to the guesthouse and caught up on a little bit of the olympics. i really enjoyed watching them before i left so this was a treat!

however, today was by far my favorite day of the trip yet! after breakfast, we loaded up in the suvs and head out to B.A.!!! i have been imagining visiting this place in my mind and what it would really look like for so long. i have heard stories, seen pictures and prayed for this community many times. the ride out there was fun as we had all our staff team in one car so we could pray, chat and catch up about the specifics of the projects. because tomorrow is a national holiday, security was very tight on our drive out. B.A. is about an hour or so drive from kabul so we were stopped many times by the newly trained afghan police forces, which was actually nice to see. after getting around many traffic jams,wrong turns, and road blocks, we finally drove up on the desert community. i was impressed by the size of the community - around 2,000 acres of land, which was much bigger than i had in my mind. we first met with the MORR (Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation) and UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) about the water system that we have begun to put in place.

(new B.A. clinic - under construction)

**quick sidebar -- B.A. Community is the community that we are working with that consists of around 3000 refugees. these people were relocated by the afghan government to a plot of land in the desert with absolutely no resources - including water, food or jobs. our organization has been working with them for several years trying to provide relief with an eye towards full development. we have dug a deep well that will eventually provide water to all the community, and are in the process of finishing the first official school and clinic for the community.**

ok, now where was i...after visiting the well and the future resevoir, we got to go into the community and interact with some of the people, including the children (which is my favorite part of course!!). the kids were so cute but very mischevious. they wanted picture after picture taken of themselves and were hungry for any attention anyone would give them. some of the children followed us everywhere we went - the well, the resevoir, the clinic and the school, even though we drove from place to place. the boys played very roughly with each other, wrestling on piles on gravel and such, just to gain a second look from us. at one point, we were in front of the clinic and heard lots of splashing. we walked towards the back of the building only to see several of the boys belly flopping into the pool of water used for the construction of the clinic. it was quite a sight to see the boys swimming in the middle of the desert, in a place where they could absolutely not have survived without the precious gift of water.

we wrapped up the afternoon and headed back to the guesthouse for lunch and another nap! after hanging around the house and dinner, we got the opportunity to go to Camp Eggers, the Coalition Forces base here in kabul for their sunday evening worship service. it was nice to walk onto the base, show my U.S. passport and shed my chadar (head covering) for a few hours. the preacher shared a great message on evangelism and it seemed like many of the troops were encouraged by the message and the worship time. after the service, we went to the "green bean" which is a coffee shop on the base for a little bit of fellowship. as we left, our escort told us that everyone on the base is on particularly high alert tonight and was instructed to have their armored gear with them throughout the night. tomorrow is one of the afghan independence days so they are preparing for any efforts by the enemy to rain on the parade of the afghan people by conducting attacks. because of the security risks while traveling around the city, tomorrow we will stay at the guesthouse all day for our safety.

please be in prayer that our armed forces and the afghan police would be safe throughout tonight and tomorrow. please pray that the efforts of the enemy would fail and that the afghans will be able to enjoy their holiday in peace. also, please pray that by the whole team spending the day at the guesthouse tomorrow that we will be able to minister to our afghan staff and encourage them in some way.

well, it's nearly 10:30 p.m. here now, so i'm off to bed. good night and thanks always for your prayers!

Friday, August 15, 2008

good morning, sunshine!

good morning!

i made it through my first night in kabul and was actually able to get some sleep. i woke up around 5:00 a.m. - afghanistan time this morning and just laid in bed and enjoyed the fan blowing on me. we don't have electricity at night so it was super hot but i was very glad when it clicked back on this morning. anyways, i'm off to I. community today with the polish guys. bob and jody are going to stay here for the last day of B.A. community Committee Training, while i get to enjoy the sights :)

i'll post some more details later when i get back.

safe and sound

hey y'all!

i'm in kabul FINALLY and glad to be here!!! i didn't sleep real well last night because of the jet lag/time change so i ended up being up long before my morning wake up call at 3:30 a.m. - dubai time. having a room and a nice bed all to myself last night was such a blessing after being crammed with strangers for so long on the plane to dubai.

this morning, i met bob and 6 men from the polish team in order to prepare for our long trek to kabul. we transferred by bus to terminal 2 of the airport and got on our flight to kabul. the flight was packed, but surprisingly, mostly with american men doing contract work in kabul. we made it without a hitch! i even had my first cultural experience of the gender roles in afghanistan when i got instructed to go to the "business class" line of passport control because i was a woman, leaving my fellow male travelers to wait in the other long lines :) all in all, it was a very good trip and i'm thankful that we all made it.

the mountains here are breathtaking and i am really looking forward to getting out and about more in the next few days so i can see all the sights! today is friday, which is the muslim equivalent to the sabbath so we do not have much planned, except to hang around the house and catch up on rest. we left the airport and came straight to the guesthouse. it is very pleasant and homey feeling already and our staff is everything that i've heard from other people...very welcoming and great hosts, and i feel very safe at the guesthouse. we had lunch at the guesthouse and then spent some time talking about what we'll be doing over the next week. we will probably not be out in the actual city of kabul too much because of some ongoing security threats but i am really looking forward to visiting all the communities that we work in and getting to see them with my own eyes!

please be praying that our team can minister and bless our afghan staff while we are here. they've worked so hard making preparations for us and we really want to show them Christ's love in our actions and attitudes.

well folks, that all i've got for now. i hope to update tomorrow after a visit to our I. Community.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

dubai at last!!

well folks, i've successfully made through the first part of my journey! i arrived in dubai about an hour ago and am ready for bed! it's a little after 1:00 p.m. at home, but here it's after 10:00 p.m. i've got to get up to catch my 7:30 a.m. flight to kabul in the morning in about 5.5 hours so this is going to be short. i just want you all to know that i've made it and am all in one piece as far as i can tell! anyways, for your amusement, here are a couple of highlights from my journey so far...

-i cried like a baby in the louisville airport saying goodbye to ryan, to the point where the man in the security line behind me asked if i was going off to the military...thankfully i told him "no, i'm just an emotional basket-case"
-mad props to my bladder!! only had to make 4 bathroom breaks during the whole 14 hour flight, and that's really good for me :)
-man snoring so loudly that people were request ear plugs sat just 2 seats away to my right so sleep was difficult
-successfully achieved level 10 on the bejeweled game on the plane's entertainment system - an all time high for me that i'm very proud of!
-got a little turned around in the dubai airport alone but finally made my way to the hotel after a little culture shock from all the different cultures/dress/etc.
-thank goodness for mcdonald's! had a little cheeseburger action once i arrived in dubai
-my hotel room is sweet, and even has a LG LCD tv...i'm guessing a 32", Ryan :)
-i was pumped to find that i could pick-up free wireless, i thought i wasn't gonna have it until kabul
-and now, bedtime!!

good night ladies and gentleman. hope things are going well at home and i'll update you when i can. please pray for safety as i take my first step on Afghan soil tomorrow...

much love~

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

anxious are we??

so at church on sunday ( our teaching was about being anxious and the different types of anxiety...1- the kind that can be beneficial for getting off your butt and doing what you're supposed to do; 2- the kind that can cripple you and cause you to take your eye off of God's Will for your life. anyone who knows me very well, knows that both types have played large roles in my life! i can remember being excessively fearful and anxious even when i was a child. i was never the daredevil type, even to the point where i never rode my bike without holding onto at least one handlebar. some of my friends have nicknamed me "safety-mom" as i can frequently be quoted as saying, "that's not safe!!" well all this to say, that leaving for afghanistan tomorrow is something that i never thought that i, being the "safety-mom" and all, would ever do...(and ryan either!!)

while a trip to afghanistan is far more dangerous than a hands-free bike ride, i can truly say that God has given me a peace and assured me that He has called me to go. the doors that opened to lead me down this path are too obviously the work of God's hand for me not to trust Him, even if my gut sometimes tells me otherwise.

anyways, i got to spend some quality time with my family sunday night at my parents' and then at the herde's last night, so now all i have left to do is finish up some final packing. i cannot wait to finally experience for myself all the smells, sights and sounds that i've heard and read so much about in the "land of diesel"!!

please be praying that i will have a safe and uneventful trip, especially as i will be traveling alone to dubai. i am not too excited about the 15 hour plane ride but hopefully delta will offer a nice variety of movies that i haven't already seen :) pray also for the other members of our staff that are traveling from sri lanka and the team that is traveling from poland. finally, please pray that everything i need will fit in my carry-on. i am not a light packer so this is quite a challenge for me, but i'm up for it! (i just hope i don't forget anything important: toothbrush - check, clean underwear - check, long-sleeved shirts, pants, long-skirts - check...)

i hope to keep everyone updated on my daily activities while there because we have wireless in the guesthouse, which is a luxury that i haven't even had at home since we moved back 3 months ago!

Monday, August 11, 2008

blogging: my dear, old friend...

well, hello blogging, my dear, old friend!

while it seems weird to throw all my thoughts and ramblings back out there for all the world to see, i feel that it is necessary and timely to begin a new blog. i had a blog on xanga for a while in college, mostly freshman/sophomore years (before i actually had to do any real school work). needless to say, i let my xanga go and moved on to bigger and better things. funny how things always come full circle and i find myself blogging again?!?

i always found blogging therapeutic and i guess i need some therapy in my life :) well, here goes nothing...