We just want to start by saying thank you to our friends and family in the US, Botswana, the UK and elsewhere for your support in various ways as we transitioned from Botswana to the US. We miss our amazing friends and family in Botswana and remain excited to be closer to other amazing friends and family in the US. We love you all so much and feel so loved by you. It has been a blessing to reconnect with many of you in Maryland and get to know others during our frequent trips into town. His People Gabs, THANK YOU for graciously and generously releasing and sending us out. Monument Church, THANK YOU for welcoming us with so much love and enthusiasm.
Increasing Dependence on God
We left Botswana over 8 months ago. Our intention was to stay with Laura’s parents in Lititz, PA area for a few weeks (up to a couple of months) while getting jobs sorted out, and then move to Gaithersburg, MD. For a lot of reasons, this seemed like a plan that would work. However, despite our efforts, that door has not opened, at least not yet. We trust that God’s plan for us has included this season of patience and persevering in faith (with lots of stumbles and lessons along the way). Our planning decreases daily while our dependency on our Father increases. His hand of direction becomes evident when He closes some doors and open some. He makes is easier to TRUST AND FOLLOW HIM when it might not all be making sense.
Act 16: 6-10: The call to Macedonia?
With the help of Laura’s parents, God has provided a home for us in Akron, PA, just outside of the city of Lancaster. The way it happened has been providential and we believe it is the Lord’s doing. It appears that, at least for the time being, He is redirecting us. We are scheduled to close and move into our new house in April. We are so grateful! Lancaster has an amazing legacy of faithful believers and we have enjoyed our visits to several local churches here. We look forward to fully engaging in one of them.
The house we are under contract for!
As for work, Laura is a StoryBrand Certified Guide, marketing consultant, and website designer. If you’re curious about what that means, you can take a look at her website: www.pulamarketing.com. She has customers locally and internationally whom she loves working with. Now that we plan to stay in Lancaster, she is continuing to grow her business while also being open to full-time jobs that would allow her to continue this line of work as part of a team. KG is continuing to provide regulatory support to some pharmaceutical companies with products in Botswana while studying hard for his pharmacy board exams in both the USA and Canada. We really appreciate prayer for us work-wise.
Children are a blessing
The girls are having a lot of fun through all this! They love and enjoy their grandparents. They think ‘Pops is tops’ and ‘Mumzy is the true Fancy Nancy’!
Our girls with their grandparents and cousins.
Ah culture differences. Gotta love them:-)!
I wrote most of this post the week we arrived in Botswana but never finished it. I finally decided to finish and post it now. Note: this was before I was showing my pregnancy at all.
It was great to arrive in Botswana on Tuesday. Kagi’s mom and brothers and uncle were all waiting for us at the airport, along with another lady (we’ll call her Auntie) who I met on my last trip here. We were greeted with hugs and smiles, and ushered out to the waiting cars.
Arriving at the car, Auntie grabbed my hand and said with enthusiasm, “You’re too fat!” Not knowing what she meant, I smiled — it must be an English mis-speak. I don’t think I’m too fat, and certainly am much trimmer than she is. Sensing my confusion, she repeated her statement enthusiastically, “You’re too fat!”
Kagi saw the exchange and laughed. “She’s complimenting you, Laura!”
“I… I know, thank you,” I stammered.
Apparently I gained a few pounds during my first year of marriage, and this lady was genuinely happy for me. Honestly, it was sweet and funny, and I wasn’t offended. Maybe at another point in my life I would have been, but not this time.
The other factor is that the word too is used differently. It’s used instead of very or more. People often talk about your house being “too big,” meaning it’s nice and spacious. They don’t mean it’s ostentatious.
I love the way this points out cultural differences. My Canadian friend has shared similar stories. It’s funny to compare our often less than gracious reactions. Genuinely, comments like this are meant as compliments. I plan to take them as such.
I always thought running hurdles would be more fun, interesting, and exciting than just running straight through a race. Similarly, I think I’d enjoy a warrior dash much more than a straight-forward long run. One of the things I struggle with the most while running is the mental battle to stay interested and engaged when my objective is just to keep going, one step after another.
I guess that is true for much of how I live my life. I like having shorter-term objectives to keep me focused and interested while working toward the prize. I like hurdles.
That’s probably one of the reasons I like living internationally. There are lots of interesting things that happen, lots of surprises and diversions. Life is very rarely boring. It can be both challenging and rewarding.
Some days, it feels like you are flying through life, leaping over barriers as they come. Other days, you’re reminded that there are far more opportunities to fall on your face or break your leg.
Either way, it’s an adventure.
There are times in life when we are disappointed in the people around us for one reason or another. I have experienced that. However, I would like to take this opportunity to share how I have had the opposite experience in recent months.
Many of you know that I got married on the 18th of August. Leading up to the wedding was one of the most wonderful and most stressful seasons of my life. Something that didn’t help was that Kagi was wrongfully kept from travelling to Canada when he was supposed to. It was one of those “how can something this unjust be allowed to happen” moments, and there was a time when we weren’t sure our wedding would be able to happen. Thankfully the situation was resolved(ish) and he was able to come to the wedding.
There were some other pretty difficult surprising things that have happened in the last few months. I admit now that a good chunk of the problems probably could have been avoided if I was more aware of my limitations. I tend to have a “I can do anything if I really try” perspective on things. I learned this summer that actually, there are quite a few things that I can’t do. Planning a destination wedding in less than 5 months while traveling in 3 continents and 5 countries (including a month in a village in Africa without much internet access), all on a very small budget, probably falls into that category. I also can’t control border agencies (to name a few examples).
But, miracle of miracles, even as I realized my limitations I was blessed with an amazing engagement time and a wedding that was beter than I would have dreamed it to be… even if I had more time and more resources and a better proximity to the location. Kagi and I had friends from the USA, Canada, England, Botswana, Turkey (:-)), Zimbabwe, and I am probably missing something. We had an incredible photographer and a brilliant videographer. My dress was exactly what I wanted. The food was top-notch. The music and dancing were SO fun. Even the weather was absolutely ideal.
And it didn’t come together because of me… as much as I wanted to bear the burdon for the whole thing. Left to me, it would have been like a half-baked cake, because my oven died before the baking time was up. I totally burned out.
It was the grace of God and it was His people. It was the Church.
My amazing friends and sisters pulled off two amazing showers and a bachelorette party for me. Countless people helped with the wedding and there were about 10 super-star heroes who stepped in to make the wedding better than it could have been if my budget was 10 times bigger. I’m not kidding.
|The bachelorette party in Toronto.
Although I know that weddings are important in a person’s life, my wedding seems a very small thing in the scheme of all of the problems in the world. I can’t tell you how loved by God I have felt in these last months — like a little girl who was given a totally undeserved gift by her daddy “just because I love you.” (I am now crying at the computer in awe.) Thank you, Lord.
And thank you, Church.
- Thank you Emily and Deb for being there for me the whole way through — and especially for the shower and bridesmaid things you did.
- Thank you Allison for making signs and planning the best bachellorette party ever and for being so happy for us. Thank you for helping with the music and for the dress. Thanks for recruiting your friends for the documentation jobs. Thanks for the amazingly sweet speech.
- Thank you Jenni for speaking, for your huge part in the music and for being Kagi’s advocate for years now:-).
- Thank you Jesse for making the trip even though it was so fast and inconvenient with your schedule. Thanks for not trying to beat Kagi up or anything. Thanks for being the life of the party.
- Thank you Catherine for making it possible for me to have fun… for making all the decisions and dealing with last minute issues. Thanks for good talks about marriage.
- Thank you Kara for the surprise lingerie shower.
- Thank you Meagan for playing violin and singing.
- Thank you Lish for singing.
- Thank you Moody family for really being my Maryland family. I am so blessed by you guys, it’s hard to put it to words. Thank you for hosting my bridal shower as well as for feeding and housing me when I’m in Maryland. Thank you for your many prayers for me/us.
- Thank you Katie for jumping in and organizing things on the day of the wedding without much information to go on ahead of time.
- Thank you Steven for being a great Emcee — for taking the time to learn the difficult names and for doing a great job of going with the flow.
- Thank you Gladstones for hosting so many people in PA. Thanks for doing the drinks, for hosting a shower and for hosting me so often! You guys are amazing.
- Thank you Jonathan for being the BEST man. My parents keep talking about how impressed they were with you.
- Thank you Uncle Fred and Aunt Beth for coming up early and for helping with so many things. Thank you for helping us financially as well.
- Thank you Dan, Seth, and Matt for running to our B&B during much of the reception to check us in.
- Thank you Amy for doing the photography in exchange for the trip, and for being such a great support throughout the whole wedding and rehearsal days.
- Thank you JP for making the trip as well! Thank you for videoing the whole thing so Kagi’s family can feel like they are included and know they are loved.
- Thank you Rudy and Sharon for being such an encouragement to us. Thanks for serving God in Botswana and for using your experience to bless us and make our wedding so much more meaningful.
- Thank you Tim, Bethan, Ffion and Mererid for spending your savings to come to America to be with us for our big day. Thanks for doing the incredible decorations and Tim for the amazing sermon.
- Thank you Ronit for the invitation and save the date designs. They were awesome.
- Thank you Peter for doing the music and DJing for us. You did an amazing job — my favorite dance party!
- Thank you Artaj and Judy for making the whole thing possible. Thank you for your incredible hospitality, your generosity, the use of your house, and your friendship throughout.
- Thank you Mom for my veil and bunting and decorating and hosting and for loving me so well. Thank you for being so excited for us.
- Thank you Daddy for being there for me. Thank you for writing blog posts about me and for loving me so much that I know it was hard to give me away. Thanks for being happy for us anyway. Thanks for being a part of things like the flowers, and for building me a gazebo and putting the doors up. Thanks for running errands for the chairs and dealing with the problems I caused by forgetting to tell you to bring cash for the caterer. Thanks for being generous with funds for the wedding. Thanks for dancing with me.
- Thank you David and Julie for being here for Kagi during his terrible days trying to get to Canada. Thanks for your help with our expenses and for being so gracious to us.
- Thank you everyone who came. You all travelled far and it would not have been the same without you!
|Here is a preview photograph from Amy Birdsong (amybirdsong.com). I am expecting the rest of the photos to be arriving within the next few days, so I’ll be posting them around as I go through them. In the meantime, if you want to see more visit Amy’s web site. There are lots of pics from our wedding there.
And thank you, Church, for your prayers and encouragement throughout our visa difficulties and separation. I can’t imagine this without you, but with you it has really not been that bad. Thank you.
Today I found out that one of the phrases I remember my mom using regularly… after all her clean mouth mandates… is a swear phrase after all! I was telling my friends about the kid next door yelling and used the phrase “screaming bloody murder,” which was the best way I could think to describe what I heard.
I should have seen it coming… when I think about what that means literally it isn’t very nice. Apparently it’s really bad here!
I especially should have seen it coming because we’ve been playing a lot of Banana Grams (a game like Scrabble) lately. Sometimes a word I think is a little on the edge but wouldn’t find offensive (ex: turd) gets a much stronger reaction than expected from my British friends.
Well… just another example of how, although we speak the same language, there are so many nuances between British and American English. I think I’m mostly fluent in British English but occasionally slip up like I did today.
Yet another reminder to think before I speak… and always a little more when in another culture!
I think culture shock happens not necessarily when you’re in a new culture but rather when you have expectations that things will be a certain way, and then you find what you expect
to be familiar… different. I have experienced culture shock just a few times in my life and often forget what it’s like. You see, if you decide to expect the unexpected, international life is usually fun and manageable.
A situation the other day caught me completely off guard and I’m still a little shocked at how it affected me. I was in a usually comfortable situation and suddenly nothing was familiar. I ended up breaking down and needing to disappear for a while — suddenly feeling overwhelmed with grief for the familiar life I left behind.