De and Landi, another missionary couple on our team, gave us a vacuum cleaner. 🙂 This is a little slice of heaven. Life is just dirty here. There is so much dust and dirt I feel like I am breathing grit sometimes. We have all wood and tile floors here in our house. We did bring carpet remnants (thank you to those who donated!) and rugs for every room, but the corners and doorway areas still are full of dust and dirt. Despite my efforts to keep everyone from wearing shoes in the house and to sweep an mop more regularly- not my strong point- (Carrie, I have been MOPPING more than I did in the US! WOW) Everything just feels dirty. SO this vacuum cleaner feels like heaven. Now mind you cleaning the vacuum cleaner is a big task in and of itself. It is not like a vacuum in the US that moves easily across the carpet… it has to really be pushed with two hands and a little force! There are not disposable vacuum cleaner bags here. The bag in our vacuum is a cloth bag that we have to take out by hand, dump some where that the dust and dirt won’t get back in the house and wash it in the washing machine. One has to vacuum the dirt from cleaning the bag once you are done. Oh the joys….
The last two weeks have been full. Our emotions (okay, mine especially) have been UP and DOWN.
JOY #1- BABY-Brandon and Beki Grissom had a baby girl Stella. She is beautiful! And a long hard road to get here too!
Sadness- My Uncle Rick passed away last Friday from a sudden heart attack. He was 56. We are so grateful to have spent some time with him and my aunt this last summer in Ohio. Words can not express how much I wanted to be with my family during this time. I am so grateful to be able to talk with them on Skype. I was able to visit with my cousins, my grandmother, my mom and dad.
JOY #2- Another baby… our college friends Adam and Sharon Brown had a baby girl Sadie to join their family. She also, is beautiful!
Sadness- Our long time friend Jim Decker from one of our home churches, New Covenant, went to be with Jesus. Jim was the man at church that everyone thought of as an adoptive grandfather. He will be greatly missed. I can not imagine the place without him and yet, I can imagine the party in heaven.
Sadness- My long time MIDI for Kids friend and co-worker, Debbie, lost her father to cancer. Another great man taken home. He was also the grandfather of Erin, also on our MIDI for Kids staff.
What a great thing that God gives us joys to go along with the sadness. It has been hard to be so far away. But every morning, I am reminded that His mercies are new. He is so faithful. Lamentations 3:22
You know it’s Monday when….
- Your child rather than your alarm clock (cell phone) wakes you up
- Your hubby rolls over and says, “Honey, can you take the boys to the bus stop? I am not feeling well.”
- You are out of eggs, milk, and fruit and can’t think of anything to have for breakfast
- One child tells you they have a stomach ache and runs to the bathroom- bad sign
- You rush around to get breakfast made, lunches made, shoes on… and the bus is 30 minutes late due to traffic
- Your second child tells you when you return home from dropping the first child at the bus stop that he feels better and wants to go to school (this requires calling a taxi)
- Your language teacher arrives and you can not recall anything you learned the previous week
- You forget the guests that are coming over after dinner until, well…. after dinner
HAPPY MONDAY! 🙂
Austin and Tyler are attending a missionary school called the GDQ. (This stands for a man’s name that I can not pronounce.) They are in Kindergarten with 9 other kids from 5 other countries! (Tyler is in the Fireman hat and Austin is holding the poster) They are picked up by the bus everyday not too far from our house (that is an interesting story for another day), and are dropped off at another location also pretty close to our house. The school is English speaking although they do have an Albanian class one day a week. This is a picture of their class with the fireman (an American missionary who arrive the day before us) who visited their school. So far school has been going pretty well. We are still finding our groove. Both the boys have been very tired since they now have no extended nap time during the day. Their favorite day of the week is Food to Go day. This is when they can order local foods from “fast food” place that delivers to the school. This means they can have a hamburger or hotdog (Albanian style- with French fries inside) or a suflace (like a Greek Eros) or bureck (I have no idea how to explain this one). Tyler is doing really well and is enjoying all the detail activities and reading and writing. Our more active boy Austin, is still working on how to do all of these things as well as the things he wants to do like move and talk!
So what about our third child? We ARE still adopting from China. It is amazing how this all fits into the bigger picture of our family life. China has still not referred babies for our group that had paperwork logged into the CCAA (China Center for Adoption Affairs) on August 30th of 2005. They are now up through August 9th which means we could be in the group that is referred next month but not likely. China has only been doing 8-14 days of referrals each month so we are more likely to get a referral at the end of November. This means we would hopefully go to China to pick her up in January or February. We have to do a new home study here in Albania (God has provided this so faithfully… He is amazing that way!) We have an Albanian social worker who speaks English and is coming to visit our home on Friday. Robert and I have started sleeping with a baby blanket and stuffed animal we want to send to her in China as soon as we know who she is so she can become accustomed to our smells. We have been told that in some cases this can make the transition and bonding a little easier for parent and child. I keep praying for this sweet daughter of ours and asking for God’s provision both for her and her mother. I can not imagine what life will be like with a little one in the house again. I am becoming anxious!
Austin had a great day at school today. So we decided it was a celebration… we took the gondola to the top of Mount Dajti (pronounced die-tee). It was a beautiful day, a little on the chilly side, but there is a cafe and playground at the top so we thought it would be fun for everyone. We took a taxi to the base and rode the gondola to the top. It is quite a sight of Tirana. And there is no SMOG, our first fresh breath in a month! Unfortunately, the playground was torn down because they are moving it to another site on the property. There has been many improvements since we were there last November. There are also several restaurants that you got for dinner. These are about 1.5 miles from the top but there are free shuttle busses and drivers to take you there. So we were debating about dinner and what to do, when a man asked us in English if we were looking for a restaurant. Say no more… speak English and we get in the car with any strange man. He was the owner of a restaurant, Paradise. So, 1.5 miles down the bumpiest road you have ever traveled, to a quaint little place right on the side of the mountain. We could see all of Tirana and watch the sunset behind the city. It was great. The food… not so much. I think Robert enjoyed what he ordered. You order a main dish and that was all it was, no side dishes. So I ordered porkchops, and chicken fillet for the boys and that is what we got. Three porkchops and three chicken breast. There were not even any side dishes on the menu. The only other customers were three guys from Germany who are riding around Europe on their motorcycles. And the background music was American Rap music. We hear this everywhere! Anyway… we finally left, and the owner took us back to the gondola. It is now dark and deserted at the top of the mountain as everything is closing down for the evening. He had already driven off, when we realized we had left the video camera at the restaurant. There is NO ONE around. We are about to give up and just go home, when we decide to see if we can communicate with the gondola operators what has happened. Unbelievably, we are successful. We know the word for camera, telephone, and Paradise (we think this is the name of the restaurant). Now how we got across that we left the camera at the restaurant I do not know. But eventually we sent Robert off in another car, down the long bumpy road at twice the speed of the first trip, with a man who spoke no English, to the wrong restaurant, then to the right restaurant and back to his waiting family at the deserted mountain top. Well… our celebration was a little more eventful than we thought. 🙂
My mom bought me this cookbook as a wedding shower gift. I can count on my two hands the number of times I have opened it in the ten years I have been married. Until I came to Albania. This is my new best friend. I open it at least once a day! So today I cooked Taco Soup (a Loyce Gandy original). The best part about this recipe in the US is that everything comes in a can. You just open them up, dump them in a pot a VIOLA! Dinner is served! Not so much. The only canned beans I have seen were baked beans, and they were $3 a can! So I bought a bag of plain white beans (I really have no idea what kind they are) and soaked them. I do know you are supposed to do this. Mind you, I have only used dried beans in the US maybe 3 times, but the instructions were in English. Here the instructions were in Greek (really)! So Fannie is a great help. She tells you how much water to add, how long to cook them, how much they will increase in size. I bought a can of tomatoes that I was not so sure were going to be diced tomatoes. This was really hard to ask for at the duchand (local store). I was not sure if I was getting tomato sauce or diced tomatoes. It turned out to be whole tomatoes so that was workable. Also, there is no such things as green chilies so I improvised with green peppers and onions, sauted them and added them to the mix! So… Taco Soup… no longer a 30 minute meal, but it was good!
We had 6 people here after church last night to watch the OU game live here in our living room. It was on at 9:30pm here and was over at about 1:00am. Most people left at about 12:15 or so after the lateral pass that gave Texas a touchdown in the OU endzone. UGH. Not the way we were hoping to celebrate watching our first live game in Albania. We have this cool thing called a SlingBox. (Thank you, Bevan!) It works with our Tivo which is at Bevan’s house and converts the signal to internet. So we can watch live TV braodcast in Oklahoma right here in Albania. Now we are 7 hours ahead of CST so we have to record what we would like to see and watch it the next day. (But this was OU/TEXAS…. who can wait?) We have picked a few important shows like Survivor, Grey’s Anatomy and Blue’s Clues that we are recording. The picture is pretty grainy so watching a fast moving sporting event like football was a little interesting. We all kept shouting “Where’s the ball?! I can’t see the ball!” It’s great for things a little slower like Blues Clues. The best part is, it is a little bit of home when we feel like everything else is so different.