He’s Back!

Naomi woke up this morning yelling “Dada! Airport! Dada! Airport!” She was a little disappointed that we went to church first, but all was forgiven when we got to the airport.

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The (“secret”) sign was out and ready! Naomi was a little distracted from Dad Watch by all the people at the airport who were taking pictures of the girls and their sign. =)

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And then all of a sudden he was here! Abi chattered away trying to tell him about the last nine days within 9 minutes. And Naomi tried to keep up: “Dada! Hi Dada airport. Fweooooo! (airplane noise) Hug Dada, hi!” The long wait was over – Dad was home!

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As happy as they were, I might have been even happier! (See the little photo bomber in our picture?) It is so nice to have Matt home! On Wednesday we will have been married 8 years, and while things are ok when we’re apart, they are great when we’re together. I’ve known for almost 10 years that I would rather go through the worst things in life with this man than the best things in life with anyone else. In God’s grace, we have gone through some difficult times, but the life that God has given us has been filled with far more of the best things. I am truly blessed to be married to this man!

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I heard from several people over the course of this week in comments or emails about how “brave” or “strong” I was. I didn’t feel especially brave or strong this week. I felt that I missed Matt, but I also felt that life just continued fairly normally. We are missionaries, but I’m a mom, and a wife, and a church member, and a counselor, and a home-maker, and a friend, and a daughter. The wife part was different over the last week and a half, and some of the mom part, but the rest of life and all my other roles continued normally.

I think that sometimes, just because we’re missionaries, I want to spiritualize everything we do – or at least how I portray it. In chronicling these last 9 days, I’ve had to set aside the temptation to spiritualize things. I just didn’t have time every night to make things look all godly and perfect! =) But I did want to share about what my life looks like from day to day. It is filled with all those normal things: homeschooling, grocery shopping, telling my girls to stop fighting over who gets to play with the blue ball. My roles right now revolve primarily around raising our girls, freeing Matt up to do more things at the church and CAPA, showing hospitality, and helping the women at our church through counseling. Only one and a half of those things sound “spiritual” enough to write about in an official missionary newsletter. But really, they’re all spiritual and whether or not I’m fulfilling the roles God has given me is found in the hows and whys of what I do. I’m not Amy Carmichael, or Gladys Aylward, or Elizabeth Elliot. I’m Rachel Floreen, and I want to follow what the Bible tells me to do as a wife, as a mother, as a church member. Do I aspire to great things? Yes, and right now the greatest things I can do are raising two little girls to love the Lord. And being delighted to do whatever I can to help my husband. And visiting people in our church who are sick. And helping women to biblically navigate the troubles of life. My life, like the lives of so many moms, is lived in the “small” things. But those small things are good – so very good! – when you get to do them to please the Lord.

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Unlike many of the moms who will read this blog, I get to do those small things in Malawi. It’s home for us, and we are so happy to be here – especially now that Matt’s back! I hope that these 9 days have given you a glimpse at what normal life is like for me and the girls. Thanks for following along!

Internet Screen Captures

We are very thankful for modern technology and the many benefits that it brings to missionaries – much faster travel times, international calling cards, and especially internet.  In the last couple weeks we’ve bought Christmas presents, borrowed electronic books from libraries in the States, researched recipes, caught up on world news, and video chatted with our parents. All on the internet.

It’s been an especially good couple weeks for internet.  Not all weeks are this good.  In fact, we keep screen captures of some of the more bizarre things that happen to our internet.

 

Failed Ping Test

The cause of most of our internet issues is a very slow connection.  In this test of data being sent from Lilongwe to Nairobi, our connection got an F.

 

Price for High Speed Internet

Could we upgrade from our “128kbps-shared-with-the-neighborhood” plan?  Well, sure, but not at these upgrade prices.  Not when we had 6Mbps for $45 a month when we lived in California.  The 6Mbps option isn’t even available to us, and if it did exist, it would probably cost $1800 a month.  No, thank you.

 

YouTube Upload

(Uploading a 3 minute video to YouTube.)

 

So our internet is slow, if we have internet at all.  We’re writing this post on a WordPress remote poster program that a friend of ours designed specifically for us.  We don’t need to be online to compose any of the post or even add pictures, we just need to have about 3 minutes of internet when we’re ready to post.  Or rather, when we have about 3 minutes of internet, THEN we post.

 

iTunes Update

Often we’ll start downloads at night when we go to bed.  Having a download manager program has helped (we use downthemall, a plug-in for the Firefox browser), because even if the download gets interrupted, it will pick up where it left off.

 

Firefox Download

We liked this one especially, because it thanked us for our patience!  They were a little off on their time estimate, but they were nice about it.

 

Video Blocked

But sometimes things just don’t come through because of where we live.  Like videos, or…

 

Google Malawi without Google Logo

Logos?  Apparently Google Malawi doesn’t get the Google logo.  Oops.

 

Too Many Inbox Messages

And sometimes EVERYTHING comes through, though we’re pretty sure we’ve never had quite that many messages in our inboxes, ever.  So if  you ever wonder why it’s taking us so long to reply to an email you sent us or why we haven’t noticed your Facebook status, we may be buried beneath 4 billion emails, or maybe our internet is down and we’re sitting on our porch enjoying the first rains.  =)  Sometimes our lack of internet is just what we need to remind us to stop and enjoy those moments in the wonderful, mostly-offline place where we live!

And We’re Back…

The current flood of posts comes to you courtesy of an extended period of very bad internet connection.  We had a great idea in November when we wrote about our intention to put more on the blog and make our newsletters a summary of what we had posted, but we didn’t really consider the fact that we live in a (slowly) developing country where internet connection is not on the list of reliable services.  So we’ve been stockpiling blog posts.

What did we do in the meantime?  We watched the blinking lights on our router.

Router Good

This is good.

Router Bad

This is bad.

See the difference?  One little light, second from the left, makes all the difference.  We don’t want to admit how many hours we’ve spent watching for that one little light to turn on.  Rachel has looked at the router so many times now that she finds herself drawn by force of habit to look at the router rather than the clock when she wants to know what time it is.

But it appears that we’re back, at least for now.  We’ll post as much as we can, but if we disappear again, you’ll know we’re waiting for that one little green light!

A Big Change to Our Blog

Newsletter

We’ve decided to entirely change how we do the blog and our newsletters.  Here’s what we’re going to try: The blog and the newsletter will now cover the same things.  We’ll try to blog more frequently, on a wider variety of topics: latest news, picture of the day, day-in-the-life, stuff we’re learning, prayer requests, etc.  Then, we’ll still email out a  newsletter about every other month, which will encapsulate everything that’s gone up on the blog since the last newsletter.  The idea is that the newsletter will be a digest covering all the headlines, with summaries of the recent blog posts, and links to the full story.  In other words:

Blog = Random collection of up-to the minute content.

Email Newsletters = Periodic summary of all blog content.

So, unless you want to read the same thing twice, you probably want to follow either our blog OR our newsletter.

Don’t have a lot of time to read stuff online?  Prefer your news condensed and organized in your inbox?  If so, you want our newsletter.  You can subscribe to it here.

Want your news in bite-sized snippets throughout the week?  Prefer to read the whole story, when it happens?  If so, you should follow our blog.  We’d suggest subscribing to our blog by using an RSS reader (like Google Reader) if you haven’t already done so.

Some of you have been receiving the blog posts in your email inbox.  With these new changes to our blog and newsletter, we’ll no longer be sending out blog update emails.  We’d suggest an RSS reader for you too.  If you’re not familiar with RSS readers, Google has a very informative video about their reader.  Once your reader is set up, you’ll want to subscribe to http://www.africastories.com.

Can’t decide?  Not sure which one is best?  If so, you should probably subscribe to our newsletter for now.  We’ll be sending it to your email, and if you find that you always end up at the blog anyway, you can change later.

And by the way, let us know if you have suggestions for our new newsletter or blog!  If there’s something you love about the way we do things now, or something you’ve always wished we did more of, click comment below and let us know.  We’d love your ideas!

Whichever way you follow along, we’re looking forward to sharing with you more of our lives and ministry here in Malawi!  We’re thankful for each one of you, your interest in our lives and service, and for the encouragement you give us to keep on going.

Big Dog, Little Dog

As promised, a post on the dogs. Matt and I are both “dog people,” so we didn’t hesitate when the Hulleys asked us to dog-sit. The Hulleys are the former tenants of our house, and were involved at International Bible Fellowship. They needed some time to figure things out in Zimbabwe before they bring the dogs over, so we have been able to borrow Hedges and Jack.

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This is Jack. He’s a friendly Jack Russell terrier. His role in home security is to be first alert and wake up Hedges.

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This is Hedges. He’s a mastiff, but everyone in the neighborhood calls him “the lion,” except for the plumber who called him “the elephant” by mistake. =) His role in home security is to bark. He doesn’t really need to do anything else…

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I guess when you’re that big, you can sleep any way you like.

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As with most big dog/small dog combinations, Jack thinks that he and Hedges are great friends. He runs, jumps, and plays, and Hedges just gives him a look that says “Are you serious?” Poor friendly Jack!

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The Hulleys should be back in the next few days to pick up the dogs. In the meantime, we’re on the hunt for our own dog. Something big, but not too big, friendly, but also a good guard. We’re thinking of a lab, but we’ll see what we can find here.

One Year

One year ago today, I married the most wonderful man. It has been a fabulous year of grace, laughter, and faith. He is my best friend, and the greatest earthly joy God has given me! I love you, Matt Floreen!

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A Little Piece of Africa at Home

As we come within 3 months of moving to Malawi, our African Violet has decided to celebrate with us.

African Violet

And yes, we are within 3 months of leaving. March 20th – that’s what it says on our one-way tickets to Lilongwe, Malawi!

But right now we find ourselves preparing to celebrate Christmas with Matt’s family in Camarillo. As you rest, enjoy family, and take the time to do special things with those you love, our prayer is for your greatest joy. May you find your rest and your joy in our Savior Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas and happy holidays everyone!