America 2018 :: Week 1

We made it to America! It doesn’t matter how you cut it, it’s a very long trip from Lilongwe to LA. But everyone was in good spirits, and we enjoyed one another’s company for the entire 35 hours of travel time! That might be a first!

If you’ve talked with us about travel any time in the last couple years, you’ve probably heard about our short trip to the States in 2016 when we discovered Naomi’s propensity to get air sick. This time we kept a rigid schedule of Dramamine (which is hard to do when crossing time zones!) and supplemented with Zofran a couple times. We made it all the way to LA without incident – whew!

Once in LA, welcome jet lag! It was, um, very exciting. For some of us.

She could hold out for a while, adamantly refuse to sleep for rest time, and then be asleep within 2 minutes of opening a book!

Naomi wasn’t the only one who slept quite a bit the first week: Matt spent a lot of hours in bed this week too. The poor guy came down with a ferocious cold and cough on our second day in the States. He lost his voice on Tuesday evening, and didn’t really get it back until Sunday! If the cold wasn’t enough reason, the lack of a voice forced us to cancel almost everything on the schedule for the first week. Even in the moment we realized that we, Matt especially, were really tired and we needed the extra days of forced rest. So we took it slow and enjoyed the quieter days.

Meanwhile, the girls found the drinking fountains! Grace Community Church has a number of drinking fountains, and since we are in the missionary house right next door, we stop by for a sip almost every day! The girls are not very good at actually getting more in the mouth than down the shirt, but practice makes perfect!

AND, just around the corner from the favorite drinking fountains is the church’s brand new playground! This place is super-busy on Sundays, but deserted for most of the rest of the week, so the girls have it to themselves every day. There is nothing like this in all of Malawi. We try to teach our girls that there are special things we only enjoy in Malawi, and there are special things we only enjoy in America. This playground is high on the list of special things in America!

Also special to America is the dishwasher. The girls have taken it upon themselves to load and empty the dishwasher every day! No complaints from this mama!

Week #1 – a quiet week of rest and discovery.

Pink Day!

Today was our last day before Matt comes home, so we girls were very girlie today.

We fell in love with 8 little puppies at our friend Alicia’s house. 💕

It was difficult to pull ourselves away from such cuteness! I appreciated that Alicia enjoyed the puppies – her puppies – as much as Abigail and Naomi did!

Alicia joined us for lunch out, and since it is winter here in Malawi, the girls had hot chocolate – with white and pink marshmallows!

Since the girlie thing was working out so well for us, we had pink pancakes for dinner. A little bit of beetroot goes a long way… healthy and girlie!

The Pancake Princess highly recommends vanilla yogurt and sliced bananas.

Matt comes home tomorrow! We have enjoyed these days of fun girl time, but we will be so glad to have him home!

While the Cat’s Away…

Very early this morning we sent our favorite guy off to conferences in South Africa.

He left for the airport before the girls woke up. But when they did, this conversation happened:

R: “It’s just us girls! What do girls eat for breakfast?”

A: “Pancakes! With chocolate hair! And raspberry eyes, and scrambled eggs mouth and a cherry nose!”

Oh boy! I hope we survive 5 days without Matt’s steadying influence! We modified the stated “girls menu” and came up with something that satisfied everyone:

After breakfast Matt let us know they were about to take off for the first leg of their trip, a short, 27-minute flight from Lilongwe to Blantyre. Our airport has little enough traffic that everyone knows exactly what flights we are flying overhead. Ethiopian Airlines flight 20 was the only flight leaving the Lilongwe airport at any time even remotely close to 8:20am, so we went outside to wave goodbye to dad!

See the contrail in the sky?!? There he goes! And so begin the Floreen girl adventures!

On Being Four

Four is such a fabulous age! Naomi is full of life, bossiness, sweetness, mischief, compassion, frustration, and fierce love. We are loving these sweet days with her!

She is a devoted fan of her sister. Not only are they friends, Naomi considers herself to be defender, artistic consultant, and executive boss of Abigail.

Naomi is on a campaign to beautify the world around her. This week, to Simba’s silent, patient distress, she insisted on flowers between his toes. What a great dog!

And I think, despite some very brunette beginnings, that her hair is actually turning blond!

For the rest, I’ll let her speak for herself:

Catching Dragonflies

I sent Abigail and Naomi out with a butterfly net to catch a butterfly that they could observe and draw. Five minutes later they came back inside quite proud of themselves: “We caught something!”

Yes they did! But not a butterfly! They caught a DRAGONFLY!

If you’ve ever tried to catch a dragonfly, you’ll know they’re fast! It’s no small feat to catch a butterfly, and even more impressive to catch a dragonfly!

So they grabbed some paper, colored pencils, and their friend Rejoice and started drawing their dragonfly, just as though it was the most ordinary thing in the world to catch a dragonfly. I love sharing life with these girls!

Sundays

We love Sundays around this house! They are non-stop from 8:30am to 7:30pm, but they are filled with our favorite things!

Here’s what a Sunday can hold for us…

We usually leave the house between 8:30 and 8:45, getting to church in time to clean a classroom. Rachel is currently teaching the 4-5 year old Sunday school class, and enjoys a full house of 8-10 imaginative and fun kids!

Matt is on rotation helping teach the adult class on Evangelism, and this week and next he is teaching on the difference between the prosperity gospel and the true gospel of Scripture.

Main service is next, a time to enjoy worshipping the Lord and hearing the teaching of God’s Word with our friends.

We have a few minutes after church to chat with people, then we rush home for Care Group, which begins at our house at 12 noon!

We eat lunch with our Care Group (I feel them peanut butter sandwiches and they keep coming back!), and we really love this group! We have somehow become the “young singles group,” and more often than not we have to draw up a few extra chairs to our 10-seater table!

During lunch we catch each other up on what God is doing in our lives. Afterwards we explore the practical applications of the morning’s sermon and take time to pray for one another. This group cares for one another well and loves to laugh! We are so thankful to the Lord for them, and have been so encouraged seeing them grow in Christlikeness!

After Care Group, either Matt or I or both of us have have meetings for discipleship or counseling. It’s fun to end the afternoon with both of us saying: “God is at work here!”

By this point it’s getting to the late afternoon and we have a Skype appointment each Sunday with Matt’s parents. It’s a fun catch-up time, usually involving some sort of show-and-tell by the girls.

Either before or after dinner, it’s family fun night! It’s our one night of the week to do something special as a family, whether that’s play dominoes, ride bikes, watch a movie, go out to eat, or throw a blanket on the lawn and star-gaze!

By the end of Sundays, we are all tired-happy. These days seem to embody what we love: worship of the Lord and instruction in the Word, ministry and relationships within the church, and sweet family time. We love Sundays!

Birthdays

And we’re back! The WordPress app wasn’t working for several weeks, so I lost my easy way to post! But most of it’s fixed and we’re back now!

In the intervening weeks both Matt and I celebrated our birthdays! I had a big birthday last year (that may have had to do with the #4…), so didn’t want to make a fuss about it this year. But when it came to Matt’s birthday, I realized we’d never done anything big for his birthday before. And growing up, his birthday was always in the same week with his mom’s, his brother’s, and Valentine’s Day, so it was never made too much of then either. But I wanted to do something a little special, a little different for him this year.

I can’t even begin to express how much I love and enjoy this guy! He is a faithful friend, a faithful husband, and a faithful follower of Christ. He loves deeply and enjoys whole-heartedly. He is adventurous, curious, and courageous. When he sees his sin, he is quick to deal with it diligently. When he sees my sin, he is slow to react and careful to lovingly point it out. He loves and trains our girls with patience and clear thinking. He is artistic and witty and makes me laugh every day! He has blessed me and our family in so many ways. As I said the day I first knew I loved him: I would rather go through the worst things in life with him than the best things in life with anyone else.

💕

Well, now that you know how much I love this guy, let’s get to his birthday party!

We invited lots of Matt’s friends over from 4-5pm, and made a valiant effort to ruin everyone’s dinner with…

Cheesecake! Matt requested cookies and cream cheesecakes, so I made 2 of them, with ridiculously expensive cream cheese. 😳 Oye! But it’s his birthday, and he is worth it!

These guys made the party special. It’s not every day you’re surrounded by so many friends.

I’m so glad we were able to celebrate Matt on this day, and so thankful that the girls and I get to enjoy life with him! We are so blessed by this man every day!

No More Surf

Today we said good-bye to a good friend. See him in the picture with us?

We sold our faithful Toyota Hilux Surf. We’ve had some great adventures with him over the last 5 years! From working our way through some rough and muddy roads exploring the back corners of Malawi, to the dirt roads and pot holes in our own neighborhood, he’s been reliable and tough. We can’t imagine a better car for our family, but he’s 21 years old now and starting to show his age. Unfortunately they don’t make Surfs anymore, so he was our last. (Yep, we had another Surf before him!)

The Surf has gone to a great new owner who knows his value, so we are happy. And I’m sure we’ll figure out how to still have adventures without him!

Back to Everything

The holidays are over and we are back to “normal life” around here. But we had a great time…

Decorating cookies with friends

Making little gingerbread houses with more friends (yes, even the dads!)

Decorating the house for Christmas

Hosting and enjoying 3 nights of IBF Christmas parties in our home!

(We love the Christmas parties!)

We also got to enjoy giving gifts

And receiving them!

Playing with baby lizards in the early rains

And getting to be a little fancy!

It was a nice break, but we are eager to get back in the regular routine of things around here. Like blogging! 😁