We’ve been back in Africa for more than a month now, and I’m finally finding time (and electricity, but that’s a story for another blog post) to write about our 105 days in the USA.
It occurs to me that going onÂ furlough isÂ unusual for someÂ of our readers.
We’re certainly not the only couple to take their young kids around the world for months of travel. But it’s definitely not exactly commonplace either. So here’s my attempt to capture how it feels toÂ visit the-country-we’re-from-but-don’t-live-in-now.
(CUTE KIDS ALERT: We have a “don’t just blog aboutÂ your kids” policy, andÂ I’m shamelesslyÂ taking a hiatusÂ from itÂ for this one. Half of the fun of furlough was seeing things through our girls’ eyes. If you don’t like cute kids, you canÂ keep scrolling to find other postsÂ about big bugsÂ and stuff…)
LetÂ me start by sketching the framework with some furlough stats:
- We spent 15 weeks in the USA
- We stayed in 16 different houses (+1 hotel)
- We spoke at 22 different churches or Bible studies
There were some flying parts:
- We flewÂ on 11 different airplanes
- We flew 23,000 miles internationally and 5,000 in the US
- WeÂ had 3 planes leave without us
- We got 3 free seat upgrades (exceptÂ we needed 4 seats – poor Naomi wasÂ left out!)
Naomi flew on our lapsÂ for aboutÂ 18,000 miles
And there were someÂ drivingÂ parts:
- We drove 4 different cars
- We drove in 9 different states
- We droveÂ 9,000 miles (which meant 2 oil changes)
Sometimes the car is fun!
Sometimes the car is not fun!
This was after more than 30 hours of travel
This was after more than 30 rounds of “Old MacDonald”
34Â° in Central Oregon
11 days later: 104Â° in S. California
At the heart ofÂ all thisÂ globe-trottingÂ Â was ourÂ desireÂ to better connect with our ministry partners. Our service to the churchÂ in Malawi couldn’t happen without all theÂ people back in the US who faithfully pray for us, support us, encourage us,Â connectÂ us with resources, visit us, and stand behind us in countless ways. (We thank God for you people!) We also are looking forÂ others to join us in partnership for the gospel.
The Hamlines (L)Â visited Malawi last year, and the Temples (R) will be joining our team in Malawi this year.
We created a “Malawian Market” to introduceÂ our friendsÂ inÂ Los Angeles to some of our favorite parts of Malawi.
In that respect, this was our best furlough yet. It was wonderful to share true Christian fellowship with so many people we don’t often see. We enjoyed every opportunity to tellÂ others about the Lord’s work inÂ Africa. It was also a huge blessingÂ to hear testimonies of Christ continuing to build people’s faith. We returned to Malawi feeling physically tired, but spirituallyÂ encouraged.
While that was certainly the most meaningful part of our time in the US, there were several additional benefits too. Here were some otherÂ highlights, according to each member of our family.
- Mexican food
- Introducing the family to some Pacific Northwest favorites
At Multnomah Falls in Oregon
- Being a part ofÂ several big family events
Naomi meets her newÂ cousin
Abi andÂ great grandma Donda
- Trader Joe’s
- Getting our girls together with their cousins and grandparentsÂ
- Catching the fall colors in ConnecticutÂ
- Escalators and moving sidewalks
She’s a pro now. The only moving staircases in Malawi are ladders.
- Seeing skyscrapers for the first time
- The aquariumÂ
- Drinking fountainsÂ
Since I’ve already given my disclaimer above, is it okay if I act likeÂ a proud dad and wrap up with a few more pictures of my girls on furlough?
A great fishing cabin, courtesy Airbnb
Fun with grandma
Naomi might want to be a cactus when she grows up
Dad, can this be my bed?
Right now our girls don’t know Disneyland is a real place. (Shhh.)
Naomi was fascinated by the science center.Â Not sure it was quite such a fun experience for this other kid, though.
“We’re from Africa too!”Â (We’re still working on finding flattering camera angles.)
After our time in Washington, Naomi asked “Cow?” every time we drove past a field.
Poor Abi’s tummy wasn’t used to American food
We don’t get orange pumpkins in Malawi!
Abigail and Naomi dance in the redwoods
Abi’s first snowman – on the side of an Arizona highway
Naomi turnedÂ TWO.
Guess which girl wanted to buy this motorcycle?
Thanks for following along!