Saturday, December 3, 2016

Week in Review: Nov 27- Dec 3

Alternately titled:
The Christmas Preparation Version
This week was the start of our preparations for Christmas.  I always like to wait until after Thanksgiving, so that we can focus on thankfulness before moving on to the next holiday.
Being in a different country, our preparations are quite different from the holidays we spend in the US.
We started the week with a online packing party for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.
Until this year, I didn't know that you could fill a shoebox on-line.
We had some yummy snacks, played Christmas music, and chose items for the boxes.

I picked up my Advent calendar and stocking from the tailor.
He did a great job!  I'm hoping he'll have time to do more stockings before Christmas.

I made three trips to the tailor this week.  The first was on Monday to pick up the Advent calendar and stocking on the assigned day, but they weren't quite ready.  I was able to pick them up Tuesday, and drop off material for Stephen's Christmas outfit.  Thursday, I took Ian and Caleb to be measured for their Christmas outfits.

What's all this about Christmas outfits? you may be wondering.
Every year, the Alliance Women in the area pick out a cloth for Christmas.  Everyone in the Alliance churches get outfits made.  This year it is black, red, and white, with a little bit of a yellow/orange color.  It's not what I think of as traditional Christmas colors, but when in Rome...

We found a store in town that has a few Christmas decorations and trees.  Isabelle got a (mostly joking) proposal of marriage.  I decided to take that as a joke, and not a very funny one!
We quickly got down to the business of selecting a tree.

Our tree is a little different from a traditional Christmas tree, but it's enough.
It reminds us of Christmas, and it's locally sourced!
Isabelle and Caleb found a few little Christmas ornaments we had brought with our crafting things.
They decorated the house as much as they could, and we cranked up the Christmas music.

We also had our first holiday party this weekend.  Our team invites the other expats in the area to watch "Elf" every year.  We sat outside and watched it projected on a wall.  The next door neighbors got into the action, too, by perching on the wall to watch the movie.

While we spent some time this week in preparations and advent readings, most of our week continued as normal.  Stephen still has a packed house in the pediatric department.  There are over 50 pediatric inpatients.  22 of those patients are premies who weigh less than four pounds

We're all looking forward to Christmas break from school, celebrating with our team, and spending some time together as a family.  Before we get there, we still have a few weeks left of "normal life."  School must go on, along with all those big and little tasks required to function here.

For some thoughts on Advent in Africa, visit Jake's blog.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Week in Review: November 20-26

Isabelle and I found some fabric in the market to use for Christmas things.
I took some to the tailor on Monday to have an Advent calendar made.
I can't wait to see how that will turn out.

The first few days of the week were school as usual.
Here Caleb is finishing some of his workbooks while Ian and Isabelle have co-op classes.

Thanksgiving is a normal working day here, but we were able to enjoy our usual Thursday night dinner at our favorite local restaurant.  We usually stick with chicken and fries, but some people ordered things like spaghetti and meatballs, salad, fried plantains, or a combo plate.

We had an American Thanksgiving celebration on Thursday with chicken, ham, dressing, mashed potatoes, and more!  The middle picture is most of us outside doing a group selfie.  Next time maybe we'll bring a tri-pod!

This morning, we had a "turkey trot."  Everyone could run or bike 7 miles to a forested area called the Pig Farm.  There were vehicles for those who wanted to ride.  We didn't have quite enough bikes to go around, so some people biked one way, then switched so others could bike back.
We enjoyed being out of the city and in such a beautiful setting.

Stephen still has a full pediatric ward.
This is one of his patients from the week, a little baby who was found abandoned in an outhouse.
She's doing well and has been placed in a temporary home.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

We've now celebrated Thanksgiving in five different countries.  Today is a normal workday, and we're going out to our usual restaurant for supper.  We'll have a Thanksgiving meal with our team and other expats tomorrow, and a "turkey trot" on Saturday.  I've been thinking back about all the different places we've spent Thanksgiving and the friends and family we've celebrated with along the way.

Our first Thanksgiving outside the US was in Quebec in 2008 with these little people.
We had language school as normal for the week.  On Thanksgiving, we had some of our local friends over for supper and shared about our traditions.  We celebrated with a bigger group of American students on Saturday.

Our next few years were in the Congo.
2012 was our fourth Thanksgiving to celebrate in Impfondo.
I was sick, and Stephen had an emergency surgery, so the kids hosted with the help of Sarah Speer.  We had chicken, duck, dressing, pumpkin pie and more.  This would also be our last Thanksgiving in Congo, although we didn't know it at the time.

In 2013, we were in southern GA with at Stephen's brother's house.
We did some sightseeing, and shopping together over the weekend.
We had the traditional Thanksgiving foods, but you can see Ian's favorite type of pie.

In 2014, we were able to celebrate at Soddo, Ethiopia.  We were there for a month while Stephen learned some orthopedic surgery.  One of the couples there was Bob and Elaine Greene.  This year, they will be celebrating in Mali with us.

Thanksgiving 2014- Soddo, Ethiopia

Last year, we were in North GA with Anna's family.  Everyone helped prepare the meal, which had all or favorites.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Week in Review: November 13-19

Thursday (Nov 17) was World Prematurity Day.
This picture is showing one of the new moms at the hospital doing kangaroo care with her premie.
Stephen is continuing to work with many premature infants and their families.

A few outdoor action shots:
Isabelle and Caleb have enjoyed getting their bikes out in the late afternoon.
They've also been playing tennis every chance that get.
Saturday morning was MK soccer again.
Ebony went along with us and got to know a new friend while the kids played.

Isabelle had a field trip with her co-op science class.
They were looking for evidence of erosion.

This week, we were able to add some trees to our bare yard.
They are small now, but will hopefully grow quickly.

One of our new mango trees.  They take about 10 years to become fully grown.

Caleb is standing by a bamboo shoot to show how tall it is.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Art Lesson

I help teach an Art Appreciation class once a week for our co-op.
This week, we had Emma Spronk, our local artist, talk to the kids about her art.
They loved it!

After Emma's talk, we had some time to do some hands-on sketching.
Emma stayed and talked to the class and drew with them.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Week in Review- Nov 6-12

Sunday morning at church-
Isabelle and I finally had some clothes made with our "10th anniversary" fabric.

It's always interesting to see things like this on the road along with all the motorized vehicles.

Ebony is still growing.  This week she learned to open the front door.  She's wandered into the house a few times since then.

Traffic jam!  
Can you see what is growing under the leaf?
It's a watermelon in a friend's yard.
Watermelon season is going strong here in Mali.

We ended the week with a fall festival with 50 people, all expats from our city and other spots in Mali.  The kids had fun doing things like bobbing for apples, playing bingo, and apple tic-tac-toe.

One of the highlights was when the compound's night guard brought his donkey and cart to give rides.  They loved that!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Week in Review: October 30- November 5

As part of a reading program at our co-op school library, Isabelle read the biography of Mother Teresa and made this display.

The kids enjoyed photography class with Ryan.
They took these using a tripod and timer.

Some children who live around the mission-
They love posing for photos.

The Taekwondo class is meeting twice a week now.

Isabelle and Caleb decided that they wanted to listen to Christmas music this week.
They also used the legos to make a Christmas tree and nativity.

I went back to the tailor today to pick up some things that I dropped off 3-4 weeks ago.
When he saw me pull up, he started working on one of the last things- redoing the elastic in the headbands.  I had to take a picture of that because it confirms my theory that the way to get the tailor to start your clothes is by coming to pick them up.  (He had finished a shirt & two skirts that I left.)