Wednesday, 24 September 2008

A Taste So Sweet

Many of you know that I traveled to South Africa at the beginning of September for some doctor's appointments on my knees. The travel time from Niger to S. Africa was supposed to take about 24 hours... instead I traveled through 5 countries in 43 hours from start to finish before I made it there. I was tired and worn out and my knees hurt terribly but I made it in time for my appointment that early, Monday afternoon. The next day I had an MRI scheduled. I got that done and was able to see a little bit of Johannesburg before I went back to my room at the Baptist Guest House to call it an evening. The evening that I thought was going to be spent sleeping was interrupted by an email and many phone calls to family and friends that night.

I opened an email from my mom that night that said she had tried to call me in my room and it wouldn't go through. She told me in the email that my Grandpa Vaughn (my dad's dad) had been taken to the hospital that morning and wasn't expected to live through the day. Uncontrollable tears raked my body as I quickly dialed my mom's cell phone number and waited for her to pick up.

The rest of the evening was spent praying and calling others in the states to pray for my family and my grandpa. By about midnight that Tuesday night nothing had changed but the whole family was there with Grandpa just waiting and cherishing the last moments they had with him. I made my way to my bed and told Mom that I would call sometime in the night to check on the things. I set my alarm for 3:30.

I could hardly sleep knowing that I wasn't there with Grandpa. One of the things that kept going through my head was "I really did say my last goodbye on July 18, 2007 when I flew out of America." The only person that really knew it was the last time for my grandpa and I was the Lord, but I praise Him for making that day sweet.

My sleep was heavy and restless but I woke up quickly when my alarm went off in the middle of the night. I called Mom from my skype phone and she picked up after a couple of rings. I could feel something was different but I couldn't pin point why. I had wanted to be there in hospital that day so badly, just so that I could be with my family and not have to do this alone... I didn't really know how I felt about all this, I wondered if I would have felt differently if I were at the hospital. But I had a deep ache in my heart and an emptiness that I couldn't seem to fill. I wanted to be near those that loved me. I wanted to be with those that knew Grandpa and I didn't want to have to grieve alone. Only the Lord knew what was about to happen. There was sadness in Mom's voice as she told me that Grandpa was gone. At that time I knew why I felt different. Even from a world away the Lord was comforting me in the midst of loss in a way only He could. As I sat and cried and wondered if it would work out to go home the emptiness faded and I was filled with hope. Hope that said that no matter where I spent the next few days, in S. Africa or America, it would be all of the Lord.

Well, He provided for me to be able to come home from S. Africa to be with my family during this time... I left Joburg that very day and made it to St. Louis, Missouri by 1pm the next afternoon, (Thursday the 11th of September.) I was met at the airport by my mom and dad both of whom I didn't want to let go of once I was in their arms. It was a beautiful, blissful moment!

All of it went so fast from the time that I got the email to the time that I was driving down Interstate 55 that I hadn't had a chance to take a breath at all. My parents took me straight to my other grandparents house where I was welcomed by my sisters Grace, Abbie, Naomi, Phoebe and Lily and my brothers Luke and Levi and of course my mom's parents Granny and Grandaddy! What a reunion! I showered quickly and we all headed over to the funeral home where I was met by my older sister Lettie, her husband Ted and my nephews Theo and Tucker. As the Fulani say when they are happy "my heart was sweet!"

The rest of the day was a blur and the following day was the funeral. It was good to be home and in the midst of my family and those that I love so much. I only have a few days left to spend here and wanted to update you all before I got out of America and nobody knew!

I am leaving this Saturday to return to S. Africa and finish up my medical appointments on my knees. After that I will head back to Niger to finish up my last 7 months or so.

Please be praying for me as I travel and get back in the groove of African life. Pray for me as I say my goodbyes again that it will be a reminder of why I left in the first place. Pray for my family and I as we remember Grandpa and all that he meant to us and the love that he showed us everyday. He was one of a kind and will forever be remembered.

The last day that I ever saw my grandpa I thought that I would not make it through the morning without a major breakdown. The Lord kept me strong. I had gone to visit him and Grandma with my little brother Luke and had asked Luke to video tape me with them, not knowing if I would ever see them again. Grandpa loved to play his accordion and of course he had it out that morning. I ask him to play Happy Birthday and a Christmas song for me. Both of which are on my video tape from that day. For the rest of my life my family and I will be able to sing a Christmas Carol with my Grandpa on Christmas Day. And all the while we can imagine him playing his accordion for a host of angels and the Savior of the World! The words "Joy to the World" can be translated "Joy in my Heart" right now - because I know that my grandpa is with Jesus!

Thursday, 4 September 2008

A little bit of photo life...

We were in Abidjan for ADVANCE and Me and Melissa took Ruth, Rebekah and Deborah out to the mall

This is the day we went to the beach. Me and Katy, we lived together in Nigeria - I miss her SO much!

4th of July water fight with my team at Melissa's house!
yes, we had some that were THIS big!

Kind of scary I know!

Melissa's dog, Jake, was in on all the action!

Mike and Jennie's daughters made cupcakes and they were so good!

Mike was "the napkin head"

Me and Fati were sweeping and mopping my house - it was so dirty!

This was my hair after I took my braids out last week!

I was at a gas station with Melissa and saw this calf leading the kid around :)

This guy had a bigger load than he should have had and it was way off balance

This was a van bush taxi loaded down with chickens...

up close

This guy fell asleep while he was driving... (Actually I'm not really sure how he ended up on the wrong side of the road in the water but...)

Me and Melissa

These are two little boys that Susan and I met when we were on the road going home from Niamey a couple of weeks ago. They were passing by with their donkey and stopped to watch us as we had our lunch/stretch our legs break from driving.

This is Melissa and I having a milkshake at a Lebanese restaurant in Niamey. We were watching the Olympics at the same time. We got a kick out of the the cups they gave us our icecream in!

This is a motorcycle cart that we saw in Tuss
This is Melissa, Me, Sawyer (in the middle in yellow and green with the white headtie), Jessica and Daniel.

More pictures and a blog coming soon!