Thursday, 27 November 2008


There were things eaten that I didn’t eat and little turds left in my kitchen drawers that I didn’t leave there… I have a little “demon” in my house (maybe more than one) that chewed into my last package of Blueberry Poptarts. I’m now on the hunt and out for blood. This little mouse has caused me more grief in the last couple of weeks than ever before. I was packing yesterday for Niamey and Senegal when I heard him (or her) chewing on something in my clothes drawer. I went and sat in front of my dresser and opened the drawer as fast as I could. Nothing. I opened the bottom drawer. Nada. I pulled the drawers out and set them on my bed and still came up empty handed. I had a little handbag in-between my dresser and the wall and I knew Mouse had to be somewhere. So I pulled the bag out and away from the wall quickly. Mouse scrambled to get away and ran over my foot and out my bedroom door and into the room across the hall. I got up and closed my door and the door across the hall and went to get K to help me find Mouse. Even with K’s help we did not succeed in the capture of Mouse. We couldn’t even find him. So…
K had gotten me some demon medicine a few days ago at the market and I used it like K told me to and Mouse left my kitchen and apparently went to my room. He didn’t eat the poison and K says (literal translation) that Mouse “has a head” or he’s smart. I agreed. When I was at Melissa’s over the weekend she told me to put the poison in peanut butter and then Mouse won’t be able to smell it and he’ll eat it like he does all my other good food. Well, I have a hard time justifying giving Mouse MY peanut butter but I guess if it will kill him then it’s worth it. I don’t need nor do I want little Mouse Juniors all over my home.

I’m sorry about not blogging when I said I would. I tried several days to get on the internet at Susan’s and every time I tried it didn’t work. I’m in Niamey now and am able to blog for a little while until I head back to Konni next week.
I’m spending Thanksgiving in Niamey with other IMB missionaries and then Friday I’m flying to Dakar for a short – term personnel meeting. I will be able to get together with many other Journeymen and a few married couples as well. I will be able to see Sara and Katy from Nigeria too! I haven’t seen them since July when I was in Abidjan. Melanie and Kav, who were also on my team in Nigeria, have both ended their terms. Kav is doing another term in a different region and Melanie headed back to America a few weeks ago and will begin seminary in the Spring. So it will be just me, Katy and Sara and I’m really excited about this reunion ☺

I was sitting on the Delta plane Wednesday, September 11th and still trying to run everything through my mind. “Anna, are you really going to America?” “Will you really be with your family in less than 18 hours?” (even as I write this, I’m getting choked up). I had other emotions running through my mind as well, “Grandpa really won’t be there when I get to see everyone.” “Is the reason I’m flying home really for a funeral?”
All of it seemed too surreal and like a dream and nightmare all at the same time for me to believe it until I landed in Atlanta, Georgia. My Aunt Amy and her family weren’t going to be able to make the drive to Missouri from South Carolina for the funeral. But I had talked to Amy the day before and she said that there was a possibility that she could drive from South Carolina to Atlanta for my four hour layover. But there was nothing set in stone by the time I left South Africa on the 10th.
From the air America was beautiful. Everything that I remembered it being. But once I landed I felt like I was walking on air. I was nervous and hungry. I didn’t know if I should wait outside for Amy or just go to my next gate. I made my way to a pay phone but realized that I didn’t have any change. And I know that my South Africa rand coins wouldn’t work. I opened my little folder with my travel papers and extra moo-lah in it and found some American dollars. I put them in the exchange machine and waited. It ate my money. I tried a different one. It ate my second dollar. I only had one left and tried for a third time. Finally I got four quarters. I went to the pay phone and followed the instructions. I was putting my fourth quarter in when I realized that it wasn’t going all the way. In my frustration I forced it and knew at that time that the pay phone had eaten my third dollar. I don’t remember what happened next, all I know is that somehow I exchanged a larger bill and got more quarters. I just wanted to talk to my family! I followed the instructions again and within seconds the phone was ringing. My 14 year old brother, Luke answered the phone and I began to cry slow, desperate tears. My hands were shaking and I felt like if I spoke then I would wake up from this American dream. I tried to collect myself and I asked for Mom. She got on the phone and the only thing I could say was, “Mom, I’m in America!” We talked for a very short while and I ask if she knew if Amy was coming or not? Mom confirmed that Amy was on her way! I got off the phone with Mom and called Amy’s cell phone. She was about an hour and a half away from being with me! The plan was for her to pick me up outside and then we were going to go to breakfast.
I found a plug-in outlet and sat down with my computer on the floor. I had to do something to keep my mind off the waiting. I started the movie “Braveheart” and soon realized that I was being looked at/watched by every person around. It couldn’t have had anything to do with the fact that I was sitting on my African wrap skirt on the floor and not in one the many open seats nearby (there were no plug-ins near the seats) and the bottoms of my feet were covered in what looked like a solid, black tattoo. It was really just henna. I didn’t care. “Let them look” I told myself as I tried to focus on the movie.
A few minutes before Amy was supposed to be there I packed up my computer and headed outside. My watch and cell phone (that didn’t work in America) were both still set on African time so I continually asked people walking by what time it was. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t way too early or way too late. Nope, I was right on time. Before too long I could see Amy coming my way and she was waving at me frantically with a huge smile on her face! I picked up my backpack and ran toward her van as she put it in park and jumped out for a good, long hug. Oh, how wonderful it felt to be in the arms of family. We were both crying and I didn’t want to let go for fear that if I did she would disappear and I would find myself hugging a tree in South Africa… (haha) But our embrace ended and we were still both there. We jumped into the car and made our way through traffic to McDonalds.
Once inside I had a little bit of trouble figuring out what I wanted because there was so much to choose from! I’m used to having a menu of Couscous and sauce or rice and sauce with onion rings or fries. But we ordered and found a seat in a corner. Amy took my picture of my first meal back in America.

We knew that we didn’t have all day so we tried to pick what was the most important to talk about during the little time that we had. How do you do that when you’ve not seen one another in over a year and you only have an hour?! But between Amy and I we didn’t have trouble finding things to talk about. I showed her a lot of pictures from here and my house and my people. It was fun to show someone in person and not just over my blog. And it was fun showing her because she’s never been here and I was able to see her expressions and here her questions about the photos, etc.

The time with Amy was all too short and it felt like we had just said hello when she dropped me off and I had to say goodbye. There was so much that I wanted to share with her and so much I wanted to hear about from her and we just didn’t have the time. We had a teary goodbye and I didn’t want to let go. But I waved and made my way inside as she maneuvered her van back onto the road.
I got myself checked in, to my gate and on the plane with no trouble. Once on the plane the whole idea of being back in America was real. I had just had breakfast with my aunt and was hearing English and speaking it to everyone around! THAT was amazing by the way! But on the flight I was feeling anxious about getting home. In Atlanta Mom had said on the phone that we were going straight form the airport to the funeral home and I laughed at her. “Mom, you must not know what I look like right now! You have to let me shower and change my clothes.” She had just been teasing and was planning on taking me to Granny’s house first anyway. Granny and Grandaddy’s house is near the funeral home so it made it easy. She told me that her and Daddy were going to be leaving in a few hours for the airport and they were excited about seeing me. As real as it felt to be in America it was still unreal!
I got to St. Louis and I couldn’t get off the plane fast enough. My whole body was shaking and I just wanted to run. I got through the gate to the waiting families and I looked around. I didn’t see Mom and Dad. I walked to the baggage claim and they weren’t there. “Maybe they got the airline mixed up…” my luggage came and still no parents. I propped my backpack and my suitcase against the wall and I just prayed as I paced and looked out the doors. I kept telling myself to be calm but every once in a while this small pitiful cry would leave my lips and my heart just ached to be with my family. I was so close to being with them! I looked one way for a few seconds and then the other… that’s when I saw my mom walking toward me and she had tears in her eyes and a smile on her face. I let go of my luggage that I had been carting around by that time and it fell over and hit the ground with a loud bang. I didn’t care. I was with my mom. The hug lasted a long while and I savored how it felt to be so close to her; it was almost more than I could take. I was so happy! Mom and I talked back and forth through tears about not believing the moment and how good it felt to be each other’s arms. I ask where Dad was and she said up the stairs waiting in the car along the sidewalk. I jetted that way after my mom and we headed up the stairs. “Mom! Where is he?!” I didn’t recognize any of the cars and I couldn’t see in the windshields very good because of the sun. “Right there, Honey!” She pointed to the red car pulling quickly toward us. I was already emotional and then seeing my dad about put me over the top. He jumped out and I fell into his arms and again let the tears flow. Dad wrapped himself around me and held me close. “You’re home, Baby. You’re home.” We got in the car and Mom sat in the back with me. Everything about St. Louis was the same. Nothing had changed or moved or anything. It was the same as when I left it. But it did feel different to be back. I don’t know what I expected things to look like and I had no idea how I was supposed to feel in the midst of the moment. By the time we got to Festus I was ready to see my sisters and brothers. We pulled up to Granny and Grandaddy’s house and all but Lettie was outside jumping up and down and laughing and waiting their turn for a hug. I wanted to hold them all for so long but there are so many in my family! Grace, Abbie, Naomi, Luke Phoebe, Lily and Levi were all there. I gave good hugs to them all and then repeated them. Words can’t express what it felt like to be surrounded by so much family. Granny was taking pictures until I made my way to her and hugged her and then Grandaddy (or vice a versa, I can’t remember the order of the hugs, you wonder why with so many people to give them to☺).
I showered and changed and PUT ON MAKEUP and then I straightened my hair! I hadn’t worn makeup like that or straightened my hair in over a year. A few of the family had already left and the younger ones asked to stay until I was ready so they could go with me. I think that Grace drove and drank up all that I could of everything around me. We got to the funeral home and my older sister, Lettie, was at the door with my nephew Tucker. He was so fat! He was 3 ½ months old when I left in 2007 and now at 1 ½ years he looked so different than before. I had seen some recent pictures but they don’t do justice to real life sometimes. I hugged her and all my cousins (but not Tucker, he wanted nothing to do with me) and I was looking for Theo, Tucker’s older brother. Around the corner he came and I got on my knees and held my arms out and Theo gave me a wonderful hug! Not too squeezy, not too light, but JUST perfect! Lettie told me later that they had been practicing and talking to Theo about a good hug since I had been gone for so long. Thank you Lettie!
I walked into the other room and saw my grandma from a distance. I had to keep myself from bawling right then and there. When I left America last year I wasn't sure if I would see her or Grandpa again. I walked to her and tapped her on the shoulder and she turned and asked who I was. “I’m Anna, Grandma. I just got off the plane from Africa. You remember when I left last year?” Recognition filled her eyes and she gave me a bug smile and placed both her hands on my cheeks and said, “My Anna! My Anna! It sure is you isn’t it?” It was a wonderful reunion with her. I also met up with my Aunt Sis, Uncle Loyd, Aunt Karen and Uncle Charlie, my brother-in-law, Ted, and my cousins Linda, Eli, Jaime, Lacie and Bobbie.
The henna on my feet turned many heads that night and into the next day as everyone around wanted to know why my feet were black. Many people thought that the henna was a substitute for a pair of shoes, which is not the case. It’s simply a sign of beauty for the women here. Had I known that I was going to head to America from South Africa I wouldn’t have done my feet. But there was no turning back then. The henna would be wearing off a little bit by the time I left but until then I told the story of my henna about 124 times. It was amazing to me how many people noticed it, but it was hilarious how many people wanted pictures of my feet!
The next day, Friday, was the funeral and two of my friends from school came to spend the day with me. My dad had to run an errand before the funeral that afternoon so he took me to Panera (St. Louis Bread Co.) in Festus where I met up with Dana and Karissa. There were hugs and more hugs and lots of talk as we visited and showed pictures and stories. The time went fast and we headed to the funeral home where the funeral took place.
The rest of the day was filled with family and visiting. After the funeral and burial we went to my cousin Eli and Jaime’s home to be with family. I said goodbye to Dana and Karissa (which was so sad!) and stayed with family for the rest of the evening.
It was a blessing to be with them all. I showed pictures to Granny and Grandaddy and Tucker and had a good evening of laughs and remembering Grandpa.

More on America is to come and I'm trying to get more photos up but the internet has decided to slow down at the moment.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

A year and a half!

Today marks my one and half year! I am leaving Niamey as I type. I will be back on in about a week and a half with a "real" blog. I think that I'm going to Melissa's house in two weekends so I can celebrate my birthday!

I will be posting soon!