June 28, 2009

the best welcome ever...

after spending an obscene number of hours on an airplane, i am really in africa. it's a bit surreal still...we just arrived at the african bible college in malawi this afternoon, so i haven't had too many adventures just yet. (unless of course you include the countless times we've loaded, unloaded, checked and claimed our seventeen pieces of luggage) but we've already seen why malawi is called "the warm heart of africa". as our plane from johannesburg to lilongwe was taxiing to the terminal today, our nine person team (all conveniently located on the left side of the plane) looked out our windows to see this...

in case it's too small for you to read, the banner on the right says "welcome calvary church . vbs 2009 . abc malawi". the funny part was that i had just remarked earlier that day how fun it is to be greeted at the airport with a sign...and there it was! it's really nice to be loved.

June 24, 2009

give out grace...

the african adventure officially begins in thirty six hours and i am ready to go.

it is becoming abundantly clear that the major theme for me on this trip is grace. both accepting grace for myself and giving out grace to others. a month or so ago i was reading what's so amazing about grace and had the idea to write the phrase "give out grace" on my hand as a reminder of what i'm doing on this trip. sometimes it's hard to see the point of traipsing halfway around the world for a few weeks on a mission trip. couldn't the money be better spent on supplies rather than travel? but it's not about the money or the time, it's about being the hands and feet of Jesus. maybe sometimes that will be a very practical thing, like building a house that stands long after you're gone. but other times it's less tangible things...giving out hugs, smiles, and reminding people that they aren't forgotten and that someone cares about them.

the funny thing is that today, i got a little lesson in accepting grace. i met missy and sophie for lunch at pei wei. i was a little early and they were a little behind, so it ended up that i was waiting for about twenty minutes. no big deal. i had brought my computer in and figured i'd just play around while i waited. the workers were apparently very concerned about me and after asking a few times if there was anything they could get me they brought over some water and lettuce wraps on the house! since that was what i was planning to order anyway, i tried to pay them for it but they refused. a little later in the afternoon i went to my appointment to get a henna tattoo on my hand, and after having to wait awhile due to a scheduling confusion, they refused to let me pay for it...not even a tip! it hit me as i was driving home that this was a perfect example of grace being given to me.

if you'd like to keep up with us while we're gone, we have a team blog that will hopefully be updated during the trip. you can find it at www.malawiorphans.blogspot.com. i hope to also be able to post updates here, but i'm not holding my breath.

June 20, 2009

in case you were wondering...

part one of shelly's summer o' fun (aka - two weeks in st. louis) has been a little on the crazy side, but good just the same. i ended up spending the whole first week at church helping with camp edge, the new all-day version of vbs...yes that's right, i said ALL-DAY!! welcome to the world of crazy. my mom basically becomes an unpaid employee of children's ministry when the summer starts and i told her i would tag along on sunday and monday to help with the final preparations and the madness of day one. then on monday morning i was granted ownership of a highly coveted walkie talkie and i just couldn't tear myself away. (did i mention there were 750 kids? hence the need for walkie talkies and "support staff")

once that week was over i was able to see some friends that i don't often get a chance to see when i'm in town, which is always great. we had some classic summer fun...played in the pool, saw a show at the muny, went to the old time picnic and played some serious games of settlers. and in between visits i managed to squeeze in painting most of my mom's garage. it's not totally finished, but i made some progress. now to get ready for africa...

June 9, 2009

this is a stick-up...

last friday my super fabulous friends at john knox threw me the going away party of the century. it all started when i came back to the office after serving lunch to the residents and amber jumped out at me shouting, "this is a stick-up! don't say anything...do what i tell you!"

this is me being surprised/frightened

i followed her to the parking lot where i was blindfolded and told to put on a large shirt, which i couldn't look at. we drove for what felt like a long time, while amber continuously shouted (and yes, i do mean shouted) trivia questions at me, which were based on the various funny things that have happened at my job during the past three years. when we finally arrived at our destination and the blindfold was removed, i was greeted by the rest of my co-workers and a big sign welcoming me to my "i quit my job shower". (editors note: i had recently been lamenting about always throwing baby and bridal showers and never getting one, so they were really granting a wish)
not only did they feed me, which most people know is super exciting for me, they literally did shower me with a LOT of great gifts! i still can't believe how generous they are!

in case you can't read it, the shirt says "today i quit my job at john knox village"

thanks ladies...you're the best coworkers a girl could ever ask for.

June 5, 2009

my life in a nursing home...

today was my last day at john knox village. it was bittersweet. i just celebrated my three year anniversary (officially making it my longest lasting job to date) and though the job has had its share of annoyances over the years, it also provided many fond memories.

i will miss my residents. i will miss the way they make me laugh and the sweet things they say. i'll miss they way they will sing and dance with you when they're in a good mood. i might even miss the way they make mean faces and occasionally shout at you when they're cranky.

funny things happen when you work with older people, especially the ones who are a few fries short of a happy meal, if you know what i mean. i tried to keep track of some of the funnier stories in a document i like to call "my life in a nursing home". i've shared some
fun memories and funny stories in the past, and in honor of my last day, would like to amuse you with a sampling of the conversations that occur with our beloved residents...

me: would you like to hear some keyboard music today?
resident: what?
me: would you like to hear keyboard music?
resident: i can't understand what you're saying.
me: keyboard music.
resident: i should take a laxative.
me: okay then.

amber: robert, are you a veteran?
resident: yes
amber: what branch did you serve in?
resident: i don't know
amber: i heard that you served in the army
resident: that's definitely not true.
(editors note: it actually is true)

joyce: look what the bird did today
(shows me where the bird pooped on the back of her shirt)
me: gross
resident: what happened
me: ruby made a mess on joyce’s shirt
resident: you should just shoot it

amber: frank, would you like some fruit?
resident: no, i would like a suppository.

June 1, 2009

pictures and pedicures...

it's almost my friend sophie's second birthday, so we spend saturday morning documenting the occasion with a photo shoot. is this girl cute or what?!?

if you're a sophie fan, you can see a few more shots from the day here.


the fun continued in the afternoon with some pampering. our friend jen surprised missy and i with birthday pedicures (a bit of an early gift for me!) and it was my first pedicure ever! i do have to say, it's quite an enjoyable experience.