Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Day 4 in Africa

 This morning we woke up at 3:00 AM, confused at the time.
I didn't sleep very well even though I was so tired.
I was excited and anxious, and there were about 30 dogs outside my window
barking all night long.
We got up and spent the day at St. Augustine school in Arusha.
It was filled with hundreds of beautiful children learning and studying
together. There was a beautiful church that had been under construction 
for 13 years next to the school with beautiful stained glass windows.
Two cows roamed the grounds and were used for fresh milk for the kids.
Sister Beatrice took our group to EVERY class in the school
(it took several hours) to meet all the children. 
 Christian and I got to teach a class to a group of 4-5-year-old children.
Oh my gosh! These were the CUTEST kids ever!
We sang primary songs, played games, and the kids recited the Lord's
prayer for us (at level 1000).  
The children wanted to know why my pinkie was missing and why I was
burned. They were so concerned and asked lots of questions.
They touched my scars and my face, and I showed the children
photos of the Nies back home.
They were amazed, especially by Jane and Lottie and their
orange hair! They also were fascinated by Angus!! They had never
seen anything like that before!
A lot of the people here live in poverty but are so happy.
They are radiant and joyful.
They taught me a good lesson about true happiness.
It's not about things that bring us joy; it's about people and experiences.
It's about God and His grace; the children here prove that daily,
and I was so touched and inspired.
This trek is going to be made into a documentary film
and everything is being filmed and documented.
That will be cool once it comes out later next year.
After lunch, we went to St. Joseph's hospital in Moshi.
 K2 Adventure Foundation is helping to sponsor and maintain this facility.
It's incredible to see the quality of 
health care compared to the quality we receive
in the United States. I am so very thankful!
Our group helped make bricks for future hospital additions,
painting, cleaning and worked the front desk checking in patients. 
Since we had several healthcare professionals with us, they were
able to examine patients and train the staff.
Christian and I cut up gauze and sanitized the surgical tools.
To end the day, we visited Summit Happy Home, where several lucky
children were cared for.  
The children get beds, clothing, 3 meals a day, and loving teachers and staff 
to support and care for them, transportation to school, and
toys to play with.
K2 foundation supports this orphanage for
 displaced children left to survive on their own.
 They even have an orphanage dog to play with!
Before leaving, we painted our hands and signed our names on the wall
at the entry of the orphanage.
I hope to go back again one day with my own children.
It was a long day of service and love.
Tomorrow we begin our adventure!

This is what I eat every day:
It's pretty bland, but I am so worried I am going to get sick
and won't be able to hike (we've had at least three from our group get
deathly ill, and one had to drop out).

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Days 1, 2 & 3 in Africa

 Today was lots of traveling, airplanes, sleeping, and movie watching.  
I also successfully drank a 12-pack of 
Ginger Ale during all the plane flights.
It tasted so good and seemed to be very calming.
I didn't need my Xanax on this trip!!
I did my breathing and took a ZzzQuil.
I think that was adequate and knocked me right out!
We sent a postcard to the Nies and my mom (mom, did you get it?)
 from Amsterdam, then ran into some friends, Mary and Craig
who were traveling to Africa for a humanitarian trip.  
What a fun surprise!
When we landed in Tanzania, we were met by our K2 guides
and taken to the Summit Lodge in Arusha, where we'd spend the
following three nights prepping for the hike.
In the morning, we were taken to downtown Moshi at the market.
We bought some needed bracelets for the kids.
It was so overwhelming.  I wanted to buy something from every stand,
but after the first five stands, I was done.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Mountains to Climb (In Africa)

For the next few weeks, Christian and I will be joining
 a team of burn survivors, medical professionals, and donors to
 climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. 
Christian and I had to climb some pretty steep mountains in the burn center
 with some pretty amazing doctors, nurses, and staff by our sides
 keeping us alive and cheering us on. Climbing Kilimanjaro 
with those same people, and other burn survivors,
 will bring us full circle in our recovery. This time we’re climbing
 a mountain that we can choose to climb, 
and we’ll be cheering each other on. 
We’re so excited to conquer this mountain and prove to the
 the world that our scars can’t hold us back.

You can follow along daily with our climb HERE.

Sunday, June 12, 2022


Today we got up, and the Nies drove us to the airport 
where Christian and I departed on our African journey.
First, we'd fly to Arizona to meet up with the team and spend one
night in Phoenix, then we'll fly to Minnesota to Amsterdam
and finally landing in Tanzania.
 Feeling excited...and a little nervous.
This is Christian's second time in Africa and my first.
When I first met Christian in March of 2000,
 he planned a THREE-month humanitarian
trip to Mozambique.
After our first date in May of 2000, he left the very next day for Africa
and I thought my world was going to end
since I knew I had found my soulmate.
It was a very long summer for me!
It's fun to be going back to Africa this time together!
It was sad having to say goodbye to my children.
They are always a little hesitant whenever we leave together because
once in August of 2008, we said goodbye to them and didn't come back
for a very long time.
I think they each have varying degrees of PTSD.
But we assured them we'd be back (and with African surprises!).
On our way to the airport, Gigs gasped and said,
"Holy crap, STOP!! I have to work in 15 minutes. I forgot!"
So we had to turn around and drop him off at the house so he could change
into his work clothes. We said our goodbyes to him, and he jetted
off on the motorcycle to work just down the street.
Welp, goodbye son!

Friday, June 10, 2022

Carrying my own pack.

Today was our big packing day, and tomorrow we depart for Africa.
Christian and I lay everything out on our bed
 and started packing it in our bags.  
We both have a large waterproof mountain bag, a
 large rolling suitcase, and our backpacks.
Seven other burn survivors are going on this trip, 
and we've been given strict instructions that we are NOT to carry our own
packs on the trail, and Dr. Foster is very adamant 
about this rule with me, especially since my back and shoulders
were so severely burned.  The skin is very fragile, and one rub or cut won't heal
properly at such a high altitude.  This could compromise my success.
But I am very much adamant that I CAN CARRY my bag.
Dr. Foster doesn't know it, but I'm not giving it up to the porter
on the mountain, and I hope we can both come to an agreement on this.
To me, carrying my own load is symbolic of the mountains I've clmibed
with Lord has helped me get to the top.
I need to prove this to myself.
I just need to.
Chrisitan is 100% carrying his own pack and wasn't as burned as badly
as I was so, Dr. Fosster is a little more forgiving.

It's been such a busy few months that I haven't had much
 time to process what I am doing.  
The thing is, I have no idea what I am doing and,
 I have no idea what to expect!  I do know this:
 I am ready to do this mentally, spiritually, and physically!
And I am such a competitive spirit and have no doubt I will make it
triumphantly to the top of Mt. Kilamanjaro in one piece!
I do have minor panic attacks when I think about leaving the Nies
for so long, and I get a little panicky thinking about the
 LONG plane rides I have to endure.
Dr. Foster prescribed me some Xanax, just in case.
My plan is to use deep breathing, listen to my Calm app about flight anxiety,
and pray a lot.  Medicine is my plan B, and knowing I have it
makes me feel much better.

Thursday, June 09, 2022

Halloween Punkins

A few weeks ago, we found a property in the country that
we all fell in love with it, and today we secured it!  
We will be moving (I know! I hate it, too!)
 in July, right before Claire gets home! 
 The house needs some renovations and work, but we're excited to do it,
and it's very small.
But we have big plans for it and are excited to work together to make
it is comfortable for our family!
We've been so patient for something like this to come up and it finally did!
(Thank you, Lord!)
Here is why I'm so excited:
-We can have Angus back!
-It's in the middle of cow pastures, which means we can get an NC herd!
-No neighbors
-No streetlights
-No other houses close by
-gravel road
(I guess I could probably go on and on).
Today we went out to the property
 (which has a name, more on that later)
and planted our Halloween pumpkins. (Or "punkins").
We don't have the key yet, but if we wait longer to plant the seeds,
the punkins won't be ready for Halloween, and we can't let that happen!

Also today:
Christian took Lottie on the motorcycle to her friend's birthday party.
Good memories. 

Ollie was invited to participate in an internship later this summer
which is one of the best schools for helmet engineering and innovations.
He's sooooooo excited! took a photo of him 
with all his specimens (helmets)
that he studies relentlessly!

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