We have been very busy over the last several weeks. Vacation can be an on-the-move kind of thing. We have been busy visiting family, friends and churches. It has been a real treat for sure.
Our first day of traveling was only slightly eventful. Our second "bathroom break" was out in the middle of nowhere. The bus driver announced, "Dakika Kumi kuchimba dawa!" (Ten minutes to go to the bathroom.) The culture in Tanzania is that men only have to turn away to relieve themselves, but ladies must find a bush to discretely take care of business. A quick look around showed NO DECENT BUSHES AT ALL! I had made friends with the Tanzanian lady behind me previously to this stop. I decided perhaps I would just wait a few more hours until we reached Dar es Salaam. Fortunately, God knew we would be delayed and He encouraged me through my new friend Joyce. After the crowd had exited, she stood up, and hit me on the should and told me to "chimba dawa!" I said "there is not good bush here." She informed me they would have to wait or we would have to hurry. So off we went with a few other ladies and spotted a bit of a knoll in the distance, and we headed that way at a trot. After getting over the horizon a bit from the bus and the men, I found a bare limbs to squat behind. I am so thankful for Joyce's encouragement, because only 16 minutes away from our final bus stop, we had a fender bender. I think that delayed us about one and a half hours. We didn't realize we were so close to our destination. It took a long time for the police to show up and to get things squared away.
The next day we flew to Doha, Qatar via Qatar Airlines. It was very nice. They actually got our meals correct (and we each had a different special meal preference.) I highly recommend them. The hotel that they put us up in was the nicest I have been in. The restaurant had things on the salad and fruit bars that I had not seen in a long time (like all kinds of dried and fresh fruits and nuts.) There was a multitude of lettuces to pick and choose from. Joshua sat down with his plate and wanted to know which of all those forks he should use. :)
Our flight to Chicago also went very well. There were several documentaries and "infotainment" options to watch along with other things to do.
Fletcher picked us up in Chicago and then we went to Lake Michigan while we waited for Doug's sister Brenda to arrive from the Detroit area to pick us up. It was WINDY and a bit chilly by the lake. We enjoyed the seagulls (which Joshua chased) and all the beautiful rounded stones of various colors along the shoreline. Then we had our transfer into Brenda's vehicle and the additional drive to her house. (Brenda gave us an extra special treat of apples, dried sweet cherries and walnuts! OH! WERE THEY GOOD!) All three of fell asleep at various times during this part of the trip. Doug's older sister Sue had come up from Kentucky with her daughter to visit with us, also. We had a lovely couple of days visiting with them.
Then we rode up with Doug's sister Sue to visit his parents for 5 days. It was a lovely time. It was the first time in ELEVEN YEARS that all four siblings and their parents were under the same roof. We had some wonderful food, fellowship and fun. We picked up gallons and gallons of apples from under the apple trees, helped deliver "meals-on-wheels" to the shut-ins, and I took advantage of some down time to do some puzzle-putting-together. (We were VERY well fed at both locations including a couple of restaurant visits!)
Then we took a bus from East Lansing, MI to Chicago, and another bus from Chicago to St. Louis. I learned why they call Chicago "the windy city." It was cold and windy. Doug had lost his jacket somewhere on the trip, and he suffered the most of all three of us. We enjoyed using the free wi-fi internet and powered plug-ins.
Alan Savoy picked us up in St. Louis. We had two very nice nights with him and Ruthlynn. They are dear Catholic friends of ours that we will treasure forever. They loaned us their Volvo, gave us a home-base to station ourselves, fed us, collected donated items for us and treated us better than we could have ever hoped to be treated. Their place is out in the country with ducks, chickens, horses, a donkey, a rabbit, guinea fowl, fish, cats and dogs. It was a great quiet place to retreat to between visits all over Missouri and Arkansas.
We visited (so far) 6 churches (Summersville, Pioneer, Rogers, Mountain Grove, Ava and Elk Creek) and did presentations at each. Lots of friends came out for the presentations. It was so nice to see everyone and visit with so many friends. I can't even start to list all the people who came. I would surely miss a lot of names!
We visited my mom's place (her and Cliff, also) and also my dad's (Barbara, also.) We had a family get-together at Dad's and a lot of family came by along with some friends and my dear brother. It was such a joy to spend time with all of our family members and friends.
We had a lot of fun at Mom's also. We worked on putting together a puzzle, made LOTS of waffles, enjoyed feeding the fish in the pond and all the animals.
Then we took two nights at the Taft house. That was such a blessing. Three-fourths of the Norwood family were there, Hal, Janet and Alfreda also came to visit us while we were there. It was such a retreat from all the travel and being busy. I would sit down to play the piano, and many of the children (up to EIGHT!) would pick up an instrument and we would play hymns together or some would sing (including adults.) I played until my thumb felt like it had a blister, and some of us were getting hoarse from singing. It was a grand time.
All the children have grown so much. Ah, my hearts is so full of new good memories that my eyes are a bit teary.
We had a very nice visit back to Baker Creek Seed Company in Mansfield,
MO also! We had been regulars there at the festivals (both Spring and
Fall and then the Heritage Days) for six years (would have been eight if
we had not been Africa for the last two.) It was delightful to see old
friends there. There were so many, some came up all the way from
Arkansas (Thank you Darin and Elaine!) The only thing I could have
asked for more would have been that there had not been any wind and that
the temperature hadn't dropped.
Then we were back to the Savory house to gather ourselves and start packing, and to unwind a bit.
Yesterday, Alan drove us to the other side of St. Louis and we met up with the Farrells. Doug was in the Navy with Blake. They were so much fun to listen to as they shared stories and pictures. We had a nice visit with them.
They delivered us and ALL OF OUR BAGS (10 at the moment including backpacks and food bag) to the bus stop. I am typing this up as we cruise along I-55 in Illinois as we head to Chicago.
There Fletcher will pick us up. We will then make it to our last stop before flying back to Africa. I think he has a busy schedule planned for us (which is great.)
We have enjoyed our visit immensely. Thank you EVERYONE who has been a part of it (through visits, calls, support, donations, prayers - or even reading this!) I will treasure this trip in my heart. God has been so incredibly wonderful to us through all of you.
PS - We are still looking for recruits to Eden Valley Foster Care Mission and also Kibidula. If you think you might be interested, contact me to start getting your questions answered.
Tafts and Lisboas - looking forward to seeing you there. :)
Our camera batteries died a while back and we haven't gotten them replaced. I don't even know where my camera is! I will try to upload some pictures of our trip on a later post. Thank you everyone for everything. Prayers mean so much to us.
(We are currently on the top level of a two-level bus - Megabus and the scenery is nice!) I recommend Megabus, by-the-way. It is NICE.
PPS - We are also looking forward to being back in Africa soon!