August 20, 2012

Goodbye summer

I promised myself when I started this blog that I would not let myself feel guilty if I didn't post all the time. Well, it has been almost 2 months... so I thought I would summarize what all I have been up to these last few summer months. 
My summer started with a bang! I led a team of 15 to Uganda and Ethiopia in May through Visiting Orphans. I love all the women on the team and I discovered that though I am young God can use me to lead others. I learned so much about strange things that interest me, like essential oils and non-traditional healing methods. It is amazing how a missions trip can bring you so close to strangers so quickly. It really was a special team. 
I got to meet the most precious, incredible couple - Papa Isaac and Mama Rebecca. I can't wait to go back to Uganda in December to see them again! They have a sign on their property that says "You are most welcome". This really stuck with me on this trip. Everyone I encountered was so hospitable and selfless. When they say 'make yourself at home', they mean it. Eat their food, sit and relax, don't worry about a thing. It made me think about the way we host people in America. We say make yourself at home but many times it means 'don't go in that room', 'sorry I didn't clean', 'you can do this but don't do that'. It is hospitality with strings attached. I want people to feel at home when they walk into my house. I don't want to apologize if I didn't dust. I want to share my stash of yummy chai. I want to say 'you are most welcome' and mean it. I love Africans!
I spent a lot of time with sweet Sarah. She wants to be a nurse when she grows up and we were both happy to have a new friend. 
Then I got to see my favorite ladies in Addis! 
It is such a treat to see them. My first trip to Ethiopia in January I met these 6 women who work in the kitchen at a ministry we partner with. You can read about my first experience meeting them here
 I came home from Africa, which was the longest Michael and I have ever spent apart, and we went to Chicago to celebrate our 2 year wedding anniversary!
I loved this city, especially with this guy. 
We had so much fun exploring the city and eating all the yummy food. 
 We then decided to get chickens! You can read all about the chicken adventures on my previous posts: here and here.
We got them at 3 days old. They were so cute! Sweet Jean, Matilda, Faye and Doris. 
Time to build a chicken coop!
Here is Jean around the time they moved outside. 
 Many people have asked me how the chickens are doing. Well, they are 3 months old and should be laying eggs in the next month. They no longer chirp and are starting to develop an adorable cluck. I could watch them for hours. Look how big they are!?! They also make a convenient disposal for all my garden scraps. They love cabbage and rotten tomatoes!
In March we decided to make a garden. This summer has been full of learning what to do and what not to do. July was a wash because it was so hot. I never wanted to be outside to weed and a lot of our veggies fried in the heat. 
What worked:
-Green beans were the best by far. I grew these from seeds and they did amazing!
-All of our herbs. We made our money back in herbs. It was so nice to go to garden when I needed something for dinner. We have an endless supply of basil, rosemary, and parsley. 
-The bell peppers were great as well!
-Not sure yet because they aren't ready, but we have a whole bed of sweet potatoes that should be ready in the fall. Super excited about those. 

What didn't work:
-Anything leafy. First, I didn't realize leafy veggies like lettuce, spinach, cabbage and arugula are all fall vegetables, so they ended up really bitter. We also didn't want to use pesticides so all the leaves had holes from hungry bugs. 
-Carrots, this belongs in the sort of category. They were seeded way to close together so the carrots that had more room actually grew to the right size but most of them were so clustered together that they didn't grow at all. 
-Radishes grew so fast and were easy from seeds but they bolted and the radish never grew that big. 
-The tomatoes were doing awesome but the day that they changed from green to red it was like all the squirrels and bugs ate them. Super frustrating, but we made delicious fried green tomatoes instead. 

I am looking forward to digging up a few of the beds and starting a fall crop. 
For the 4th of July we decided to take an adventure to the Minister's Tree House. I love this place. Read all about it here.
The Visiting Orphans staff took a field trip to the zoo! These ladies are family to me. This last summer has been the hardest summer at work. But my co-workers are the best around and we all know how to support each other. Despite the stress of sending 30 teams around the world in the last 2 months, this summer solidified how much I absolutely love my job and the people I work with. I truly am blessed. 
 We also enjoyed a lovely, hot Saturday with the family at a Food Truck Festival. Michael and I are trying to cross off all the food trucks and restaurants in East Nashville on our list. So many great places to eat, so much yummy food!
In July Michael and I joined his family on a trip to Destin, Florida. It was awesome! I haven't been to the beach since 2009 and I loved the break. And my new obsession with the board game Carcassonne. I love strategy games. We play Carcassonne, or 'Crackers' as Michael calls it, just about every night. Throw in Monopoly Deal and Battleship and we are set.
 My twin sister got engaged at the end of July! Wahoo! Lots and lots and lots of wedding planning and dress finding and decor making. Words can not express how happy Michael and I are for Lauren and Evan. I am the Matron of Honor and Michael is the Best Man. They make the best friends around.
 I got to see my sweet friend Karlie at the East Nashville Tomato Festival. This was the best surprise ever. We went from sharing a room for 3 years to living in two different cities. I miss seeing her everyday but it is always a treat when we get to hang out. 
 I love her so much!
 Jonathan and Becca Moody moved back from France in July! We have spent many late nights hanging out with these two. It is such a nice thing to have a married couple that both people love. We could just sit and talk with them for hours! I am so happy they are back in Nashville. 

So this is goodbye to Summer. Michael started his last year of grad school and we are adjusting to the change in schedule.

But the next few months hold a lot of adventures too:
-We are going to NYC in 2 weeks. I can't wait to explore the city with Evan, Lauren and Michael.
-Michael and I both celebrate birthdays in September.
-Visiting Orphans has leader training in September where we will be training 50 leaders. I loved training last year and I am looking forward to connecting with these amazing people.
-And then my twin sister gets married September 29th!! Wahoo!!!!!!!
-Michael and I are also leading a Visiting Orphans team in December to Uganda and Kenya! This will be my first time back to Kenya since I was a child so this will be a huge deal. I also can't wait to meet this team, they all seem like awesome people and I know there will be many adventures ahead.

Until next time...