Friday, January 02, 2015

Rocky Beginnings

I decided towards the end of last year that I would start blogging again. Then, I thought why not just start on Jan 1st. I planned this nice introspective post about new beginnings and making decisions to change our lives for the better.

And, then...

While eating breakfast, we heard a loud crash. This is what we found.


Yep, a portion of the ceiling collapsed onto the floor because of a water leak. Also, there is mold. Great way to start off the year.

Since it was new year's day, I knew there was no way that we could get anything done to fix this. So, we just put a trash can under the leak and swept the trash into that pile up there and moved on with our day. We left the pile because we want to make sure the maintenance people see it.

The kids and I decided to go swimming. When we returned to our house, we noticed this.




This house is super raggedy. We live on a compound of 100 houses that are exactly the same. Some are more raggedy than others because some of us live at the bottom of the hill. Supposedly, there was a landslide here a while ago and the earth is still slowly shifting which created problems with the foundation, blah, blah, blah. We were supposed to move to a different house in October but that didn't happen. So now, we are in this house with 50,000 cracks in the walls and foundation, a couple leaks, a broken front door, 2 unusable air conditioners (each room has it's own a/c units), and other little issues. 

Argh...

I'll be back another day with a more upbeat post but I'm back to stay.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Danica and Malaria

I haven't made the time to transfer pics from my phones and cameras yet so that's why I haven't blogged about Namibia and South Africa yet. But, I remembered I never told this story.

So, a couple months ago now, Danica started feeling ill. She said her stomach hurt and she had a really high fever and was just very lethargic. We have been warned continuously that any time anyone has a fever, they should be checked immediately for malaria. So, of course we headed to the clinic. There are only a couple clinics here where the company allows us to go for medical issues. At that time, there was only one in the city. So, I pack up the kids and we set off. I have Danica wrapped in her quillow because she was freezing cold. The driver sets off for the clinic.

Unfortunately, although this is the primary clinic for expats like us, that doesn't mean there is always an English speaking person available. I keep telling the people (in my limited portuguese) that my daughter is sick, has a fever, etc. Oh, and yeah, she had a couple mosquito bites. Eventually, an English speaking person comes around and tells me to wait.

These clinics are generally a first come, first serve type of facility and are always crowded. Not only is it a medical facility for expats but also local employees of the company and their families. There are no fees for visits, including medicine and special tests. So, Danica and I sat in a chair while Brayden and Danae complained about having no place to sit. Eventually, Dwayne came as well.

Yes, I called him frantic about my baby and complaining that he moved us over here.

After waiting about 45 minutes, we are seen by the triage nurse. Danica still has a fever, although not as high as earlier. We wait about 45 more minutes and are then called in to the doctor. He believes she has malaria but we have to get blood work done to prove it either way. I take Danica to the lab where she screams likes a crazy person while I hold her still so the nurse can take her blood.

I was so nervous letting those people poke my baby.

We wait about 30 more minutes and the doctor calls us back in. He said he is very surprised to say that she doesn't have malaria but instead has some unknown infection that her body is fighting off. He said all her symptoms pointed to malaria but, somehow, it's not there. He prescribes antibiotics, we go to the pharmacy downstairs to get the drugs, and we leave.

Later, I'm told that the same anti-malaria meds that we were taking at the time are also the treatment for the disease. The treatment is just a higher dosage that that to prevent. Since Danica is on the lower end of the weight limit for her dosage, it's possible that the drugs were already treating the malaria. She continued taking the anti-malaria meds and about 2 days worth of antibiotics and has been fine ever since.

We are no longer taking the daily malaria meds though. We have quite a few in case we need to start self-treating but have decided to just trust that God will protect us from the disease. And, we lather up in mosquito repellant daily. Because it rains very little here, we don't have a ton of mosquitoes anyway.

We thank God for protecting all of us but especially our baby.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Why we are here!

I'm back for real this time...

The main deciding factor for coming to Angola for 3 years was that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. When will we have another chance to live in Africa and travel around the continent. At my children's school, they get 3 breaks a year. They have Spring break for a week in October. Remember, we are south of the equator so the seasons are opposite. They have summer break in December for 3 weeks and then a 2 week fall break in March/April. Additionally, because this is considered a hardship assignment, the husband's company gives a stipend for R&R trips.

For us, this means at least 3 African vacations yearly and then a trip to the US in June/July/August (not sure when we'll arrive or leave). After our stay here, we should have visited at least 9 countries.

We've already begun our travels and I will blog in depth about those this week. In October, we went to Namibia and visited the cities of Windhoek, Swakopmund, and Sossusvlei. In December, we headed to Cape Town, South Africa. Both of these trips were fantastic.

In March, we are seriously considering the African island nation of Mauritius (near Madagascar).

In addition to these, we are interested in Morocco, Egypt, Senegal, and Victoria Falls (on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe).

Sometimes, this feels like a dream because we really can't believe we are here and seeing all these beautiful places.

I have a lot to write about and decided that today I would get back on it.

Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Boring!

Sorry for the long break! We had internet issues and then I just didn't feel like blogging. I'm back now and will post regularly.

Boring!!! That adequately describes Luanda. There's not much to do here for fun. No bowling, skating, museums, children's fun places. There is a movie theater but it's in Portuguese so...

On our compound, there is a swimming pool, tennis courts, soccer field, and playgrounds. But, it gets old seeing the same stuff all the time. There is a nearby beach called Mussulo which is a really nice spot. The problem is that I'm used to having a variety of things in Houston and here there just isn't much. So, we have to deal with the mundane existence here and then have a fabulous vacation every few months. It is what it is!

One way to deal with it though is that people have regular get togethers. There are birthday parties every week. There are different groups that get together for different activities as well: book club, bible study, prayer group, movie days, bunco, tennis matches, etc. So far, I do the prayer group and movie days. Bible study is at the same time as my portuguese class and I really have to get this language. I don't have my shipment yet so can't play tennis. I'm trying to find stuff to do though.

The highlight of everyone's life here are the vacations though. In October, we went to Namibia. It was fabulous and a post will come soon about that. We are spending Christmas in Cape Town, SA. Our goal is to make it to the following places before we leave: Kenya, Mauritius, Johannesburg, Victoria Falls, and Morocco. I really wish we could go to Egypt but they have to calm down there first. It is likely that we won't make it to all those places but we will see.

I miss all of you and will write again soon.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Luanda Para Cristo

Hey!!!

Let me tell y'all about this church event we went to. For my Houston SDA folks, do you remember a few years ago when we had the Houston for Christ evangelism thing for the month of February. Well, they had a Luanda for Christ thing in Angola. It was introduced at the beginning of the year and then they had a 4 week crusade with nightly preaching which ended on September 21st. On that day, they rented out 2 soccer stadiums for the church service. It was quite amazing! In total, the report is that more than 23,000 people have been baptized so far this year. The goal is 1 million before the end of the year.

So, the church that we've been attending was told to go to Dos Coqueiros stadium which seats about 12,000 people. We were told to get there by 8:30 so our family will be able to find seats together. That was good information because by 8:45 the place was almost full for an event starting at 9:15. And, there were people everywhere sitting on the steps, on the ground, on the soccer field. And, almost everyone was travelling with pots, plates, drinks, etc. because the plan was to stay for the entire day. That was their plan, by the way. We went home after the service.

We were seated in the end zone (I don't know soccer vernacular) which means we couldn't see things very well. But, that didn't matter because: 1) We didn't understand much anyway, 2) We were close to the exit.

The week before, the adults were given t-shirts to wear because they wanted everyone to match. My kids wore their Fondren Children's Ministry t-shirts so they could rep their church and be easily identified by their parents.

There was an American guy there who gave the first sermon (yay because we could understand). I had a translator sitting next to me but I think sometimes she would forget her job so I didn't get everything. She was very happy to translate the 2 testimonies though so I'll share those.
1) A lady joined a Bible study group and decided to be baptized as a SDA. Her mom told her if she went through with it, she would be disowned and the mom would tell everyone she had died. The lady was baptized anyway. She said she would rather be dead to her family than dead to Christ. Family means everything in Angola so this is a very bold step for her to take.
2) A teenager boy said he joined Pathfinders to hang with his friends and was introduced to God. He said he was impressed by the other kids because they had different standards than everyone else.

"Luanda for Christ: 1 million souls for Christ"

"Hope for Angola" and Danica repping for Fondren CM

Panorama shot of the crowd. The lady all the way on the left was my translator.

If you squint a little, you can see people in white on the field. They were baptized that day in a kiddie pool that was maybe 1.5 ft deep. We are still not sure how that happened.

Another panorama shot. They guy on the left with the orange shirt is our driver. You can also see the tops of my kids' heads on the bottom left. Oh, there's Dwayne's big head too!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Just Stuff...

Today, I thought I would talk about some things here that are unique or really surprised me.

  • Weave - Probably 75% of the people here are walking around with weave. This really surprised me. I'm assuming it must be pretty cheap to buy because poverty is real over here. I've been trying to figure out how to sneak a picture because it is installed in a very interesting way. Some people have tracks but for most it is different. At the root, it looks almost like palm rolled dreads. So...I think...the natural hair is palm rolled and then the weave is somehow glued onto that. I know I didn't describe it right but I'll get a pic one day. Just know there's a lot of weave and most of it looks a mess.

  • So, these people hook a trailer up to the back of a motor bike and make it into a taxi. I haven't been able to get a good pic so this will have to do. I have seen like 15 people hanging onto the back. Crazy...dangerous.

  • Women walking around with stuff on their heads. Now, I know this isn't something that I didn't expect but I have been surprised by the type of things on their heads. I've seen chairs, small trees, huge boxes. I'm always amazed by this. Usually though, it's more like these.




  • The traffic! This traffic is horrible...worse than anything I've seen. Example...Dwayne's job is about 11 miles from our house. He has to leave at 5:20 in the morning to get there about 6:15. If he leaves any later, it can take him 2 hours or more to get there. His commute in the evening is about 1.5 hours. He leaves work at 4:30 and usually gets here around 6 (sometimes later). I've been trying to figure out the traffic rules. There are very few lights or stop signs but also very few accidents. I guess the people aren't too aggressive and just fit in however they can.
I know there are more things but this is all I can think of for now. I'll write later.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Sourpuss

So, we are having a little issue around these parts. Danae is mad at the world right now.
When Dwayne told her we were moving, she cried like a crazy person. This was expected though because she would miss her friends and family and all that. Then, she had a few moments of excitement about this move. Well, since she started school, we have gone back to the bottom.

The problem...friends. She says that she doesn't have any friends. She says people don't like her and are talking about her. I think she's part of the problem. Now, my daughter tends to be a bit shy around new people and I get that. She met a little girl on the first day who has been talking to her and being very friendly. But, that little girl has other friends who don't know Danae and Danae isn't trying to know them too much either. As a matter of fact, when I walked her to class one day, another little girl spoke to her and she barely opened her mouth. I've been trying to tell her that she has to be friendly for other folks to want to be bothered with her.

Last night, she gave me this note.
It says: "I hate school so badly that I never want to hear the word school ever again."

"School is the worst thing I've heard of in my whole entire life. I don't even want to see one. I am too done with this thing. Just don't talk to me. PLEASE!!!

I think she came with such a bad attitude that it's affecting her ability to build relationships. This school is full of children who just moved here or are getting ready to leave or are in the middle of their stay. They get it! They've all been the new kid. I talked to Danae's teacher to see how she's doing and it seems that she is her own worst enemy. I've tried to encourage her, pray with her, talk to her, but I'm out of ideas and I'm very annoyed.

If anyone has ideas on how to handle, please share because I've decided to not ask her about it anymore and just let her deal.