Monday, March 29, 2010

Bienvenue a CANADA!

Wow, I can't believe how much I missed Canadians in the last two weeks that I've been gone. Canadians are some of the best people ever, and it always takes me going away to have to realize it, but Canadians are the nicest people I know, and I really, really missed that! I find that I did not miss those people who probably should just think their comments through before verbalizing them... Our last flight ended with some turbulence, and as we began our descent, one of the flight attendants came on the PA system advising (as they always do) that everyone should have their seat belts fastened, and that everyone should take note of where the emergency exits were. Gotta say, that is the most unnerving thing I felt, well, at least in this second last leg of our journey. Leaving the Conakry airport was an experience in itself... On our way out, someone speaking a lot of French at me (not TO me), was going to search my bag, until she saw on my passport that I was Canadian, and thought that instead I should just give her some money to prevent her from checking it. When I told her I had no money, she stared at me, perhaps thinking that I might change my mind, but when I didn't, she let me go. Really my fellow Canadians, I have missed you!!! We have been travelling for about 25 hours now, and are in the Calgary airport awaiting our 8:00 flight home to Regina.

I mocked my parents mercilessly when they came back from Uganda as they were always wrapped up in sleeping bags because they were so cold. I can totally understand that now- we spent the last week in 35 C+ weather, and coming back to 15 is a little shock to the system. I'm seriously regretting my decision to wear shorts on the plane...

We will be back in Regina just after 9:00 PM tonight, hopefully with all of our baggage in tow. We had to go through customs here, and transfer our baggage after that, so we know that it has at least all made it to Calgary. I just have to keep reminding myself that I trust Air Canada, I trust Air Canada, I trust Air Canada... *siiiiigggghhhh*

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sticky Buns- a few days combined into one.

Wow- those few days went by really quickly. I'll try to let you know as much as I can remember- this week has just been such a blur!

On Wednesday, we travelled about 5 hours from Conakry, through the windy mountain roads where we stayed at some rustic vacation houses. Rustic was a pretty accurate description, thats for sure! We had the pleasure of experiencing the African art of the bucket bath, so never again will I complain about any problems in a shower, ie., water temperature or pressure... The weather was a lot different as we got further into the interior of Guinea. It was hot, but it was a really dry heat, which was nice, as that meant that it would cool down some in the evenings. We visited so many places while we were away- let me try to recall!

We met a local pastor who acts as director for a private school in which they have around 700 students, but really only have capacity for about 500. We toured the school, and looked in some classrooms that house at least 75 kids- and we think our classes of 30 kids are crowded? We travelled on another hour and a half maybe, through those windy mountain roads, during which I had the pleasure of playing my own special round of the 'don't poop your pants or throw up on your neighbour' game. Those who didn't read the blog that was written when Faith Baptist travelled to Uganda, the objective is simple- don't poop your pants. It sounds like an easy thing, but for those that have travelled into under developed countries and on their under developed roads, you know that this is not always the case. The roads we travelled on were paved, but had never been maintained. We think that our roads are bad? There were "potholes" more like craters, so huge that they took up half of the road. So we had to dodge the pothole in our lane, by swerving into oncoming traffic in the other lane, whilst trying to miss the oncoming 15 passenger van loaded with 45 people. It was an experience, that is for sure! FYI- I did win.

The next day (Thursday) we travelled a bit further and went to visit another IW couple. We visited the site where the short wave radio tower had been put up, and recently started broadcasting. It was unreal to hear of all of the opposition they have come up against, reminding us that this is definitely not just a battle of flesh and blood. Please be in prayer for them as they continue to come up against adversity unlike I have ever heard.

On Friday we had the opportunity to travel to a Compassion Hospital- not associated with Compassion Canada, US, etc., but a hospital that brings in doctor's from around Africa and North America to provide treatment for Guineans. They have such an amazing ministry here. When the patients first arrive, they fill out a form indicating what their symptoms are, and the most urgent are seen first. While they are waiting, the people in the waiting area watch the Jesus film in their native language, which is Pular. They have had a really good response to this, and people really seem to enjoy it. The cost of medical treatment is 5000 Guinea Francs, which is less than 1 US dollar, and then if medication is required, there is some additional cost on top of that. It was so amazing to see the facility, and see the new area that is under development. They are looking for doctors and nurses who are able to go and help out, so if you are interested in coming to Guinea, they'd be happy to have you! The travel back to Conakry was a long and winding road, well the same one that we took on the way to the mountains, but once again, we played a rousing game- I'm really good at this game, but I look forward to being in Canada and not having to play this game on a near daily basis...

Yesterday (Saturday) we took a trip to the Islands- it was so awesome. We have been travelling so much this week and saw and heard so much, it was nice to have a day to just relax. We took the sketchiest wooden boat, packed with about 50 plus people and supplies for an hour boat ride to the island, but this is Guinean way! We spent the day lounging on the beach, well, some people stayed on the beach, Cam and I were in the ocean as much as we could be. Worked on body surfing- bah, not so good. Took a tumble into a rock, scraped my knee and hand up real good, but made it out still smiling, and with all limbs in tact, or mostly. Had a wonderful lunch overlooking the beach- Cam ate barracuda, and I had squid- it was delicious. We had a really great day of relaxation to help us wind down before we take off.

Today we were in a Guinean church service which was hot, and pretty much awesome. I can't expand too much on that, as I have got to take off here pretty quickly, but you'll hear more later!

We leave Guinea tonight on our long journey home. We will be home tomorrow night at 9 PM Regina time after 30 some hours of travelling... So if you're at the airport, you may want just a hand shake instead of a hug... We are sad to go, but in the same breath are excited to get home to something familiar- and a certain little blonde haired blue-eyed kid! See you soon!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

We're off and running like a herd of turtles in a city of 2 million

Yesterday (March 22, 2010) was a really great day. Our team spent a lot of time with our IW doing some shopping and running around Conakry. I felt much more at ease in the city amongst the people than I had upon our arrival the night before. We spent a majority of the morning touring around Conakry, taking in the full Guinean shopping experience. Everyone in the market could easily spot us coming, and were always offering us "Best price, best price". I will never again take for granted Costco or Safeway grocery trips- we went to at least 4 or 5 different vendors to get all of the groceries that we needed. A grocery shopping trip EASILY takes up an entire morning.

It was really hot and humid yesterday- the kind of hot and humid that just hurts your lungs to breathe, but we made it through. We met some of the other IWs in Guinea, and were able to hear about their various ministries and pray for them as a team, which was really awesome. I have been so blessed already to see these IWs in their elements, and interacting with the people. They are so amazing and it is great to see how they communicate and work together towards a common goal.

Today (March 23, 2010) we had the pleasure of visiting a few different ministries. We toured a radio station which, once they're up and running, will be able to reach people across the entire country. Such an amazing opportunity, and they have worked so hard to overcome much adversity that has been working against them. We also visited a family rescue center, where we were able to hold and cuddle some beautiful little babies. It is so heart breaking to hear their stories, and know that someone out there didn't want that precious little face, so they left them in a dump inside a garbage bag for someone else to find. It broke my heart as I stared into the eyes of those children who have known such intense hurt and abandonment before they are even able to remember it.

This afternoon we met with some gentlemen in leadership with the church in Guinea, and it was really amazing to see the vision that they have for this country, and the passion with which they go after that vision. They are amazing men, and it was so great to be able to meet with them and bless them as they bless others.

We had supper with a few IW couples and their kids this evening at a restaurant that was really good. If you order food there, you can swim in their pool, so that wasn't such a bad deal! Never would I have thought those two things would go together, but they do, and I think they're really onto something. It wasn't as humid today, or so we think, maybe we're just getting used to the heat a bit, but that swim was the greatest thing ever. I would have loved to dive into some of that Mediterranean pool water the last couple of days.

Tomorrow we get on the road to another city called Mamou, where we will meet with a couple local pastors, and see other ministries that are happening there. It will be a change from what we're slightly starting to get used to, but we're excited to go. We will be without internet until Friday evening when we come back, so I'll have a lot of catching up to do!

I just want to say thanks to all of you for your prayers- I know this is what is keeping me strong each day, and know that without them, I would be too distracted to see what I'm meant to see here. Please continue to pray, as the funeral is tomorrow at 2:00, and it is really hard knowing that I can't be there with my family. Thank you all again for your support through this time of sorrow for our family.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Where will my feet take me tomorrow?

We left Antalya yesterday afternoon, and headed to Istanbul where we spent the night. Our flight was good- uneventful besides the fact that we had to circle around the airport waiting to land for as long as the flight was. Caught a taxi to our hotel, which was near the airport. Never have I gone anywhere that required a vehicle be checked with one of those mirrors they use to see if there is a bomb under the car. Well, never HAD I been anywhere that that happened... And then before even getting to check into the hotel, we had to put our baggage and ourselves through security like you do at the airport. A totally different experience altogether, but overall we enjoyed our short stay in Istanbul.

We were up early this morning to make sure we caught the free shuttle (we're cheap, ok?) to the airport. Took a 4 hour flight from Istanbul to Paris, which went a little longer than expected, so we changed terminals and pretty much just walked onto our next flight- this time 6 hours- to Conakry, Guinea.

We are now at the guesthouse, and haven't seen much, as when we got here it was dark, and there aren't any streetlights so it made it difficult to see much along the way. The streets were filled with people- we're assuming because its so much hotter during the day that most of their activities take place at night. Driving here will definitely be interesting- we've got our motion sickness patches on and are ready for what may come tomorrow! We will have some challenges trying to sleep tonight, as it is about 30 degrees, plus humidity, so I'm not sure- probably around 34 or 35. The heat will definitely take some getting used to, and don't be surprised if you see no pictures of me from our time in Africa- already I'm getting a bad frizzy hairdo thanks to that natural curl, and even rosier than normal cheeks that will blind these poor Guinean people.

Yesterday when we checked into our hotel, I Skype'd with my mom who told me that my grandpa had passed away the night before. This was very sudden and unexpected, so please pray for our family as we all mourn the loss of our Papa. Please pray especially for us being so far away from family- in times of grieving it is nice to have that support of one another, so it is a bit difficult for me to be here when they are all gathered there. They want us to stay and continue with what is here for us, and while we are excited to be here, we can definitely feel the pull toward home. The funeral will be on Wednesday, so we will not be able to make it. Please pray for me, as it is really hard that I won't be there alongside my family to say goodbye.

Getting acclimatized in Guinea will take some time, I'm sure, but please continue praying for us in our time here as well. I find that I am really feeling uneasy with the military presence that is so prevalent here, as that is something we don't see in Canada. I know that makes them feel more secure, but it really freaks me out. Please pray for peace in this, as I want to enjoy the time here and get as much out of it as I can.

As far as we know, tomorrow will start with a trip to the market, where we'll be shopping, I'm gonna say probably sweating a whole lot more, and other unknown surprises! Will keep you apprised of any new developments.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Food with Friends and Aspendos Theatre

Yesterday (Friday, March 19) we met the International Workers we will be travelling with the Guinea. It was great to finally be able to put a name to a face, and talking with them got me so excited again to get going. We had a few questions answered for us, but the one answer that has stuck with me the most, came from the question "What temperature does it get down to at night?" The answer, "Well, it gets down to about 30 degrees, plus humidity. We don't have air conditioning in the house, but we do in the car, so that is why we drive so much!" Wowsers, I have a feeling we're going to be a sweaty mess of people when we leave on our LOOOONNNNGG trek home. I'm so excited to get going and to be able to experience something so different from what we already have. Looking out at the Mediterranean and knowing that the top of Africa is just on the other side, makes me so pumped!

Throughout the day yesterday we were able to connect with some old friends and catch up, which was really awesome. For those of you who know and love the Orr's, we were able to spend some time at lunch with them catching up and listen to the awesome things that have been happening along the Silk Road.

Today (Saturday, March 20) we had the opportunity to travel to Aspendos theatre- it was incredible. Aspendos is the best preserved Roman amphitheatre in the entire world. Concerts were actually still being held there until the late 90's, but due damage caused by fitting in modern sound equipment into the theatre, it is no longer used that way. One of the individuals who led worship this week, actually stood at "centre stage" and sang, and we could hear him perfectly all the way up to the top. It was incredible, and it just blows my mind how they could build it like they did with the resources available in 155 A.D.

It was really great to be able to see the theatre, and imagine being in the seats as Paul standing at "centre stage", gave a message to the crowd. It has been so great to get to experience some of the history of the Christian faith. I had no idea about all the ancient cities that are in modern day Turkey, and I look forward to the day when I can come back.

Cam and I are going to be flying to Istanbul tonight, 5:00 PM our time, so.... 9:00 AM your time. We're going to overnight in Istanbul and head off to Paris first thing in the morning and then on to the capital city of Guinea, Conakry. We will be experiencing something entirely different, and are really looking forward to it. We will keep you informed as best we can, as I have a feeling internet in Guinea may not be readily available, but we will do our best!

We will soon be taking our last look at the Mediterranean, and this coming week will be swimming in the Atlantic instead...

Not so Easy Silence

Does anyone else live their life under a veil of constant white noise?

When I'm at home, doing the dishes, laundry, whatever, the TV is on, or there is music coming from the computer or ipod- some form of noise is on all the time. Not that I think its wrong to listen to music or watch TV, I'm just wondering why it is that I can't seem to cope with silence.

The days that I feel I need some "peace and quiet", I find it very relaxing to take a hot bath. In this time of "peace and quiet", I shut the bathroom door, which then is followed by Ashton banging on the door, yelling, "Mom, mom, mom, mom..." (I feel like I'm on the Lion King or something). And to really get all the "peace and quiet" that I need, I bring the laptop in and set it on the counter to watch a movie. As I sit and examine this "peace and quiet" that I so much enjoy, I find that NOTHING about this practice is peaceful or quiet. It is like the rest of my life- somewhat distracted. Even when I sleep, I have a fan going. Maybe I use it because I like to feel a bit cooler when I sleep, but it is more for the noise that helps to lull me to sleep. Even as I sleep, silence eludes me.

Have you ever tried to get someones attention when they're doing something else? It can prove to be quite a difficult task- like when you were a kid trying to get your parents to look at something, and without actually looking they'd say, "Wow, that looks great", but then when they saw what you had actually done, they're ticked off because they weren't really paying attention when you were showing them the permanent marker that was all over your little sister and the bathroom door.

How is God supposed to speak to us if we never take the time to listen? Never take the time to just- BE. To sit and wait without distraction, without agenda- to just be in that moment and listen. For some reason I find it difficult to just be- without sitting and making a list of what I'm going to do when I get home, or what I'll need to do when I get back to work, and the list goes on and on. But yesterday, I be'd. I sat on the beach (during the morning session- shhhhh) with my Good Book and my journal and just be'd- marvelling at the wondrous creation my eyes were so blessed to behold.

I encourage you to make some time today to sit and listen- to just be.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Today was so amazing- we were up early to get on the bus to go to the ruin site of Perge (pronounced PER-GAY). We (Cam, Terry, and I) travelled by bus to Perge which was about 45 minutes from our hotel. Our tour guide was really knowledgeable and had a lot of information for us, but I'm sure I won't be able to remember it all before we leave here and go on to Guinea. It was so interesting to see a city that has so much history. As we walked, Cam and I tried to picture what it would've been like in its prime- merchants bartering for their goods, streets crowded with animals and carts, and possibly that guy, Paul walking down the street looking for a good deal on some new sandals.

It is really windy today, and being that the ruins site is so close to the mountains, it made for a pretty chilly morning. And by chilly of course I mean it was probably like... 10 degrees. After we head to Guinea, I'm pretty sure we'll freeze to death when we arrive back in Canada!

We walked around for about an hour with our tour guide explaining things as we went. We saw the Agora or "marketplace" where the merchants would have their shops set up to sell their goods. We walked down "main street" that also had pillars on either side of the road where there would be more merchants, and there was also a water canal that ran down the middle of the road, kind of like a boulevard, that fed a fountain at the Acropolis. The Acropolis literally translated is "top city", and its pretty much the tallest building in the city. There was a Roman bath chamber- kind of like the Turkish bath experience we took in a couple days ago- so that was interesting after having tried it.

After we got back on the bus, we were told we were going to make a stop so we could do some shopping- sweet, every tourist needs more useless trinkets, right? Well, we were taken to a leather store, as Turkey is a large exporter of leather. Their leather is purchased for clothing by such designers as Gucci, Versace, and some others that I couldn't understand translated from an Italian name through a Turkish mouth. We witnessed a fashion show- just special for us- which I just couldn't stop laughing through. Then they proceeded to take us 'downstairs' to a HUGE space in which there was tonnes of leather goods. We were told that would find really good deals here as this is kind of like an "outlet" or something. Every tag I looked at for the most HIDEOUS leather apparel was at LEAST $1000 Euros, so I'm not sure where the great deal comes in... I couldn't stop laughing the entire time we were there as I was so utterly confused as to how that fit in with our morning tour of Perge. You know that saying, "Tour an ancient city and then buy some leather"? Yeah, neither do I.