Allie here. Blog Number 1, hopefully this will be the first of a weekly blog I will try and keep up with while on the ground. Judging how my other blog I had going crashed and burned, we shall see . Kidding. I will make sure to write as I go during the week to keep you all in the loop about life in Liberia and how our mission is unfolding.
This week has been a blur. Really the last 2 months have been. If you have seen me in the last couple months back in Cartersville I apologize. I probably wasn’t all there. I stared at a messy home, halfway moved out of, stuff everywhere, and wondered to myself how would it all get done….and then God said, “Watch this.” And just like that He gave me an army. My family, Zach’s family, Daryl and Chrissy, friends who came to bring us food, helped me clean our house for the renters, took the boys for some play time, and so much more. I watched as our little home emptied, and box by box our life fit into about 20.5 bins and suitcases. From kitchen appliances, to packaged snacks, to ground coffee, to towels, to sheets. Each bin was filled, weighed (couldn’t go over 50#, but guess who’s clothes bag was 54, guilty!), and zip-tied. To feel completely prepared we stayed at my sisters for a few days to make sure we could move out and get the place cleaned up without children coming behind us and messing up everything we just did. It was so nice to have those few nights with them and the rest of my family knowing we were leaving. I can’t say enough how thankful I am for the people who have been placed in our lives. Every single one of them. We said our goodbyes to our family and friends on a rainy Saturday afternoon under our carport in the driveway. Jacob said a prayer, there were many tears, but ultimately it was a moment frozen in time. We were ready. We had been waiting for this moment for a long time. So much preparation, passports, pictures, visas, more pictures, international insurance, the list goes on and on. So many shots. So much moving. So much packing. And in the blink of an eye, we were waving by to our beloved little home (whom we have found amazing renters for), going by our Grammy and Grandpas road one last time, and blowing kisses to our Murph (we will FaceTime later, dude).To the airport we go. Wow, this is getting super real. I am about to embark on a journey with 3 small children, over 20 hours of travel time (including layovers). It’s all starting to hit me now, walls are closing in, someone bring the oxygen!! Baggage check in, security line super short in international terminal, security line with 3 small children definitely no easy feat but we got it done, dinner in bellies, at the terminal ready to board. Brady looks up at me with those big blue eyes, “I have to poop.” No no my friend, you have to wait. Plane boarded, first leg is to Amsterdam. Max was in between Brady and I, then Zach, then an aisle, Daryl had Isaac by the window. Everyone was pretty calm, TV sets in the back of head rests with endless kids movies to watch was enough to keep the boys busy, they also had lots and lots of really neat things given to them for special plane rides by some teachers from First Presbyterian. Max fell asleep (our flight took off around 8:15 pm which is around bed time). Couldn’t have been more perfect. Max slept the entire flight. Brady and Isaac slept on Zach and I for a good portion of the flight (should not have brought their car seats on plane. Mom, I know you told me so). So that leg wasn’t so comfortable for mom and dad, but it was all good. Landed in Amsterdam! It’s about 3:30 am our time so Max is literally comatose. Like we removed him from the plane in his car seat and he stayed asleep while we attached his seat to the car seat roller. It was nuts. Boys were a little whiney, but held it together. When in Amsterdam you have to have some mini-crepes with a French flag stuck in the top of them! Breakfast time. 4 hour layover has begun. Boys ran around, played on something they probably weren’t supposed to climb and play on, but I didn’t care at that point, not one bit. We needed them to sleep on the next leg which was longer, by about 3 hours. they went on the moving walkways about 100 times, but we never got yelled at! Second plane, boarded, up and away. More movies, less people, so Isaac got to lay flat on a few empty seats, max slept again (at this point I was like somethings gotta be wrong with this kid!), and Brady slept on and off but ultimately fought it and watched movies, played angry birds, colored, and played the guessing game with me. This go round we checked their car seats under the plane at the gate. Made it through unscathed, landed in Freetown, Sierra Leone. One hour wait on the tarmac while people got off and people got on. Brady was finally asleep, Max and Isaac were enjoying watching the crew clean the plane and at this point I was in utter amazement that I had not blown a gasket. Up again, 40 minute flight to Liberia, wheels down. Welcome Home! Spent the night in the hotel across the street from Roberts International. Everyone was very very tired. As I laid in between the twins (whom are not the best bed sharers 🤣) I thought to myself how incredibly long that trip was but how well my kids did. I was overwhelmed with gratitude at that point. Yet again I was proven wrong. Don’t ever doubt the capabilities of your kiddos! Never in a million years would I have guessed that trip would have gone as smoothly as it did. Would I do it again tomorrow? Heck no. But now I know we can. My little world travelers.
We awoke after a great night sleep, ate some breakfast, and loaded our stuff into 3 cars that would take us into the city. About an hour drive and everyone fell back asleep. We passed a few landmarks I recognized from our trip in October and I knew the apartment building was coming up soon. I woke the boys up just in time to pull into our new home. They were excited. They introduced themselves to some of the staff at the apartment complex, and we began the unpacking process. There are 87 stairs from down to up in our apartment on the 5th floor. My job was to man the kids. Zach, Daryl, and some other guys unloaded all of our bags and bins and carried them up those 87 stairs. 1050 pounds of stuff. What a job!
The apartment was clean but not like I wanted it to be, but I knew we needed to unpack to live, so there it began. I don’t even remember this part. I just started putting things every which way! It’s been about 6 days we have been here and we are still rearranging where things go, but it’s getting done. I have deep cleaned and still smell bleach from mopping the floors. No children were here when I did this. 🤣 it is starting to feel like a home.
If you know me you know how schedule oriented we are with our kids. So this entire process I have just had to say whatever and move on. My husband likes to tell me to “let it go”. But now that we have been here a few days we are starting to get into a groove. We gave the boys a couple days to adjust to the time change (5 hour difference) before sending them to school. After a couple good nights sleep we decided they were ready, really they decided they were ready. I think they were sick of being with us too. Off to school they went. I went to drop them off on the first day, we have drivers driving right now. Driving here is very different. Imagine navigating around a city, I’d say as populated as Atlanta and there are no street signs, lights, or anything. If you come to a 4-way intersection you just slow down and kind of take turns but you never really come to a complete stop. I will not be driving while here at all. That is starting to sink in a little more as the days pass and I think about how I need to go get groceries or do this and that. Probably one of the biggest adjustments that will take some time to get used to. I’ll miss that part of independence of coming and going as I please but I’d prefer to not cause an accident because I have closed my eyes and just went for it. The boys are amazed at everything, from the streets, to the people, to the little taxis called “kiki’s”, they love the hundreds of motorbikes, but the main thing they have noticed is no one wears helmets.
They love their new school and we are just thrilled that we have found a place that can give them that sense of normalcy. They can interact with other kids, burn all the energy, and learn lots of new things while being exposed to so many different cultures. There are children in the school from the States, Egypt, Lebanon, Liberia, Sweden, many different European countries, some Asian countries, and some African countries. They are starting to understand their teachers better and better and they are exhausted when they get home. They miss their First Presbyterian Preschool family very much and miss all of their friends, but I know it doesn’t hurt as much having this little school. I was shocked the first day when i dropped them off and they just walked right in like they didn’t have another care in the world. They were telling teachers and kids their names and where they were from, my heart swelled and I knew they would be ok. Mad Max on the other hand is stuck at home with me. He is probably having the most trouble with it. He misses his crazy brothers but also misses his little classmates that he saw a few times a week. On the days he wasn’t at school we would play with his cousins at Grammys house. You can tell he misses that interaction with kids bc sometimes mom is just really boring. We walk the property in the mornings, the parking lot has a lot of vegetation around it with lots of wildlife. We see some pretty big lizards (which he roared at like a dinosaur), butterflies, dragonflies, and other insects. He loved that. It’s all going to be a process of just finding out what makes us all happy while staying safe.
So here we are. Getting settled. Everyone is sleeping wonderfully, even Zach and I have adjusted to the noises of the city life. The main form of getting a drivers attention here bc of no signs or lights is honking. I think when we head back to the states in a year it will feel so weird bc we won’t here incessant honking. We are making it work and are just grateful. So so grateful.
Some things will take some getting used to. Because the water is not drinkable we wash our dishes in soapy hot water, dry them, then wash them with clean water, and dry them. It’s a process, but it has made us look at how much we used back at home just bc we had a dishwasher. You think twice about just throwing that fork into the sink that you just got one piece of pineapple with. Waste here is a major issue. My hands are already able to withstand amazing temperatures, Zach doesn’t know how I am not getting scalded. You shower in the water, obviously, so not taking in any is ideal, HA!, try telling an 18 month old that. He has been doing pretty good, with lots of mouth wipes with a cloth while in the shower. No more 25 minute baths dudes, only 3 minute showers. We are getting used to it, just another small adjustment. Brushing teeth is the same, using filtered or bottled water. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone to stick my tooth brush under the faucet and gasped bc I remembered I can’t do that! Phew. Close one. There is only the possibility the water will make you sick. We will try our best to combat the issue of undrinkable water, but our children need showers. It is one of those things that we will just have to be on top of and try not to get to lazy about. Waste, waste is such an issue. Which is pertinent in any poor country. The streets are littered with trash, as well as parts of the beautiful beaches they have here. The coast line is stunning, but there are heaping piles of trash that make the beaches dirty and unusable. They are still pretty to look at, even with the trash. We are trying to reduce our carbon footprint and not add to the problem while here. I will remember my reusable grocery bags, I will remember my reusable grocery bags, repeat, repeat, repeat. I have a daily chart for everyone in Liberia. Malaria meds ✔️ juice plus ✔️ poop (add description) ✔️. Healthy bowel movements are something to rejoice. We pray every night for our health. We know we won’t go a year without sickness. We wouldn’t in the states either, but healthcare is extremely limited. Living in the city it is much more accessible than in the bush, so we find comfort in knowing we are close to clinics in case of emergency.
Food. Our diet is going to change drastically. I haven’t quite gotten used to the prices at the grocery store yet. Let’s just say there are no Aldis in Liberia. The boys will love it because they will be eating more pasta then we have ever eaten in our lives (no spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles here). Rice, rice, and some more rice. We are getting into a groove though. Finding out what we can all deal with and trying to create a meal plan for the week. We don’t have an oven but a stove top is really key for what you can make here!
Zach’s birthday was on the 23rd. He is 30. We celebrated with the OAL staff that is here in Liberia. They sang him a 5 minute long version of Happy Birthday which was amazing. If you followed along on our October trip at all you may have read about Miracle. She was a little baby at the first orphanage Zach and I went to on that trip. She was sick, very sick. OAL got her into the city and with a lady who works for the organization here. Well, Miracle is still with Ma Gbarlee and she came to the house with them all. She looks amazing. ️ it was so wonderful seeing her again. She let me hold her a bit and she played with Max, but may have been slightly scared of this giant baby trying to play blocks with her. He tried. I’ll give him that. She is what I see when I miss my family. She is what I see when I have any doubt of why we came here. She IS a miracle, because of Gods grace and putting Zach and I at that orphanage first, because of OAL and what the organization and all of its supporters provide to these children. It goes so much deeper than just feeding them.
We are going to make it through the weekend and next week starts the beginning of it all! Zach will start his travel and the boys and I will begin our new life here in the Lib. We cannot wait to bring you all these children, to show you their stories, their names, their hopes, their dreams.
Thank you all for following along on this journey. Zach and I always say that anyone who is following is on it just as much as we are. We pray for abundant blessings for you all. Please message us on Facebook messenger with any specific prayers requests you may have. Thank you all for the encouraging posts, and comments! When we get on our WiFi and login to Facebook or Instagram it fills us up! Keep them coming!
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the holy Spirit.