Monday, January 30, 2012

California Moments

I have given my camera a rest this month, but have managed to snap a few photos . . .

My Dad brought out the flag to welcome us to America (:
Jason had a looong birthday that began in Hong Kong and chased the sun to America. He and Mike got to be together on their birthday for the first time in over a decade!! Can you tell which twin lost 20 pounds in Africa?

My parents took the kids to Wal Mart to buy them both bikes. So fun!

Grandmas as the best!!
Cuddle time!!

Aunt Angela drove up from LA to hang out

We love walking to the Old Town Village in Arroyo Grande. When we told Josiah we were going to the village he scratched his head and said, "but there are no Mozambicans!"

My Grandpa, "Papa" is visiting from Minnesota for the month. He is lots of fun and always up for a walk or ice -cream

Speaking of ice-cream, here are the kids outside of the ice cream parlor we went on our first date. Because Jason and I both grew up in Arroyo Grande we take lots of strolls down memory lane

Three generations of California girls
Cuddling Cousin Grayson
Hanging out in the garden . . .
and cooking with Naana
Last but not least Annette is getting to know the toilet Horray!!!

We are really enjoying our time in America. We hope that we can see YOU while we are here. Leave a comment if you want to hook- up.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Processing. . .

In case you missed us, we've taken a break from blogging to . . .
1. orient ourselves to Hong Kong time zone
2. catch up with friends
3. eat
4. visit the hospital (7 times in 1 week for an infected foot)
5. celebrate Jason and Mike's 32 birthday
6. orient ourselves to America time zone
7. soak in God's presence
8. bond with family
9. eat
10. sit on cushy couches

Three continents in one month has taken a bit of a toll, but we are just about feeling like ourselves again. We've also been given various opportunities to share our experiences in youth groups, women's groups and sunday school classes. It has been a bit challenging at times to put all that we experienced into words, but these sharing times are helpful in our own personal processing.

I read this verse today from 1 Sam. 2:8, "He lifts the poor from the dust-- Yes, from a pile of ashes-- And treats them as princes sitting in the seats of honor." God's heart for the poor blows me away. That he would treat the poor and rejected like royalty! Although we are now in the "land of plenty" we are asking God to show us the poor and broken in our midst. Sometimes it feels easier to love a dirty orphan in rags than the slightly awkward person in line at the grocery store. But we continue on this journey of asking God, "what does love look like" to people in America.

In the meantime here are some faces that I can't leave behind . . .

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sabie, South Africa

After leaving Mozambique we built in some time to debrief, decompress, deworm, detoxify, desun, dedirt etc. We rented the world's smallest car and stayed in a cute chalet in the mountains above Nelspruit, South Africa called Sabie. It was peaceful and serene. Some highlights were hot showers, yogurt, beds with blankets, salad, eating together just the four of us, spending time with God and getting to bundle up, finally! Is there anything cutter that footie pajamas? I mean really.

On New Year's Eve we went to a braii (South African BBQ) at Michael's Children's Village where we spend three months back in September. It was so fun to see the kids again and Josiah and Syabonga were inseparable. I was caught off guard by how hard it was to say bye. One of the boys even cried when we left. They really stole our hearts.

We did some window shopping in some cute, touristy old mining towns

We drove out to Blyde Canyon, which is the third largest canyon in the world- majestic

There were so many beautiful waterfalls to explore and everything was green thanks to the rainy season.

The day before we left we drove through Krooger Park on another safari. Josiah was really good at spotting animals this time and we got really close to several giraffes, elephants and lions. Here was our shot of the day.

A Christmas to Remember

We are back in Hong Kong now where the internet (along with practically everything else) moves very fast. I know Christmas is over, but I wanted to share some humorous, touching and unique moments from our African Christmas.
- It was a hard year to be traditional, but we did keep the Paine family tradition of baking a birthday cake for Jesus. Josiah loved this and it was yum!

- On Christmas Eve our outreach team hosted a party for the 250 kids at the Children's Home (orphanage). The party included the random addition of a live goat tied in the corner of the room (no explanation) and a massive mountain of cabbages in the middle of the room for the next day's feast.
- We put on a Christmas pageant in which I was Mary (balloon belly baby), Jason was Joseph and Josiah was "baby" Jesus. Many of the Iris kids know and love Josiah so it was a big hit!

- As the party progressed so did the chaos and sugar level, at which point we decided to have the traditional candle- lit "service". Uh- hum. We gave kids ages 3- 14 little candle stubs which turned into a game of blow it out and relight it. THEN the boys remembered the squirt guns they had received earlier that day, need I say more?!? Kids with fire were under tables, running, climbing, squirting. . . it was not a silent night. So "Joseph" took "baby Jesus" and fled to safety. . .whew!
- We got to watch the Iris kids open their gifts which was a huge joy.

- The next morning was Christmas. We had a fun breakfast of chocolate mango crepes and peppermint coffee after which we opened up a few gifts (wrapped in tin foil) the best being a massage Jason surprised me with. Glory!
- Church was packed, mostly with kids excited about Christmas "frago" (chicken). At one point someone opened the church gate during the service and 500 kids made a mad dash out the gate thinking it was time for frango.

- From 12- 6 we feed 4,000 people a meal of chicken, rice, salad and soda. Chicken is a real treat for the people in the village and an eagerly awaited day. It was very organized and an amazing system that Iris has fine- tuned. Jason and I helped with different jobs like monitoring lines, dying their thumbs (so they can't eat again), and entertaining kids waiting to eat. At one point I was collecting and washing plates and realized after picking up about 200 plates that I had not collected one chicken bone- they eat the bones!
- I probably said "Feliz Natal" 2,000 times on Christmas day to beautiful, greasy, full, smiling kids. We were really exhausted by the evening, but it was such a great memory from our last day in Mozambique.