31 May 2012

Billy just sent me a quick email from his phone. He is sitting in his seat in the plane on the runway ready to fly away from Africa for the last time of this 4+ year mission.  He'll land at JFK tomorrow and be greeted by lifelong friends - who will take him straight to his Dad's house. Bill and Billy will have all week together - being guys - being father and son, being family, eating hot dogs from street vendors and watching sci-fi -

I'm all teary as his flight takes off. Extreme emotion.

Sad at the ending of a season. Anxiously expectant at what lies ahead for our family. Hopeful and Joyful at the thought of a reunion soon. It's been a long 9 months since the kids have seen their dad. 3 months since I left him behind in Africa. We have a lot of re-aquainting to do on this side of the ocean.

Pray with us this month as our family begins to stitch its self back together again. Through adventures and rest and conversations and card games and ice-cream and prayer - we will essentially be learning how our family is a family again in this new season. It's exciting. It's a little bit scary.

He'll land on Friday - Saturday is his birthday. On his birthday, we'll be celebrating in Michigan by taking one step closer to having our own home again.
In the land of Facebook, I had some friends recently begin asking what furniture and household items we might need to make this transition back to having a house in the states. See, before we left for Africa, we literally gave everything away. So we find ourselves on the other end of the equation now, needing to rebuild a home.  I begin to jot down things as they came to mind and put them in a wish list here in dicoccoville - and then linked in from our story letter and FB page.
We've had friends respond in the most beautiful ways with things they are willing to share. One friend even showed up and then hung out in a strangers yard as they packed to move across the country because she had heard the moving truck they had rented was too small and they were going to leave behind a couple of dressers! Generosity on both ends!
A few days later, a family we know told us they were relocating to Seattle and continued over dinner with a beautiful story of life throwing a curve ball and deciding to start fresh by following passions and callings and leaving behind a legacy in MI while moving back home to the west coast. They told the story of confirmation after confirmation that this is the story God is writing for them - and how it's exciting and scary (yup). And then they said that as they were looking around their house realizing they weren't going to need to take all their furniture with them since their two children have recently moved away to university - they wondered what they would do with it all - and our wish list came through.  They amazed us with a gift that we will collect on Saturday and move into the garage of our new home to sit in expectation of our arrival the beginning of July.

It's a good time  - filled with such intense emotions, even the good parts make me cry. And putting it all together is nearly overwhelming. Thanks for being a part of the journey with us. We'll let you know how it goes as we continue to live it out this summer.

04 April 2012

The Turame Images

It's been a few weeks now since I arrived back in the US. It's a story I'll have to tell you later, because it's messy and will take some intentional unpacking.
But today, well this week really, begins my resolve to hit a "do over" in my American re-entry. So we are pretending the first couple of weeks were just still part of the transition... maybe I was stuck in a time/space continuum ... and I have just arrived, fresh and dandy in West Michigan from Africa! Hooray! Welcome back! Thank you.

One of the (few) things I did accomplish in my weeks of time/space ambiguity was beginning to sort and highlight all my favorite photography from my recent months in Burundi (and Rwanda). The first project I put together was this photo journal of Turame. I'd love it if you'd browse through with me. It's where our family has given the last nearly year of our lives. It's what we've been talking about for months and months now. It's where Billy still is.

Some of the book is taken from our monthly story letters - some from projects that organizations involved in Turame asked me to document. All of them are precious and special to me as I'm busy sorting out my life here in the US and where I've been and where I'm headed. And maybe, by glimpsing in to where my life has so recently been and is lingering still, you'll be able to excuse the easy tears or overwhelmingly slow processing if you see me and I don't quite seem myself. My life in Africa, what we lived there for 4 years, has become part of me in ways I am still not quite sure fit in to Michigan - or at least I'm still figuring that out.

Anyway, that's a story to sort through another day... for today... welcome back to m/w/f dicoccoville - and enjoy the peek into my book of images from Turame. I still have a few more books to put together - we packed a LOT into my few months in Burundi - but this one is all micro finance. Enjoy - and let me know what you think.

05 March 2012

going home

today I am saying my goodbyes to Africa.

After more than 4 years - I am packing the last of my things, knowing I'm not returning in a few weeks. Trying to decide what needs to come with me now as we set up a new house, and what I can leave to come on the slow boat (shipping container) later in the year - whenever we can get that figured out. Billy bought me the most special slate stone slabs with paintings of some of our favorite South Africa birds - the ones that visited our garden while we sat on the stoop and watched - the ones that sang lovely morning songs to us as the sun rose each day. I adore them. The birds and the slate slabs. So, do I put them in the garage and wait till next autumn when we send a container? or do I bring them now so our new house (that we are praying we'll find soon) will feel a little bit like the home we are leaving here?

I went by the Olive Tree school to say goodbye to Samkelo. I went to Zandspruit to give Dikeledi and our friends there one more hug. I slipped by the grocery store to buy food for Billy to take back to Burundi with him - and bought South African sweets to bring home to my kids.

Tomorrow Billy flies to Burundi, and I fly to Michigan. You know what, we have no idea what this next season holds. Billy continues with Turame in Bujumbura until some time in June so the kids and I will still be on our own. Pray with us for this time to slip by. Pray with us that we are able to find a house to rent that is just right for this entering in time back - a place we can feel at home and not just in more in transition, the kids have been through enough "transtioning time" already. Pray for a job for Billy to be percolating and brewing and getting ready for his return. Something that makes his heart come alive, utilizes all the great talents he has, and supports our family after this long season living as volunteers with your support. Pray with us for Billy and his safety and for the training to go well in Burundi these last three months.

You know, in all the unknowns - in all the questions and sometimes worries - one thing remains solid - in two days time, I will be back with these three... and that ties everything together. A momma needs to be with her kids - and right now, I am going home. The end.

03 March 2012

my last weekend in Africa

One of the many things God has gifted us with here in Africa is sweet sweet friendships. On this, our last weekend together in Africa, perhaps for a long, long time - we made plans to go camping with some of those dearest kind of friends. These are friends we have spent hours playing and exploring with, praying with, talking through life with, eating around campfires and in our homes and in fine (and not so fine) restaurants with. These are friends who make it difficult to leave South Africa for good. The kind that curl up under your skin and inside your heart and become like family in a way. Our friends are moving this year also. Leaving Joburg and their long time ministry with children in Zandspruit - and following a dream God put in their heart many years ago. Our friends are moving to a farm in Cape Town this year... and in their generosity and love, they decided they'd like to share their new home with us - so that when we are far away in America, we can still share in their new life. When they talk about new ministries and spaces and schools and rhythms, we will be able to picture where they are. When they are settling in to their new home, they will have memories of us here. It was a dear surprise, one that too coordination and secrets and anticipation on their part - and spoke deeply into our hearts. Billy and I packed picnic baskets and hiking shoes prepared for a weekend camping, and were totally surprised instead, when we pulled up to the airport and got aboard a flight to Cape Town.

It's Billy's and my first time in Cape Town... and experiencing how completely different it is to Johannesburg. I suppose in the same way that Kansas City is different than Martha's Vineyard MA. This is wine country - surrounded by ocean and mountains and vineyards - it is unique and beautiful. Yesterday we took a driving tour of the coastline, stopping for fresh snoek (fish) on the edge of a bay. Today, we'll tackle the famous Table Mountain and do some hiking up a smaller berg (mountain). This last weekend of mine here in Africa is rich. Dripping with intentional moments to soak in relationship and beauty and fill my lungs with this fresh air. To fill my heart with enough good moments with Billy and our friends to last me through the separation that is coming. To be absolutely thankful for the ways God spoils us through all these things - and with His love. This, my last weekend in Africa.

01 March 2012

25 February 2012


22 February 2012

having a wonderful time, wish you were here....

and now, my postcard to you is coming from South Africa.
My other home. The place my kids tell me they are homesick for - and as I stand in our old neighborhood surrounded by the people we love, I echo their longing. So I'll make the most out of my two weeks here.

Today, I visited Samkelo at his new school. He showed me all his workbooks and how much he's learned (and improved) in just the few short weeks since the new school year has begun. I absolutely love his teacher - and how much she believes in this boy (and seriously, every single one of her students). Then Samkelo and I snuck away for a movie about a dolphin, and pizza that we could barely eat because we were so stuffed with popcorn!

Sweet things Samkelo said today::

When I asked him to try and remember his first day of his new school to tell me about it, he sighed and said "Oh Palesa, I just remember it was like a dream come true. All the children were there around the red table and I only knew three of them. But then I was looking around at everyone and thinking what a lucky boy I am to go to this private school that is so nice. I think there are many good days coming. And do you know what? There HAVE been so many good days! "

"I have decided that I do not like lions. Not one bit. Do you remember when we went to the lion and rhino park last time you came to visit? And that big lion JUMPED at me! He wanted to eat my hands and I was too fast. It's a good thing I was faster than he was. Then you would have had to take me to the hospital and I would have had no hands all because of that lion! And then how would I do so well on my schoolwork? "

He's decided that he is going to save half of all his money so he can buy a plane ticket to the US in 2020. When he gets there, he will run a small business and build a house on the beach with a movie theatre inside. I can come any time I want and he will make me popcorn. That is, if he still remembers me because 2020 is a long time away and how old will I be then? Oh, that is so very old. Maybe I won't be alive then. Maybe HE won't be alive then because, you know, 8 years, that is such a long time.

and then there was this conversation::
"Palesa, who taught you how to drive?"
"My mom did - a long time ago"
"Oh, your mother must be very nice to teach you to drive. Of course she is nice. She is the one who you are like. Is your mother beautiful? Yes, I know she is beautiful because she is your mother and you are beautiful. Palesa, do you look in the mirror every day and know that you are beautiful? You must never listen to any other voices that tell you something bad about yourself. Only the ones that speak the truth that you are beautiful every day no matter what any one else says."

Seriously. Love. This. Kid.

17 February 2012

if you are anything like me....

if you are anything like me, you could do with a little bit of adorable to lighten things up a bit as the week comes to an end...

here you go.
You are welcome.

16 February 2012

she told me it's to carry water

... usually I see people carrying various sizes of yellow jerrycans full of water. Kids bring small ones to school. Laborers tie a scarf around the handle of a large one and sling it over their shoulder as they walk to work.

... in the office, people have various glass bottles on their desk to fill and refill with water each day. The first time you see someone swigging out of a Jack Daniels bottle in the office it sets you back for a moment.

... but when we were deep in the rural areas, I did see women carrying these open necked gourds around - sometimes with a cloth looped around the narrow neck to make it easy to carry. Look at these in their simplicity and beauty. Can we say this is the original East African Nalgine bottle?
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