Saturday, July 31, 2010

the journey to Wisla, Poland!

What an adventuresome day we had today!! I’ve never flown with kids before and always pitied those who did, especially the mother who had two little ones and all the assorted gear that goes along with munchkins and how did they ever manage to get through security and on and off the plane without going mad. I have an even greater appreciation for those women today! The morning didn’t start off so well when Audrey began screaming half an hour before we were set to leave. Thankfully I was able to take her and calm her down for Amy while they finished last minute preparations and loading the van. We were just about set to load up the last of the bags and the van wouldn’t start. A few moments spent pulling the cars out so that it could be jumped and we were back in business thankfully and off we went to the airport.
While there was virtually no traffic driving to the airport we quickly found that it was indeed a very busy travel day for France. First unloading the suitcases and bags was no small feat, Amy pushing the stroller with baby Audrey inside and Sophie and Thomas clinging to each arm, and Claire and I each had carts piled with suitcases while Charles parked the car. We made quite the processional. :) Once inside there were OH so MANY people!!! I don’t know where the heaviest flights were headed but it wasn’t our counter. Instead they were all wrapping lines around so much that no one knew where one line ended and the next began and it was pretty much mass chaos as people pushed and shoved their way through looking for where they needed to be. After two or three stops to ask questions at various ticketing counters we finally found where our airline was supposed to check baggage in and we got into that line. It moved fairly quickly until WE got to the front. Then the lady was so confused between how many of us there were, the baby, the nanny, who had checked suitcases and which ones belonged to who. We had only just finished sorting through all of it and getting it all checked in when Charles finally made it back from parking. He joked about what great timing he had. Of course that was only the beginning!

Next we had to make it through security, which if you’ve traveled in the last two or three years you know what an undertaking that has become. One must essentially half undress, removing belts and shoes, emptying pockets, pulling laptops out of bags, etc. etc. This plus a stroller and baby, who had so far been perfect and sleeping, but I was worried would wake up screaming again at any time. Thankfully she didn’t seem much disturbed by being pulled out of her seat and patted down (gotta watch those two month olds, never know when they might be trying to smuggle liquids or fingernail clippers on board!). By the time all of this completed we only had half an hour to kill before our plane was to begin boarding. God is good for allowing us just enough time!! Somewhere in here Emma was kind enough to point out to me that once again she approved of my outfit. She is such a mess always telling me how romantically I dress. I’m glad I haven’t let her down so far since she has such high expectations of me now. :D
All along the way in the airport it was amusing to me that our little travel party seemed to grow. There were several other missionaries with GEM headed out on the same flight with us. The Williamsons had been scheduled on an earlier flight but it was cancelled and they were rerouted to ours. I thought that was kind of fun. A Candian pastor who has apparently done some work with Charles and the gypsies was also there.
Getting on the plane was another small task but didn’t go as badly as it could have. We got settled into our seats and waited about twenty minutes before the plane actually took off. I’m not sure what the deal is but so far every flight I’ve been on this trip has been so late leaving the airport! Maybe this is typical of an international flight but I know when I’ve flown domestically the last couple of years we’re usually good about taking off right on time or even five minutes early so that was kind of annoying. Patience IS a virtue however. :) Once we got to Krakow we had to walk down the stairs off the plane and get into a bus like Germany only the airport was like so close we really could have just walked. In fact by the time our crew got off the plane and on the bus the others could probably have walked to the terminal and back again. Krakow is not a very large airport so we were able to fairly easily use the bathroom, collect our suitcases and find the bus we were supposed to get on for Wisla and the hotel.
The bus was pretty nice!! I think it was more comfortable than all the planes I’ve been in this week. Thomas sat by me this time and it was a lot of fun. It was most everyone’s first time in Poland so that made me feel more a part of the group to get to experience something new with everyone instead of being the only newbie in the bunch. :) We oohed and ahhed over the beautiful scenery as we drove through. Although I’d seen photos online and heard about the hotel from another missionary I was still amazed when we got to the hotel. It is one of the biggest hotels I’ve ever seen! I don’t have a lot of pictures of the hotel yet but I hope to get some more soon. The one annoying thing is that GEM told us we shouldn’t drink the tap water but the free bottles of water in our rooms are icky bubbly water. That’s not very satisfying at all when you are thirsty! I’m leaving mine open to see if it will go flat. :P Does it work like that? I figured it’s worth a shot anyway!
Mealtime is apparently going to be quite the experience all week! It’s this extraordinary buffet and I liked everything I put in my mouth. There were “turkey nuggets”, potato dumplings, penne in a white sauce with mushrooms, vegetables, salad, and much much more that I can’t even remember. The dessert spread was just as amazing!! Charles told Emma when she asked to go get some that she should be moderate, and then Amy said “go get one of everything so we can try it all and decide what to get!” Emma being quite literal did just that and came back with two bowls full of a little of everything! We all tasted a bit of this and that and then went back for our own bowls. :D My favorite part was the chocolate mousse complete with dark chocolate curls on top. There were several other very yummy things that I have absolutely no idea what they are because all the signs are in Polish. It was soooo yummy.
There was an opening kind of session tonight that I got to sit in on part of. There is childcare available for all the children down to Audrey and Amy said she hopes for me to be able to attend some of their sessions. We started out with everyone in their classes but as if I was worried about job security the nursery came within ten minutes to get Amy because Audrey (who had been angel ALL DAY after her first little screaming fit that morning) was crying. Amy calmed her down and then brought her to me and I took her out so she could sit in on some of the service. She fussed a tiny bit at the beginning but I talked to her and within moments she was grinning, cooing and even laughing at me. As it got closer to 8 she did get hungry and fussy but I was glad to see she did not scream or become inconsolable with me. Bless their hearts in the nursery but I’m thinking they maybe don’t take care of babies a lot or something. :)
Well breakfast comes early (it starts at 7!) and I think I want to try to get this posted and still get some sleep. I can’t get internet in my room, I have to go to a public area of the hotel which is lame but I guess it’s better than none at all! We’ll see how much I can post the rest of this week as I’m supposed to help with Audrey so that Charles and Amy can do their jobs here at the conference. Charles is the GEM director in France so I think that makes him kind of important. :) The one thing so far that amuses me is while there are a lot of people here for the conference it still seems to have a small church family feel to it because everyone seems to know who I am, even the ones I don’t remember meeting. :D This week should be pretty epic!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Starting with last night I finally began to feel useful! Today continued that trend. It was Emma's birthday today so of course there was much to do between making the day a party for her and packing for Poland. There were lots of little odd jobs to do like helping Sophie with her "restaurant" where we made crepes for everyone (I had never had them, and we didn't make them from scratch just put things in them and warmed it up), washing Daisy the dog so she was ready for her trip to stay with friends while we are gone, and helping with dinner and cleanup. We ended up with lots of extra company for dinner!! It was funny every time we added someone, I ran downstairs to check the freezer for more frozen pizzas. :) It turned out pretty yummy though I think because we had started out with little pita pizzas and had extra toppings so I threw those on the frozen pizzas. They were much better that way!

It was my first day to finally feel human or normal again. The first two nights even though I slept very well and had no trouble going to sleep I just couldn't seem to feel up to par during the day. Finally around 5 PM yesterday it was like a switch flipped and I thought "hey I don't feel like my eyes are constantly crossed!" Today all day I felt great and didn't even take a nap. :) Yay me!!

Well I'm going to get ready for bed and get some sleep before we have to be up and out early in the morning! Apparently it's a super busy travel day for France tomorrow as everyone goes out of town for August, and we get to drive to the airport in it and then fly out haha. Oh boy. :) I came for an adventure didn't I??

Thursday, July 29, 2010

day two

I don't think I'll always be able to blog every day (surely not enough exciting things to talk about EVERY day for 66 days right??) but for a little bit I have a lot of firsts so here goes today. We went to the grocery store today and how different it was to be in a store where everything is in a language you can't understand! Some things are easy to pick up on but I was trying to imagine doing a whole shopping trip like I would at home in Walmart or HEB for our family and it was kind of a scary thought. I found it interesting that the set up of the stores felt more like the malls we saw in St. Lucia where there are several different stores all together, your clothing store and shoe store and the grocery store but they are separate things all in the same building. To get your grocery cart you have to insert a coin (or a fake one) into the handle to unlock it from the others, then when you bring it back and hook it back up it gives you the coin back. There are also no bags, you have to bring your own. Another scary thought for large shopping trips!!

By the time we got home I was miserably sleepy again. I really don't know exactly how it works that I can get a full night's sleep (I had no trouble going to sleep last night and staying asleep) and still feel like that in the afternoon! I slept for an hour and finally about 6 PM Paris time I began to feel more human again. Great, that means it was about 11 AM at home in Houston so obviously my body is on Houston time. So once again it rings true that it isn't always about how MUCH sleep you get but WHEN you get it.

A new missionary family that is trying to get established here came for dinner tonight and the Crosses also invited a good neighbor-friend to come eat. We had pork tenderloin, salad, rice, steamed broccoli, and bread. After we had eaten plenty of that they brought out a platter with several different cheeses for us to all try and more bread. Ohhh it was so yummy!! I don't remember what all cheeses there were but one was walnut, one had pepper, one was bleu, and a couple of others. THEN we had some dessert and coffee. The company was fun too!! I have to find out how to spell the neighbor's name but she is so sweet and fun. She showed me how to kiss each cheek and pronounced me French. :) She speaks some English so between her English and Charles & Amy's French we can all get along just fine. I can hear them now all discussing the language and culture with the other family. It's pretty interesting.

It is rather chilly today! During the heat of the day it was gorgeous but now that the sun is going down it's actually a bit chilly. We are going to Wisla, Poland for the conference this weekend and I expect it will stay similar temperatures (70s in day, 50s at night). The hotel looks amazing!! It's going to be such an experience. We will be at the Hotel Golebiewski, I don't think I've ever been anywhere so fancy. :)

Well tomorrow is Emma's birthday! She is turning 9. We are supposed to do some crepes and pita pizza I think. If you could pray for baby Audrey, Amy is really working with her trying to get her to sleep. She does these little cat naps a lot and doesn't really sleep good. Last night was good but tonight has been rough with the company. It would be good if she can get this figured out for our trip! I know Amy is very tired constantly dealing with the baby.

Thinking and praying for all my people at CMT this weekend!! Hope it goes super well. :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

day one :)

So last night when I was typing up that post I was literally falling asleep as I typed. I don't know when the last time I've been so sleepy I did that!! I don't remember anything all night until there was a knock on my door and a sweet voice was calling "Megan! It's 10 o'clock, time to get up!" Amy had sent Thomas to wake me so I could try to adjust to the right timezone. :) I had slept a full solid 12 hours (YAY for me Sarah yes?? :D) and would have kept right on! She taught me how to use their awesome little coffeemaker and I made a nice big cup of coffee before I went outside to get in the sun and try to teach my body what the new time is. The coffee is very good!! The machine looks a bit like this one:

I took my cup outside with Thomas to the trampoline. We weren't out there for terribly wrong before Amy reminded us that Thomas's collarbone was broken very recently and the trampoline was probably a bad idea until it healed. We decided to come inside and play some games, so we played Chutes & Ladders and Candyland. I made them count in French when we played Chutes & Ladders and they had to say the colors in French when we played Candyland, so I can now count to five but the colors were a little less easy. ;) Oh well keep trying yes? Numbers are probably more important for me right now than colors anyway. It's really fun though because most of the time I ask what something is in French and Sophie and Thomas can tell me.

I promise tomorrow to try to take some pictures of the kids and the house/yard. It's such a neat little place!! We played until about 2 or so and then had a rest time. I took a little nap, IM'd a few people (as it was finally morning hours in the US) and back to playing we went. Dinner and dishes and bedtime routines completed I'm down here in my room again. I keep eying the bookshelf in here which has at least half a dozen interesting sounding books on it. I might just be able to get through one or two of those these next two months. :)

For all those at home in Houston, be very jealous...the high tomorrow is 70 I think. ;)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

the trip begins :)

This post is going to be kind of long so if you read nothing else here is what has gone through my mind over the last 24 hours:
1) 90% of female flight attendants are stuck in some horrific outdated hair decade. I can't decide what it is but it's frightening how many of them there are.
2) why is it everyone uses black suitcases? It makes luggage pickup entirely too dull if I'm the only one with bright colors.
3) airplane food is still lame
4) Europeans are way too into the skinny jeans thing which does not look flattering on ANYONE. And most CERTAINLY not on guys. Yet almost every guy that passed me in the airport (that wasn't in a suit) was in them. Ew.

To save myself time I'm not going to include photos in my posts but if you go to my Picasa page you can look at the pictures I've been taking (complete with captions).

Thanks to some heavy storms that moved through around 2 PM the airport traffic got backed up and our plane was late getting in and getting ready for us and subsequently late leaving. It was scheduled for 4:35 PM and we took off right at 6. Against my better judgement I took a tiny nap before dinner was served so it took the edge off my sleepyness (I only slept 4-5 hours the night before hoping that would help). After we had eaten dinner I met the man sitting in the row with me (nobody sat in the middle so we got a little extra space yay!). It turned into one of the most fascinating conversations I've ever had. He was originally from Slovakia and came to the US when he was 17. He married, had three boys, and takes frequent visits home. He was a Christian and you could tell by his opinions. :D It was a really cool time and he was super nice which was a comfort somehow. It was my first time to take such a long flight, and to do it alone so I was glad to have a nice person to talk to.

We finally made it into Frankfurt (a little late still despite the pilot's best efforts to catch up on our time). It was kind of weird because apparently they ran out of gates or maybe they do this with all the big planes but they parked out wherever and bussed us to the airport. The buses were packed like sardines. :P When we made it to the actual airport I looked multiple times at my boarding pass I'd printed from home and knew I needed to be at gate A24. I was pretty easily able to locate that gate with a good half hour or 40 minutes to spare and noticed the sign said "Prague". No worries I thought to myself, that's where the plane has just come from and those people getting off it. About 5 minutes to boarding time I hear the announcement to board but it's for the Prague flight. I run to the Lufthansa counter, show him my pass and he looks it up. Oh no he says I need A36 they must have changed it, but you better hurry! Ugh, I had to go another long ways down to get to A36 and just got there in the nick of time to start boarding with the rest of them. No sooner than I got settled on the plane and we started taxiing to the runway and my eyes began to close involuntarily. I seriously have never had this happen but I think I just completely passed out and didn't even notice the take off. I woke up right as they were making the rounds with drinks feeling only slightly better.

I got off the plane in Paris and headed for baggage claim to see the most bizarre looking set up I've ever seen in real life. I hope to get a picture of it on my way home as surely I will be slightly less stressed. They have all these moving walkways in little bubble tunnel enclosures that weave in and out of each other in this dome shape. It seriously reminded me of something out of a sci-fi movie. I didn't get lost, located my suitcases and found Bro. Charles with Sophie and Thomas. They took to me right away which makes me feel oh so good. :) Sophie has dragged me by the hand all day chattering about this and that and Thomas occasionally pops up with his two cents. They are way too cute. :)

Well I'm running on about 6 hours of sleep in the last two days and not sure how much for the whole weekend. Not nearly enough!! I'm going off to bed. Love to all of you, thanks so much for the prayers!! If you want a prayer card still ask my mom about them Sunday.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Today's the day!!!!

Well CI is done with (hopefully I will get a chance to blog about that later, maybe on the plane or in the airport hehe) and I am all packed up and ready to go. I'm slightly annoyed because I was getting all excited about the possibility of a mobile boarding pass on my phone (I wouldn't have to keep up with those stupid papers) but to get those you actually have to check in FROM your phone and I did it online so I still get to carry papers. At least I can remember for my return flight I hope.

I still have a bunch of prayer cards in my room if anyone wants one. I'll try to leave them somewhere that my family can easily find. :)

Well I'm going to change the sheets and make my bed (so the awesome people coming to stay at my house for CMT can not be grossed out ;D) and possibly make one last dash to the store. I will do my best to take LOTS of pictures and post them. I will make only this once shameless begging for attention but PLEASE if you think of me, post on my Facebook or even call my cell number and leave a message. I have a Google voicemail so I will still be able to listen to those. :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

prayer request

Well as sibling number seven has fallen prey to the icky stomach virus that's been going around I am asking if you will please pray for me that I will stay well and healthy this week!! I'm doing lots of hand washing, lots of water, and hoping my immune system is as well as it can be with regular visits to the chiropractor and the other supplements and things I've been taking. Unfortunately sleep is not something I'm probably getting "enough" of so I'm hoping that doesn't become the chink in my armor. :( I should probably have picked up some colloidal silver today while I was at the health foods store but hindsight is 20/20 right??

Speaking of, I was there getting some pycnogenol which has been tested to see if it would be helpful with jet lag. I shall let you know how it turns out. :D I'm supposed to take it beginning two days before I leave up through five days afterwards, drink plenty of water, and it is supposed to somehow help the transition be easier on my body. We shall see! I'm personally counting on the fact I will be so absolutely exhausted by the time I climb on that plane that I'll have no trouble sleeping.

I'm so very sleepy today. Not really tired although I was definitely exhausted on Saturday night, but I've just wanted to sleep all day today and the brain doesn't want to focus. I'm sure the rain helped with that. Well instead of sitting here talking about the sleep I need I'm going to try to go through verses a time or two and then get some. I knew I would be tempted to sleep in tomorrow since I didn't have work and no appointments until the afternoon so I scheduled my haircut for 9:30. Now I HAVE to be up and dressed and out the door by then. :P

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Had some sweet Daniel-time today and how precious it was! He's responding a lot more to people with smiles and even some tiny baby-laughter (you know that adorable little grunting sound??) and even cooing to answer you. My how much fun it is to have adopted nieces and nephews!! I've missed getting to be with little Faith and Abby who are growing up far too quickly in College Station without me being there to see them. :(

Having the quiet hour while Daniel slept was much helpful in my beginning to feel more confident about CI. The one thing I've found that helps me be the most comfortable going into the seminar is to have the songs and verses down backwards and forwards and inside out. Sometimes you think you know something until you're standing up in front of 80 kids and they're waiting for you to teach them the next line...and suddenly it's not there!! I haven't yet found much worse than that panicky moment when you stare blankly into the sea of faces trying to remember what comes next. Last year I was much more confident about both songs and verses and the seminar was just FUN! Between Paris and working 40 hours a week (a first for me while planning CI!) I've been struggling to find time to really focus on memorization. The teacher training is somehow much easier for me to pick up here and there and write a little but I feel like I have to have a chunk of time to really focus on verses. Then there's always so much to do at the house! But being here at Stephen & Melody's apartment there were no distractions (with Daniel asleep hehe), and total silence for concentration. It's not completely there yet but I do know it enough now that I can practice in the shower or in the car. :) Biggest hurdle done!! Songs are much easier.

I'm so very excited about the program this year. I always am and I don't know if it's MORE than other years but I was telling my friend Abby that my role with CI right now is exactly what I LOVE doing. If I could do this a couple of times a year it would be so very awesome! It made it so very hard to turn Amy down when she asked if I could possibly stay long enough to help with their missionary retreat in the Alps in Oct/Nov.

I'm soooo very excited about Paris right now I could just burst. I will admit I waffle between feeling homesick in advance and wanting to run around like a five year old with the thrill of it. I wish I could just teleport back and forth between here and there, it would make things so much easier!! I'm hoping I can think to bring everything that would be useful and know what to not bring because it will just be in the way. I do finally have both of my suitcases in my room ready to go and they have about three things in them (a sweater, a hoodie, and my power converter). Very soon I will begin packing more in earnest! I'm hoping to take a few things that will help me feel more comforted and like I'm close to home, like candles with familiar scents and my big memory board that Erin gave me that has pictures of me and friends. :) I want to replace a couple of the pictures, hopefully I'll find time to print them out. There were a few I would like to have taken with me and various ones but oh well. I just wish there were more time between CI and when I leave because I know I'd like to have been able to have some of those pictures!!

Well I've spent as much time as I dare not working on CI or Paris for now, please continue to pray for me to have clarity of thought and for finances! I know God is so good about providing us with exactly what we need when we need it. I'm looking forward to seeing how everything comes together!