Monday, August 23, 2010

Highland games, some castles, and Edinburgh

The last two days have been QUITE busy and super fun! It's really impossible to capture into words and pictures the whole experience I'm having here but I can try to give you a small taste I hope.

Sunday morning we went to Crieff, Scotland which is apparently where Ewan McGregor is from, to see the Highland Games. Pictures and video are in my Picasa but there was dancing, pipe bands, some heavyweight stuff (hammer and log throwing), running and jumping contests and lots of carnival style food and shopping. It was super cool hearing all the bagpipes and seeing lots of kilts. :) After that Clif wanted to tour The Famous Grouse distillery which is the oldest one in Scotland. It was actually kind of interesting to see the process but I still think the stuff smells gross. :P Then we drove a bit through the Highlands and saw some beautiful scenery, a couple of castles and a very old church. All of these things are also in my Picasa. :)

Today I got on a bus to Edinburgh all by myself and made it there, yay me! I think the only mode of transportation I won't have used by the time this trip is over is maybe a boat. If I could figure out how to fit that in somewhere... :D In the Edinburgh bus station I was looking for a map of the city and found a flier for a free tour of Edinburgh. It sounded interesting and the last one of the day started in just under twenty minutes so I pulled out my handy iPhone and located the Starbucks it was to start in front of and headed out. It turned out to be very cool and so worth it!! He gave us so much history and really cool stories about the different buildings and things. The parts I found the most fun and random I included here.

1) Charles II's statue. So apparently he really wanted the people home in Scotland to like him and one of the ways he decided this could be helped was to have a statue of him put up. He had it made so that he wore roman clothing and was on a horse. The problem with this was that two different people made the statue of him and the statue of the horse. He had asked for his statue to be big and apparently nobody told the guy making the horse so it looks like a donkey in size, comparatively speaking. Then there was a day every year where they had a ceremony and put a crown on the head of the statue but the crown poked holes into the head of the statue and when it rained it filled up with water and made the whole thing lean. So then they had to drill a hole in the bottom of the horse to make the water drain out. I bet you can guess where some smart-aleck decided to put the hole. Anyhow the whole thing seemed to backfire on him. :)

2) Our tour guide showed us the window of a cafe and said that in that in front of that window a poor single mother wrote a book and took some of her inspiration from buildings she could see including a school for orphans. Today the woman is richer than the queen (she is J. K. Rowling). I'll just admit right now I had no idea she lived in Edinburgh at any point in time. :P But I didn't know a LOT of things.

3) Greyfriar's Bobby. A policeman in the 1800s owned him and when he died Bobby came every day to his grave in Greyfriar's Kirkyard and sat by it for 14 years until he died. They buried him just outside the cemetery (he wasn't allowed to be buried IN it) and there is a headstone for him that people leave all kinds of little doggy things at. Close by is a statue of him and a bar named after him. :) Of all the famous people buried in Greyfriar's his is said to be the most visited.

4) The Stone of Destiny. So the Scots had a special stone used in coronation of new kings and at some point the English took it to London. The Scots really wanted their stone back and it was kind of a sore point for a long time. In the 1950s there was an attempt to steal it and return it, and they did a really good job and almost got away with it before being found out and turned in. Then in the 1990s the stone was indeed returned to Scotland to be kept there until needed for a coronation.

5) I had a Dr. Pepper Zero today! I didn't even know they EXISTED. Do we have those in the States?? It wasn't a perfect DP or anything but yay me for having one!! It's been so long...

So that was today and yesterday, tons of fun and lots of things learned about Scotland! Some things I knew a little about and other things I had not a clue but all of it was super interesting. I hope to look up the free tour group in London and Paris both and highly recommend them to anyone else who should go to any of the cities they have tours in. :) So far the rest of my week is a big question mark and I have no idea what I'll be doing but I'm sure having fun making things up as I go!! :)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Falkland Palace and St. Andrew's

Today after sleeping in (ohhh how wonderfully I slept!) Sheila and I hopped in the car and went to see the Falkland Palace. She had never been so I thought it was fun we would experience something new together. :) It was a beautiful palace with really nice gardens (pictures inside are not allowed but outside photos and the gardens are up in my Europe album on Picasa and Facebook). We spent a long time there looking inside at the rooms which they have furnished and there were people in each room to answer questions.

After that we headed out to St. Andrew's to see the castle and cathedral ruins. That was super interesting especially the castle. Apparently once someone tried to attack the castle by mining underground into it and someone inside knew about it so they dug a counter mine to catch them (and succeeded). You can actually go down inside the mines, it was pretty cool!! Next to the cathedral is St. Rule's tower and you can go all the way to the top of that. It was QUITE a climb round and round the stairs spiraled all the way up. When we got up the view was absolutely amazing though, and the wind is crazy up there. :)

Then we walked down a couple of streets and went to the golf course. St. Andrews is the oldest golf course in the world (and I had no idea before I came here haha). We also went down to the west sands and it was so beautiful. I love the clear blue water and the sky was pretty amazingly blue too.

Tomorrow we are going to see some Highlands games!! How COOL is THAT? I'm really excited, it sounds like fun and Sheila says they've never been and have always wanted to go so it'll be a new experience for all of us. :) And hopefully on Monday we'll go to Edinburgh and see some sites there. After that I have NO idea what I'll be doing or which country I'll be in but I guess we shall see yes?? :D This is one adventure, let me tell ya...

Friday, August 20, 2010

trains, trains, and more trains

So I was in a total of six different train stations in the last 24 hours! How cool is that. I think my favorites were Gare du Nord in Paris and St Pancras in London because there were lots of interesting stores and cafes. By the end of the day though I was definitely feeling like Tom Hanks from The Terminal. There's just only so much you can do in those places and they don't all have free wifi AND a plug available. It seemed to be pretty much only one or the other. I did get about halfway through reading Mrs. Polifax on the China Station and I watched Fellowship of the Ring and about an hour of The Twin Towers. That helped keep things interesting. I also popped into the British Library which was between St Pancras and Euston stations (I walked from one to the other). They had wifi AND plugs but I didn't have the right converter with me and by the time I went to get it and come back the library was closed.

I ate a ham quiche for lunch, a jalapeno chicken wrap for a snack-ish and then for late dinner I had my first pasty. I don't know what was in it but potatoes for sure but it wasn't what I ordered because I asked for bacon and cheese and there was definitely no bacon. It was pretty yummy though whatever it was!

While I was online Luke popped up for a chat and quoted "London" by Brandon Heath to me. I guess I'd never heard that song before and had him send it to me. I then proceeded to make a playlist of homesick songs and had my iPod going all evening repeating those songs. It was fun in a melodramatic way to wander aimlessly around the train station singing that song and "Home" by Michael Bublé. :)

So finally after a long day I got on a sleeper train to ride to Scotland. The original plan was not to do this until Saturday and to only have to go from Cumbria but an unexpected hospital visit for my London friend meant I needed to go straight to Scotland. It's a long trip from London to Cupar! I spent the first 45 minutes watching LOTR on my laptop and charging my phone until my laptop battery died and then got all comfy and went to sleep. I dozed off and on waking whenever we came to a train station because I wasn't sure what time it was or when we'd make it to Leuchers which is where I needed to get off and catch a train to go BACK to Cupar (we would pass through to get to Leuchers).

Finally we got there and I hopped up and grabbed my stuff and plopped onto the platform. Only two other people got off at that stop with me. The first thing I noticed was the wind was VERY cold when it blew so I pulled my sweater out to layer on top of my hoodie. Then I looked at the board trying to figure out when the train would come through. Apparently whoever was supposed to be opening that station was late because the doors were all locked so I had to wait out in the cold wind. I was so very glad to see the train stop to pick us up!! Then the sixth and final train station in my trip, and Sheila picked me up and brought me to her adorable cottage where I took a shower and changed clothes and felt human again!! I hate sleeping on planes or trains. :P She also had an amazing little breakfast ready when I got out.

After that we set off to see what we could see! I put up pictures again in Picasa but I've seen two castles, a windmill, and had fish and chips already. :) I love even just driving through the countryside, it's so beautiful!! It's pretty much everything I imagined and more. :) God is so awesome, I can't believe He gave me this opportunity!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Château de Chantilly, and PARIS!!!

Sunday after church I got to go visit the Château de Chantilly which was really very cool. It's complete with a real moat and some huge fish things that could probably eat people I think. Most everything in there was French so unfortunately I don't know much about the Château itself, just some things about the artwork and such. The gardens looked amazing but it was a rainy day so I did not wander them much. I spent a good three or four hours out and walking around in there. It was really nifty and I did put some pictures up on Picasa and Facebook.

Today though was a SUPER adventure because Jennifer and I got on the train this morning and went to Paris for my first time!! It was really wet and kind of cold again so we tried to do some inside things. On the sub as we were going in an accordion player got onto the train with us and played! He was really good and it was so very cool. We started out at Notre Dame where I discovered I'd left my SD card in my laptop at home and only had enough space for 5-7 photos on the camera which was super lame but I was sort of okay with that knowing I'll get another chance to come back. Jennifer took one picture of me in front of it but then I realized that went straight to my camera's internal memory and I don't think I have the cable to transfer it to my computer haha!! Those two or three pictures I took inside may have to wait until I get home to get moved to my computer. :) I took a couple of the amazing windows. The church is just amazing and breathtaking especially when I consider the fact it was built without any fancy equipment, just piece by piece by someone's own hands carefully sculpting and crafting and putting all the pieces together to form this amazing building.

After that it was still kind of spitting although not all out raining and so we went in a few little shops behind Notre Dame. In one I was able to find an SD card for a pretty decent price so I decided it's not too bad of an idea to have two SD cards anyhow in case one gives out (eh Sara??) so I picked one up. I also got one or two other odds and ends for different people and got many ideas for others but being the terrible decision maker that I am refused to buy too many things today in case I see something else even better later. I can always come back. :) We went to lunch at a nice cute little cafe and I had salad, quiche, and a yummy chocolate cake that was pretty dense and fudgey with some coffee. Yum! I could definitely live the French life!! By the time we finished eating it had stopped raining so we decided to walk by the Seine to the Louvre. It was so fun to visit with Jennifer and hear about what God is doing in their family's life and how they came to France! Along the way I snapped photos here and there of the things we saw and just tried to soak in the atmosphere. It was so very very cool!

By the time we got the Louvre it started to rain again and there was a very long line to get in, so we'd maybe only have an hour or hour and a half to look before we needed to catch the train back to Chantilly. We decided to wait on that (or I did anyway) and go look in the shops around that part of town. After we had located a little crepe shop and got some yummy warm crepes with nutella we walked around and ended up near Saint Eustache and the l'Ecoute. :) That was fun! But of course it was raining again and so we took refuge in the underground mall by the metro station. I decided I very much liked a lot of the French clothes. I do NOT get into the skinny jeans that are everywhere but they had some super cute cardigans, cashmere sweaters, knit tops and dresses.

Well as they say all good things must come to an end so we made our way back to the train station to go back home again. It was so much fun to just kind of wander through Paris! I didn't feel any pressure to see everything in the rain because the plan is for me to come back hopefully more than once before I leave so I can see more things. I will also feel more confident now if I venture out maybe the first Sunday in September to see the Louvre (it is free that day!), maybe I will be able to find someone to go with me. In three days I leave for London and how exciting is THAT in and of itself, but even more fun and exciting to me is that I will get to meet one of my longest best internet friends!! I'm so very very blessed, God has done EXCEEDINGLY abundantly above and beyond all that I could even imagine. I'm so grateful for these incredible opportunities He has given me!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

church and Senlis

I have decided I know French better than Polish. :P Or at least I can guess at it better! It's much easier, I'm SO glad I didn't go to Poland for a mission trip. Just being in the airport I found it such a relief because I felt like I could almost read the signs!! Polish just looks like garbledy gook to me. French still SOUNDS like garbledy gook a lot to me but at least I can read the signs!

Today was my first visit to the church here with the Crosses! Their church is a little bit away from their village in a town called Nogent-sur-Oise. It is really cute and Charles said it is unusual for a protestant church to actually HAVE a church building, a lot of them meet in hotels and such. I did not get pictures because we were super busy but hope to get some next Sunday. They actually have a very decent sized Sunday morning crowd! I think the normal attendance is around 120 he said. Very respectable methinks. :) I helped Emma and Claire with a little Sunday School kind of thing during the sermon and they did so well for a 9 & 11 year old! I'm so proud of them. :) We played a few games and sang some songs, and the girls even told the story of Paul & Silas in prison. At the very end we also managed to teach them a Bible verse.

After the service Amy dropped me off in a town called Senlis for a little sightseeing. I was a little nervous going on my own since I can't speak french at all but Amy gave me her phone and dropped me at the big Cathédrale and said we'd meet back there. It was actually kind of fun!! After I admired the Cathédrale and took lots of pictures as surreptitiously as possible I went across the street to the Office de Tourismé. I got a little map of the town there and she pointed me in the direction of the Château Royal next door and the Musée de la Vénerie and Musée des Spahis. It only cost €2 to see all of it so I figured might as well! The Musée des Spahis was kind of lame, all it had was some different uniforms and a few weapons, and was all of two rooms. The Parc et vestiges du Château Royal was really nice! A pretty little park and you could see the wall that goes around the city. It was pretty cool to think that's been there for hundreds of years. I went in the Musée de la Vénerie which was about hunting and had some paintings. It was again kind of mehh but hey I saw it! The bummer was that everything was in french and the only english was this tiny little pamphlet that hardly told me anything about them that I couldn't tell from looking. After that I wandered a few streets but most of the shops and things were closed between the fact it was a Sunday and it is August (most of France goes on holiday in August!). I did find a little bakery though and managed to buy a chocolate eclair with the only three french words I know (bonjour, un, and merci :D). It was a VERY yummy eclair! I did take pictures and for those you need to go to my Picasa album as usual as I don't want to make a two hundred foot long post with all of them. :)

Tonight for dinner Charles did another really cool salad with lettuce, nectarines, some kind of cheese, some nuts and a dressing he made to go with salmon on a bed of some other random hodge podge of veggies (tomatoes, purple onions and capers for sure). I'm looooving the new foods! It's so fun.

Well this week should be busy! Hoping everyone at home is doing well. :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

au revoir Poland! ;)

Wow so we did make it safely back to Aprémont with all five children and all 16 pieces of luggage and assorted pillows. :) I'm sorry to confess I did doubt God could get us through a time or two but in my human weakness I thought surely this is not going to happen. But it did!! To start with our bus to the airport was about fifteen minutes late arriving at the hotel to take us. This was okay I thought because we had plenty of cushion time once we arrived. We were leaving around 10 AM and our flight didn't leave until 2 PM and it was just under a 2 hour drive to the airport, no biggee right? Hah. We got there and the domestic terminal was on the FAR END of the airport and we had to walk all the way down only to find we had to go UP stairs to get to it. Where is the ADA when you need them?? :P Man oh man they'd have a hay day in Europe. We ended up unloading all the suitcases off the carts we had, carrying them up the stairs, and reloading onto new carts. Then we went to check in and it took FOREVER as it did last time to get it all done. Apparently they had trouble running Thomas's passport, like it didn't show up in their system which is ridiculous since he's already flown more than once with it. In the end they only checked him into the flight from Kraków to Warsaw and we would have to check him in again there. It was also an ordeal for them to try to find us all seats together. By the time all this was done we had just under an hour before our flight was supposed to board and we still had to eat lunch. The hotel had given us lunches to bring and eat so that was super nice and we enjoyed opening those up but as you can imagine with that many little guys it takes awhile to eat lunch, go to the potty and get ready to get on the plane. By now we are pushing 15 minutes til boarding and still have to go through security. As we are just about to head through the lady from the airline counter runs up and asks for our passports again because she has to do one more thing. When she comes back she says for us to hurry because they are boarding now! It is NOT an easy task to hurry five kids through security along with three laptops (those all have to be pulled out of bags you know), a stroller and cranky baby. I had been holding Audrey because she'd been fussy and Amy was still finishing up so we got everybody through but me and Charles and then Amy came back out and got Audrey. We finally got through all that and reassembled everything only to realize that this stupid tiny airport in Kraków is one that you have to ride a stupid bus to the plane. So then we have to load everyone onto the bus and hang on to kids so they don't fall over. We finally got everyone all on the plane and situated and Amy says "don't you just breathe a sigh of relief when we all get settled in on the plane??" Yeah. Definitely. Thomas asked to sit by me and we had a good time on our short flight. :) He is SO stinking CUTE!!!

The flight from Kraków to Warsaw is only like 30 minutes long which seems hardly worth all the effort to get on and off the plane. :P But it was what we had to do so we did it. When we got to Warsaw we only had ONE HOUR before our flight was to leave for Paris and we had to go through security AGAIN and get Thomas checked in! The security line was INSANE. They only had ONE ROW open in this airport and there were like a hundred people all waiting to get in. We weren't the only ones in a time crunch either as people kept running up to the front, some barging their way into the line ahead and others begging to be allowed as their flights were already boarding. The two big ones were a Chicago flight that was boarding right then and the Paris flight we were trying to get on which was in fifteen minutes by the time we got to the front. We finally made it through security once more and got to the gate to get Thomas checked in which took just about the rest of the spare time we had. Amy had hoped to get the kids to the bathroom before the flight but didn't find one close and our flight started boarding so we had to skip it. They were kind and allowed us to board first so we got everyone in place before the masses started pushing their way on. As soon as the plane got good and off the ground I went to sleep. I think I slept an hour, it was so good!! I would have loved more but shortly thereafter we began landing preparations. Charles and Amy kept asking me this week if I was exhausted yet after various things and I was able to answer honestly not yet but last night and tonight I AM.

The rest of the trip was not as interesting, just gathering all the suitcases and getting them to the car, then unloading everything at the house. I've got my stuff mostly unpacked and dirty clothes ready to be washed as I've just gone about two weeks since I had that opportunity last! Yeah it's about time. :P I'm pretty tired so I think I'm going to at least get my teeth brushed and whatnot. Love to all my peoples at home!!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Today's been another good day for spiritual food as I was able to attend the sessions this morning. Audrey stayed in childcare in her stroller and slept so Amy and I were both free to go. I didn't realize it but the main speaker this week is actually someone who works in a closed country that doesn't allow missionaries, and he has been going by only a first name which I've been told isn't even his real name even at this conference so far away. That's just how careful he has to be to prevent word from getting to the wrong people about what he does. I think a lot this week I've been lulled into forgetting about how dangerous some missionaries have it because so many have it so "good". In closing this morning the whole entire group of missionaries gathered around him and his wife to lay hands on him and pray. If I've heard correctly he has been beaten many times and has had to have his face partially reconstructed with metal plates (or that might have been a different missionary here). I feel so blessed to be among these people this week! I know they are just humans like the rest of us but something special about the ones God has out there in full time ministry away from homes, friends, and family and even more so the ones who are being persecuted for it!!

I've had about five different people today say "Don't you feel called to minister to the people of _____". :) Some in jest, some earnest, some a mixture of the two. I got to the point where I just laughed and said that I hadn't felt that calling YET. I know better than to say never to God. :) I still don't really feel any leading to full time mission work even after being here but I certainly haven't closed the door on it in the future. I just don't know yet where God is leading me! I do know that I reaaaaaally want to help them with their missionary retreat later this year but I don't know how logistically it could work. Does anyone want to teach a children's program maybe somewhat like CI or CMT for missionary kids at a retreat in the Swiss Alps around Oct 29 through the beginning of November? :) I don't see myself doing it alone for sure. If anyone is seriously interested in helping (with or without me lol) then please let me know and I will get you more details on it!

One of the other things that struck me today as I looked around at the missionaries were the great variety of shapes and sizes that they come in. There are both old and young, some that just LOOK like missionaries (don't ask me why!) and some that look like businessmen or college students. Some married, some single...God calls all kinds of people! This morning they were mentioning a family and I didn't catch what country they are in but the husband is a potter and has an art studio or shop of some kind, and has had amazing results witnessing to the people who come in to buy his work. What an awesome tent making business that also helps you fish for souls!! I think it's been so interesting and so encouraging to hear how missionaries a lot of times live relatively similar lives to the rest of us -- they wash their own dishes, have to grocery shop, go to the bank etc but use these opportunities to build relationships and trust with people so that they can eventually invite them to church and talk to them about Jesus. Why don't I do that more? We are ALL missionaries right where we live. It really is a lot about lifestyle evangelism! Bringing Jesus with us to our every day activities. One of the things we discussed in session this morning was how we can do this more and I know I've got a unique opportunity as a nanny at home to talk to other mothers and caregivers at the park, at Chickfila, at the fact I did get to do just that a few weeks ago at a park, the woman appeared to be Muslim and SHE struck up the conversation with ME. We didn't get to chat long before I had to leave because a kid hurt himself but it is exactly the kind of thing I should take advantage of to share God with others.

Well pray for us if you think about us in the middle of the night haha!! We are off to the airport around 10 AM local time, then a 2:25 flight to Warsaw, and a 4:15 flight to Paris. We only have an HOUR between our flight arriving in Warsaw and leaving again so I hope it's enough time and the first one isn't too late leaving!! :-/ Traveling with kids is stressful enough even at a ration of 5 kids to 3 adults. Hopefully it will all work out well though and we will be back "home" again in France and get some rest this weekend. Or so I hope. I have no idea what the agenda is. :) Have a good evening all my peoples at home in the States!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I keep debating whether or not to blog each night but then it turns out I always have plenty to say! I can't tell if it's just because a lot is happening here at the conference or if it's going to be like this the whole time but regardless here is today's recap. :)

I kept Audrey this morning for Amy while she went to the first session and then we caught the end of the second session before lunch. After that Amy wanted a nap so she let me take sleeping baby in her stroller and we went to my room and enjoyed the rain with the door to the balcony open. It was soooo refreshing and I loved hearing the thunder. Audrey didn't seem to mind it and slept right through. I was able to have a neat little chat with Sarah too so that was a happy time! I haven't been able to talk much to friends since I've been here between the time difference and CMT conference. I was able to talk to my mom a bit last night and a couple of nights ago. After that Amy said I could have a little over an hour off to myself before she wanted to go to another session and I thought wow what I can do!! I ended up napping to the sound of more rain and thunder and being awakened by more IMs. :) Jonathan was just catching me on his way out the door for the day. I was glad to have the little contact with two different friends today as it made me feel much more connected.

I had only been with Audrey for about ten or fifteen minutes before Charles came in and said he was skipping a session to take a nap and I could have some MORE down time. I was thrilled because Alicia Chole had another session and I was dying to sit in on more of her stuff. When that was over I once again had a few more minutes before they needed me for dinner so I went down to check out the gift shop. They have a really spiffy one here at the hotel. Too bad I don't know how much all this stuff is in US$!! :D I have a feeling it's like dirt cheap but I don't know for sure...I bought some postcards but now I don't know how to mail them. It's really rough because the people here at the hotel don't tend to speak much english and there are hardly any signs or papers with any kind of english on it.

It has been downright chilly today!! I'm not sure the exact temp but I'm guessing it's close to 50 now. Incredible weather to me a Houston gal who is used to it not dropping below 75 at night during the summer. :) Loving this!!!

This evening we had dinner with a missionary from Greece. He is apparently actually Greek himself and has dual citizenship. He was one of 6 boys, they were missionary kids and out of those 5 of them are now missionaries themselves!! I found that to be sooo encouraging and amazing in a time when Satan is fighting families so hard, particularly men and ESPECIALLY those on the front lines for God, and here is a family that stayed strong. Just one of the many incredibly awesome stories I've been able to hear this week. I am LOVING being able to mix and mingle with missionaries in a way you don't normally get to. One of them even asked me if I'd come back to the conference next year! :D I said you know I'd be totally interested in coming back but we'll just have to see what happens right? Amy said she was thinking about whether or not she'd like to have another baby and didn't think after Audrey she could manage. Then she said "buuuut if Megan would come back and commit for a whole YEAR now THEN I could have another baby! So I guess it all depends on if Megan will come??" Hahahaha...

Something else that's happened because of this trip is I picked up a book called "Who Has Your Heart?" by Emily Ryan who is actually from Houston. It's for single women and really some of the most straightforward talk I've heard, it's so refreshing. It's based on Jepthah's daughter in the Bible. Yeah that tiny little passage. I can't wait to share it with some of my friends! I picked it up off the swap table they have for the missionaries (Amy told me I should check for some books because she brought a ton and the cute little old lady in charge was BEGGING me to take lots of them home; I felt kind of bad and like I should just borrow them and return so someone else can read them but Amy insisted I should take it home with me to share) and I've been reading it while Audrey naps to pass the time. Wow. It's super excellent and I'm loving it.

Tonight I have my room all to myself because Charles & Amy went to visit friends on another floor and we put them all to bed in their own room so I could babysit them altogether. I liked sharing my room but it's also easier getting up in the morning without being afraid I'll wake someone. Thomas slept right through the first night but Emma I think woke when my alarm went off this morning. :) Anyway for now I'm chilling on my laptop and now I'm chatting with Melody (score!! 3rd wonderful friend conversation of the day after so long of nothing!!) and waiting for them to come back so I can go to bed. I think I'm officially changed to the right timezone now because I am READY for bed at 10ish and feel decently rested even as early as 6:30, or did until this morning. I think I'm just getting tired again because I'm getting only 6ish hours of sleep at night and running all day long and I KNOW my body does better on 8, or at least 7. Hopefully I can catch back up this weekend after we get back to France. Good night dear friends and family. :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Audrey did a little better today! She really likes listening to music while she sleeps so I set up my iPhone (which is in airplane mode but today I realized this doesn't prevent me from turning on wifi!) playing the Galkins and Steve Pettit in the room where she slept. :) She still had trouble when the people came back once again from wherever in the middle of the afternoon and were super loud and noisy stomping away in the room above us. I ended up finally having to pick her up and calm her down and then she was happy. She will be better once we get back to her home I'm sure.

The food here at the hotel is really and truly amazing. They have a chocolate mousse every evening with dinner that is like WOW and all these fried foods haha. Last night they had fried BROCCOLI. I felt a little better because I thought only Americans could take an otherwise healthy food like an onion and fry it. I keep thinking surely I'm going to gain a ton of weight while we are here but then I remind myself that the main conference room is on the 6th floor, our room is on the 3rd floor, dining is on the 1st floor, and today the ladies had lunch on the 8th floor. And I haven't been using the elevators except for when I have the stroller because they take too long. Surely it all works out in the end right?? :) The weather is also absolutely fantastic, I wish I could have it be like this all the time! The window stays open in my room and the temperature is never too hot or too cold.

This morning I started out with Audrey after breakfast and Amy went to the ladies session for a little bit. We worked out a phone system because only one of the cell phones can send texts and she left me the one that could send and she took the one that can only receive so I could let her know when Audrey woke up to eat. When she came in to feed her she encouraged me to go into the session because it was super good and said she'd try to bring Audrey in the stroller after she finished. I went ahead and got in and she was talking about "Whispers from God". They were so very very convicting!! I didn't have anything to write with at the time so I'm trying to write things down as I think of them and hope to look at Amy's points she was able to get. We were still in and out with the baby so we didn't get all of it but it was sooo amazing. If you get a chance to look up Alicia Britt Chole please do! She apparently gave her testimony this morning about being an atheist and getting saved in her 20s. It's an amazing story I hear. From the rest of her lesson I was so very encouraged, I have already ordered two of her books. I'm hoping I'll get a chance to hear her speak a little more before she leaves Wednesday. Please pray Audrey will be good!! :) I'm also giving up the regular mascara and pulling out the waterproof for the rest of the week. :P

We went to the water park again today and the girls got me on the slides. The first one was pretty fun but the second empties into a kind of toilet bowl type swirly thing and is oh-my-gosh scary!! I was not thrilled about that one and probably won't do it again. :P Claire kind of tricked me into doing it anyway. I asked her how deep the pool was at the bottom and she kind of hesitated and said "it's not too bad". I said "how deep!" She said "it's not TOO deep!" I sighed and went for it anyway. Yeah it must be like 10 ft. :P I hate those because you feel like it's going to take forever to hit the bottom and come back up!!

I'm really enjoying being in the company of so many missionaries. I know they are just normal people like the rest of us but there is something special about people who have been called to leave family and friends and home and what we like to think of as "financial security" and good jobs to come live a life of hardship and sacrifice. Sometimes I think I have problems, well I don't have half of what some of these people have to face. Some of them deal with the same trials I have on top of being separated from family. It's been so neat to listen to them as they are having a week of refreshing and so many of them are good friends. It feels like a big family reunion! And they are all so open and receptive to a new person. It's really been a neat time.

Well I think I'm going to climb into bed. The sun keeps coming up around 4:30 and this hotel does not have decent darkening shades on the windows. I spend 4:30-6:30 tossing and turning because it's so bright in my room. :( Oh well! This is my sacrifice this week right? ;)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

It feels so bizarre to me to think about where I'm at. In Picasa I've been tagging my photos with locations and looking at the map it just kind of astounds me to think. I'm in one of those little places you might hear about during the Winter Olympics, and some sad little story about this olympian who had the worst life ever and here is where they lived. Okay maybe not exactly but for some reason when I think of Poland I think of Winter Olympics. It's just how my strange little mind works. Oh and I forgot to point out last post that Wisla is pronounced Vee-swa or something like that. It gets super confusing to me but they seem kind of picky about it. ;P It also throws me for a loop to get Facebook ads in whatever language I'm currently in (French and Polish so far) and even Blogspot picks up on my location and some of the site changes language accordingly. Very crazy.

I think I've finally met my match with Audrey! She is the first baby I've not been able to quickly identify the secret to calming down. She gets soooo worked up and did it several times today. I'm convinced there has to be a secret to it, I just have to figure it out! Hopefully she will be better tomorrow. I know that yesterday was a traumatic day with the plane and bus, so today was super difficult. Maybe she will be a little more settled.

We went to the indoor water park today and Thomas and I played in the wave pool while the girls went with Charles to check out some of the slides and things. It was pretty fun and Thomas is quite the little fish! I didn't realize at first it was the wave pool because it cycles between just a pool with fountains and this wild wave thing. It took us off guard when it first started up and I know how much Joel gets nervous in the water so I was right beside him in a flash to scoop him up out of the water, but when he came up he was laughing and not crying. It made ME nervous because the waves were pretty big and he kept getting knocked over by them but he kept going back for more. :D The only major negative I found was that it seems Polish men prefer to wear speedos. Ew.

Thomas and Sophie are definitely my little buddies. :) It really helps that they are stinking cute and pretty good kids. Tonight the big girls went swimming with friends and Thomas and Sophie had to get ready for bed so I was helping them while Amy nursed Audrey. She was still trying to get her down for the night and said they'd probably like to hear a story so I made a very feeble attempt that was pretty lame because I stole someone's lines about Jimmy and wild chicken. They both decided then that they wanted to tell me stories too. At one point it was soooooo funny because Thomas was trying to tell an "important" (serious) story and not a funny one. He'd compose himself and say "once upon a time"...and he'd look at Sophie and say "don't Sophie!" and then burst into giggles. I tried to get some of it on video. He cracks me up because he is so very proper in his pronunciations, and then he'll randomly switch into French on me and I can't understand what he's saying. :P Tonight I helped him with his pajamas and said "is that good?" and he said something in French. All I caught was "bien" which is good so I thought it was fine. Claire laughed and said "he said it's NOT good". For a special treat since Thomas and Sophie didn't get to go with the big girls tonight I said they could sleep in my room with me. Sophie backed out at the last minute but Thomas is sleeping away on a palette in the floor. :) It's fun to have a little buddy who is as loving as Joel! It helps me not miss him too much.

Well I'm going to quietly get ready for bed and hit the hay. Gotta be up early again tomorrow. I'm just wishing I could figure out a way to get real bottled water instead of this nasty fizzy junk they keep giving us in our rooms. Ick.