Source: Rescue the Forgotten
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Okay. Let me backtrack.
I am sure that each of us, if we have traveled outside of the United States, could give a short synopsis of what we observed, how things were different, what we liked, and what we didn’t like in each foreign country that we visited. Sometimes the list will be longer for the positives. Sometimes for the negatives. And, sometimes, the list will be split down the middle. Each country is unique and different. And not ours. Therefore, the list and experiences go on and on and on.
On Yahoo, they posted an article about other visitors to the US, and their observations. I loved reading what someone from each different country had to say about his/her observations in the United States. I must say, however, that I don’t quite think that I would open the refrigerator at a stranger’s house. Now, if I were at a friend’s house, that’s a different story.
Anyhow, I hope that you enjoy the read. Before you start, however, I will start with a few of my fun observations of my short visits to other countries, too.
1. Mexico—While we were being all touristy and stuff on our honeymoon, we took a dune buggy ride into some very rural back villages. Villages, if that is what you can call them. We passed rivers where women were washing clothes before we made a stop at a very small village store (store being used lightly). At the store I noticed that, although it was the middle of the day, most children were roaming around instead of being at school. Therefore I asked, “What time do you guys go to school?” The answer, “Our teacher travels into our village two days a week. That’s when we go to school.”
I absolutely LOVE Mexico, but at that moment I realized education is a valued privilege in so many parts of the world. These kids, I am more than sure, when those two days of school rolled around, were eager participants to attend and happy to learn.
As we drove off, I left thinking, “Man, there is so much I could learn from those kids in regards to appreciation.”
2. Italy (Venice)—So, we had just traveled all over Venice and came to an opening. It’s largely crowded islands with many narrow passages, bridges, and, of course, spectacular canals. Venice, itself, is a blog posting on its own, but as we came into this slightly larger opening, I was enthralled. Laundry hung out windows, children played football in their miniscule space between walls, tourists, and this one, lone cafe.
While dodging the children’s football, we were so happy to find this cafe that we proceeded to occupy one of the few tables, making ourselves comfortable, and ordering, happily. After all, we were in Venice, Italy. Happiness and good coffee both abound!
Now, you need to understand that we (2 Americans) were in Italy with: 1 Venezuelan, 1 Pole, 1 Norwegian, and 1 Sri Lankan. Despite our varied countries backgrounds, we all ordered the same drink and in unison said, “6 Lattes, please!”
Minutes later our waiter brought a tray out to us, but we were sure that he had to be at the wrong table. After all, we had said, “Lattes!” And what was coming toward us were tall glasses of frothing milk.
Ummm…what would we do? Our Norwegian friend took charge, “Sir, we ordered Lattes.”
Waiter—blank stare. “These are lattes.”
And that’s when it hit us, “Caffe lattes,” after all, we were in Italy. Home of some of coffee’s finest.
But, of course being in Italy, everything ended happily anyway. Our waiter graciously took our frothing milk back and added a shot of espresso to each just for our drinking pleasure.
What did we learn? While in Italy, make sure you order caffe with your latte!
3. Germany—Being neighbors with Germany, we have actually spent quite a bit of time there. When we first moved to Poland the borders were still closed. So, if we flew into Berlin, we traveled to Poland by train, which meant we had to make sure that we had our passports available and handy at the German/Polish border.
First we had to get the “All clear” from the German border patrol. But that wasn’t all, then we had to get the same “All clear” from the Polish border patrol.
It’s not that it was a problem, but it was always time consuming. And, because we were usually coming from America, we always had our bulging luggage with us. Which means that the German border patrol would find our large, overstuffed suitcases oddities (most people travel the trains with very light luggage or backpacker packs). Hence a very thorough check of each suitcase in our possession took place. And just as the German border patrol would give the “All clear” on our luggage, the Polish border patrol would come by and examine our luggage, too.
Also, because the borders were closed, it was always interesting as you watched the border patrol agents carefully exam each passport. Our across the lane neighbor, once, obviously did not have a passport or name pleasing to the agents as he was escorted from the train when his did not receive the “All clear”. Let me say, I am glad my passport or name was always authentic and in good standing.
Anyhow, back to Germany. So not only did we fly into Berlin, we would also drive through Germany if going to countries such as Austria or Italy. On one trip through Germany our daughter got violently ill. We actually thought she had appendicitis. We typed “hospital” on our GPS and found one just miles away. While they ran all of their tests on Adelyne, I went to the little cafe to get something to drink. Low and behold, in the German hospital cafe, they were serving beer.
Now, I was surprised. But should I have been?
What did I learn in Germany? Octoberfest occurs everywhere (smile and wink), and, I guess, beer will make you feel better.
4. Poland—It’s fitting I mention Poland since we were once newbies there. Let’s see. I’m loud. And we were on a tram (public trolley-type enclosed car—maybe known as light rail in the States). There was something funny said, and I belly laughed! All eyes on the tram. On me. Not a single smile but mine and my friend’s. It’s then that I noticed the tram. Complete silence. Not a single sound.
I learned my lesson that day. When entering a Polish tram, you sit, preferably next to the window, with or without a book, and either A. Read your book or B. Stare out the window of the tram. C Never takes place: C. Talk and laugh hysterically. Because. Because nothing on a tram is worth discussing or funny (smile and wink 2).
No. Joking. I definitely learned that day that I, most VERY likely, was the perfect depiction of “Loud American” to every Polish passenger on that tram. Funny thing, though, my loud friend was not American (and obviously not Polish). Had the passengers of the tram known that it would have rocked their socks. Another loud culture out there in the world? Impossible!
What did I learn, for real, that day on the Polish tram? That I could turn my volume button down a few notches and not find the world quite as funny. No. Kidding again. I learned that just because it’s your nature to be loud or funny, you can definitely be respectful of where you are and the people around you. You don’t have to be as loud as you find the situation. Learning about another culture doesn’t mean that you have to give up who you are. It means that you are respectful of where you are and who you are with.
Well, enough of my observations. Finally, here you go, the link to the Yahoo article. I hope that you enjoy reading the observations of others as much as I did!
Yahoo article: Don’t Drink the Water: Translated Travel Tips for Coming to America:
So I have lots of autumn and winter plans. In fact, tonight we are suppose to be serving food at a local soup kitchen. Tomorrow I am suppose to teach Art Masterpiece at my daughter’s school. Friday my husband leaves for Ivory Coast for our foundation. Saturday my niece has an honor’s choir concert—and I have an awesome girls’ night out where we’re…me and some of my besties…are going to paint the town red! Well, literally we’re going to paint a cardinal, but it sounds like fun, huh?! But sometimes life has different plans…like belly monitors and bum shots and potential premature babies (and, if you’re counting, this would be number 2—but let’s see how long I can keep her baking).
All in all, my babies will always trump any plans-because they are the greatest plans of all!
Have a Super Tuesday.
“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer…with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
My husband and daughter spent an entire month traveling from Africa, to Norway, to Poland…
But immediately upon their arrival I knew…
It’s not the spectacular in life that really matters…it’s the simple that counts!
I am sure Adelyne had as much fun on horsie rides with her brother and daddy as she did playing with lions in Africa.
And I am certainly sure Richard enjoyed his evening of cuddles as much as he enjoyed his safari exploration.
Welcome home, Daddy and Ada. Maxwell and I missed you more than words!
I can’t believe it was a month…
Yes. We woke a sleeping baby at 11pm.
Then we played for two hours that night.
Maxwell wore a permanent grin at midnight. His sister is his joy.
The very next morning, the smiles continued…
XOXO always, Richard and Adelyne.
A lion’s roar can be heard up to 5 miles away. My husband learned this during his lion park adventures and walk. I thought that sounded quite extraordinary, but it’s true. I looked it up.
Guess what else! A whale’s can be heard hundreds of miles away…to attract a mate. Obviously it’s not a roar. We’ll save that for the lions. But it’s registered decibel levels are so loud that KISS has nothing on them. Perhaps they’re the rock stars of the sea?
I just hope that the female that answers the call isn’t too disappointed when she travels so far to meet that whale 😉
And, if she is, what does she do next? Swim away? Splash her tail? Tune into a different radio station? Tell him to kiss off? Pun intended.
I am on an unnecessary role.
The real reason I brought you here today is to show you the pictures my husband took while on his lion’s walk in South Africa (yes, he physically walked just feet away from these wild beasts). And to show you the absolute blast my daughter had playing with some rather big kitties…
Hope you enjoy!
(c.photos Richard Nungesser)
An amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. And they enjoyed every minute. Rich said that when they were eating dinner that evening at this park, it was as if they were in surround sound—roaring surround sound. He said it was deafening. And a bit frightening. But awe-ing to be sure.
No matter what, though…I am pretty sure that these impressive wild beasts have NOTHING on our own domestic beast. Sierra. Our Giant Schnauzer.
You see, Sierra’s been living at our home in Poland and being taken care of while we’re away. But she was obviously very excited my daughter returned home…Witness it in her own rocking bark.
As for my daughter’s array of baseball helmet and getup. She was just excited to be home and play with her stuff. The helmet must have been missed, I suppose.
Oh, and here’ the link to other amazingly loud animals:
Hope that no matter where you are in the world, you have a ROARING Friday!
Even if you have to put earplugs in…
I have a baby in my belly and a 1-year-old and 7-year-old at home. And I have a husband that I have rarely seen since June.
My daughter, well, right now while we’re in Arizona (United States), she’s the invisible girl—hardly seen! But that’s an awesome thing. Because it means that she is usually with friends or cousins playing her little heart out. You see, we technically live in Poland (since 2001…we started something called Fundacja Bread of Life). In fact, if this surprise belly didn’t pop up, we’d be back there right now.
Yep! We were scheduled to be back in Poland on May 10th. But around May 5th, I felt a little something…called pregnant. Sure enough, about 10 dollar store tests later, we both finally believed it. Good thing our mud run was the day before, eh?
And so, my hubby and I decided that there is very little in life (outside of Jesus) that is more important to us than our children.
You see, we went through 5 years of very hollow infertility before God gave us Adelyne Marguerite.
And then it was another 5 years before God gave us our heavenly baby Sam (here’s a honest look at loss and miscarriage: http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-6B).
And, well, I haven’t shared it all on this page, but then 2 years after Sam, we were given Maxwell Loren. But he was a gift that was almost returned to heaven. We nearly lost him…multiple times. He’s our spirited little fighter and an absolute joy in our life.
And that brings us to today…a year after Maxwell was born. Now I’m pregnant with, whom we call, Belly Josephine (here’s some photos here: http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-gp), inching my way to 40 years of age. Yes, getting fossilized here, folks!
13 years of marriage to a man that I nearly didn’t date…
13 years of marriage and 4 babies: 2 that we’ve been able to keep here on earth; one waiting for us in heaven; and one kickball champ in my belly.
And we’re suppose to be in Poland.
But since we value our babies more than life itself, my husband and I decided that I would not travel and would ride out this pregnancy here in the United States with my family just one minute away. Therefore, I’ve remained in our little rental farmhouse with egg-laying chickens…and he, well he’s been back and forth and around the world getting his “work on”.
He spent the majority of his summer in Poland and Moldova and Zambia. He’s spending the majority of this fall in Africa and Europe…and I told him that if he’s not back in time for the baby, Adelyne’s my partner in the delivery room. She was thrilled with that and told me she would sit around and eat popsicles. Sounds like she’d be great support, eh?!
His work is awesome…but he’s also missed a ton: Maxwell’s first steps and most of his first words. Maxwell’s new affinity to climb all objects and to feed himself with a spoon. Josephine’s major belly kicks and several doctor’s visits to date. Most of Adelyne’s swim meets, and so much more.
In fact, he’s been gone so much that my son walks past the computer and says, “Hi, Dadda!”
I say all this to say…
Home. Alone. With an invisible 7-year-old. With a 1-year-old. With a belly baby.
I decided that NOW is the time to start a blog.
And boy it has been a challenge. And a ton of fun. And I have not one specific topic to write about—nor focus on.
Sometimes I’m all roaring wife.
Sometimes I’m all crazy momma.
Sometimes I’m zany foreigner.
And sometimes I’m all religious nut.
But…hopefully all of the time…I am real.
And, hopefully, you have enjoyed my blogging journey.
Two months, today! Woot-woot!
Over 8,500+ views.
And Fifty+ Countries on 6 continents. Thanks, friends!
It would appear that you are a bit crazy, too.
Just like I am.
Just like Rich.
I just KNEW we’d get along swell!
Looking forward to what the next two months will bring. Because often even I don’t know until the day before (or, to be honest, the morning of).
Sending you off with a big American hug and 3 Polish kisses,
Brooke (aka the first half of the crazy)
Adelyne and Richard had an amazing start to their African father/daughter journey.
Frankfurt Layover…Goodbye, Sunny AZ!
But when they FINALLY arrived in Africa, they have had an amazing time!
The lion park. Huge perk for a little girl. Especially when a lion cub gets to gnaw you to smithereens.
Then they have gone on Safaris and wild animal roundups. And they have even gotten to go swimming.
Daddy’s toes enjoying the African sun!
At breakfast the other day, they ate outside and saw grazing giraffes. Pretty stinking awesome.
Finally yesterday, they had to leave their safari paradise and begin the border crossing…on their own.
I remember when Richard was going from Kenya to Uganda (Nairobi to Kampala) on his own—well, in a bus full of others. It was a midnight bus crossing and Rich said that he was the only white passenger on the bus (an important part of the story in a moment) and he was RIGHT below the radio’s speaker button that was playing the same scratchy tape over and over again. So when the tape took it’s pause to switch sides, he reached up above him and turned off the speaker — and the bus fell into a beautiful midnight silence.
Well…it may have been a night bus, but that did not mean its passengers were sleepy because soon he heard from the back of the bus in a deep voice, “HEY, Muzungu! Turn back on the radio.” Without looking around or missing a beat, he crept his hand in the air, found the speaker’s button, and turned back on the loud midnight music. Listening to it all the way to Kampala. And the rest of the passengers were pleased 😉
But this time, with Adelyne, Rich was not in a bus as a passenger. He was the driver, and he had to get his daughter safely across the border and make his way to Gabarone, Botswana.
He said trail mix was a nice treat for the border agents as he crossed.
And then, the rest of the journey, well, let’s say it was wrought with, in Richard’s words, “Six hours of dodging goats, cows, donkeys, people, cars, potholes, baboons, and anything else you can think of.”
But he finally made it! And they are thrilled.
And today they get to begin the celebrations of Seun and Kwesi! Today is the traditional ceremony. Adelyne is a blessed and honored part of today’s event.
Tomorrow is the church wedding. Richard gets to do the whole, “Do you? And Do you? And Yea! You may kiss your bride!”
I am so excited to hear how Seun and Kwesi have brought their two families together (Nigerian and Ghanan family backgrounds) and joined them together in beautiful ways to celebrate who they are and who they will become together.
It brings me back to my own wedding.
I am not a big church and fluffy wedding dress-type woman. And my husband, he could have gotten hitched on a raft, shouting “I Do,” as we went through a rapid.
But, since we have families that love us, we decided to have a wedding…in 3 weeks! Good thing I have an extremely organized sister, eh?
She pulled off my wedding in 3 weeks. And I wore my mother’s wedding dress. And I received my grandma’s wedding ring. And we wore tennis shoes or hiking sandals. And we had trail mix at our tables.
We were in the day of “film” so there is not a lot of digital documentation of this day, but we didn’t even go with, at the time, the VERY traditional wedding cake. You see, neither of us are huge cake fans. So we went with something we both do love…Marie Calendar pies!
We bought out the restaurant.
Richard’s vows to Brooke
And our evening even ended with illegal fireworks, sending us off, in our Jeep!
Yep. It wasn’t fancy—but it was beautiful. And one of my favorite moments, dancing with my husband while our guests surrounded us with bubbles in the air.
I am sure today’s wedding will be extremely different than mine. And I can’t wait.
Because each wedding day should be an introduction of two families, coming together, to join as one. Not leaving behind what makes the other so beautiful and unique, but joining together the beauty of “you” and “me” and making the two a “we”.
Oh…and it should be a LOT about the bride. (Well, saith this bride!)
And I am sure Kwesi and Seun’s wedding will be just that…a beautiful joining of two families with a great celebration of the bride herself! And the groom. And the two of them, joined with their family and friends from around the world.
And I can’t wait to see where God and their future takes them.
I pray their day blessed and joyful. I pray their day tomorrow honoring and special.
And I pray their lives, forever, together…full of adventure, hard work, fun, and, when God gifts, beautiful children to fill their hearts to the brim of overflowing!
In the meantime, I simply hope that they’ll enjoy their honeymoon and their brand new future in great and adventurous ways.
Congratulations, Seun and Kwesi. Now, go and get hitched!
Today as I am snotting and sobbing and sobbing and snotting, my daughter is hunching her shoulders and rolling her eyes.
She is clearly embarrassed. Me. I’m oblivious to any eyes around me—well, except for the airport security guard. I was a pretty big scene. But I was hoping he sees exchanges like this often. If not, then I’ll make for a good “story of the day” when he goes home.
Anyway—no matter how much I clutched onto her little 7-year-old frame and cried on top of her head, she had to pull away (I think she pulled away a little too gladly) and cross that threshold into adventure—and mommy-less-ness. She left me alone.
Well, I still have my bouncy belly. I still have my 1-year-old. So I guess I’m not truly alone.
But I kept waving at her anyway, as if she HAD left me alone. “Bye, baby! I love you!”
If I thought her eyes were rolling before, she was now verbally adding to the eye roll, “Moooooom! I am NOT your baby!”
And through my snot and tears and wiping my nose, I replied, “You were my first baby! I’ll always love you!”
Good grief…The 7-year-old could not get away from me fast enough! She gladly followed her daddy down the security gangplank and walked out of my sight.
But I stayed glued to that sliver of a window that they allow for family left behind. And every time I spied her I hollered, “Adelyne! I love you!” And 50 air kisses and 50 I-Love-You hand motions would follow.
Even behind the glass it appeared as if I embarrassed her.
Ah well. At least my husband was with her. And he was glad to throw me 50 kisses back and 50 more I-Love-You hand signals.
And, when he gave her that look, “You better appease your Momma” look, she reluctantly blew me a few kisses (I think I got 3) and one I-Love-You hand motion back.
Then they were gone.
But that didn’t stop me 🙂
Oh heavens no! They still had to make it to the plane.
So on the phone I go, “Adelyne! Adelyne! I love you. Are you having fun? Will you miss me?”
And I hear her sigh.
But that’s okay, because I’ll interpret it as a “loving” sigh-although I know I’m fooling myself.
You see—as much as I sometimes hate to admit it.
My daughter is me.
And I am her.
She is ready for a life of adventure. And, yes, she’ll miss me—but she’s also HAPPY to be leaving me behind. If only for a little while.
It courses through her veins. And she has that itch.
I had the same itch.
And it brought me to a university away from home (at least for a year—until I returned home and met a handsome man ;)).
Today may only be about a month-long-adventure. Africa (South Africa and Botswana), Norway, and Poland…But, for me, today is about the first day of the rest of her life.
Because I see her. I know her. I was her.
I was once 7. I was once 18. I was once also able to go, freely, into the world…Sighing as my own mom hugged me tight and snotted and sobbed and sobbed and snotted.
But that’s okay. Because if I know her…like I know me…life will be an adventure. But I will always be her home!
After all, I am her momma. And she is my baby!
Forever my baby she’ll be…
(c. photo R. Nungesser, Dolomites, Italy)
When I thought about dating my husband, I kept two very important things in mind. And these two things were no small matters:
1. Richard was available to go anywhere in the world to serve God…ANYWHERE.
2. Richard was very, very adventurous!
My father always told me that part of a good marriage was having fun and going on adventures.
So I had to think. Hard.
How much adventure did I really want in my life?
How far did I really want to go to live—even if it was for God?
For some of you, these questions are no brainers.
You may say, “Anything for love!”
Or “Off, off, and away!”
Or “Never in a million years! My way or the highway!”
Well, I had a very content life. I was extremely into service in my community. And I loved my job. And my family all lived within 20 minutes of each other.
My life was rather comfortable. Grand. Lovely.
And here I was considering dating a man that would take this glorious life and FLIP it literally upside down.
But then I thought about it…Would I rather a comfortable life without Rich or an unexpected life with Rich?
And, well, you know how the story goes…
I went with the unexpected. I married Rich.
(c. photo Bill Holmes at wedding of Rich/Brooke)
Now, don’t get me wrong.
I am full of adventure too.
I have been jumping off mountains LONG before I ever met my husband (para punting).
I am the one that dragged my husband bungee jumping.
I have been parasailing and snorkeling since I was in my teenage years. And riding dirt bikes since the age of 5. And camping-I’m a pro.
I’ve even been on helicopter ride (front seat) in New Zealand. We landed and walked around on a glacier. Yeah, baby!
You see, it’s not that I am a complete bore.
BUT—I do enjoy coffee, fires, books, movies. I enjoy cuddling up at home. I love to write. And I love to eat! Good food and lots of conversation. Those are my leisure pursuits!
Then you have my husband: white water guide down the Arkansas River in Colorado for 3 years and thousands of miles; sky diving; snowboard instructor; rock climbing guide; mountaineering man; pilot of a small plane.
Yep. It’s obvious to see that he has out-adventured me.
And, yes, he’s taken me rock climbing (My least favorite adventure—let me tell you about the 90-foot-rappel. NOT MY FAVORITE).
He’s taken me flying (and he wanted me to grab the gears while he TIED his shoes. CRAZY MAN).
He’s taken me down the river—and he didn’t even dump us! Impressive. Because we watched three boats dump after we made it through the rapids and ended up helping rescue many floaters after that.
And he has taught me how to snowboard (I was a skier). Ummm…I am not sure that my bum ever appreciated those lessons. OUCH!
So, it’s not even that I am really a dud. I have gone on some of his adventures with him…
In fact, 5-months pregnant, we went swimming with Manta Rays and snorkeling where I was STUNG by a jelly fish (yes, it HURTS…bad!).
But it comes down to this.
He can LIVE off of adventure.
I can only live to experience adventure.
And when we moved to Poland—a very flat part of Poland—I actually felt something for my husband. Empathy.
Here he was in the peak of his health and physical fitness. Here he was still young enough to experience physical adventures and we were in the land of flat. Yes, many lakes, but very little places for high-risk adventure.
And, like I said, I was all chill with that. But he-he was a bit sad.
That’s when I decided that I needed to step it up in the wife department and create adventure for my husband—Meet Him in the Middle.
While adventure was not near, I had to help create adventure from afar.
Here are some ways that I was able to help my husband achieve continued adventure:
He went to work in Uganda for 6 weeks (he had previously worked in Kenya for 3 months before we were married). Before his work began, he was able to meet up with his brother and a friend in Tanzania and they all climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. In April. In the middle of a massive snowstorm. And, of course, my husband was in heaven.
In Poland, I got him Scuba Diving Lessons/Certificate for Father’s Day one year. He can now go for his Level II. (I’ll have to make that happen one day, eh?)
He was able to go to the Dolomites in Italy with a friend, Artur, and climb all of the routes that required helmets and ropes. Again, heaven.
And, one of my proudest, Mt. Elbrus on the Russia/Georgia border. Unfortunately I sent him there during the Russia/Georgia conflict. Let’s just say that it was a good thing there was a snow-covered mountain between them and the conflict. (In fact, I think that he’s going to write about this adventure in his next blog posting for us) But they made it successfully. Phew!
(Richard on Mt. Elbrus, Russia)
What did I do while he went on his adventures?
Well, I worked. I took care of Adelyne. I “stoked” the coal and took care of all of the home-front fires. But that’s all okay. Because I was very glad to do it.
And I am still glad to do it.
One of my greatest joys in life is not only to see people come to know how awesome Jesus is—but it’s to take care of my family.
If that means sending them off to the wiles of the jungle-then so be it. As long as they are happy to go AND remember to come home safely.
I know one day Adelyne and Maxwell and Belly Josephine will also want to go on adventures.
And I’ll have to take a look at their dad and say, “It’s your time. Go forth and shine!”
And it’ll be a time for new adventure in his life-Teaching his children how to go and experience the world.
I’ll sit at home, with my coffee and a big dose of prayer on my lips. But I know that it will be worth it. Because seeing joy in the eyes of my family is enough of an adventure for me!
And that is how I meet my spouse in the middle. How about you?