Thursday, February 28, 2019

Settle On The Firm Foundation


Two months into the new year and it's already been quite the start to another year. In the last two months, Andrew has traveled for seventeen days visiting Ethiopia and Niger and Danielle got to visit Ethiopia on the second weekend.  In the week after returning home, we experienced one our lowest points living overseas. Thank you for taking the time to read, pray, and support us. We really are thankful for each one of you and just that you find time to stay up to date in our lives.

Diving into a new year of work travel                                    01-23-19
My first work trip in the new year was a back to back trip to Ethiopia and Niger, which makes sense from a flight perspective. In Ethiopia, I got to help wrap up the final work on the second phase of the Rehab Center, which is very exciting to see, since it was four years ago, when I first joined CURE, that we had started the first phase of the project. The second reason I traveled to Ethiopia was to coordinate an eMi site trip for a Master Site Plan of the hospital. All in all, I spent long days with the team. We packed a lot of work into one and a half weeks, thus ending up with fourteen plus hours days, including Saturday and a full Sunday of taking the team of thirteen (engineers and architects) to church and lunch. 
Though exhausting, it is always fun being a part of these initiatives, because it's encouraging being around so many like minded engineers and architects that have a heart for the ministry that is happening at CURE. It was a successful trip and I thankfully had a weekend break at the end of eMi's trip, which coincided with Danielle joining me, before we headed to the airport together on Monday morning and flew in opposite directions.


In Niger, we were wrapping up the installation of a solar photovoltaic system that was funded by USAID and the installation was in partnership with BHI (Build Health International). It was super exciting seeing the system go live and knowing that the hospital was completely off-grid with its solar, battery and generator backup. There is still a lot of learning and understanding how the system will function throughout all of the seasons of Niger. But like a little baby, we will begin to understand its rhythms and rhymes to know what is 'normal' and what needs corrective attention. We ask for your prayers that we can be good stewards of this incredible system that will provide clean, continuous power to our hospital, enabling us to provide even better care to the children in and around Niger.
Finally, after almost two weeks of practically nonstop work days, I landed home and walked of the airport into my wonderful wife's arm in the wee hours of the morning.


Weekend in Ethiopia                                              02-01-19
In the middle of Andrew’s work trip, I had the privilege to join him for a weekend in Ethiopia. It was a wonderful time to reconnect with friends and revisit a home filled with so many treasured memories. I enjoyed spending time with my old roommate, Laura Kay, and walking around Bingham with Andrew. We also loved getting to stay with our friends, Niall and Sian, at their lovely home. They all graciously indulged my favorites, with meals at China Bar and getting Ethiopian food. We also love to experience the new things that Addis has to offer- like exploring the botanical gardens and a Mexican restaurant! 

It’s always an interesting experience to go back to one of your previous homes. I am always nervous about what expectations I should have before the trip, since I know the place has changed since I lived there. In this case, (most of) the people that I associate with that home have moved on, thus it feels very different. But the place itself looks very similar, thus, it feels familiar. In the moment, it feels different and familiar. My best conclusion is to try to reduce my expectations in the beginning and then what happens is fulfilling regardless… guess I have learned that from my husband. 

 

Robbery                                                              02-09-19
This is the ‘short story’ that we have not been wanting to write about. It becomes harder and harder to share verbally as each day goes on, because we just want to leave it behind us and get back to ‘normal’ life; knowing that life will never be fully ‘normal’ ever again.
The Saturday I arrived home at two in the morning, we slept in and had a quiet morning. We did a few things around the house and headed off to the grocery stores mid afternoon for a couple hours on a beautiful blue skied day.
Upon returning to our house and opening our front door, we immediately noticed our fridge was wide open and the back door swinging in the wind.  In slow motion, it hit us that our house had been broken into. We raced into the bedroom to find our clothes strewn across the floor and the bed disheveled.  All of our electronics and money were gone, including my backpack that still had my electronics in it and a few pieces of my favorite clothing.  Adrenaline and sickness lurched into my throat as I ran outside to find the guard and call the landlord, but no one knew or had heard anything.  We  discussed next steps with our landlord and a police report was completed. We called our bosses and families to let them know what had happened. Then, we just sat in utter shock and violation.  Our home had been ransacked by invisible people that have no face, but who could be anyone that we pass on a regular basis.  Trust is shattered and ‘what-ifs’ filled our minds, while my appetite stayed empty for two weeks.
In all of this, we have been hit in the face with the question of where we put our hope, security and identity.  Are our earthly home and possessions what make up our foundation? Or can we find hope in the provider of all of this? Are we more enthralled with the gifts than the gift giver? Do our possessions own us or do our possessions serve a purpose? What does a life of simplicity look like, where our treasures are stored in Heaven, where rust, moths and robberies cannot steal? In it all, is God still good?
Now that it is two weeks after the event, I think we both will say that we are so thankful for certain blessings: We are thankful that it happened when we were together. We are thankful that we have incredible organizations that are helping us through all of this. We are thankful for a church and families that are praying for us and reaching out to assist us in anyway possible.  We really are provided for. We have so much to be thankful for, and we really are blessed to be able to recover from something like this and continue moving forward. We are thankful for the additional security measures that our landlord has been in place (and that we have put in place).  God indeed is good and faithful.  Does that mean that we don’t mourn or wrestle with what this changes or take time to learn how we can trust and love our ‘neighbors’ each day forward? Of course not. We are human and we should process through all of this.  But this isn’t the end. We have so many people supporting and around us that God has provided to walk with us through this.  We are not alone and God is holding us close.  May He grant us peace, wisdom and hope for each new day.


Hope Walks Update                                           02-22-19
I have hinted towards this in earlier updates, but as we have officially launched in Zambia and online, I want to share about an update with my work. Previously, I was working for CURE Clubfoot. Due to a refocusing from CURE, our branch has split off to become our own organization. Thus, Hope Walks is born! Please feel free to check out our new website: http://hopewalks.org
Hope Walks is a non-profit organization that seeks to treat children with clubfoot in low and middle income countries. We use the Ponseti treatment method, because it is best practice around the world, as well as being low-cost and non-surgical. We also integrate parent advisors in the process, as we feel that education and support for the family creates the best possible outcome for the child. As with any new organization, we need prayer and financial support. If you would like to be a part of a super cool organization that changes children’s lives, please pray and donate! 

This does not change anything in particular with my specific job- I am still working on the CEDA (Clubfoot Early Detection and Adherence) Project, which includes creating a training for our parent advisors among other things. But our fledgling organization still needs lots of prayer and support as we seek to continue on the work we have been doing. We would love for you to join with us in that work! 


A Day in the Life 
I found myself distracted the other day by a series on the blog, Taking Route, a website dedicated to building community for expat women. This particular series is called: 31 Days of this Global Life and it highlights a day in the life for 31 different women in 31 different countries. This has inspired me to create our own day in the life: 

The alarm goes off and the snooze button is immediately hit. The second alarm goes off and we reluctantly roll out of bed. We start off with showers and Danielle goes through her morning routine, while Andrew starts up the coffee. By the time, Danielle makes her way up to the kitchen to make her lunch and her morning smoothie, Andrew trades places getting ready the rest of the way. 


We make it out to the car and Andrew drives us to the hospital, waving to our guards as they open the gate for us. After navigating mostly back roads and avoiding the taxis on the main one, we arrive at Beit CURE Hospital. 
Danielle takes over the driver’s seat, while Andrew makes his way to devotions or chapel, depending on the day. Danielle makes her way to the office, trying to not get frustrated at the stop and start section of the road, which may improve if there is a policeman/traffic director out to keep the taxis generally under control. 

At work, Andrew spends his day at his computer connecting with projects around the network, with regular interruptions to check on the construction or help out various people with tasks around the hospital. Danielle also spends her day on the computer, sometimes with an exciting event or funeral happening at the church behind the office to mix up the day. 

At the end of the day, Danielle makes her way back to the hospital, enjoying a podcast and again trying not to be frustrated with traffic. Since she usually reaches that point, Andrew drives us the rest of the way home. 

Once we get there, we work together to make dinner, whatever new recipe Danielle wants to try and Andrew graciously pitching in to make it happen. 
Depending on the evening, it can include bible study, date night, man/ladies' night, or working on grad school or the next topic for youth. The evening concludes with a small bowl of homemade ice cream or hot/cold beverage and a tv show to enjoy before heading off to bed.

Book Club: 
[Danielle's List]
The Untold Stories of Broadway (Vols 1-3)- Jennifer Ashley Tepper
This is a collection of stories about the Broadway theaters, current and closed. It's fascinating to hear from people in all parts of the industry: producers, actors, musicians, sound technicians, stagehands, etc. I love hearing about all of the different shows and experiences that have also gone through those stately buildings. If you enjoy Broadway and history, I would highly recommend these books! 

Podcast: The Original Cast- hosted by Patrick Flynn
I have really enjoyed deep diving into this podcast, which highlights original Broadway cast albums. It has ranged from super popular shows to very obscure ones- I have loved hearing about all the details and thoughts about these shows. Another foray into my Broadway obsession :) 

Podcast: Broadwaysted- hosted by Kevin, Brian, and Kimberly
With it's delightful hosts, this podcast interviews current Broadway stars or people involved in the Broadway world. They tell lots of stories and play fun games all having to do with Broadway. One of my current favorites :) 

Podcast: Broadway Baby- hosted by Kimberly, Jay, and Alex
Kimberly and Jay introduce their friend, Alex, to lots of different Broadway shows by listening to the cast album. It also includes general knowledge about Broadway and other forays into the performing world. Again, another foray into my Broadway obsession :) 

[Andrew's List]

Dream Hoarders – Richard Reeves
"Upper middle-class power tends to be deployed to protect our own position and status, regardless of considerations of fairness. Having convinced ourselves of our own merit, we have become--and there is no way to say this nicely--kind of selfish...selfish in terms of the bigger picture: the way we treat tax breaks as an entitlement and the way we exclude others from the opportunity to serve our own ends."
"I have come to realize that what really draws me, has always drawn me, to America is the nation's spirit of openness and promise of social equality. I always hated the snobbery and class distinctions of the united kingdom. But the harder I have looked at my new homeland, the more convinced I have become that the American class system is hardening, especially at the top. It has, if anything, become more rigid than in the United Kingdom. The main difference now is that Americans refuse to admit it."
I am currently fascinated with the concept that, is actually very biblical, sometimes we must bend low to allow others to excel and succeed ahead of us for the greater good.  That in all our privilege and safety nets we do not need to further our wealth, privilege and safety net, but actually we can choice to take the backseat and handicap ourselves so that others can use their God given talents.  It's definitely not a capitalist view and I am sure I will be pegged as a socialist, but I hope I get labelled a crazy follower of Jesus's call for each of us to seek first the Kingdom of Heaven.

From Holmes to Sherlock – Mattias Bostrom
As someone who has found the original Sherlock Holmes books fascinating and as a big fan of the new BBC's Sherlock TV show, I really enjoyed this book.  This book is an all encompassing walk through the creation of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Author Conan Doyle to the influence and fanfare to this day that surrounds the detective from 221b Baker Street.

Red Card – Ken Bensinger
This is an American written look into the scandal of bribery and corruption that happened in FIFA, the world's biggest sports entity. It was fascinating- and unbelievable at times. I found it a really good read and unreal how deep the web of lies, greed, and ultimately how sad so many under privileged football/soccer programs lost out on funds meant for them, because it ended up lining a few people's pockets instead.

Men Explain Things to Me – Rebecca Solnit
"Feminism, as writer Marie Sheer remarked in 1986, "is the radical notion that women are people"...The men who get it also understand that feminism is not a scheme to deprive men but a campaign to liberate us all."
"In 2013 in a BBC report on a study of rape in Asia. The study concluded that in many cases the motive for rape was the idea that a man has the right to have sex with a woman regardless of her desires. In other wards, his rights trump hers, or she has none. This sense of of being owed sex is everywhere. Many women are told, as was I in my youth, that something we did or said or wore or just the way we looked or the fact that we were female had excited desires we were thereby contractually obliged to satisfy. We owed them. They had a right. To us."
This book I found a hard read because it challenges a lot of how I have had the privilege of viewing the world.  One of the points she brings up is that after sexual assault happens on a university campus (for example), signs and emails go around that strongly encourage ladies to not go out alone at night, which is penalizing the potential victims. Why don't we actually tell men not to go out at night so they don't sexually assault women? At least this would penalize those who are more often the potential attackers.  Of course this is an over simplification, but it brings up a good point to think about.


Interesting Articles:
We heard good things from a few readers that they enjoyed the list of articles we shared that were recently challenging us, so here are a few more that are probably going to start some conversations. I am sure there will be many who disagree with us, and I hope that encourages you to challenge and begin a dialogue with us and others who wrestle with beliefs that are different than your own:

A Brother’s Letter {The Grove: Brothers} - Jonathan Trotter:


"I'm sorry that, instead of really hearing the devastating echoes of #metoo, we sat silent, sometimes scared, shuddering for all the innocent men who've been falsely accused. Not only was our response statistically absurd, it was also staggeringly unempathetic."

This article makes me think of the recent Gillette commercial: We Believe: The Best Men Can Be | Gillette and the outcry that ensued (BBC article referencing it as well: Gillette faces backlash and boycott over '#MeToo advert' - Michael Baggs).
On one hand, I think it's sad that we are still so consumer focused. In a generation that desires consumer/corporate/seller responsibility, the marketing teams are now turning to selling us ideals rather than just products.  But ultimately the issue with the Gillette commercial was not about a product, it was about manhood. I will not be shy in saying that those that had an issue with it appeared to be offended, because it didn’t paint or portray men at their best or rather that it is emasculating men. Why is this surprising?

Men in America and many cultures are given free passes and opportunities just because they were born male.  We are taught its okay to be angry and fight for something you believe in, even if what you are fighting for is the right to be prideful or selfish.  We are taught that as long as you win the fight, you are worthy and if not, you should try harder next time. We are taught that we can look at women however we want and actually that they are asking for our cat calls and perverse attention. We are taught that good bad or ugly, men are men, and masculinity is based on strength, power, and ultimately the example that comes to mind to is Samson (except wait, he wasn't actually that great of a role model).

I will be the first to say that positive reinforcement is one of the best motivators and that I wish we could shine great examples across the screen that we can all look up to. But I will also acknowledge that men can be sick and twisted and that we as men need to stand up and apologize for things that our forefathers and brothers have done that have affected those around us.  If we are Christians, we have an even loftier challenge to actually lay ourselves down as Christ did and suffer for wrongs that we did not commit.  This is why I appreciate the Gillette commercial, because it allows us Christian men to acknowledge the wrongs of our gender, apologize to those broken by our genders' travesties and gives an example of different better behavior.  And forces us to look to future generations and challenge ourselves to be the best men that we can be. As Christian men, it forces us to look beyond this life and seek what it means to be the best a man can be in the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth.

Why are we offended by a commercial like this?  Is it because we think we are free from guilt and are free to be rude, rough, hateful, and mean just because thats what men are? I think not. As Christian men, we are called to love as Jesus loved the church, which meant laying our lives down, washing others' feet, standing up for people (any gender) being judged and mistreated, suffering for how others have been hurt, letting others succeed instead of ourselves. Being Christian men is at times backwards to what our culture has told us men are supposed to be because we are not living for life on this earth but for eternal life in the Kingdom where gender does not apply to the privileges we receive.
Men, let us bend low, so that our sisters can step forward and be seen.  Let us apologize for wrongs committed that we played no part in.  Let us listen and believe the #metoo before we attack our sisters' character.  Let us acknowledge, be still, be quiet and know that the ladies in life have a voice that doesn't need to be empowered by men, but instead just needs to not be silenced by men. Let each one of us submit to one another (male and female) out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21 and dont get me started on how we overlook this verse when we read verse 22).

Awkward Missionary - Between Poverty and Wealth - Stephanie Boone:
"All of us who live in this “middle” are in a constant mental battle between abundance and need. You learn to cry with those in need and rejoice with those in abundance, and you find yourself entrapped in both. You learn not to spend too much time processing or comparing your exact position along the wealth spectrum between the two extremes."
So much of this article I find uncomfortable to read, because there really is a dichotomy between abundance and need. Also, because this story is not my story, though I see aspects of it intertwining with ours. But maybe it's because for most of my life, I have already found myself in the middle and realize that in the end, it's the best place to be. 


How to Live Under An Unqualified President - John Piper:
"Followers of Christ are not Americans first. Our first allegiance is to Jesus, and then to the God-inspired word of Scripture, the Bible. This is our charter, not the U.S. Constitution"  What I appreciate most about this article is that Piper finishes this article with specific prayer points.  Are we focused on earthly kingdoms or the eternal kingdom?

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Thank you all so much for taking the time to read this. We look forward to hearing from you and would love to hear what's going on in your life, what books you are reading and what articles have challenged you.  May the Lord bless and keep you today.

Andrew & Danielle



PS: Coffee - How do you enjoy a cuppa? Strong black and thick? Smooth, foamy and nutty? Currently, one of the ways we have been enjoying our coffee on the weekends is using a Chemex, which was the very generous gift from our good friends, Drew and Amanda, who recently moved back to the States.  On the week days, we just use a standard French Press, but on the weekend with some extra time on our hands, I get to experiment and enjoy the process of the Chemex. It makes a very smooth coffee, as it strips out the oils and bitterness, through its unique coffee filters and shape.  Plus, I can make enough for both Danielle and I.  While traveling I was able to ‘survive’ my time in Niger (coffee other than Nescafé is not really available), using my Aeropress, which makes a great cup of strong coffee too. But since it tends to be a bit stronger than Danielle likes, so the weekend ends up being Chemex. We enjoy it as a nice and significant change from French press coffee.

PPS:  This month we taught the youth group on the Spiritual Discipline of Simplicity (literally a week after we were robbed). It was actually really good for us, but I thought I would share some of the principles taken and partially paraphrased from the book: Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster:
1. What we have is a gift from God - Not our labor but God’s gracious provisions (He is King and Lord of all).
2. It is God’s business, NOT ours, to care for what we have - We are to be good stewards and make wise practice decisions but ultimately God can protect what we possess.
3. To have our goods available to others - we do not need to worry about tomorrow (that we won’t have enough) and should not cling to our possessions for security. Created and called for community.
4. Outward simplicity must come out of the healthy understanding of God’s place and ours. This comes out of us seeking FIRST the kingdom of God, not our kingdom.
5. Buy things for their usefulness rather than their STATUS!
6. Reject anything that is producing an addiction in you - refuse to be a slave to anything but God.
7. Develop a habit of giving things away (Are we willing to give away clothing, gadgets, or any item to people that need them or would help them? We are not just supposed to give away things that we don’t like anymore. Instead, we should give away things we still care about, but know that someone else will benefit more from them.
8. Refuse to be taken captive by modern gadgets - Do we need each new model, gadget, toy or game? (What sort of waste is this procuring in the world?).
9. Learn to enjoy things without owning them - owning things is an obsession in our culture (if we own it, we feel that we control it!) - BUT the more we own, the more we can lose, thus, the more we worry.
10. Develop a proper appreciation for creation - Enjoy the world around you - pause and take it all in.
11. Be skeptical about all “buy now, pay later” schemes - they are a trap. Use extreme caution before incurring debt.
12. Obey Jesus’ instructions about plain honest speech - Let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no” - make honesty and integrity the characteristics of your speech. 
13. Reject anything that breeds the oppression of others. Break the yoke of oppression - Today we can find out more easily than ever before, how what we buy and consume affects others around the world. (The new marketing scheme is to sell us something through the concept of the company giving something away, so we feel good about ourselves to purchasing things we may not need or use... think about it (but do not be legalistic about it either).
14. Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of God - It is easy to lose focus in the pursuit of legitimate/good things, but don’t let them become the center.

PPPS: Grad School Update- I have really enjoyed each and every class I have done for this degree- the flux comes with how busy I am during that particular class. Thankfully, this last class has been at a less busy time. One of my favorite elements of getting this degree has been all of the new and different literature I have had the chance to read, even if I have studied the topic before. For example, I am currently studying Restoration and 18th Century literature and we are reading The Female Quixote – something I would never have come across in any other situation. I am very grateful for the chance to get this degree and expand my world of literature.

PPPPS: Rugby - I think we finally might actually understand a bit of the game after our friends, Alan and Sarah invited us to watch at the local Gymkhana Club. This match was between Wales and England in the recent 6 Nations tournament. Our friend Robert was able to give us the run down of the rules and strategy of the game, while we watched, which was super helpful in trying to understand what was going on. Thankfully, the game we watched was apparently one of the best games. We found it all fascinating, and not just because of the local craft beer in our hands or free plastic cups that they were in. We may just need to watch another game. I would say that though we both enjoying watching and playing some sports, we have not made sports a priority in our current season of life. However, we do enjoy the opportunity to understand a bit more about a game that is so prevalent around the world.





Monday, December 31, 2018

Finishing the Year Strong


The last two months of 2018 have been filled to overflowing.  Milestones were reached.  Events were celebrated. The world was traveled.  Thank you for continuing to read our stories and keeping us in your prayers.  May we all reflect on this last year and take steps forward into the new year.

CEDA: Parent Advisor Training Pilot #1                              11-05-18
For the last year or so, I have been working on the CEDA project, which stands for Clubfoot Early Detection and Adherence. There are three parts to this project, but we are currently putting together a training for our parent advisors (formerly called ‘counselors’), so that they can be equipped as they educate and support the parents of children with clubfoot. In fact, we got to test the material we have been compiling just last month!
We had 12 trainers come from all over the world: Zambia, US, UK, Niger, Rwanda, and South Africa, and we had 12 participants come from our clinics here in Zambia. These parent advisors range in their years of experience, from 9 years all the way to being totally new to the job! Since we had everyone together, we took the opportunity to test 3 courses: Basic, Spiritual, and Advanced. It was a lot of material, but our group persevered. I am happy to report that the pilot was a success! Logistically, everything went pretty well- this was a huge relief, as this was mainly my responsibility. We learned a lot about the material, which was the goal of the two weeks. I am so grateful that the two weeks went so well- and now I get to work on the next parts of the project! 



November USA Trip                               11-17-18
Our second trip to the USA this year was a full one! Again, we only had two weeks, but we managed to fit in Thanksgiving, a Betteridge family wedding (Congrats Seth and Amy!), and lots of family time. We always love the chance to see family and friends stateside.
The first week was filled with some wedding prep, which is nice to be a part of since we don’t live close, and celebrating Thanksgiving! Our day started with running the Turkey Trot (a 5k walk/jog/run) with Danielle’s parents in below freezing temps (I might just add that Lusaka was 78 degrees Fahrenheit that day while Carlisle was only 29 degrees! Our bodies experienced quite the shock). We were quite proud of ourselves for consistently jogging the first two miles, then we included a few walking breaks here and there. It was a fun, albeit cold, family adventure. 

Before
After
For the actual meal, we were happy to host those who had already come in for the wedding, plus those who lived local, so our Thanksgiving crew included representation from the Betteridge, Graham, Hale, Kollenkark, Rissinger, and Schunemann families! With delicious contributions from the moms, grandmas, and Andrew, it was a delightful feast!


Then, the weekend turned into full wedding mode. It was a full Carlisle affair, with the ceremony and reception just being a few blocks from one another. Andrew was a groomsman, thus participating in all the fun activities, and Danielle helped out with coordinating and being a general go-to person. Though the actual day was filled with freezing rain, it couldn’t dampen the joy and smiles on everyone’s faces. The ceremony was gorgeous, in location but also in the way it demonstrated Seth and Amy’s love for Christ, their community, and each other. The reception was such a fun party, with plenty of dancing and excitement to be had! We loved being able to spend this joyous occasion with our loved ones.


Our second week was filled with more family time, which included a day trip to Lititz (the coolest small town in America of 2013 fame - and it actually did impress us with its quant shops, famous pretzels, and fun cafes) with the Betteridges, and quality time spent with the Rissinger and Hale grandparents. Since PA has had some wacky weather, we got to enjoy a bit of the fall leaves and some snow, while we were there. It was a quick trip, but we cannot emphasize enough how wonderful it was to have so much quality family time.

Christmas Spirit                              12-15-18
Living in the Southern hemisphere, our Christmas doesn’t look like the one sung in “Winter Wonderland.” It’s bit sunnier, a bit warmer, and definitely no snow (though rain is likely as it’s the start of the rainy season at least in Southern Africa). But it’s fun to embrace this new (the last number of years or so) version of Christmas- wearing shorts while you decorate the house, baking cookies with the air conditioning on, and watching all of our favorite Christmas movies with friends as we drink some iced tea, instead of hot cocoa (though hot cocoa is usually still enjoyed for nostalgia’s sake). We’ve enjoyed all of these things this last week, starting off with our ARK Youth Christmas party. There were a few comments about the Christmas carol guessing game being “too American,” so I asked what different Christmas carols would be sung here. One of the students answered, “they are the same songs, just sung in different language” – oh the joys of living in an international community 😊 This party also included a game of “throwing snowballs,” but instead of snow, we threw crumpled up pieces of paper- it was pretty fun and a good alternative!
Andrew and I enjoyed (well more me than Andrew) decorating our house for Christmas! Between what we collected in Zambia last Christmas and the few supplements we brought from the States a few weeks ago, we managed to make it pretty homey! Of course, we also had to make some Christmas cookies to go along with the décor (and not to mention Andrew’s more recent tradition of making homemade eggnogg). Since we are spending actual Christmas day away from our home, it’s nice to have some time to enjoy the view now. 

Christmas Getaway!                               12-25-18
Danielle and I returned to Cape Town, South Africa to enjoy a beachy Christmas again (you can read about our last trip in 2015 if you look back at the post, “Like A Boomerang”).  This year we were joined by Niall and Sian, our life-long travel companions.  Even though we were all away from family, it was so special being with our close friends who have become family.  We are also thankful for technology that allowed us to video chat with family and friends over Christmas.
Each of the seven days we spent in Cape Town was amazing.  From walks along the beach front, enjoying fresh seafood, hiking Lion’s Head, laying on the beach, drinking coffee, Christmas morning church service, making Christmas dinner, and enjoying brewery and winery tours, there is far too much for us to share (so just ask us about it).
Our return back to Lusaka leaves us looking forward to 2019 when we can meet up again with Sian and Niall in other fun places around the world.


Andrew Work Update                              12-17-18
The close of the year always seems to be coming down to a wire with all the projects finishing or starting up. In December, I took a trip to Ethiopia to check on the progress of the construction which is going well and is planned to be wrapped up by the middle of January.  The solar work in Niger is going well and will be finished at the beginning of February. A small project in Uganda is about to go into the design and construction phases, while work on the outpatient and operating buildings in Zambia is just starting- we hope for it to be completed by the middle of next year.  There are also a lot of other initiatives around master site planning and facility assessments throughout the network. There are already plans in the works for a couple weeks of travel in January and February to kick off the work travel of the year (On a side note, because of all the frequent flyer miles I have been getting from all this travel, Danielle and I get to enjoy the Star Alliance airport lounges as we travel which I am enjoying to its fullest).


Book Club                              12-1-18
[Danielle’s List]
Becoming: Michelle Obama
This was a fascinating look into a woman I strongly admire. I loved hearing her story, especially the role she played during the elections. I surely wasn’t paying that much attention to it at the time, but it’s fascinating now to hear the specific experience she had. Plus, I really enjoyed reading her perspective and perception of Barack- as she knows him as a man and a husband. I would highly recommend this book! 

Educated- Tara Westover
This memoir presented a rare, yet interesting perspective of the author's unique childhood. Due to parents who rebelled against the norm, as well as some mental health issues, it was not until university when the author learned the history of the country and of the world. I appreciate being able to experience someone else's reality, if only to know what else is out there. 

Where the Crawdads Sing- Delia Owens
I bought this book on a whim and thought it would be an easy, delightful read. It was both of those things, but it also had an ending that has stayed with me for months. I don't want to give too much away, but if you enjoy twists in your story, I would recommend this book. 

[Andrew’s List]
Celebration of Discipline – Richard J. Foster
One of the books that is becoming a classic on the topic of Spiritual Disciplines and the one that we chose to base the ARK Youth Retreat and year-long theme and focus.  It was my first time reading it(Danielle read it back at Messiah College) and I have found it very insightful and a great foundational starting point for understanding some of the key spiritual disciplines. I highly recommend it, as I am finding it a great resource for our monthly ARK youth meetings.


ABC Two Point Zero: Come Now Sleep Hell or High Water – Aaron Lunsford
This is the second book on the band As Cities Burns that Aaron Lunsford (the drummer) has written. This one dives a bit deeper into some of specifics of the end of ABC through very vulnerable tales. I always find it enjoyable to read about some of the bands that shaped my high school and college years and I still appreciate and listen too.

In Progress
Currently I’m in the middle of five books:
Dream Hoarders – Richard Reeves
What If? - Randall Munroe
From Holmes to Sherlock – Mattias Bostrom
Tales from the Perilous Realm – J.R. Tolkien
Red Card – Ken Bensinger
(not to mention a few others that I pick up from time to time and need to finish).


Year in Review                                                                        12-19-18
Looking back over the year, we have realized just how blessed we are. It has been a year full of travel for work and for fun, visits from family and seeing friends, and lots of fun together. 
  • We traveled to 9 different countries (some together and some individually and some multiple times) .
  • We were visited by both sets of  parents here in Zambia.
  • We went on four safaris in different parks and two boat safaris.
  • Spent three holidays on the beach.
  • Started and completed the Pastor Call Committee with the acceptance of a pastor for our church (who will begin, Lord willing, in February).
  • Got passed the leadership of running ARK Youth (organizing the monthly meetings and had a successful ARK Youth Retreat (with the help of many volunteers supporting us).
  • Celebrated our second wedding anniversary.
  • Continued with Date Night Tuesday and had the bonus of a couple Date Days.
  • Celebrated one wedding.
  • Studied Sabbath, 1,2, & 3 John, and Advent with our weekly bible study.
  • Accomplished a lot of milestones in our work.
  • Successfully completed one and a half years in Zambia.
There is so much more as we look back over all that God has done in and around our lives.  We are so thankful for all the friends and family that we have been blessed to have in our lives.  May we never forget the eternal Joy we have and all the blessings we experience each and every day.

________________________

Happy New Year!
Remember us, O God;
from age to age be our comforter.
You have given us the wonder of time, blessings in days and nights, seasons and years.
Bless your children at the turning of the year and fill the months ahead with the bright hope that is ours in the coming of Christ.
You are our God, living and reigning, for ever and ever.
Amen.


Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:

where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.
—St. Francis of Assisi

-- Andrew & Danielle



PS:  Can I just take a second to brag on my wife for getting me one of the best Christmas presents...a watch. I have been keeping my eye out for a watch over the last number of years but have not been willing to actually purchase one for myself and was never quite convinced with what type I wanted.  Danielle killed it by getting a perfect watch that I look forward to enjoying for all the years ahead (and maybe will be encouraged to give some extra grace in how each of us ‘view’ being on-time....)
PPS:  I love pizza, all types of varieties and styles and even enjoy making my own.  But just this last month or so, I tried ‘aging’ my pizza dough in the fridge (aka letting it rise slowly in the fridge over 3-5 days).  I have been blown away by the results.  The dough is just so much better tasting and creates a perfect balance between chewy and crispy and is worth the planning ahead that it takes!

 

PPPS:  As we close out the year, I am excited to share that Danielle is halfway through completing her grad school program.  This next year she is planning to complete her last five classes, and then write her thesis the following year.

PPPPS: Can you find all the sea glass:







Thursday, October 25, 2018

Work - Fly - Repeat



Three months have come and gone. Between us, we have spent 22,000 miles in the air traveling for work to Malawi, Ethiopia, Niger and the USA, plus another 13,500 miles in the air for leave in August to the States.  With our church, we managed to organize and lead this years' Youth Retreat and finalize the pastor search. All the day to day things have kept us busy- and it appears that the coming months may be just as busy for us, but only God knows for sure. Thanks for taking the time to read this blog.

August USA Trip                                                                 08-08-18
Since we have a Betteridge wedding to attend in November, and it would be difficult to take an entire month off, we decided to spend our other two weeks of leave in the US this past August! This was our first trip back since we moved to Lusaka in June 2017, so I was particularly excited to catch up with friends and family after being gone for 14 months. It was a quick trip, made even busier with the need for both of us to do some work while we were there, but we are so grateful it worked out to go.
We spent our first week in PA, meeting up with friends in Lancaster, spending time with family and friends in Carlisle and Mechanicsburg, and trying to visit the places (mostly restaurants) we had missed for the last year (El Rodeo!!). My brother, sister-in-law, and lovely niece came from MN for a few days- it was so special to have some quality time with them! We also planned to be in PA for my birthday, so for the first time in many years, I got to spend it with many, many people in my family! Both sets of grandparents came, my aunts from NJ and VA made the trip, plus having a few Betteridge siblings too- it was so fun to have everyone there all at once! I also loved the chance getting to hang out with my best friends that evening- it is certainly one of my favorite birthdays in recent memory.
For our second week, we traveled to the Betteridge beach house in Madison, CT. We loved getting to spend time with more Betteridge siblings, niece and nephew, and parents, as well as take a bit of a breather from all of the craziness. The beach house is a wonderful place that has so many memories from so many years; we are grateful to be able to spend some quality, peaceful time there. We finished that week off back in PA, before flying back to Zambia on Saturday. Quick, but good! 
I loved spending my birthday with so many of my family!

We had a wonderful time with many of the Betteridge crew in Madison!

Home                                                                                    08-26-18
Walking through our sliding glass door into our home in Lusaka was such a relief for me.  We were home after a long journey from America and it was good to be back in our own place.  The last two or so weeks were so filled with seeing friends and family, eating food, and all the things that go with ‘home-leave’ that it was comforting to be home. 
I was a bit surprised that this trip to the States was so exhausting and overwhelming.  Was it that I became too peopled out? Was it that I did not have our regular downtime? Was it all the talking and listening, as we used the short time we had to catch up with all our friends and family?  Or was it something much deeper?

Every time I return to the US I feel like more and more of an outsider.  I look like I belong, I talk like I belong, but more and more I fall behind in keeping up with all the social cues and expectations.  I drive slower & less direct (unlike my NY upbringing). I forget the process at the grocery check-out. I feel uncomfortable with the flash and awe in some of the churches that in the past I would’ve felt right at home.  I also realize that so much has happened while we have been in Lusaka for the last 14 months, since our last visit to the States.

Each year that passes by, I change and transform into less and less of an American. I don’t think I am becoming more Burkinabe, Ethiopian or Zambian, but more like a nomad unsure of really where I am supposed to grow roots or who is supposed to be my community.  There is a freedom to it all, but for someone who is happy to dig into the rut and plow on ahead, it can be hard at times.  I am definitely becoming more like Danielle as it comes to change and travel, but for some reason I feel like she is becoming more like me, wanting to have a place to settle and have close family around. 
I guess we will continue taking each season of life that God gives us and keep stepping forward into each new adventure ahead.  It is an exciting journey filled with joy, sadness, laughter, tears, encouragement, frustrations, hope, doubt, peace, and anxiety, but it is all wrapped up in God’s arms of goodness and love.

(Please know that I do love each time we get to see our family and friends in the States, its just hard knowing I should belong but not always feeling like I fit anymore. So maybe that just means you should come visit us in Zambia...)


Work Trip: Andrew to Malawi                                            09-01-18
Five days after returning to Lusaka, Danielle drove me to the airport and I flew east to Malawi.  CURE Malawi was having an eMi (https://emiworld.org/) team on site for a Master Site Plan project. It was a busy trip with very long 12+ hour days. But it was fun getting to work with so many engineers and architects to create plans and strategies for CURE Malawi as CURE continues to look to improve care, excellence, and sustainability at each of its hospitals. Plus ,I always enjoy trips to Malawi, because I get to spend time with my counterpart, Jon and his family.  It was a productive trip, but even better when I was back home with Danielle.

Working hard with the team in Malawi

Work Trip: Danielle to Niger                                               09-24-18
I finally got to do a bit of travelling for work too! My co-project leader and I decided it would be best to have some face-to-face time to get things accomplished. He had visited Zambia in July, so this time, I got to visit him in Niger! I have heard about West Africa for so many years, from my parents’ time in Liberia and Andrew’s time in Burkina Faso, so I was excited to finally be able see it for myself. West Africa is definitely very different than the parts of Eastern and Southern Africa that I have seen more consistently. Thankfully, it wasn’t too hot while I was there (plus air conditioning is a wonderful thing!), but it definitely had a desert-y feel with all the reddish-brown dirt and windy days. I spent my time at the CURE Hospital in Niamey, where my colleague, Moutari, is based- it was very cool to see another one of the CURE hospitals and the work that they do. Plus, Moutari and I were very productive on our own project, so it was a great week! 
With the Niger team: Moutari (R), Moussa and Saratou


Another Work Trip: Andrew to Ethiopia and the US               09-19-18
And within a week and a half of returning from Malawi, I was on a plane again, this time to Ethiopia to check in person on the progress of construction on the second phase of the Rehab building.  I was in Ethiopia a few days and then traveled from their to the States for a work conference in Pittsburgh.  It was during this week in Pittsburgh that Danielle was in Niger so at least we were both away at some of the same time. Though its hard that she had to leave for Niger while I was away and return while I was still away.  But thankfully we both had great trips. And I am so thankful for the friends and colleagues I have in Ethiopia from living there. And for Danielle's parents who were willing to pick and drop me back off at the airport at the beginning and end of my trip to the US – not to mention taking me out for El Rodeo.
El Rodeo!

ARK Retreat: Crossfit Challenge!                                      10-12-18
As we have mentioned previously, we have taken on a bit more responsibility with the youth group at our church. This culminates in the annual youth retreat, which jump-starts our theme for the year. This year, our theme is Crossfit Challenge! We discussed how spiritual disciplines are a part of our relationship with God (vertical) and our relationship with our community (horizontal). We focused on the spiritual disciplines of prayer and worship this weekend and were very encouraged to hear that even though these are probably the two most practiced disciplines, there was so much that was new and challenged the youth. Sometimes getting back to the basics opens up all sorts of avenues for growth.  Please keep them in your prayers as they live out what they learn.

It was a busy weekend with 40 students attending- we had lots of fun with games, campfires, pool time, and fabulous food. Andrew and I led the sessions and then the students had some time to practice the discipline we talked about, before having discussion time in their small groups. We had an amazing team of leaders who loved on the kids all weekend and helped keep the chaos under control. Overall, it was a great weekend and we are grateful for the chance to do ministry together.

(I must note that Danielle was amazing as she coordinated this retreat!  I am always amazed at her ability and strengths of organizing events.  She did such a great job of delegating and orchestrating the other leaders' roles (and I am very thankful for all 10+ adults who volunteered and helped make this weekend possible).  Danielle did a fantastic job which I cannot say enough.  I am thankful I only had to worry about writing the sessions before the retreat. My wife is the best.)
Checking in students

In the coming months we plan to dive into a new spiritual discipline each month we meet.  And we will be asking some of the other leaders to share in the teaching as well.  We are excited to see how God uses this year to challenge and grow all of us in Loving Him and Loving our Community around us.

Happy, but tired leaders!

Celebrating our second anniversary                                   10-22-18
The best part about anniversaries is that you typically take time to stop and reflect on the past year.  The theme of this past year for us has been a dichotomy: Settle-in and Travel.
Lusaka has been the longest place we have lived since being married.  It is the place that we have let roots grow as we connect with the community around us.  At church, we have been able to help regularly with tech team (sound and projection), be on a pastor call/search committee, and the monthly Ark Youth Group was handed over to us to lead.  At work, we continue to be given more responsibilities and did lots of traveling (me more than Danielle but she still went to both Kenya and Niger).  We continue to grow in our ability to host visitors both family and friends, with a total of more than 12 weeks of visitors over the year. For fun, Andrew had a few Man Nights with the guys and Danielle had a few ladies events, while Andrew was traveling.

With each passing month, it seemed like there were always plane tickets on the docket.  For work, Andrew travelled to Niger-twice, Uganda, Ethiopia-twice, Malawi, and the USA. For work, Danielle travelled to Kenya and Niger.  For fun and rest, we flew to Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya and the USA (not to mention day trips to Botswana and Zimbabwe).  We also got to visit a handful of Zambia's amazing National Parks – Mosi-Oa-Tunya , South Luangwa, and Kafue – Seeing Rhinos, Elephant, Lions, Giraffe,  Cape Buffalo, Hartebeast, Zebra, Hippos, Hyena, Africa Wild Dogs, Fish Eagles, and so much more.  Plus, we still have continued our Date Night Tuesdays and discovered many fun and tasty restaurants in Lusaka.

It's been quite the year of balancing travel with settling well in Lusaka. I think we are still figuring out work travel and being apart, but we have also noticed that many of the expat community also travel a considerable amount as well. It is a whirlwind season of life, but we are so thankful to be able to do it together.

This year, we got to celebrate our anniversary over a long weekend with our good friends, in Kafue National Park.  We stayed in safari tents (definitely glamping), went on game drives, a boat cruise, and  had a chance to just rest and recoup from the busyness of the last few weeks. As an added bonus, we were so far out in the middle of the bush that we didn’t have cellphone service, thus completely unplugged for a few days, which was a nice refreshment.
If this last year was a year of settling-in and travel, we are looking forward to see what this third year of our marriage will bring.
Safari Tents are the best!
So much fun with Drew, Amanda, and Lillian!


Work Update: Danielle
Work has been very busy for me in the last couple months as we are gearing up for our first pilot training! With my awesome team, I have been compiling the content for three courses for our parent advisors (also called counselors)- we are offering a Basic course, Advanced course, and Spiritual course. We have about 13 participants and 12 trainers coming to Zambia from Nov 5-15 for a very busy, but hopefully good training!


Work Update: Andrew
Work has been very busy, not only because of all the travels, but because we have a lot of work going on here in Zambia as well.  We have a lot of smaller maintenance projects happening along with replacing our water tower, and medical incinerator and all sorts of other projects. Plus, we are finalizing the last details for renovating the Outpatient Department building and Operating Theatre building.  There has been progress made on the Niger solar project, which is exciting. We hope to have that all wrapped up in January of 2019.  Really, all I can ask for is wisdom, guidance, and perseverance to see all the projects around the network through. I am so thankful and truly blessed to be able to do so many different aspects of engineering.  It's amazing to reflect on all the awesome things that God has allowed me to play a small piece in, I am amazed that God chooses people like me to be co-laborer's in His Kingdom here and into eternity.


Interesting Articles
In lieu of a book club this post, here are a few articles that we have found interesting, insightful and/or good conversation starters:

  • NY Times - "How Do Christians Fit Into the Two-Party System? They Don’t - Tim Keller
    "The Gospel gives us the resources to love people who reject both our beliefs and us personally. Christians should think of how God rescued them. He did it not by taking power but by coming to earth, losing glory and power, serving and dying on a cross."
  • NY Times - "How to Really Help Children Abroad" - Tina Rosenberg
    "This is an argument for a little less heart and more head. To feel deeply, care deeply — these emotions are why people choose to go on volunteer trips. But we confuse our own caring for help. In pursuit of those emotions, we spend money, time and good will on things that are often of no value to the people we care about — and are, at worst, the very opposite of true service."
  • The Impending Death (And Rebirth) of Cool Church - Carey Nieuwhof
    "If people aren’t into church, it doesn’t matter how cool, hip or trendy your church is, people won’t be that interested. You behave this way. If you’re on a health kick, you’re not going to order the burger and fries, even if they are the best in town. And if you’re not on a healthy kick, the spinach, arugula, kale salad with tuna isn’t going to capture your imagination, no matter how healthy it is."


PS:  Of all the things that I have seen on Safari Game Drives, at this point one of my favorites has been seeing a Dazzle of four Zebra galloping together across the Busanga plains for a couple kilometers. They were just streaking together having a run for fun, chasing after each other and it was a sight to be remembered. (I find it funny that this is one of my favorite sightings since I have seen so many Big Game but striped horses really do dazzle on the sunny plains of Zambia).





PPS: Grad school update- I have just started my fifth class in the program. This one is focused on novels. It is interesting to study an entire genre, not just a particular piece of literature, so I am excited about this class in particular. I am also just about halfway through the program, so that's pretty exciting as well! 


PPPS: Next month, we are excited to be able to celebrate Seth and Amy’s wedding and be in the States for Thanksgiving! Much of this trip will be focused on the wedding, but hopefully we can see a few of you that are in and around PA.  Also, if you are interested, Carlisle is doing a Turkey Trot 5k Thanksgiving morning that we are going to be participating in.


PPPPS:  A few more photos from the 14 hour game drive: