Meltdown in the Barbie Aisle and Back to Africa

I had plans to write a nice little Merry Christmas blog, but instead I got a stomach bug and all my Christmas plans were derailed. Ellie and I did manage to finish our advent calendar and get our Christmas cards out before New Years, so that was good, but we ended 2013 about the way we lived it the whole way through: BEHIND. Oh well…

Now we are more than a week into 2014 and tomorrow we head back across the ocean to Swaziland. It’s been WONDERFUL to be here with family for the holidays. WON-DER-FUL.

There have been a lot of great moments, like this (gotta keep an eye on Grandma–she’s a card shark):


And this (Ellie really was excited here, even though she doesn’t look it) …


And this is pretty much my favorite (cousin sleepover)…


I love our life in Africa, but it stinks to live so far from family. Hopefully we are learning to make the most of the times we have together. 

It does NOT stink to live far away from the (and I quote the weatherman Monday morning) “Siberian cold temperatures” of the Midwest this past week. -44 wind chill on Monday in Iowa. Goodness. It’s more than 100 degrees warmer than that in Swaziland.

Besides the temps, there are a few other differences that have for some reason stood out to me on this visit to the USA:

–American toilet paper is heavy duty…like I think I could probably sew a fairly durable shirt out of it or something.

–Food lasts a really long time here. There is a loaf of bread on the counter that has been there for at least 2 weeks and still isn’t moldy. Convenient…yet a little suspicious maybe?

–This isn’t anything new: I love and will miss the lovely customer service and the climate controlled homes of the USA.

–And finally: the toy departments here are HUGE and almost always result in a melt-down in the Barbie aisle for little girls who are used to a toy department about the width of your kitchen table. It’s not a tantrum, but more just being genuinely overwhelmed by all the choices, and sad that anything you want for Christmas has to fit in a suitcase.  To quote my sweet, somewhat culture shocked 8 year old: “When I see it all I want it all!” It’s admittedly one of the somewhat ridiculous ‘first world problems’ that you see youtube videos about, but still, it can be kind of rough none-the-less for a little one to jump back and forth across the ocean.

SO tomorrow (Friday) we start the trip back to Swaziland, and arrive there by Sunday evening. Ellie will start 3rd grade on Tuesday, and then turns NINE YEARS OLD next Saturday. Can’t believe it. I love her. The last 9 years would have been so incredibly boring without her!

We’ll also arrive back in Swaziland just in time to distribute the Timbali ladies’ savings from 2013. This arrives just at the perfect time to help pay their childrens’ school fees for the new year. Again, we are able to match their savings, which of course helps it go even further and provides great motivation for the ladies to save. The teenage girls who sew our headbands will also receive their full payment for their work in 2013. They receive a small stipend for their work throughout the year, and now the rest of their earnings will either be paid directly to their school, or they’ll be taken shopping for school uniforms, shoes, and supplies if that’s what they prefer. Here’s a pic from last January of some busting-at-the-seams-excited girls shopping with money they earned themselves for school supplies. Awesome. 


So we leave a lot, and head back to a lot. We are blessed by both. We are thankful that in the midst of transitions and a new year that we belong to the Lord who loves us, is faithful, and has everything under control!


7 thoughts on “Meltdown in the Barbie Aisle and Back to Africa

  1. Safe travels, I treated myself to mew handbag for Christmas and just love it. We too love and cherish our little Swazi!

    Many blessing and provision for all the Timbali woman!

  2. Julie,

    You have become a life source for so many more than just Ellie. The way you live your life and the sacrifices you have made make it possible for hundreds more to see the kingdom. Thanks for the visit.

  3. We will be praying for you both as you leave family and transition back to Swazi! Thank you for all that you do! We look forward to serving with you!

  4. Wow! It doesn’t seem possible that Ellie could be turning 9 in such a short time. She looks so grown up in all of your pictures… it’s almost unbelievable.

  5. You can’t imagine how quiet this house is tonight! We’re a little sad and really missing our girls, but it was wonderful having you here for a few days over a month. It was so much fun watching and listening to Ellie interacting with her cousins who love her dearly. It was hard saying goodbye at the airport today, but was great hearing from you via text and phone to let us know you arrived safely in Chicago and were ready to board your plane to London. Ellie was so cute on the phone and sounded like she was in a great mood. Love and miss you two so much!

  6. Hey Julie, I’m presenting at church for AIM and this time I’m focusing on Swaziland. I ordered a bunch of bags and was so excited when they came. Wow, they look great. You have really stepped it up in the last few years. I would love to Skype with you to hear about your ministry in “person”. Do you have any time this week?

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