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Tag Archive: #LoveSouthAfrica

Why I’m Not Setting Any Goals This Week (& Why I Might be MIA for the Next Week)

So, after anticipating it few many, many weeks

After spending the last few weeks researching online what I should bring (oh yes, I totally Googled “best pillows for international flights” and “best sleeping pills for long flights” and “does South African Airlines have wi-fi?” — yes, I totally did. And quite a few other such crazy searches!)…

After making some purchases — like some summer clothes (I resorted to buying them from Amazon since most local stores didn’t have clothes for hot summer days!) and special outlet adapters…

After making a detailed packing list — a lot of it based upon your experienced advice and Lisa-Jo’s years of experience (see her post here with great tips on International Travel With Kids — she’s a pro!)…

After a few weeks of collecting a pile of stuff that I thought I’d want to bring…

It was finally time to pack for my trip to South Africa last night!

Packing for long trips is always a tug-o-war between my inner Boy Scout packing tendencies (you know, the “always be prepared” motto) and my minimalist personality.

Packing for South Africa

I was excited that I managed to get everything into a backpack and my carry-on luggage with some room to spare!

On the one hand, it doesn’t look like much for a 7-day international trip. On the other hand, I feel like I “over-packed” and prepared for multiple possibilities. I brought a few extra outfits, I brought extra medicine, I brought extra snacks, I brought multiples of things like tissue packs and hand sanitizer.

Since this is my first time to be on an airplane for longer than 5 hours (our flight is 18-hours straight!), I kind of want to be over-prepared because I’m not sure how it will be for me to be cooped up in a plane for that long! 🙂

{And yes, all those of you who regularly go on international flights can get a good chuckle over how green I am about all of this!}

Packing for South Africa

Our secret to traveling often with younger kids is to teach them how to pack themselves in an organized fashion. My kids all have their own system — some more detailed than others — and they have it down to almost a science.

They packed for the 10-day trip to DC in less than an hour last night! All we had to do was double check their work and pack ourselves.

When I had 3 kids under 6 I could have never imagined the day that my kids would be doing all of their own packing — and doing a great job of it. Moms of littles: your hard work and all that time you spend teaching and training your kids does pay off!!

{We left around noon today for DC and have been driving ever since. We’re almost there! We plan to visit a few sites tomorrow and then I’ll fly out of DC to South Africa on Wednesday. Jesse is staying in DC with the kids while I’m gone and they’re planning go to the museums and visit as many surrounding states and historic sites as they can while I’m gone. They are so stoked about it!}

Last Week’s Goals Update

Since I’m flying to South Africa on Wednesday and won’t be back in the states until next Tuesday (the 20th), I’m not going to set my usual list of goals for this week or next week. My goals, instead, are to soak in everything from the trip, learn all I can learn from those we’ll be with in South Africa, and let the lessons impact me and sink in deep.

Here’s an update on how I did on last week’s goals:

Marriage/Mothering/Homemaking Goals

1. Start our Morning Time routine. Read aloud for at least 20 minutes every day.

2. Write a love note to Jesse.

3. Help the kids write thank you notes for Christmas gifts.

4. Write notes to the children we sponsor through Compassion.

Personal Goals

5. Exercise at least 4 times (I’m trying out these BeFit in 30 workouts this week.)

6. Finish at least two books.

7. Knit a Cosy Posy Ear Warmer. (I worked on this for at least an hour, but was having trouble getting the seed stitch to look consistent. I know, I know, it’s such a simple stitch, but I’m also such a beginner level knitter and not a naturally crafty person so this kind of stuff requires a lot more effort and concentration for me. However, it’s really a good way to stretch myself in a different creative direction and I find it so invigorating when I actually am able to finish a project and be proud of it! I found some YouTube videos on how to do the seed stitch and found those to be helpful so I’m going to try again and am hoping that I can have a finished project to show you in the next few weeks!)

8. Clean out our bathroom closet.

9. Try a new DIY project & recipe: Fixing Our Hardwood Floor ScratchesTrim Healthy Mama Chocolate Cupcakes.

Business Goals

10. Finish writing 3 articles for Mandi’s Live course.

What You Can Expect While I’m Gone

I’ve been told that we will have limited access to internet while we’re in South Africa. I’ve pre-scheduled some great guest posts to run here and I’m hoping to be able to share at least a few great deals every day plus write a few blog posts while I’m gone sharing pictures and telling you about what I’m experiencing.

However, I’m expecting that I’ll be offline much of the time. So if things are a little quiet here on the blog for the next week and a half, you’ll know why.

I know we’re only just beginning the new year, but we’re going to take a two-week hiatus from all of our 2015 weekly features. I promise we will pick those back up again starting January 26, 2015.

I will be posting pictures on Instagram when I’m able to get a wi-fi connection during the day, so if you’re not following me on Instagram yet, you can click here to do so. That will be the best way to keep up-to-date with the South Africa trip. In addition, follow Joy and Lisa-Jo who will both be traveling with me.

What would you love for me to blog about while I’m in South Africa?

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On Wednesday of next week (January 14, 2015), Lisa-Jo, Jackson (Lisa-Jo’s 9-year-old son), Joy, and I will be boarding a plane for an 18-hour flight from DC to Johannesburg, South Africa.

{Yes, we opted for no layover to cut down on travel time… but that’s going to be one long, long flight!}

We’re getting really, really excited. Unlike my usual pack-the-same-thing-an-hour-before-I-leave routine (one of the benefits to having a really simple wardrobe and basically bringing the same things on every trip I take!), this time around, I actually wrote out a packing list earlier this week and am already starting to collect everything I need to take in a spot in my closet.

{By the way, thank you, thank you, for all the great ideas and information in the comments on this post. You all covered some things and shared some ideas I hadn’t thought of. Things like the fact that bathrooms wouldn’t have toilet paper… yikes, I’m clearly such a newbie international traveler! :)}

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We’re staying with Lisa-Jo’s parents and will be spending most of our days meeting the amazing local leaders who work with them as part of the Take Action Ministry and seeing the work they are doing in the communities there.

We’re excited to be dreaming and planning for how we can come alongside them long-term and partner with them in their much-needed ministry in South Africa (more on that in the future — I can’t wait to share more with you about the projects and opportunities we’re discussing right now!)

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For those who have asked, we will be in Pretoria mostly in Hammanskraal. It’s supposed to be around 95 degrees there — which will quite the contrast from the cold we’ve been experiencing in TN. It’s hard to think about sun dresses and tank tops in this coat and glove weather!

I’m grateful to be traveling with Lisa-Jo and Jackson who were both born in South Africa and who have extensive international traveling experience (Lisa-Jo has lived all over the world and speaks 5 languages!) And I’ve heard that the hospitality in South Africa is amazing. So it sounds like we’ll be in great hands there!

There are definitely things I’m anxious about, but there’s so much peace in my heart about this trip. I’m already falling in love with the beautiful people of South Africa and have a feeling I’ll be leaving part of my heart there.

I also have a feeling that it will be an eye-opening, American-comfort-bubble-bursting, life-changing trip. I want to go with an open heart to whatever God wants to teach me and am praying that my heart would never be the same as a result of this trip.

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As one of our goals from this trip is to introduce you to South Africa and the wonderful people there, we want to be your eyes and ears on the ground.

There will be SO many things I could blog about when I’m there, but I’d love to know what you’d most like to hear about. So help me out:

  • What questions do you have about South Africa?
  • What pictures would you like to most see me share from my South Africa trip?
  • What would you most like me to blog about while I’m there?
  • What questions do you have about this trip?

I can’t promise that I’ll be able to cover everything you suggest, but I will definitely do my best to capture as much as I can in pictures and blog posts so that you can feel like you’re joining me virtually in this adventure!

A secret I’ve been keeping for a few months…

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You know that feeling you get when you know a secret that almost no one else knows? You go through your day and you keep feeling the corner of your mouth turn up into a smile. Because you know a really, really exciting secret and you can barely hold it in.

That’s how I’ve felt the last few months. I’ve had a secret I’ve been keeping and my heart’s been about ready to burst — because I’m excited and humbled and just plain in awe of how God orchestrates things.

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First, let give you a little background…

In 2013, my friend, Lisa-Jo Baker, had asked me to read a pre-release copy of her new book, Surprised By MotherhoodI loved it so very much that I wrote her and asked her how I could help promote it for her.

Well, the email she sent back just blew me away. She shared with me about this huge vision she has to impact the culture in South Africa — where she grew up, where three of her siblings are adopted from, and where her parents still live and minister.

As she shared about this massive dream she had to encourage women around the globe to come together to change a community of kids in South Africa, I knew I had to tell my readers about it.

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Lisa-Jo didn’t know I was going to blog about it. We hadn’t talked ahead of time about the best strategy or post time or anything like that.

She just put her post up, I followed up with a post encouraging you all to Fall in Love With the World Next Door, and then dozens upon dozens of our readers and blog friends shared those posts with their friends.

And then we were absolutely humbled and stunned and overwhelmed by the donations and emails that came in — from all over the world. Hundreds of you gave.

It was one of the most beautiful Valentine’s Days I’ve ever celebrated. Because of your giving hearts, a community center, veggie garden, and playground was funded for the Maubane community in South Africa.

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It still gives me goosebumps to think about.

But I had this nagging feeling that this wasn’t the end of the road for my involvement in South Africa. My heart kept feeling a pull that we were supposed to do something more.

I didn’t know what that more looked like, but I just felt like we weren’t done there yet. Lisa-Jo felt the same way.

So the past six months or so, Lisa-Jo and I have been emailing about what this looks like. We’ve been praying. And we’ve been talking with the folks from Help One Now about how we can partner with Take Action (the ministry on the ground in South Africa) to impact this beautiful community and country.

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And that leads me to the secret I’ve been keep for oh-so-many weeks now. Y’all: In 10 days from now, I’m GOING TO SOUTH AFRICA with Lisa-Jo!!!!

Yes, me. The girl who lived in Kansas all her life until this past year. The girl who is afraid of meeting new people. The girl who doesn’t like to go outside her comfort zone. The girl who doesn’t like unknowns. The girl who has never been on an airplane for longer than 5 hours.

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I’ll readily admit that there are many things about this trip that are scary to me. I have no idea what it will be like to be on a plane for 18 hours. I have no idea how my body will react to jet lag. And I’ve been told that our agenda once we get there will be packed from sun up to sun down every day so that we can learn and soak up as much as possible.

There are a lot of unknowns and a lot of things I could (and do!) feel anxious about. But I have this deep down peace in my heart that this is the next step in my journey. That I’m not just supposed to send money or encouragement from far away. That I’m supposed to step outside my comfort zone and GO.

To meet the local leaders and hear from them personally. To see the needs with my own eyes. To experience what life is like in South Africa. To better understand the struggles of this community. To bring encouragement and hope to those who are working tirelessly to make an impact.

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And so I’m going. And I’m going to be bringing you all along with me through my blog.

As Lisa-Jo wrote so beautifully in her post:

So we’re going. And we’re paying our own way. And we just want to take you in our virtual suitcases and let you see for yourselves what happens when between the loads of laundry and dishes and commuting and deadlines a community takes the time to love on their sisters who are also juggling laundry and homework and kids and dishes.

It won’t be a fundraising trip, it will be a FALL IN LOVE TRIP so you can see in person all that your love and prayers and donations and enthusiasm and encouragement have built.

It won’t be a fundraising trip, it will be a COME AND CELEBRATE WHAT WE DID TOGETHER trip as we enter this New Year reminding each other again that there is absolutely no such thing as “just” a mom – because “just” a mom couldn’t possibly have raised over $50,000 together for vulnerable kids in South Africa. And YOU GUYS DID THAT!

It won’t be a fundraising trip, it will be a MEET THE MOMS AND KIDS THAT ARE JUST LIKE YOU trip as we share photos and video of the community you are now connected to – virtual next door neighbors.

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We want you to come along with us as we share pictures, stories, and details on life in South Africa. We hope that you’ll not only be encouraged to see what your generosity has done for this community, but it’s our heart’s desire that you’ll prayerfully consider standing with us long-term to make a difference in this community (after we get back home and have time to unpack and process, we’ll be sharing more about what that looks like).

For now, won’t you come along and join us? To follow along:

I can’t WAIT to share this adventure with you all! {And if you have any advice for a newbie international traveller, I’m all ears. Please, no horror stories, though! But I welcome any and all tips for how to survive long plane rides and jet lag. And if you’re a reader in South Africa, I’d especially love to hear any tips or suggestions you have for me!}

photos used with permission from Ty Clark and Scott Wade