Monday, September 27, 2010

The History of the Vending Machines

Many, many years ago, Darin decided it would be fun to start a vending business. He was working at Innotec and figured that he could do a better job than the people who had been providing candy and chips for Innotec's employees. Not only did he do a better job, but over the next several years he grew his little "hobby" into a small business, a family business if you will.

Not only did Tyson join the business at a young age, but he was also used in "promotional materials" to market our vending dynasty. Not really, but we did stick him in front of boxes of candy and chips for a totally sweet Christmas picture!

 There were a couple years where Darin thought Tyson needed to stay home and "mature", but ever since he was 4, he has been his daddy's right hand man. "Vending", as our sweet boy calls it, has been a weekly tradition for Darin and Tyson. As with all good things, this too had to come to an end. With our upcoming move to South Africa, we needed to sell the machines for logistical reasons (we cannot fill the machines from where we'll be living) and we were also getting to a place where we needed some money for our upcoming business venture.

Selling the vending machines has been really sad for Tyson, and Darin and I have been sad for him as well. This weekly daddy/son time has been so special for Darin and Tyson. Darin has loved seeing Tyson learn to help him by opening the doors or flipping on the lights or just keeping him company. Tyson knows little things about all of the different buildings that house the vending machines. He knows where gloves are in every building, a very important detail for him! Sometimes Jori and I would go along and I loved listening to his commentary as he told Jori what they could play with or how to help daddy  at each location.

Here are some pictures from one of the last vending runs.
Filling up the machine
My hard working men
Finding some gloves
Our favorite vending helper

Waving to cars on Washington

Here is a little video where Tyson tells you, in his own words, how he feels about the vending machines.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

More new clothes for me

Today Jori and I did a little shopping. Since we've decided to move to South Africa, I've been trying to pare down my wardrobe to save on luggage space. However, when I talk to other Americans who live in or have lived in South Africa, they tell me I should be stocking up on a few things as I can buy things for a lot less money in the states. So today I did just that! Jori and I left the house around 10:30 and 6 stores and just under $28 later, we came home with the following items.

First, from the Goodwill store in Jenison I picked up the following shirts for $12.57
Brown flowers to match my new brown pants-$3.29

Navy shirt-not quite 3/4 length sleeve-$3.29

Green and white striped- $3.29

Plain red tee-$1.99
I found these 5 tops at the Salvation Army in Kentwood, on 28th across from Sam's Club, for $14.79.

To wear with my brown pants-$1.99
 I have been looking for a brown cardigan to wear with a dress I bought earlier this summer (kind of like all the shirts I had to buy to go with my brown pants). I didn't think this would fit me because it was a large, but the price was right, so I think it is going to work out just fine.


Brown shirt with buttons at the top-$3.99

Brown and beige stripe (also goes with my brown pants)-$1.99

Love "Hoo" you are-$1.99
 And here are my new brown pants. I picked these up a few weeks ago at The Hive in Holland. I think they were just under $10. I do not really know why I bought them because I did not have anything to wear with brown pants. Now I do.  

Comfy brown pants-$10

 So, if I add in the cost of the pants, I spent just under $40 for 10 items! Go me!

Jori's First Field trip!

Listening to Mrs. Wells
On Wednesday, Jori had her very first field trip to Wells Orchard. She was so excited about her field trip and made sure she reminded Tyson many times that she was going to be doing something special. Tyson did steal a little bit of her thunder, because his school ended up not having power on Wednesday so he got to go along to Bible study with Miss Whitney and Amelia, which made his sis a little jealous!
In the apple store
Once the actual field trip got started, Jori was not so excited. It was wet and there was a lot of walking and looking at different types of apples. There was a lot of whining from a lot of kids, and Jori was no exception! Four year olds have very short attention spans!

Can we go home?
 At the end of the field trip things got a bit better. All the kids sang the apple song (video below), which Jori had been practicing at home, so she was back to her smiley self.

Singing the apple song
 Then it was time for a little snack-donut holes and apple cider! That was the best part of the day for Jori.
Eating a donut and drinking apple cider!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I thought we had been doing a pretty good job explaining to the kids why we are moving to South Africa. However, today when their friend Jenna asked them this very question, I found out we might have a little more explaining to do. Jori's answer was "We are going to Bela Bela, because they have a swimming pool there. When we were there last time we lived there for a few days and we are going to live there again." Did we stay at Bela Bela in 2008? Yes we did, and you can read about it here. However, we didn't live there and we are not  moving to South Africa to go swimming at Bela Bela.

Tyson didn't really give an answer to why we are moving, but when Jenna said "I hope you can give stuff to the poor people there" his response was "There aren't any poor people there." When I reminded him of Mama Cathrine, he said "We gave her stuff last time." He then went on to say "I am NOT giving anyone any of my toys or any of my clothes".

It is both interesting and heartbreaking to hear what the kids have to say about our upcoming move. There are times when they seem excited about going, but they both have some definite anxiety about the changes ahead. It is good to hear them put some of their thoughts into words so that we know what's going on in their heads. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Please Pray!!

When we went to South Africa in 2008, Tim and Angie Sliedrecht, who are missionaries in Uganda, stayed in our house. You might remember I had posted about their nephew Luka when he was having major health issues. Now it is Tim who needs our prayers. He has an infection that started from a thorn that stuck him in the elbow. He and Angie are currently in Kenya and the doctors there are having a hard time figuring out what is wrong with Tim. Here is a recent post that Mandy Shaarda (Angie's sister/Luka's mom) wrote:

Hi everyone, I just wanted to update all of you about Tim. (For some of you this is the first email I have included you in so if you want to read the old ones they are on the blog - address below.) I am so thankful so many people are praying because things have not gotten better. I talked to Luka's doctor on Tuesday about Tim's condition and he immedately said he had to come to Kenya and preceeded to call the doctor he needed and told him to prepare for his arrival. Tim, Angie, Zulea, and Jennifer (our team mate who is a nurse) all flew to Nairobi, Kenya on Wednesday after a very frustrating and disappointing experience at a Kampala Hospital. Tim's infection has moved to his knee and he cannot walk well (or at all at times) so we arranged for a wheelchair, got the tickets (thanks to another missionaries help), parked their van at another missionary, got them what they needed...and got them out of here - actually they just caught their plane in time! We are so thankful they are in Kenya and under better care. The doctor met them at the ER door. Since then a team of doctor has been working on Tim and can not figure out what is wrong. The blood work has come back with an infection but not too bad, yet Tim continues to not feel well then does better, then worse, then better... They are now waiting for an MRI which didn't happen yesterday - rrrr! We are praying it shows what is wrong. The doctors told Angie it is a puzzle and they need to put all the pieces together before they will know what they are deal with.

Wow, it has now been a week and a half of dealing with this infection and I think everyone especially those in Kenya are really tired and stressed and emotionally drained and confussed and worried and... We all simply can't believe this is happening to our team again. We are holding on to God. Is this an attack from the evil one or a refining fire from our Lord? How good it is to look back at God's hand of love and healing with Luka and know that same hand is on Tim and Angie.

A couple other things. Luka's urine is completely normal! He is healed! Thank you Lord! His doctor would like his urine tested again in three months from Kampala and would like to see him again around June. Thanks for all your prayers. Also, Josh's parents arrived! We are so happy to have them here (feel bad it is a bit crazy with everything with Tim and Angie but what can you do). We are also caring for Avalien and Moses for a couple days too. I just pray they feel God's peace with all that is happening. Our team is also expecting the arrival of new team members on Monday. With Tim and Angie gone and with us having Josh's parents we need to make some adjustments and new plans. Please pray for all of us through this difficult time. But above all pray for the doctors to figure out what Tim has and for his healing.

If you would like to read more about what's been going on, I have a link to Mandy's blog on the right side of my blog (Shaarda News) and a link to Angie's blog as well (Beyond News). Please be praying for healing for Tim, peace and rest for the whole family and wisdom for the doctors.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Papa's visit-September 2010

Papa John came out to Michigan for a meeting and then extended his stay by a couple nights so he could spend time with his us! Tyson and Jori have been eagerly looking forward to Papa's visit and they were not disappointed!
Jori and Lily Rose
Even though Gram wasn't along, she sent some pretty fun presents with Papa. Jori was so excited to get a new "Barb" (Barbie) and Tyson got a chapter book, which was a very big deal. He also got some money for hot lunches and is eager to use it up!
Tyson and his book
On Tuesday, after meeting Tyson at the bus, Papa and the kids headed down the path. They were going to feed the fish, but were side tracked by the sandy hill. When they came home they were very happy, but very dirty. After some quick baths, we had dinner, then spent some time reading and playing with Papa before bed. 

Ice Cream Alley!
 Wednesday Papa walked Tyson to the bus, then came along with me to drop Jori off at her first official day of preschool. After that he dropped me off at church for Bible study. I hitched a ride home with a friend because Jori wanted only Papa to pick her up from preschool. (She had a great first day!) Papa and Jori spent a lot of time outside tracking down monarch butterflies. Then after meeting Tyson at the bus, we headed to the bowling alley. Tyson and Jori had fun showing Pop how they bowl, and Papa was on a roll, a turkey (3 strikes in a row) a bunch of spares and almost another turkey at the end. When we got home Darin was there. Pop took the kids back out on the path for a while and then it was time for pancakes, bacon and strawberries. Soon after that, we headed back to the bowling alley for ice cream!
Thanks for the ice cream Papa!

Mmm. Cherry.

 This morning Papa and Tyson were up at 6:30. When I came down at 7, Papa had coffee made, and the kids were eating breakfast. Then Papa read more of the firefighter book to Tyson, which made Jori pout for a while. After all, shouldn't she always be the center of attention? Ha.
Reading with pop

Pouting because Pop isn't reading to her
We took Papa to the airport and as we were pulling away from the curb, both kids were already saying "I miss Papa so much". I felt the same way. Thanks, Dad, for spending some extra time with us in Hudsonville. We love it when you have meetings in Michigan and are going to miss having you visit us when we move to South Africa. We know that you will come out there too, but it just won't be quite as often! Gram, thanks for sharing your main man with us. We loved having him and can't wait to see you in October!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Jori's first day of preschool

Today was Jori's first day of preschool. I has a harder time sending her off than I did with Tyson. Even when he went to three-school it didn't seem like that big of a deal. I guess it's because Jori's our "baby" and we don't know if/when we will have other kids, so this could be the last time I have a child go to school for the very first time. : (
Our preschooler

Love this girl SO much

The Nemo backpack lives on for another year!
Jori was SO excited to go to school today.  She was not too happy that I actually wanted to do her hair this morning, but she does love looking at herself once she's all dolled up.

Jori's school

Adding beads to her name tag

Today was actually an open house/parent info time, so we only went for an hour instead of the whole day, and it wasn't anything like what a regular day of school will be like for her.
The shoes Jori chose to wear
When we were leaving the parking lot, I asked her what she thought of the first day of school and she said "School is absolutely wonderful and absolutely fun".  I was happy to hear that! I know Jori will do great once she gets settled in a bit.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Handful of Dollars

This weekend we had our moving sale. I thought about taking pictures, but didn't. Let's just say that even with the 4+ racks of clothes, 8 tables full of household items and various large pieces of furniture being sold (or donated) we still have MORE THAN ENOUGH to live and live better than most people in the world. With that being said, we were so blessed this weekend by so many friends and total strangers coming out to affirm us as we begin this journey. We advertised our sale as a "Moving to Africa Sale" and there were several people who came to find out where in Africa we were going and why.

One woman who stopped by had her daughter and one of the boys her family adopted from Ethiopia along with her. She was telling me about a family that recently moved to Ghana to start an orphanage in their home. We talked a bit about how our family's journey to South Africa began. She picked out a couple things from the sale and then she came to pay me and pulled out all that she had in her wallet. It was not a huge amount, which she apologized for, but I immediately started crying and if there hadn't been a bunch of people milling about my driveway, I would have been weeping. I don't know if she will ever read this blog, but if she does, I want her to know how much she blessed me. I am starting to cry again just thinking about it. I was just so touched that a stranger would reach out to me, to my family, that way. It had nothing to do with the dollar amount, it was just the act of unselfishly giving what you had to a total stranger.

Last week was just kind of intense for me. Tyson started First Grade, we "came out" with our news of moving to South Africa, Darin's 2 year old nephew fell out of a 2nd story hotel window and MIRACULOUSLY came away with some stitches in his chin and broken bones in his leg (only God!!!), we were preparing for the moving sale and then had the actual sale on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and we had our first house showing on Saturday afternoon.  It was just emotionally draining week. If not for the blessing of friends, who watched the kids, made signs for the moving sale, came over to help set up for the sale, helped out during the sale and shopped at the sale, brought me coffee and hugs and prayed us through, and the blessing of strangers, who emptied their wallets for us, came to see where in Africa we were headed, extended words of blessing on our journey, and spoke encouraging words after other strangers said things that were less than comforting, I would not have made it through. 

I am so glad the moving sale is behind us. It just feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. We have our spare room back just in time for Papa John to stay there this week, Jori starts preschool tomorrow, Tyson has his first 5 day week of school, and my women's Bible study starts up again on Wednesday. Fall is in the air. It is time to buy apples for making sauce and head out to Post Family Farm for pumpkin donuts! Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who helped us out this week in so many different ways. We truly are beyond blessed! 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Telling the kids

Last week we told the kids that we were moving. We didn't say where we were going to, just that a sign would be in our yard and that we needed to start keeping the house clean. This afternoon the for sale sign went up in the yard and we decided it might be best to tell Tyson and Jori the whole story instead of taking a chance that they might hear the news from someone else.

Let's just say it went way better than Darin or I expected. Jori ran around saying "South Africa, hooray!" and "Yay, South Africa" over and over and over. Tyson was a little apprehensive, but most of his worries were about the moving van getting our things to Africa and then some confusion about Grandpa Rick driving a moving van. After that, he seemed pretty happy as well, especially after we talked about getting a DOG!

So, I am glad that the kids know and seem excited, although I am sure there will be moments of anger and fear as well. I've been there and I'm supposed to be one of the grown-ups that has it all together! We still have no definite plans, but as we told the kids, God already knows when we'll move and we don't need to worry about it.

If You say wait...

...we will wait.

Are you familiar with this song? If not, you should give it a quick listen. I have had the lyrics running through my head for the past couple weeks.

If you say go we will go
If you say wait we will wait
If you say step out on the water and they say it can’t be done
We’ll fix our eyes on you and we will come
Your ways are higher than our ways
And the plans that You have laid are good and true
If You call us to the fire You will not withdraw Your hand
We’ll gaze into the flames and look for You
This morning Darin was on Skype with our business partner and we found out that we will probably be waiting a little longer than we had planned before heading over to South Africa. Now, I admit, this did send me into a mini-tizzy, but I actually pulled out of it pretty fast. God is going to move us over in His time. If He still wants us to go in January, I need to trust that He will work that out and make it clear to us that we are still to head over. If He wants us to stay where we are til June, I need to trust that His ways are higher than mine and look for what He wants me to do in the place He has put me.
So, we are still planning to list the house on Wednesday and have our moving sale a week later. Darin and I both feel good about both of those things. What we are now questioning is when to fill the kids in on our plans, especially since these plans are so up in the air. One thing I know for sure is I need to just turn it all back over to God and quit stressing over the details.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Where God guides...

...He provides. This is a quote from the book "God Guides" by Mary Geegh. Our friends Scott and Lisa gave us this book a few years ago, and since reading it, this quote often pops in and out of my mind. Lately it has been popping up more frequently.

**This post was written a couple weeks ago. I'll be posting some other stuff from "back then" as well. Just so no one is confused!

When Darin and I were first married, we headed to South Africa to visit some friends that were volunteering at a children's home north of Pretoria. We both loved being there and even briefly talked about going back to volunteer with this same organization. After 3 weeks of playing with babies, meeting wonderful new friends and seeing some amazing sights, we came back home to Michigan and settled into life.

A couple years later, the company Darin worked for wanted to start up a business in South Africa. Darin was able to go back over on a few different occasions to help seek out different opportunities and make some business connections. In 2006, when Tyson was 2 and Jori was just a few months old, I was able to travel with him for 3 weeks without the kids. Once again we had a wonderful time (even though we missed our sweet babies in Michigan!) and were able to renew past relationships and see even more of this amazing country.

In 2008, our whole family had the opportunity to live in South Africa for 10 weeks. You can read about the great adventures we had right here (then you can decide if you want to read the rest of the entries from those ten weeks!) we had an amazing time. Our kids flourished, our marriage was the best it's ever been, Darin and I both felt like we were being called to stay in Africa. We even made an offer on a lodge, but after a few ups and downs and wondering if this was really going to happen, we wound up right back in Michigan, living our little life in Hudsonville.

Only this little life seemed like right where we were supposed to be. We both were getting more involved in our church, Tyson was doing great in school, both kids had made some very special friends and it just seemed like everything was working as it should. I finally felt content with my lot in life, something that I had LONG struggled with!

Fast forward to April 2010. We are living our beautiful life, enjoying being a part of a few different "communities", Darin was at a new job that he absolutely loved and then we get an email from an acquaintance in South Africa. This man was going to be opening up a new business and was looking for a partner. Darin waited a few days, then sent an email to get some more information. This continued for a couple weeks. Then by mid-May we are starting to pull together funds to actually buy into this new business. We sign papers-a business contract-and then things just keep moving forward from there.

Now it is the end of August and on September 1 our house will be officially on the market. I have been busy cleaning the house for the realtor, sorting through stuff for our upcoming moving sale, trying to decide what to bring along with us to South Africa and what to store at Darin's parents house. Our kids don't know. Yet. We are planning on telling them on August 30th, just a couple days before the For Sale sign goes up in the yard. I am hoping that this conversation goes well, but I also know that there could be tears and lots of fears and I am not sure if I'll be able to handle that!

In some ways it has been hard keeping our plans under wraps these last few months, but I am thankful that we have been able to enjoy one last summer here in Hudsonville without a lot of questions and comments about our future plans. I am glad that things are going to be more out in the open now as it is going to be a huge change that will probably be consuming my thoughts and probably this blog as well!

As of right now, our plan is to move sometime in January. That could very well change, so I am trying not to get myself too set on any particular time frame. We are excited to share more about what we plan on doing once we're there, and we also look forward to seeing what God will do with us!

First day of First Grade

 We now have a 1st grader in the house! Yesterday Tyson eagerly headed back to school. He kept saying "Mom, is it time to go yet?" and was so excited to head out the door to his first day of first grade.
Tyson in front of his school
We met Tyson's teacher last week at a back to school event, and we are looking forward to getting to know her better this year. She is a literacy specialist, which is great because our boy LOVES to read and we hope that Mrs. Faraci will foster that love and help it to grow!
Tyson and Mrs. Faraci

Tyson standing under his star
 I was so excited to see the bus come down the road. I couldn't wait to hear how Tyson's first day had been!
The bus

Home again, home again
When I asked Tyson how the day had been, he gave me a thumbs up sign. He said he loved lunch and snack time, he thinks his teacher is really nice, and sometime they are going to do science and make GOO. How exciting!
Looks like someone had a GREAT day
It was easy to see that he had a great day and he was eager to head back again this morning. We are so thankful that Tyson loves to learn and goes off to school with a smile on his face.
The "traditional" first day of school pic, taken after school

Our first grader
Thank you, God, for a great first day of school!

Monday, September 6, 2010


On Saturday we took the kids bowling. I had taken them earlier in the week, but was so glad Darin could go along to see our kids and their mad bowling skills.

Jori would definitely be the winner of the "slowest ball" award. It is amazing that the ball even makes it all the way down the lane. In fact, when just the kids and I went bowling, her ball actually rolled back towards us because it was moving so slowly.
Will this one make it all the way down the lane?

Yes! I got two pins

However, what she lacks in speed, she makes up for in exuberance! She is a very vocal bowler and is full of "woo-hoos" and a lot of yesses, "YES!". She is excited if she knocks over 1 pin or a whole bunch. She loves "washing" her hands with the little air blower and is very fond of telling her brother "Tyson, you need to wash your hands before you bowl" with an air of superiority in her voice.

Check out the sweatband on his wrist!
Tyson is a very different bowler. He has a need for speed. However, his "powerful" throws are often a little misguided and have gone down other lanes and gotten stuck between the gutter guard and the edge of the lane. Apparently, having Darin with us tamed some of the wildness as Tyson managed to keep the ball in the lane every time he threw the ball, and I do mean THREW.

Trying to encourage the ball as it goes down the lane
He tends to be a little more quiet than his sister and was more concerned about having the highest score and knocking down lots of pins. He spent a lot of time laying on the ground, talking to his ball as it rolled down the lane. He did get a strike and a spare, so he is doing something right!

We love having a bowling alley right in our back yard! Not only do they have excellent ice cream treats (mmm, grasshopper flurries), but watching the kids bowl is a wonderful source of entertainment!