Friday, December 26, 2014


Hi everyone! Sorry, I've been gone a while, but I have all kinds of blog posts swirling around in my brain (the title of the next one is DIY with Duct Tape Deb - stay tuned!) so prepare to be inundated! Well, sort of. Inundated with only two or three blog posts...

Many of you have asked how it's going - the preparations to go back to South Africa. It's taking longer than I'd hoped, but I would still like to return early 2015.

 I'm going to start gathering the documents for my visa next week - maybe the third time around, I will have my act together! The first time I was completely inexperienced, I'd lost my Social Security card, and I was concerned about getting my passport back in time to travel to Bulgaria. The second time, I was applying for a visa extension while in SA. I'd neglected to keep all of my important documents (apparently I'd tossed my brain out the window as well!), and the police struggled to take fingerprints to American standards for the FBI! This time, I am ready!

I have also been working on raising support. I may have experience getting a visa, and I had to raise support this past year for my internship, so it's not a foreign concept. However, last time I went anticipating a trip of 4 1/2 months. I did end up staying ten months instead, but I managed to save, and also had the help of some generous church family. This time, I will need to raise more per month, and I will have some added expenses. For those of you who are interested, here are the details.

 I will need to buy a (used) car. These are, unfortunately, more expensive in South Africa than in America. Transportation was included in the internship, but as a caregiver, for the most part I will be expected to provide my own transportation. Although there are public transit systems available, they will not be feasible for me to use all of the time. (I still hope to learn to ride the bus! Especially the double decker one - looks like fun, and my friend from church told me IT WAS THE BEST DAY OF HER LIFE!!! when she got to ride on the top, once. So obviously I need to do it.) Taxis are widely used, but are not regarded as particularly safe, especially for a young, naive, female, white American such as myself. (A family from our church was kidnapped and held hostage for a day and a half while riding a taxi. Although these situations are rare, and I have been on a taxi before - with an African friend - I'd rather not depend on them!)

 With said car comes other expenses - gas (I think the price is about $6/gallon in US terms - I didn't calculate it myself, but a friend did), car insurance, and a repair budget. I'd like to get as cheap of a car as possible - we always drive clunkers in my family! - but I've been informed I will be expected to get something marginally reliable! Still, I am sure my car will be on the lower end of the used car spectrum, which will mean I will need money to set aside in case something breaks down. Thankfully, as far as gas prices go, we live in a city, so most of the places I need to go aren't too far away. Hopefully this translates into an affordable gas ("petrol") budget!

The cost of my plane ticket will be more, as I will need to buy a one-way ticket and have enough on reserve for a one-way ticket home....whenever that trip will be. ;)  Last time I paid about $1200 for a round-trip ticket, which is awfully cheap! Of course, I had to pay quite a bit to change it, so I guess it all evened out! A one-way ticket, right now, is between $800-$900.

So, here is an idea of the support I need, and how it breaks down. I am trying to raise approximately $18,000.

Start-up costs

- Car: $5000 budget (excess to save towards repairs)
- Tickets: $2000 (two one way tickets)
- Visa: about $220 (includes visa photo, medical and radiological exams, background check, processing fee, etc,)
- Cost to ship extra luggage over: undetermined. I left some stuff behind, but I really don't think I can fit everything in two suitcases this time! I'd like to take one or two extra pieces of luggage, at this point. (That costs more than I'd like, just one way. I had a two-piece luggage allowance going over last time, and, unexpectedly, a one-piece luggage allowance coming back. I think it cost about $110 to ship the extra suitcase.)

Monthly costs - I am shooting for $900 in support per month. I don't need to have all this up front - some of it can be pledged. This covers costs such as:

- Rent: $240 per month. (1Hope is a very small missions organization, and the cost of rent helps support the baby home and pay for the (very expensive) electricity bill.)
- Internet: we help pay a portion toward the internet bill.
- Food, toiletries, other needs. This fluctuates from month to month. I never seem to hit my low goal, but an average of $200 seems to be achievable. This also enables me to cook for others sometimes.
- Car insurance.
- Gas/petrol
-...and other expenses as they come up. Last year I had some unexpected ones, such as extending my visa (which cost several hundred dollars). And while I don't go on extravagant spending sprees =D sometimes your last pair of jeans rips and your tennis shoes wear out...(and you long for thrift stores...I found a nice little one...but I get more kitchen stuff than clothes there).

I realize these aren't exact numbers - they are more of a projected budget of expenses. I will be hoping to save extra in case my stay extends! It's been quite the adventure this year, learning to budget, but I have enjoyed it! I now have a pretty good idea of how much food I DON'T need to buy...ask my housemates. ;)

So far, I have about $2500 towards my goal. If any of you feel led to support me, that would be amazing! There are details under the "About Me" page at the top of the blog - including a link to give a tax-deductible gift. Also, just a reminder, I am taking custom crochet orders - check out my page at Happy Heads Helping Hearts, including the ever-popular Frozen character hats, like the Elsa hat, below:

If you would like to read my newsletter, you can view it by clicking on this link:

(There are also cute baby pictures, so there is some motivation to read it! =) )

Thanks to you all who have helped in many ways. You are Jesus's hands and feet helping to care for these little ones. I truly appreciate the various things others have done to support me, not just directly in financial ways:

- So many of you who are praying!
- People who have given me yarn.
- My little sis and mom, who helped me make 29 dozen cookies for a craft show.
- My mom, who is letting me sell the house out from under her....just's kind of an online garage sale/curriculum sale. You can view that here, by the way.
- Another friend who is selling curriculum and crafts to help support me. 
- Several friends who have held fundraisers - Pampered Chef, Mary Kay. The Mary Kay fundraiser is still on, until the 31st. If you're interested, you can browse on the Mary Kay website, then contact Jen Digman on Facebook (her profile name is Jennifer Jordan Digman), email her at, or contact her at (330) 883-8551. I am getting 50% of what is sold.

Again, thank you so much to everyone just for caring! I love talking about my time in Africa, so don't be afraid to ask me questions! (Although no, Africa is not just one country, and I was nowhere near Ebola. =) ) Please keep me in your prayers. There is a list of specific prayer requests, for the baby home as well, in the newsletter above.

Friday, December 12, 2014

New arrivals!

Check out these cuties that arrived at the baby home today! I have to hurry up and get back, folks! My Baby Snuggle-O-Meter is getting dangerously low, as are my squishiness levels! (There are only two babies - just four photos.) I'm already partial to the one on the left - he looks a bit like my Small when he first arrived.

Hope your day was just made a little bit cuter!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

10,000 Reasons...or maybe just a few to start.

Although I don't pretend that I was actually deprived of anything this year (come on, folks, SA has to be the most Westernized country in Africa), I have been enjoying numerous things here in the US, most of which I didn't stop and really appreciate before.

List #1: Insignificant, material items.

I realize in the grand scheme of things, these matter pretty much nothing. People matter more. Having a place to stay and food to eat and clean water to drink matters more. But these little bits of icing on the cake? They just make my heart happy!

Wal-Mart - you can enter one store and buy everything, if you so desire and have an unlimited budget (I do not.)

Ranch dressing! The delicious kind. I have been drowning everything in it. Maybe even things that don't belong with it.

Chocolate chips that don't taste like plastic. I'm sitting here eating these right now.

Salvage stores. Actually, this one makes my head hurt a little bit, just thinking of how I could slash my grocery bill in half (at least) if they existed in Africa. I went so far as to daydream about starting one, just so I could shop at it....

A dryer. As my fellow intern put it, "OHMYGOODNESS I PUT A LOAD IN AND IT WAS DRY IN AN HOUR!" If I want to wash my sheets in the afternoon, I can put them, completely dry, on my bed that night.

Gas prices at $2.51 a gallon - realizing that I'll have to pay at LEAST double that next year. This is another thing, like the salvage stores, that makes my head hurt a little bit.

A car. I LOVE MY CAR! (I've only had to fix it once since I came home. Blech.)

Having all my stuff here. I don't have to think, "Sure, I've got a thingamajig - oh wait, I left that in a completely different hemisphere...."

Glorious, wonderful, craft stores. I may have wept when I walked into JoAnn's. (Well, actually, no, I didn't. But it was still a blissful experience.)

Internet shopping. Guess what? I CAN BUY EXACTLY WHAT I WANT! And have it delivered to my house! In days!

A reliable post office. One that isn't allowed to go on strike. Who thinks that is ok, anyway?

Brand choices. This is actually a little bewildering. Who needs 73 kinds of cookies? Someone headed straight for diabetes?

Clothing choices. I assume full responsibility for my lack of clothing choices in South Africa. Somehow, I thought it was more important to take yarn than to pack more than 15% of my wardrobe. Nonetheless, I open my closet every day and it feels like I'm shopping, and (most of) the clothes fit me straight off the rack.

Central heating. That humming noise the furnace makes? Music to my ears. I CAN WALK INSIDE AND GET WARM! Really warm, and not just "let's wrap ourselves in 50 blankets and call this slight increase in temperature 'warm.' "

Everything "looking like home." This was one of the top insignificant things on my list. I missed farms, and woods. Ok, so I didn't miss the spirit-shattering gray five months that trademark the Ohio winter, but you know what I mean...

Thrift stores. You are a thing of beauty. If I had you in Africa, I'd be broke. "Oh, I need to buy this thingamajig and that doohickey and one or two or twelve whatchamacallits for my house!" Alas, my lifestyle as of late has required me to ask many questions whenever I walk into the heaven that is a thrift store (or a salvage shop):

- "Will it make me money?" (Is it yarn? A pretty plate to load with Christmas cookies and resell? Some random craft supply I've been looking for?)

- "Can I use it up?" (Is it a personal hygiene item? A stack of thank you notes? If in a salvage store, is it a delicious food item?)

- "Would this make a good (cheap) Christmas present?"

- "Can I take it with me? Have I already been looking for it?" (I got a great backpack for the trip back for $5 the other day, and a skirt in the style and color I've been looking for all year - for $1.25.)

- "Is there any valid point to storing it if I can't take it with me?" (99% of the time, the answer to this question is "NO." The other 1% of the time, it's probably something that goes in my hope chest.)

This is rather a freeing perspective with which to walk into a thrift store. Still get to enjoy the shopping, but don't go home with the $15 in random goods that I bought for "someday..." Although I still get desperate urges to buy every other kitchen utensil that I see.

Having a piano. OH MY WORD, I didn't realize how incredible it was to sit down and play! If at all possible, I'm going to get my hands on a smallish keyboard next year.

Running a hat business.

So those are just a few things I'm grateful for since I've been home. Every time I hit a new thing on that list for the first time since I've been home (like the first time going to the salvage stores) I get almost giddy.

List #2 - People Blessings, and Other Things Besides Salad Dressing

Getting to see my grandma again.

Tea with my good friend, Jamie.

All my friends at church.

Singing in the church cantata.

Spending time with family.

Standing next to my mom when she sings alto in church.

Homeschool group friends. (I have yet to see some of you!)

Thanksgiving with family.

Christmas with family.

Christmas in my home state and culture.

Visiting my best friend ever and her husband and little sister.

Having my little sister over for a sleepover and forcing her to help me make 29 dozen cookies.

Visiting my nieces and their family. Watching as they blossom with love.

So, those are the short lists. I started the "One Thousand Gifts" challenge several years ago, where you cultivate a habit of thankfulness, and I think I'm up to #1025. I was inspired to pull out the notebook again this year (at a point where I was confronted on being particularly ungrateful...I can't say it completely changed my attitude, but it helped!) and it's so much fun to capture all those moments. If you haven't tried it, you should. =)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

FAQ's - sort of.

So, with the trip to NC, catching up here at home, and my insane amount of crochet orders (that's not a complaint, it's a blessing...sometimes a little overwhelming, but a blessing...) I've stayed pretty busy. I want to put together a presentation to share at some churches, as soon as my laptop comes back from having that pesky power jack repaired. Apparently I'm hard on them - this is the second time.

Coming home has brought a lot of questions and comments.  For your convenience, I'll answer the most common ones below. Perhaps these answers will be a little more interesting than the ones I have given you individually - I apologize - I'm not so great at thinking on my feet. This is not me trying to ward off questions - I like talking to people face to face, please keep doing that! This is just my attempt at giving you some more intelligent answers than the ones I've been giving...

Was there Ebola?

No. We were very far away. I believe about three thousand miles, although I'm a little foggy on the numbers. Actually, there are/were more cases in the US than there are in SA - we had NONE. Also, we had good medical care, should we have needed to avail ourselves of it. If I cough or sneeze on you (which is gross, I'll try not to) you will NOT catch Ebola.

Do you miss the babies?

Yes. Maybe not so much the first week, when I was enjoying not being needed by little people. (Although honestly, it's not like I needed a break - I think I worked twice the last week I was there because we were doing all our last minute stuff.) But after that, yes, I miss my babies now. I want to snuggle Owlie and Small, and I miss tying a baby on my back and doing my morning chores. I was starting to get used to baby care, African style. I came home and I was like, "Really? You actually carry that big clunky awkward carseat around everywhere? How strange." There is a whole new crop of babies here, but it's not the same when they aren't yours. You hand them back to their parents after a few minutes, and they really aren't dependent on you. It does help my baby fix a little tiny bit though. =)

How was it?/How was your trip?/Did you have a good experience?/Did you like it?

These four similar questions are the most frequently asked questions, and it's wonderful that you are asking - you care about me, and that's great - but they are the hardest to answer! Well, technically, I guess they aren't - the simple answers are "great, great, it was wonderful, and yes, I did." I feel like I owe people more than that, though. I think the difficulty lies in that I don't see it as a trip or an experience, even though technically it is both of those things. It was, and is, more than just that - it's life, and it's an amazing and wonderful thing! I've been told, "You know, this is great, but eventually you have to get back to real life." This is my real life! I don't see this as an isolated event, like a two-week missions trip would be. It's more like a chapter in my life story - I know it will eventually end, but while it happens, I am continuing on with what is now my normal life. You settle down, get into a routine. It's not a mountaintop event, like a weekend youth conference or something. It became even less like one once I started extending, and then when I got the opportunity to go back - for now, this is my "normal." And if you were wondering - people haven't really asked me that much about my plans farther out - no, I haven't the slightest idea what the next chapter will look like.

Did you find a guy?

No, much to the chagrin of my African friends.

Are you going back? When?

Lord willing, yes. Whenever I get support raised. I'm hoping that is early next year.

I also want to respond to a comment, or more specifically, a genre of comment that I keep getting over and over since I have come home. It takes various forms, but it usually sounds something like, "Wow, that's such a wonderful thing you are doing" or "I'm so proud of you."

These are very nice things to say. Please don't stop saying nice things to me - I much prefer it to the alternatives - unkind things, which none of you would say anyway, or just not talking to me. I am, however, usually at a loss as to how to respond with anything besides, "Well, it's great, I love it..." Sometimes I wonder what exactly people are meaning when they say it...I mean, it's nice, and it's true that it's a wonderful thing. But you know? It's not a sacrifice for me to do this. I mean, in a way I suppose it is - taking care of babies IS taxing and I DO get homesick and there ARE conflicts to work through with people. But, this is my passion and I love it. I find so much joy in it. Isn't it amazing that serving God is not burdensome? Because He totally doesn't have to make it so wonderful for us. We have no right to this, but His grace is just so good. (Just so you know, I'm not trying to downplay those who are in really, really hard circumstances, like those persecuted for their faith. Who, I have heard, still find an awful lot of joy in following God - He sustains them.) Also, Romans 12:1 tells me that presenting myself as a living sacrifice is my "reasonable service." Not something out of the ordinary that is extra-special.

So when you tell me, "It's such a wonderful thing that you are doing" and I mumble, "ahem, yeah, sure, I like it a lot" and struggle to remain intelligently verbal (I'm working on this, I think it's a pretty necessary communication skill), I want you to know that me doing this is actually an amazing, wonderful thing that God is doing and I'm pretty much completely in awe of what He's doing, too! It's just kind of really hard to figure out a way to say that without making it sound fake. Also, I don't feel like this 100% of the time, because I am a sinner, and sometimes I get really angry at newborns who cry for hours in the middle of the night. Just so you know.

Another comment - which I don't get directly too often, but is kind of implied in the above statements - is, "You are such a wonderful person."

This one, I will answer straight out. I am not a wonderful person. I spent the entire year living in community and learning what a wonderful person I am NOT. There is no one like a housemate/sister to bring out the sin that is already in your heart! Unless it's living with a whole lot of people who are different from you. Or, the above mentioned crying baby at 2 am who won't sleep. Empirical evidence aside, the Bible says we are all sinners. Only, it goes a whole lot further than that. I don't just make mistakes or messes or errors in judgment. I actually sin against a holy God. In fact, it's to the point where, before God saved me, I was dead in my sin. You can't get much worse than that. That was really pounded into my heart this year.

And I am so grateful.

Because the more you understand your complete hopelessness before God, the judgment you deserve, the more you realize how incredible His grace is. Wonderful and crazy and absolutely ridiculous. Folks, even my attempts at good deeds were sin. My righteousness was like filthy rags - the actual Biblical term for that is pretty gross, so we won't get into it here. There was nothing, nothing, NOTHING I could do, and God extended His grace to me and forgave me.

He loves me.

It has given me so much freedom to understand this. Although it's still a struggle at times (especially around non-Christians who don't understand in the same way), I don't have to worry about people seeing my sin. I can openly confess because I know I am a sinner, but I know my position before God and I am NOT CONDEMNED. Like I said, this is still hard, but it is SO much easier and I'm not running around constantly trying to look good at all costs, like I never make a mistake.

God is good. His grace is so good. This year, I've fallen in love with the Gospel. I always thought it was something to learn, appreciate, and then kind of move on to something "deeper." I didn't realize that you move on deeper...into the Gospel.

So no, I'm not a wonderful person.

But I do serve an incredible God.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

North Carolina adventures and misadventures

Hello all!
Things have been busy since I have been home. I spent ten days recovering from my flight home, then took off again to North Carolina to visit my sweet nieces, Sarah and Anna! You may remember how my good friend, Stephanie, adopted them from Bulgaria - Anna from Burgas and Sarah from Pleven. I got to go on the referral trip with her in June 2013 and saw them last December in Bulgaria on the pickup trip (I was traveling with another friend) and a few days later when they got home.

They are doing so well! Anna speaks English fluently now and is attending school. She loves to follow her mama (and me) around the house ALL DAY LONG and ask questions. (Usually the same ones over and over again.) 

Sarah is talking up a storm, as well. She came home only saying four or five words, and now she sometimes even speaks in whole sentences! She can name and point to her body parts, and she knows her colors. She has been struggling to gain weight, so she had a feeding tube put in this past summer. She loves to watch her shows on TV. Sometimes, when she wants you to leave her alone for a while, she says, "Watch! Bye bye!"

She hates the doctor, which is understandable but unfortunate, because she has to visit there a lot. We went to a doctor's appointment and she sobbed the whole way, "Go home! Get lellow!" She knows if she is wearing her pajamas (the "lellow" ones are her favorite) she gets to stay home all day!

While Sarah is Miss Independent and fond of her alone time (no wonder, due to her sad history of neglect and abandonment...) Miss Anna is my snuggler. And so sweet! I told her I would be leaving on Monday, and she asked me all weekend: "On Monday I go to school? And you go home?
"Yes, I'm going home."
"But you come back next week, right?"
"No, I'm going to leave for a long time. I'm going to Ohio and then to Africa. But I'm going to miss you sooooo much. So I am sad."
"Ok, go ahead and cry, it's ok."
"No, I'm not sad yet, it's fine."
"Go ahead and cry, it's ok. You're sad."
I assured her I'd call her on Skype and it would make me very happy. When we dropped her off at school on Monday morning, she told me, "I'll call you when it's time to get on the computer!"

She also drew me a picture so I could "hang it on the wall in the Africa." You better believe I will!

I left Monday morning, then attempted to ride the Greyhound bus from Raleigh to Charlotte. Notice I said "attempted." Paul (Sarah and Anna's dad) dropped me off at the bus station after we took the kids to school, in ample time to catch my 9:50 bus. I waited and waited. 9:50 came and went, and I got to observe Raleigh bus station culture. It was an educational experience, for sure. Various people looked like they were on some sort of drug, or could be. I heard more foul language than I have all year. One Hispanic guy walked around talking to us in Spanish. I pitied him (I remembered trying to navigate the trolley in Bulgaria, without speaking the language) but even though we kindly told him we didn't understand him, he kept coming back and talking to us, getting more and more frustrated until he finally said something with "tonto" in it and I hoped he wasn't calling us stupid. Come to think of it, maybe he was referring to the three-hour delay we were sitting through...The bus station attendant tried to kick him out, even though he seemed to have a ticket. I managed to find another Hispanic guy who spoke marginally more English, but all I could get out of them was "Him say him sorry." Sorry for what? I have no idea...

And it WAS a three hour delay. At least. I think it might have been three and a half. They told us our bus had broken down and had no idea when a new one would be here. They were most unhelpful and not very polite, although they did give us coupons for free lunches, which was the only bright spot in the whole morning. Somehow I found myself buddying up with an ex-convict...well, maybe buddying up is too strong of a word. Complaining together? He did convince his friend to let me use his phone because...OH...I forgot to tell computer power jack broke AND my phone stopped working, all in the same weekend, so I had no means of communication to tell my aunt and uncle (who were picking me up in Charlotte) that my bus was going to be at LEAST three hours late. In my defense, I didn't find out about the jail time till later, when we were on the bus and this other guy kept annoying him. He was sitting across from me, "I can't do this. I can't punch him. I don't want to go back to jail..."

I saw four blind people (two with guide dogs) and pitied them that they had to use this system. I'm sure if Stephanie has anything to do with it, her girls will never see the inside of a bus!

I had one layover in Winston-Salem, and I was supposed to catch the 1:10 bus. As you can imagine, I missed it - I got there at 3:20. The next bus didn't leave for Charlotte until 6:20. I wouldn't arrive in Charlotte until probably after 8, and it was an hour to my aunt and uncle's. Did I mention that DRIVING between Raleigh and Charlotte takes 2 1/2 hours? This bus station proved to be just as unique of an experience as the last one, complete with foul-mouth screaming match and some rather inappropriate behavior. I found a nice, bewildered lady who generously let me use the last bit of power on her phone to call my aunt and uncle, who said they would come pick me up. Then I tried to help her devise a plan to charge her phone to call HER friend, who at least was already on the way. There were no accessible power outlets and a sign warning that it was against the rules to try to charge your electronics in the building. She kept trying to plug it in behind the vending machine, but some bus station passenger kept yelling at her that she wasn't allowed to do that. I felt partly responsibly for her difficulty, after all, she DID let me use her phone and run down the charge more than it already had...oh well. 

Finally, my aunt and uncle arrived to pick me up. I will never, and I repeat NEVER, be taking Greyhound again unless it is an absolute necessity. I am grateful for two things: all the people who so kindly let me use their phones, and that I didn't die, so in the end, it could have been worse! Never have I ever been so glad to be back in a familiar place, with familiar faces! Next time I am taking the train - I hear it's about the same price!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 part.

I'm home now.

We got home from the airport about 3am Tuesday morning. It was so good to see my family! My parents and my brother all came to pick me up. I flew from Johannesburg to London to Chicago to Cleveland - it was quite the journey. Alyssa and I got to enjoy some sightseeing during our hours in London.

It was pretty cool. We had a friend of a friend who was supposed to meet us and show us around, but he was an older gentleman who ended up getting sick, so he just sent us directions as to the type of subway ticket to buy and the places we could walk to see, and they were very easy to follow. We mostly just walked around and looked at the sights - we didn't have much time and entrance to everything cost an arm and a leg! We got to see Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the Thames, and a couple of monuments and nice parks.

Alyssa's flight left about 3pm, and mine about an hour later. I lost her going through security, and just about freaked out because I hadn't gotten to say goodbye. Some really nice older guy from security told me to go downstairs and have the help desk page her...but not to tell them why because otherwise they wouldn't do it. I managed to convince the lady at the help desk that it was VERY IMPORTANT that I talk to my friend before her flight left. (Being back in a country where customer service is a thing, was wonderful. All of the airline attendants were SO sweet when I kept losing people, or getting seats mixed up, etc.) Then I stood forlornly in the middle of the busy aisle trying to spot her - the very place where I waited 7 hours for her to show up in January, as a matter of fact. She didn't actually hear the page, but she managed to find me anyway, for which I was very grateful. Saying goodbye was very hard, we'll just leave it at that. God has taught us both so much together this year and we have a very tight friendship. Please pray for us both as we go back to our lives at home, me for a few months and her indefinitely. 

The long flight from London to Chicago was kind of lonely, but I had a good half-dozen or so notes from friends, stored away in my bag, to cheer me up. (Or, alternately, make me tear up, but oh well, I know I am loved.) 

My plane finally got in to Cleveland around midnight and I got to see my family shortly thereafter! I about tripped coming down the escalator...I missed them so much. Then, we had 1 1/2-2 hour drive home. At last, my own bed! I'd forgotten how wonderfully soft a mattress can be. =)

I've spent the last two days unpacking, visiting friends, and purging my STUFF. A year gives a good perspective. I can't believe how much stuff I thought was worth keeping! The entire year away, I never said, "Man, I really wish I had my church camp notes from 2008!" or "Wow, I wish I had my disposable wrist band from when we visited the science center in 2006!" or, "I'm sure glad I saved all the name tags I ever got!" Don't think I haven't missed any of my stuff, though...getting dressed feels like I just went clothes shopping because of all the variety, and I walk around talking to my possessions like a ditz: "Pink tool kit, I wished I had you!" and "Brown boots, I have missed you!" and "Drawing supplies, you are coming back with me!"

I'm also eating some of the things I've craved all year...I went out and bought Lucky Charms and Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies. There were shouts of joy when I discovered pepperoni in the fridge, and the Ranch dressing bottle is significantly lower. It is also too cold to run/exercise outside. This could be a problem. But honestly, I think the cravings will abate very soon...=)

I also get to drive now! This was thrilling. (My power steering fluid thingy also needs fixed. This is not thrilling.)

All that superficial stuff aside, though? I am soooo glad to be able to spend time with the people who matter to me. And I am really missing the OTHER people who matter to me. I got to go to choir tonight and see church friends, and now I'm missing my Living Hope family. (It's been all of three days...) My heart is most definitely in two places. This has its advantages - I am loved and have people I love wherever I am. This has its disadvantages - even if I do my best to live in the moment, I am perpetually missing someone (or a lot of someones). Also, I go through Alyssa withdrawal and Lerato withdrawal and I-desperately-need-to-hug-a-squishy-orphan-baby withdrawal.

Like these cuties! These are the ten that I was privileged to care for over the last ten months. Can you handle that much squishiness???

I have been convicted this year about some of that superficial stuff (the few random foods I couldn't find, comforts of home, my pillow-top mattress) mattering more to me than relationships. I think it was because it was easier to complain about a lack of chocolate syrup than about missing my mother. Coming home just reinforces the fact that that stuff doesn't really matter. Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies are not as ultimately satisfying as my friends back in Africa (even if they are really yummy and pretty much inimitable.) (The cookies, not the people.)

Although it's been great, it does feel strange to be back home! Honestly, it even feels weird to say the word "home"...because even though I'm only committing for a year (to start), this is truly only half my home now. I miss living with people constantly around. Quiet time is nice too, but I can only handle so much of that before I start itching. I think I'm allergic to it. (Oh, how I pity the introverts who have lived around me. I think I need to work on this. I think they would agree. You know who you are. ;) ) I am working hard to remedy all this quietness around me. If you live nearby and want to hang out, let me know. =) Only, I should probably bring my yarn because I'm about to turn into a crocheting machine, tomorrow.

Please pray for me as I'm finally starting to get a little stressed/overwhelmed with the idea of fundraising. I don't have an exact total yet, but I think I will be needing to raise between $15,000 and $20,000. This is more than last year - my goal is to buy a car, and I will be paying for car insurance and gas (petrol). I don't think I can crochet that many hats! I will have a post, next, about the different fundraisers that are going on. I'm selling some beautiful paper bead necklaces I brought back from Africa, and I'll post more about the different crochet items people can order.

One funny story before I go!

So, we went to the Boeremark (Afrikaans farmer's market) on Saturday before we left. Janelle bought this delicious looking kebab of meat. Donovan asked her what type it was.

Janelle: Oh, it was elk! And only 22 rand! I just had to try it!
Donovan: Elk? Really? (This would be like coming to America and having kudu kebabs. Elk aren't from here. It's just weird.)
Janelle: Yeah, the sign said "22 Rand Elk!"

"Elk" is the word for "each" in Afrikaans. Most of us can deduce this by now. Poor Nellie. =P

We love you! 

I think it's time to call it a night! I'm trying to shake this jet-lag thing, but it isn't gone yet.

To my Ohio family - it's been wonderful to see you and hug you.
To my South African family (and "African-American" family - the missionaries and other interns) - I miss you so much already.

I love you both!

~ Auntie Abbie

Go well, Owlie

 I'm a bit late in posting this update, due to Internet malfunctions and lots of busyness. Oh, by the way, God miraculously fixed the baby home internet, or so it appeared. There was a storm, and all of a sudden it started working again...Also, I'm home now. Next post about that!

But for now, I want you all to know that this sweet one, our Owlie, is in her forever family!

She looks pretty happy about it.

We are happy too although we will miss her greatly! Especially her auntie Joy who insisted that this naughty baby was an angel!

Actually, she's a pretty happy Most of her early pictures looked like this:

She wanted to be held all the time! She usually got her way. =)

Sweet, lovable, squishy baby girl! You are loved. Your mama cried tears of joy when she met you for the first time.

It's been a pleasure watching you grow from this smushy-faced newborn... this big, smiley girl!

I love you, Owlie! Go well!

~ Auntie Abbie

Sunday, November 2, 2014


So, the long overdue update post!

The big news is this: we now have HOUSEPARENTS!!! They are being screened right now, which means that we will be able to accept babies again when the process is finished! That probably won't be until January, but still, there is hope on the horizon! I have yet to get a picture of them, but Sbu and Sihle are an awesome couple from City Baptist Church, one of our sister churches, and I think it will be fun to live on the same property! I have known Sihle for a while - she volunteers at the baby home.

It will be good to have new babies again! Since Owlie's and Small's departures, we are down to just two babies. Don't get me wrong, we are always overjoyed when our babies find their forever families, but there are so many more babies out there needing care that we haven't been able to accept. It is so hard knowing they are out there and we can't take them! So hopefully soon, we will be at full capacity again. Even if Roo and Lullaby don't leave in the next two months, I can't imagine getting FOUR newborns in a short time span! Babies' arrivals are usually more staggered. I guess night shift will actually be a "real" shift then...=P Right now sometimes we sleep all night if the babies do as well! They are both older and such good sleepers.

Don't think our small number of babies translates into us sitting around twiddling our thumbs! We've been busy with AWANA, evangelism, volunteering at a school, spending time with people from church, and the list goes on and on, including a great mix of ministry and some fun activities as we wrap up our time here.

Last Friday was our last AWANA. Janelle and I ran the AWANA tuck shop.

 I got some pictures with some of the kids from my small group. It fluctuated a lot throughout the year, but I really enjoyed getting to know a more steady group of children the last few months. 

I was struggling - everything was really crazy and stressful and I would dread each week - but then I prayed desperately, "Lord, please help me learn to love this!" and He did! 

(It didn't really get any less crazy, though. LOL.) These three are a really fun bunch of girls.

Uncle Vinson single-handedly ran games on the last day.

Everyone was very eager for the tuck shop to open (even if they didn't have any AWANA bucks).

I've been doing some crochet, including these converse baby booties to sell when I get back in the States. If you're interested in a pair (or any crochet item - I do custom orders) check out Happy Heads Helping Hearts on Facebook. I'll be crocheting to raise support to come back next year.

I've started crocheting with some of the ladies from Salvokop, a local refugee community where many members of our church live. Unfortunately, we've only been able to have one lesson so far, but they want to learn to make all kinds of things, so hopefully we will pick up again when I return!

Mama Linda is such a huge help when it comes to crochet, especially with the language difficulties. Many of my friends speak English quite well but crochet is very technical! I am learning a little Shona (the language many Zimbabweans speak) but I haven't really gotten beyond greetings, polite phrases, and simple sentences like "I am cooking pap" and "Joy is naughty!"

Cute baby =). Not one of ours.

Toddlers happily playing during Bible study/crochet time.

Jacaranda season is almost over! I've enjoyed the purple cloud over the whole city.

I've also enjoyed spending time with our Gospel Community (Bible study group). We had a braai (cookout) a week or two ago (not when this picture was taken) and everyone had to tell about their week in a different language and have a friend interpret. I think we had 20 people there and 14 languages represented (including my pidgin Spanish...) Then it started to rain and we all had to squish into our little house!

Where....we ate chicken feet. They were...squishy.

Christmas decorations were up when we went to the store on October 20th. WAY, TOO. EARLY. Of course Themba was eager to point out "Christmas!" the entire shopping trip!

I found a lovely little thrift shop just a mile or so from our house! I was SO happy and immediately started accumulating things for next year...

Well, that's about all for now! I have more to write, if you all want to see a few pictures of our sightseeing and such. I found an ethernet cable, so I now have some internet access, at least enough to blog. I can't believe Alyssa and I leave in a week! Time has flown. I hope I am able to come back quickly. I miss my family SO much and can't wait to see them, but I love my life here. =)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

From one set of hands to another.

We haven't had internet for about a week, so I haven't been able to tell you all the news going on here at the baby home!

Our sweet "Small" now has a forever family! (Owlie does too, but I'm waiting on pictures that I forgot to load to do a goodbye post for her...)

I got to write him a letter to send with his forever family. This isn't it (I didn't save a copy) but the same sentiment is there!

Dear Small,

You were so tiny when you came to us! You weighed less than four pounds. You quickly earned your nickname.

You came four days after me, you know. We have been here almost the same amount of time. I love you. You have been my special little buddy. I didn't get to take care of you much after they created a preemie room, but I enjoyed my weekly shifts with you when the caregivers left to go to Bible study. I would sit and snuggle you and love every minute. 

When you were four months old, I stayed with you in the hospital for a week - your other auntie stayed overnights and I would stay all day. You were really feeling under the weather and I did everything I knew to make you feel better. I rubbed your tummy when it hurt and fixed your oxygen tubes and fed you little sips of formula at a time so you wouldn't throw them up so much. 

Mostly I just sat and held you all day. It was a long week and the nurses were cranky. Some of them said some not very nice things about you when they learned your story - things that made me want to cry.

To try and help you feel better faster, we did some kangaroo care. You liked being snuggled up next to me. I have to say, it shocked a few people, particularly the ones who wondered if I was breastfeeding. =) They really did a double take when I pulled you out from under my shirt!

We have all loved you just as if you were our own. I loved to carry you around on my back!

I know your Mama probably is very sad that she couldn't be there for so much of your first year. 

But I want her to know that I (and everyone else) have loved you just as much as we possibly could, and hopefully we laid a good foundation for you to receive her love next.

I hope and pray you will grow to know Jesus someday. 

I have been so blessed to have you in my life this year! 

I will miss you.


Auntie Abbie

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Support raising

Some of you have asked how much support I will need to raise. That is something I should be hashing out in the next few weeks. Unless I have a wealthy relative die and leave their inheritance to me very soon, however, I'm not in danger of meeting my goal for a while. =) So I have again put up a donate button on the side of my blog...if any of you feel led to give, that would be a blessing! As I already mentioned, I am trying to raise enough for a (used) car this time...which means paying for gas/petrol, insurance, and (hopefully not) repairs, so my support will be more per month than last time.

As I figure out exactly how much I will need to come back, I hope to break it down and do a post so you can see where the money is going. 


Baby home screening - I can't really post much but keep praying for us as a lot of changes and challenges are ahead. 

"Roo" has earned two nicknames. (I need to get a new picture - this is an old one. He has short hair now. *tears*)

#1 - Stinkomazi. Inkomazi is this cultured, buttermilk-type drink that Africans are fond of. (I'm not really a person of culture, myself...unless it's yogurt. Or cheese. Remember how much Americans like cheese? A lot, according to my African friends.) Roo vomits ALL the time (I think he has/had acid reflux, according to our resident nurse) and every time, Auntie Jeanne would be all, "Inkomazi coming up!" His clothes are always kind of stinky, thanks to the vomit. Hence, Stinkomazi.

#2 - The Pillsbury Doughboy. (Actually, I've modified this to include his real name, but I can't post it here.) This is because he giggles like crazy! If I can get the internet to work speedily, I'll try to post a video of him laughing hysterically! Janelle was trying to remember what the Pillsbury Doughboy makes. "Cresent rolls? Biscuits? Sticky buns?"

"Yeah, he makes plenty of sticky buns! You just changed his nappy, remember?"


Pray for two of our babies as well - they should have some exciting news to share in a few weeks! 

Funny moment of the night: Joy is standing on a very wobbly rocking chair, trying to dust the fan.
Me: Joy, be careful!
Joy: Don't worry, if I fall you can just give me milk! Milk makes people stop crying!

Our beloved Auntie Jeanne has left us - she inherited a shop in Limpopo when her nephew, who owned it, moved back to Congo. She will hopefully be able to earn more money there to save for her eventual return to Congo. We miss her terribly - it was a very sudden departure and we only had a few days' notice.

Continue to pray for "Buddy," the little one who was in our care for only a week. We received some news on him, that was good in many ways, but it's a hard situation still, so keep him in your prayers. There is hope, and that's a good thing. God is working.

Sorry, guys, some of those updates were pretty ambiguous. =) Such is the nature of working with the social services system. Just wanted to let you know things are still happening! I'll do a post with lots of baby pictures soon. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Exciting news!

So, I am excited to tell you that I GET TO COME BACK!!!


Hopefully the beginning of next year sometime. I will need to fundraise before I can return.

I leave here November 9th, so I will be home for Thanksgiving and Christmas! I wasn't looking forward to coming home, at all, because it meant I had to leave. But now I'm coming back! (I'm really dreading saying goodbye to my roommate and now sister, Alyssa...not thinking about that.) So I'm pretty stoked about seeing my family soon. Not so happy about the winter weather back in Ohio. It's just starting to be summer here!

For how long?

Right now, it is a one year commitment. I was desiring two, but I can see the wisdom in one year (for both parties). In a year they told me we will reevaluate. So, there is certainly a chance that I could stay longer than a year, depending on how things work out (and whether or not I decide I desperately need to go somewhere else, but I'm not so sure about that....I'd have a hard time picking Bulgaria or India over here, now that I've put down some roots).


Because I've made family here. Because there are so many chances to work in orphan care. Because although I'm not always the best at determining this, I think it's God's will. (That I was here this year was OBVIOUSLY God's will, it was SO random and ridiculous how I ended up here.) Because I love it here? Because my passion is orphan care - hands on - and I have so much direction here, whereas I was kind of aimless at home.

(What, did you think I was staying for the chicken feet and mopani worms? =) Maybe someday I will get brave enough to try them.)

Fundraising - how much will I need, and what are my expenses?

Ehhhh....I'm not sure yet. We are going to sit down and have this conversation soon. Rent is $250 or so a month. I also pay for internet, food (the food prices here are cheaper than home, I think), and other extra things that I need. I will be on my dad's health insurance for the next year - after that, I will need to buy my own if I want to be allowed to stay in the country. (Thankfully it seems to be cheaper here than at home.) I am looking at buying a (used) car, so that will include all the expenses that come along with it - insurance, gas/petrol (you think prices are bad at home? you should check it out here!), maintenance, etc. (I am thinking about selling my car at home to help pay for one here.) Those are the basic ongoing expenses of life. I will also be buying a plane ticket, and paying the numerous fees that go along with applying for a volunteer visa. I don't have a set goal yet, but I will soon.

I will be opening up my crochet business, Happy Heads Helping Hearts, as soon as I get home to help raise money. I'm not sure I can crochet enough hats to buy a car, but with the exchange rate, every dollar goes quite a ways. =) I will be taking pre-orders in a few weeks so I can hit the ground running.

Prayer requests:

- We are still having trouble with our screening of a house mom. Now they are saying they don't want to screen single ladies at all, even South Africans, even though single moms can adopt and foster without a problem. We currently can't take in any more babies and have to keep turning them away, which is really hard.

- Our Gospel Community has been doing evangelism on Mondays. This prayer request is twofold - for the people we speak to, and for me (the rest of us too, but I am the one who is absolutely the most terrified, hands down).

 My thoughts are not very cohesive as it is, and even less so when I walk up to a stranger on the street. Evangelism is probably one of my worst fears, although I don't lie awake dreading it like I did at the beginning of the that progress? I'm learning to love the Gospel deeply. I'm witnessing to my AWANA kids. (Not very effectively - half of them run around in circles while I talk, and the other half say things like, "But God will forgive you, because He knows you're trying," or "Surprise hit me! Make her stop!") But walking up to random strangers still terrifies me. The culture of evangelism at Living Hope has helped normalize it a little for me, and the culture of Africa is far more accepting of this sort of thing than American culture. Please, just pray for me! I am definitely the weakest link. We go out at 4:30 on Mondays - 10:30 AM back home in Ohio (EST). If you want to pray for us then (or any time!) I would really love it. I would also really love to know you are doing it. Please?

- That God will help me to trust him with this next step of coming back. I like being in control of my future, and although knowing a year ahead of time is great, and way farther than I knew a month ago, I tend to skip forward and say, "What about after that?" I'm also nervous about leaving my grandma again - she's really old (although still alive and kicking...) For someone like me, there are infinitely more things to worry about, as well...many of which are ridiculous.

- Fundraising makes me itch.

- That applying for a visa goes down without much trouble.

- Homesickness - I foresee having some of this.

- Saying goodbye to some of the people here (fellow interns, etc.) who won't be here next year.

- When I go home, I need to learn to drive stick shift. Probably in the snow and ice. Please pray I don't die or wreck the car and that I get really good at it before I come back here with all the super aggressive African driving!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Trip to Limpopo

This past weekend Akani and Lerato, our friends from church, took Alyssa and I to Akani's home village. It is in the province of Limpopo. I can't remember the name of the actual village. I just remember seeing it on a street sign and it was spelled nothing like I expected. ;) It is about 5-6 hours away from Pretoria and I think they said about 200 K's from the Zimbabwean border, roughly north of us from what I understand.

It was really neat to see a different part of Africa. We've spent most of our time in Pretoria, although we've made a number of trips to Joburg (so, more city life) and two trips to Megan's family's farm in Mpumalanga (another province - the farm is about an hour away and pretty far out in the country). We haven't really seen what all the Africans refer to as "the rural areas," although we've been in poorer areas - the local refugee community where a number of our church lives, a squatter camp (me) and a township (Alyssa). Everyone here keeps telling us, "Oh, you haven't been to REAL Africa!" They're pretty much correct - urban South Africa is quite Westernized in many ways, but, well, in my humble opinion it's still different in many ways. =)

We left late Friday afternoon, despite Lerato's best efforts to be on time. She always tells me, "Abbie! Not ALL South Africans are late!" She's far more convicted about lateness than this American, although she seems to be more alone in this than she wants to admit. ;) (I'm already always late. I'm going to have a really hard time going back home. I was never on time to start with, and I've probably gotten worse.) We were waiting for her best friend, Makoena. The nature of public transportation - taxis and buses - makes it almost impossible for anyone using it to be on time, anyway!

(I still need to learn how to ride a bus. Every African looks at me rather like I'm a helpless baby when I explain I have no idea how to use the bus system. I didn't even know I was allowed until recently. We aren't allowed to ride taxis, which all the Africans think is absolutely crazy. Since a family in our church was involved in a taxi hijacking, stolen from, beaten up, and held hostage for a day and a half, I've had significantly less desire to ride one. Although I've been told such incidents are rare. If it comforts all of you, it was not in Pretoria.)

This is a hill/mountain thing. Its African name means "God has eaten." Apparently the local story is that no one who climbs up ever makes it down. It's not even that tall, honestly. ;)

Alyssa and Makoena

We've seen her a few times before, but never hung out much. She's really fun!

Us and some of Akani's family in the kitchen of the house where we stayed.

Akani's niece, Ndzalama (it means "Precious Jewel"). She was soooo cute and happy to play with us! She is four years old. No one knew white Americans were coming...haha. Lerato just told them, "We are bringing friends!" We could hear from our room as they hurriedly brushed up on the children's English greeting skills. "How are you?" "I am fine, and you?" Lerato taught us Tsonga greetings as well, but the kids were way better at English than I was at Tsonga, for sure! 

Saturday, we went around visiting various members of the family (there are thirteen children and many of them are grown up and have families of their own). There was a mama hen with some chicks, and Alyssa wanted to hold one. 

She chased them through the yard for a while... 

Evenually, Akani had to help.

Success at last!

Please, no one tell her where chicken nuggets come from. I already had to break the news about lamb chops...

I think he was a little hungry.

This house was INCREDIBLE!!! It was purple inside AND outside. This picture doesn't fully encompass how amazingly purple it was. I would have moved there if they had had an indoor toilet. ;)

Akani's two nieces and his youngest brother. 

They were real characters!

Best friends. Mandie, these two make me miss you so much! 

We stopped at a produce market on the way back. Everyone was selling exactly the same thing, I think for exactly the same they had to be competitive. It was pretty much a banana mob!

It was so cold and rainy all weekend!

All the same colors everywhere made the whole thing look like a patchwork quilt.

This lady was like, "Hey, take my picture!" Or something like that.


Chicken feet, hearts, necks, and gizzards. Thankfully none of these things were on the menu! I am working on developing a strong stomach, though...

Beautiful flowers at the farm

The road leading up to the house

The house where we stayed

More pretty flowers

Random brown dogs everywhere

Alyssa and her little buddy

Makoena and I

There really are these round, thatched huts everywhere. It is a thing.

They are pretty cool.

We visited a local church. A missionary from Chicago moved to South Africa and learned Tsonga (everyone says his accent is really bad! But I was impressed!) This was a special dedication service for the church building. The people of the church gave all the money themselves, and came on Saturdays for four years to build it with their own hands. There were members from four different churches gathered, including an Afrikaans church, so the service was in English and Tsonga - guess we came on just the right Sunday!

Love the baby on her mom's back helping out with choir. =)

The lyrics to "Before the Throne of God Above." I have a really cool video of some girls singing it in Tsonga, but it wouldn't load...

There was a special baptismal service for two children, who shared their testimonies. As Akani would say, it was "powerful!"

This was a little girl named Happy. She totally got up and preached us a sermon in Tsonga...

I'm not sure what this picture was supposed to be. "Look, Makoena has a Bible!"

Akani grabbed my camera and started taking tons of pictures. I'm glad he did!

Sisters <3

We enjoyed a meal with the church family before we left.

Sights from the ride home. Some people might think I'm tacky, but I love the sight of clothes hanging out on a line. Someone probably doesn't appreciate their laundry on my blog for the whole world to see...

We stopped the car and got out to take pictures of the village before we left it.

So this isn't an example of superior photography skills, but I just wanted to share a driving courtesy in South Africa that I thought was pretty neat. Everyone going slow drives on the shoulder when someone behind them wants to pass, in essence creating three lanes. Maybe we're supposed to do this in the States, I don't know, but I haven't really seen it in practice.

A road trip with these four is bound to be fun. 

Akani (jerks the truck quickly around a car that unexpectedly put on the brakes in front of us): I was going to have to start repenting. Um, um, Lord forgive me for eating Lulu's Oreos...
Alyssa: Wait, you're serious, aren't you? I thought there weren't very many left!
Akani: No, no, I only ate one! You were gone and they were walking around and...they just wanted a hug!
Me: So you gave it a hug...with your teeth?
Akani: Yeah, I was like (points to mouth), 'Hop in here, I will protect you!'

We were talking about local government, and Alyssa and I attempted to explain what a county was. Akani insisted "county" was too fancy of a word, even after he kept talking about "municipalities." We kept trying to explain it wasn't a province, it wasn't a town, it was kind of out in the country, or thought of as a "country" type of place, even though it wasn' know, county fairs and all for the rest of the trip, whenever anyone did anything particularly unrefined, they would say, "You must be from the county!" I don't think we quite managed to convey the exact definition of "county," but oh well, it was more fun this way!

We stopped at the Tropic of Capricorn.

The monument was, unfortunately, covered with graffiti, but it was still pretty awesome!

Akani took my camera and insisted on taking GOOD pictures. I was grateful. =)

Looks kind of like Route 66!

These two are fun.

There was a flock of goats, with cute babies. Alyssa and I spontaneously decided to chase them.

Meanwhile, the girls posed for some pictures...

...while I got myself stuck in a very vicious thorn bush and Alyssa tried to extract me. It took a good five or ten minutes. I have battle scars. Lerato and Akani couldn't see what was happening, and kept yelling that they were going to dump all our stuff out and leave us there.

Meanwhile, the goats happily made their escape. Alyssa went to get a knife and I finally managed to free myself, without ripping my skirt. My skin, however, was not so lucky.

Africans aren't shy about advertising. I'm not as sure as they are that this place is famous...

Members of the Zion Christian Church (referred to as the Zed-C-C), a local cult. It's very big in this area of the country. Makoena used to belong to it, and Akani's family still does. It has all kinds of really weird rules and goings on. We heard all about it on the way home.

Driving home into the sunset.