I'm writing to you from Ohio this month. I didn't have time to do the usual wrap-up post at the end of the month in April, so I'm getting to it now. I've been running around doing visa paperwork and packing and preparing to come home for my two-month furlough. I just made it back to the States on Wednesday, and I'm mostly over my jet lag. I think my body is just finally glad to get eight hours of sleep every night! I have a bad habit of staying up too late at MBH - it's so nice when it's quiet and everyone has gone to bed!
I will be here for two months, but I think I will be anything but bored. I'm looking forward to spending as much time with people as I can, and I will be traveling a lot. I'll also be working on my paperwork to get my three-year South African visa again. (I wish I could just get permanent residency, but it's not that easy, short of a South African husband, or critical skills, neither of which I possess.) In addition to my SA visa, I'm also working on getting a short-term visa to Malawi, as I hope to be traveling there with our church for a few weeks after I go back. We have a church plant in Lilongwe - I used to live with the pastor and his wife, Newton and Vanessa Chilingulo, the first year I was at the baby home, before they left. They adopted the first baby ever to come to MBH. They now have a baby boy as well!
Chiso is so big now! This is her when we lived together in 2014:
You can read more about Mission Malawi here:
(If you are looking for a church plant to support, it's a great one!)
The paperwork chasing for all the visas I need is very involved! I have to have the most papers for my South African visa, and I have almost all of them, except I didn't realize my South African police clearance expired in April. It takes two weeks or maybe a bit longer to come out, and I was only able to submit my fingerprints a couple of days before I left. So, I'm going to have to have my friend pick it up and mail it to me (it can come in two days, but it's pricey and I'm kicking myself for not checking the date). It's taking longer than I would have hoped so I'll need to apply for the Malawi visa first, which means I need to buy my bus ticket before that...yikes!
I also need a visa for each country I'm traveling through on the way there - Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Apparently the Zim visa is easy to get at the border, but I need to apply for the Mozambique transit visa in advance - but not too far in advance - I tried to get it before I left and it would have expired three days before we are set to leave! Also, it's only one-way so I have to apply for the return transit visa from Malawi. I'm planning on getting back in SA Tuesday, June 26th, and leaving for Malawi on the 28th (yes, yes, jet lag and then a 20+ hour bus trip, I know) so I'll need to apply for my visa that Wednesday...basically, it's all crazy and if you'd all pray that everything happens promptly and I can manage my time well and everything clears for me to go this year, that would be SUPER appreciated! (And if you want to pray that someday a way opens up for me to gain residency, well then, many of these problems would disappear! Ha!)
I am enjoying being home for a visit, although I'm missing my home in South Africa as well. The quiet just doesn't feel natural! The garage sales, however, feel more than natural =D and I'm excited about how far I can stretch my budget with those opportunities! I've also been enjoying spring in Ohio - apparently it warmed up just for me, as it was snowing just a week or two ago. The dandelions and the violets are everywhere and the trees are budding and flowering. I'm eating all my favorite foods (I've already started my goal of eating my weight in Ranch dressing) and I'm really looking forward to meeting up with as many of my friends as possible! Please let me know if you want to get together - I'd love to hang out with any and all of you!
I have several trips coming up. I'm flying to Minneapolis, Minnesota at the end of May-beginning of June for a week. That trip is already scheduled. I'm driving to Chicago within the next couple weeks (as soon as my papers all come together) because I am now required to submit my visa in person. I'm also planning on flying down to Raleigh, NC for a couple days to visit a friend.
I'm also able to spend some time with my grandma while I'm home - she's getting older and has dementia, so whether she remembers me or not depends on the day (well, more like the minute!) but even though she's not doing so well mentally, she sometimes still makes us laugh.
Me: Grandma, do you want to see pictures of my babies?
Grandma:...are you married?
Me: (shows Grandma a video of four- and six-year-old boys from our church)
Grandma: Is that your boyfriend?
I think it's safe to say she has my marital status on the brain! Ha!
In addition to visa paperwork, I'm hoping to do a little more fundraising while I'm home! I'm a bit over 80% fully funded and I'm planning on going back regardless of whether I hit 100% or not, but if anyone is interested in supporting me monthly, I would be happy to discuss anything and everything with you! I work in a ministry position, and no, they don't pay me - I've had various people ask me that. MBH itself operates on donations, and my position frees them up from hiring another caregiver, so it helps them out that I can raise my own support. Paying the electric bill, paying salaries for the ladies from our church who work there, and buying formula/nappies/etc is enough of a financial burden for them. (If you'd like to donate to them, you can do that here: https://1hopeministries.org/donate/. If you'd like to donate towards my support, you can look on the right sidebar of my blog for that information.)
If you have any questions about our ministry in South Africa, what it's like to live there, etc, please let me know! I'd always love to talk to anyone who wants to learn more!