Monday, January 28, 2013

Audrey being adorable



Ansu left on for Voinjama on Friday on a truck stacked with supplies for our house. Another truck left today. Included was a total of 200 bags of cement, corrugated tin roofing, ceiling tiles, buckets of paint, wire fencing, electrical materials, plumbing materials etc. From what we hear they are working hard to get the house finished for us, and we hope to move in in sometime in early March.

On Saturday evening, we went to ELWA and had a potluck with the other SIM

It was fun to get to know some of them better. The veggie chowder and chocolate cake that I bought was a hit. Audrey had a great time sampling new foods, including haggis (made by our resident SIM Scotsman, Stewart)!

Audrey is doing the cutest things these days and I just can’t get enough of her! (That’s a really good thing because she can’t get enough of me either)! She likes clicking her tongue now, smacking her lips, and pointing at what she wants. She watches every single move that Jonah makes and she spends most of the day playing on the floor with him. Jonah likes to throw toys and then the two of them race (crawling) to the toy. She also likes to sit on the floor looking through her books, especially the Where’s Spot book.
Audrey also screeches when her daddy or Grandpa Sheppard pass by without greeting her! She gets mad if she sees me feeding some of her food to Angel. She is definitely a big snuggler, which is my favorite part of the day. Oh, and she is growing the cutest little curl on the top of her head!

I started practicing my Manya today. I am so excited to learn an African tribal language, but I definitely have my work cut out for me! I learned the alphabet today and just some very basic greetings.

There is some big UN meeting here in Liberia this week and so apparently they are shutting down all the main roads starting tomorrow. This is resulting in the schools being canceled and traffic re-routed. In all likelihood, we will all be homebound for the week.

Friday, January 25, 2013


John-Mark is napping now after several days of being busy busy. Audrey is happily playing on the floor and I am happy for the opportunity to catch you all up.

Our friend from Voinjama, Ansu, arrived on Monday. He was so happy to see us again and especially happy to meet Audrey. He calls himself her other father. It is very cute. She actually took to him right away, which is so unlike Audrey. Ansu also loved getting to meet Angel. Unlike many men in the United States, he seemed so proud of Angel. He was commenting that once we get to Voinjama, he wanted to be walking Angel all over town! Now that is just hilarious to me! How many men do you know would be proud to strut around town with a little toy poodle?

Ansu and John-Mark have been so busy pricing supplies for our house, buying the supplies, and arranging transportation to get the supplies upcountry. Unfortunately, many items have been more expensive than we anticipated, which makes us even MORE grateful for your generous support. Ansu brought to Monrovia a couple of pictures of the house and I am so pleased! It is at window level now and looking very good. It is at the edge of town, looking out at the mountains and trees. I know John-Mark is looking forward to a couple days ahead of relaxing this weekend after some 14-hour days he has worked this week.

Yesterday was a really hard day for me. I was pretty sick with vomiting and other unpleasantries. I felt absolutely exhausted and could hardly keep up with Audrey. I am SO THANKFUL to have Nancy around and her helper, Martha, as they were able to do all the food preparation, clean-up, and laundry. I am feeling much much better today!

Angel continues to do well. It is hysterical every time a Liberian meets her! They are stunned that she is actually 6 years old and that she needs to have her hair cut! A couple men were so cautious to come into the house as Angel was barking. They asked, “Is she aggressive?” The Liberians really love trying to interact with her and laugh their heads off when Angel chases the lizards around the yard. Thankfully, no one has referred to her as “meat.” If anything, they are so proud of her!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Our Weekend

After a busy week of errands, getting settled, and getting adjusted to the time change, we had a great weekend to relax. It helps that Audrey is sleeping a bit better these days.

On Saturday afternoon, we went to SIM’s headquarters and had a meeting with our boss, Will, and a couple from Guinea that hope to join SIM and work with us in Voinjama. The setting for the meeting was perfect (apart from the fire ants circling around our feet). We met on the director’s front porch which is a stones throw from the ocean. The meeting went well and we are hoping that it will work out for John-Mark to mentor this man, Francios and have him as a coworker in Voinjama.

After the meeting, we walked down the ELWA path to meet up with Mark, Jared and Jonah on the beach. Audrey fell asleep in the stroller. Jared and John-Mark spent some time snorkeling. Unfortunately, the water was too murky to see much. Apparently some other kids saw a stingray though. Once Audrey woke up, I let her try out the ocean for the first time. She was pretty scared. The waves even scare me a bit. So, we sat in a shallow area amongst some rocks as the water flowed in and out. It was very nice.

Today, we went to a new church plant close to the Sheppard's house called Trinity Chapel. Their mission is to reach out to Liberian business professionals and expats in Monrovia. I think the speakers were at their max, but apart from that, we enjoyed the western praise and worship songs and solid sermon. There were some other Americans there. One that I met actually is from Stoughton, WI and another was an American Marine that is in Liberia to help train the armed forces here.

One of the highlights of our day was getting to Skype with my parents back in Wisconsin. After seeing them nearly everyday for the last 6 months, going this past week without seeing them has seemed like a long time. I am SO thankful for technology that allowed us to interact and that the connection was actually smooth! Audrey loved getting to see her Grammy and Grampy!

Audrey enjoyed playing with the ‘big kids’ in the Sheppards’ backyard pool today. She just walked all abound the pool in her floatie boat and didn’t mind the kids splashing at all! In fact, she splashed herself, stopping only to laugh and clap.

John-Mark enjoyed spending a couple of hours with a friend and ministry partner from Voinjama this afternoon. It is so fun to see him in the neighborhood and so many people recognize him and start speaking in Manya to him.

We have a busy week ahead full of meetings and tours, so I am going to get some sleep now while I have a chance. Check out Angel's FB page for her update from the weekend. :)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Today In Monrovia

Yesterday was a pretty laid back day. The SIM-Liberia director, Will, and his wife, Jenny (from England), came to the house in the morning and we spent a few hours doing orientation. We reviewed some SIM’s policies and discussed possibilities for where to deliver our baby come June. They left us with a binder full of papers to read. We spent much of the afternoon in the yard, under a palm tree reading. I also got to make some homemade baby wipes, which I am very pleased with. Here is the recipe if you are interested:

1 ½ cups water
1 ½ Tb baby soap
1 ½ Tb baby oil
½ roll of Bounty paper towels

Mix liquids together and put in cylinder container. Put in paper towels. After towels soak up liquid, remove the center piece.

I am SO thankful – Audrey went to bed at a ‘decent’ hour last night and was able to sleep through the night. Of course with finally having some evening quiet time, it got to be late before I went to sleep. Still, it was so nice to finally have a chance to relax and decompress after our journey here and business of getting settled in/keeping up with a whining baby all evening.  

Today was a busy and FUN day! Mark, Nancy, Jonah, John-Mark, Audrey and I all went downtown Monrovia and spent several hours shopping. We ate lunch at a nice Lebanese restaurant before grocery shopping.

I was shocked by variety of American processed food! The grocery stores have everything from mozzarella sticks, to frozen dinners, to Kraft macaroni and cheese, to Doritos. I don’t remember this being the case when I was here a few years ago. We also looked at appliances and I found a suitable cute stove/oven to take upcountry. We also bought Audrey a walker so that she can be contained while I get some things done. She loves it, especially when her Uncle Jonah pushes her around the living room!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sara's late night post

It is 11:45 PM and Audrey has finally decided to go to sleep for the night. Her poor little body is so confused. She is obviously tired from 7pm on but refuses to sleep. She fluctuates between periods of whining and playing. She only sleeps in until about 9am so we are both tired.

Audrey saw the beach for the first time today! I had the best chair at the missionary ladies’ Bible study. It was a beautiful home right off the beach. The ceiling fan was going, I had a perfect view of the palm trees and waves, and there was a strong salty/sandy breeze the was flowing through the house. Audrey fell asleep on my lap. It was completely wonderful!

We’ve met several other missionaries today. Many are from America, but I met others from Britain, Scotland, England, the Netherlands, and Malawai.

Here are some things I thought you might be wondering about…

What do I miss the most?  
Disposable diapers.

What do I miss the least?
I think I speak for each of us when I say the frigid temperatures and dark January days of Wisconsin.

What things have surprised me?
It is very dusty and sandy. I’ve only been here during the rainy season, so it is interesting to see the difference.
Food is so expensive here!
Monrovia has greatly improved since my last time here in 2008. There are more street lights and buildings seem to be in much better condition. I’ve been very pleasantly surprised!

What has been frustrating?
 Monrovia traffic is loud and busy, having to constantly weave amongst cars.

What have I eaten since arriving?
Tacos, fried chicken, traditional pumpkin soup and rice, spaghetti, chicken enchiladas, homemade bread, and eggs and bacon. No problems with the meals here at the Sheppard household!

How is Angel doing?
Great! Check out her new Facebook page for updates from her perspective!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The First 48 Hours


We were pleasantly surprised by how smooth of a transition this has been so far.

We had amazing traveling mercies. We traveled with 8 footlockers, 2 carry-ons, 2 personal bags, a diaper bag, a camera bag, a stroller, car seat, a poodle and a 9-month old baby! First of all, they didn’t even weigh our luggage at our airport in Chicago. Security was a breeze to get through. The airline attendants were extremely helpful. Then, an Israeli man befriended us in the Brussels Airport and helped us carry our stuff through the airport and helped the time to pass by more quickly. The airport bus driver was extremely helpful in getting us on and off the bus in Brussels. Audrey and Angel were quiet and peaceful throughout the trip.

Upon arriving in Monrovia, the airport attendant literally pushed us to the front of the line to get through immigration. We were so grateful since our carry-on luggage was so heavy and it was hot and crowded in the airport. ALL of our luggage arrived and we were able to completely bypass customs, not even checking Angel’s paperwork! Mark and Nancy arrived just moments before we walked out of the airport. A hot meal of tacos was waiting for us at their house along with a crib for Audrey, a comfy queen-sized bed, and even A/C in our room!

Audrey was so excited to see Uncle Jonah (age 5) and he was just as ecstatic to see her. They’ve already spent lots of time playing together. Today they played in the backyard in some buckets of refreshingly cool water. Audrey loved every minute of it while Angel looked on from a shade tree.

Audrey has done fairly well with the 6 hour time change. She goes to bed a little later than usual, but then sleeps in later than usual too. Her naps have been longer too, which is really nice.

Angel has adapted really well. Of course, as long as she is with us, she is happy. She has already made friends with the yard dog, Crush, and enjoys having a large fenced-in yard to explore. She is having a hard time getting used to having little boys rough housing and screeching throughout the day though. She isn’t getting her beauty rest like she used to.

Apart from the drive home from the airport (in the dark), I haven’t left the Sheppard’s house yet. It feels like an oasis with a great breeze flowing through the house. I’m hoping to get out in the next couple of days to see all the changes that have taken place in the last few years.

If you have specific questions, please let me know.