Category Archives: Uncategorized

Building, Construction, Process


Family Life Anecdote

I’m cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast with friends here – a family of 6 – and Gunnar, 13, comes in to wash oil-based paint off his hands. He uses some dishsoap liquid (Maq) and comments, “I don’t like this one as much as Sunlight.” I didn’t respond for a few minutes. Then he says, “This one doesn’t foam as nicely.” And I say, “Wait a minute….I’m still trying to process the first statement coming out of a 13 year old’s mouth! These are things that don’t come out of the average American 13 year old’s mouth! I’m so glad I have children that are above average!” (I chose those words “above average” so I didn’t put the moniker of “abnormal” or “weird” or “crazy fruitcake” into his impressionable 13 year old head. I’m really trying to watch what I say around them and speak life into them! He responds, “Well, the average American 13 year old wouldn’t have an opinion on dishsoap because he doesn’t do dishes, or if he does, he sticks them in the machine, then puts that little tablet of whatever it is in there, turns it on, then goes to play PSP. Except they probably don’t play PSP anymore, but whatever!”

So for awhile we’ve been wanting to take in a shed that was attached to our pantry. In fact, before Christmas, Brad and the two older boys ripped the roof off of it, rendering it completely useless for the duration of rainy season (which lasted from December until April). That was a bit unfortunate because it’s where we store things that we don’t need in the house (think of it like a garage of sorts, but not big). We have no closets, so our warmer clothes and sleeping bags and camping stuff is packed away in foot lockers and stored in this shed). So we moved all the stuff to the Long Drop (that’s a latrine with a lid on the hole and a shed around it). The idea was that they’d start demolition and reconstruction, but then with the rains and a month and a half of sickness, the wind was knocked out of our sails. Then we also had the issue of floor plan. From my understanding, when married people are building any physical structure together this is always a source of disagreement, to put it mildly. He has in his mind one idea, from which he has no intention of deviating. And she has in her mind the way things really ought to be. And she’s right of course! Chill out, that’s a joke!!!! Well, for us, I wanted an extended room that would make my kitchen bigger (since it was originally tacked on to our walk-in pantry). Brad wanted more of a living room area, but had envisioned a very large one. We didn’t really have to compromise as such, because it took so many months to decide in the first place. When it all came down to it, we decided we want to have to lay a bigger foundation (for the time being) than the one we already had. We just wanted to enlarge the room. We both felt complete peace about that decision.

And so we got our contractor and discussed it with him. Now, you have to get out of your head the American idea of a contractor. I have friends who are contractors that are brilliant! That’s not the case here. The man who is our contractor is a local pastor who also works as a bricklayer (of mud bricks, mind you). He built our current houses (we have 2 separate structures – one for sleeping and one for eating that are joined by a veranda or porch). Quality control here is not a high priority like it is in our home culture. But this friend of ours can measure correctly and can mix cement (ratio-wise) that is fairly strong and reliable. That’s pretty much what is required. So they started what we projected to be maybe a 3 week job. Back home, it would have only taken about a week, tops. But more than likely about 3 days. Simple plan really…fill in a 3 foot high stairwell to take in as part of the new foundation, build a rectangular room with a corner half-bath. Install ceiling beams, tin, sand on top for insulation, then roofing beams and tin on top of that. Install front door and bathroom door. Brad installed the windows (which we haven’t sealed yet because he has to buy sealant in Pemba – 4 hours away). Well, as is not unusual here, the job has stretched into 2 months of sporadic labor, and the doorjambs were finally installed a few days ago by the workers (without the contractor here). Well, they installed them completely crooked. The bathroom door is narrower at the bottom than the top. And the front door is wonky-warped. It appears both will have to chiseled out and re-cemented.

And so we wait. We wait because the contractor is busy helping his son build an adobe hut. We wait because somebody’s brother’s cousin died and the workers have a funeral to attend. We wait because we need to learn patience. We wait because This Is Africa. We used to say, “TAB!” That’s Africa, Baby! Until we saw the movie Blood Diamond, in which the main character uses the acronym, “TIA – This is Africa.” And it’s true. It’s beautiful and rugged and right now it’s a huge dustbowl where we live, but it is Africa. It’s different than the city in which I grew up in Texas. It’s different than the United States. But for now, it’s home. It’s the only home my children have ever known. It’s how we roll. And one day, we’ll have a couch or sofa in the Alcove (that’s the name I’m contemplating for the new room, in which there will be no toys…and the adults, when we have guests over, will sit and drink tea and coffee) and it will be finished, complete with paintings by our British missionary friend hung on the wall. And the doors will fit and close snugly. But for now, it’s in process! The story of my life. Process.

If any of you might have seen my Facebook or Instagram post, we had an interesting incident with the very curious and adventurous toddler. I was making granola in the kitchen (the first window in the red house) when I heard Magnum exclaim, “Mom, Thunder is on the roof!” I literally was up to my elbows in mess and wasn’t exactly sure what he meant, so I told him to call Daddy. When I exited, I understood. Magnum was standing at the top of the ladder so Thunder wouldn’t fall. Thunder was up on top of the roof before they laid the roofing tin. He had climbed the ladder in the following picture (where the workers had left it) and was standing up on top of the edge of the roof with a somewhat surprised look on his face. Thank God that He always protects us! And oh that I had had my phone in my hand to take a picture, but I guess some situations call for wisdom. Like rescuing the toddler from a potentially lethal fall.

IMG_20160802_163053As I’m typing this, they have just ripped out the door jams and are re-cementing them in correctly. And I’m working on our newsletter and our new surprise…..a VLOG!!!!

If you’d like to subscribe to our newsletter, you can check out our Facebook page here. Or you can go to our website here. It is out of date, but that’s the other project I’m starting is updating the website.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to read. I’d love it if you replied with a comment or sent a message otherwise. It really means a lot when I hear from “the outside world!”

Until next time….



Re-Introduction – I’m Back!!!


So, I’ve decided to attempt to restart my blog. If any of you have visited here in the past, you have seen that even when I started I wasn’t an AVID blogger by any shake of the stick. But recently our communication lines have opened up such that I’ve discovered many new friends on Instagram and Periscope (mostly artists), and it occurred to me that I should at the very least update our 3 year old website and possibly even try to start blogging. Some obstacles I’ve faced as contemplating this are that there is such a culture out there of stay-at-home moms blogging as a way to make income for their family. I think that’s great! It’s wonderful! But it’s not for me. In fact, everytime I think about making money (however that happens) off of a blog, I get a sick feeling in my stomach. Literally! Another factor I’ve had to consider is that I feel like I have “nothing to offer.” Now, that’s not me being down on myself. It’s just that if you look at so many blogs out there, there’s lots of “tips” and “tricks” and “encouragements” and “teachings.” That’s not me! If somebody learns something from me, it’s just from me being me. It’s not because I’m a gifted encourager or teacher, because I’m not! I am who I am and I’m learning more and more everyday who that is and who that is not! So basically, I just want a little “corner” on the web where I can share my ramblings that give you a peek into our life. Life in the bush. The ups and downs and ins and outs of a Texan Christian missionary living in a village of mud huts in Africa. With 8 children. The only white family in our district (like a county). I hope you find this peek into my world encouraging in some way!

In the next few days, I hope to have a surprise to go along with our new newsletter, but it’s taking me a little time and brainwaves to organize it, neither of which I have in abundance at the moment! So, a little grace, if you will…

Back log on newsletters


How does one keep up with 7 children, a husband, newsletters, a website, & updating FB page? I have no idea?!?! I’ve visited a few blogs or websites maintained by moms of lots of children and I have no earthly idea how they do it! My brain has the capacity for it, but somewhere between making chips, popcorn & 3 meals a day and the computer, my brain becomes mush! All I want to do is sit still and listen to nothing! But since I’m trying to finalize the latest newsletter & the internet seems to be working & I’ve already ignored the children for breakfast and lunch and skipped my meals (basically) as well, I guess I should try to update the links to the latest newsletters. It seems as if maybe our last one was not put up on the blog either. Wow, but just the dashboard of this blog site scares me….it doesn’t seem to me quite as user-friendly as I originally thought. Also, I’d like to start posting a bit more, but most blogs are full of photos….and this one probably will not be, as the connection isn’t always reliable. We’ll see what I can manage.

Hot Dogs


Okay, being as this is a blog, it’s supposed to be personal, right? And since many people have wanted more “Life in the Bush” by Jen in our newsletters, I decided that this will be where that will occur. I can’t guarantee any regularity, but I can guarantee hilarity!!! And sometimes rhymes?!?!?!

So, I know there’s a big push for “healthy” eating these days. Many large families (which apparently we fall in to that category) grind their own wheat, grow their own vegetables, etc. But us, we just try to keep food in 6 hollow legged boys (that’s 12 hollow legs we’re trying to fill up, people!) So lately, hot dogs (I know, I know) has been our go to meal of choice (well, okay, corn dogs, too!)

Sliced hot dog buns

Sunbeam, Mrs. Baird’s, I don’t remember…

Americans don’t know how blessed we are.  We walk into the grocery store, go to the bread aisle and search for hot dog buns and, voila, packages of pre-sliced hot dog buns (even whole wheat if you want).

In South Africa, that’s not the case.  You’ve heard the old adage, “It’s the best thing since sliced bread!” Well, we have spent quite a bit of time in South Africa, and invariably, when you go to a friend’s house for a braai (Americans, look it up on wikipedia!) somebody says, “I’ll bring bread rolls!”  And then, while the meat cooks, one of the ladies will go forth and slice all the rolls (hot dog buns).  This is my least favorite thing to do, almost, in the world!  I’m serious, I think I would rather clean a toilet than slice hot dog buns for my family!!!!  Oh, it just irritates me!  My South African friends laugh at me and think I’m crazy.  Okay, my American friends laugh at me and think I’m crazy too.  Hey, at least I don’t change from continent to continent, right?

Ready to eat hot dogs

Ready to eat hot dogs!!

So the other day as I made hot dogs for the boys here in America, I was inspired to take a photo of my wonderful meal preparations, which is what inspired this post!  You just can’t beat the buns here, y’all!  I know they may not be as fresh and are full of preservatives, etc.  But they sure are easy!

Thank you Lord for American hot dog buns!