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Friday, January 27, 2012

First Weeks of Work

Well it has been a few weeks since we landed here in Madagascar and I (Rob) thought that I would write a bit about what has been happening at the hanger. Since our arrival I have set up my office and basically been bound to my desk ever since sorting out paperwork and other jobs that have been left for "Rob." :)

I don't mind this, I knew before I arrived that there would be a lot of things waiting for my attention once I set up shop. It is also a good way for me to get my feet under this new role and learn all the details about running a maintenance shop. Over the next few months there will be lots of changes that are going to happen, manuals that need to be revised, a new maintenance inspection program needs to be incorporated, as well as all the details involving the arrival of another aircraft, a Cessna 182 SMA diesel. Some of the things that have to be worked out is all the spare parts that need to be ordered and shipped, all the special tooling required for another aircraft, and all the paperwork involved with exporting an aircraft from USA and importing an aircraft into Madagascar. We don't want it to arrive here and find out that we needed some special tool/part and be stuck waiting for that tool/part when the aircraft should be out flying and serving the people.

I am really enjoying being back "working" again at the thing I love to do and am really excited to be a part of the team here.

It will be a busy few months as we move forward with all the challenges but I know that the Lord is with us and will help us. It's a wonderfully comforting feeling knowing that you are where God wants you to be. My prayer for everyone is that you be where God wants you to be and feel the comfort that He provides.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Attempting "Normal-ness"

In the heat of all of the cultural differences and lifestyle changes we are experiencing, we are attempting to return to a 'normal' routine. Rob is finding his way around the MAF Hangar and office, and I have returned to my role as stay-at-home mom without daddy's immense helping hand. I am happy to see him begin to get back into what he loves and what God has called our family here to do, but there is some adjusting that's happening. Being January, and not summer holidays as it sort of feels like here, I decided we should start our school routine as soon as possible. It seems to me that when school work is happening, it helps to give the day some structure and we have goals that we're trying to reach. Getting back into this normal routine has helped us feel like we are kind of adjusting.

Faith enjoys doing school, for the most part, so returning to this routine has been fairly seamless.

Other things we are enjoying as of late:

Fresh Avocados

Finding Friends like These

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Additions

So 4 little tortoises were brought to our compound yesterday. Two of them found a home at our house, and the other two with our neighbors!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Shopping & Making Friends

The kids are really enjoying our new outdoor lifestyle. It's only because of the intermittent rains that they come indoors. The first couple of days here, I found Wesley putting on his shoes or sandals as soon as he got out of bed!

We have been able to explore some of the things immediately surrounding our compound. There is a bit of an open market with fruit and vegetable stands about 5 minutes away from our place. This was a cultural experience! Rob and I, accompanied by our very capable neighbors, have each been taken to different stores as we search for things that we didn't bring with us. One of our first larger purchases was a washing machine, and from the sounds of it that was quite the experience itself. The way Rob explained it to me it sounded like the purchase required about 10 signatures witnessed by several other people and paperwork. As well, most appliances are tested at the store once they are purchased to ensure they work. I suppose if they worked at the store, theoretically they should work at home and there should be no need for any returns. I'd imagine returning anything would be next to impossible.

Faith is already over at a "friend's" house this afternoon, and she is becoming pretty attached to our next door neighbor's son. After six months without friends, I am happy to see her make friends so easily and enjoy being with other people.

The rainy season has started I think, which means as soon as the laundry is hung, it starts to rain on it. :)

A couple of pictures of the children playing in the backyard.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy New Year - Bring on the Change!

So we have arrived at our country of assignment, after a year and a half of knowing we would be coming Madagascar. It is a bit surreal that we are actually here. And I must admit when we made our final descent to Antananarivo airport I shed a few tears amazed that we actually made it halfway around the globe with 4 little children in tow! They did amazingly—Only by God’s grace. They didn’t start complaining until we were in the airport in Tana when the humidity and the exhaustion hit them.
For those of you interested in the details of our trip – read on. For the rest, pictures are at the bottom!  From the beginning now, we left Quebec City on Friday afternoon. I was taken with the girls to the bus depot where I took a charter bus to Montreal. Rob drove the MAF van, that we have been borrowing since the summer, with all of our gear and the boys. We took the bus because there was no way we would all be able to fit! We all arrived at our hotel around supper time. The girls and I took quite the detour however, because the charter bus dropped us off at Trudeau airport and we were supposed to get a hotel shuttle bus from there. I didn’t realize there were multiple Comfort Inns nearby, and the one I called, well, their shuttle bus was out of service for about 30 minutes because of a medical emergency for a passenger. So we had the choice of hiring a taxi, or standing outside (without shelter) in -20 degree weather and it was snowing heavily. So decided to take a taxi, plus the hotel offered to foot the bill because their shuttle was going to be down for a bit. The girls were already quite tired of traveling by this point. Joyanne was saying “Mommy, I have to pee, mommy I have to pee!” Over and over again, I was feeling overwhelmed by the airport and unfamiliarity of everything, plus doing this minor transfer solo. Poor Joyanne was ignored, and I even had to say, “Look, it’s ok, you have a pull-up on. If you have to go, just go.” L Bad mommy. And Faith was very cold apparently, and unimpressed by getting snowed on. Our taxi driver was also unimpressed by me, because the hotel I asked him to take me to, (I found out en route after phoning Rob and verifying the hotel) that it was the wrong hotel. Rather than graciously driving me around and being glad I was charging more km’s to his meter, he was very upset with my apparent ineptitude. After doing a circle or two around, we finally got dropped off at the wrong hotel, and had the shuttle bus pick us up from there to take us to the correct hotel!
Enough of that. Day 2 of the travel we had to check out of our hotel by noon. Because we had so much stuff in the van, and we couldn’t all fit, a MAF advocate was nice enough to come and help us get from the hotel to the airport. Once at the airport, Air France wouldn’t let us check in because we were too early. Our flight wasn’t leaving until 7:55pm, and it was only 1:00. So, we waited and waited, had lunch, broke a glass bottle of Calvin’s and spilled formula all over the floor (by accident). The MAF advocate was so great, he even rearranged his day to be able to stay longer than expected to help us check in all of our luggage: 9 Rubbermaid totes, 1 small toolbox and a suitcase! The wait on the other side of security didn’t feel quite so long. Finally we were aboard our first flight to Paris, a 5.5 hour flight from Montreal. The kids were amazing on this flight. After they served dinner both Wesley and Joyanne fell asleep, and Faith slept toward the end as well. It was unfortunate though that she woke up as we were making our descent, so being groggy and a bit airsick from some wind outside, she managed to throw up twice. Once landed, everybody stood up anxious to leave the aircraft. And all of the sudden I heard Wesley, who was in the middle section with Rob and Joyanne (I was on the side with the other 2 children), begin to scream! I saw Rob lift him up and he was holding his mouth which was bleeding! Rob quickly cleared a pathway to the back of the aircraft where they gave Wesley some ice. I guess he fell on his seat, also excited to be leaving the plane. I felt terrible for Faith now, who had just finished throwing up, yet insisted on bringing her airsickness bag with her out of the plane—because now she had to run around Paris airport with us, pulling  her own suitcase. Keep in mind that our bodies thought it was 3am by this point. I didn’t hear barely a complaint from the kids during our runaround Paris airport. We had a 2 hour layover, but between taking a bus to the next terminal, going through security again, and taking a second bus to the aircraft, we literally made it to the airplane as they were boarding. This was the long-haul flight. 11 Hours. Joyanne fell asleep on take-off and stayed asleep for about 6 hours! Wesley was quick to follow. Calvin didn’t go as easily however, and Faith refused to sleep until the final hour of the flight! Silly girl, but fortunately she didn’t have any need for the barf bag again. She slept through this descent. Through this flight both Rob and mine voices were going. I couldn’t do much more than whisper at him across the isle. It was terrible, but kind of funny at the same time.
Wow, Madagascar. My first impression as we came to the open door of the aircraft, “Wow, the air is warm! Yay! Wow, look at all of the flying things! (Bugs) Wow, listen to all of the different sounds!”
We made it through customs without incident. The kids were getting very anxious to have the trip over by this time. They were in their flannel jammies, and feeling far too warm for comfort. Faith wanted her clothes off, and I refused! Joyanne and Wesley were sweating like crazy, and Calvin was ready to go “Home.”
We arrived home to our beds ready and waiting. It was like Christmas for the kids. Suddenly when we arrived there, they had a burst of energy and started screaming for joy and running around the almost empty house! Wes spotted a gecko in the back yard, and I spotted my first cockroach on the wall in the girls’ room. The cockroach was quickly killed by my brave neighbour Jocelyn. Thank you Jocelyn. I only wish our voices weren’t gone so we were able to talk without me straining so much. But as I get more rest, my voice is getting back to normal.
Letting the dust settle now..... we are adapting to the new time zone fairly well I think. Our wonderful other MAF families are cooking dinner for us this first week. Rob has been out shopping, and we both went to the hangar to see where he will work.
Thank you so much for the abundance of prayers. We know that it’s only by God’s grace we made it here without too much excitement, and we trust it’s only by His strength that we will continue on this journey here.