Monday, December 19, 2011

Thoughts on the Break...

After nearly 40 hours of travel, we landed in Baltimore on Saturday morning.  We have a a little under 3 weeks before we make the same trip in the opposite direction.  It's been a challenge to make the 9.5 hour adjustment back to eastern standard time.  I woke up at 1 am this morning and have been up ever since so today (Monday) may be a challenge.

I've spent a lot of these past 3 weeks or so wondering what it would be like to come back to the US after being gone for a while. Now that we've made it back though I still feel like I'm looking for the answers to the questions I had before we left on Friday. I think it's more of a reconciliation that I'm looking for.  I'm trying to reconcile life there to life here and somehow bridge the gap between the life I witnessed and experienced there and the life I knew here and am witnessing now that I'm back.

I think I'd have to carry pencil and paper around with me 24/7 in order to capture all the different thoughts and feelings that come with being back but unfortunately I haven't done that.  I have written a list of observations and notes on the past week below though.  While I wish these were all insightful observations about life there and here - most are not.  Hopefully they are a glimpse into our travels and our break thus far though.


- Dubai in December was 10 times better than Dubai in August.  I'm strictly judging the entire city based on the weather but hopefully that goes to show how amazing the weather felt there during our 12 hour layover on Friday.

- I think going directly from K-town to Dubai is almost more of an economic/culture shock than going straight to the US would be.  Downtown Dubai (where we spent the day) is quite possibly the most modern and wealthy appearing city I have ever seen.  For lack of a better example, going straight there from K-town is sort of like watching an episode of the Flintstones and then immediately watching an episode of the Jetsons.  It's hard to reconcile the two.  (I realize there are a lot of flaws in that comparison but it's all I've got at 4 in the morning...)

- As soon as we landed in Dubai, Kaley and I both realized our clothes and suitcases all smelled like some sort of kerosene/fire combination.  Funny how you never notice such a strong smell until you go somewhere where everything doesn't smell the same.

- Still trying to figure out why our meal on the flight from k-town to Dubai had 2 plain hotdogs in the container with the eggs.  I guess they were going for sausage and eggs...

- My favorite part of the whole trip back was definitely going to see Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol in the movie theater at the Dubai Mall.  A large portion of the movie was filmed in Dubai at the Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world) which is connected to the mall and literally right outside the movie theater.  We watched the movie and then walked outside and had dinner in the shadow of the building.

- Every 4 hours or so during our 16 hr flight I would remember I was on a plane and 39,000 ft above the earth and get really worried we were going to run out of fuel or something during the long flight.  I get so lost in the movies and tv shows you can watch on the plane that most of the time I forget my surroundings and might as well be on a bus on the highway.  Then I remember and get freaked out...

- Because we left Dubai at 11 pm and were flying west, it was dark outside the plane the entire 16 hr flight.  It felt a little like we were in a race with the sun and sunrise and we were winning...  until we landed in atlanta.

- Upon arrival in Atlanta saturday morning, we made our way via underground train from terminal E all the way to terminal A just to find the chic-fil-a and eat breakfast.  Then we had to quickly make our way back to terminal B in order to not miss our flight to Baltimore.  I have missed Chic-fil-a.

- I am really enjoying the high speed internet and being able to watch videos on and

- I'm having a hard time remembering you can throw toilet paper in the toilet here and don't have to put it in the trash can.  That's all I'm going to say about that...

- I don't think it's sunk in that I can go anywhere I want yet.  I'm so used to a list of only 20 places I can go to and that was contingent on if security is good and there's a driver to take me.  I had stretches over the past 4 months where I didn't leave school/home for 10 days or more and if I did it was only for a 30 minute trip to the grocery store.


That's all I've got for now. We've been back less than 48 hours though and I'm sure more will come. In the meantime I hope everyone is able to make good memories with family and friends during these holidays and hopefully enjoy some sort of break from work and the busyness that consumes so much of life.

Kaley and I have to make decisions very soon about what we are going to do after this school year and there are a lot of different factors that will play into that decision.  Any prayers would be greatly appreciated as we try and sort through the decision process.

We will be updating this a few more times while we are here so look for more posts (probably with a lot of pictures!).


The mountains from our roof a few days before we left.  The best time to see the snow is at sunrise!

A few pictures from the plane as we were taking off.

Hanging out in Dubai.  The last picture is from our table at dinner.  Good view of the tallest building in the world.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A 12 Year Old's Goal

My students were assigned their first five-paragraph essay. Their topic was "about me." It could be about things they like, what they want to be, goals they have, or what they enjoy doing. I had many mixed topics, as you can imagine with 6th grade. Some were pretty sad, and others were on the humorous side.

One of my students wrote an essay that is very hopeful for this country. He is very smart, but I call him my mad scientist. He is a little scattered brained and can be very forgetful. This five-paragraph essay was only 4 paragraphs, and it was turned in two days late. Sadly, this made it hard to get a good grade, but it's very good. He WILL do incredible things for this nation one day.

We'll call him A. Remember, he is twelve. I watched him write the whole thing in class. He didn't explain all three of his main points, but I had to share this. He told me I could share his essay. I'll type it exactly as it is written...except for some astricts for safety.

"My name is A; I am a boy who lives in the middle of a battlefield, in a country at war. I am twelve years old and I was born in Isl*mab*d, P-stan, on October 9, 1999. Life is hard in A-stan, but I believe that in every heart there is a glimmer of hope. In the following story I will tell you about me. I hope that one day A-stan will have peace, also I want to become a scientist and inventor to help A-stan, a last I want unity and peace between the nations of the world.

A-stan is a country at war with ter*or*sm. It seems that peace will never come back to this country due to the fact that this country has been at war for 30 years. I hope that peace will come to A-stan someday, and I hope that that someday will come soon. Even with all these wars, I do believe that there is hope and as long as we have hope we can stand strong and united. When we stand strong and united, we can stand against our enemy and through hard work we can reach our goal. I hope there will be peace one day in A-stan, and when there is hope there is a chance.

My final hope is that the nations of the world stand united and peaceful. This helps to create peace between the nations. We aready have the U.**N. as a good example of this unity. Still, there are countries that are not in the U.**N. and some are still at war. I hope that something better than the U.**N. forms, a group that maintains peace and includes all of the countries of the world. My final hope is that we stand united and have peace so that we can make Earth the greatest and most peacful planet of the universe.

I hope that one day A-stan will have peace, and lastly I want unity and peace between the nations of the world. These are my biggest goals. I will do my best at reaching these goals, and I will start today. I will talk to anyone who has the same hope of peace to join me, so that we can stand united and strong against obstacles and reach our goals."

There is hope for A-stan, and I am happy to see glimpses of it in its future leaders (the ones in my classroom everyday). :)


Tuesday, November 8, 2011


We have spent the past 5 days in northern Thailand.  It has been amazing and been a much needed break from normal day to day life.  We leave to begin the trip back in a couple of hours.  We are spending one night in India on the way back and hopefully we will get out in the city for an hour or two while we are there.  We have posted a ton of photos on facebook if you want to see what our time here has looked like.  I've also posted a video below.  The video is from our trip here in Thailand. I haven't been able to upload the videos/pictures until now due to slow internet.  Thankfully the internet connection here has been great!


Saturday, October 22, 2011


First off, we have only two weeks until fall break! We're going to Thailand with some other staff. I can't wait, but you'll hear about that later.

It's been a good month (and a little more) since we've blogged. I keep trying to convince L to blog, but he's busy with work. It's been too long, so he just told me to do it. Before I tell you about yesterday's trip, here are a few things from the past month or so:
1. It's getting cold here.
2. I have seen two rainbows (one today!!) about a week apart here. Rain is rare, but this year it has rained. AND, we've been reminded of His promise - even here!
3. We went to the mil*tary base and went to a bazaar. so awesome. We also met a friend and got a tour. :)
4. We're having food cravings like nobody's business. (Sweet Cece's, Chick-Fil-A, McDougal's, Chipotle, Cheesecake name only a few!)

Anyways...Our entire staff was invited to a private garden outside of K-town. The man who invited us is very wealthy, and a friend of a national teacher. He's also high up in the phone company the staff uses. First, we went on about an hour drive out of the city to another province. He sent vans to pick us up, and had us escorted with armed guards the whole way. It was so nice getting to go outside of the city. Things look different. Yes, it was still dusty and pretty barren at times, but we did get to see some TREES! We actually got to see some fall color. Everyone in our van was in awe when we drove by yellow and orange trees. Fall is my favorite, and this made my fall. I feel like I can make it through the season now. Those of you who are surrounded with beautiful fall leaves, please enjoy it for us. Don't take it for granted.

When we got to his garden, we were all taken aback. It was breath-taking, literally. I have never seen so many cameras pop out at once. Everyone just started clicking away. They had toe-shacks and rugs set up under a big yellow tree, and they served us breakfast there. Special Afg*an tea, chicken, naan, cookies...the works. We got to walk around freely (with no chadar) and just enjoy the flowers/colors. It rained while we were there. Usually, you would think this would ruin an outdoor event, but it just made it more enjoyable. We hung out under the big tree or in the pavilion and listened to the rain. I am so thankful for that experience.

After breakfast in the garden, we headed back to K-town to go to his house for lunch. There is a lake along the way. Many of the staff who have been here had never been there, or hadn't been in years. We went on a big bridge over the water, and got out and took some pictures. Oh, and it was right next to the K-town Golf Course. Oh, yes, nine holes of good ole' K-town dust to golf on. :) I don't know if I was more nervous because of my fear of bridges, or the attention we drew to ourselves. Anyways, it was awesome to see, and to try to soak in the memory of it.

At this man's house...or should I say mansion...we got to relax and take a tour. He has a private gym, two kitchens, a movie theatre, a sauna, and a fabulous roof. We ate local food, which I can take or leave most times. Pepto Bismal is always on hand in those situations. They cooked us lamb that they had just killed (with the head still on), and turkey (not your average Thanksgiving turkey). The spicy macaroni was my favorite part, and the fruit pie for dessert. Eating on toe-shacks and always being checked on to see if you need more food or fruit or tea or, or, or...It's humbling to be served so much.

We went out and took some pictures from his roof. It was really messing with me while I was up there. He has this immaculate home, but right outside of his gate is a tent city. One of the Afg*an tribes is set-up in tents with donkeys and goats roaming and eating trash. The children are washing clothes in the mud puddles. As we pulled on the street for his house, we passed acres of refugee camps filled with the same. As I saw those children, I just kept hearing "they are beautifully and wonderfully made," over and over again in my head. These are people just the same as you and I. I wish I could get some people to see and understand that. Yes, situations are different, but these are people. They are loved and cherished by God just as much as anyone else.

All this to say, A-stan is beautiful. And, this weekend was such a blessing. God knows what we need, and just at the right time.

Once again, the photos won't load on here. Check facebook for photos from the weekend.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

recent happenings.

It's been about a month. Maybe posting once a month is a more realistic goal for us than once a week.

Things here at the school are returning to a more "normal" time, since the incidents a few days ago. Everything at the school was fine. We had to cancel school on Wednesday, so we had a three day week. We didn't have school on 9-11 either. People have said that the incidents on Wednesday were planned for the eleventh. Actually hearing some of the expl*sions made things a little interesting for me, but I didn't have time to think about it much. We were at dismissal and had to get the students to the appropriate places during that time. I was with elementary, and they did so well. They were so calm. I was so impressed with them.

That being said, I haven't had the chance to tell you about my class. They are great. I am so blessed with the group I have. We are still learning how each other works, but things are so good. We've already had some really cool discussions about rel*gious/government values, customs, and traditions of many cultures. HE definitely makes Himself known in these discussions, and it has been humbling to see how His name gets discussed. I have 21 students, and only 4 are expat students. My kids have taught me a lot about this country, and I hope I am teaching them just as much about patience, compassion, grace, and hard work. Please keep them in your prayers. I spoke to one student on the phone when I called to say school was cancelled. He said he couldn't leave his house anyways because they were so close to the incidents. He also said he was up all night because of the noise from it. This can be a scary place, and these kids live here and it becomes their "normal."

In other Humble news, we also had a special guest from the mil*tary come and read to the elementary kids. It was really cool that he came. He is the second in command in the mil*tary serving in this country. He (a three-star general) also gave the teachers/staff awards for excellence in serving in Afghanistan. It was a neat experience to see our kids awing the mil*tary men with their language skills, poise, and good questions. Our kids felt pretty important too. They take pride in their school, and take pride in their hard work. It's very refreshing.

Life here wears on you differently. It is difficult to explain. Someone tried to explain it to us before we came, but it only makes sense now that we're living it. I get more tired after teaching than I used to, but the teaching day makes it so worth it. I would say this country is heavyIf that even makes sense. There is more than a physical battle being fought here. It's not always easy waking up here in the mornings, but we are reminded so often by Him why we are here. Living in His plans gives us a peace that would not otherwise be with us in this country. Some of you have sent us some encouraging words lately, and you have no idea how much that means to us. Your encouragement and prayers are so helpful. So, thank you, immensely. 

Please keep praying for this country.

...and L is sick. Please keep him in those prayers too.

Also, soak up the start of fall for us. We're both missing it already!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

More than a week in K-town...

Someone asked me today, "If you could describe your time here in 2 words so far, what would they be?" Those two words change daily, and probably change through out the day also. Today I said, "Surreal...and dusty." Here's my attempt at giving you a few more words. Sorry if it is long.
First off, the dust is unbelievable. When we arrived, there was a dust storm. I think it was our "welcome present." You can clean the same place over and over and it's still there. I've used a white rag, and it results in being black when I'm finished. I constantly feel like I have a layer of dust on me...luckily our showers are now both clean and working! (Just don't open your mouth in the shower! - the water is another story in itself.)

A lot of us here have talked, and we all agree that it's hard to know what to write to you about or share. The first few days are such a blur, but luckily I'm a journal-er. There are so many aspects of this place that words and pictures cannot capture or do justice. I know this will be a sad attempt, but here's my best:

When we landed into K-town, I truly felt like I walked off the plane onto a movie set. The landing set the stage for sure. I've never been nervous in a landing, but trying to land between all the mountains is quite an accomplishment. We're pretty sure our pilot was a rookie (if you catch my drift). I wish it were appropriate to quote some of the contractors' quotes during our landing. I'll leave your imaginations to work on that. Anyways, the airport. It was a little choatic, but definitely not as bad as it was cracked up to be. People try to get you to pay them for helping you with your luggage, but for the first trip I did that on my own. Don't get me wrong, I had to ward off a few little men from helping. I had some determination in my voice or maybe it's my height, but they left me alone...a few others weren't so lucky. We had to walk to the parking lot a little ways from the airport building itself. It was a dusty/interesting walk - to say the least. You pass by money changers yelling in English to get your "Doll Errs." A few guards sitting in lawn chairs holding some heavy artil*ery. We passed many women and children who just hang out and watch as people come and go. They were just staring. I tried smiling at a few of the kids. Nothing was reciprocated - I'm an Amer*can. They have feelings, emotions, and opinions about me.

We got all of our luggage! This is an accomplishment. :) We began our dusty drive to "home." I barely said a word to anyone in our truck. I just needed to be able to take in as much as I could. The traffic is...crazy. People just walk in front of the car, lines in the road are up to the driver's discretion, animals are in the street...if you think the car can't fit in a space to pass another car, you have to check to make sure. My doubts were proven wrong in this regard many times. But, we made it to the c*pound ("home"). We were taken to our house, which is new to the "home" this year. Our house is big. So much bigger than our little house in Nashville. It's a little awkward in some regards, but we are so thankful for it. I'll try to load some pictures of the inside of it. It's very brown and tan. When we arrived we had a bed and a wardrobe. By day two we aquired a couch and two chairs. We then later found a table to borrow, and a refrigerator! Now we just need some color in our place.

We've been to a few different grocery stores and a mall type area. I picked up a few chadars (scarves) to use as wall decorations until we get some other options. Milk comes in a box, and you don't have to refrigerate it until after you open. This is hard to get used to. You can find way more soaps and shampoos than I imagined...they're just really expensive. There is a store where you can find all things plastic (and so many odds and ends). It's hard shopping without knowing basic language skills. I'm trying to pick up on as much as I can. I made flash cards. My confidence is growing in that way, but I'm eager to take lessons. We're in the process of figuring that out.

In one of the mall areas we went to, another teacher and I went to the second level. As we got to the top of the steps, a few older women stopped right in front of us. They smiled and just got really close and stared. I greeted them with my shaky D*ri and went through the traditional series of greetings. They responded, smiled, patted us both on the shoulder and rubbed our shoulder. They walked off laughing and kept turning around smiling. It is odd to feel like the animal at a petting zoo or simply being stared at in a zoo. I'm trying to take everything in, but that is one of the hardest things to get used to. ...There were a few hard things to witness with some children begging there (and how that was handled by guards and police), but that could be a whole other blog entry.

Some other random things I'm trying to get used to:
1. Brushing my teeth with a waterbottle
2. Making sure I don't get water in my mouth in the shower
3. Chapped lips

On another note...We met a family here, two tea*hers and thier two kids, who have been such a blessing to us. I will have one of their children in my class. They had us to their house (off the "home") for dinner and to play wii. LH has some interesting connections with their's a really small world. But, they have been so great and welcoming. They have been a great example of how community should live together. She brought me chicken noodle soup and gatorade when I was sick. (Oh, yea...dust, altitude, and playing volleyball without enough water can lead to dehydration and throwing up. it's lovely.) Anyways, they've been more than helpful to us, and we're so grateful for them.

My favorite thing I've done so far would have to have been playing volleyball. There's a DUSTY field that we set a net up in. I played with other expats and some of the national staff. For most of the time I was on a team with all national staff. It was such a nice way to start building relationships, although I'm sure I was the crazy Amer*can yelling weird things whenever the ball was coming (some habits are hard to break, thanks TNU).  It truly made me feel so much more comfortable here..and it just felt good to play something I'm so familiar with doing.

Sorry for the ramblings, and we're trying to get more pictures up. It's a very slow process with the internet here. Our internet has gone out multiple times. So I tried to upload some pictures on here, but it's the wrong time of day. I'll try late tonight.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Made it to K-Town

Just wanted to let you know we made it to K-town. Everything went great in the airport and all of our luggage was there! :) We're getting settled, and beginning orientation for the school tomorrow.
We'll try to give you a detailed update later in the week.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

24 hours in Dubai...

We made it into Dubai right on time and got through the airport so easy. Our hardest obstacle was the Columbus airport.
We got in at 8 at night and it was 103 degrees outside.

We tried to sleep through the night. We took a super long nap after breakfast, and LH was out. He kept trying to convince me of why he should sleep more, but I won and he got up. We had to start getting on the right time zone at some point.

We spent our Saturday afternoon and evening in Dubai. This city seems incredible. The skyline is gorgeous.
We went to two malls. The first had an Ikea, and I'm glad the Dubai Ikea was my first Ikea experience. The Dubai mall was next, and it is HUGE. It's pretty overwhelming. It's one of the biggest malls in the world. Most of the time you forget you're even in the middle east when you're in it (minus the signs in Arabic).
There are all different types of people, dress, and food everywhere.
Dubai has the tallest building in the world, The Burj Khalifa. It's massive.
We ate in the mall at TGI Fridays, because they have the best view of the fountain show. The only negative to this is the heat outside on the patio...remember, it's way above 100 degrees here during the day.

I tried to look around and soak it all in. We kept reminding each other this is the only "first" time in the middle east, and our thoughts and feelings will never be like this again.

We took a lot of pictures, but here are a few...
 The Pringles. Ketchup Flavored.

The city skyline

Skyline again at sunset.

World's Tallest!

Fountain show.

Tomorrow we make the last leg of our trip into K-town. This is the truly exciting part.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011


We should both be packing right now...
Needless to say, we have been doing just about everything but that.
We have our suitcases spread out in two separate rooms. It works better that way. ;)

The fact that we leave tomorrow is shocking us both, and hitting us both in such different ways. Making food memories has been our coping strategy as of yet. Homemade goodness has been perfect, and some of the classic homemade CHEX MIX to take with us!! Last night we had a Cheesecake Factory feast and we've hit up all of our favorite ice cream places. In Maryland we had crab legs, crab cakes, shrimp, and we made some of our favorite meals while we were there. Food definitely is attached to so many good memories.

Tomorrow we head out, and we're just anxious and excited to get this going. We can't believe it's time. It seems like we were just starting to pray about going somewhere. Never did we imagine this, or it to happen this fast.

We'll be hitting up some food places in town before we leave, I'm sure...

READY, Set, GO! Ahh.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Getting Close!

We have 5 days until we leave! 
It's crazy how fast these past months have seemed to go by, and at the same time how slow it has seemed.
We're so excited about this new start and where we're headed. Our suitcases are spread out...semi-packed. These next few days are full of last minute purchases, food memories we need to make, and some nice relaxation. It has been so nice to spend so much time with both of our families, and we really can't believe it's almost time to leave. 

We're going to do our best to update this as often as possible...internet strength willing. We will hopefully be posting pictures, stories, experiences, etc...

Thanks for keeping up with us. Thank you for your support.