(a cup of earl grey tea might be in order, or I suppose a cup of coffee!)
It's been a while since I gave you all an update now how we are doing and I would also like to give some of my reflections on our time here so as there are only about 3 weeks left in the academic year! It's a scary thought. Albert is pretty busy at the moment (SO HE SHOULD BE!!). This week is his last week of classes before exams start. This semester is well known for it's pretty intensive workload. In a nutshell he is doing a four year Masters degree in 3 years.
I'm VERY grateful for all our sponsors out there, without you this would not be possible. Thank you, thank you!! A special mention should be made for Steffen (and his helpmeet too!), he is our deacon, contact and close friend! Albert has not got time to work. He does some recording of his classes which earns him a little pocket money (anything is better than nothing!). I know for a fact that some students don't find it easy financially, some of the spouses work fulltime to support their husbands (which can't be easy!) and some work part-time while looking after their little 'darlings'! We don't have those worries, thankful to our NZ sponsors and some generous USA people who spoil our girls! None of our situations are easy on any of our family's both financially, spiritually and physically but we are all here for the same purpose, one we all believe it and are willing to sacrifice for. What a privilege! (For those of you who know me in real life, I mean that, it is not some sort of pat answer!)
We are going to Pompton Plains in New Jersey (very close to NY). This is a URC church where Albert will be doing his internship. We are not sure yet what exactly this will involve apart from lots of preaching! One of the areas Albert needs some more work on is his preaching, so we are blessed to be able to have a whole summer of practice! Pompton Plains has two morning services back-to-back and so even that would be a good (steep/hard) learning curve, having to preach the same sermon twice! This church comes highly recommended by a lot of people and so it is a privilege and blessing to be able to go there. (Interesting note - the Stoltes went there as well!). Another bonus is that our good friends the Warners are doing their internship close by in NY. Should be lots of fun (I mean work!)
The girls and I are excited, we haven't left home apart from a lovely thanksgiving weekend and so we are looking forward to doing some travel. A nice bonus of all this is the travel to and from there is covered as part of the internship. It is about a 12-13 hrs drive (according to Google and so we are breaking up the trip by driving about 9 hrs the first day, staying the night in a hotel and then driving the rest of the way the next day. The internship is about 11 weeks long. After this we hope to visit Jeremy and Lilian Eshelman in Philadelphia to which we are looking forward too, another kiwi!
Here are some quick updates on some of the areas of life that you might be interested in:
- Homeschooling - We're on week 28 (out of 36) and so on the 'home stretch'. Unfortunately for the girls, we will have to continue to home school through most of the summer. I have also already bought next school years curriculum and so I will take some of that too on our internship.
- Weather - An important subject :). I can't believe that not that long ago, the street was white and today it is 20c plus degrees! LOVING the seasons!
- Couponing - Getting lots of free/very cheap things! I wonder how NZ customs will react to all the shampoo/conditioners/shavers/toothpaste in my shipping container? (I haven't asked them, I probably should)
- Master Swimming - Still going very well, enjoying some time out and getting fit along the way, sadly (Trish if you are reading this) the running has been neglected, it was too cold honest! (and soon it will be too hot!)
- Girls - They are doing well, they are spoiled here, by the church, GEMS, individuals, neighbors. They do miss their cousins and it is hard to have new cousins born and not being able to see them in person. They also miss their grandparents (which I'm sure is mutual) but realise that we are meant to be here.
I thought I would share with you some of my reflections on my time here so far: (some these are written with 'tongue in cheek', we do love the American experience!)
- Punctual - Americans are VERY punctual which is no problem if you are aware of this!
- Disposables - Americans like disposable everything it seems, plates, cups (I bought some too as I don't have enough cups for visitors but I do wash them and re-use, shsh don't tell my American friends this ;) ), cutlery, water bottles (what is it with bottled water? it's cheap enough but really?) napkins (lots of napkins), table cloths.
- Dessert - A topic close to my heart! (and Peter M's too). I have lost count of the amount of Pav's I've made. (It forced me also to come up with genius ways to use egg yolk!). For Americans biscuits, cakes, slices etc count as dessert but for us NZ folk, no you have a dessert first and then for supper we have biscuits, cakes, slices! My kind of thing!
- Homemade - This one is hilarious! Oh you opened the packet, added a egg or two, a tablespoon of oil, mixed it and threw it into a 9*9 pan (oh no can't be a 10*10 pan or a 10*13 pan, no only a 9*9 pan!). No further comment needed apart from that anything baked with REAL butter tastes so much BETTER!!
- Food - Generally it is is fine. A lot of food is VERY processed. On a serious note, being America I assumed wrongly that there would a HUGE variety of foods available but I was wrong. I hadn't realized on how diverse the population of NZ is. You can buy some of these things, but I don't go to regular supermarkets very much, too expensive.
- Coupons/Freebies - This continues to amaze me. Honestly is all this stuff is given for FREE? YES!! We regularly have frozen pizza (that I got very cheap), chocolate (cheap or free), cereal (I managed to score some organic granola/muesli for $.50c a box!), very cheap milk, $1.89 a gallon (about 3.78ltrs). We use all brand names for our toiletries (no generic in this house, too expensive) apart from toilet paper. I know I'm going to be hit hard once I'm back in NZ and having to pay full price for everything.
- COFFEE - This is a problem if you don't like coffee, like me! I take my Twining Earl Grey teabags (from Amazon) with me where ever I go!
- Fences - What is this? Enough said (thankfully we have a fully fenced property, a real blessing!)
- Merino/the All Blacks - The American's have NO idea what those are!
- LOTR/Hobbit - The American's know all about this.
- Traffic - A fact of life, live with it!
- Last but not the least of all - Generosity! WOW we Kiwi's can certainly learn from the Americans. It 'blows' us away, speechless would be a word that came to mind with regard to their generosity!
The seminary Kiwi population is about to be doubled!! Really looking forward to adding Josh and Hannah to our Kiwi population! A real shame though that they are arriving when we are gone for the summer. We'll make it up to them! (I hope they are good at card games/board games and like loosing!! hahaha ok maybe I don't like loosing)
- Praise - There is lots of it, here is just a quick summary. Our sponsors, summer internship, our health (until I came to America and saw how difficult and expensive health care is, I have failed to appreciated the NZ healthcare system), Albert's VERY good grades, Girls well being, both physically but also emotionally - this can only come from God himself!, our continual growth in our marriage despite the very stressful workload (again the devil is hard at work at destroying marriages every where), our church community and the faithful preaching of Pastor Roets, our seminary community, for God providing for ALL of our needs and giving us some of our desires as well, we are so undeserving! Phew a long list!
- Requests - Albert's preaching, that he may learn to preach from notes only (as supposed to a manuscript which is hindering him at the moment), clarity of mind for Albert during these last weeks, our continued health, our travel plans and also my mum's travel plans who is planning to visit in August, continued prayers for my homeschooling.
Thank you all so much for praying for us, supporting us financially but also by correspondence, we really appreciate it.