Monday, January 27, 2014


This is Nema. I had a dream about her last night. We were on a road and she was jumping high, high on a pogo stick and I was so impressed with her ability to stay on and told her she needed to be in the Olympics. I woke up to disappointment that there is no pogo stick competition in the Olympics and that Nema wasn't walking along the road with me. I am trying hard to fit back into my culture and the life I once knew. I went to Atlanta yesterday and gawked at all the people dressed so smartly. They entertained me during our wait for a table at West Egg Cafe for Carla's birthday brunch. I try to fit myself into the world I once knew of meeting friends there for omelets and coffee and those blessed telecommute days I spent there (and the shops nearby). I remember taking Sephalina to a restaurant for the first time. Ali and I took her to the nicest place in all of Pemba. She was so tiny and frail and barely spoke Portuguese, coming to us only days before from a little village nearby. Parents deceased. She went into the bathroom and washed from head to toe as is Makua custom before eating. We laughed at the wet child at the table all wide eyed as she gobbled up her chicken dinner. 

Carla and I left after filling our bellies and walked beautiful shops where designers and dreamers got inspired and fulfilled dreams and put them in the window for us to buy. I love the beauty of their expression. We tasted Jeni's creations. She is a James Beard award winner who quit one dream of studying art to start another dream of opening the best ice cream place in town. And now you can go and taste it. 

I fooled everyone in J. Crew as I stood at the counter and bought a new sweater and swiped my credit card like I do that every day, yet wondering why in the world I needed a sweater because my heart is deep in sultry Africa. 

I wake up feeling Nema so close I can almost feel her rapid little heart beat. But I lace up my shoes and put the top down and go play tennis with people I can keep at courts' length. They love and laugh and encourage and chastise all in 3 hours time and in those 3 hours Nema doesn't show up to watch. 

I was startled to find this page I captured from The Alchemist. I took it almost a year ago as I read it. I do fear. I fear suffering and I fear making a mistake and I fear fear. I fear falling back into complacent life and forgetting all that I learned. I fear forgetting the poor and losing my passion. I fear running out of that silly stuff called currency. I fear making the wrong choice. I fear the pain of being away from those I love. Yet, I am choosing to walk in His peace and trust that in all parts of the journey, He holds me. I can't misstep because either way He has me. As I search Him I find Him and isn't that the point? He cares about my career and life goals but above all that He cares about ME. And it's not about how I serve Him, it's about our relationship. He doesn't call me servant, He calls me friend (John 15:15).

For now, the tentative plan is to go and scope out both invitations to South Africa and to Cameroon to help with vocational training schools there.  They both sound glorious and I think visits there, though costly, will help me in my decision. It is a necessary next step. Meanwhile I am daily applying for jobs. Mostly with non-profits, just seeing if there is something out there that is meant for me that I may be missing. Something that may lead me to my path of becoming the next Condoleezza Rice, leaving no stone unturned. 

Thank you all for giving and continuing to keep me fed and provided for. I am undone by your sweet generosity. Thank you for listening as I mumble about what I am doing with my life and thank you for understanding. And as always, I covet your prayers. 



Friday, January 17, 2014

Another day of being Grace

I fell down. 

December & January

Carla goes all out. 

getting a tire fixed at "Modern" Tire

Emma Grace rode with me to Anderson to collect our Galeria dos Sonhos items at Blvd Baptist. We stopped for a photo shoot. 

Happy 2014!

Emma Grace

Trespassing in Anderson, SC
Only this guy could get me into a Cracker Barrel. (On our way to Mammoth Cave)
This happened. It hurt. 
Natty at Mammoth Cave
My shadow.

Greatest Missionaries Ever. Go Mieze Goat Project!

for monty-

and all of you other kind souls concerned about me and my future.

Thanksgiving and Christmas and being home with my family for the holiday's was wonderful. The kids greeted me at the door and wrestled each other up the stairs to see who would get to show me their presents first. I loved watching them open gifts from me and was touched when Catherine opened her envelope and said, "Uh. You don't have any money. You shouldn't have." Oh her sweet, sweet heart.

Around New Year's I moved things from the attic of my Atlanta house and plan to go back again tomorrow to finally move my furniture. Emma Grace came to help me move. The Fallin's came and we shot fireworks.

Jan. 9th I left for Austin, Texas and spent five days there visiting with my friends the Gaspard's, getting the last of my possessions from fellow missionaries, Jim and Twyla Taylor and meeting with Iris Ministries Director, Heidi Baker. The food was out of this world, the fellowship, beyond words. It felt so good to be among my extended family. It hurt to say goodbye to Jim and Twyla, knowing they would be going back to Pemba without me. The Gaspard's have close friends with an orphanage in Guatemala and they want me to go there. I am waiting to hear back from the ministry there to see if my skills will fit their needs.

Meanwhile, my close friend Sherri would like for me to come to Cameroon and work with orphan girls there, establishing another vocational training school. I am not sure exactly what it would look like but there are opportunities to help a local farm and train the girls in making and selling goat's milk products. Apparently Cameroon has a much stronger economy than Pemba and we would have a market to sell all sorts of items.

Galeria dos Sonhos once again is still open thanks to the generosity of strangers who continue to buy our goods. Apparently the mayor of Detroit bought one of our ties! I took all the goods to Texas and sold enough to buy fabric and pay salaries for almost two months!

I am still strongly considering the opportunity in South Africa, but want to try to fit in visits to Guatemala and Cameroon in the near future. Iris Ministries also has a base in Southern Sudan in dire need of help. I have also applied for a handful of "real" jobs. You know, the kind that pay money on a regular basis and offer health benefits. Only a few of them fit the bill for allowing me to be able to be in Africa more often than not. I am seeking them out because I do want some training in the area of global development. I love that I got thrown into the deep end and learned day by day and in total faith during the last two years. I also believe that some academic training would help equip me also. There are some great organizations out there making huge strides in eradicating poverty.

Yet, there are simply not enough days spent with my family and friends. I still have not been to visit many of you. I still delight in all home cooked meals, trips to the grocery store, kale smoothies, magazines, a good book and the world wide web.

So that's the not very exciting update. The current plan is to map out a few months and raise a few funds to be able to travel to Guatemala, South Africa and Cameroon on a three month trip to evaluate those choices. If other opportunities arise, I will add them to the list. Kenya and Congo are also on the long list. I am excited about the possibilities and the future. I am loving life and so so happy to be home but anxiously awaiting the next place that I know will capture my heart.

See you on the tennis court, Monty. Be afraid.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

oct-dec kinda lame but better than nothing pictorial

Home Sweet Home

Christmas with Natty the Over-Sized 5 Year Old

Happy New Year

No one loves me like Lynne Burke. Breakfast in Bed.

Abbeville, SC

The Country Living Fair Sister Date with Carla- Stone Mountain, GA

Hartwell, GA

Dahlonega, GA with Catherine (trying to convince her to go to North Georgia College!)

Emma Grace (trying to convince her that she is stunning and it is ok for me to put this photo on the internet)

My Sidekick

Road trip with Mom & Fran to Highlands, NC ( I don't do cold)

so sorry! i've been busy bathing and eating salad and using the internet.

A blank page. A white canvas and so so long overdue. I am alive and well and sitting in Reed Creek by a little fireplace. I came home in October and was swept away into a completely other world. A world in which I was very familiar but felt as if I were experiencing it as someone else entirely. A friend I have not seen in years just commented how she feels like it was just yesterday and little has changed. But I am not at all the same. I am a completely different person, walking around in my old wardrobe, meeting up with friends I have known forever. I try to squeeze into their lives and conversations and my heart wants to be there in these moments with them, but it is floating about above a village in Africa instead. I try to bring it back and relate to all that is culturally relevant in this beautifully familiar world, but it won’t come back and linger here for very long.

Every day is full and I feel the clock ticking. The TO DO list is forever long and I am a little overwhelmed with all I have to do yet. There are so many of you I have not seen and I apologize for that. I am not good at this. This living here 8 weeks out of the year. Since being home, I cannot begin to tell you what all I have been doing but I can count the days I had absolutely nothing to do. They are few. For now I am moving everything out of my house in East Point. I should have done it in the very beginning, but I had no idea what to do with it all and left it there for convenience sake. Now that I am most certain I won’t be back in Atlanta any time soon, I feel the need to have everything that I own under one roof and not scattered about between basements of friends and relatives. So this week I have been moving. And I will be moving still in the weeks to come.

Natty and I drove to Brandenburg, Kentucky and I got to meet Laura & John Steen’s newest addition, Baby Eryn who was born in March 2013. Baby Molly is no longer a baby and is all grown up and calls Nathaniel, Danielfaniel. Natty loved getting to play in the snow, was smitten with Hailey the Tween and was just the other day boasting to his big brother that he had a friend Owen, who was not his brother’s friend too, but just his and his alone. The time spent with Laura’s sweet family was way too short. We plan our ideal scenarios, where we are next door neighbors and pop in and out of each others' lives all day, but we have never even lived in the same time zone. Four days was such a tiny visit.  

I have been able to speak to several of you in the Hartwell area and share a little about the last year in Pemba. I love getting to talk about all that was accomplished and am quite amazed by it myself. You all played a part in it and it is just fun to see what was done by everyone giving a little.

The Galeria dos Sonhos project is still running well and each month I have no idea how we are going to sell anything. Then someone comes along and suddenly we have money again. To those who buy from us, THANK YOU. For those who would like to, let me know and I can send you an inventory of items. I have taken them off of our online site for the time being. If you know of a retail space who would like to sell our fair trade items, let me know.

Mozambique has been experiencing some pretty dire political unrest and recently a commercial plane (that my friends and I fly regularly) crashed with no survivors, apparently the pilot crashed the plane deliberately. This is the world over which my heart hovers.

Meanwhile I am here, wanting to see each and every one of you and sit really close and know what is on your heart. I want long chats by the fire and to watch Jeopardy! because what could be more glorious than that?
And then there is the really big question that even I am asking. What next? The answer is that I don’t know. If I had any inkling I would tell you. You will be the first to know. For now, I am only getting direction one order at a time. For now I am hearing, “You are on vacation. Stop fretting and REST." I am also certain it is time to physically move all my belongings into one space and lock them up. So in the next few weeks I hope to have everything I own in a little storage space in Reed Creek, tidy, organized, together and sitting quietly until further orders are received.

I have fulfilled my two year commitment to Iris Ministries and I do feel that I did what I set out to do. It was my intent to establish a school of vocational training and that we did. A vocational school, a language school and a small social business are now all up and running, with amazing leaders at the helm of each. If I were to return I would simply be an administrator, putting out fires and telling people where to go and what to do. That’s not me. The foundations have been built and that is me. I am The Foundation Establisher. Now I am simply looking for someone who wants a Foundation Establisher and who maybe wants one to come and go and come and go and come and go. I am trying to prepare myself for whatever that may look like. Living here and traveling or moving abroad again soon. I could write pages on this subject but will stop for now.

Thank you for giving to me, loving me so well and covering me in prayer.
Much love,