Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Love and Hugs from America to Africa

In case you did not know, I made a trip back to the US in December and January. I needed to attend veterinary continuing education classes, so I would be able to renew my license this year. Luckily, I was able to attend a really good conference in January, spend Christmas with my family, visit with many friends, and worship at my home church. The whole trip was wonderful and I just cannot thank everyone enough for all of their love and encouragement. So many of you did such nice things for me while I was home and I really do appreciate them. I also appreciate that so many of you just asked questions and listened. It was a great time to get away, let my mind rest, and begin to process a lot of the last 21 months of my life.

Can you believe it was 21 months that I had been out of the US? The agent at immigration was a little shocked also. Probably not the typical answer he gets, or maybe he was just shocked by how tired and disheveled I looked at that point. A few hours later I was hugging my parents and heading home. From the moment we landed in America and throughout those first hours back, I was struck by how bright and clean America was. It was also nice to speak quickly again and hear accents I easily understood.  

Then there were all the wonderful hugs from everyone and the food. Often hugs and food went together, whether shopping at the grocery store and Wal-Mart and seeing everyone under the sun or being treated to all my favorites by my mom and many friends. Thanks for helping me gain 10# in about 4 weeks! (Don’t worry most of that is gone again.)

I was able to do so many things while I was home and I am so thankful for all the fun times I had, but there were so many of you that I missed seeing and I am sorry about that. The time went too quickly and part of being home was that I needed rest also. That was easier the first few weeks and I am thankful that I was able to get over the jet lag without too much trouble so I could enjoy Christmas with my family. I had missed them all so much and getting hugs from my niece and nephew was priceless. It was great to spend time playing and sharing in their lives and doing things I have missed out on while being gone.

The veterinary meeting was great, but crazy. I had never been to a meeting that big, because I usually worked for people who went to the big meetings. I was able to get all my credits for 2 years in 4 days, as well as learn about many new products and medications that have been introduced in the past 2 years. I was so busy and it took some good planning, but was worth it to get so much accomplished in such a short time.  It was also great to see so many veterinarian friends there, because I didn’t have enough time to visit all the clinics I had hoped to while I was home.

Mom and I enjoyed our shopping time together, but got a little tired of it and eventually I found a few more things on my list online, which helped.  In general shopping wasn’t too stressful until trying to find my last few food items to bring back while everyone else in our area was shopping before the blizzard hit.  That caused mom and me some stress, but all survived and I eventually found what I wanted.

Then a few days later, also due to the blizzard it was a struggle to get out of the US. It was already hard enough to go through the packing and mentally preparing myself to go, so after a cancelled flight, delayed flight and 4 different bookings, I finally arrived only 12 hours later than expected. However, I felt worse than I ever had from any of my other trips. Thankfully I had all my luggage and a week in Nairobi to work on feeling better . Of course during that time I was attending meetings (doing my best to pay attention and stay awake) and working on lots of business that I needed to finish while I had wifi. I managed to get a lot done and was feeling better by the time I left.

Now I’m back in Turkana, where life is still hot, dry, dirty and dusty, but it feels right to be here. I am excited about what God has planned for the ministry this year as I being to use CHE to teach and reach out to more people here. I will also continue to study the languages and learn more and more so I can communicate better on my own.

The cats are alive and well and didn’t get fat while I was gone! They love the toys I brought back for them and actually like being brushed with the brush I brought back. The dogs are still goofy and needed deworming, but look better now and they also love being brushed with the one I brought back for them.

The plants are about 50-50. After nurturing my artemesia (for malaria) before leaving and thinking I had given the best instructions to everyone about its care, I’m sad to say its dead. That was the second try and it lasted much longer this time, but in the end I have more dead artemesia. I don’t know if a third try is worth it, since I’m doing it under very controlled circumstances and I wonder if it is just too delicate to live and thrive up here in the desert conditions and if it would ever make it in a real farm situation.

The moringa, hibiscus, and a few other plants fared better, but I still suspect things don’t get watered enough while we are gone, because I expect to see more growth in the amount of time that has passed. All the other typical appliances, locks, etc, etc were not working when I got back, but have been gradually resurrected or are still on the list for repairs. So life seems normal here again, but being back is much easier because my expectations were so different this time and my heart was so full and happy when I arrived.

Thanks again to my family, church family and friends for everything you all did for me while I was home.  Thanks to all my partners who are helping with the ministry in Kenya. Thanks to my church. It was great to worship and share with you all. Special thanks to my parents. Dad was my chauffeur for the first week or so until I was ready to try driving on the “right” side again and then my errand runner as I frantically finished up my last minute lists. Thanks to my mom who bought and made all my favorite foods, shopped endlessly with me and made me feel comfortable and normal again while I was home. Thanks to you all, my heart is happy and full of love and that’s what I needed to bring back with me the most.

Enjoy the pics, it won't let me put them in the order I want. As usual, I'm happy to get them uploaded at all!

Mom giving us instructions for our Christmas pictures
My niece and sister-in-law

Lots of games were played
The men all tried the Turkana "Ekicholong"
Women do not sit on these, I'm usually happy about that

My brother had the best Turkana sitting posture
Got to see lots of my nephews basket ball games and his 8th grade recognition

Mom and Dad went with me to Florida
Fun photo editing at one of the booths

The giant mechanical flea you could ride when you got bored sitting in lectures

Back at the guest house where it feels like spring
Ali wanted to help with the blog today....

well she wanted to lay on the keyboard and play with me!
Our finished masterpieces
My niece demonstrating her gymnastics


  1. Just wonderful getting to see you and having you go caroling with us! I hope the next half of your mission is easier for you, and that God keeps you in the palm of his hand. Sherri and Terry

  2. Hi Shannon, I'm so happy to hear that you visited home! I know you had a wonderful time and the pictures of you and your family are wonderful. I pray for you and your mission, that the Lord continues to guide you and keep you safe. Keep growing His Kingdom, my friend - it's worth it! Peace, hugs and many blessings. -Heidi Griffiths :)

  3. I'm sorry I didn't get to visit with you while you were home, but I love seeing your updates here. So glad you enjoyed your trip home and got so much accomplished! Love to you there...

  4. So glad I got to meet you and put a face with the name. I look forward to future years of friendship. Glad you made it back ok, even though you didn't feel well. You are amazing! Cathy Wilkinson