This morning I was watching the livestream at our church, where my husband just got up to share a life story with the kids there. It’s too much detail to retell it, you can watch online via this link (http://stanboroughpark.adventistchurch.org.uk/)
The point of the story is worth retelling though. You are valuable!!! No matter what happened to you, crumpled, dirty, alone… you matter!!!
You matter to me, and you are valuable to me.
Yesterday and today are turning out to be me feeling a little lonely, and emphasise the fact I am all the way in America and my loved ones are in Europe. It goes a little like this:
For weeks there has been a buzz going through the Adventist church, particularly the younger ones (read teens and young adults, typically classified as youth). The International youth congress is taking place in Valencia, Spain and 1000s of young ones are gathering for a week of friendship, worship, good times etc… my husband and the band he drums in have been practicing and gearing up to go…. the church community I belong to (Stanborough Park Church) has teens going, my niece is going… and I am far far away…
My husbands flight was early this morning, Sunday… we have a six hour time difference… so we called him at 9pm Minnesota time to ensure he got out of bed, before the taxi would arrive to take him to the airport…. it took a few rings, but he answered… and got ready to go…without me..
In the mean time, my phone started buzzing… the family Knopper chat…. my niece is on her way to the airport also… ready to go to Valencia… my brother and the other 2 in his family started driving to go on holiday…. without me (we like going on holiday together)
What about me? I am a little sad…. am far away, different time zone, not travelling either on holiday or to participate in the congress (am feeling youthful). These are the moments my year away feel lonely, I have to work….
Well, gotta pull myself together… so here is the plan… the theme of the congress is ‘Journey’. There will be plenty of opportunity to follow along via Facebook, instagram and the webpage: http://www.aycongress.org/
This way, I won’t have to feel so lonely… hope to get a glimpse of my husband on stage also!
After a great business trip, sprinkled with some beautiful friendships and great sightseeing, it is time to go home…. and actually, I am ok with that…. after all, being in America for a year is a real privilege also and so far am loving it!
Costa Rica has a great phrase, used in all sorts of circumstances: Pura Vida! It’s used as greeting, as response to questions, almost like a life mantra… and it shines through the whole culture as an upbeat, happy go lucky and friendly mantra. It translates literally as pure life… but actually it does not have a real translation as such. It’s definitely a thought I want to keep holding on to.
My actual house is in the UK, my husband is there too, as are my cats, friends, car..all that is dear to me.. and yet, home is now also here in the US, where lots of adventures are still waiting for me… a bit like that phrase… Pura Vida…
so.. happy to be in my US home… and enjoying life!
Well, we not only survived camping, we actually loved it. Northern Minnesota is very pretty, with lots of nothings… we did not see the bears we thought we might, or the moose, but we saw plenty of deer, mosquitos and bald eagles.
we ventured into Canada also, being only a half hour from the border. The lady at the border was extremely friendly, even if I was terrified to even cross the border and leave safe America. She not only stamped our passports on our request, she also gave us a Canada pin each. How sweet!!!!
And..they let us back into the US also..
So what lessons did we learn?
we can set up a tent without fighting, even if we did not know what the tent was supposed to look like.
we can build a fire and cook food on it… and roast marshmallows…
we can survive with a ‘vault’ toilet. If you gotta go and don’t want to walk 10 minutes, it certainly will do.
mosquitos love me more than Melody…
we saw no bears, but loved being outside and slept perfectly well…
we want to repeat the experience as often as we can
And now we are packed again…Costa Rica is the destination… not a bad location for work…
See you on the other side!!
Its been a couple days since we shared another blog… today is my turn again.
We are a day away from going on a new adventure… it’s the long holiday weekend (celebrating kicking out the Brits…. feels a little odd.. huray!! Free days!!) and Melody and I have decided to try out ‘going up north’. Camping…. bears.. do we say more?
We will faithfully report back IF we return..
Back to women leaders, the title… having travelled extensively over the last years, I have had the privilege of coming across many different leaders. Leaders who inspire, leaders who motivate you to do better, leaders who should not be leaders.. Being now stationed in the US a little longer, I have more opportunity to interact with the women leaders in our own team. Women I look up to, women inspiring me to do better, to be better… Kim, Liliana, Karen, Wendy (our awesome boss) to name just a few.. I guess this is a shout out for women..
So, Mel and I will join women leaders this weekend away… I certainly hope our tent will listen to us and the bears will be scared of us!! See you at the other side!!
Here we are 3 weeks since we moved from the UK to the USA for a year. It was a big move, but one that I was ready to make! The first couple days were hard, adjusting to the time zone, the heat (more than 30 degrees every day), the humidity (50+%) and of course the food!
Moving in to the apartment was a nerve-wracking one for me, as all I had been told was that it was big, over looking the Mississippi river and that my bedroom is usually the dining area. However, stepping inside I instantly fell in love with my (not so) ‘little’ nook. The first week was pretty much spent buying things to make our apartment feel more like home, including pillows, bedding, some furniture and photo frames, plus getting a feel for the area. My highlight for the week was definitely the Joyful Noise family festival (which has been mentioned in our previous blogs and in the vlog, go check them out if you haven’t!!!). Worshipping with 18,000 people whilst listening to some of my favourite christian artists was an experience!!
However, it suddenly came time for dad to leave us and go back to his job and to the cats! Suddenly I was on my own, no taxi to drive me around. No one to pay for my food. No company, whilst mum is at work. It definitely had its benefits too though, I managed to make a nice dent into my masters project (message me or leave a comment if you want to hear more!) and was finally able to watch what I wanted to on the tv!!!
Now you must be wondering what the blog title means. Well, there have been things that I truly miss about the UK and things that I will definitely miss about the USA when I leave. These are the following:
- Walking here in St. Paul, Minnesota is a lot nicer than where I leave in the UK. Its not every day that you can just take a walk or a cycle along the mighty Mississippi river and watch turkey vultures and bald eagles flying over your head, or watching herons wading in the water to catch their next meal.
- It is definitely more expensive to live here than in the UK. The average that we spent on groceries in the UK was a lot less than here.
- Chocolate here definitely does not taste the same! However, Reese’s peanut butter cups are amazing!!
- HGTV is the best channel ever!
- The cars and the roads are a LOT bigger! Making me feel even shorter than before! There are plenty of cars here that I would need a ladder to climb in to!
- The shops are HUGE! I’m easily able to walk my target number of steps set out by my Garmin, whilst enjoying seeing what the country has to offer!
- AIRCO! The best invention ever when it is close to 40 degrees celsius and 90% humidity!
- The storms here are not taken lightly, whenever there is a thunderstorm forecasted, I straight away get a weather warning on my phone (damaging winds, large hail and tornados are all possible).
- Trenta Cool Lime refreshers!!!!! The best thing when it is hot outside!!
- What I can’t get my head around though is going into a store and seeing a sign saying ‘no guns allowed’. It still feels so foreign to me, and it will the whole time I’m here! Also going into any outdoor store and there along with camping stuff they also stock guns and crossbows along with fake deer and turkeys for practice! Or having displays of real stuffed animals that have been shot!
- What the UK offers that I truly do miss though are my cats, my friends (its difficult to connect when you are 6+ hours behind them!) and church (we have yet to find one where we connect!). And I miss tea! Afternoon teas and just drinking a tea is so not normal here. When you order a tea you have to specify that it is a hot tea, otherwise you get cold, strong, unsweetened black tea!
- And lastly I miss being able to talk and not pulling attention because of my accent. In the UK I have a pretty standard southern english accent as I was brought up in the area near Windsor. Here however, I just open my mouth and suddenly I have 20 people surrounding me wanting me to just keep talking so that they can hear more. It is pretty terrifying being the centre of attention like that!
I’m sure there are plenty more but for now this is my list! On to a new week of new experiences and adventures!
It happened! Our first phone call!!!
Full excitement we picked up… as we don’t actually know our own home phone number, we were a little cautious though…. “Hello?” “This call may be recorded…. are you ok with that miss?” UHHHHHMMMMMM… The first cold call???
Not every first is always so exciting. In a new place, the first phone call, the first mail, the first meal, the first night in a strange bed. Life is full of adjustments! With all that comes the good and exciting and the not so good and exciting. We keep on smiling and take each day as it comes.
We are blessed with beautiful weather, so we have managed to leave lots of footsteps along the Mississippi river. We have sampled the little restaurant a stone throw from the apartment. We have cycled to the farmers market, grocery shop, rented a “redbox” dvd and are looking forward to our first camping trip. Those are certainly the exciting things!
So… in case anyone wants to call us… or send us a letter in the email… send us a message and we will give you our details.. For now… we will be a little careful picking up the phone 🙂
Also if you want to see more of our adventures from these first couple weeks then check out our first vlog on youtube. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8U3nW53RLw). Subscribe if you want to be notified of our upcoming posts and leave us comments!! We love hearing from you!!!
‘If I can’t have fun, I might as well dig a hole and cover myself up’ we heard someone say…
How true is it, they we should appreciate all the little things that come our way… tomorrow is not guaranteed… this week, 2 of my colleagues lost their dads and suddenly life is put in perspective.
We can cry with them, pray for them, be there for them… and through it all we can count our blessings.
so… here are my blessings for this week: I have a husband, whom I love and he loves me. We are apart in physical distance, but not in thought and prayer.
I have my beautiful daughter with me here in the US, which reminds me that I am not alone, even if I feel lonely sometimes.
I have beautiful friends… sometimes like stars, far away and yet close in my heart….
I have a God who loves me….
What more can I want…I won’t dig a hole just yet… instead, I will go and have a little US fun.
Monday came around way too quickly, and the first day of a “Minnesotan” at work started. It feels strange knowing that this is now it for a year… No more balancing of suitcases with all the treasures always found (why does America always have such nice things… I just want to fill my house with all of it…. and why do I live in a Hobbit house in England!) ….. no more deciding what to leave in my locker at work (as who needs to bring back shoes when you can bring back French Vanilla Coffee creamer!). Instead, my locker is now empty… it actually has space for my coat and handbag.. I guess that is what they intended it to be used for!
In the mean time, Melody and Geert went around exploring…. cycling, sight seeing, studying in Starbucks, Christian book store and Mall of America all received a visit. They have been busy! Melody’s little space is now her own, cosy, with the shells we bought in the Netherlands.
And before we knew it, Friday came around…. A final week day to spend together before Geert goes back to church life in England. So, what better way to spend this, than to do some more sightseeing… We had seen the documentary of Prince, and were eager to see what Paisley Park looks like in real life… Not quite what we had expected. It’s on a busy through road and looks like a factory. I guess you can best describe his house as “an eccentric place for an eccentric person”. Unique and wonderful and weird all at the same time. and also way too expensive to just pop in for a quick visit!
Time to fill our own minds with music…. as we had tickets to Joyful Noise 2017, a festival of Christian music. Jordan Feliz, Big Daddy Weave and For King & Country were singing. What an experience to see 18000 people together joining in with singing. Particularly sobering to hear a 6 year old sing all the lyrics to the songs we could only hum (and the lyrics on the screen were really quite small). One of the wonderful things in America. People are not ashamed to let anyone know they are christian!
Below some pictures of this last week. Let the weekend begin!
After a very busy weekend with the wedding of Felicity and Tim, the day has
finally arrived.. The little cat is brought to the cattery and our neighbour Jo has been asked to take care of the other one.. The taxi arrives and our 5 suitcases are loaded into the car… All our other possessions have moved already 2 weeks ago.. the 5 suitcases are the result of the left over items to pack and those food items we might otherwise miss so much while in the US.
We checked in and spoilt ourselves in the Sky lounge, before the actual plane took off….. Destination Twin Cities in Minnesota. Customs is a blur and before we know it we are in the hotel for the night before we get the key to our new apartment. A quick bite to eat and a restful short night later and the actual day has started.. today is the day!!!!
The guide takes Miranda to her car for a year, and after some instructions, the keys to the apartment are handed over. Spring Street, St Paul.. here we come…..
Everything is taken care of… from a laundry basket to groceries to a crockpot…. its all there, all we need to do is move in… Unfortunately the style is a little 70s, so activity number 1 is to remove the paintings from the wall and put these in storage. A quick declutter of Melody’s room and we are off.. buying cushions, flowers, cupboards, coffee table etc. After a day or 3, the apartment starts to feel like home .. If only we could figure out how to use the garbage disposal!
Then our real experience begins… on Sunday Melody and Miranda walk to the farmers market in St Paul and buy the first veggies of the season: rhubarb and bean sprouts. We feel very accomplished and American!
Let the work week begin!