Saturday, July 16, 2011

First Day Out and on Our Own!

Today was a light day of activities.  We decided to “venture out” to the Americanized mall that is about 3 blocks from our temporary apartment. We put Elleazah in her stroller and started walking. We quickly realized that the sidewalks here are not very stroller friendly let alone handicap/ wheelchair friendly. Many of the curbs can be 8- 12 inches high at the cross walk. I didn’t realize that I had taken such a simple thing as sloped sidewalks for granted while taking a walk with Elleazah around a neighborhood in the States.

Another thing I quickly realized was that strollers draw attention, not because strollers are rare, but because everyone is curious as to what is INSIDE the stroller. We received so many Uhhhh’s and Ahhhh’s, especially once she had fallen asleep.  As we were waiting to cross a street, for a car to make the turn, the driver nearly came to a complete stop to look into the stroller to see Elleazah.  Then the driver looked up at us and continued on her way! Wow. We had to chuckle at the attention a stroller/ baby can draw.   

While we were in the mall, it quickly became apparent that malls are not just for shopping, but for watching soccer games. Colombia was playing Peru and there were many TVs hanging from the ceiling, scattered throughout the mall with several couches lined up. The couches were always full and often had a couple rows of people standing behind the seated prospectors. Even by the food court, they had set up a hug screen and projecting the game on the screen. They set up an area for people to sit on the floor and watch the game. There were at least a hundred people in this section alone, many of whom were dressed in the yellow Colombian jersey. We didn’t need to sit and watch the game to know how Colombia was doing, someone who is blind could have been following the game based on the cheers and the Ohhh’s.

We also browsed a grocery store, I did some price comparisons from what I remembered from the states. A bag of baby wipes in the states I was able to buy a bag of 75 wipes for $1.50-$2.00, depending on the brand. Here, a bag of 100 wipes, costs just over $5.00. Wow! I am glad a friend from church invited me over one afternoon and we made a bundle of cloth wipes. Detergent (Tide) here costs about $7 for a bottle that is for 24 loads of laundry. Yeow! Lastly, I was excited to see my favorite fast food restaurant in the mall- a Subway. For my favorite sandwich, it costs $5 for a 6inch sub… twice the price from the States where it is a $5 footlong sub. Sad, I will probably have to wait until we return to the States to get a sandwich from there.  Even at the Burger King, a whopper value meal was over $7.  But, on the other side of things, you can buy potatoes for about $.25-$.75/ lb. depending on the type of potato because there are about 40 different types of potatoes here in Colombia. Bread rolls are about 25-35 cents. Broccoli, yellow squash and carrots were about 70 cents per pound.  Needless to say, we will be eating the fresh fruits and veggies. So, there you have it. Our first day out with many observations, though it was the first set of observations, I’m sure it will not be the last.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The start of the new chapter: travels

The next chapter has begun. Wednesday  July 13th, with a peace that passes all understanding. The day is in God’s hands. He knows what lies before us in this Great  Journey. He  knows our flight schedule, where each of our bags are located, the weather in each of the cities we will have a layover at, and he knows whom we will sit next to and try to communicate to at customs after a long day of flying. He is sovereign and knows the details and I (Marlayna) am unusually calm with all the potential for frustration that lies ahead in such a long day of traveling with a baby. Normally, I carry enough anxiety for the family, but not today, which is truly God’s hand at work and an answer to prayer. 

We will  we arrive at the airport 2 hours before our flight scheduled to take off at 7:15am. We zip through security, not too many people there at 5:15am, which is good because not only do we have a lot of carry on items but we also are figuring out how to travel with a baby.  We get to the gate to find that the flight has been canceled! Hmmmm… what happens next, this has never happened to me.  They looked at our tickets and said that they put us on the next flight.  On the up side, our seats were upgraded for free, but that also means that we now have a 30 minute layover at JFK in New York! I’ve heard horror stories of the craziness there.  The realistic side of me knows that there is great potential for a delay in the flight to take off and land which can easily cause us to miss our flight, which would mean that we would probably spend the night in NY because the airline only sends one flight per day to Bogota. Yet, I was still rather calm.  God knows the situation; He is in control. During this long wait, we were thankful for the hot breakfast my mom had sent with us, which should hold us for most of the day.

Soon after boarding the plane, I start feeding Elleazah which lasted through take off… Yea, no fussing!  The first leg of the trip went smooth as we landed ON TIME, but now with a sleeping child… Yea, still no fussing. Wow, God is at work, so far so good. Due to being upgraded, we were one of the first ones off the plane and our connecting flight is only a few gates away. Praise God! I had time to make a run to the bathroom and change Elleazah’s diaper and add another layer of cloths to her to keep her warm.  A few minutes later, we started boarding our second flight. Yea!  Sadly, for this flight, Steve and I were separated, him in the front, me in the back, so he had to privilege of holding Elleazah throughout the flight. And fortunately we had discovered the previous day that Elleazah likes to chew on orange peels.  So during take off, she chewed on a part of a peel, since she refuses to take a pacifier, and not too long after take off, she, and Steve, had fallen asleep.  What a great picture! She woke up just before landing, which meant another feeding during a critical time for potential fussing. Yes, there was a bit of fussiness, but not too much, which I was thankful.

We exited the plane for an hour lay over, just to re-board the same plane (they needed to check passports this time) so we had enough time to grab some real food to carry us through the last leg of trip and the stressful customs.  Again, Steve and I were to be separated and he got to board early with Elleazah. While I was patiently waiting for the chaos  of the Spanish speaking crowd among the English instructions to calm down and for me to board I heard an attendant shout out… “Is anyone willing to receive a free upgrade to an exit row with more leg room?” Without hesitation, another girl and I raise our hands. So, I get to move up from the next to last row to the front! Which will bring me closer to Steve and Elleazah and allow us to get off the plane sooner, which will be key because you literally trot from gate to jockey for a position in a very long line to go through customs. We learned this from our visit to Colombia last year, because we were taking our time from the gate as people were nearly running us over; we asked each other why they were in such a hurry, until we reached the end of a very long line that took almost an hour and a half to get to the customs men.  However, this time, we were ready for the race, with our jogging stroller out, Elleazah in her car seat on the stroller, we were in trotting readiness and we were keeping up with the fastest of them (ah, yes, the competitive side coming out, but at least we were on the same team!) And as we were approaching the line, which was not as long as the last because we were nearer the front of the crowd, a man directed us to the right, because we had a baby…. Yea! An even shorter line! Now we only waited about 20-30 minutes to get through customs.  We reached the front and a man waved for us to come to him. Fortunately, or unfortunately, he spoke little to no English, and we speak, little to no Spanish, so it was rather quick, looking at our paperwork and bunching stamps.  Yea! Elleazah has her first stamp in her passport! So, we find our baggage claim area, grab a cart to load our four bags, go look for the bags because they have workers that pull all the bags off the carousel only to realize a bag is missing.  Urggg. I find a lady that speaks enough English for us to complete the report, Steve takes out the paperwork  so they know where to deliver the bag and how to contact us when it is located. We were hoping that the bag just didn’t catch the second flight considering we had such a short lay over  rather than the bag being stolen.  As we begin to leave the airport, we are realizing all that the bag contained, like Elleazah’s pack and play, which is her bed, most of the toilet tree,  a few of the cloth diapers and the accessories …urg, I hope they find it. And yet, there is a peace, which only comes from God trusting and knowing that He knows exactly where the bag is located.  If it is stolen, He knows who has it and I am fine with that (sounds crazy, right!) because the items are just things and we will learn to make due with what we have.  However, that was going to be the case, because the next day the airport called to let us know that received the bag the next day. Praise God, we were getting our last bag.

God has been so good to us as we have started this new chapter, what a blessing.
Please pray
1. For the transition. I am already feeling overwhelmed and lost by not understanding enough Spanish. They seem to speak soooo fast.
2. We get settled into an apartment we will have for the year.
3. Wisdom as we start making decisions here at the beginning of the with living situations, schedule, and helping at the school.

4.  100% support: we have not yet reached 100%. Prayer support is much needed, as we have felt God's hand on us the last few days in our new chapter, but we also need financial support.  Pray that the faithfulness of those who have said they would commit to help as well as pray for new supporters to come along side us to join us in this journey God has laid before us as we come to witness and disciple.