Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I forgot to tell you

If you want to track us on the usual day to day stuff (the real world we live in) I've moved my blog to www.pambuller.wordpress.com

Friday, January 26, 2007

Here We GO!

Ok, for all you who do really give a hoot about our Africa trip...you can see our ramblings and a few pictures at www.bullerfamily.wordpress.com

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Another one a day late...

Yesterday was also Jody's birthday. Cassie made a beautiful spread including an elegant table setting and delicious gourmet chicken chili and salad. It was a great attempt at making Jody feel special. If only the kids would've thought so too...

While Brigg, Lani and Max were trashing Cassie's house Quincy slyly dug into the cake. See the joy on that kid's face?

The joy was quickly squelched when mommy decided she really did want to eat her cake.

And the cool thing was none of the kids were mine so it was very easy for me to laugh. :)

A Day Late


My first-born daughter...I love you so much!

Unfortunately, Alex had a rough birthday so we're having cake at 5 pm tonight. Birthday pictures will post later!

Pictures from Africa

I promise...coming soon.

Life AFTER Africa

I keep thinking I will post today. And then the day passes and I'm tired and I don't post. To be honest, I am having trouble blogging. The things I knew to be true three weeks ago seem to not be quite as important or the same as before. Nothing has changed here yet everything within me has changed. I am the same person I was three weeks ago and yet my heart is different. I am in a bit of limbo; still processing the amazing adventure we had the privilege to embark upon. Still wondering what on earth we are supposed to do when we finally grow up...if we ever truly do. One objective we sought going to Africa was clarity for us for our future. The truth is, it is clear that Africa needs us/others. It is clear that other countries need us/others. But the blurry part is how or when. The focus of where, how, when, who...those are the things we struggle with today. And, it was much more peaceful in Africa. Eric and I lived in a blissful world where he didn't have to go to work, our communication was on target 99.9% of the time, our kids were quiet (ok, so they weren't there but we missed them to death), and we never fought. Re-entering life as we know it has been difficult. Nothing around us has changed yet we have. Eric hit the ground running at work and we still haven't had an opportunity to reconnect with each other and process. Understandibly our kids are acting out a bit after feeling somewhat abandoned in recent months. There isn't enough of me to spread out over all of them yet they need me. We are addressing some of the most difficult attitudes and behaviors we've experienced thus far in parenting. And it seems as though all I want to do is cry out in frustration and say, "DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND??" The things we take for granted and hold of high importance are really truly meaningless. And yet I know this is a feeling I hold as a result of the emotional confusion I feel about life. How can they or anyone else understand? Now, do you see why I haven't posted in so long? I cannot narrow down my thoughts. I can't clearly articulate the passion, emotions or feelings that scream AFRICA.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Things I missed

- I almost cried at lunch when Lucy begged to pray. She could be a preacher as long as she prays. I just love her.

- Beth greeted me in full makeup and glitter. Grandpa warned me he overheard her telling Lucy she was "going to California with her boyfriend". I hope they were just playing.

- Believe it or not, I missed grounding Jake and Alex from books.

- Diet coke WITH ICE.

- Seriously, I realize we stayed on a beach but I had trouble focusing during my quiet time. I missed my chaise lounge. :)

- Email.


We left for the airport at 4 pm Sunday Liberia time...that translates to 10 am Iowa time. We flew the first leg from Monrovia to Brussells as planned except for a minor time delay for refueling (because in Liberia they use gallon jugs to fill the gas tank so it takes a LONG time to fill a big airplane). After a short delay in Brussells, we loaded the plane to head to Newark. The captain came on and said there was ANOTHER slight delay...the defribulator was not working and it is a "no go" item, meaning we don't go unless this works. So, we were to give them 5 minutes to locate the part and they'd report back how long we'd be waiting. So, 5 ++ minutes later the pilot came on and said they had to get the part from London. Seriously, no where in Belgium carries a battery part for this thing?? So, long story a little shorter we had to deboard the plane and wait 5 1/2 hours more. But, the story gets better. About 2 minutes before the pilot announced our possible delay I took my customary sleeping pills...a full dose. By the time we finished lunch my words were slurring and I thought I was going to fall over. I ended up laying on the floor asleep in the middle of Brussells airport. We missed all our connecting flights. We got to Newark in time to make some alternate flights but by the time we stood in line most of the flights had left. Decision: keep going to Chicago and sleep in O'Hare airport or get a courtesy hotel in Newark. There was only 3 seats left on the flight the next morning and we would get home by late afternoon. Tony and Jill opted for the Newark option while Mark, Eric and I were going as far as we could. We were seriosly thinking about renting a car to get home. I had a little mental breakdown in the airport at the realization I wasn't going to see my kids last night...and a few reports from home brought me back to the real world as well. Emotionally spent, longing to see my kids, and exhausted from the many hours in the flight, I took a back seat out of Newark while Mark and Eric wheeled and dealed to get us to Chicago. They were still working the "system" at the gate just before boarding the plane. Still thinking we were sleeping in the airport, we were glad to just get some food vouchers and grab a quick pizza and a long awaited diet coke with ICE before the last leg of the night. We got into Chicago around 11:15 pm just in time to check a few more flights out. One flight left: Cedar Rapids. But because of weather delays in Chicago many flights were cancelled and many people sleeping in the airport or re-routing their journies. The Cedar Rapids flight was full, although Eric plead a good case with the attendant who offered stand by seats (meaning the flight is full but I can give you a seat in case someone has a heart attack before they walk between this gate and the airplane). :) A little more of our soga shared with another gate attendant and Mark was able to get us rooms at a very nice hotel. About 38 hours after our journey began, we arrived at the hotel in time for a HOT shower (which we hadn't experienced in two weeks), freshly brushed teeth (which I think EVERYONE appreciated...we were starting to clear rooms when we breathed), and three hours of sleep. 5:15 am we met outside our rooms and headed back to the airport. A little more patience was needed as our tickets weren't entered correctly again but we finally got out of Chicago and flew into Moline around 9 am. Whew. So grateful to finally be home safely. The kids waited around for us this morning and just headed to school at lunchtime. Eric headed into work. I'm heading to bed. (this doesn't seem fair to Eric but seriously, someone has to be able to parent our children this evening!)

One last thing. I was really bummed at how the trip took a turn towards the end. We were really on a high about how God is working in Liberia. I won't give you all the details until I sleep a bit and have some organized and whole thoughts but I will share this. Our short 30 minute flight this morning was hosted by a beautiful young black woman who reminded me of the families we grew so fond of in Liberia over the last 15 days. She was so pleasant and reminded me of the welcoming and friendly Liberian people. I only had the duration of the flight to reflect on this but this flight attendant reminded me how much we all fell in love with the people we lived life with over the past weeks. I was reminded of how God brought us home safely and through this whole trip safely. This is the day the Lord has made. And so was yesterday. Let us rejoice and be glad. I'm glad to be home. But I left a part of my heart back in Africa.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Last Update before Pam Returns!

This will be the last update until the team returns to the states. I hope you all have found them informative and helped you feel connected to their trip. Yesterday the team went to the market. Pam found a sill she was unaware of, she is very good at bargaining. She even did better than Eric. They said “Look out Dave”. They were not able to go to another orphanage as they had a mix up with Robert. Pam also got a new hair do on this day. I can’t wait to see it. Tony was able to go on a date with a nephew, a niece, and his sister-in-law. On Saturday, they met with the lady that owns the house (for the library). Things did not go very well, so they will not be using this building. They then left to go to the Year End celebration. On the way there they had car trouble. It was fixed, but this put them back about 3 hours. They said everything worked out just fine. They had lunch at the party then went to Tony’s Mother’s house again. A brother and sister of his were there, so it was a good reunion. For dinner, they ate at Pastor Vaye’s house. He is the Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church. This evening they were able to spend at lot of time talking with Robert and Koligar. Tomorrow (Sunday), they will go to church around10:30. Tony will be speaking tomorrow. Then they will have time to pack and go to the airport. Their plane leaves at 9:40p.m. (their time), so they have to go to the airport around 4 or 5. Mark asked several times for prayer that all the flights go well and are on time. I ask that you pray that the weather will be good enough for them to be here at 5:40p.m. (and not a minute later). THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME TO READ THESE LETTERS AND FOR ALL YOUR PRAYERS! Love, Amy

Thursday, January 11, 2007

1/11 Update from Amy

Pam says “HI!” to Jake, Alex, Beth and Lucy. She misses you all very much. Only about 4 more days to go! As for the rest of the group, they are doing well. This morning Tony brought Koigar’s kids to the complex for a visit. They sang for the team. The kids are not able to get out much, so this was a treat for them. This afternoon Jill had a meeting with the minister of health. Then the team drove to Tony’s mother-in-laws house. They had lunch there. After this they drove to Victoria’s house. She is Tony’s sister. Her husband is a Representative in Liberia. They had dinner with them. They also meet with Reverend Wilfitoe, he pastor’s a church that the Ngwayah’s help support. They felt they had a very good day as they meet with more Liberians in their homes. Tony felt this is the best way to build relationships. Mark said today they got stopped at a check point for the first time. It took about 30 minutes. He said it was interesting. Mark will not call tomorrow so I will not send out an e-mail. He said they plan to go to a market and to an orphanage. They are hoping to go to look at the house for the library. They are also hoping to take Koligar’s kids with them. On Saturday they have been invited to a celebration for the New Year. They are looking forward to it. Please pray for Robert and Koligar as it is hard on them to get to know people and then have them leave. Thank you for the prayers for those of us back here (me). God has given me more patience than I thought I could possible have, plus fewer fighting boys than usual. This makes the time without Mark so much easier. Thanks again, Amy

from the team

Hi everyone, I didn’t get a chance to get the letter out yesterday, but Mark did call. Wednesday Jill had a meeting at 8:30 with other organizations that are working in Liberia. Pam spent the day with Robert’s wife. She helped make bread and also helped make dinner for the team. I am sure she really enjoyed this. Mark said she had a very good day. Tony took Mark, Eric, and Koligar to a village about 35 miles away from Monrovia. Tony stayed at this location for four months during the war. They went to visit Mr. Dixson (he let Tony stay there) and to see the school that he started. The building is made of mud bricks. They are in need of money to build a concrete school. Mr. Dixson asked that we pray about this. While at this village, there were some muslim men. Mark said he got to see Tony in action and that it was so cool. Tony is so smart and good with his words. Mark said Tony really made the men think. For dinner they went back to Robert’s house. They had some time before dinner so Mark played with the kids (which he loves to do-we miss him). Mark did not have any pressing prayer requests. He said Jill is feeling better and the computer turns on, but still has some kind of short. The money situation is growing tighter so he has decided not to call home anymore. I have to call him which is also expensive. So, I am not sure how much info I will be able to get for the next 4 to 5 days. They get home at 5:40p.m. in Moline on Monday the 15th. Please pray everything goes well for them and the families here, Amy

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Another Update from Amy

The phone call was very short as the time ran out on Mark’s phone. So, I don’t have a lot to tell today. First off, Mark said everyone is really missing their families back here. They all said to say “Hi and I Love You”. Only about 6 more days to go! This morning Jill had a meeting with a lady that does some kind of social work. While she was at the meeting, the rest went to a local market. It was in a burned out building. They sold things like fish and spices. Mark and Robert took the computer to the ILWA compound and a man took it all apart. He is hoping to have it working by tomorrow. This afternoon they looked at the space in the basement of a restaurant (for the library) and tomorrow they are going to look at a house. The basement is in a great location, but the house is much bigger and costs less money (not as good of a location). After looking at the house tomorrow they will have to make a decision. This evening they had dinner at the home of Pastor Yonga. He is the associate pastor of Calvary Baptist Church. Please pray for wisdom on which building to rent for the library. I did not get a chance to ask about how Jill and Tony are doing. Hopefully Mark can call tomorrow. Amy

Monday, January 08, 2007

Today's Update

"This morning Mark went to the hospital to give blood. The doctor there felt it was just fine for him to give, so he did. Mark said it went very well. Other than the trip to the hospital, this morning was rather uneventful. Jill had to meet with someone this morning so the others stayed at the complex. Around 11 they left to meet up with Jill at the Group of 77 Handicap Home. When she was in Liberia last time, she took medicine for them. She was checking on the supplies this time. For lunch they eat at the pizza place again, along with the pastor from Calvary Baptist Church. A judge that Tony went to school with also joined them. After this they were able to go see the land where Centerpoint will be located. Before dinner Mark, Pam, Eric, and Tony went to the ocean which is very close to the complex. Over dinner they discussed the goals for the rest of the week. It sounds like the days are going very quickly for them. The computer was not worked on again today, but pray that tomorrow will be the day. Also please pray for Jill as she has had a cough that is not going away. Plus while on the beach, Tony cut his foot on a sharp object. He was not sure when he had his last tetanus shot, but he felt he was fine. Please pray that he is fine. One last prayer request is that their money stretches to the end of the trip. Things (food, gas, and so on) are costing a little most than was planned. This will be helpful info for future trips. Thank you for your continued prayer, I will write again tomorrow, Amy"

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A Good Day

Today was a good day. It was not as emotional as yesterday. Sunday school went very well. Robert was really impressed with Eric’s teaching. Pam did not get much response until the end when she asked if she could pray for anyone. Many women shared their prayer requests. Mark said to ask Pam about the bathroom situation when they get back. I am not sure what that is all about. After church they had lunch and then took Robert and his family out for ice cream. They were also able to go to an SIM complex called ILWA. I guess this is a missionary complex. While there they met a couple that started the African Christian College. This is where Tony and Robert went to school. This couple is there to rebuild their school that is 8 hours inland. It had been ransacked from the war. Now the jungle has taken over and is literally growing in the building. For dinner they went to Koligar’s house. He is Tony’s brother-in-law, their wives are sisters. Koligar’s wife and one daughter live in Denver with Tony and Beth. Koligar and the other seven children are still in Liberia. Mark said the US will permit them to come here but, they do not have the money to get everyone here. (one plane ticket is around $2600). The daughter here in the US has a medical condition and her doctor does not want her to go back to Liberia. Please pray that God will reunite their family soon. Koligar’s daughters made dinner for the team and sang for them. Mark said it was very nice. Tony’s in-laws and a couple of brother-in-laws were also there. Tony told them that it is a very big deal for the team to go to their home’s (Liberian’s) for dinner or a meal. He said many of the missionaries that live and work there have never been to their homes. Our team has been there for 4 days and has been to at least 3 homes. I asked about the availability of food, Mark said most Liberians eat once a day, mostly rice. He said a 100lb bag of rice costs $40 (US) and lasts about a month. He asked that we pray for a few things. One is that the computer will be fixed. The meeting did not happen last night, but they have another guy lined up to look at it. Another is that the children need Sunday school books as they don’t have any. Finally please pray for Mark as he is planning on giving blood tomorrow. Robert’s father is sick and needs blood. Robert gave yesterday, but he needs more. Robert said it is safe, but Mark just gave blood before he went on the trip (as he will not be able to give for a year due to going to Africa). Robert also said the doctors are American and will know for sure if Mark should give. If Robert’s father does not get more blood, he could die. Mark assured me that if it is unsafe, he will not give. Please pray that it will all work out.
Pam also has a message – Happy Birthday Kathy!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Another Day in Liberia

"Hi, I just got off the phone with Mark. I don’t know if I want to laugh or cry. He said Tony is expecting the Fortenbacher’s and the Buller’s to be moving to Liberia! What? Anyway, Mark said they had a very emotional day. This morning they went to an orphanage that had about 40 kids. He said all the kids were so cute. An American woman is in charge of the orphanage. She said most of the kids will be adopted. There are a few groups of kids that are hard to place- handicap children, siblings (as they do not want to split them up), and older boys (7 or 8 year olds). She did say that a need for them is clothes. So I guess we will have to start sending all our out grown clothes to Liberia. Mark asked about kids with clefts, as this is very near and dear to our hearts. She said most babies born with birth defects do not live. This shocked me, as I have seen many adults with clefts that have not been repaired. He went on to say that they are not allowed to live. I was speechless. I see how blessed we are to live here. After this very emotional morning they went to have lunch with Tony’s mother. When Tony became a Christian his family no longer had anything to do with him. His father died not to long ago and since then he has had some contact with his mother. So this was also an emotional time for the team. Tony’s family is very poor. They have about 50 people living in a very small house. While they were having lunch, the mother of Tony’s best friend (when he was younger) came to see Tony. His best friend has died and it was very hard for the mother to see Tony as many memories of her son came back. This must have been a hard day for Tony as well. This evening they were able to have a nice dinner at Robert’s house. Robert works for Tony and has been with the team daily. Robert has 4 boys with the youngest being 2 months. Mark said Robert lives in a very poor area as well. Robert’s mother has been cooking some meals for the team. She made them the dinner and it was very good. After dinner they went back to the complex for the night. Tony and Robert were expressing the need for a laptop for Robert. So, Mark gave him the one he had. There is a small problem though; it has not wanted to turn on since they got there. Robert was so excited about getting the computer that he called a guy to come work on it tonight at 10p.m. This gave Mark great joy to see his excitement. So, please pray that the computer will work. The last thing that Mark said is that they are leading Sunday school tomorrow at Calvary Baptist Church. He asked to please pray that it goes well. They asked Mark to lead the men, but he had to decline. He said he would be happy to lead the children, so that is want he will be doing. Pam will be leading the women and Eric will be leading the men. So, you can see this has been a day filled with ups and downs. I also ask you to pray that they will be able to sleep peacefully tonight. Thank you for your continued prayer, Amy"

Another Phone Update to a Family Member

"This morning they stayed at the complex and read a little while Tony and Jill took care of some business. The team was going to an orphanage, but it did not work out today. They are hoping to go tomorrow. Tony took them to see some land that he and his wife are going to build a house on. They also met with a missionary couple (James and Kathleen) and their 4 children. They had dinner with this family. Mark sounded very upbeat (but when doesn’t he) and said things are going very well. Please continue to pray for more good days. You could also pray for those here to also have extra patience and grace."

Thursday, January 04, 2007

They Made It!

Received this email from Amy, (Mark's wife)
"Mark called at 4:15 p.m. (10:15p.m.their time) to say they made it safely. They were in their rooms and ready to go to bed for the night. He said that the place was much nicer than they had expected and that they each had they own room. Pam and Eric were able to stay together. Everything is going well, all the luggage arrived with them. They are getting up early tomorrow to register with the consulate."

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

On Their Way--

Got this email this morning:
"I am just sending you this small update to let you know that the team made it to Belgium at 2:00 a.m. our time. They had about an hour lay over and then are heading to Dakar. My info says they leave Dakar at 4:45p.m. their time (6 hours ahead of us)."

Last I heard they were all functioning on very little sleep. But they had met up with Tony and were all letting the excitement and anticipation carry them.

Continued prayers for safety, flexibility, and wisdom would be much appreciated.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Big Day

We're getting ready to hit the airport in a couple of hours. The house is mostly clean. Just a few laundry loads left. Our bags are fully packed. But most importantly, the kids are safely tucked into bed with plenty of hugs and kisses. Two have decided to set their alarms and camp out in the living room to see us off at 4:45 am. We're ready. We're excited. We're a little tired. :)

Hopefully updates to come...