Okay we can all agree that 2020 was a difficult year in so many ways. This 2020 year was marred with losses of life, jobs, separation, isolation and loneliness, physical disconnection with loved ones, virtual schooling and our young ones’ loss of childhood normalcy , racial tensions, political divides and election rollercoaster that left us feeling like quizzy bellied.
This year 2020 tasked our mental health in unprecedented ways . This year challenged our physical health, and some of our financial stabilities and left one in four children going hungry daily. Some of us have cried more this year , and for so many reasons, than ever before. This year 2020 showed us that we can not always predict and /or control our future, a reality that is at times, hard for us humans to accept .
Most of the hardships we encountered, we wish there is a RESET button that makes everything anew in the new year.
As we welcome the new year 2021, I am choosing to have GRATITUDE be my RESET button. Looking back at 2020, I am choosing to see the blessings that were present even amidst the storm. God you were there through it all.
• Thus Far, The Lord Has Helped Us – 1 Samuel 7:12
This morning, as I read this devotion piece referencing God’s help “thus far”, implying that our journey still remains, I am reminded to take a look back to see all the imprints of God’s steady hands through the 2020 storm. I also see all the beautiful rainbows that he sent us in the form of love in deepened family connections, rekindled friendships even if just via zoom calls, the precious gift of time to do house projects, or just plain catch up on sleep!
I encourage you too, to take an inventory of God’s blessings in your own life and perhaps find more space to practice gratitude. There’s science to support that gratitude brings happiness.
The journey continues, and I am convinced that whatever this new year brings, that God will continue to help us through it all. I am choosing gratitude fuel my blessings in the New Years!
I write now from a memory that has aged , over a year old now . However, these are still very very sweet memories.
Our family of Six has just successfully descended from Mt Kilimanjaro after spending a glorious awe inspiring week in its majestic presence. We got back to the office of Gladys Adventures and took care of business quickly, our feet fired and dusty from the earth, I gladly left my hiking boots for a lady Porter whom we had encountered on our hike up. I had noticed her because one she was one of the only female porters that we saw carrying heavy loss up the mountain and two because she only had what looked like casual canvas shoes to do all the hiking and carrying up the huge mountain. Anyways, I hope my hiking boots make their way into her hands somehow.
We then left to head to our Safari experience with Gladys’s only son Hillary, the same gentleman who had picked us up from the airport when we had arrived initially in Tanzania. Our car ride was a few hours to get to a very fancy game reserve – Maribou
Their slogan was “ welcome to a happy place with happy people” It was beyond gorgeous!!! #TakeMeBack!
They served us chilled juices while going over the welcomes as the giraffe elegantly parades the grounds . It truly was a scene out of a movie! Only disappointment was the shower was not warm for me that first night although DH says the opposite “ I totally remember you took a warm shower, a 100%” ah well… my memory just recalls yearning for the hottest yet most comfortable showers through out the rest of our stay both in Tanzania on the safari or later on while in South Africa , and feeling like the showers just kept missing the mark . Either it was too hot and difficult to regulate ( fancy ocean front house in Cape cod) or not warm enough showers ( because the sun didn’t shine hot enough to power the solar showers on the safari). Oh! Correction, there was a pleasant shower experience with a very balanced water temperatures at the home of my in laws whom we visited on Johannesburg 😍
The experience seeing the animals and God’s amazing handiwork on display , feeling a part of the circle of life and yet feeling so minuscule when considering the creative events so long ago like the bones of the oldest human “Lucy” a few yards for where we now stand , truly all of it , was mind blowing .
We saw so many animals in their natural habitat , lions with their nearby cute cubs seemingly “playing “ only to look closer with binoculars to see the cubs were just sharing a fresh kill dinner that their mama Lioness just brought home ! Something about knowing that these cute cubs were tossing around a large bone of another animal with blood tinged lips made them look slightly less “ cute” lol
Giraffes in their elegance, hyenas appearing as nasty as they are frequently portrayed on the Disney films, cheetahs and leopard with their shy disposition , Hippos and the stories about their strength and to see them walk with stubby legs on land wow!. Our time on the Safari was like taking a course on nature, the delicate balance of life , every animal co existing with their own lessons to be learned by usb
Our guides was very knowledgeable too. Hillary especially amazed ya with his natural knowledge and easy way of communicating, at times even pulling out guide books to confirm information which he shared.
DH did such a fantastic job at trip planing that we got to move around quite a bit staying at marvelous accommodations around and in the Serengeti including spending spending a night at the bottom of Ngorogoro Crater!
My parents joined us while we were in the Seregenti and added to the fun. To be blessed to have my 80 yrs old father and my 70 yr old mother on the African Safari felt surreal, I only wished my lovely in laws could have been there as well.
We wrapped up the week on the Safari and headed to join my sister and her family who were now visiting South Africa from Dallas TX . Our traveling gang felt more complete and warm with the added joy of cousins and extended family.
I now write from memory. I write from sept 2020 amidst a pandemic. I write with the encouragement from my mother in law Oma who has put my words/ blog posts into a book form and has waited this long to complete the book with the Safari experience. I write from a place of gratitude for the many adventures we have already had as a family. I write in appreciation of life , health , for the love of family and friends, for the freedom and opportunity to explore the world . I will never take these things for granted .
March 26, 2020 and the Coronavirus is raging the entire world. This deadly virus brings along with it chaos and an immense amount of anxiety and fear. It is a respecter of no one, as everyone fears for their life. A mandate for stay at home orders as been mandated by the government for all non essential workers in an attempt to promote social distancing and flatten the curve of contagion.
We are all staying at home now, parents are home schooling their children with all their might 🥴, wonderful teachers are using technology as helpful tool to support parents homeschooling efforts, albeit at times the share amount of emails and information threatens to ennui date us.
Parenting skills including our patience, creativity and not to mention knowledge of 6th grade math skills have been challenged to the core. We wait indoors , at times unable to pull ourselves away from the scary news detailing pestilence around the world . Within our homes, we sanitize and pray for safety for ourselves , for our loved ones and for our world. We are afraid for so many reasons , our fear based on facts and at times myths about this virus .
As a Catholic , the holy rosary is a source of great comfort . Tonight comfort came while meditating on the third glorious mystery of the holy rosary. The scene is after the crucifixion of Jesus, Mary and the apostles return to the upper room and they too ( like us these days) were COOPED up and full of fear. Their messiah has just been crucified for heaven’s sakes !😰
Then enters the Holy Spirit, the great encourager to give them strength to evangelize the good news and remind them that they are not abandoned…What a feeling!
We too must hang in there , doing our best to self preserve and save our world by maintaining our social distance while we wait patiently for our own Pentecost day. We cannot express enough gratitude for the healthcare workers working so hard to save lives while risking theirs. Through their efforts, we hope to have Pentecost day again soon .
Wishing you all strength and love through this crisis …. STAY SAFE and ENCOURAGED!💕🙏🏾
Remember that I mentioned earlier how I have great family and in laws right? Well so somehow my brother in law had connections to the Local News station celebrity/reporter Renee Knott who contacted my DH while we were still on Africa to say he wanted to interview the family once we got back…no pressure of course lol
Wednesday morning before heading off to clinic for work that day, jet lagged n all, our family all sat bright eyed in our living room and chatted about our experience hiking Mt ” Kili” as a family , as well as our twins boys earning the world record for the youngest official Mt Kilimanjaro summiteers!!!. See, the legal youngest age to climb is 10yrs, they turned 10yrs on the day of summit , so viola!
Since our trip, my sweet MIL Oma has turned this blog into a picture book as a gift to us. All of these memoirs help keep this trip more alive for us .
It’s an understatement to say I will forever cherish what this adventure has meant to our family. I firmly believe that’s God took us up that mountain and walked with and cared for us all the way! May he continue to hike all of life’s seasons and terrains with all of us- You and yours too !
Ada and I agreed that the fIrst thing on our minds after the longest travel experience we had today was a HOT SHOWER!!!!
I exhaled deeply as I stepped out of the best shower I’ve had in weeks. Wrapped my hair in towel and felt like I had finally arrived home. You see I have come to develop an immense appreciation for the shower we have at home after this trip. Why? Because I had many “ near misses” with shower experience on our African trip. Showers on this trip ranged from highly anticipated such as after the Kilimanjaro hike, to get just a mediocre shower experience at even the fanciest safari tented camp- Maribou. They had welcomed us by a spill that included something like this “ welcome to a happy place with happy people…”. I loved not only their slogan but their ambiance was perfection! Lovely accommodations overlooking a safari of peacefully grazing giraffes, zebras , “pumbahs”( worth hogs ) etc. The whole place was heavenly except the shower was not hot enough😏. The explanation for this was that the water was heated by solar power and the day before we arrived the sun did not do it’s thang enough apparently- Boo.
So you see I’ve been “ managing “ showers throughout this trip, from bucket showers in our tent in Ngorogoro crater to a random “ poor water pressured “shower in our fancy accommodation in Camps Bay, Capetown. What the heck?! It was like the shower gods were not in my favor for real lol . It was to the point that DH would wish me good luck before I embarked on some of my showering experiences. So you see, then coming home and “winning “ with my ole faithful shower was like a piece of heaven!!! It allowed me to forgive all the random showers on this trip as if to say “ I got ya back- literally “lol
On a more serious note, I could not be more grateful be home safe after the longest family trip we’ve had. Ada and I left Capetown a day earlier than the rest of the family. It was so hard to leave all the fun with cousins behind, but we had to be home early for Ada’s Muny rehearsal scheduled tomorrow morning. DH will be bringing the youngest three home with him tomorrow. He’s a good man, I think I got the easier travel job …
Well if you count the stupendous almost 24hrs delay at LGA airport then maybe not so easy after all . We arrived into NYC at around 6am from Capetown via Nairobi ( where we had a 17hrs layover so ofcourse DH arranged with a friend to do a game drive safari and other sight seeing in Nairobi, a hotel to freshen up before our flight to NYC later that evening). We didn’t get to STL and home until close to midnight.
Ada was such a trooper as always on this trip and even when I was close to loosing my S**T, she tried to distract me with a game “ so you don’t think of the bad stuff Mommy”… she’s truly a STAR.
I’m also blessed with the best in laws honestly, so we had many volunteers for a ride from the airport this evening, which was tricky since the flight time kept changing.
Finally we take off after “ getting a route” from Air traffic Control, apparently there were storms in our paths, ….if only Mother Nature gave a crap about minutiae things like me really needing to get home for my shower…
My BIL ( Brother in law) picked us home from the airport and charioted us home in no time. Oh yeah by the way, Southwest Airline lost one of our bags in all the craziness but this is no time to loose focus on a lost bag, besides they promised the bag and a voucher so I’m good for now lol
It’s now almost midnight and we’re exhausted , but so happy we’re home in our warm bed and my heart couldn’t be more grateful, as I watch Ada sleeping peacefully next to me. I miss DH and the rest of our crew and pray for the smoothest trip possible for them. I count my blessings daily because I don’t want to forget or neglect to be grateful . I loved traveling through Africa and Dubai on this amazing trip but I also truly love being right here at home, grateful for the opportunity and grateful to be a lover of this God given life !💕🙏🏾
As always thank you for coming along on this journey by reading my blog, don’t forget to leave comments as I love reading from you all as well.
Tell me, what you look forward to , after being away from your home. Clearly mine today was a HOT SHOWER!😂