Our Trip to the U.S.: The Academy Awards

We have now returned from the U.S. to Shyira.  We had a great visit–stopping over in Italy, then traveling down the East Coast, and hung our coats in Darlington, SC.  It’s hard to capture the whole trip, but, in light of the upcoming Academy Awards, I thought I might give some of our own awards.   Here are some superlatives:

BEST FOOD: Sicily, where we had seafood, ravioli filled with pistachio pesto, fresh bread every morning and, of course, gelato–once a day at least.  And also: Italian food in Florence, not Italy, but SC, where we feasted at Kirk and Marianne Laing’s.

MOST FOOD: Thanksgiving Day, at the Damon Hunt Club, where we perused long tables filled with delicious food.

OLDEST RELATIVE VISITED: My lovely grandmother, Sara Williamson, who is 96.  When we left to come back, she said she wished she could come back with us.

YOUNGEST RELATIVE VISITED: Baby Nell Rambo, our niece, who was just 3 weeks old when we met her.Sara and Baby Nell

CAR WITH MOST MILES ON IT: Our ’90 Suburban, with 222K miles on it, and still truckin’.  Thanks to the Whiteheads who lent us a car, so we could have a second car, too.

BEST COUSIN-BONDING Caleb Jr, with his cousin Mark N. in Sicily and Jacob R. in SC.

We had THE MOST SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS EVER: 25 over the 10 weeks.  We enjoyed visiting different churches, groups, and organizations.  Our children were able to be in multiple Christmas pageants.

BEST SPUR OF THE MOMENT BABYSITTING: We arrive at Caleb’s parents in Chapel Hill on November 4 at 1:30 PM and leave at 2:30 PM to go to SC to vote, and have the one night out together of our stay (church meetings excluded).

Lydia, as an angel
Lydia, as an angel

FIRST TIME IN AMERICA: For our hospital administrator, Gad, who came to the US for 2 weeks.   We introduced him to maple syrup, ice cream at least once a day, and cold tea.  He was able to visit several churches and groups with us.

WARMEST DAYS: In December, when it reached over 70 degrees and the children went swimming in Black Creek.

BEST NIGHT OUT WITH THE FAMILY: Going to see Cirque du Soleil in Washington, DC with Uncle Edwin, Aunt Kathe, and cousin Bess.

BEST NIGHT OUT WITHOUT THE FAMILY: Going to see the Messiah with friends in Florence, SC.

MOST INTERESTING CHALLENGE:  Trying to get Lydia to eat American food. We finally broke down and cooked a big pot of beans, and made omelets for breakfast.  The rest of us, in the meantime, were trying not to eat too much American food.  Thanks to McLeod Regional Medical Center and its gracious administration who let us use the Fitness Center to keep down the “Furlough Five” (or 10?).

BEST REUNION WEEKEND WITH FRIENDS: When we were able to host the van der Meer, Madrid and Lee families in Darlington–all friends from a small group Bible Study in Boston, from over 15 years ago.

FRIENDS WHO TRAVELED THE FURTHEST TO SEE US: Marc and Judy Erickson who flew in from Milwaukee, and then drove up from Charleston to see us.

BEST “LONG TIME NO SEE” REUNION: Seeing our Hoshiko cousins and Bishop Bob Duncan in Pittsburgh.

BEST BIRTHDAY: Hannah was able to celebrate her birthday in Darlington, with friends-young and old.  After a scavenger hunt, Uncle William took her and her friends for a ride in his old pick up.

LONGEST BIRTHDAY: Caleb Jr was able to celebrate his birthday for 30 hours, in Italy, across the Atlantic to New York.  He had 3 birthday cakesCaleb and NYC cake: in Shyira, Sicily, and New York.

Caleb and cake in SicilyBEST NEW ACTIVITY: Sara enjoying the youth group at First Pres, Florence.

MOST UNUSUAL SPORTING EVENT: “Catch the Pig”, at the “Winter Games” Family Reunion-unfortunately won by Caleb Jr. Fortunately we were able to leave the pig.

MOST TOUCHING SACRIFICE: K., who gave Hannah free flute lessons, even in the midst of finding out that her breast cancer had recurred.

BEST CHRISTMAS MEMORIES: Cutting down the best Christmas tree ever, Hannah making Peppermint Bavarian Cream with Grandma Hattie, and having a large Christmas dinner at my brother’s house, with lots of relatives. 

MOST UNUSUAL EVENT AT DEPARTURE:  The Dulles airport Hiatt has a fish pond twenty feet long and a few feet deep and filled with foot long gold fish. The night before we left, Lydia managed to fall in it.  A nice lady at the hotel restaurant put her soaked clothes in the hotel dryer so she could wear them on the plane the next day…  

MOST STARTLING CONTRAST WITH RWANDA: Smooth roads, with no people walking in them, and fast food.


Hannah with her bike
Hannah with her bike

MOST HELP EVER ON LEAVING: With my parents, brother and his family all helping out.  Packing up 24 bags-12 suitcases and 12 carry ons is not easy-not to mention 8 computers (maybe we could have brought the pig, after all).


No Awards are complete without Thank You’s: to the Kohls Family, who held down the fort here in Shyira while we were gone, for the numerous people who fed us, housed us, entertained us, provided dental care, gave free swimming lessons, coordinated speaking engagements, and welcomed us in many other ways with open arms.  Thanks especially to our families who are so supportive of our ministry here, though it means being separated.


“Just as each of us has one boday with many memers, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:4-5.

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