On the flip side of our last post, we were super excited to get off the plane in Nashville and see so many family members there to greet us!  Eric's parents, two sisters, and our new niece and nephew were all waiting for us with balloons and a "Welcome Home" sign.  It was great!  Here are some photos of the cousins all getting acquainted:
 Maggie and Sierra sharing a meal
 Meeting our sweet niece Sierra
 Jena and her husband Brian stopped in for dinner on Monday...she painted Maggie's toenails and won her the immediate designation of "coolest aunt"
 Ben and Liam hanging out together
 Size difference?  5 days and 5 pounds
 The classic "cousins in the bathtub without showing anything too revealing" photo
 Mags and Bapa, mowing the lawn
 Another Ben and Liam shot



Right after we arrived in Kenya, I remember someone telling us that Kenyans are very good at goodbyes.  Americans, they said, are liable to let someone leave and "forget" to say goodbye, or give a passing hug and send people on their way.  Not so with Kenyans.  They love ceremony and speeches, and we left Tenwek several weeks ago feeling truly appreciated.  So appreciated, in fact, that we will need more than one blog to tell the story!  

So to get things back on track with our neglected blog, here are some pictures of goodbyes said in the past month...to Kenyan friends and colleagues who we already miss and will never forget.
The Mugallas: Castro, Joan, and their son Caleb.  Mugalla is a family practice resident at Tenwek
The OB team: Kibet, Araka, Cephas, and Maureen are our current interns.  Also with my fellow attending doc Carrie Huber, visitor Carl Jurgens, and Moi med students Samuel and Dorcas.
Our good friend and faithful house helper, Ruth
The peds team: Joshua, Hannah, Yvonne, Alex, and fellow attending (and McCropder) Alyssa
Good friends Liz and Mike...Liz was an intern from last year who just got hired to work at Tenwek, and Mike was an intern from 2 yrs ago who has been working at Tenwek...and they're getting married soon!  Sorry to miss the wedding. :(
Rose has watched Maggie since she was Ben's age.  She has been a great help and a blessing to our family.

Aaaaand we're back

Our apologies.  Between packing up our house into 8 bags, travelling on 18 hours worth or international flights, overcoming jet lag with 2 kids, re-entering US culture by buying new wardrobes, getting haircuts, and purchasing a vehicle, and finally spending a week in Philadelphia getting assessed by and oriented to our new missions agency (World Harvest) we somehow haven't managed to find time to blog.  Whoops.  :)  But some of our recent adventures can be found at mccropders.com

The rest of the stories are on their way now that we've finally uploaded some photos...watch and see!


Returning Home Highlight: #1

Feeling Culturally "At Home":

First things first: We are people who love traveling, and we love experiencing new cultures.  Two food choices:  One you've had, one you've never heard of.  We go for the latter almost without exception.  And we have loved the opportunity to get to know a new culture at a deeper level than ever before.  There is still a thrill in meeting a new visitor and realizing how many things used to be new that are now second-nature.

However, there is a sense that Kenya (or Burundi for that matter) will never be our home.  And in that regard, we are looking forward to being in our home culture for two reasons especially.

First is the notion of relaxed interactions.  You walk up to a grocery store.  You exchange your own culture's versions of pleasantries.  You pay.  You get your groceries and go out.  Note that at no point to do you have to stop and be intentional about any of this.  You also don't have to repeat yourself several times because of your strange accent.  And perhaps most significantly, you are quite confident that you did not act offensively or rudely without even knowing it.  There is something good in this, and we are looking forward to it.

Second is anonymity.  Have you ever wished that you could just blend in to the crowd?  That you could be so at home in a place that other people don't notice you?  Being out of your home culture (and in particular looking very different from the people in your new culture) means that people are liable to stare at you, follow you, make you the center of attention.  You might feel gratified.  For about a week.  There are some times when this may play to our advantage, but it can become a burden sometimes, and we look forward to walking in a park without anyone coming over to get a closer look at our children.  Or if they do gawk at them, we will be thinking that it's because they're so cute, and not because they just don't see white children very often.

Well, that concludes our Top Ten Lists.  And it may be the last blog we post here before we board the place in 2 more days.  Bags are being packed, and the kitchen is cleared out.  Pray for our journeys, our goodbyes and also our hellos, as another big transition is on the horizon.


Returning Home Highlights: #2-4

#4:  Not Having to Plan Meals:  Meal planning has been the bane of my (Rachel's) existence.  In our early days I would relax with a Betty Crocker cookbook on the couch.  I would spend long periods of time deciding what meals to eat for the next two weeks, what needed to be prepared ahead of time, if we had all the ingredients or not, etc.  There is never an option of running to Little Caesars or eating out.  There is rarely a last minute option like a box of Mac & Cheese.  In fact, if I haven't planned a meal and it's less than an hour to dinner, we are probably going to end up with scrambled eggs (if we have enough eggs) or peanut butter sandwiches (if I had time to make peanut butter and bread).  But, we never starved, I guess I can say that!

#3: Credit Cards:  Before we came to Kenya, we didn't really carry cash.  The main purpose of it seemed to be splitting the bill at a restaurant when you felt awkward about asking for separate checks.  And garage sales. And sometimes some small international grocery stores, but not usually.  We just used our credit cards.  And then our debit card automatically paid off our credit card.  Amazing!  The conveniences are many and oft taken for granted.  Not only do you not have to carry cash, but you can just scan your card at checkout and be done in about 10 second.  (note: at no point does anyone take your card off into some nearby room for a few minutes and tries to call a bank somewhere to effect the transaction, all the while planting fears of identity theft in your mind.)  Also, at the end of the month, when you want to organize your budget, you just go to your online bank statement, and all of your purchases are listed and described!  Wow!

We don't use them often here, largely because we have no international ATM fees for cash withdrawals, but VISA purchases get nailed for 3%, which can really add up, when every life expense is international.

#2: Fast Internet:  For a while, I thought about posting this survey on our blog:

Q: How long did it take for this page to load?
a) <2 seconds
b) 2-10 seconds
c) 10-30 seconds
d) >30 seconds
e) What are you even talking about?  Pages don't take time to load!

We readily admit that our internet service has gotten faster while we have been here.  We also admit that we don't think we really how fast it used to be, and it's probably gotten even faster in the US during the 2 years we've been gone.  For the meantime, need to download something from iTunes?  Might I recommend an overnight download?  It'll be almost done by morning!  That would even be for music, but we looked at "renting" HP7-1 by downloading the movie from iTunes.  Once we realized it would probably take 2 days or more, and the odds of uninterrupted internet service for that long were very low, we decided against it.

We look forward to this technology called "streaming", but it sounds like a bunch of hocus-pocus to us.  We also look forward to a clear and uninterrupted Skype picture.  Video rentals without leaving your home?  Wow!



This morning, Rachel found this video regarding Andrew Peterson, and we think it's awesome. And we think there are enough people that might read this that would agree that we wanted to share it.