Organized Chaos on the Streets of Kinshasa

The traffic, people, and the way of driving in the DR Congo was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and I found it quite fascinating. As I said, The “buses” were quite a bit different than what we have in the States. Almost like mini-vans but a bit bigger. And dented…       You’ll have to excuse the blurry shots I took since they’re snapped from the back seat of a moving vehicle.   In most of the buses, the people were quite squished. You could tell from the way they sat when passing by that they were trying to squeeze into as little space as possible so more people could fit. This particular van was also hauling a bigger load. Each bus is…

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Welcome to the DR Congo

When we arrived in Kinshasa it was with an almost dreamlike feeling. Taxiing down the runway in a massive plane and looking out on a different world than the one we had left only a few days ago. There were a few people working alongside the runway on one side of it and in one area was sure that was small children I could see as we taxied by. Workers stopped to stare and watch as this mammoth Boeing 787 Dreamliner arrived giving the impression this is not a real common experience. The airport gives testimony to this as well. There are no other planes being unloaded and in fact, there aren’t many planes to be seen period. The man next to us speaks for…

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Weary Travelers

It is 7:30am am here at the Addis Ababa airport. Do you know what country I am in? If you guessed Ethiopia, you can reward yourself because that’s exactly right. I’d never heard of this city until I saw it on my flight connections. It is now Thursday and we’ve been traveling since Tuesday evening.  Only another 4 hour flight and we’ll have reached our destination. Yea! So far we’ve landed in Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Vienna and Addis Ababa with our final stop being Kinshasa. But I have bad news to report. My. Luggage. Is. Lost. I can hardly believe it and am praying that it will show up in time for the wedding. There is no record of it in the system when we…

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And They Are Wed

We arrived in the populous town of Shawano, Wisconsin (home to 9,189 persons). We came here for the purpose of seeing one of our Castle Keeper girls marry the love of her life. You may remember Anna from the video that I made of her a few months ago when she became engaged, recapsulating her visit to Arizona for the Castle Keeper end-of-the-year party. The girls got to see Anna for a short visit the night before she was married.   The day of the wedding shone bright and clear. No rain and the weather had warmed up to a very pleasant temperature. If you find me remarking on the weather often it’s because I’m such a lover of heat that I freeze in anything…

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Heading for Wisconsin

We arrived in Pennsylvania with our overwhelming mountain of luggage, surprising not only you, my dear readers, with how much we brought along, but my sister as well. But we did manage to get both our luggage and ourselves packed into the Suburban. After a short overnight stay, we were on to the next leg of our journey. Her family of 6 and ourselves made 12 of us traveling 14 hours in a 15-passenger van. What do you think happens when you’re traveling with people (should I say they’re all in my family?) that have pretty ferocious coughs? You cause those around to cringe and cross themselves in the hope that they can ward off any germ. What a time to be traveling! Lord, please help…

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The Adventure Begins

The start of our European/Congolese adventure has begun even though we don’t cross the ocean for another week. I wonder where to start. When does Day 1 become Day 2? I am sitting in the Detroit airport as I write this wondering for the 50th time why anyone would book a red eye flight that allows a person no time to sleep? We spent the day packing, except for my dear husband who never even started until an hour before we were to leave. All would have been well except he was lacking some primary items. And they were in the dirty clothes.   Oops Much to his credit he never uttered a word of complaint. I think I’ll swing by the store and get…

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It was a memorable two days. Nine girls, one boy, along with Russell and I, took the Castle Keeper girls on their end-of-year-outing. A two-day Arizona road trip to places we’ve never seen before. Taking along our cowgirl apparel. On the road! Our first stop was the Petrified Forest. Not a standing forest by any means but one where trees are lying on the ground or even in pieces here and there. Evolutionists say it took millions of years for the trees to become fossilized, (That’s some kind of dating system, don’t you think? lol) but there are creationists that believe it could have happened during Noah’s flood. There is more petrified wood (trees or parts of trees that are now solid stone) here in…

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Welcoming the New Bride

It’s interesting how your life can take on changes you would never imagine in the beginning. When I first married 26 years ago, it was very common to have visitors at my house quite frequently all the time.  My mom and dad showed me how to be hospitable when I was growing up and my husband’s parents set an example for him. My husband took to hospitality like a fish to water. It became his passion and still is to this day. There was a problem. I didn’t know how to cook when I married so me and cookbooks spent a lot of time together. So here I was not knowing how to cook much besides spaghetti and tacos… but I did know how to…

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Leaving Boring Clothing Behind

What would you do if you were offered an all expense paid trip to a country that was not on your bucket list of places to go someday? It would be hard to say, “No” and we didn’t and so we are going… {drumroll, please} to the… Democratic Republic of the Congo …a place that is said to be the poorest country in the world.   The reason for our visit? A wedding. A very authentic African wedding! 4 days we’ll be spending in the country of DR Congo and what an experience I’m sure I’ll have to tell about. I’ve been prepared somewhat about the wedding. The other day I received a phone call from my good friend. She said, “Liz, I want to…

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When Your Children Grow Up

Although there comes a time when you must release the arrows in your quiver, it’s still difficult when change comes to your family that you have nurtured and watched over for so many years. My son Wesley, who is 19,  embarked on his own adventure by deciding to go to Canada to work for a few months this summer. What a great opportunity for him to learn new skills and spend time with family. After the camp meeting, we had to say goodbye to him since he was going to be flying out of that area the next day and not traveling home with us. Last hugs for his sister. “I know you’ll be home soon, but we’re going to miss you!”   Things are…

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After the wedding and reception, we headed to Indiana for the church camp arriving very late. As always it was a wonderful time. It had rained just enough that the ground was quite wet and where these kids played the grass was gone in just a matter of hours, leaving mud!  My nephew Lincoln didn’t mind it a bit. The fun thing about this youth camp is that if you have a desire to host a class where you share a skill or talent OR if you just want to do something fun with the kids, there’s plenty of opportunity. There were hair clinics (where you go to get your hair fancied), bread baking classes, art classes, sewing classes, Hot Wheel car races, Dart gun…

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A Beautiful Wedding and Outdoor Reception

We awoke to an overcast sky but that was nothing new. Since we had arrived in Ohio, we had not seen the sun, but this was the wedding day and the reception was to be outdoors. Things did not look good but we were excited anyways about the upcoming day, even if it did rain. And it did. The whole drive to Michigan there was a continuous but gentle rain. About 35 minutes from the church, my husband says, “The alternator is having issues.” Oh, no, this was not a good thing! We pulled off the next exit to get gas because we were on E completely and was fortunate that just about 1/2 mile up the road there was an Auto Zone where we…

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An Eastward Trip… Again

Once again we have made a 1,700 mile trek across the country to a church youth camp which my oldest son started going to when he was 12. It was actually the very first youth camp I went to when I was 15 and it’s still going strong! It’s been a wonderful blessing in my children’s life. We drove the church van and took along 7 other passengers besides our family – making a total of 13. We stopped at a park for breakfast one morning. Audrey found a little bird that had fallen out of its nest. And the kids took opportunity to practice their volleyball bumping skills. It was a great group of kids to travel with. One evening I used Urbanspoon to…

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How Our Father’s Day Celebration Came Together

So I kept getting these calls leading up to Father’s Day, asking me what I was going to do for Father’s Day. “Uh, Father’s Day? I haven’t even thought about it.” One was making a smoked brisket for her husband and another was having dinner guests both of which things my husband would absolutely love. But I had nothing… zilch… zero… planned. Poor man. But my alibi, flimsy as it may be, is I have so much going on right now that I don’t know if I’m coming or going right now, whether my head is on straight or not, or whether this is 2015 or 2016. Seriously, I wrote a check the other day with the year 2016 on it. Wracking my brain with…

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What Can Happen in a Year…

Today I wanted to share a couple of slide shows that I made recently. The first slideshow is of one of our Castle Keeper girls that became engaged recently. When viewing it, it makes me realize what a brief time we have with these girls. Our first Castle Keeper to get married and to graduate out of the club. Haha! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElgpKRwqMI0 And the second one is an overview of our Castle Keeper year showcasing our monthly meetings and challenges. Hope you enjoy!

A Luncheon for 200 Campers

I have survived. There were a few several butterflies in the stomach and some short nights but I made it through! Yesterday we had over 200 people here for a luncheon. There is a youth camp in the area, hosted by a church in Phoenix and it’s been a tradition for several years now that they all come to our place for lunch the day camp is over. To get a big job done, it’s important to have good help. And I was thankful for every one of them. My sidekick for events like this and friend for 38+ years. Excuse our disheveled appearance. Maybe we were feeling a little frazzled? We had a Mexican themed dinner. And the kids were quite hungry after having…

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A Road Trip – Seeing Family & Friends

Our family road trip was a whirlwind trip and we covered a lot of miles and saw a lot of people. We stopped at a family camp for a day-and-a-half seeing old friends and meeting some new ones. I was espcially interested in their breakfast set-up. I thought it was well done. Breakfast every morning is the same but it’s everything. Biscuits, gravy, bacon, sausage, eggs, omelets & waffles. I know these guys look kind of scary (maybe they were tired from working so hard – because they sure do!) but my niece in picture #3 more than made up for it. Her smile lights up any room she’s in. So, here’s the set-up. About 9 waffle commercial waffle makers were going (left pic), biscuits,…

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A Road Trip – Stop #2 The Alamo, Texas

The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas was not always called that. It actually began as a Spanish mission and was completed in 1744 with the name San Antonio de Valero Mission. But over the years, it was abandoned and later served as a fort for the army. It became an unforgettable piece of American history in 1836 when the battle of the Alamo took place. But first let me give you a little background as to how the Alamo became involved. Spain held the area of Texas until 1821 when Mexico declared its independence. Mexico then decided to try and colonize the area since it was so sparsely populated. Their plan was to snag immigrants from the United States. This proved to be very successful…

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A road-trip that covered 3,000 miles. You can pack a lot into one week and we proved it by doing just that. Now I need a vacation from my vacation! Seth is getting ready to head to Canada for the next several months as he starts his summer/fall/winter jobs there, just left this morning for Canada so we my hubby decided we really needed to do this family trip before he left. Since I’m just a passenger (no driving for me!) I went along for the ride. First off, it was Carlsbad Caverns, a favorite of ours once we went to see it several years ago. This was our third time to visit. James Larkin White was a cowboy riding along when he saw a…

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Painted Rocks by the Castle Keeper Girls

We’re wrapping up the year for our Castle Keeper girls. They’ve just finished up their last monthly challenge which was to paint a rock. “A rock”, you say? Oh yes, and cute they are! ~~~~~ These owls and ladybugs were even named! “May I introduce you to Jethro, Francis, Kyle and Oliver?” Does that inspire you to make your own? But, wait! Before you run off to paint yours, I have a few more I would like to share. This lovely butterfly is from the hand of an artist in Brazil. I wonder what type butterfly it is? The following rocks were collected while on special outings. One carried all the way from the bottom of the Grand Canyon… …and this one while on a…

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