Thursday, July 14, 2011


Keeping a blog while we were in Kenya had many benefits. Our family and friends were able to follow our daily adventures. Also, we can now print out our blog and have a journal with pictures as a keepsake. One of the most entertaining aspects for us, however, was pulling up ClustrMaps which maps all the visitors to our blog. We have had 7,238 hits to our blog as of today and it's exciting to see every continent represented. Our map shies in comparison to the McCropder blog (see our link) who have had over 26,000 visitors to their blog! In fact, many of the people viewing our blog probably found us through the McCropder blog. That's okay, we'll happily accept any visitors - especially if that means we get hits from countries like Slovenia or Saint Kitts and Nevis or Oman. Great geography lessons for us! And many thanks to our loyal followers in the US and Kenya!

Current Country Totals: 7,238 visits
From 6 Aug 2010 to 1 Jul 2011

United States (US) 6,233

Michigan (MI) 3,435
Indiana (IN) 928
Kentucky (KY) 223
Tennessee (TN) 165
California (CA) 163
Illinois (IL) 135
Ohio (OH) 94
Arizona (AZ) 80
Wisconsin (WI) 69
Pennsylvania (PA) 62
New York (NY) 55
Texas (TX) 47
North Carolina (NC) 47
Maryland (MD) 39
Florida (FL) 32
Oregon (OR) 31
Colorado (CO) 30
Virginia (VA) 23
Alabama (AL) 22
Georgia (GA) 21
Washington (WA) 20
Missouri (MO) 19
South Carolina (SC) 14
New Jersey (NJ) 11
Utah (UT) 11
Massachusetts (MA) 10
New Mexico (NM) 10
Iowa (IA) 9
Minnesota (MN) 7
Rhode Island (RI) 6
Kansas (KS) 5
Louisiana (LA) 5
Arkansas (AR) 5
Hawaii (HI) 4
Nevada (NV) 4
Mississippi (MS) 3
District of Columbia (DC) 3
Connecticut (CT) 2
Montana (MT) 2
Idaho (ID) 2
Oklahoma (OK) 2
North Dakota (ND) 1
Wyoming (WY) 1
West Virginia (WV) 1
N/A 375

Kenya (KE) 531
United Kingdom (GB) 92
Canada (CA) 78
Germany (DE) 25
Australia (AU) 16
Madagascar (MG) 16
Sweden (SE) 6
Ghana (GH) 5
Vietnam (VN) 5
Philippines (PH) 5
Italy (IT) 4
New Zealand (NZ) 3
Taiwan (TW) 3
Spain (ES) 3
India (IN) 3
France (FR) 3
Norway (NO) 3
Iceland (IS) 2
Russian Federation (RU) 2
Poland (PL) 2
Europe (EU) 2
Serbia (RS) 2
Saudi Arabia (SA) 2
Tanzania, United Republic of (TZ) 2
Thailand (TH) 2
Netherlands (NL) 1
Belgium (BE) 1
Uganda (UG) 1
Ecuador (EC) 1
Slovakia (SK) 1
Burundi (BI) 1
Indonesia (ID) 1
Finland (FI) 1
Argentina (AR) 1
South Africa (ZA) 1
Mozambique (MZ) 1
Denmark (DK) 1
Switzerland (CH) 1
Hungary (HU) 1
United Arab Emirates (AE) 1
Malta (MT) 1
Saint Kitts and Nevis (KN) 1
Oman (OM) 1
Jamaica (JM) 1
Niger (NE) 1
Korea, Republic of (KR) 1
Slovenia (SI) 1
Singapore (SG) 1
Romania (RO) 1
Malaysia (MY) 1
Nigeria (NG) 1
Turks and Caicos Islands (TC) 1

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Getting back into the swing of daily life in the US has been interesting. Slightly overwhelming in the fact that some things seem so easy and other things seem so difficult.

It started with the drinking fountain at the Chicago airport. It was the coldest, most delicious water we had tasted in a long time. We looked around and couldn't understand why everyone was actually paying for water in a bottle. We filled our stainless steel water bottles which became almost too cold to hold.

We're not sure if we will be able to come to terms with how expensive everything is here! The first morning at home, we were too lazy to go into the basement and look for our coffee maker. Bryan went to our local coffee shop in Plymouth. He paid $7.00 for a plain coffee and a caramel latte! Our entire meal for 7 people cost this much when we went to a local "restaurant" near Tenwek with the McLaughlins. Needless to say, we then went down to our basement and found our coffee maker.

After spending $10 on a salad from a carry-out pizza chain, we realized we could not delay going to the grocery store any longer. We usually like Trader Joe's but unfortunately it wasn't yet open for the morning. The next closest grocery store...Meijer's. Talk about reverse culture shock! The fruits and vegetable aisles almost made us pass out. The red, green, orange, and yellow bell peppers were so shiny and polished that we could see our own reflection. I kept thinking this is exactly how my parents felt when they first shopped in an American grocery store after leaving Vietnam in 1975.

We thought we would be prepared for the Meijer experience since every few months in Kenya we would drive in to Nairobi and shop at the Nakumatt. Nakumatt, like we mentioned in a previous blog, is a gigantic mega-superstore selling everything from food to home appliances. But Meijer's was hands-down cleaner, bigger, and more overwhelming. I almost lost Bryan in the laundry detergent aisle. He was completely frustrated by all the choices. I told him to just get Tide. His response, "there's about ten different varieties of Tide!" We again had sticker shock when our grocery bill for maybe 1-2 weeks of groceries came to $204.

Driving home on the 6-lane highway, we noticed how the roads are so clean and trash-free. Everyone stayed in their own lanes and obeyed the traffic signs. Anna and Leo weren't too happy that they had to wear their seatbelts again. When we got closer to home, Bryan stopped at a stop sign and Leo asked, "Why are you stopping Dad?" Bryan explained that we had to obey the signs. Anna then responded, "I liked it better in Africa when you can go when you want to." Luckily, she will not be driving for another ten years.

Our re-entry to life in the States was definitely made easier by Plymouth having one of the most beautiful and perfect weather days ever. Our re-entry to Plymouth, however, became official when we walked to the Dairy King to get ice cream. Delicious. Some things are easier to get used to.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Safely Home

Almost 48 hours after leaving Tenwek, we have arrived home in Michigan exhausted but safe. Our scheduled 4-hour layover in Chicago turned into a 10-hour debacle due to severe thunderstorms in the Midwest. When we finally boarded the same plane in Chicago a second time (we were de-planed due to poor weather), the First Officer made an announcement that we did not have a pilot. That announcement did not go over well with our fellow passengers. People started yelling, really truly yelling at the Flight Attendant and First Officer. We feared that a full-fledged riot was underway. They threatened to call security to kick the yelling passengers off and things finally calmed down. Luckily, Anna and Leo had quickly fallen asleep as soon as we sat down, so they missed the ridiculous behavior of certain adults. We sat for another two hours on the plane. Finally, a pilot was located and we took off. Thirty-eight minutes later, we landed in Detroit. At baggage claim, we saw the smiling faces of our friends--the Rolfsen family-- who had come to pick us up at 2 am! How sweet to see the kids hugging and not missing a beat. Thank you for all your prayers for a safe journey! Our next locate two of our missing bags :)

Saturday, May 28, 2011


The bags are packed. The good-byes are underway. We feel so blessed to have had our time here at Tenwek. Please pray for our safe travel home and for those who continue to serve here. We will miss our Tenwek family very much.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Homeschooling Success

It's amazing that Anna has completed an entire second grade homeschooling curriculum in less than nine months. She worked very hard and learned so many new things. We would be lying if we said that homeschooling was a walk-in-the-park. But, as with anything challenging, you receive so much more satisfaction and reward when you successfully complete it.

We used the Sonlight Curriculum and loved it. It offered a lot of variety in subject matter and Anna enjoyed the Christian-based curriculum. We also loved the one-on-one reading time we had with her. Anna learned to improve her writing skills. Here is a sample of her writing. She is given a picture (notice the boy in the bell). She then uses her imagination and writes a story about the picture. We were pretty impressed with this story.

When we packed up for home, her books totaled 75 pounds! Even more impressive is that she read all of them. Homeschooling was an invaluable experience for both Anna and us.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Bemm Family

Chuck and Amy with David, Abby, Lydia, Hannah, Shadrach, Ellie, and Esther

The McCropders

McLaughlins (Eric, Rachel, Maggie) and Faders (Jason, Heather, Anna, Abi) and Cropseys (John, Jessica, Elise, Micah)

with Alyssa Pfister and newest McCropder: Ben McLaughlin