Nov 24, 2016

This is my very first trip to Europe.  I am going to be meeting Cherie in Barcelona and I cannot wait to see her!!

After getting all my baggage together, Del and family and our family took me to the airport.  TJ helped me get to the door of the airport and I wheeled my stuff up to the kiosk.  I was nervous because it had been a while since I flew alone internationally.  When I got up to the kiosk, I started handing her my passport and putting my bag on the moving band.   She then asked me for my card that I had payed for the ticket with, then she told me it was the wrong card and that she needed the card that I payed for the ticket with.  I told her that, that specific card expired, I cut it up and threw it away!!  She told me that I needed to at least find the number if I wanted to get on this flight.  THIS IS EXACTLY THE REASON I WAS NERVOUS!!!  I was sure something like this was going to happen, and it did!!!  She motioned for me to scoot over so the next person could come up.  I wanted to cry, because I could not think of how I was going to find this number.  I called TJ and told him to do whatever he could do to find it.  I started looking up amazon purchases, vitacost purchases, anything I could find where I had used the card, the thing is that we don’t use our cards here for purchasing our groceries and such for security purchases, we just get cash out, so I could not find it!!  I decided to pray, so I stopped and prayed, knowing that I could not fix this but God could.  After praying I decided to ask her again if there was any way we could bypass this or if there was someone over her that I could talk to, so she sent me over to the guy who was head of the department.  When I got over to him, I told him that I still couldn’t find my card number, and that it was expired and that I had thrown it away, he acknowledged me, but then brushed by me to go do something else, I was sure he was just blowing me off!!  After a few minutes he came over to me and told me I could go, I was surprised… I went back over to the kiosk and what do you know they over rode the system and got me through without that wicked little number!  Praise God!!  He answered my prayers.  I was still shaky and nervous, still wanting to cry from the almost disaster.

I walked through security, and when I got to the gate I sat down in a position where I could “people” watch because who doesn’t want to do that in an airport.  A couple english men came and sat next to me, we both started sharing what we were doing in Senegal, they were there for work for a couple weeks, and I shared what we’re doing.  He continued to ask questions, because anytime people ask us what we’re doing in Senegal there is no way to get around who God is and what he is doing in our lives, and how he has lead us here.  He was a science believer, but the kind of science believer that doesn’t believe in God.  He  was fine with me believing what I believe and the muslims believing what they believe, he said that was good for “them”.  I followed that up with a bit of testimony about who God is in my life, I shared how God lead us into missions and into Senegal, and how real he is, and how no man can deny that he exists, all you have to do is look around at humans trees and the entire earth to know that there is a God.  I shared that I have a relationship with him where we communicate on a regular basis and he said that boggled his mind how we could have such clear direction and clear believe when it’s just not possible… obviously that’s where he’s mistaken, and how sad!  It was sad for me to see someone completely rejecting God!  And after living in Senegal for a while I’m not used to that, pretty much everyone believes in a god, the African people are a very spiritual people and I love that!  However obviously, I would love for everyone to know the one true God and have a personal saving relationship with him.  Even though it made me sad that he didn’t believe in God or have a desire to, it also made me thankful for my relationship with God, and for the fact that he has chosen to reveal himself to TJ, me and our girls, and I am grateful that I have a chance to know my heavenly Father and that we have hope in him!  What meaning that brings to our lives, and to know the one true God… what an incredible privilege.  In the moments after I prayed for my new acquaintance that God would be able to pierce through his currently hard heart, that he would have the chance to have a relationship with our true and great God.

Dec 11, 2016

I am beyond grateful I had to the chance to spend a week with my dear sister Cherie, and in Barcelona Spain at that!!

When I flew into Madrid after going through customs, climbing several stair, going down and up elevators and going through more check points… finally I found a bench to lay down on and sleep.  I slept for maybe about an hour.  Unfortunately there was no internet so I couldn’t do anything there… I later found a Starbucks… yay!   Even if you don’t like Starbucks, it is a beautiful site after being out of the country for over a year, I’m pretty sure I spent a fortune on my coffee and chocolate muffin, and then they didn’t have cream for my coffee… no cream?  Who uses milk instead of cream in their coffee?!  Apparently the Spaniards!!  So I asked the poor busy looking girl like 3 times for more of that canned whipped cream in my coffee, I decided that if I was going to spend this much on coffee and Starbucks at that, I was going to HAVE my cream!


After having a nice conversation with a couple newly pregnant couple in Starbucks who just finished their vacation in Spain, I found my gate.

Upon Arriving at the Barcelona Airport, and getting my luggange, find the free buss to take me to terminal 2 and then I needed to find the train… eventually found it, but had to take quite a hike… again with my luggage.  Upon finding the train I needed to buy a special transport card and then wait for the train, I got on the train swiped my card, I payed close attention to my destination, I got off at the right place, but climbed up the wrong side of stairs… I began asking those around me where I might be able to find bus 7, after walking back and forth around a few streets dragging my 2 big pieces of luggage (had lots of gifts to give and lots of gifts to bring home) trying to communicate with people who only speak Spanish, I beginning to feel quite lost, finally I FOUND the right bus stop!!  Upon arrival at the right bus stop I SAW BUS NUMBER 7!!  So I squeezed with my bags in-between some motos and knocked on the door for  him to let me in… well because he was just after the bus stop he wasn’t going to open the door. Ugh!  So I went and sat down for what I was sure was going to be an hour, I wanted to cry, but then 10 min later another bus 7 drove up… yaaaaaay!  I got on the bus and watched carefully again for my destination, when I got off, I had to again drag my luggage down the street, across a big intersection and back down the other side, when I walked into our big hotel I took a deep breath and said “FINALLY… IIIIII’m here!”

I checked in and rested for a few hours, then went out and found some yummy food behind our hotel, and then began my trek back to the airport to help Cherie with her luggage!

My first meal in Barcelona... before getting Cherie

My first meal in Barcelona… before getting Cherie

I got on the right bus and got off at the wrong stop… so I walked aaaaaaal the way back to what I thought was the train, it was the right name, but it was the metro not the train, I used my transportation card (10 uses per card) and asked someone which direction to the airport, they said metros don’t go to the airport, so I went back out to the main area and waited 15 min for the lady to help me, but when I asked her for help, she didn’t know a lick of English!!  I didn’t know what to do, so I went up and sat outside in the cold and began to cry because I couldn’t call anyone (dif country) couldn’t talk to anyone, and I didn’t know how to get to the airport or how to get ahold of Cherie!!  Here I am sitting on the bench outside the metro crying.  A man came up to me that I had just passed in the metro and asked me if I wanted to go to the train with him, and I said I don’t know I want to go to the airport, he said the train goes to the airport, he heard me talking to the lady and he said he was a little lost too, but he could help me.  I was thanking God, and then trying to hold back all my tears as I walked with him to the train.  He helped me figure out exactly what to do.  When I got to the airport terminal 2 to be exact, Cherie never came out.  TJ called me with internet, I had a little bit, and told me that Cherie needed my help, but I was confused about where she was, the only way for me to talk to TJ was if he called me, I couldn’t call him or Cherie, So I waited for like 45-1 hour for her, and wondered what the problem was, finally I looked at her itinerary again and saw that she was in terminal 2 A and I was in 2B, so I began running outside towards terminal A… And there she was!!  She said “Theeeeerrrreee you aaaaaarrre!”.  We embraced and were sooooo glad to finally be together!!  We decided to attempt this public transport again, I had successfully done it the opposite way, so we were okay.  On the train, we were together, and it was wonderful. We shared with each other the crazy happenings of the day and night before, it was an eventful trip for both of us!  Cherie gave me a world map necklace that matched hers, so we wore them together most of the week.  You say like little girls? Maybe, but I don’t care, I love this girl and it was so fun to be together!

Together with our world map necklaces!

Together with our world map necklaces!

When we got back to the hotel we settled in a bit, but were so hungry so we headed out for a late dinner, which was fine because people eat late anyway… like 10 or 11 late!  We ate Frankfurt’s and talked and laughed and talked and laughed, it was just so nice to be sitting across the table from such a dear friend and sister.

Day 1:  The next morning to our surprise we ended up getting up at 11:30, we drank some amazingly delicious espresso from the machine in our room, and I ate the waxy donuts that Cherie brought me… Oh my goodness, sooo good!!



We went out and ate some yummy lunch.  The day consisted of a semi rainy day where we walked through the mall and I bought a jacket with money from my mother in law because I was freezing, and I don’t have any jackets in Senegal.  We walked around the beautiful, fun and old city some, they were selling fresh flowers all along the streets which was so amazing for me, because it is hard to find fresh flowers other than in pots maybe





For dinner found a place to eat “tapas” which is a normal dinner for Spaniards, it is basically like a bunch of little plates with all kinds of food, Iberian ham and quail eggs, brie cheese, fried artichokes, olives, potatoes, scallops, and many other yummy things.  And I have to tell you it was during our dinner times that we ate fun food and talked  and laughed at, and talked and laughed some more, it did my heart such good!  And after our dinner usually we went looking for hot chocolate, because there was different types of hot chocolate all over the city.

Hot Chocolate!

Hot Chocolate!

And we of course had to find ourselves some fresh cream for our coffee in one of the little local grocery stores.  We asked someone just to verify that what we were looking at was cream, and he said “well that’s for cooking and desserts and stuff”, he was confused why we would want to put heavy cream in our coffee… again people, your missing out!  We enjoyed our cream in our coffee all week.

Day 2:   We got up a little earlier, and got out sooner, and this time I had my warm jacket to wear, I thanked my jacket several times a day for being warm for me!  We walked around the “Gothic Quarter”, we visited big churches with big windows and lots of detail.



And I found vapor decaffeinated coffee... wahoo!!

And I found vapor decaffeinated coffee… wahoo!!

Cherie LOVED visiting the churches which made me really enjoy it too, I really just enjoyed being with her, talking and living life side by side for an entire week!  I found myself some raspberries which was is a big missed item for me!



For me, I really enjoyed being somewhere different.  I LOVED walking through the streets and seeing the balconies above the skinny allies.  I loved that everything was clean and we rarely saw a piece of trash on the ground, I enjoyed not being looked at as a foreigner, it might sound funny but as long as I didn’t talk, no one knew that I wasn’t a Spanish speaking citizen, kids weren’t yelling out “toubab” every time I walked by!!



I loved that I could actually experience the cold.  I loved that I didn’t have to be afraid to take a deep breath for fear of breathing in a smell unheard of to most Americans.  I enjoyed the lack of dust and pollution, I liked that there were fixed prices, although sometimes I wanted to barter and did!  In the afternoon we stopped for some amazing coffee with some Irish goodness in it!


Unfortunately this is the day I started having butt problems and by that I mean it was difficult to walk because of the pain in my leg and lower back muscles.

stretching out my hurt butt

stretching out my hurt butt

We had some incredible Asian food for dinner, like I said we had so much fun eating “fun” food!!


This was on our way to the asian restaurant. It was a little Senegalese artisan shop, it wasn’t open sadly but it was fun to see.


SUCH delicious food!!

Day 3:  Day 3 was massage day.  We got to the place a little early so we went to the chocolate museum that was near by… it was okay.

All of this stuff was made out of chocolate!

All of this stuff was made out of chocolate!

My amazing mother paid for our massage, for Cherie’s Birthday.  I got to spend Cherie’s Birthday with her! yaaaaaaay, so fun! The massage place was in actual ancient roman baths… wow, and there were several different types of pools we could go into, salted, jacuzzi, hot bath, warm bath and cold bath.  There was candles everywhere… no other big lights! They had hot mint tea in these ancient looking pots and fresh fruit.  I’m sure people had a membership there and I’m sure they pay a lot!!  We spent 25 min in the baths, had our massages together and then spent 25 more minutes in the baths… we opted for the hot bath mostly.  After the massage, I looked around a what seemed to be health food store with lots of stuff that I can’t get in Senegal, I just looked at  a lot of stuff because honestly it was just fun to have the option of buying it even if I didn’t have the room!  After buying a couple fun items, it was time to go to our “Dinner and a Show”.  We were both very excited about this!  We made reservations to see Spanish dancing and it came with dinner, so we bought the tickets… so worth our time and money!  Again our dinner was really fun… fun food, and such sweet conversation!!  They are really big on aged ham, they have ham legs hanging out to sell everywhere and it’s not cheap! So in the restaurant they just had this leg sitting there, and they would slice the ham right off it. For dessert there was churros, but there was only one left, so I asked if they were going to make more, they weren’t but they did for me.  They also had a chocolate fountain… yes!! So I dipped the churros in the chocolate fountain.  Most everyone was done with their dinner and had already entered the room next to us where the show would be, well, I had just got my churros and wanted to eat them!!  So all the servers were just standing at the door they kept looking at us and so we started to get up and go, I just kept taking bites of my churros… too good!!

Trying to finish my churros while they gave us the "stank" eye!

Trying to finish my churros while they gave us the “stank” eye!

In my opinion we had the best seats in the house.  We were in the middle in the back, but it was a small room, so there was only two rows of people in front of us.  The dancing was so fun and different and very entertaining!!  We laughed a lot and really enjoyed our evening!!

We weren't allowed to take pictures till the end so we took some pictures before pretending that we were watching the show... lol

We weren’t allowed to take pictures till the end so we took some pictures before pretending that we were watching the show… lol




The show

The show

We waited awkwardly behind a couple girls for like 5 min to take a picture with this backdrop.  lol

We waited awkwardly behind a couple girls for like 5 min to take a picture with this backdrop. lol

Day 4:  We Went to History of Barcelona museum,  It was very interesting, but a lot of information! haha.. lol I’m still like a kid in that if they don’t make it really interesting for me I get a little bored, but again I was with Cherie and that’s what I wanted to do.  I paid for Cherie’s chocolate museum ticket and she paid for my history museum ticket… so it all worked out 🙂  We had a lot of fun walking around the shops looking at different stuff, Cherie noticed that I like to shop… well I do like to look at stuff, that is true! 🙂

me shopping!

me shopping!

We didn’t take pictures of food that night, because well it was rather sad, however we did find some yummy Hot Chocolate again which was like dark chocolate pudding, they happened to have some Irish goodness also 🙂  The guy made us hot chocolate and then he went to whip cream, he kept smelling the bottle and then he smelled the whipped cream after he whipped it and he said no, and through it away… but we were laughing the whole time that he kept smelling it, so it was too funny, so then he left and came back with cream and whipped it and gave it to us.  And then there was another guy that gave us some chocolates and he didn’t speak ANY English, so he pointed to the chocolate and made this expression with his face and gesture with his hands away from his mouth and said “boom boom!… boom boom” We laughed and said “Mucho Gracias”  and he said with his lively voice “Danada Chickas”  Ugh… too much laughter for Cherie and I… so good! 🙂


We went back to our hotel room and watched a show about Queen Elizabeth, and put our tired selves to bed!

Day 5: Our last full day together, we planned a big day.  We had already bought tickets to go see Gaudi park and buildings.  When I woke up in the morning I had a headache, but I REALLY wanted to go, so I ate breakfast, took Excedrin and we were on our way.  It was a really cool and fun park, but my headache persisted.



From the 3 high crosses in Barcelona



We still had tickets for Sagrada Familia, so we found a little cafe, had a late lunch, I took Ibupfrophen, and we headed to the huge ongoing site and church building Sagrada Familia, I felt a little better but it was still there.  The Church adn


the inside


From the top of the tower in the church





the Outside. Wow!

When we were all done it was evening, and we went back to the hotel, and I rested for about an hour and then we went back to the same place that we had had the tapas before, but we were a little bummed because “our” spot wasn’t available outside because the heater wasn’t working, and our waiter was not waiting on us very well like our previous waiter, who also happened to be much better looking than the older balding Indian man.  Finally our previous waiter showed up apparently he was called in, and we expressed to him our regret in coming to the restaurant because he wasn’t there to make our experience better, good looks and good service goes a long way people!!

Day 6: Departure Day.  This day I had planned on going to the airport with Cherie on public transport to save money and spend a tiny bit more time with her, but that night I woke up with another raging headache and took more medicine as well as tried to find something small to eat in the room.  After taking the medicine my stomach hurt and I couldn’t sleep, and before getting up in the morning I had only gotten 1 hour of sleep.  So I decided to rest in the hotel and leave around 12 when I needed to go.  Fortunately I did feel a little better by the time I needed to go.  I took a taxi where you tag them on your phone and they come pick you up and you pay directly on your phone… pretty cool.  When I got to the airport apparently airport cleaning maintenance was on strike, they had come to the airport with newspapers and shredded them all over the inside.  I laughed all the way through the airport.

Airport was on Strike

Airport was on Strike

In Madrid when I got to my next gate, there were Senegalese everywhere speaking Wolof, and even though I don’t understand Wolaf and even though at times it has been the root of my frustration, it sounded like home, I was happy to be in my comfort zone again.  I took the day as easy as I could, but by the time I arrived in Dakar, my head was pounding and I was feeling terrible.  At one point during my flight there were several young men surrounding me asking me all sorts of questions… and finally the question came “Are you married?” and of course I say yes, and they say “Oh to a Senegalese?” and I explain that no he’s American and we have 2 daughters and like always they didn’t believe me, so I showed them a picture.  I explained that even if I was unmarried I wouldn’t marry them because they take more than one wife, and I don’t work that way… so of course we discussed that for a while.  Right before the plane landed I slipped my Senegalese skirt on over my pants to hopefully help my case as I arrived in Dakar.  Sure enough that skirt did more than I could have ever imagined!!  When I stood up to get off the plane all those same men started commenting… “Ooooh she’s Senegalese, look at that skirt” They were even showing the other women what was appropriate to wear.. whoops.. lol  When I got off the plane and arrived at customs, the man was very kind to me and started laughing with me, he told me he loved my skirt and wanted his wife to wear a skirt like that.  The comments continued through the airport, as I got out the gate people didn’t really bother me the way they normally do, because I had my skirt on, and all the way out to the car, people knew I lived here.  When I got to the airport I will wear those clothes. every. time.

Finally I got my man, and my baby Penny… poor Ava was sick in the back seat! 🙁  I was so happy to be home, but also in so much pain from the migraine.

And coming back to Senegal after being in Spain for a week, there was things I realized that I was grateful for.  It was good for me to come back to Senegal and realize how much it really is my home!!  I love that we are surrounded by Africans, I love that it is rude to not acknowledge someone, it is the right thing to do to ask a neighbor, friend or acquaintance about their family and how their are doing.  I love their desire to help one another and that relationships are worth so much here!!  I love that this is my home and this is where my family is.

This is what my family made for my coming home

This is what my family made for my coming home