Monday, June 30, 2008

Nomad - Day 1

I can't believe it, but I'm finally done packing.  It truly was like a super-sized game of Tetris packing my storage pod, just not as fun as the computer game.  It really has been a strange experience packing for the next four months; the variety of climates (California, Washington and Africa) has been challenging, and for better or for worse, I have packed five suitcases and am feeling ready to be clothed for any occasion in any climate.  I'm also thinking of naming my first book, "Five Suitcases, Four Months, Three _____ (still thinking of this one, and open to suggestions)  Two Continents and One Purpose"  Or... maybe not so much :)  

Today is my first official day as a nomad.  As I drove away from my house this afternoon it was somewhat surreal, leaving behind the cottage that holds all of my tangible memories for a really fuzzy future.  As corny as it was, I played the theme from Indiana Jones on my iPod as I drove away (goodbye local Hooters down the street, I can't say I'll miss you while I'm gone) and hummed along as I drove my overly packed car onto 880 and headed north to Petaluma.  I had an amazing prayer/healing meeting with some friends from church yesterday, and we prayed through letting go of fear, anxiety and worry, so instead of being scared of the unknown, I'm trying to think of it as a great adventure (now does the whole Indiana Jones theme make sense?)  Really, when will I ever have the chance again to be completely free for four months to travel, spend great time with family and friends and go through a surgery/healing process that is going to make a tremendous difference in my health, etc?  Hello great adventure, goodbye fear and timidity.  

Tonight, I am sleeping at my Grandma Virginia's house and am glad to be here away from the air mattress I've been sleeping on the past few nights.  I've decided to keep track of how many beds I'll sleep in during the next four months.  It could be an interesting list, or again, maybe not so much.  That's all for now - thanks for reading.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

More Photo Practice

The Bahams have been nice enough to let me continue practicing my photography on their beautiful daughter Camille.  Here are a couple pictures from our latest photo shoot:

I'm still continuing to pack and today, I started moving things into the pod which was nice because now my living room isn't so crazy cluttered.  A couple of more boxes and I'm done!
Then tomorrow (Monday) I'll clean up, scrub floors, etc. and Tuesday, one of my two sub-leasers move in and I'll head up to Petaluma to see my family and pick up my parents.  In just a few days, I'll begin the season of living out of a suitcase... hooray???  I have to say I'm excited to get on with things - surgery, recovery, Africa - but not excited about four months living out of bags.  I guess the up side is that the longer I'm away, the sweeter coming home and unpacking will be.  Thanks for reading:)


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Shoes for a New Season

Today, as I continued the packing process for Africa, it came time to pack away all of my work/church clothes.  This included boxes of some of my favorite high heels.  I used to call them my "heels of authority" because clearly, the higher the heel, the closer to God.  As I carefully packed my old friends, one layer of shoes at a time, I felt a little sad to be away from CotC.  Funny that being simply a participant in the worship services has been okay, but somehow packing my shoes is making me all emotional. Weird, huh?

Besides packing, this week has been busy with many things to prepare for my surgery and trip to Africa.  I had an appointment with my surgeon on Monday which went well.  He was friendlier than last time, and after giving a few samples, one via a needle and another via paper cup, I was done with all of my pre-op activities.  So a week from Thursday, adios thyroid! 

I've also been learning about photography from my friend Tammy in prep for Africa.  Today, I photographed Camille Baham, daughter of my friends Jen and Jeff.  I chose her because she's small, unpredictable in what she does and cute, which was a winning combination because I was pretty pleased with some of the pictures. While I don't consider myself a skilled photographer, with the help from tips from Tammy and a good camera, I got some pretty good shots. Here are a couple of my favorites.

So there are the results of my first photo shoot - thank you Camille and Jen!  Tomorrow, more packing, more photos and more pre-surgery/Africa fun!  Thanks for reading.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Lesson in Everything

This last week, I haven't felt very healthy.  Early in the week, my throat started to hurt really bad, like when you have a pill stuck sideways in your throat.   Soon after, it started to feel like a knife from my throat to my sternum when I would swallow, then the left side of my neck and throat were sore to the touch, and finally, it began to hurt to breathe and to speak. Between that and thinking about how I am supposed to be on a plane tomorrow for Uganda, it's been a rough couple of days.  But as always, God is revealing an amazing lesson in the midst of my struggle. 

On Wednesday, I had coffee with my friend Tammy, and during our time, I told her how I was feeling.  The conversation eventually shifted to talking about Africa and how I would begin conversations with people, what kinds of things are okay to ask, etc.  As we spoke, Tammy suggested a good way to ask people to talk about how they feel having HIV/AIDS would be to share a little bit of my recent health struggle, something like, "Before I came to Africa, I had surgery to remove some growths in my throat.  The doctors were concerned I had cancer.  I was very scared."  Plain and simple:  When I was told I was sick, I was scared.  How did you feel when you were told you have HIV?  

I am now somehow a little glad to have my beastly thyroid growths.  My experience at Gift of Love, working with men dying from AIDS gives me a way to relate to others on how it feels to lose someone you love, but until coffee on Wednesday, I didn't realize that I now have a way to start a conversation about what it feels like to be told you are sick.  Clearly, what I have is not comparable in the least bit to being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, but being scared and not feeling healthy can maybe help build a bridge to really connecting with people and learning their story.  
Even though I thought tomorrow I would be healthy, on a plane to Uganda, leaving for the greatest adventure of my life, I am somehow grateful to be at home on my couch with literally, a pain in my neck, just taking every day for what it is and trying to see the lesson in everything presented to me. 


Friday, June 13, 2008

The First Box

Yesterday, I started to pack the first of many boxes.  (If you look close enough to this picture, you'll see musical evidence that I truly was a teenager during the 90's.) This first box is huge for me because it shows I've actually sorted through enough of my stuff and taken enough trips to the thrift store to start packing away things I want to keep.  Who knew I could accumulate so much stuff in just three years of living in a tiny little cottage?!?!?!?  It also shows that I'm finally moving past the whole stage of, "Oh geez, there are growths in my throat, I'm having surgery, it might be cancer, am I really going to Africa?" which I've been fighting the past couple of weeks.  The first box = I'm feeling better about life - hooray!

Matt and Steven (the guys subletting from me) were nice enough to agree to a new move in date, July 1, instead of June 17 which gives me a couple more weeks to pack and clean.  Mary from CRWRC told me yesterday to plan on coming to Grand Rapids August 4-6 for training and I'm praying that on August 7, I'll be on a plane to Africa, but that's not set yet.  

So in the meanwhile, I've scouted out a storage unit, am continuing to clean and pack and am enjoying a little extra time before Africa with people I love in San Jose.  I'm also being thankful for little things, like a half-packed cardboard box, a walk down memory lane courtesy of MC Hammer and NKOTB, and especially for all the support people have been giving me - thank you!!!!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Surgery Update

Today I met with my surgeon, Dr. R (his name is way to hard to spell, so from now on, he's Dr. R)  He didn't seem overly concerned about my thyroid which was somewhat comforting, and we ended up scheduling my surgery for July 3 for the thyroid and growths to be removed.  I should only have to stay one or two nights in the hospital, then have a series of follow up appointments, and after a month I'm cleared to leave the country for Africa - woo hoo!!!

My appointment was less stressful than my biopsy, though I did have a mirror down my throat to a depth that I'm convinced no mirror should go. I would have paid extra for the ultrasound machine, but unfortunately, that wasn't an option.  On that note,  I have to say that Dr. R was somewhat prickly in his doctor-patient ways, but his scheduling nurse, Laurie, was wonderful.  The surgeon had told me he thought his soonest opening would be sometime in August, which was no good considering that would push my leave date for Africa out to September, but when I explained my situation to Laurie with eyes brimming with tears, she searched and found there is an opening on July 3 which is 4-6 weeks earlier than I was supposed to be able to get in.  So I'm hoping to be in Africa by early August, but keep praying all the changes, plans, etc. will work out.

That's all for now.  I've spent the last hour writing and deleting this final paragraph/final thoughts - none of which seem to be developed enough to share yet, so I guess that's it.  Thanks for your support and prayers.