Dano, Melissa, Kennedy, Ethan, Erin, Abigail, and Emily

Dano, Melissa, Kennedy, Ethan, Erin, Abigail, and Emily

24 September 2011

Our Special Erin

Our sweet Erin turned eight two weeks after moving to The Netherlands. She was sad to leave her friends in Jeddah. She was sad that her plans to be baptized in the Red Sea were not going to be realized. She was sad to think about no family or friends attending her baptism. This in turn made us hurt for her. There was nothing we could do to change the timing. Her birthday was on the fifteenth of August and school began on the seventeenth with new student orientation the week before. As our children have probably heard much too frequently, you put on a happy face and do the best you can.

On our third Sunday at church Erin was baptized. We attend an English-speaking branch of our church located in Leiden. It is made up of a few Americans and several other nationalities.

Erin looked beautiful. She asked Kennedy and me to both give talks. Ethan led the music and, in addition, he, Kennedy and Abby performed a musical number. Erin also gave a wonderful talk on why she was being baptized. Again, it was a day of mixed emotions as none of our extended family members were there, but we felt embraced by our church friends and Dano’s friends from work who also very kindly came. In all there were over seventy people. Erin was surprised and would never have thought there would be so many. I think she felt very loved and special.

We enjoyed a wonderful meal of pulled pork sandwiches and lots of food brought by the members of the branch. We surprised Erin with a flower and candy lei. Since living in Hawaii, it has been tradition to make these for special occasions. I found the local garden/floral shop and special-ordered carnations. When we went to pick them up, they were the size of a nickel. The florist kindly apologized and said they just don’t have carnations or requests for them here. I thought they were a wonderfully universal flower. (They should be!!) Dano and I quickly went for a second choice and found fifty of these daisy-type flowers. Kennedy and I strung them up Sunday morning to make a beautiful lei. (Though I think the candy lei was a bigger hit.)

I am so grateful that anywhere we go, we will have friends waiting at church. I think Erin has learned that.
I am grateful for a daughter that, underneath it all, truly understands it’s not about who is in attendance or where you’re baptized. It’s about the covenants you’re making and following in the footsteps of Jesus.

What a special girl Erin is. How we love her!

14 September 2011

Ma’salama, Jeddah

With the continued growth in Greif and the success of the building of the plant as part of the joint venture in Saudi, Dano has been asked to lead a new business within Greif. It’s an opportunity about which he’s very excited and one our entire family is looking forward to. This new adventure will take us to The Netherlands. Dano and I made a house-hunting and school-selecting trip in February and knew we would feel at home.

However, as with many moves it’s always hard to leave and wonder how the adjustment will impact each family member. There are many things we had grown to love about Jeddah that we will miss and some we will not.

We will miss seeing camels as we make long car drives. (Though we are glad to have cleared up Abby’s confusion that cows are also camels.)

We will not miss the censorship placed on blog posts and knowing e-mails can be read.

We will miss paying only $ .45/gallon of gas. I about choked when I filled up our van this summer and the total was nearly $70! Nothing close to the $15 to top off an empty, gas-guzzling Yukon.

We will not miss sand and dirt on the floors at any given hour regardless of multiple moppings.

We will miss the beautiful January and February weather and swimming during the winter.

We will not miss the scorchers of June and July.

We will miss the beauty of the crowds of white in the airport as everyone is dressed to come to perform Umra in Mecca.

We will miss seeing people stop to pray together during prayer call, even on the side of the road, and hearing Abby say, “Shh! I hear the prayer call! It’s time to pray!”

We will not miss hearing prayer call at 4:30 a.m.

The kids will not miss their uniforms. As for me, after having been a part of a school that requires uniforms, I am sold on the idea.

I will not miss the holes in the floors that pass for toilets.

I will miss the pharmacies where you can have as much prescription medication as you’d like…without a prescription.

I will not miss not being able to drive. I think I confused Abby when I sat in the driver’s seat. The other kids once again this summer complimented me on my driving abilities. For those of you wondering, after several months of not driving, it’s just like riding a bike… The longest I went without driving during our time in Saudi was seven months. Hard to imagine.

I don’t think Dano will miss driving me everywhere, though we did enjoy a lot more time in the car together than ever before. He also will admit he has never shopped more than he did during our time in Jeddah. Fortunately for me, he never complained.

We will miss our friendly guards who were probably more Abby’s friends. We won’t, however, miss armed vehicles and guards with machine guns sitting outside. We appreciated what they did for us.

I will not miss wearing an abbaya. It has taken a little to get used to it. Every now and then I don’t feel quite fully dressed when I am leaving the house. Oddly, though, there is a fondness for it. Perhaps it’s the memories. I can’t help but smile a little when I see a woman in a store or airport wearing an abbaya. I feel we have some kind of bond or that I know a little about her. They happen to be everywhere.

We will not miss the crazy drivers. We didn’t dare say it until we left, but we were amazed we left the country (alive) without being involved in one single traffic incident.

I will miss listening to Carrie Underwood’s song “My Temporary Home” and feeling it was my theme song and will always think of Jeddah fondly when I hear that song.

We will miss all of our wonderful friends. We were blessed to meet wonderful people during our time in Jeddah.

What a great and growing (nearly) two years for our family; filled with irreplaceable memories and opportunities. We look back on Jeddah with fondness and forward to Amsterdam with anticipation. Ma’salama!

(note: this was written the first of August but due to VERY slow internet service in The Netherlands is just now being posted)