Monday, April 20, 2009

ReedNews Update April Edition

The Reeds are experiencing the unpredictability of a Michigan Spring for the first time in four years. It feels familiar and new—kind of like it always has. We had a perfect weekend, with low humidity, sunny skies and warm temps, and Monday comes with much cooler, wetter, cloudier weather. The four of us continue to do our thing and our things, with all of us mastering different aspects of adjustment to new school, new jobs, old climates, while at the same time never straying far from the fact that any week now, we’ll get the news that will give us a departure date for Ghana. Here’s some of the latest from each of us:

Noah: Our fourteen year old is making friends and doing very well in school. We are enjoying his
exceptionally subtle sense of humor and fun, and because he is rather quiet, I tend to forget how smart and wise he is. Renita and I have been noticing for about a year that his speech seemed more nasally that it used to be, and after months of debating, we took him to a doctor, who referred him to a specialist, who diagnosed him with velopharyngeal inefficiency/incompetence (VPI) for short. This is a disorder of the soft palate which prevents the throat from closing off during speech, causing too much air to enter the nose. We were all glad to know what the problem is, but the remedy may require surgery.

Hannah: She’s a straight A student with a full plate of activities. She’s now on the soccer team, loves hanging out with several best friends, and yes, is getting calls from boys. I’m watching the circling males like a giant eagle, looking for my next meal. (Click on pic at right to see a close-up of her hamming it with her friends)She just landed a summer job as a counselor at a gig called Camp Tall Turf. So that means most likely she’ll stay in Michigan for a while after we leave for Africa. And if she stays, Noah will probably stay too. BTW, our lovely first born turns sweet sixteen on Saturday. We are even now preparing for a week of festivities.

Renita: The fac
t that she’s 5000 miles and more away has not stopped her from making headway in Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria. Each week has her writing hundreds of emails, attending several meetings, and sometimes traveling to exotic places like Sioux Center Iowa to talk development shop with interested business and/or church leaders. She even has time to share African life with local church kids.(left) She continues to wait on the Immigration people to give her a date for her citizenship interview, and then hopefully the swearing-in service would follow very quickly. She thinks we’ll be outa here by June, I’m betting on August.

Yers Trooly: Those who know me will be surprised to hear that I’m learning French, and those who know me would be even more surprised to read that I'm actually getting it. Comprenez 'vous? Renita is learning as well, but far ahead of me. I certainly cannot converse with a French-speaking person, but I’m slowly catching on. Like Renita, I’m also involved in a fair amount of other work-related activities, which for me means writing, studying and some public-type speaking. I’ll be conducting an adult education series on Justice for Madison Square Church, and last Sunday, we spoke at Mayfair Church. Speaking on justice themes is good practice for me, and I’m always honing my philosophy of justice. God help me if I ever stop honing.

Mostly though, my most challenging work is happening inside my head, as I battle with the impatience that comes with wanting to be in Africa, to be working more closely with the folks there who are doing such great and inspiring work. I know I'm supposed to be here, because, well, because I am here. That struggle is draining, and may be one reason why I’ve been feeling sad of late. But a good struggle it is. There is purpose here, and that is enough to keep my mind and heart fully engaged.
Renita, working the French program Rosetta Stone.