So Andrew got up at 5:30am to go meet the container over at the center. It was quite an experience unloading all of the items into trucks right on the main road in the middle of Freetown but the container could not reach any of the three locations that the items were going to so it had to be done. Bystanders began to congregate and by the time they were done several hours later it had gotten a little overwhelming. Micheal had to retrieve a couple of items from people and Osseh went ahead and brought a load to our house in his car. When the truck arrived I was in shock. When I left my American house there was a small area of our garage that held our 'container' items. This truck held three times that. The amount of food items was unbelievable. Levi was overjoyed at the mountain of mac n cheese. Everyone has loved eating cereal for a change and lunch has been so much easier for me since the arrival of all the peanut butter and tuna fish. We actually made chocolate chip cookies for the first time tonight and they were well received. Albert has decided he'd like them for dinner tomorrow.
Let me be a Debbie downer here and say that I have really struggled since coming back from the U.S. Dealing with a sick child can be so tiring and when I got here it was the end of the raining season so everything smelled moldy. It grows like crazy here. It is especially bad on leather so one of my bags and our belts were completely covered. Any wooden furniture has fuzz and you have to wash every fabric thing possible. The rains are also growing moss on the concrete. It is so slick that even when I am gingerly walking along with my bowl of food for the chickens there is this one spot that I have yet to master and if anyone decides to videotape one of these daily episodes I could be the winner of 10,000 on America's Funniest Home Videos. Well, I guess that would be Africa's Funniest Home Video's. Then there were the roaches. Ew I hate roaches. Something about the rains effected them coming into our kitchen. We put out traps and powder and really nothing seemed to work until the rains slowed and now they are gone as far as I can tell. It's funny what things perk you up. I have a dining room table that Andrew and I joke that is my 6th child. I love that table and it is one of the few furniture pieces that I just could not bear to part with. I searched for a very long time to find it because I wanted one that seated 12. When we bought it I had visions of Thanksgivings and Christmas's with my grandchildren. I had ideas of hosting dinner parties with friends and art projects with my 20 kids and their friends in the neighborhood. Only one of those three things has happened so far. But, at that table I have a full stock of memories of people that I love dearly eating experimental casseroles and thanksgiving pumpkin dishes. I remember doing a few failed crafts for kids at the center which lead to about 100 non-epoxied necklaces lining the mantle and shelves for weeks because I just couldn't bear to throw them away until I had searched the web to make sure there was no salvation for them. There was not. I laugh at the photo of a very plump little Ivey standing on that table in her halloween outfit. On that table my mom and I made our first quilt and patched together pieces for my first nephew's birth. I delicately tapped sharpie marker on spots where someone nicked the top with his light saber and I laughed nervously when another 'him' helped me hang christmas decorations on the chandelier above it. But even the day I bought it I knew that it would not be long before it would have scratches and nicks. That was part of the lure. I wanted to look at those marks when I was 70 and remember. When the container arrived I felt the satisfaction of it being back with me. Ready to add scuffs and dents and marks with three new family members.
Levi was elated over Monty the T-rex who has already bit John and crushed every Lego car in sight. Ivey's kitchen was a huge hit with the girls and the shopping cart was the subject of several conversations with Isatu where I had to explain how Americans shop at grocery stores and put babies and groceries in the cart to push around.
But the bikes take the cake. The kids were just beside themselves. Well, all but Ivey who insist walking is just fine.
The arrival of my sewing machine has kept me up hours into the night (when we have electricity) sewing and smiling like a mad person. I finished the couch slipcover, throw pillows and stool cushions. It is now a lot more comfortable and colorful than it was and we are all glad for that.
But really all that just can't compare to something else. Like I said, it is funny what things can work you out of a funk. There were things like fishing line that Brad packed with a hilarious note to go with the poles he made for the boys when he was here. We found the box from my mom marked with christmas tree stickers that I have sworn on my life I would not open until christmas. Andrew pointed out some of the boxes saying, 'That is a McCauley special' because apparently Jarrod is a master at getting creative with packaging. We opened a box to find a ton of children's vitamins from Kelly. Dave, who is a masterful shipper and the head of all this hustle and bustle container activity, did such an amazing job that not one thing was broken. Not one thing. All that planning, working, thinking of things our family would want or need. All that time spend collecting and packing for us. FOR US. That can snap you back to good.
I must brazenly ask for one more thing. When I am 70 I want a memory of each of you at that table in West Africa. Come and experimentally eat some plasas or beanch in the sweltering heat with 5 kids and two hair brained friends. We'll even serve you chocolate chip cookies made in our new oven. How could I have any better memories than that?