Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It's been a looong time!

I haven't even touched this blog in over a year! Alot has happened to the Harper family since February 2010.....an overview:

June 2010:

-We said goodbye to our home for a year: Malawi. It was definitely a bitter sweet goodbye. BUT, being pregnant as I was (I was 8 months pregnant when we took two 10+ hour plan rides all the way home to MS!) I was super ready to get home to family, friends and American FOOD! lol. We had a wonderful experience during our year in Africa. I wasn't about to have baby Jordan in Malawi though!...so we had no choice but to come home...However, we know that Malawi was where God wanted us to be for that year. And the Harpers might not be done with Africa juuuust yet ;)

August 2010:

-After being back home for a little more than 2 months, I gave birth to our first son, Jordan Oakley Seth Harper (his initials spell JOSH! haha) on August 26, 2010. We were both so so happy to finally meet baby Jordan and begin the journey of parenthood! We had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into at this point! :) That was a little over 9 months ago. My baby has gotten so biiiig! He crawls, pulls up, says "Mama!", gets an attitude when he doesn't get his way, STILL doesn't sleep through the night lol, loves to be rocked, loves to wrestle with Daddy, laughs all the time, has two teeth, and best of all...LOVES to cuddle with Mama! :)I thank God every day for this beautiful gift He has entrusted to us.

December 2010:

-Up until this point, we were living in the Morrison Height's mission house. In December we FINALLY closed on our first house in Clinton! It was built in the 1940's and has recently undergone some serious updates/renovations. Thank goodness it was all finished by the time we bought it! It's a really cute house with a huge backyard for baby Jordan. We are really happy and finally feel settled.

June 2011:

-As of now.....Josh is off from school for the summer, hooraaaay! Getting your masters in computer science is NOT easy. I am so proud of my husband for working so hard for our family. He definitely deserved a summer break! So right now he's just working and I'm just staying at home with Jordan :) I am so blessed to be able to. I actually work part time from home for African Bible Colleges (the organization we were in Malawi with and who Josh still works for too). I process all of the new missionary applications and answer questions about Malawi. It's mostly via email so it's easy to do from home :) And Josh works in the office processing ALL of the donations that come through our home office, and all kinds of other finance things that I'm just glad I don't have to do!

So that's where we are now. Just going with the flow, trying to be good parents, good spouses to each other, and doing what we feel God calls us to do-whether that be stay in MS forever....or go live on the other side of the world! :) We will just have to wait and see what the future holds. Thanks to all of you who followed us during our year in Africa and those who've been supportive this past year as we've readjusted to American life and had a baby!

I'll try to be better at the blogging thing from now on! Hope everyone is having a great summer!



Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Valentines Day from Malawi

Happy almost Valentines Day!! I hope everyone is enjoying the commercialism of it in America! ha. I don't think it's really a recognized holiday here...I haven't seen ANY Valentines Day "stuff" in the stores. Oh well! We will probably go to this Chinese place we like in town. It's REAL Chinese...we've eaten jelly fish there before- just to try it! ha. Anyway, it's a fun place to go. And next weekend is my birthday!!! It just so happens that my birthday, Feb. 21, is the exact same birthday as both Sam AND Leanne Mcdonald (our good friends here :). So me, Josh, Sam and Leanne will go to a really good Indian restaurant next weekend, Dehli Dar Bar! So that will be fun as well :)

We don't have school on Monday due to Staff Development Day. We had one before Christmas and it was actually kind of fun! We have a bible study/chapel service first, then we get to pick between several different seminars to attend. It's really useful for those of us who haven't taught before....like me and Josh! And it means that we have a 4 day school week!! Woohoooo! I've just been so tired since I've been pregnant...the days a school seem to last forever. I love my kids but they are needYYY! haha.

Josh's academy soccer team that he coaches had a game today and they won! They are the ABCCA Lions :) Two of the players younger siblings (who are in my class) wandered up to our house this morning because they were bored at the game haha. We made chicken and played cards :)

I'll be 12 weeks tomorrow! We go to the Dr. on Wednesday to get an ultrasound. Hopefully it will look a little more like a small baby instead of a peanut! ha. I've read that in the States you can find out the sex of the baby as early as 15 weeks. Here....20 weeks is usually the earliest! Just knowing that makes it so much harder to wait! ha. Oh well, at least we can find out eventually :) God has continued to bless us in Malawi. We are learning so so much about ourselves! Having to completely rely on each other and the Lord for this year through all of the changes and struggles of moving to a foreign country has truly helped our marriage as well :) I hope everyone has a great week and a wonderful Valentines Day! Thanks so much to all of our supporters for sticking with us!! God bless :)



Tuesday, January 26, 2010

We're Pregnant!!

That's right!- Josh and I are going to have a BABY! We are so excited beyond words. I'm 9 weeks now and due Aug. 29. We will leave Malawi June 24th so we will have a couple months to get settled before the baby gets here :) And I'm so sorry I haven't updated in forever! It just seems that the longer we are here....the busier we get.

So, what's been going on with us over the past few months?.....We had a month long break for Christmas (during which I was constantly nauseous! ha). So we didn't really DO that much except rest! Josh is always super busy with the 4 different classes he teaches and the after school activities he's involved with so he was more than happy to take a break for a few weeks. I on the other hand was bored out of my mind!! I was so ready to start back at school and see my little kiddos :) Also, we had a very nice visit from Josh's mom over the break!- which was fun :)

This is our second week back at school and now I feel like we never had the break! But it's fun, I really love my kids. What I do doesn't take near the amount of preparation as what Josh does though. As for our afterschool activities this semester...Josh will now be teaching two days of soccer (big kids one day, little kids the other) and won't be doing band. And I'll be doing 5-6 yr old ballet and debate! I did debate in highschool so when I saw it on the sign-up sheet I signed up! I'm really excited about it. So we have our plates full for this next term. Which is good...I learned over the break that less isn't always better.

Besides that we're just spending this time getting excited about our Harper Baby :) I have been going to the ABC Clinic on Wednesdays when they have an ob/gyn come in for the day. They have an ultrasound machine which is nice!- we've seen the baby and the heart beat :) But the machine is like from the 80's so it's not the best picture quality, oh well! At least they have one.

Please pray for us as we begin our last half of our year here in Malawi. I'm freaking out about Malaria because if you get it when your pregnant....it's not good. But I'm trusting the Lord that he will take care of everything because there's absolutely nothing I can do about it except wear mosquito spray. Please pray for Josh as he continues teaching all of his classes. He is always so busy with school! I hope everyone had a great holiday season! God Bless!



Friday, November 20, 2009

Nkhoma and the village!

Hey everyone! Thought it was about time for an update :) Josh is gone for the weekend to Nkhoma with the highschoolers from the academy. I'm pretty sure Nkhoma is the name of the mountain but it could also be the area. They went to hike and camp and have a "revivial" type thing. I was going to go but backed out...camping AND hiking in one weekend is just a little too much for me! ha. Josh and some of the guys on campus went last weekend and carried a bunch of stuff up there (water, wood, etc) so the kids would'nt have to. They still had to carry a bunch of food and stuff this time though. They left Friday after school and will get back Sunday. Please pray that they will have a fun and above all SAFE trip! I'll let you know how it went :)

So while Josh is gone I'm just here by myself for the weekend! Actually today I am going to this village for the second weekend in a row. I believe the village is called Sensa. About a month ago some of the newer missionaries on campus got involved with them. One of the students at ABC was asked to come and preach there and asked if a few of the campus girls would like to come along. I came the third week they went. It is pretty much as "villagy" as it gets! ha. The Chief is a new Christian of about 2 months. Even being that "new", he has already kicked the "guli wam culu" out of the village. The "gulis" are religious type leaders in the villages. I'm not exactly sure what they believe but they are NOT Christian by any means. The villagers are scared of them because they can cast spells and do witchcraft. So it's really good that he is now gone! But the village also practices polygamy. Last week when we went I saw about 15 women and like 6 or 7 men...and literally 80 children (I counted!). So they've got a ways to go but it's so great the steps they're taking already! They have even put up the walls for a church :) We had fun though. We go and sing with the kids, then do a bible study and play a game. Even though we focus on the kids, pretty much the whole village comes out to see us. The first week the group from ABC went a few weeks ago was the first time many of the kids had ever seen white people. So they're very timid and curious. We are trying to find a way to help them learn to read Chichewa (none of them speak English) so that we can get them bibles. There are four bibles in the whole village but since very very few people can read, that doesn't do much. One of the students from ABC that goes with us, Culsuio (I have NO idea how to spell his name) is going on Fridays to give English lessons but they really need more than that. So we'll see what happens! Please pray for the people...that they would truly have a desire to learn to read so that they can further their education in Christ! Also, pray for us, that we would find ways to help these people learn how to read! And that we will know what to say while we're there. It's hard to know if you're being effective when they don't speak English and your speaking through a translator and don't really know the culture very well yet!

Besides that, we are still just teaching and counting down the weeks until Christmas break! ha. Four more :) We get a whole month off for Christmas here so that should be nice. And our house is pretty much infested with "chop chops" (these huge spiders with big choppers!). We've found like 6 in the past week. Luckily, our kitty Sunny loves to hunt, play with, and then eat them! So I guess as long as I keep him inside, it's not so bad :) I hope everyone is having a great holiday season back home!


Rebecca :)

P.S.: Please feel free to tell churches, friends and family about us and what we're doing here. We've been here for four months now and every month our support is getting lower and lower. We're okay as of now but it's getting a little scary to think what will happen if it keeps dropping at this rate! We really feel that we have a place here and want to do and be where God wants us. Thanks so much to all our donars for allowing us to have come this far!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

No more "weeks" and Reading Day!

Ok, I know it's been a while since I've blogged! We've been super busy with school and everything. We are still doing great though :) Busy, but great! I know I started out doing a "week by week" blog...but as the weeks have past, that's just not happening! ha. Plus, I'm starting to loose count of how long we've been here now. I think it's been right around 3 months though. It seems like we've been here for a year already. To think about living in our little house on Hobby Farms Rd. in Clinton, MS seems like ages ago! But we're having a good time, making lots of new friends, trying to follow God and influence in a positive way all of these kids we're with all day long.

I feel like I have finally gotten a "handle" on this teaching thing. Not that I'm good at it or know exactly what I'm doing but the routine of it is settling in. This weekend will be the first since we've been here that I won't have to go to my classroom on Saturday! I decided last weekend that from then on...NO more going up there on the weekends! The whole process of lesson planning and preparing is getting easier for both me and Josh. I think I enjoy teaching a bit more than Josh though...but hey, I get to practice letters and do art projects all day! I think Josh really just doesn't like the fact that even after school is over...he has to come home and grade papers, get things ready for the next day, work on lesson plans for the next week, etc. Just pray that he will stay encouraged and uplifted as we're here teaching for the next 9 months!

Last week at school ABC Christian Academy held its' annual Reading Day. The entire day was devoted to reading and/or reading activities and all the kids got to dress up as their favorite book character! I had SO many "princesses" in my class. I'm not too sure they were characters from a book though...I think they just used it as an excuse to dress like a princess at school! ha. They were adorable though. If any of you are familiar with the Twilight book series you know about Edward Cullen. That's who Josh dressed up as! I painted his hair brown and glued glitter all over his face, neck and arms and he wore some "sharp" clothes to school. :) He looked so cute! As for me, I was the tree from The Giving Tree. I always loved that book growing up and brought a copy of it here with me. I made a tree hat, wore brown, and held limbs in my hands all day. I really looked more like a pinnapple but whatever! ha. It was alot of fun...an exciting day for sure :)

As far as "daily living" goes...we have hired a house helper who comes every Tuesday and Thursday to help out around the house. Her name is Grace and she is AMAZING! I am going to be so spoiled when I come back home and can't afford one in the states. She's just a really sweet and grateful lady and never asks for anything. And she helps me out a TON. She does dishes, sweep and mops the floors, cleans the bathroom, does laundry, etc. It's great! We really love her. Her English isn't that great though so sometimes it's a little difficult to communicate. A change of subject that I just thought about...it's gotten really hot here lately. Not hot muggy like Mississippi, just hot. But without air conditioning it's a little annoying. We pretty much are clamy/sweaty from about 9:00 am-9:00pm. But we know there's nothing we can do about..that seems to help a little-since we know we can't fix it I guess we just think...oh well! If we were in the states and it was this hot at our house though...we'd be sleeping at our parents house! ha. It's probably good for us though. It has rained a couple times these past two weeks for about 10 mins each. It smelled so good! The rains typically come mid to late November. That will be nice. But even though it's not raining, somehow the trees and flowers are blooming. When we got here everything was BROWN, but now it's green. And it's only showered like 3 times in 3 months!

Well, I guess that's about all for now! I'll really try to be better at posting though. I hope I'm doing an ok job as far as what I'm writing about. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to email or just leave a comment to this post and I'll answer you :) Thanks so much for everyones support, prayer, and commitment in our mission!! Keep us in your prayers, please :)


Rebecca :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Week 7

Hi everyone! Here are some pictures from Malawi!! Finally :) These are of our house and some of us out in town and at school:

That's all I can upload right now...the internet is SO slow, especially with uploading and downloading. Hopefully that gives some of you a bit of an idea of where we are! I'll add more later :)

So...I thought I would start this post with some fun facts about Malawi and living here that we've noticed so far! Here goes...

1) It's polite to honk your horn here
2) Don't expect people to follow any traffic rules...ignore the stop lights! (or robots as they say here). They are really more of a suggestion here than a rule anyway
3) It isn't rude to ask someone for money...even if you don't know them very well
4) You don't have to pump your own gas here!!! They do it for you :)
5) When I go to the market...there are people who will watch my car for me (watchmen) and people who will follow me around and carry my bags for me (bag boys)...for a small fee of course. But it's very convenient and a great way to help people out! :)
6) In the stores, sometimes they will have coke, sprite, and all flavors of fanta (fanta is like their coke here)....and then another day have NO carbonated drinks at all
7) It's not uncommon to be out in town, have someone point at you, say something in Chichewa, and laugh, haha.
8) Children here...especially outside the city LOVE Azungus! Or white people haha. They smile and laugh and want to touch you.....and of course yell, "Azungu! Azungu!" ha.
9) Lizards and geckos become a part of daily life...I don't even think anything when I see one running across my kitchen counter anymore
10) Our water and power go out at random times. I haven't been one of the unlucky people who were in the shower with shampoo in their hair when the water went out yet....and hope I never have to be!

Josh and I are both doing very well here and are adjusting fine. I really haven't been homesick at all. Alot of people have though...maybe that will just come later for us. Or maybe we'll never be homesick!

School is beginning to go much smoother for both of us. Though not really EASY....it's definitely less stressful than the first couple of weeks. We are learning to prioritize and organize our time :)
Josh has become pretty involved on campus. Apart from teaching, coaching soccer, and helping out with band, he is also the "sound man" for both chapel sessions (or any other formal "meeting") at the academy. He will also be helping Kelly Dehnert at the college with recording in the music department! He is very excited about that. I think he starts helping next week. If that wasn't enough to be doing already, he plays basketball two nights a week and goes to the other Christian school in the area (Bishop Mackenzie), to play ultimate frisbee once a week. I am so very proud of how well he has adapted here and the responsibilities he has taken on! :)

My load is a good bit lighter...ha. I have continued to go to Chitipi orphanage on Fridays which is something I have really come to look forward to each week. I just love the kids! They are so thankful and greatful for what they have. And they love when we come and play with them. I am beginning to learn their names and get to know them. Hopefully I can become someone they can really talk to and rely on for any type of support. Their worries as 10 year olds make me feel so guilty sometimes about the things that worry me. Most of the kids are able to go to school...but some are not. You have to take an "exam" to get into highschool here and there is one girl, Chimwewe, who was real down last week about her exam. She was nervous she wouldn't pass and not be able to go to school. Whereas when I was growing up I HAD to go to school....there wasn't a choice not to. The orphanage is a Christian facility run and supported by COTN (Children of the Nation) and they all seem to have been exposed at least a little to the bible. We all just go and spend time with them and hope that we influence them in a good, "God-like" way. I will keep you posted about how it is going every week :)

I have also been to the Crisis Nursery a few times now. For those of you who don't know...the Crisis Nursery is a "santuary" for babies 2 and under whoes parents have died of AIDS, malaria, etc. Or for malnurished babies whoes families can't afford or aren't able to take care of them. I go and just hold the babies and play with them. It's a really great mission...but it is really really sad to go. Some of the babies have AIDS and others won't make it due to malnourishment. It just makes you want to take them all home! But we enjoy going. And we can help the "mothers" with feedings, etc. while we're there.

We are still "church hopping" at the moment but want to settle down somewhere soon so we can get involved there as well. There are still a couple places we want to try. We can't decide if we want to go to a "missionary" church or a more rural village type church. We'll see! Just pray that we will be directed to the right one...and that BOTH of us will choose the same one ha :)

Please pray the God will continue to give us strength and energy as we are here in Malawi. Sometimes it is hard to be optimistic because of how bad everything is. But we are trying to keep our spirits up and continue to teach and minister to our students!! Hope everyone is having a great week!


Rebecca :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Weeks 4, 5, and 6!

Hey everyone! I'm so so so sorry I haven't blogged in almost 3 weeks! We have really been super busy since school started and this past week we didn't have internet.

So, lets back up to almost three weeks ago! The first week of school for both me and Josh was a little hectic. For one, we have never taught so even the thought of a lesson plan was overwhelming! Teachers do alot more "prep work" than I ever realized (even a four year old kindergarten teacher). But especially a first year middle school teacher who is teaching FOUR different classes/subjects. Josh really has a heavy load as far as school work goes. And many of his afternoons are spent helping out with sports teams at the academy so he does most of his planning and grading at nights and on weekends. YUCK! haha...but he does have a helper :)

The second week of school we started our "afternoon activities" which we are required to spend 2 hours a week doing. I had my first ballet class two tuesdays ago. It's really fun! The kids are 3, 4, and 5 so they are pretty young. It can be a bit stressful going from 5 hours with 17 four year olds to an hour with 12 3, 4, and 5 year olds though! I don't think I've ever talked as much as I have in the past three weeks. I say EVERYTHING at least three times haha. But they are so sweet and cute and to see them enjoying an activity I've prepared for them or to hear them say, "I love you Mrs. Harper!", makes it all worth while :) And it's pretty amazing to be able to watch them learn their letters for the first time and begin to put letter names with sounds. We are just working with vowels right now so it will be neat to start consonants and have the kids start "blending" sounds...ba be bi bo bu, etc.

My other afternoon activity I committed to was going to Chitipi orphanage every Friday to hang out and play with the kids! There are three teachers from the academy that go and lead it every week including myself. Also, about 5 or 6 academy students 11 years and up go with us to help minister to the kids. I plan the art and craft acitvity every week. Our theme this year is the "fruit of the spirit" so most of our activities and games have to do with fruit, love, joy, goodness, patience, self control, etc. There are about 36 kids at Chitipi. They are all so happy! Even though they have next to nothing they are always smiling and eager to interact and play with us. It's really great...after a long day at school on a Friday they really give me a new energy and uplift me! I look forward to going every week :)

Josh has been coaching the middle school soccer team. I think he is enjoying it! He asked our sports coordinator if he could get an assistant though because of the amount of kids. There are about 25 kids and he's been the only coach. A team played a game today with another Christian school in the area (Bishop Mackenzie Baptist) and Josh coached that. He was really good! He was getting into it and giving the kids tips as they played. This game was between kids ages 5-9 and they pretty much just all followed the ball wherever it went haha. But they were cute!

Josh is also helping out with band which he is enjoying as well. It's a small "random" band. The only pre-requisite is that you play an instrument. There are only about 6 or 7 kids that take it...but Josh plays pretty much any instrument so he can for sure help out there! There was a little Korean girl who plays piano that speaks NO English that he worked with this past week. I don't know if any of you "blog followers" have ever worked with people that speak no English and you don't speack their language....but it's difficult! I have a little Korean boy in my class and it's so hard to communicate when they know NO English at all. It's really a challange...but a rewarding one when you see them start to pick up on words your saying. We were both surprised by how many Korean students go to school hear at the academy.

We are still "church hopping" at the moment but hope to settle down somewhere soon. We have been to several different churches which have been ok. We'll just have to wait and see! Last week we were going to go to a village church with the McDonald's but I got sick :( I want to try one of those though! Maybe if we went to a village church every Sunday we would learn Chichewa faster. We are trying but it just sounds like mumbo jumbo when they speak it. My teaching assistant, Mr. Gray, has been helping me out with a few simple phrases but it's difficult! We really want to learn it though.

We really appreciate everyone's support and prayers! I hope in the next week I can do another post and talk about more that is going on! To sit down and try to catch people up on over three weeks of "happenings" is overwhelming! haha. I need to make a list of most important things or something :) I hope everyone is having a great week! I will try and upload some pictures of our house and the city this weekend.