Homecoming... Temporarily (20 of 52)

Trip Start Dec 22, 2016
Trip End Dec 21, 2017

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What I did
Rietvlei Nature Preserve
Jungle Jim's Eastgate
Rietvlei Nature Preserve

Flag of United States  , Ohio
Sunday, May 7, 2017

We're coming home! Well, temporarily at least. We are headed to Cincinnati, Ohio to attend the GCE and see our family there, and then we head out for a whirlwind tour to see some of our other family. Thankfully we had saved up a bunch of frequent flyer miles and were able to get tickets to visit our grandparents, our parents (and some siblings), and our dear congregations in Alabama (all for less than $75), before heading back to Malawi towards the end of the month. I'll likely still post blogs these coming weeks, but they'll be less detailed than I might normally get.

Before we headed to the airport in Johannesburg we took a tour of the Rietvlei Nature Preserve, and it was gorgeous. We saw rhinos, ostrich, zebras, antelope, wildebeest, donkeys, giant catfish, lizards, and birds. It was extremely relaxing, and I'm glad we took the time before our long flight home. Fun fact! The Johannesburg-Atlanta flight is the third longest flight in the world at 16.5 hours. Lucky us!

Our flight from Johannesburg was uneventful and we arrived in Cincinnati at 10:30am (4:30pm Malawi time). I didn't sleep well Saturday night and had awoken around 3:30am (9:30pm Saturday Ohio time -- confused yet?), so by our arrival I was operating on 37 hours of no sleep. I somehow managed to remain coherent and made it to the home office for a brief Good Works meeting (those I encountered my disagree with the coherent part).

Generally, May in Cincinnati is one of the loveliest times of year: blue skies and mild temperatures. However, this trip the weather has been crummy; I don't think it's gotten over 60°, and it's rained pretty much everyday. If nature could conspire against me, I'd be tempted to believe it was.

I lived in Cincinnati (off and on) for about 13 years, so returning is always a bit of a homecoming; and my friends, family, and coworkers never cease to make me feel loved. The rest of the week was spent working and visiting with family (though there is never enough time to see everyone), until Friday when the GCE began. We had international meetings, and then mentor/mentee meetings for the new hires. We made sure to sit directly behind David and Denise Dobson (our mentors in the training program) so that we could torture them as much as possible... I think they've missed our shenanigans.

We spent the evening catching up with some more friends at the best grocery store in the world: Jungle Jim's. If you're ever in Cincinnati, do yourself a favor and block out a couple of hours and check it out. Friday afternoons around 5:00pm are great because they have "pint night," where they feature beers from different microbreweries.

Saturday we had breakfast with my brother (and Sister-in-law) from Columbus, my sister (and brother-in-law) from here in Cincinnati, and my nephew (and niece-in-law -- whom we're staying with), and their son (my great nephew). Have I mentioned I have a big family? I have three sisters, a brother, and several nieces and nephews I won't even get to see since we're scattered all over the country,

Church services were awesome! There were 562 (I think) adults/teens present, and 61 children. And there were 700 (or 900 -- I can't remember which) internet connections listening/watching online.

The GCE continued with recognition for longtime employees and for recently retired ministers, and recently ordained elders.

We miss our new friends back in Malawi, but there's always something wonderful about coming back home; despite its (many) flaws, I love my country.
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