Saturday, December 12, 2009

The trip is over!

Well, well, well.... it's over. I cannot believe it. There is so much information to sum up in just one blog about this experience, and I guess that it is not possible to cover everything. I'll try to, though!

Well, to sum up the safari, we did end up seeing all of "the big five". On the last drive, we were able to see the black rhino. Well, after that, when we went to Lake Nakuru, after the convention ended, we were able to see the white rhino, which is even bigger than the black one. Beautiful, HUGE creatures.

One wonderful thing that happened to us on our last day in Africa was that we went with the Karugas (the family that is originally from Kenya that live in England now) on a nature walk, in Nairobi. There were all types of animals that we saw and we were able to take some up close and personal pictures. Well, we were able to get in the gate with two adult cheetah and take pictures with one of them, while he was feeding on lunch. It was the scariest thing I have ever done- my foot was shaking so badly that I could barely kneel down! The picture shows it all- I'm smiling but I am about to die! (I'll be sure to post that one!)

Well, the day before this, we took a day trip along the rift valley to Lake Nakuru- a lake that is surrounded by flamingos. A friend of mine, Mike E., made huge fun of these beautiful creatures. I don't know why- they were gorgeous! :) Anyways, I'll be sure to show a picture of those, as well. This trip was like taking the safari all over, again. We saw another lion that day- some giraffe, baboons, white rhino (see above), monkeys, impalas, zebra, etc. Our friends that were with us, Elena and Jimmy, didn't have the opportunity to go on a safari, so this was a wonderful day for them and it was really nice to be able to share in their excitement! It was a two 1/2 hour drive up there and back and it was really worth it. The scenery was breathtaking, also, along the way and there was a wreck coming back, up the mountain to Nairobi, which we were semi-involved in, so it made for a very interesting day! Once we got back, we met up with some friends and there were about 20 of us salsa dancing in Jimmy and Elena's room and it was the perfect ending to the trip!

Well, to sum up the convention- THERE'S JUST NOT WORDS! Brother Heard's talks were so encouraging and we met so many friends who have endured so much! The ones that were the most appreciative were the friends who have the most deplorable conditions. There is just so much that we have to learn from them. One good point that I remember was when Brother Heard talked about Christendom being like a "voiceless dog". He asked about what good a voiceless dog was to it's owner- it's no value whatsoever. It made me think about how we need to use our voices to speak as much as we can about Jehovah and in no way resemble a "voiceless dog".

We met so many friends from all around the world and we were truly in a spiritual paradise for two weeks. At the end of the convention, when we were pulling away, I was crying, realizing that it was a "shelter" for two weeks and it was about to come to an end. So many friends were waving tissues and smiling and shouting, "See you in Paradise". I felt that huge lump in my throat and the next thing you know, the tears were flowing. We just kept waving and shouting out the window "Asante sana" (thank you so much) as our bus was pulling away. It was such a memorable occasion.

I cannot wait to apply for the next international convention, if I ever have the chance to again. It's an opportunity that I will never pass up again! It was a chance to have a small glimpse into life in paradise with friends who are all serving Jehovah together, with no racial or economical boundaries!!!

Thanks to everyone who read and commented on the blog. I'll try to continue the blog with memories and new trips, as they arise. Thanks again!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

More pictures... again....

Here is another set of pictures.... these are a mixture, just like the last ones, of the safari, the convention, and Paris. Enjoy!

More Pictures

There are more pictures. I have to make these seperate posts, due to the sizes. Hope you like them! I would love to figure out how to add captions... maybe later I can figure that out!

International Convention- the tears have begun

There is so much to write about and the time truly escapes me. This experience has been the absolute best one of my life. When I have more time after the convention ends tomorrow, I'll be able to add a bigger post. There are 32 lands with delegates represented. There are 1200 from the US. Kenya has 30,000 publishers. The first day of the convention- Thursday- was cold and raining. Well, of course, it's an open air center. It was freezing to the point that people were wearing hats, gloves, and coats- IN AFRICA!!!!!!!!!!! Amazing for Ryan and I since we brought clothes for 80 degree weather! Oh well- nothing dampened the joy of that occasion. The opening prayer was a tear-jerker. They mentioned the brothers in Eritrea (sp?) that are in prisons and we prayed that at least that day they had something to eat. This entire convention has told us about what freedoms we have, but one point that was truly encouraging was the fact that a brother mentioned today. He said, "Freedom is of limited value unless it's used wisely," and he was speaking to those Witnesses in the audience who live in lands with relative freedom. That was a point that hit pretty hard.
The brothers and sisters in the area are really in a shocking state- they are the happiest, most humble persons. They are spiritually rich, despite being extremely poor. I haven't eaten our complete lunch any of the past three days because I am giving it away to whoever needs it. They always say "no" first (so very humble) and then I usually say, "Let's share" or "I'm done and don't want to throw it away" or something like that. We have more in one day to eat than they have in a week and that's the least we can do. Most of the friends are the same- giving away lunch. These friends love Jehovah so much that they have spent everything they have to get to the convention and some don't have places to stay so they are staying overnight at the assembly hall. WOW- how wonderful we have it at home!!!!
I'll attach more pictures to show some of the wonderful friends and experiences that we are having. We have made several "sets" of friends- there are several couples that we have become close to and eat with (Allison and Mike from South Carolina), (Jessica and Glenn from Colorado) and (Chewy and Lavonnia from Maryland), and then there are groups of friends that we have made (Mike from Michigan and Stan from Manhattan), (Mike from Walkill and Laura, Cathy, Kenya, Richie from Florida, and Chewy from Brooklyn), (the Bucks and Precious- that's an inside joke), (Chanelle from New Orlens and Steve from New Hampshire). It's funny feel so close in so short a period of time. We've made some lifelong friends. :) I'll write more later when there is more time. We have to get up early tomorrow for the last day of the convention.
**Thanks so much to everyone for the comments. It's been so nice and HILARIOUS to read what you've written and it makes us feel real good to know that we have a few friends that care about us! Thanks for your loyalty!**

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Paris- sobbing about leaving and onto Nairobi and the Safari

There has been so much activity since the first entry and there hasn’t been a chance to connect to the internet. We have already left Paris and spent one night in Nairobi. We then went on the safari and have landed back in Nairobi. We left Paris on Sunday morning- around 5:30am and landed Nairobi at 7:30pm.

One neat experience we had was to visit the France Bethel of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They produce for many lands and part of those lands include Africa. They were really kind to us and served us drinks and snacks before separating us into two groups to tour the facilities. One thing that was different that I saw was the fact that we walked down several streets to get to the different parts of the branch. It was really nice to see the friends try to communicate with us as much as they could, even though they didn’t speak any English and still give hugs and kisses. It was a really nice time.

The night before leaving Paris was also full of different adventures. We went on a bus tour of Paris until lunch and then we walked /cruised all around the city. We went to Monmarte, which is a huge hill at the very top of Paris. We made friends with Steve, from New Hampshire, Chanelle from New Orleans, Patti from Oregon, and the Buck family from Mississippi. We all trekked more than two hours up the hill to the top of Monmarte and once we got to the top of the hill, we laid eyes on a tram that can take you to the top for only 1 Euro, which is equivalent to a little over a buck-U.S and you could be at the top in less than five minutes. Well, we were then squabbling over whose idea it was to walk and not find out if there was a tram to take. It was pretty funny because what made it worse was the fact that ½ way up the hill, it started to rain while we were walking. All in all, it was at least very nice to look at some of the shops that we were able to look into, on the way up the hill. Well, after the trekk up/down the Monmarte hill, we decided to go back to our hotel, change out of our rainy clothes and head to the Eiffel Tower. It was beautiful, all lit up at night and we were able to go up to the second level (the top level was closed due to excessive winds). We then went for a snack and decided to go on a guided boat tour on the Seine River. That was beautiful and it highlighted some of the other areas of Paris we had not yet visited. Then, we decided to go on a Ferris Wheel ride in front of the Champs de’elysse (they closed at 1am). Well, since we hadn’t eaten dinner yet and it was getting close to midnight, we tried to find an area that was still serving food in an area called St. Michelle. We found a man from Boston who lived in France and owned a Greek restaurant. It was really good and hit the spot. Unfortunately, we didn’t finish dinner in time to go to the Ferris Wheel and we went instead to our hotel room and chatted and laughed with our new friends until 4am (I laughed so hard that night that I completely lost my voice). An hour and a half later we were on the way to Nairobi.

Once we landed in Nairobi, it took awhile to get to our hotel, but we finally arrived and checked in around 10pm. The weather was warm and was in total contrast to the cold and rainy weather of Paris. I, of course, have a bad cold and am hoping that this will do me some good. We had dinner at the hotel and repacked for our next day’s flight to the Serena Mara. We had three flights to get to the Serena Mara. It was quite an experience in this small plane and I have to admit, medication does do the body good, because I had to triple dose myself to make it through all three flights. But it was WELL worth it!!!!!!!!!!!! There are not words to express the experience that we have had on the safari. We have seen four of “the big five”- leopard, elephant, lion, and buffalo. We are heading to another game drive to find the rhino- the last one. They treat you like a princess here, and the accommodations are fantastic. You have your own little “hut” that is really cute and interesting. There are little creatures everywhere, and for the non-animal lover that I am, it is really pretty neat. I’m having the time of my life and actually getting to relax at the same time. I have spent this safari with Ryan, Larry and Lena from California, and guess who else? Another sister from Philly named SHARLA!!!! She is pretty cool and we have all had a wonderful time together! We have met a family that is from Manchester, England and the parents are originally from Kenya- from the Kikuyu and Liharu tribes. They are really nice and have twins and a son with them that are 18 and 20 yrs old. We are all meeting for dinner and at the pool, etc.

The coolest things that have happened today was a surprise champagne brunch in the middle of the reserve by the river, with about 10 hippos swimming around and the baboons observing us on the other side. (Erin- baboons- close, but yet still far enough away???) It was so special and afterwards, we talked for a long time with a young Masai warrior whose English name is Daniel but his Masai name is Ole…(cannot remember or pronounce). Anyways, his story was quite interesting. He is 22 years old and he explained that at 24, he will become a “Junior Elder” and he will be allowed to marry the girl of his parent’s choice. He also explained that the bride price has to do with his cows- how many he has, etc. He talked about the jewelry that he wore. He said that his mom gave him the jewelry at different stages in his life, whenever something “big” happened. One story he told us about was when he had to spend five months in the bush and he brought back a dead lion and the lion tail of a live lion. QUITE INTERESTING!!

Another really neat thing we saw today was a family of four cheetah feeding on what they had just caught- and we also saw over 100 elephant today. We saw two male lions drinking and playing together and saw over 10 giraffe, one of them had two baby giraffe with her. We saw three female lionesses (sp?) with three lion cubs also. We still have one last game drive in the morning.

I hope the very few pictures that I add will show some of our good times. I have already met so many new friends from all over the world. They immediately are like family and that bond is a mutual one. Only something that exists in Jehovah’s organization! How wonderful to have that true quality of love exhibited to us!

There just aren’t words to express how wonderful this experience is. Mom and dad are heading to Trinidad next week and it will surely be just as satisfying as ours is. I cannot wait to have another chance like this one for the next international convention! My only regret is never having an experience like this before, when I had the chance! This is the first of many trips to Africa!!

I'll add pictures later on today along with video from Africa and Paris.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Finally We Are Here- (Paris at least...)

Well, we are finally in Paris. It was certainly adventurous. We took off on Wednesday night around 5:30, to start heading to DC. We hit traffic several times and were delayed for several hours. We finally made it to Abdias' house at 7:30 am and he already had the coffee ready (thanks for the Cafe Bustelo and the song that you sang with it, Abdias!). Abdias, just so you know- Ryan and I wanted to say THANKS and send a shout out to you. We are so grateful and hope that your talk goes well on Sunday! And we also hope that your trip goes well also. (Abdias is leaving on Monday for South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Dubai.) DC was a fantastic start to our trip!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Abdias and his family treated us like we were part of their family. He took us to the airport and checked us in and made sure that we got off okay. Who said that chivalry is dead?

Well, once Abdias checked me in, I was sweating about the plane ride once I saw that my seat was not an aisle seat. As we were getting closer to the gate, I was getting pretty antsy (you all know- the whole claustophobia thing and the symptoms that I get that go along with it). It's so funny how EVERYTHING disappeared once I saw the badges that had those four special words- "Keep on the Watch!". I felt so relieved to meet our travel group. There 35 brothers and sisters from all over the US in our group that were there- from Oregon, Mississippi, Philladelphia, Georgia, Louisiana, New York, etc. It felt like we were automatically with family and that started off so well. The brothers and sisters were immediately offering to change seats with me, if they had an aisle seat. It was so sweet and reminded me immediately of our worldwide brotherhood.

Next- the plane adventure- we get on the flight and Ryan and I are in different rows. My seat is of course smack in the middle of the aisle, beside a brother who had also been seperated from his traveling companion. Well, me and his traveling companion, Tim, who is friends and workmates with David Patterson (sound familiar?) swapped seats (Tim has great "David" stories, too that everyone would love). Then, some men I didn't know, said, "We have a proposition for you..." which led me to an aisle seat beside Rufus, a brother from New York. He and his wife Carrie are really nice (and Shayne, you would get a kick out of this- she has braces and is over 50, which I immediately loved!). Well, Rufus and I became two best friends because we basically shared our seats. It made for an interesting six and half hour plane ride, to say the least! It was funny, too, that Ryan, once she sat down, immediately stained her white shirt and burned herself by spilling hot tea all over her. It wasn't funny at the time, but is quite funny now (now that we are trying to get the stains out of the shirt).

We get to Paris at 5:20am. I don't know if I mentioned that we left DC at 5:20pm the day before. We meet our tour person and representatives from our travel agency and off we go on our Paris tours. Little did we know that this would last until 5:30pm- ALL DAY. Remember- no shower since the day before and no sleep for the past two days. We drove to Normandy, France- two hours away and go to a city called Louviers and Notre Dame. We eat at this great Restaraunt- Marche' (I'll get to my funny story about that in just a minute) and then tour the French Bethel. We drive back the two hours to Paris and check in at our hotel at 5:30pm. After that, Ryan and I decide to get dinner at this place called 38 Eiffel and had a fabulous and HUGE meal. The best part was the dessert- Creme Brulee (Tommy and the girls at work would've loved the creme brulee- reminded me of Mr. Jobe's house and the creme brulee he made us for staff development).

The funny part- at Marche', I was having a bit of trouble talking to the waitress and for some reason was using SpangFrenchEnglish. I was telling the waitress that I wanted my coffee to come with sugar. I had looked up "sucre" for sugar, so I said, "Cafe con sucre." Con is Spanish for "with" and for some reason I said that... I knew something was wrong by the look on her face when I said this. Basically, what I had said (once I looked this up--- lesson#1- look up the words BEFORE you attempt to use them) was, "Coffee- sugar, you idiot!" I later rubbed her back and said, "Merci beaucoup" for her service, a bad attempt to try to make up for what I had said earlier.

All in all, this is the most tired I have been in years but it has been wonderfully worth it. If this is how the trip will be, I know this will be the best trip I have EVER taken!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Well, we actually leave this Wednesday and we are counting down the days. Our plans are to drive down (or should I say up) to Washington DC. There, we are meeting my friend Abdias Ortiz (shout out to Abdias!), and he is going to take care of us until we fly out on Thursday night to Paris. Abdias and I hung out in NYC last year so I know that this should be a "mega-fun" start to the trip.

We've spent the last few weeks getting our last set of shots for the trip (seven shots for me total- "ouch, my arms hurt") and buying everything that could possibly fit into a suitcase. Now, it's just the last minute things to do before leaving and trying to work on getting on the Paris sleeping schedule (maybe that will help with jet-lag?).

Just a note for those who live in or near Clarksville- our plan is to have a gathering when we return (of course we want to have one)- sometime in January, and have everyone that went to International Conventions bring their pics and stories to share with the group.

Thanks to all of our friends and family for the well-wishes and we plan to keep everyone entertained with stories from the friends from France and Africa.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Packing / Itinerary

We leave in exactly two weeks!

First, we are headed on Thanksgiving Day to Paris, France. Our flight leaves at 5:20pm and we arrive in Paris on Friday at 6:35am. We then stay in Paris until Sunday morning around 11am. We arrive in Nairobi, Kenya sometime that evening. Monday we fly out for our Safari at the Serena Mara- about 400 miles away. We stay there until Wednesday evening and head back to Nairobi. We then have the convention for four days (Thursday-Sunday). Monday, we take a day tour to a lake and then we start heading back on Tuesday. We actually leave Tuesday afternoon and we don't arrive back to Nashville until Wednesday- around 10pm. I think we actually fly for more than a day when we come back! WOW!! (I have medication for this- I know how I am.... I pity Ryan for having to travel back with me!)

Feel free to leave comments. Just click on the comment button and then if you have a google account or something similar, then you can post your message. You can also set up your account to follow anytime I post something new (POST-Atom button at the bottom of the page). I would love to hear from you while I'm gone. I'll try to post as many pictures as I can, as well.

Today, Ryan and I finalized our cards that we are planning on handing out at the convention. I'll try to post two pictures- one of the front and one of the back of the postcard- so that you can see it. We'll see how well 'the handing of the cards' turns out. :)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Africa / Paris Bound

In two weeks (and three days), Ryan and I will be leaving to head first to Paris, France and then on to Nairobi, Kenya, and then to a safari in the Masai Mara- in Kenya as well. We are heading to the International Convention of Jehovah's Witnesses in Nairobi. There should be over 50,000 delegates from around the world. It should be so encouraging. We are so desperately looking forward to it and are already starting to pack for our excursion. I plan on keeping this blog updated with funny stories and odd "things" that happen throughout our journey. I'll try to keep pictures posted and tell a little bit of the meaning behind them as well. This should make for great memories.

I also plan on updating this blog with other trips that we have taken over the years and some of the funny stories connected (i.e. Italy and running into the street called "El Stinche"- remember Christi?) and I'll upload pictures to go along with it also.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Cocotte's is the name of the restaraunt. This is the web address for the place:

It is so quaint inside of this place. You can sit at a table right in front of the window, while sipping hot cocoa or your favorite morning beverage while waiting for your fluffy french toast creation. It's divine! The walls are a dark brick, and you are in a room that feels like it is inviting you to linger for the day. The wait staff don't hurry you, either. It is the complete meaning of "ambiance" (hope I spelled that right). If you ever get a chance to try it, I guarantee that you will not be disappointed. You'll be recommending this place to your friends and family on their next visit to New York.

More to come...

UPDATE- November 2009- Cocotte's closed. When I went to visit last December, it had closed down. A huge disappointment for me. HOWEVER- there is a wonderful Peruvian restaraunt down and across the street- try that- it was great!