Tuesday, May 22, 2007

"A few cards and letters and some long distance calls..."

Dear Friends and Supporters,

*Warning: This blog may be cheesy and sentimental.*

I warned you. The reason for this blog is not a revelation on the status of poverty in Africa, or the report of a medical miracle, or even an update on what’s happening here. In fact, it is being written because as I sit here at our computer, I am completely overwhelmed with emotion. Let me tell you why:

This afternoon, I mentioned to my loving husband that I would be cleaning out our office area this week (which, believe it or not, has accumulated a TON of stuff in a 10 month period.) We need to distribute random donations that never got distributed, file farm receipts that haven’t been filed, type up handwritten lists of policies and procedures and make a handbook, and other things of that nature. Besides all of that, we just needed to organize and downsize so that everything could be stored while we are in the States. After mentioning all of this to my loving husband (did I mention he was loving?) I realized that I may have just made the biggest mistake of the day. My reasoning said, “Tell Jacob what your plans are for this week so that he can be prewarned that he will soon have a pile of STUFF to sort through.” Good reasoning, right? Wrong. My hardworking and industrious husband decided that RIGHT NOW was a good time to completely destruct the office and clean it out and distribute all donations. So we did. Actually, we are. I’m sitting in post-office destruction now. He is distributing. Think someone is a little excited to come home? This marriage thing…I tell ya. Just when you think you have it all figured out (I was really proud of myself for communicating my plan and my need) they turn it around on you and hit the fast forward button. I will probably be praising my hyperactive husband’s smart thinking when I don’t have to do this job later in the week. But right now, I’m a little overwhelmed with the mess. Onto the real story.

Every card that we received this year was put into our bottom desk drawer. I would get it at the post office, rip it open, read it immediately, display it on the table, dresser, bookcase, etc. for a long time (reading it often) and then put it into the bottom desk drawer for safe keeping. I started to clean out this desk drawer, and lo and behold, treasures beyond measure! I had forgotten about so many of those cards that were sent in August, or the Christmas cards from December, and the ones from Valentines Day, or just anytime that you decided to send cards, letters, pictures, and recipes. It was like Christmas all over again as I sat and read through the letters, picked out pictures to leave here with the kids, and marveled at the beautiful cards. I have never been so touched or affected by all of these cards as I was today, the fiftieth time I had read many of them. I hope that I thanked you individually every time that I got a card or letter from you, but I fear that I may have missed quite a few. You might’ve wondered if it got lost in the Africa Triangle (a few probably did!) But usually they didn’t! They came all the way to Zambia and brightened my day and sometimes my week, and they just did it again. Thank you so much! I am so thankful in fact, that I have decided to give out E-awards to those faithful card senders who make the mission field so much brighter and easier to handle!

To The Momma and Papa Schwertfeger: By far, you are awarded the Cutest Card Award, and The Best Pictures Award. I believe you also sent the Most Useful Packages (with contents including air freshener, Big Red Gum, and the only foot cream that works.) Thank you so much.

To my Momma: You are awarded the Most Creative Package Award. Your packages have kept my home interiorly decorated for every holiday except Zambian Independence Day (we’ll work on that next year.) However, you are also awarded Best Caller Award, which I’m sure you wish came with a cash prize for all the money you’ve spent on phone cards!

To my Daddy: You are awarded the Sweetest Package Award. Your packages have kept me properly balanced. Before your packages at Christmas Jake and I’s bodily sugar stores were starting to get really low. You are also the most popular package sender by the kids, when I was generous enough to share.

To Beth and Jenn: The Most Indulgent Package Award. Who else sends you sweet smelling soap and pedicures in a box? None other than the best girlfriends in the universe. Beth, you are also awarded Most Beautiful Homemade Card Award. I have to keep your cards because they are works of art!

To Jennifer: I have to say, my beautiful friend, that out of all parents, grandparents, and friends, you are awarded the Most Cards and Letters Award. I couldn’t count all the envelopes that I pulled out of my drawer with your return address. And you’re not just a card signer, oh no, you wrote full 5 page letters for most of your mailings. Jake and I fought over who got to read your letters first. What would we do without you? Thank you so much.

To Gramma Moninger: You are awarded the most “newsy”letters award (which was very much appreciated!) And, the Most Recipes Award. I get requests for your Texas Sheet Cake once a week! Also, your first letter was the very first one we received in Zambia. Way to be on the ball!

To Gramma Cain: You are awarded the Most Homesick Card Award. Something about your cards always made me want to come to your house and eat chicken soup and watch the Steelers on TV. See you soon!

In all seriousness, I just can’t think of a way to express how deeply thankful we are, how thankful I am. You may have thought it was “just a card.” But really, your cards, letters, and packages made all the difference in the world to us. Thanks for taking the time, giving the effort, and spending the money to keep in touch with us by sending stuff and by calling. We are very spoiled missionaries. Even those that emailed and left comments on our blog are so very appreciated. I can’t express to you how important it has been for us to know how much you care about what God has us up to. I am thinking of the 10 or 15 people that sent just one letter, which is still enough to bring tears to the eyes of someone far from home!

We are getting pretty excited to come home. Still trying to focus on Africa and finish well, though. Mostly, I can’t wait to tell so many of you a hundred stories about Africa and hear a hundred stories about how your year has been. (Can we talk at Starbucks though? ‘Cause I could really use a Chai Tea.)

Love you guys! See you soon!