Category Archives: Preparing for Africa

Made it to the Beach

We made it to the beach! What a journey it was the last few weeks to get to this point!

Pete finished work the morning of May 15. Two Harbors was such a good fit for us as a family. He worked there for the last year. We were able to spend lots of time with him there, especially after we started homeschooling in February. Not having to be back to Duluth super early each morning meant we could go up in time for dinner, get the kids tucked in in their own room across the hall from us, and then Pete and I could stay up watching TV and talking between patients and then sleep a bit in the morning. It made such a difference for us since then we didn’t have to wait all week to see him when he briefly came home. We’re so thankful to the staff and leadership at Lake View Hospital for allowing us to stay with Pete!

Once Pete completed his last shift, we set to work finishing projects and packing. I had already done a bulk of the packing and cleaning, but there are always lots of little things to finish with any move. This was particularly true since we’re moving to the other side of the globe! Managing mail, collecting keys, making trips to the storage unit and donation sites, paying all hospital bills, selling the Jeep, etc. I really hope we thought of everything.

The morning of May 18, Luke & Hannah came by to help us load up our luggage and get it to the airport. We had decided a few months prior that we wouldn’t have family take us that morning. There are just so many emotions tied up in saying goodbye and trying to get all the bags checked and through security. It wouldn’t have made for a very good goodbye.

Luke & Hannah have done so much life with us, so we were so thankful to have their help that last morning. We arranged the bags and then had a nice, long breakfast of donuts and chai with them before heading to our gate. Honestly, Luke & Hannah are like family, so there were definitely tears shed in that goodbye, but it was exactly how we hoped to leave for our first term abroad.

We waved goodbye to Duluth as we flew up over Lake Superior. It was a little hard to know what to feel as we left the city we so dearly love.

This girl loves to fly.

On the first flight she colored pictures for the pilots. When she gave them to the flight attendant as we left the plane, the kids were invited to sit up front for a few minutes. Obviously, they were thrilled. So was I!

Ella colored pictures again on our second flight and then joined the pilot for his lunch up front after everyone deboarded. I have a feeling she may be trying this on every flight in the future.

We’ve now been at the beach for one week. Pete and I agreed last night at dinner that we’re finally feeling like we’re able to rest. Neither of us slept well the first week, as we started our transition. I am so thankful to our coaches who told us in January we needed to take at least two weeks to rest.

Ready to conquer the beeeeeeach!

We’re still waiting for Pete’s work permit to go through in Kenya. Please keep praying it happens soon! We’ll keep you posted. And now that we’re resting, I have more time to write, so be sure to check back for more posts very soon!

 


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Seven Days!

It’s true! One week until we leave Duluth! I know this may be a surprise to some of you since we haven’t written about it here on the blog yet. We’ve just been so busy packing! We’re working on a newsletter update, too, but here’s the plan for the upcoming weeks.

One week from today – May 18 – we will board a plane in Duluth and head to Florida. Yes, Florida and not Kenya. Back in January when we were at training, it was recommended to us by our coach that we take a little time together as a family between Duluth and Kenya. The term we were given for this time is a boat. It comes from the idea that missionaries used to have to take a boat from the US to wherever they would be serving. It often took a couple weeks to make the trip, allowing the family to transition from one home to the next. Now we jump on a plane and arrive in our new home country the very next day! With Pete’s intense work schedule continuing right up until next Monday morning, we’re thankful to be heading out for our own ‘boat’ near friends in Florida.

Ella gave us her approval while we spoke at Riverview Church in Pine River last week.

We chose Florida for a variety of reasons. One is that we know multiple people there, including our friends the Smiths who will be graciously hosting us for part of our boat. Another is that it’s warm, which we still haven’t quite experienced this spring in Duluth. Also, there are beaches! We love the beach and are so looking forward to letting the kids play and play and play.

We received a beautiful send-off at Duluth Vineyard, our home church, two weeks ago.

We currently have tickets to fly out of Tampa for Kenya on June 9, though that may change. We are still waiting for Pete’s Kenyan work permit. We applied for it months ago and are trusting that it will arrive soon. Will you please pray with us that it does? It’s the one final detail we need before we make our way to Africa. In the chance it doesn’t arrive, we have flexible tickets and will adjust our leave date accordingly.

This week I said goodbye to these incredible mamas in the small group I started two years ago.

So for now, we’re wrapping up our packing! I started in February, so it’s not too crazy right now, which is exactly what I wanted. The house is empty and the suitcases are nearly ready!

Seven days to wrap up our goodbyes and head south.

Twenty-nine days to Kenya!!

 


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An Empty House

Tomorrow morning nearly all of our furniture will be loaded onto a trailer and moved down to Rochester. We have dear friends who just moved back from Ethiopia, so it’s going to a very good home, which makes the parting a bit easier. I’m really not very attached to this furniture. We’ve only had any of it for 15 months. It was all purchased on Craigslist and Wayfair and was only meant to be in our possession for a short time. So no, I’m not attached to the furniture itself. But today, as I get ready for it to be carried out of the house, I realize I am attached to it in a different sort of way.

I love these little pieces of home because of how well they’ve helped make our house a home. First it was our little apartment on London Road a year ago, and now it’s this three bedroom condo over the hill. We’ve all cuddled on the couch watching movies. We’ve gathered around the kitchen table eating meals and doing homework. We’ve fallen asleep, all four of us, on the bottom, twin-size bunk in Ella’s room. These pieces hold memories of the home we’ve made, and now we’re passing them to our friends, who will make new memories with them. That is the sweet part of sending this trailer down the road.

The hard part is what it means to live for the next few weeks in a nearly empty house. It means this transition is real. We’ll soon be boarding a plane, moving between our home here in Duluth and our home-to-be in Kenya. I’ve been dreaming of this move nearly my entire life. Almost everything I’ve done in the last few months has been in preparation for leaving. I’ve packed boxes to be donated, given to friends, put into storage, and loaded into suitcases for Kenya. All the kids clothes have been purchased for the next two years, school has been planned, and new quilts for the kids’ beds have been sewn. I’ve tried to think of every detail, even though I know there are lots of things I can’t possibly think of until we’re actually doing life at Tenwek.

I think having a transition into this wild simplicity a few weeks before our move will be an adventure for us all. We don’t mind the feeling of making things work, and this is no different. Pete and I will share an air mattress, Ella will have her own, and Sam has his toddler mattress on the floor, as usual. Our clothes will be moved into bins and boxes, as will toys and books. We’ll still have our couch until the move, so a whole lot of cuddle time is on the horizon in that spot.

This transition is real. And it is soon. We’ve purchased tickets to fly out of Duluth the morning of Thursday, May 18. We won’t be heading directly to Kenya at that time, though. From Duluth, we’ll be going down to spend three weeks with multiple friends in and near Florida, including a family we grew very close to during our training in Colorado. We’ll take some of that time alone as a family to reconnect, rest, and prepare for our transition into full-time ministry. We’re incredibly thankful to be able to do this following the past seven years of Pete’s intense work schedule after med school. We’re working on finalizing our tickets to Kenya for the weekend of June 10. So the countdown is on!

As I feel these emotions stir – excitement, anticipation, nervousness – I find myself continuously asking God to focus my heart. All of these feelings are good and to be expected, but I want to keep my focus on the One who has called us to East Africa. I want to continue to prepare well, but not at the cost of missing these last weeks in Duluth. I want to dream about being there, but not to the point where I lose sight of what God has right in front of me. I know it’s okay to be nervous, but I don’t want to allow that nervousness to get in the way of fully trusting God every step along the way. Twenty-eight days remaining before we leave this city I so dearly love. Every one of those days, and all the days beyond, have been counted and are surely known by our Father.

Jesus, you called me to this path as a little girl, and I’m ready to go. Just help me with all these emotions in the transition. We’ll be there soon!

 

 


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Ninety-Five!!

(The following is an excerpt from our latest newsletter. If you’d like to get each newsletter sent directly to your inbox, simply enter your info in the form to the right.)

We are thrilled to share that we now have 95 percent of our needed funds for our first two years in Kenya!! This is amazing news! Being at 95 percent means we are incredibly close to stepping foot on Kenyan soil and settling into the place we so dearly want to call home.

Setting a Date
We are currently only waiting for Pete’s Kenyan work permit to go through before setting our departure date. We applied for it in February, and it generally takes about two months to come back. Pete finishes work at the hospital on May 15, and we would like to leave very shortly after that. Before we actually leave, however, we need to have 100 percent of our monthly funds pledged. That’s just 5 percent more. Have you been thinking about supporting our work in Kenya on a monthly basis? Now would be the perfect time to commit! One percent of our budget is $75 a month. You can visit our page at www.wgm.org/olsen to make your pledge or send us an email at pete.olsen@wgm.org to get things started. We’re always happy to answer any questions you may have about making a financial gift.

 

 

Training Complete
We spent the entire month of January at Mission Training International (MTI) north of Colorado Springs. We joined about 35 adults and 20 kids from many different missions organizations who were also preparing to serve in places all over the world. A majority of our first two weeks was spent on language learning. We plan to spend the first three months of our time in Kenya doing intense Swahili study, so this introduction was incredibly helpful. We spent the rest of the month learning such things as how to enter and thrive in a new culture, how to care for our families, and how to keep our focus on Jesus when things get hard. We had time away from class on the weekends to ride a train up Pikes Peak, explore Garden of the Gods, visit the Denver aquarium with Pete’s sister, and spend a few days with Ang’s life-long friend, Bryn, and her family. We really enjoyed the entire month in Colorado. This was the last piece of our training before we leave!

Life for Now
Our days now are full as we prepare to leave. Pete is working in the Two Harbors Emergency Department quite a few hours each week. The hospital has been incredibly hospitable to us as a family, allowing Ang and the kids to stay overnight in a room to be near Pete during the longer stretches. We started homeschooling in February, which is going very well and is giving us a little time to adjust before the move. We’ve also begun packing the house and making extensive lists of everything we need to take with us for our first term.

Thank you so much for your ongoing prayers and encouragement as we prepare to leave. Please pray with us that Pete’s work permit will go through very soon so we can purchase our plane tickets and make our final plans. We’ll post an update as soon as we set the date!

Warmly,
Angela, Pete, Ella & Sam

 

 


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