Category Archives: Preparing for Africa

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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A Weekend in Denver

I’m backtracking a bit to make up for not getting all the photos up following our month in Colorado! There was just so much each week, I didn’t have a lot of time to get it all posted, and returning to Minnesota hasn’t been much better. But we’re settling in to our routine again and finding a happy rhythm. So off we go…let’s catch up!

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Our last full weekend in Colorado was spent with Pete’s sister, Kathryn, in Denver. We first met up at the aquarium where we simply could not resist sitting down for lunch beside walls of fish. I’m pretty sure Sam has signed for fish at every restaurant we’ve visited since being at the aquarium! (He’s signing it here.)

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Our table was right next to this amazing tank, but we gave in anyway and pulled his chair right up to the glass. This was certainly his happiest meal out EVER.

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Following lunch, we made a slow walk through the aquarium. Sam could have watched this tank for days…

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…even with this creepy guy swimming back and forth with his mouth wide open. I mean, look at those chompers! And the eyeballs! What do you suppose he was thinking??

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The most memorable part of the aquarium was that we got to see REAL mermaids! REAL, you guys!! Check out this video. I had two very happy kiddos.

Denver Downtown Aquarium from The Mango Memoirs on Vimeo.

Of course our climber wanted to scale the palm trees on the way out of the aquarium.

IMG_1355 After spending the entire middle of the day at the aquarium, we headed back to Auntie Kathryn’s condo, which is in a pretty cool part of the city. While the boys took naps on the sofa, the girls walked to Trader Joe’s and a local pizza place to bring dinner back. That’s one thing I love about bigger cities. You can walk all over! And so many cities have a Trader Joe’s. Someday, Duluth. Someday.

The day after being at the aquarium, I got to meet up with a beautiful group of my mama friends! I had only previously met these moms on Instagram, but we certainly didn’t feel like strangers. I’ve been connected to these moms for more than a couple years. Lacey and I first found each other shortly after Sam was born. Her little guy, Ari, isn’t much older than Sam. I am consistently amazed at how we can feel like family with those we’ve never met face-to-face, but with whom we have unique bonds. Like these mamas. We are all raising a child with Down syndrome. This was definitely one of my favorite experiences in Colorado!

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How on earth did any of us catch a photo of the four kids together? We tried to convince them all to hold hands, which we though might keep them in one place for the photo. I don’t know who thought of that trick, but…genius. Sam wouldn’t hold hands, though. He just wanted to point and show everyone else where to look for the picture.

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But look! We got one! All looking in different directions, but we’ll take it. What would I do without such incredible mama friends through Instagram to share this journey? I so treasure the evening I spent with Lacey, Crystal, and Bethany.

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Such a fun weekend, but this isn’t all! We also managed to make a trip up Pike’s Peak! Check for that post coming up next. 🙂

 

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Digging In

This month has been so full of amazingness that I really shouldn’t be surprised how quickly it’s passed. But here were are at the end of week three! We have a little catching up to do here…

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Sammy’s new sign for pasta looks just like this…minus the actual pasta. This kid and his signs. I need to make a video of them all.

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Week two saw the end of the language learning portion of our training. Phonetics and lip formations and non-English sounds, oh my! We’re really looking forward to our language learning once we get to Kenya after everything we learned out here.

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Dwight was one of our favorite language teachers. He has lived in many places around the world, including with a tribe of people in Vietnam during the war in order to learn the language and translate the Bible for them. I haven’t asked how many languages he knows, but he is a fountain of wisdom. Last week we had the privilege of celebrating his 80th birthday with him and meeting his beautiful wife. Such an incredible ministry they’ve had!

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Post-lunch cuddles with my boy.

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Week three began a more focused time of learning about transitions, new cultures, and self-reflection.

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Seemed like this guy was doing a little self-reflecting, too.

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At the same time, this girl built a fire pit with her friend, Fern. It was a private project until they came to ask for matches. That’s when we started asking questions. 🙂

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This past weekend we packed in lots of exploring and new adventures before jumping into our last week of class. It’s hard to think about leaving this place and the deep friendships we’ve made this month, but we’ll be doing just that on Saturday. Time sure flies when we’re really digging in and getting ready for all that’s ahead!

 


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