Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wollersheim Time 2014

Can you taste the sweat and dust?  In our taxi on the way to Guinea & Sierra Leone - April 2009
After living and loving in Albuquerque, NM for Esther & Alaric's wedding, I headed to Phoenix, AZ to see my buds Joe & Ashley - and their (now two!) babies, Mia & Tucker.  I already waxed poetic about how I know Joe and Ashley in this post when I spent ten days with the Wollersheims in 2011 (wowsas - y'all are some generous friends letting me crash that long!).
Just living the dream on Banana Island in Sierra Leone
 Back in 2011 I wondered what it would be like to visit with the Wollersheims in the US - since all of our friendship initially revolved around Mali.  Of course, I wonder no more and am so thankful to have such dear friends who knew me during such an impactful period of my life.  I loved going down this rabbit hole of memories, too - so many good times.
That time Joe convinced us climbing Hombori was no big deal.  
 This trip, I just spent two days in Phoenix but we still packed a lot in!  We went to Mexican with Ashley's brother, Bubba, and his wife, Becky, to celebrate Ash's birthday and then spent the next day traveling to Sedona and soaking up the cliffs (while eating ice cream :)  I loved getting to know Tucker (who was just three months old when he came to our wedding in 2013!) and seeing how much Mia has grown since I met her when she was just seven months old back in 2011.
One of the most epic pictures I've ever taken.
While our lives have changed considerably since Mali (even since our visit in 2011!), and instead of eating stale bread and laughing cow cheese on the top of Hombori or in the back of a taxi on the way to Guinea we were eating cheese sticks and ginger ale in Joe & Ashley's pool - our friendship has been a true constant.  It is such a blessing to have lifelong friends like Joe & Ashley and to be a part of their lives as their family grows.  I'm already looking forward to our next visit!
 And now here we are five years later - two Wollersheim babies out and one Bangoura baby on the way!  My oh my how life changes in beautiful ways!
 Some of my favorite parts of the trip include: sharing a room with Tucker and him waking up in the morning in his crib, me rolling over to look at him and then him starting to grin like the little sweet pea that he is; Mia asking me if I was able to get ready quickly so we could go swimming (in nearly matching bathing suits no less!); and Mia asking on our way home from Sedona when Jenny (me) would be going home...hah!
Making cleaning out the dishwasher better since 2013

See more pictures from my trip here!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Two are better than one: An Albuquerque Wedding

Albuquerque sunrise
Last week I had the honor of attending, and participating in, Esther and Alaric's wedding in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Aside from placing part of my foot in New Mexico in the summer of 2000 (or was it '99?) at the four corners, I had never been to New Mexico before.  I loved the chance to visit Esther and Alaric's new home together and to get to know, albeit briefly, some of their closest family and friends over the three days of wedding festivities.
October 2009 - Mali
But let me start from the beginning.  I met Esther and Alaric in July 2008 when I joined the Peace Corps and moved to Mali.  We not only spent two years in the same wonderful country, we also lived in the same region of Mali - San - and spent most of the American holidays - and quite a few volunteer house parties - together over our two years of service.  I would love to recap all of our adventures here but I realized I already have in some old blog posts!

Esther, Cassie and I had a lot of good times together including visiting Cassie's village for Ramadan in 2009 and riding our bikes the 60 miles from Esther's site to San to celebrate Thanksgiving in November of the same year.  We filmed a video about Moringa in my village and visited the nicest eco-tourism resort in Mali.  Of course our most epic creation was our close-of-service video.
October 2009
In Albuquerque, I had the chance to visit the downtown area and the Sandia Peak Tramway with some of Esther's lovely friends before attending the Mehndi ceremony on Thursday and the Garba celebration on Friday.  On Saturday morning, vendors set up shop outside of our hotel (The Hotel Blue, which was great) for their weekly farmers market.  Some of my favorite vendors were Miss Charlie Bean and Baby Blastoff.  I highly recommend hitting up the market if you're visiting Albuquerque, it was definitely a highlight!
The wedding took place on Saturday at the First United Methodist Church with a reception at the Hotel Andaluz, which took me back to Rgizlaine's wedding with all the intricate Moroccan-influenced architecture.  Esther and Alaric asked Cassie and I to do a reading from Eccelesiastes 4: 9-12 during their ceremony - but to read it in Bambara - what an honor!  A friend in Mali helped us out at the last minute with the following passage because while a friend here had a Bambara bible, we didn't know which chapter in Bambara corresponded to Ecclesiastes (it's Waajulikela if you're wondering :)

From Eccelesiastes 4: 9-12:
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.  But how can one keep warm alone?  Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
In Bambara:
Mogo fila ka fisa ni mogo kelen ye, k'a ma soro u be tono gnuman soro u ka barra la.  Ni u la kelen binna, do be se ka a lawuli.  Nga ni mogo kelen binna, o ye bone ye sabu mogo si te yen k'a lawuli.  O cogo la ni mogo fila be da nogon kerefe, u fila be nene bo nogon na nga nin kelen don, o be se ka nene bo a yere fari la cogodi?  Ni bin kannikela binna mogo kelen te se.  Jurukise saba melekelen nogon na o tige man di.

I love any opportunity to go down the rabbit hole of my old Mali blog posts, pictures and memory lane and Esther and Alaric's wedding is one of the best excuses yet.  We have so many wonderful memories together and it was such a blessing to witness their marriage.  Just over six years ago we all got on the same flight headed to Mali - I don't think any of us could have predicted where that journey would take us six years later :)
Giving baby girl some love!
So much love for my San-kaw!
See more pictures from my trip to New Mexico here!
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