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Latte’ Day Saints

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I’d wanted to blog every, single day for the next 16 months, thereby having a blog that was nothing but “Day One, Day Seven, Day Etc”, but, due to the computer problems, that became impossible.  So, for a while, anyway, I’m going to try to do titles that you might see people use because they mistakenly THOUGHT they were witty.  Case in point, today’s title.  I laugh at how many ways people try to work in coffee-related words into coffee shop titles. (Uncommon grounds, sacred grounds, thanks a latte’)  So, this one’s mine.  I in no way wish to be offensive to The Church of Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints.  It was only an attempt to be offensive to poor business titles.  (Forgive me, LDS, and thank you for reading my blog so…shall I say it…..religiously)

Jacelyn’s first day of class was yesterday and she made it through alive!!!!  Now I can begin posting a tidbit from her day each day for you all.  Probably a lot of talk of…..um…..STAT…..and Code Blue…..and……………………scalpel?  I don’t know.  We’ll just see what she learns about.

As for me, I met with the Pastor yesterday regarding shtuff to do here and it was insane, crazy awesome!  I am meeting with the  youth ministry team on Thursday afternoon to start seeing how I can help them!  It’s great because at one point he said, “We really need to get a youth ministry started that doesn’t rely on the youth minister alone, but can continue to function when there isn’t one or when he/she leaves!  (that’s amazing because, as you probably know, that’s exaaaaaactly how we tried to structure it back home!)  He also said that by Sunday I should have also met with the leaders of the Marriage and the Family ministry to talk about Theology of the Body.  Then, in regards to the mission trips, he’s basically ready right now to have teams come over!  They need help building, painting, re-organizing, outreach, evangelization, training, etc.  So, gear up, all! Below is a pic of where the church used to be.  Nothing has been left except the altar.

Lots of awesome work to do!

Jacelyn’s last hurrah before starting classes was The Island Tour, as Ross University calls it.  We got to see….

The twin Trafalgar Falls:

and….

It’s SO frustrating because these falls were HUGE, but when you take a pic, you just can’t tell.  On the way back down the mountain, we got to stop and see boiling sulfur springs.

And click HERE for a video of it boiling…

Please allow me to take a moment and encourage you to eat at Uncle Louis Cafe in Duluth, MN.

Then, after driving through the botanical gardens, we stopped for a lunch and then moved on to the top site of the day: Scott’s Head.  Scott’s Head is the southern-most tip of the island and is the meeting point of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.  There’s a small strip of land leading out to a huge mound of rock.  On the left is the Atlantic, on the right is the Caribbean.

Then, to top it off, we got to snorkel on the right side.  There’s a famous shelf under the water.  At one point, you’re snorkeling along looking at all the  coral and aquatic life and then it all just drops away.  It goes from being like 20 feet deep to I don’t know how deep because it just turns dark blue.  You feel like you’re flying.

On a final note for this post, one of Jacelyn’s fellow classmates (Virginia is her name, and she wants to be a medical missionary) has been reading our blog and stopped me yesterday to ask what was up with my ‘puter.  I told her and she offered to let me use her MacBook Pro until I can find a replacement!  Dang, yeah?  Thanks, Virginia.  I only hope making you famous by mentioning you on my blog can be repayment enough.

I’m off to the first get-together of the Ross Spouses Organization.  I’m making brownies!  (I’m NOT making brownies.)

On to the next thing…

Day 12

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Finally able to update!  Let’s see….

We learned that the green flash in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie is a real thing.  Don’t believe me? Click here.

I learned that right in front of the school, there is an actual coral reef, where there are sea turtles, octopi, and eels.  I’m going to try to put my camera in a zip-lock bag to get some pics! (keep an eye out for my plea for a new camera soon)

Jacelyn’s birthday is tomorrow!!!!!!! So, if you guys get a chance, email/facebook/call her.  Her Dominican cell is: 767.295.2848, if you have international calling.  If not, she still has her stateside Google Number, which works as a voicemail AND you can text her at that number, which is: 218.506.8763.  If you do text her, make sure you identify yourself IN the text, because her google address book doesn’t have a lot of numbers in it, yet.  I asked her what she’d like for her birthday and she said, “I’m in the Caribbean and it’s my last free day before school starts.  What more could I ask for.”  (Phew, because I had no clue where to buy a Bath and Body Works gift card ’round these parts)

My computer is still dead, which is worrying me a little bit, only in that I still have actual work to do for the youth group back in Duluth for the next few months.  I looked into alternate methods of communication, but, due to lack of pigeons on the island, I’d have to resort to carrier goats and they haven’t trained them to successfully make it through customs, yet.  They said they’re close, but you know how it is.  People just say what you wanna hear so that you’ll go with their business.

I realized the other day that I’d forgotten to mention our black sand beaches.  We have black sand beaches!

And a close-up…

It’s weird, because it looks like it’s muddy or would get you really dirty, but it behaves just like normal sand.  It actually brushes off your clothing a bit better than “normal” sand because it is heavier.  It’s essentially volcanic rock, hence the black.

So, yesterday morning, I was at the beach while Jacelyn was in orientation and I saw a guy with a wheelbarrow and a huge machete.  After I made sure my 9mm was locked and loaded, I walked up to him to see what he was doing.  I watched as he broke coconuts off the palm trees right there on the beach and put them in the wheelbarrow.  Without saying a word, he sliced the top off a coconut and gave it to me to drink.  I offered him money and he said what so many of them say in response to nearly everything: “No problem, mon.” (I gave him 2 dollars anyway)  Here’s the newly-picked, professionally-sliced coconut…

And, lastly, here’s a pic of one of Jacelyn’s last chances to watch the sunset for quite a while.  Apparently, there actually WAS a green flash last night, but we missed it.  We got to see this, though…

…which turned into this…

I cannot believe how blessed we’ve been.  Thank you all for your support and prayers and encouragements.  When Monday morning hits, things will change quite a bit for us, Jacelyn especially.  As I alway say, “If you pray, when you pray, pray for us.”  Be assured that I’m praying for you all and we miss you ALL very much.  Thanks for sharing all these adventures with us.

As usual, CLICK FOR PICS and we’re…

…on to the next thing…

Day 10

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Well, a minor disaster has happened.  I went to boot up my computer this afternoon and it’s just a black screen with a blinking cursor.  My tech guy, M, said there’s no magic fix, but I can have someone around here look at it, if possible.

So….anywhoooo, the posts might be a lot slower in coming, now.  Maybe not, but, just maybe.  Thought you guys should know so you don’t think I got bored with it and went off-grid.

And…..on to the next thing…

Day 9

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So, we’re slowly settling into a schedule.  This week has been orientation (how to cut cadavers, how to keep balance, etc) each morning for Jacelyn and various lingering details (currency exchange, hand-washing clothes, hot showers, etc) for me.  The tour of the day was a trip up the Indian River, 5 minutes from our house, to see the lush jungle flora and fauna AND to see where they filmed the swamp scene from Pirates of the Caribbean II.

Our tour leader was a man named James who introduced himself as “James, James Bond.  007.”  He was awesome.  The whole time, all I could think of is, “I can’t wait until people come to visit and we get them in a boat with ol’ James!”  He was really entertaining and knew a LOT about the area.  (at the end of the blog is a link to the photo album of our time here and at the bottom will be the pics and videos from the river tour)

We went on a run just before dusk and, at the end of one road, these two dogs came out, barking and wagging their tails, which I usually interpret to mean “stay away, but we’re pretty benign”.  I guess I didn’t realize how closed-minded I am in regards to dogs and culture.  I naively assumed that dogs are the same everywhere. (such a jerk, I know)  Apparently, on Dom, the tail wag means “stay away and I’m coming for you”, because that’s what they did. (apparently the dog had been speaking with the centipedes)  We slowly started walking away and I turned just in time to see one of them with a completely open mouth, aiming for Jacelyn’s beautiful, toned, golden calf muscle.  That’s when my knife came out and I picked up a big rock and she picked up a stick.  Fortunately, our yelling of “NO” (yes, like they teach in women’s self-defense classes) caused them to stop where they were and leave us alone.  Lesson: Don’t be too hasty to judge ANYONE from another culture and DON’T make assumptions, because that’s just wrong and you MAY end up missing part of your calf or having to knife an animal.

So, here are a couple of pics which highlight our river trip…

The trees have amazing root systems:

 

The dark blob in the center is a termite nest…

Forcefully and repeatedly tried to sell me hut insurance at affordable rates…

Click HERE to see where they built the hut for Calypso to live in for the swamp scene in Pirates II and ALL the other pics/vids from the day.

Well, that’s it for Wednesday!  As always, thanks for keeping track of us!

On to the next thing…

Day 8

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A few minor accomplishments today…

First, I got gas.  (if you’ve ever spent more than 20 minutes with me in an enclosed space, you already know this)  Luckily, today was gas of a different kind.  I was able to bring the empty propane container down to “James Store” and exchanged it for a full one!!!!!  Next step, catch that mischievous goat…

And……drum roll, please……..THEY FIXED THE HOT WATER HEATER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I haven’t showered in it, yet, but I DID burn my hand in the sink while testing if it was fixed, so we’re on the right track!

I quietly began the search for one of THESE or, if I’m lucky, one of THESE!  Our building has a laundry service, but it’s more expensive than me doing it and I don’t get that toned body if I pay her to do it…..I’m sure that’s where the term “washboard stomach” comes from, yeah?

Jacelyn went to her first morning of orientation, today, and I think she enjoyed it!  They held a “beginning of the semester BBQ” tonight, with a steel drum band and a lot of interesting and great-tasting side dishes.  I sat next to a little Pakistani girl whose mom is attending the med school and showed her some coin tricks.  Tomorrow, I’ll be hailed as a medicine man and expected to put on three shows a week just down the street at a local haberdashery.

I learned that there actually is a hidden treasure on the island, our town is on the list of top scuba diving sites in the world, Dominica has the largest concentration of potentially active volcanoes on the planet, and there is a place on the island that is actually called the Valley of Desolation.

Tomorrow is going to be filled with picking up used books, household items, paying rent, re-charging our phone, and sweating.

We miss ya and thanks for all the feedback about the blog!  I’m off to scald my back in our new “Pipeline Straight From the Seventh Circle of Sheol” shower.

On to the next thing…

Day 7 (and preceeding…)

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So, a quick note about yesterday.  You all know that I’ve been a youth pastor for the last four years and that I’ve loved it.  You also know that it’s nearly impossible to get a work visa on Dom.  So, if you’ve put as much thought into it as I have, you’ve realized that that means I can’t get any steady employment, either.  Add to that, your knowledge of the fact that we desperately want to be missionaries.  (wow, you know quite a bit about me, eh?)  The sum of all that knowledge basically looks like me leaving a great job to journey to a place where I can’t do anything “productive”.  I have to admit that I was a teensy bit pensive about how things would work out.  Though I knew there are always ministry opportunities everywhere you go, I wasn’t quite sure how I would find them.  I also knew I wanted to try to put together some mission trips to the island, which I wasn’t sure how to set up, either.

Then came Sunday morning….

When church got over, the pastor came to the pulpit and made the announcement that they desperately needed to get their youth ministry off the ground and people needed to step it up and start helping.   Then, the deacon came up and said that marriage and family were his highest priority and that the husband/wife relationship was of the utmost importance.  Then, the pastor came back and said that they need more people to step forward to help with the church building project on Saturdays. (in 2005, an earthquake destroyed their church and they’ve been struggling to raise the funds and manpower to rebuild it since then).

So, when the service ended, we walked up to the pastor and explained our situation on Dom.  I mentioned my having been a youth pastor for the last 4 years and that I was raising a bit of money stateside in order to be available to help locally and that I was very interested in having mission trips come to help rebuild the church.  He basically said I was “in” on all counts!!!  We then were approached by the deacon’s wife, who is the head of student housing at Ross University, and they offered us a ride home.  While driving, I explained that I’d been trained in Theology of the Body and that I did public speaking about it in the States and he said he’d pass my name and info on to the “higher ups” so we could utilize that training.  So, in one fell swoop, I now have a set mission (youth), likely speaking engagements, and enough stuff for 10 missions trips to do!!!  I am basically just floored.

 

As for Jacelyn, she absolutely loved the service.  A lot of the songs were in the more “island-esque” genre and, whenever there was a song, everyone sang so fully and loudly that the whole place was just echoing with their voices.  The preaching was awesome, as well.  An energetic, fervent sermon, just like we like ’em.  Towards the end, they had any visitors–all three of us–stand up and they sang us a welcome song which consisted largely of “We love you.  We love you.  We love you.”  It was awesome, because, by the end of it, we really got the feeling that they DID love us.  (It was also the first experience for both of us of being the only two white people out of 250) (I’m not racist for noticing it; and apparently, they aren’t either, because they love us)

Jacelyn also had the wonderful experience of picking up her books and supplies, today!  Below are some pics of her already having fun with her new toys:

 

The final pic was taken on our little shortcut trail through our backyard.  We were walking and were startled by some scruffling, which turned out to be these two goats.  Upon further investigation, the smaller goat in the foreground was trapped in the bushes by having gotten his rope wound around them.  I quickly pulled out the leatherman my dad gave me and sawed through the branches, thereby setting him free. (that definitely counts as my good deed for the day)  Unfortunately, in the process, I slipped and smacked my lower kneecap with the back end of the utility tool.  I thought nothing of it until I looked down and saw a small stream of blood running down into my sandal.  When the small puncture stopped bleeding like 20 minutes later, I thought I was in the clear.  Now, 10 hours later, my knee is killing me and I limp like my Moroccan neighbor, Fatima. (Hi, Fatimala)  Stupid goat.  As soon as I can walk without hobbling, I think I might find him and eat him like My Grandpa-in-law said I should.  I’m just saying…….

(The little one is just staring at me, like he knows what’s about to go down and he’s happy about it.) (Sucka’s gonna taste good with some soy sauce)

 

On to the next thing…

Day 6

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This is coming out late; sorry about that.  We got to go to church this morning. (I’ll write more on that tomorrow, because I have an amazing story about it…)

We attempted to cook our first meal on the island tonight.  Nothing too crazy.  We were gonna cook the tuna we got HERE yesterday, plus some of the eggplant, onions, garlic, and peppers, and some yellow rice.  We got it all prepped and went to light the stove and realized we were out of propane, which is how your stove/oven works, here.  So, we got to cook it in a neighbor’s apartment.  Jacelyn did a wonderful job with the fish.

Also, if you know me, you know that I LOVE long, hot showers that make you almost want to pass out.  As I’ve mentioned before, we have no hot water, yet, which means we’re still taking only cold showers.  So, even with all the intense heat all day long, there is still at least ONE moment every day where it feels like Minnesota, except, instead of wearing a snow suit and mittens that connect with a string in the middle, I’m naked.

Lastly, due to not having an ironing board, I’m getting really, REALLY good at ironing on a couch cushion.

 

Alright.  That’s it for now.  The cool story will have to wait until tomorrow.  Sleep well, all!  On to the next thing…

Day Five, Part One

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It is 8:12 am.  Already today, we’ve been to the market (which started at 6 am) and experienced a few things I don’t want to forget.

First, I saw a HUGE cow at KFC.  Chick-fil-a adverts have nothing on seeing an actual heifer standing in line outside of a chicken restaurant.

Second, I saw a one-eyed Rastafarian look Jacelyn up and down.  Normally, that makes me pretty upset, but it only made me half as mad because, technically, isn’t that only half as bad?  I dunno.

We finally heard the conch shells being blown to get everyone’s attention.

Last up for the morning is an exciting new find in the world of food services.  It’s not McDonald’s, but it’s sooooo close…..

Get it….?

Now that the groceries are safely stowed and the fresh tuna is frozen, we’re off to a river hike.  We’re so blessed to be able to enjoy these last few days before Jacelyn begins 14-hour study days and I start handwashing all the laundry and getting involved in the local ministries!  Thank you, Ross University, for offering free tours this first week!!!  On to the next thing…….

Day Four, Part Two

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A Note From Jacelyn On Cold Showers:

Because we haven’t figured out how to work our hot water, we’ve been taking cold showers since Tuesday.  In order to make this more bearable, I try to pretend that I’m having the awesome experience of showering in a tropical waterfall.  Oddly enough, it actually does help!  In both of the showers I’ve taken today (and, yes, we will probably be taking two showers every day because of the profuse sweating), I actually enjoyed the cool water by the end–couldn’t believe it!!!  I find the profuse sweating to be harder to handle than the cold showers.  I’m working on resigning myself to sweating every, single day–multiple times a day.  However, even that is easier to deal with when you enjoy a nice cold drink while on a deck overlooking the Caribbean Sea like I did tonight.

A Note From Nic Regarding The Same:

I experienced all of the same, except, due to my odd thought processes, whereas Jacelyn pictured THIS:

I ended up picturing THIS:

instead of THIS

, which is what I was actually showering in.  Oh, this slow, meandering path to holiness; it’s taking so long.

Oh, and Jacelyn’s foot was just pressing down on a centipede, when she realized it and stepped away.  It crawled under the bed, and, when she was gone, it came for me.

Day Four, Part 1

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I’ll add more to this later, but I wanted to write as I remembered.  Yesterday, when we were in Roseau, we were approached by a beggar as we were leaving the grocery store, bags filled with groceries.  He sidled up gave the customary “Hi!  Where are you from?  Do you like it in Dominica?”.  We gave the customary “Hi!  We’re from America.  We LOVE it in Dominica!!!”  Below is a transcript of what followed:

Beggarman: Can I ask you a question?

Me:   Sure!

Beggarman:  I’m not asking for money, I promise.

Me:  Oh, okay.

Beggarman:  I was wondering if you’d walk across the street with me and buy me a small loaf of bread.  It’s only a dollar-fifty.  Please, I’m so hungry.

Me:  I’ll tell you what, here’s a loaf of bread and some Vienna sausages that I just bought.

Beggarman:  Oh, I only eat white bread.

Me:  …..what?

Beggarman:   Um, I only eat white bread.

Me:  Goodbye.

I couldn’t believe my luck!  Out of ALL the beggars on ALL the streets in ALL the world, I’d ACTUALLY found a beggar who was trying to be a chooser!  I wanted to call my mom up right away and say, “Mom, you were wrong all these years!!!”

Day Three

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Today, the school paid for a one-hour trip into the capital city of Roseau.  This was great for a couple of reasons.  First, the gorge scene from Pirates II was filmed there.  Second, household necessities are much cheaper there than in our town of Portsmouth.  We were able to get some of the things we’ve lacked for our house, which was nice.

We were SO excited to get a phone call telling us that our two 55-gallon barrels containing all of our possessions arrived this evening!  Now I can wear underwear, again!!!! Dominica is turning out to be much like China in that it can take 4 hours to get one errand done.  Simply getting a few fresh groceries can involve a serious time commitment and an entirely sweaty outfit.  Seriously, my shirt was just dripping.

Tomorrow is technology day, which involves the IT department making sure Jacelyn’s computer is adequately “linked-up” or whatever so that she can get straight A’s in med school; so, that’s important, I’d say.  Thats about all I know about tomorrow.  I’ll let you know how it went once it happens.! 🙂

(Click HERE for the updated photo album.)

Day Two

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Today was taken up with sleeping for twelve hours and going on a tour of the campus.  It was supposed to be a 1 hour and 30 minute walk, but, due to a plethora of off-topic questions, it turned into  2 hours and 40 minutes.  We both got photographed for our ID’s, which was fun because we’d be out in the humidity for almost 3 hours, so our faces were all shiny and I was smiling far too widely.  I’m not sure why I was doing it, but when they went to take the first I had a crazed, ear-to-ear grin….So much so that Jacelyn had to whisper, “Nic, back off on the smile a bit, Honey.”

We’re about to settle in for the night.

Tomorrow…..a 9-3 trip to the capital city of Roseau!  Things are supposed to be cheaper there, so we hope to get a wastebasket and a couple of other things purchased there.  Keep us in your thoughts and prayers and thanks for hanging in there with us!

P.S.  There will be no pics from today, because any pic taken would just be of me with my mouth hanging open as I try to figure out how that particular question pertained to anything we’d covered thus far.  🙂

Day One

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Welcome to the first day of the rest of our blog.  Today marks our exodus from America for a while.  It didn’t start off smoothly.  Monday, on the 10-hour drive from Knoxville, TN to Jacelyn’s parents’ house in Oxford, FL, we became aware of Tropical Storm Irene.  She was moving toward San Juan, Puerto Rico, where our connecting flight to Dominica (Dom) occurred.  Halfway home, we stopped at a Starbucks to get online and see where things stood.  Much to our dismay, Liat Airlines, our connecting flight, had posted on their website that all flights to and from San Juan were cancelled!  To top it off, their customer service didn’t open until 7 am and our first leg of the flight started at 7:30, which meant we would have to check in for the flight to Puerto Rico not knowing the status of our flight to Dom…

Then began the scramble.  Multiple customer service numbers, websites, storm-tracking, espresso, and 53 minutes of sleep in a night later, we woke up at 4am to decide what to do.  Should we head to Airtran in Tampa, which hadn’t cancelled their flights and hope that our connecting flight came back online?  Should we get some sleep and try to get moved to another flight with Liat, although, their site said that there were no open seats on any flights to Dom until Friday?  Should we find a cave and hide there forever?  These options, and many more, passed through our minds.  In the end, true to form, Jacelyn thought we at least had to make the effort of driving the hour-and-a-half down to Tampa to at least do everything in our power to be available.  I’m so glad she did!

We arrived, checked our many bags (and guitar), and hurried to the gate, with me repeatedly dialing Liat’s customer service number.  It was nerve-wracking because we’d already technically checked the bags, so if Liat still had no flight for us, we would have to not board the plane and let all of our luggage go on ahead of us to San Juan!  How’d it play out?  How’d I get to this point, sitting at 30,000 feet, writing to you?  In short, Airtran delayed us an hour, which gave us time to call Liat, who informed me that, contrary to their websites’ updates, no flights were cancelled and we were good to go!

And what’s left of the day?  Scramble to retrieve and recheck our luggage (pay insane fees for the overweight charge), hop on a smaller plane, arrive at 5:10pm on Dom, find our transportation, travel an hour to Portsmouth, and locate our new home!  I’ll write more at the end of the day when that list has been accomplished.  Or…..when we get stranded somewheres.

…So…we’re stranded somewheres.  Technically, we’re stuck in the basement of the San Juanairport, waiting for our plane to get fixed on the island of St. Vincent, fly two hours to San Juan, pick us up, and fly 3 hours to Dominica.  It’s already 2 hours and 15 minutes past when we should’ve left.  Not sure what we’ll end up doing.  Delay indefinitely, cancel, sleep in airport, hotel, Tata’s?  Choices, choices…

…Here’s what ended up happening.  Our flight arrived, we took off 5 hours later than what we were supposed to, they flew us as far as the island of Antigua, where they put us up in a hotel.  Went to bed at midnight, got up at 3:30am, took the van back to the airport, slept through the 40-minute flight to Dom, and woke up as we were descending between two green mountains to the Dom runway.  We made it through customs, took the 1-hour ride to our town, Portsmouth, checked in at Ross University and were taken to our apartment.

We slept for 3 hours, went and bought some necessities.  One the way home, we saw George’s Restaurant, which turned out to be strictly authentic Chinese food! We were able to speak Chinese to them and order “to dou si”, which is a spicy shredded potato dish that we haven’t had since we left China 5 years ago.  Got home, set up the internet, spoke with family, blogged and am currently….falling……..asleep.  Talk to you tomorrow!  (Oh, and not every entry of this blog will be so list-esque) (AND, I will actually edit my entries in the future.

Below is a picture of our apartment complex, called GreenHomes.  Click HERE or on the pic to see all the photos from today!

Our lime-green apartment complex

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