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Kenya 2018 – Can Ya Believe It?!?

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Kenya 2018 – Can Ya Believe It?!?

Jacelyn has known since she was ten years old that she was going to be a missionary. I often say that I’ve known since I met her that I was going to be a missionary. Many of you may know that not long after we were married, we moved to China for 2 years to teach in an international school. What you might not know is that, in 2005, while on a trip to Cambodia, Jacelyn had a proverbial light bulb moment after bandaging up the cut foot of a little boy who’d been running around The Killing Fields. In the span of about ten seconds, she said the following:

“You know, someone could become a doctor and do a lot of good here……..Wait, I could become a doctor……..I’m going to become a doctor.”

It was that brief and it was that final. True to form, Jacelyn has never stopped advancing toward that goal since that day. She’s struggled and fought and even doubted, but she’s never backed down.

She’s gone through:

  • 3 years of pre-med
  • 1 year of waiting to be accepted into med school
  • 4 years of med school
  • 3 years of residency
  • 3 adoptions
  • 1 pregnancy
  • 37 hours of labor
  • 1 C-section
  • 7 different apartments/homes
  • 6 different cities
  • 4 years of living out of suitcases

On September 13, she completed her last day of residency. Ironically, after all the aforementioned stepping stones and hurdles, her last day seemed a bit anti-climactic, basically culminating in an exasperated, “Well, it’s about stinkin’ time!”

Last year, Jacelyn decided that after all the pushing and striving, she’d like us to go on our first mission trip as a family before she embarked on her first year of medical practice. So, we reached out to one of our friends, Father Gabriel Waweru, whose father works in a hospital in Kenya, to see if we would be able to go there for a month or so for Jacelyn to help out. Thankfully, he was immediately on board.

So, here we are, 28 days away from loading the entire Davidson family—The Justice League—into a steel tube, taking two separate 8.5 hour flights, and spending a month outside of Nairobi, Kenya.

Throughout our entire 17 years of married life, we’ve learned over and over that God will always take care of us. Whether it’s guidance for a last-minute life decision, a surprise miracle pregnancy, or unexpected thousands of dollars to adopt three kids, He’s always provided exactly what we’ve needed at precisely the right time.

We are so crazily excited about this opportunity that it’s tough to find the words, which is saying something, considering how much I talk. We are thankful for all of your prayers and support over the past decade and we can’t believe we’re finally at this point. We want you all to know how the trip plays out and I plan on writing blog posts from Africa, in between the amazing experiences and what I’m sure will be frequent bouts of explosive diarrhea.

We do have a non-profit mission organization, we do have a donation button that will be made available, and we do have a high amount of expenditure for us to go. However, we don’t want anyone to give because of a sense of pressure or guilt, or because they’re worried that we won’t make it “there and back again”. God has never asked us to do something and then left us high and dry, so hakuna matata on that front.

At the same time, we are very excited about how many people care for and support our mission, and we would 100% absolutely love for you to be a part of the work God has called us all to! We named our non-profit FreelyGiven for a reason. In Matthew 10, Jesus tells His disciples, “Freely you have received, so freely give.” Jacelyn and I have been given so, so much in our lives and we are very excited to give ourselves back to Him. We encourage and welcome anyone and everyone who’d like to do so along with us!

Please share our posts and our pages with anyone who may be excited and encouraged in their faith due in some small part to where God is taking us. Let’s enjoy the ride!

As always, if you pray, when you pray, pray for us.

Contracting Chikungunya: Our Rash Decision

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Chikungunya, how do I even begin to describe you?  I’m speechless as I consider this strange, arthropod-borne, African illness that had me down for 10 days.  Have you ever even heard of it before?  I hadn’t until this past January, when I saw a poster about it in the hospital here in Dominica. Locally, people are calling it “The Chik”, and every other person you meet has had it. In fact, it’s recently been declared an epidemic in the Caribbean. Personally, I think The Chik is a sneaky, little bastardo, and it’s worth it to go geeky for a few minutes and check out what the medical literature is saying. (Note: no plagiarism here! I’ve gotten this info by looking up “Chikungunya Fever” on UpToDate.)

Chikungunya was first identified in the 1950’s during an outbreak in Tanzania, and it’s here that The Chik got it’s strange name. It’s from a local language of Tanzania, and it denotes “stooped walk” or “that which bends up”. (I’ll soon describe how well Nic and I fit those descriptions.) During the 50’s there were many outbreaks throughout Africa, and it spread to Southeast Asia.  Oddly, at some point The Chik decided to take a break, and it was rarely seen for about 30 years. Then, it inexplicably made a huge comeback in 2004. Just compare it to William Shatner’s career (whose comeback I find totally awesome.)

WIlliam young









In recent years it’s been causing outbreaks all over Asia.  It was thought to be a tropical disease until an outbreak occurred in northeast Italy in 2007. (No one is safe!) This stealthy virus made its way to our neck of the woods very recently; the FIRST time “local transmission” of Chikungunya was ever reported anywhere in the Americas was only this past December in St. Martin.  Now, just 5 months later, it’s all over the Caribbean.

Where, oh where, will The Chik strike next? Well, that’s up to two components: an outbreak can only occur in an area where one of two particular mosquitos dwell, and it must be during the time of year that those mosquitos are thriving (summer). The Aedes aegypti mosquito is the most common culprit. This nasty blood-sucker also carries dengue fever and yellow fever.  The other mosquito doesn’t transmit disease as often, but it’s got a cool name, so it’s worth mentioning. Aedes albopictus is also known as the Asian tiger mosquito.  This fella has been found to carry diseases with names as awesome as it’s own: Japanese encephalitis and eastern equine encephalitis virus. Both mosquitos have white spots and are a bit smaller than the mosquitos we Minnesotans are used to seeing. There is a standing order to kill on sight. Pictures included for identification. (Floridians, this info might be most helpful to you . . . )

Aedes aegypti. Take a close look--this one is in the process of feeding. Disgusting.

Aedes aegypti. Take a close look–this one is in the process of feeding. Disgusting.

Asian Tiger Mosquito

Asian Tiger Mosquito

Okay, time to conclude the science lesson and take a look at what this awful illness is like. For me, it started on a Friday night; I found myself really irritable. Yes, yes, irritability isn’t really out of the norm for my “passionate” self, but this was more like skin-crawling irritability. Sitting, standing, laying on the couch–every position was uncomfortable. Plus, as a med student, the weekends are all about getting extra work done, but I simply couldn’t focus and was just too tired to study. By Sunday afternoon I was sure I must be fighting something. I was expecting a few sniffles and sneezes to come my way . . . but, oh, The Chik far exceeded these expectations.

When I awoke Monday morning, I had 2 really random pains: my left thumb joint and my right jaw joint, or the TMJ. No big deal. I suspected it might be Chikungunya, but I wasn’t panicking, because I had no idea how bad I’d be feeling by the next day. When I got home from work that afternoon Nic greeted me in his nervous, hypochondriac voice, “Honey, I’ve got a rash all over my stomach.”  Yes, he most certainly did–a blotchy red rash covered every inch of his stomach, chest, and back.

photo (27)

When I took a look at my own skin, I found little pink bumps all over my thighs and stomach. I’ve never had such a widespread rash, and it completely creeped me out. There was no turning back, The Chik had taken hold.



Tuesday morning I had to call in sick.

Tuesday afternoon we had to ask our amazing neighbor to take care of our kids for the evening.

Tuesday night was a sleepless night that consisted of switching positions every two minutes because the current position was painful, shivering and covering up with a blanket, throwing off the blanket and sitting in front of a fan because you’re sweating, and thinking, “My God, My God, I’ve never felt this way before.”

By Wednesday morning we looked like this:



Those red eyes are no joke, folks. I hadn’t just woken up and I wasn’t crying when I took this picture; that’s how they looked for 2 days.

Click HERE to see how we spent the next 3 days.

So, how did this illness completely lay us out for 4? The main symptoms of Chikungunya are fever and “polyarthralgia”, which means multiple joint pains. The joints that are most commonly affected are the ankles, wrists, and all the many joints in the hand. Our hands were stiff, swollen, and so weak and painful that we couldn’t open or grip things. Nic couldn’t get the microwave door open and he struggled to pop pills through their foil backing. Also, his feet hurt more than mine, and he described it as every muscle and ligament being sprained. And, unfortunately, the virus isn’t all that partial to just the wrists and ankles. Our backs and necks were stiff and sore; my neck was so painful that I couldn’t lean my head to the side in either direction. Oh yes, and all the muscles of our arms and legs ached as well. When we’d force ourselves off the couch to get a drink or use the restroom, we’d limp our way there, like so:

Hunched over

But, alas, that still wasn’t the extent of what this insane virus did to us! If you’ve ever had a previous joint injury, it gets a hot, firey anger from the virus and starts to hurt again. I’m one of the many people who is bothered by the oh-so-annoying TMJ (jaw joint). The right side of my jaw was so painful that it hurt to even eat spaghetti. And you know that motion where you rub your lips together to blend in chapstick or lipstick? Yeah, I couldn’t complete that minor feat. Chikungunya can also cause mouth sores, which both of us had. Eating was not it’s usual enjoyable experience during this illness. And let’s not forget the rash–we also had that freaky rash. Still, the worst part of the illness for both of us was that we FELT drastically and horribly ill. We were drained of all energy, and there’s no better way to say it than we felt completely awful. I didn’t even have the stamina to read. When we weren’t sleeping, there was no other way to pass the hours than to keep watching things on Netflix. Those long, uncomfortable days led us to watch things like this ridiculous movie. cry_babyColossal waste of time, but Johnny Depp does have a surprisingly nice voice in this extremely quirky musical.

By Friday we were beginning to recover and the rash was clearing up. Saturday brought continued improvement. When we awoke on Sunday morning, however, we both had a new and different rash that was the most maddeningly, intensely itchy thing we have ever experienced. It was getting ridiculous–was this stupid virus ever going to leave us?!













And, well, I think the jury is still out on that. A week later, my appetite isn’t back to normal, our hands still ache, and several of our lymph nodes are still swollen. So, if you’ve got a Caribbean excursion planned anytime soon, you had better pack some mosquito repellent . . . and mosquito nets . . . and citronella candles . . . and those little fans that emit repellent . . . and a gas mask . . . and a biohazard suit . . . and never go outside. Other than that, enjoy your vacation.

Homecoming Queen Esther

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Our family grew by one size on Friday, March 7,

when the adoption of Esther Jemima Davidson was finalized!

This beautiful girl is now 4 years old

This beautiful girl is now 4 years old

 We kept her given name of Jemima, and also named her for Jacelyn’s great grandmother, Esther Anspaugh.

We have found Esther to smile constantly and love laughter.


Below are a few images from our first day together. Her homecoming process was very personal and heart-wrenching. We literally had to pick her up from her former home. God guarded her little heart that day; no tears were shed and her smiles appeared right away.

moving out

Christian Esther

Esther's 1st

Esther at our first court date:

first court date

Then, after our second court date, we became Davidson, Party of Five.


The transformation into our superhero alter-egos, as a group of five, is in process. The Justice League is in the runnings.

Justice League

Gratitude, Amazement, and Inspiration, All In One Post!

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A lot of you have been following this adoption story, and we’re excited to share the next steps of this journey with you. Some of you may recall that back in early December, we sent out our plea for help with the adoption expenses. This was due to the fact that our boys’ biological sister unexpectedly came to be in need of adoption; while the Lord opened our hearts to this fully, finances seemed impossible, since we’d just gone through the hefty cost of two adoption only one year ago.

However, we are joyfully pleased to announce that ALL the necessary funds for the adoption were raised! Amazingly, the sum of over $8000 came in within THREE weeks; it was truly our Christmas miracle. Of the dozens of fund raisers we’ve been part of over the years, we’ve never seen a goal met so quickly. We experienced everything from donators who were skipping Christmas presents and giving the money towards the adoption, to people we’d never met hearing about our story and PayPal-ing us money. Acquaintances, old friends, total strangers, all showing the utmost in generosity! This touched and blessed our hearts immeasurably, and was yet another solid confirmation that God has led us down this road.  Better still is the benefit to our boys’ sister, because we are now able to progress quickly with the adoption process.

While we were home in the states over Christmas, we were able to take care of several important steps in the processing of our home study for the US adoption agency!  This was extremely beneficial, because many of the tasks are more difficult to accomplish here on the island.  As each step has accompanying fees and costs, the timely fund-raising is what made it possible to get things done so conveniently and more quickly while at home!  Here’s a summary of the progress so far:

  • In November, our US social worker visited Dominica to complete our home study visit
  • All four of us got the necessary, notarized, physicals and blood tests
  • We got official fingerprints for the FBI background check, and mailed out the forms
  • Forms and payments were mailed out for the additional required background checks
  • A myriad of documents were printed, signed, and mailed off
  • Here in Dominica, we are able to pay for updating our resident visas
  • The legal paperwork in Dominica is complete, and we are able to pay the lawyer in full
  • January 31 is the date set for the court to assign our guardian ad litem.  The guardian ad litem is then able to complete our Dominican home study (which we are also able to pay for)!  When she submits her report to the court, the judge will set a date for the final, official adoption hearing!

I guess, in the interest of full disclosure, we should clarify that WE didn’t actually do the mailings. We had to rely on family, because, well, you know us: always down to the line on everything. With our need to get back to Dominica for Jacelyn’s rotation, there was only so much we could accomplish. Thanks, mom and dad!

So, that’s our status for right now. Further steps of the process may go quickly and may drag on forever, being as it’s now out of our hands into the court/immigration system. Either way, we’ll keep you posted (pun!). While we’re not legally able to post pictures of our dear girl, yet, we can relentlessly post pictures of these two, so here:

Welcome Sister

If you pray, when you pray, pray for us…

On to the next thing…

Between the Pitch and the Contact

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Dear Readers,

I know you’ve read bits and pieces from us regarding this whole crazy 3rd adoption process, but you can consider this the definitive update on our current situation. It won’t be a long post, but it will be filled with info. PLEASE forward it to anyone and everyone!

As it stands, we’ve officially been given the amazing opportunity to keep these siblings together! (If you haven’t watched it, yet, watch our Three Little Birds video!) The birth parents have signed the initial papers, resigning their parental rights, and we’ve signed our initial papers, which tell the Dominican court system that we intend to adopt a third child.

To adopt a child as an American, US Immigration requires an official home study, done by a US certified social worker, which deems you a suitable party to adopt. It is usually specific to the number of children you intend to adopt. Last year we were approved by the adoption agency to adopt 3 children, but at that time our boys’ mother, who had our 2 boys and a daughter living in the home with her, was not interested in giving us her daughter. At that time, the home study still cleared us to adopt one more child under its seal of approval.

Then, as you may know, 8 months after the adoption was finalized the birth mother changed her mind and ASKED us to adopt her daughter! In a prior email to you all, I relayed how I prayed and got very clear direction that we should adopt her, which was exhilarating, to say the least! Then came the hiccup. As a new rule with our previous adoption agency, because our initial adoptions were finalized, our file with the adoption agency was closed and we officially have to go through the entire process again–including the expense.

Last year, God miraculously enabled us to fund the adoption of our 2 boys on our own by bringing a writing contract into our lives that paid for every dime (with nothing left over).  However, having to pay for all the same expenses again–less than a year later–is proving to be financially difficult.

Added to that, we have a very definitive time frame. If we were going to be on-island for an indefinite amount of time, then this wouldn’t be such an issue, since we could work and save and pay as we progressed. However, that’s not the case. We have to move back to the States on June 28, so that Jacelyn can finish her clinical rotations in New York City, which begin on June 30. (Yep, we’d have two days to move from Dom to NYC. Yep, we ARE that crazy.)

So, we’d like to know if you are interested in being a part of this by contributing to our adoption costs. Fortunately, although we are unable to pay all of them on our own at this time, the adoption expenses aren’t monstrous–so, any amount you may be able to provide will greatly help us on our way to bringing this little girl home to our family. Here is a PDF of all of our foreseen adoption costs, the vast majority of which are due towards the beginning, since it’s all moving so quickly, this time.

Please feel no pressure to do this if you don’t desire to or if you have any misgivings or reservations about us or the process. We just want to present this opportunity for you to be a part of something beautiful and, very literally, life-giving.

This dainty, shy, quiet, and raspy-voiced 4-year-old, has told us that she’d like to come live with us, for me to be her daddy and for Jacelyn to be her mommy. (Yes, it’s actually THAT heartwarming!)

How’d you like to become a part of her extended family?

If you DO wish to contribute, please contact me at: You can keep up with the progress of donations by checking out the thermometer on our home page:

Thank you for your time!

Three Little Birds: MUST SEE!!!

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Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

We wanted to let you in on some good news, and, true to form of the Fantastic 4, we chose to do it in song!

(The freaky section was completely Davey’s idea.)

Chapter 7b: Now This Is A Story All About How…

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My life got flip-turned upside down…

So, I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there…

Picking up where Chapter 7a left off; Friday afternoon arrived . . .

The three of us (Nic, Whitney, and I) took the half hour drive to Calibishie to pick up the boys. The most interesting thing we noticed upon arrival was that 13-month-old Jonathan was walking around the yard with a t-shirt wrapped around him in a MacGyver sort of way to serve as a diaper.  (Remember the last blog noting how very expensive diapers are in Dominica?)  We chatted with Stella briefly, letting her know 100_5824when we’d bring Miguel and Jonathan back home.  She did have a bag of clothes packed for them, but she didn’t give us any of the helpful hints we were hoping for—such as their food preferences, bedtimes, naptimes—anything.  Her habit of not communicating is something we became painfully aware of during our year of working with her.  She offers very little information and is quite difficult to talk to.  Therefore, it only took several minutes to reach that oh-so-awkward point where nothing more can be thought of to say.  We were also driven quickly out of their yard by enormous black ants that would torment us with their stinging bites every time we visited.  Just as quickly as we came, we drove away from their little home on the hillside—still feeling a bit clueless about the precious boys who now sat next to us in the car.  As we drove away, neither of them cried, and we counted that as a good start!

From the very beginning of our weekend, Jonathan took up his favorite pastime.

From the very beginning of our weekend, Jonathan took up his favorite pastime.

For our very first evening together, we decided to keep it simple: dinner, baths, movie.  Thankfully, one of our fears was conquered at dinner when Jonathan happily downed a bottle of formula!  Score!  We would not starve the child entrusted to our keeping!  We then received a big surprise when Miguel looked at his bubble bath with awe.  Not only had he never had a bubble bath, he had never taken a bath in a big indoor tub, or taken a warm bath.  At his home in Calibishie, they didn’t have indoor plumbing; they had an outhouse in the back and used a wooden tub in the yard for bathing.  It was heartwarming and truly amazing to see him enjoying himself so much.  For our first several visits, bath time was Miguel’s most anticipated part of the weekend.

When Miguel saw this pic of himself, he said, "I look like de Christmas mon'!"

When Miguel saw this pic of himself, he said, “I look like dee Christmas mon’!”


After letting him play in the tub for so long, we weren’t ready to start the movie until 8:45.  Ending the evening at a time appropriate for a 1 and 6 year old took us a long time to conquer!  Nic and I have always liked staying up late, and we almost always ate dinner after 8 or 9.  We couldn’t believe how excessively early we had to start an evening’s activities if we wanted to finish a movie with the kids by 9!  For months, Miguel wouldn’t make it to bed until 10:30 on our weekend visits!  Don’t worry—we’ve gotten better, and he is no longer sleep deprived. J  So, at 8:45 the 5 of us settled in to watch the Disney classic, Pete’s Dragon.  Miguel was enthralled the entire time!  He hadn’t had many opportunities to watch movies, so though it didn’t end until after 10, he had no trouble staying awake.  When the happy ending closed out the movie, I looked over to find him smiling.  As soon as the credits began to roll, he excitedly said, “Another one?!”

As for little Jonathan, he fell asleep in my arms shortly after the movie began.  I could have put him into the pack and play, but I could not resist cradling him until my arms began to ache.  Being without children for so many years, I just couldn’t believe I was finally holding a baby that would soon become my baby.  I also couldn’t believe how utterly wonderful I found it to be.  Holding him close and looking down at his peaceful face simply took my breath away.  I was actually rather surprised at how enthralled I was.  I later realized what was beginning to happen in that instant.  This was the very first of many moments that would follow—moments in which a new part of me blossomed and I experienced something I had never felt before; I was discovering what it felt like to love as a mother.  This beautiful and blessed moment brought the perfect ending to our first evening together.

Though nothing that followed during the weekend could ever compare to rocking little Jonathan to sleep for the first time, I’ll share some highlights—and some great pictures!

Taking care of Jonathan was truly so easy—we were blown away.  He was quiet and docile all the time.  Not only did he not cry, he hardly made any sound.  He wasn’t interested in exploring, walking around, or playing.  Instead, he made it known that he preferred being held.  In fact, letting us know that he wanted to be picked up was pretty much the only time he did make noise—and we were more than happy to meet his demands.  Between Nic, Whitney, and myself, someone was always ready and willing (more like overjoyed and thrilled) to hold the little guy.  However, as the three pics of us above show, his excitement level for pic-posing came nowhere near ours. You’ll also notice his deep affection for his thumb.

Jonathan was also our sleeping angel.  During his two evenings at our home, he did wake up about four times each night, but easily went back to sleep after a bottle or some rocking.  For this, we counted ourselves extremely fortunate!  We were certainly not expecting him to sleep so well through his first nights away from home.  Furthermore, during the day we didn’t have to allot a nap time for him, because he IMG_4423fell asleep in any location, at any time of day.  He would drift off to sleep in typical settings, like the stroller or in my lap at church, but he’d also fall asleep in unexpected scenarios—like covered in salt water and sand at the beach.  His most unusual sleeping situation was in my arms while we were in the ocean!  As I stood there with him, trailing his feet in the Caribbean Sea, he didn’t seem excited or scared or even interested—he just laid his head on my shoulder and fell asleep.  In these beginning stages, we simply strove to give Jonathan the few things that he really seemed to crave: comfort in physical contact and rest.  In forthcoming blogs, you’ll be thrilled to learn of the personality that leapt out of this quiet little baby from a village by the sea. Even on this first weekend, we were fortunate enough to see him smile and laugh on a few occasions. I’ll admit, Nic was the first one to get a laugh out of Jonathan, which made Whitney and I pretty darn jealous! However, the green monster couldn’t last long in the face of such a beautiful smile.  PICTURE BREAK!!!

The first time we saw Jonathan laugh!


Ahhh, the face of an angel.


And what about dear Miguel?  Just like his brother, Miguel gave us no hint of difficult behavior, and he was very quiet.  Miguel, however, was very interested in his surroundings.  Everywhere we went, he spent most of his time intently observing everyone and everything.  Though he was quiet, it was intriguing that he didn’t seem frightened or even nervous to be spending the weekend with us.  He went along with everything we did that weekend without hesitation.  He needed simple instructions on activities, like “let’s sit down and all eat dinner at the same time” or “during church just do what we do, and try to be nice and quiet”; then, he’d just join in like part of the family.  Nic and I simply had a wonderful time sharing the weekend with him.  We only saw him get nervous one time—and that was in a boat.  While down at the beach a friend of ours offered to give us a free spin in his tour boat.  At first, Miguel was pretty excited; however, as the boat gained speed the smile slid from his face. 100_5860I kept encouraging him that we were fine, but I don’t think he was convinced; the instant that boat got remotely close to shore, Miguel jumped right out of that vessel and headed to shore before the rest of us had time blink.

So, we learned one thing that Miguel didn’t like, but we also discovered something that he loved . . . We tried out feeding the boys spaghetti on Sunday afternoon.  It turned out that Miguel didn’t like the tomato sauce; what he did like, however, was warm bread and butter.  After devouring his first piece of bread, his Caribbean accent came alive as he began to say in a low voice, “Bread and bo-daah.  Bread and bo-daah.  Bread and bo-daaaaaaah.”  Apparently, this was his way of asking for more, but for a few seconds Whitney and I got a little creeped out by what sounded like chanting!  Nic later admitted that terrible scenes from Blood Diamond played through his head every time he heard “bo-daaaaaah”.

It was all fun and games until . . .

It was all fun and games until . . .

Last, but not least, we have to relay the memorable moment when Nic, on this, our very first weekend with these two fragile boys, caused Miguel to vomit. It all began with the fact that we could hardly find any way to get either of these boys to laugh. So, while playing at the beach, Nic found that Miguel really liked it when he threw him into the air and let him splash down into the sea.  After a few throws, Miguel was laughing hysterically, and Nic, not wanting this amazing breakthrough to end, continued throwing him into the water. One of the splashdowns, though, just happened to coincide with one of Miguel’s belly laughs, at which point he was submerged, swallowed a bunch of sea water, popped his head up, and promptly vomited bright blue all over. The color was less a result of the beautiful blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, and more because Nic had also pumped him full of blue Powerade earlier that day.

Sunday evening we drove the boys home, clean and fed, and we couldn’t believe how well the weekend had gone.  They had eaten, they had slept, no one got maimed—perhaps Nic and I could learn this parenting thing, after all! Here’s a few more pictures from our time together.  Looking back at these photos, I see that we were just like brand new parents–we took a million pictures!

He was mesmerized with taking pictures of himself on Whitney's ipad!

He was mesmerized with taking pictures of himself on Whitney’s ipad!

Wanna hear the story from the beginning?

Check out the previous chapters–I, II, III, IV.

And, my personal favorites:

Chapter V: Miguel

Chapter VI: A Journey of a Thousand Journeys Begins with a Single Journey

Bashful, yet very pleased, to wear matching hats with Nic

Bashful, yet very pleased, to wear matching hats with Nic.

Who is this lady?

Who is this lady?

She won't leave me alone or stop smiling at me

She won’t leave me alone or stop smiling at me.

Chapter 7A: Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep

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Following the fashion of many great novelists before us, the chapters of our adoption story are not flowing in chronological order. This is quite fitting, however, because the journey we are sharing with you didn’t unfold as one, long procession—not remotely. Many adoptions follow a pattern of paperwork, paperwork, paperwork, then waiting, waiting, waiting, and then, finally, the family gets to meet their new child. One way in which our adoption was very different (and wonderful!) was the very unique opportunity we had to spend time with Jonathan and Miguel long before the adoption was final. Chapter VI illuminated part of our “paperwork and waiting” phase, leading us up to November 2012.  Now we’ll step back quite a few months to our first encounters with our soon-to-be children. Chapter V details that at our first meeting with the social worker, in June 2012, she encouraged us to begin spending as much time as we wanted with Jonathan. We asked if we could begin keeping him each weekend, and his mom readily agreed. She also agreed to let us keep his brother, Miguel, on these weekends.

This meeting took place on a Monday, and we were to pick the boys up Friday afternoon!  We were so excited, we were so happy, and we were so desperately unprepared! We had no idea how to take care of a 13 month old, and we had no clue what to expect from the quiet 6 year old we had only interacted with for several hours! So, the frantic scramble began! We had four days to get ready; we most assuredly needed help! There wasn’t time for our families to send supplies in the mail for this first weekend, so we turned to the amazing families at Ross University School of Medicine. They came through with flying colors! We were so very blessed, and we are still so grateful to each one of them for helping Nic and I through our very first weekend with children.

  • Kent & Naomi gave us a heavy-duty stroller their kids no longer needed, as well as toys.  This stroller held up for 11 months over broken sidewalks, dirt roads, and potholes.
  • Erica sold us a pack-n-play and booster seat for the amazingly low price of $40 EC, which is $15 US—and rather exceptional deal.
  • Delon & Brianna and Doug & Bree gave us more toys.
  • Whitney and Rob, owners of The Tomato, told us to stop by for a free meal. The Tomato is a major treat when in Dominica!  It’s got a menu full of American foods that one can really start to miss when out of the country—so we were pretty excited.
  • Then, we were given an immense blessing in the area of diapers.  As we began preparing for the weekend, we discovered that diapers in Dominica were outrageously expensive.  With all the adoption costs, we were pretty bummed that we’d have to pay so much for a product we could get far cheaper at home.  Then, on Wednesday afternoon, Nic received a call from Amy, an amazing mom of 5 kids whose husband also attends Ross.  For several months she had been praying that God would bring her someone who would truly benefit from her supply of cloth diapers.  When I say supply, I am referring to the hundreds of dollars worth of cloth diapers she had accumulated with her 5 children.  God had encouraged her to give these away, free of charge, and we have been overwhelming blessed by her generosity.  The diapers were in great shape, and we are using them to this day!  Some of you may be totally unaware of how amazing cloth diapers have become over the years.  I am now a huge fan of these economical and eco-friendly wonders!  If they pique your interest, check out this site.

With all of the “equipment” needed for Jonathan and Miguel in place, it was then time to consider other pertinent details: What on earth should we feed these kids? How often should we feed them? Though we had seen Jonathan eat a small amount of solid food, he was primarily breast fed at the time. We weren’t sure if he would eat for us at all, so our primary goal for Jonathan was to not starve the poor dear. We prepared with formula and fortified baby cereal, knowing that if he would eat one of these he’d be getting a decent helping of calories and nutrients. As for Miguel, we knew we couldn’t prepare food the way he was accustomed to, so we stocked up on some typically-kid-friendly food—hoping he would like something. And it didn’t stop there–we had endless questions! When should we put them to bed? How many naps does a 13 month-old need? How long should he nap? How long should we keep them at the beach? How much water should they drink in the island heat? Any experienced parents are probably rolling their eyes at us right now—but seriously, we were clueless!

Next we considered behavior. How would these boys react to staying with perfect strangers all weekend? How would they react to a relatively foreign environment? Would Jonathan cry endlessly once separated from his mom? Would he cry all night? Would he sleep? What Shawshank Redemptionabout Miguel–would he be scared? Would he speak to us? Would he be rude or belligerent? Having watched Shawshank Redemption one too many times, Nic was worried that he’d end up being shanked in the kidney. Fortunately, I was able to talk him down from this fear.

It was such an odd weekend to walk into, because we truly had no idea what to expect and no child-rearing expertise to back us up. To best prepare for whatever this first visit brought our way, we mentally braced ourselves for the worse. Basically, we didn’t want to imagine that we had a fairy tale weekend ahead of us—we had to throw some reality in there. I pictured Jonathan fussy and crying the whole time. I couldn’t imagine he’d react differently to his first extended separation from his mom—with perfect strangers. Then we got ready for some trying behaviors from Miguel. At that point, we were prepared to face this new adventure without preconceived notions. Now, we mustn’t take credit for this idea–we were taught this lesson by an amazing woman we met while working in China, Jody. Her theory was, “Low expectations, Jim Jody Jacelyn Nichigh happiness. High expectations, low happiness.” Incidentally, we heard a man share this exact sentiment in a TED talk, obviously confirming that Jody and her idea are pure genius.

As we faced this weekend of the unknown, not only were we given all of the material help listed above, we also had 2 more incredible blessings. First, we didn’t have to face this weekend alone—we had full-time reinforcement! Our dear friend, Whitney,Jacelyn and Whitney spent several months with us that summer. She was with us for this first visit, and many after. No matter how crazy the weekend might end up, we figured the three of us HAD to be able to handle two kids. Knowing that we had an extra set of hands on board was very reassuring. Blessing number two—I had the weekend off. In my ten months of med school so far we had not yet had a single weekend off. For those of you not familiar with he insanity of med school, weekends are not for resting. Weekends are for long hours of uninterrupted study. You need those two days of study to catch up with all the material covered during the week. But, in God’s perfect timing, this was my very first free weekend. Our tests were usually on Mondays, but on this one, magical, highly-anticipated weekend in semester 3, we had a test on Friday. It was truly an amazing gift that I could put all of my attention and time into our first days together—the very first days of The Fantastic 4.

Fantastic 4

As I began writing this blog, I was overwhelmed to see how thoroughly and incredibly God prepared us for that weekend. I was overcome at other’s generosity. I was powerfully reminded to be thankful. Additionally, I was reminded of how unbelievably well God takes care of us. Our adoption was full of unexpected delays, expenses, and frustrations, but there was no end to the encouraging reinforcements we received. Recently we have been presented with a need–a need that we would whole-heartedly like to meet. However, it appears to be an impossibility in more ways than one. In the face of this current challenge, looking back at how God has taken care of us in the past is helping us be more open to this seemingly impossible situation. In fact, one of our hopes in blogging about our lives is that you wonderful readers out there can be encouraged and filled with hope in regards to the seemingly impossible situations in your lives!

Friday afternoon finally arrived. Nic, Whitney, and I hopped in the van to go pick up the kids. However, I’m sure you’ll agree that this post is getting long.

…to be continued…

VI: A Journey of a Thousand Journeys Begins With a Single Journey

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So far we have detailed the first steps of our adoption in Chapter’s I – V.  Little did we know that this seven month adventure turned out to be a sort of preamble.  It really only brought us to the starting line of what would be the “official” adoption journey.  Remember how terrifying it was when Frodo was chased through the dark by the petrifying ring wraiths on his way to the Prancing Pony–but that this distressing pursuit occurred before he even started his journey toward Mount Doom?

(That’s how it was for us)

We were now at the point where it was clearly established that Jonathan’s mother wanted to move forward with the adoption.  This is when our true journey began.  One by one we contacted the necessary people and agencies, and one by one they gave us tasks to complete.  Over the following months, the tasks kept coming . . . and coming . . . and coming . . . Now, get ready, folks!  I’m going to start using the word “journey” a whole, stinkin’ lot!  I’ll spare you every once in a while and use some lovely synonyms like saga, expedition, odyssey, pilgrimage, quest, and the oddest synonym I found, peregrination.  (Yes, peregrination is really a word, and yes, Peregrin Took is a character from The Lord of the Rings [he’s the lovable hobbit better known as Pippin])  As you read on you’ll find that excessive use of the word journey is very appropriate, because that is precisely what our adoption experience has been.  The journey hasn’t been along just one, straight path, either.  It’s been a journey of constant detours—again similar to what the Fellowship of the Ring faced.  As we progressed through the adoption, our journey forward would periodically be halted until we completed the quest at hand.  Then we could progress a little closer to the destination, but only until an entirely new expedition halted our progress once again.  So, pull up a chair, grab a piece of lembas bread, and join us as we recount this insane journey and remind ourselves that the incredulousness of the journey is actually what speaks most of God’s miraculous, unlimited abilities and the strength He provides in grueling pilgrimages.


  • We needed to find a lawyer who practiced in Dominica to oversee the legal aspect of the adoption.  God provided us with a wonderful, Christian lawyer who was supportive and encouraging through the whole saga.
  • The first thing our lawyer required was signed consent from Jonathan’s mother, Estelle.  Obtaining a signature sounds like a simple task, but even this turned into a quest.  Her signature had to be accompanied by some form of identification, and Estelle didn’t have any.  This called for an extra trip to the capital, Roseau, which is an hour drive.  Once there, we were sent back and forth between several government buildings until someone finally knew how to help her get a government-issued ID.  There was still a hold-up; Estelle was only eligible if she had employment, which she didn’t.  We called our lawyer in a panic, wondering if we had hit a brick wall already.  Thankfully, we had one more option.  Our lawyer took the time to personally visit the government office and vouch for Estelle; this won her the ability to get an ID!  One month after beginning this quest for the consenting signature, another trip was made to Roseau to pick up that ID and have Estelle sign the form.  With detour number one completed, our lawyer was able to begin taking real steps.
  • We also needed a Dominican social worker.  This person’s most important task was to complete the home study on Nic and I that would be reviewed by the judge in the Dominican court.  In the two months following our first visit, we had FOUR rather useless meetings with this social worker where nothing new was discussed and no directions were given.  Of course, these meetings were an hour away in Roseau, necessitating four expensive trips with Estelle and the three children.  Finally, one of those meetings provided some useful, albeit frustrating, information.  Turns out this social worker wouldn’t begin her Dominican home study until we could give her a home study completed by a US adoption agency.  That was going to hold up the process in Dominica significantly.  So, we didn’t see our social worker for three months and the adoption process in Dominica didn’t move an inch while we attempted to complete the colossal quest before us.
  • The first step in this side journey was to choose an adoption agency.  We have been very happy in our selection of Adopt Abroad, Inc.  And, just as God provided an excellent attorney, the social worker assigned to us by the agency was so helpful and generous with her time.  She answered our endless questions, and did everything she could to expedite our process.  The most expensive part of this journey was, oddly, the easiest.  We had to fly this social worker to Dominica to complete the home study.  This meeting ended up being scheduled during the one week I had to study for my third semester final.  There really isn’t a week more stressful for med students.  This was bad timing, but it was our best choice.  So, believe me, it is no small miracle that the hours I lost to this home study didn’t affect my performance on the final.  It’s likewise a miracle that I was able to present myself coherently during our interviews, because we med students are ridiculously exhausted and frazzled by the end of a semester.
  • Next came the process of obtaining the information that would build our dossier with the adoption agency; I believe this warrants the title of an odyssey.  It is a massive undertaking.  We’re talking references, bank statements, birth certificates, tax returns, marriage licenses (how do we keep misplacing that thing?!) autobiographies, background checks from every place we’ve lived in the past 10 years (darn our habit of moving!), a background check from none other than the Federal Bureau of Investigation, something I’ve never heard of called a social security statement, and even shot records for our Chihuahua.  Looking at that list always made my head spin.  Yet, step by step it was completed.
  • With pride and a sense of accomplishment, Nic and I turned in the last piece of required information!  We felt like someone out there should congratulate us!  Instead, the adoption agency replied with, “We’ll look at this for review and acceptance in the next two or three months”.  We sputtered in disbelief, “We’ve already been working on this for two to three months!  It can’t possibly take longer!”  She replied by informing us that the turnaround is usually 6 months. Now, here is one process that worked in our favor. Due to the fact that my fourth and final semester on the island would soon finish and we would need to move, the agency kindly reviewed our dossier in record time. This was partially due to some kind “nudging” by our amazing social worker. Three weeks later, a copy of our certified US home study was on its way to Dominica.
  • With intense excitement, we delivered a copy to our Dominican social worker.  Finally the in-country process could proceed!  Our social worker did not share our enthusiasm.  She calmly scheduled an appointment for 6 weeks later.  What?!  Another six weeks?  We first met with her in June, and she did not begin any official processing until November.  Yes folks, we’re into November now.

We were getting dangerously close to the end of my last semester in Dominica.  More important to me, we were getting dangerously close to Christmas.  For those of you who don’t know, I pretty much love the season of Christmas with all my heart.  I can’t even tell you how excited I was to have our first Christmas as the Fantastic Four at my parents’ house, surrounded by family with all the wonderful trimmings of the most blessed season of the year.  However, timing was starting to get really tight.  The Battle of Christmastime had begun.

Ah, yes.  Nic and I liken these home study journeys to the first steps of the Fellowship of the Ring.  When these nine attempted to pass the mountain Caradhras, they were stopped by Saruman.  Resourcefully, they detoured beneath the mountain through the Mines of Moria.  This path seemed to promise deliverance . . . until Pippin unwittingly alerted nearby Orcs.  A new battle began.  Then, as if the Orcs weren’t bad enough, the Balrog appeared.  I’ve seen this creature described as “an ancient demon of fire and shadow”.  Most of the group finally escaped, but they suffered a devastating casualty.  See the resemblance between our stories?

Join us next time for, “A Sentimental Journey”.  The battle of Christmastime was indeed a desperate one, but it pales in comparison to the Battle of Miguel that shall next be told.

Not up-to-date on our previous blogs?  Check them out here:

Chapter I   Chapter II   Chapter III   Chapter IV   Chapter V

Chapter V: Miguel

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Chapter I:  It took 7 months to figure out how adoption works in Dominica.  Most importantly, we learned that we needed to identify a child in need of adoption on our own.

Chapter II:  Nic walked into a coffee shop and heard the words, “I found kids for you!” Two days later we met two women in need of a home for their children.

Chapter III:  The next morning, both women said they would like us to adopt their children. We were faced with a rather impossible choice: two sisters or little Jonathan . . .

Chapter IV:  In the end, however, that decision was made for us; the father of the two sisters made it clear that they were no longer interested in pursuing an adoption.  However, the mother of that dear little boy named Jonathan was interested, and we immediately began scheduling appointments . . .

Chapter V: Miguel

The first step in the adoption proceedings was to meet with a Dominican social worker.  We had confirmed this meeting with Jonathan’s mother on a Monday, and we waited on pins and needles all week until the Friday appointment.  We had only met her one time, and we couldn’t yet be sure how interested she actually was in this adoption.  We didn’t even know if she’d show up for the meeting.  A Thursday night phone call reassured us that she was still coming, but the flutter in my stomach couldn’t relax until we actually saw her on Friday.  Nic and I had so little control over the how the next steps of the adoption would progress—it was greatly dependent upon Jonathan’s mom . . . But, to our great joy and relief, Friday morning brought Jonathan and his mom to our house right on time!

In addition, amazingly and unexpectedly, their arrival brought us far more than relief; it brought us another little boy who was to instantly occupy our hearts.  Sitting in the van with Jonathan and his mother were two other children.  One of them was Jonathan’s three-year-old sister, whom we had met along with him last week.  The other child was six-year-old, Miguel, whom we had never even heard of.  The mother simply said he was one of her children.  Immediately our attention was piqued!  After all, we’ve always wanted to adopt siblings, and we couldn’t help but think this might be a possibility with Miguel . . . With exciting new prospects in our minds, we made the one-hour drive to Roseau (the capital city, where all our appointments were held), holding Jonathan in our arms and sitting next to Miguel.  Miguel climbed into the front seat with us to get a better view.  He had never made this trip before, and was absolutely mesmerized.  He pointed out every big truck we passed as well as every boat, by shouting in his thick, Dominican accent, “Look dee boat!”  Though we dreamed of it, this process was just in its infancy, and we truly had no idea that this moment was a snap shot of our future.

First Ever Christian

Our meeting with the social worker was very introductory, as she spent most of the visit gathering background information on the mother, whom we’ll refer to as Estelle.  We learned that she was poverty-stricken and of a slightly low IQ that made her unable to hold a job.  This rendered her completely unable to provide for the six children she has had.  She has never been married, and only one man she has been involved with has ever even claimed one of the children.  And, though Estelle has sisters on the island, no one offers her any help or support.  Her extreme poverty, coupled with her personal inability to care for so many children, had already forced Estelle to place three of her children with various families.  Her only means of livelihood is a very meager sum provided by the government, and consistent supplementation from the one man who has remained in her life.  He is the father of the three-year-old we mentioned previously, whom we’ll call Sadie.  On one occasion, we had the pleasure of meeting him.  It is because of his involvement that Estelle was not looking for a home for little Sadie.  However, this didn’t explain what was going on with the quiet, wide-eyed Miguel.  Estelle was clear that she wanted a new home for Jonathan, and she was clear that she could provide for Sadie—but she never mentioned Miguel.  When asked if Miguel was in need of a home, she quickly said no, but was unable to confirm that she was capable of caring for him, either.  The social worker seemed uninterested, but we weren’t satisfied.  If this adoption process continued, we would have to make sure that Miguel was taken care of.  And, inevitably, we continued wondering if Miguel and Jonathan were the siblings that had been in our hearts for so long.  This, dear friends, begins what we will refer to as “The Saga of Miguel”.  Here he is in his old school uniform.  Isn’t he just adorable?


One other interesting point came from this meeting; to our surprise, we were encouraged to spend as much time as possible with Jonathan during the adoption process!  This is more than we had hoped for, and Nic and I were thrilled!  We asked Estelle if we could keep Jonathan on the upcoming weekend, and she enthusiastically agreed.  Now, like I said, from the moment we met Miguel, he truly captured our hearts . . . so it naturally follows that we had to ask if he could also join us for the weekend with Jonathan.  We didn’t know what the future had in store, but we had no doubt that we wanted to be a part of his life in the here and now.  Estelle was more than willing to have us babysit two of her kids for the weekend, so she had no problem with Miguel joining us!

Upon leaving this first meeting, our hearts were so full of possibility and excitement!  At long last we had finally taken the first step in the adoption process!  It was no longer just thinking and hoping–real strides were being made!  Then we began to consider the next step—a weekend with a 6-year-old and 13-month-old!  We were brought back down to earth momentarily as we thought about the upcoming weekend . . . One of us finally asked the pressing question, “Do we have either the knowledge OR necessary supplies to take care of the two of them for even one weekend???”

4-up on 4-28-13 at 2.09 PM (compiled)

But, then we realized, the Dynamic Davidson Duo had never felt prepared for any of their big steps–so why start now?!  Stayed tuned to hear about these weekend adventures!

And the Oscar Goes To…

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Hello, everyone!  Way back when we only had the boys on the weekends, and our good friend Whitney was visiting for a couple of months, this is how we spent our time.  Hope you like it!


Chapter IV: Receiving Direction

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Chapter I: 

  • We spent 7 months making inquiries and phone calls just to figure out how adoption worked in Dominica.  We finally got the right contacts and learned that we needed to identify a child in need of adoption on our own.

Chapter II:

  • Nic walked into a coffee shop and heard the words, “I found kids for you!”  Two days later we met two women in need of a home for their children.

Chapter III:

  • The next morning, both women said they would like us to adopt their children. We were faced with an impossible choice: two sisters or little Jonathan. We decided to contact the mother of the sisters first, and move forward with that adoption if she was still willing.

Chapter IV: Receiving direction

. . . A male voice answered the phone . . . and Nic’s conversation with the man went something like this:

Um, hi. I was calling for ‘Amanda’. We met on Thursday about the adoption of her two girls.”

No, man. This is their father. Forget it. We’re not giving them up for adoption.” (It turns out this is the man who was in jail just a few days prior for beating the girls’ mother. This was also the man who a few days prior had said he was 100% behind the adoption.)

Oh, okay. A few days ago you really wanted to do this.”

Nope. Not gonna happen. Move on, man.”

Um, okay. Uh, thanks for your time.”

Nic, knowing that we actually would need to “move on” and begin the adoption process with another child, called the man back. Nic had to ensure that he understood; if he and the mother changed their minds in the next couple of months, but we were already adopting someone else, we wouldn’t be able to help them at that point. However, he was met again with the same staunch finality. Their father absolutely did not want to proceed with the adoption. This man emanated such a casually confident air, that I couldn’t help but be reminded of everyone’s favorite guy from Lincoln Park.

So, that first meeting with those two little sisters was actually our last, and we haven’t heard anything about them since. This moment that brings them to mind, however, is the perfect chance to say a prayer for them. And, as of right now, that’s all we can continue to do for the two little girls that filled our hearts and minds for a short weekend.

With that brief and surprising conversation behind us, Nic and I turned our thoughts to Jonathan, the adorable boy I had held a few days ago. 99% of us said “YES! ABSOLUTELY we will adopt this little boy.” 1% of us, however, was confused; We had always planned to adopt siblings—that was our dream. Why, now, were we presented with just one child? We had always been so sure of adopting siblings, that this truly gave us pause. But, as we considered it further, we decided to trust whatever God brought into our lives. Because we have faced infertility, we have long-since known that having children is simply not under our control in any way. For us, it’s going to happen as God designs it, and we aren’t going to get to plan it at all. And, actually, I’ve come to find peace in that. There are several enormous decisions that I get to escape: when to have kids, how many kids to have, how many years in between each one. Instead, I guess I just get to sit back and see what comes about. Though that is putting it a little too simply, you get the general idea :). So, just as having a biological child isn’t under our control, we decided that the adoption didn’t have to be under our control either. Perhaps having one little boy was the perfect plan for us. Maybe we were destined to become the next Three Musketeers, Three Amigos, or even Three Tenors! What if me, Nic, and little Jonathan were the perfect fit? Full of inspiration, we decided to walk in this path God had laid before us. After all . . . 

BUT, before I let myself get carried away in dreams of forming the world’s greatest trio, we still had to call Jonathan’s mother. Maybe she had changed her mind, too. It wasn’t quite time to get our hopes up. Yet again, we had a terrifying phone call ahead of us. The second call was made just as the first–with excitement, fear, anticipation, and a bit of panic. This time, however, instead of an unfamiliar voice, Jonathan’s mother answered the phone. When Nic asked the frightening question, “Are you still needing us to adopt your son?”,  THIS was the reply. 

With insane excitement, Nic also asked if she’d be willing to come to a meeting with the social worker. This meeting would be our first step. Again, and to our great joy, TA-DA!

It was a Monday morning and we planned the meeting for the coming Friday. Maybe this was actually going to happen!!!! Maybe we were on our way to becoming the Three Musketeers! It was hard to contain the excitement and dreaming . . . 

Still, the tiny, little “realistic” voice in my head told me to slow down. “Nothing is certain yet, Jacelyn. So much still has to happen. Besides, until the final moment when a judge deems an adoption official, a child’s mother can change her mind at any time.” I’m not a huge fan of this little realistic voice (I like to call it my boring side), but I did decide to try and guard my heart–a bit. I should probably try not to fall in love with Jonathan just yet. I’d try to remain calm and cool (obviously two of my defining characteristics) and see how the process would unfold.

Was this it? Had we just met our future child, or would Jonathan’s mother change her mind before Friday? Would we even make it to our very first official adoption meeting?

To find out, you’re going to have to wait for Chapter V!

If you pray, when you pray, pray for us.

On to the next thing…

Chapter III: Let’s Get This Show On the Road

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Okay, life absolutely got away from us, and the Dynamic Davidson Duo simply couldn’t keep up with the blog, but we’re back with a vengeance!  If any of you remember, we had begun a series to recount the story of our adoption process, and we really want to continue that story (because it’s truly amazing and we want to share the amazing-ness of adoption with you).   Also, your writer has switched:  Nic’s still got too much on his plate, so little old Jacelyn will continue the saga with you!

Chapter I: 

  • We spent 7 months making inquiries and phone calls just to figure out how adoption worked in Dominica.  We finally got the right contacts and learned that we needed to identify a child in need of adoption on our own.

Chapter II:

  • Nic walked into a coffee shop and heard the words, “I found kids for you!”  Two days later we met two women in need of a home for their children.

Chapter III begins the next morning:

In a matter of 3 hours, the 2 mothers that we had met only the evening prior called and confirmed that they would like to move forward with the adoption.  One was the mother of two girls, ages 4 and 6.  The other woman needed us to adopt her 13-month-old little boy, named Jonathan.  Naturally, we were ecstatic!  Finally, after 7 months of searching (not to mention 11 years of waiting for the right time) we had at last found children that were in need of a home.  I had that intense excited feeling in my stomach and it was a little hard to catch my breath.  In all our years of talking about it, we had never come this close to the reality of adoption.  But . . . the very next moment we realized, “Wait a minute, TWO opportunities just opened up simultaneously.  Do we actually have to choose between these children?!”  When this reality hit us, we looked at each other with wide eyes and a look that can really only be described as “I have absolutely no idea what to do”.  It’s something like this.  We received these phone calls on a Friday, and told both mothers that we would contact them on Monday.

All weekend our heads were swimming with both wild excitement and bewildered uncertainty.  As mentioned in Chapter II, we’ve long wanted to adopt older siblings.  The sisters seemed to be the natural choice and our preference definitely leaned in that direction.  Still, we knew that diving into the parenting of 2 older children would be extremely difficult, and we feared we weren’t up to the challenge.  Faced with such an intense decision, we knew it was time to call in the experts.  We needed first-hand advice.  So, we contacted 3 families that have adopted older children.  Naturally, we asked them about their adoption experience, but our main reason for contacting them was to ask the question that laid heavy on our minds:  Were Nic and I, who have never had children, absolutely kidding ourselves?  Could we actually handle it?  Weren’t we ridiculous for wanting our first venture into parenthood to be caring for two, older girls who had suffered neglect and witnessed abuse?  We cringed as we waited for their responses.  We imagined they would tell us to let the girls be adopted by more experienced parents, we shouldn’t dive in so deep, we’d be better off going after an easier case . . .

. . . But would you believe that we were met with the exact opposite?  Each of the families, with their first hand expertise, actually encouraged us!  They said that if we had any desire to adopt older children, we should absolutely move forward.  I was not expecting their words of confidence and hope.  A family that adopted two brothers, ages 2 and 4, told us, “It’s weird, but our transition with them, and becoming first time parents, was actually really easy.  They adjusted to us so well.”  Another mom’s thoughts: “Really, 4 and 6 isn’t that old.  You don’t need to hesitate to say YES to the girls.”  We also received meaningful encouragement from a teenager who was himself adopted at the age of 8.

Now, as a woman who loves adoption, I HAVE to point this out: for any of you who have ever felt the tug to adopt an older child, those words of adoption-encouragement are for YOU too!  The parents we spoke with weren’t simply saying that Nic and I, in particular, could handle the adoption of an older child; they were also giving testimony to the fact that adopting non-infants is a great choice and that it does work out.  There is a pervasive fear, and even negativity, about the adoption of older children.  But, in this moment, I hope you’ll consider the opposite perspective.  Here are three families who have experienced the adoption of an older child, and they absolutely recommend it.  I hope this can simply soften our hearts to the idea and wash away a bit of that fear.  For, you never know; someday you may be needed to encourage a friend who is considering adoption, or perhaps you will ponder the possibility just a bit longer the next time the idea of adoption crosses your mind . . . And, if you’re still not convinced that the adoption of an older child could be a good idea, let Disney convince you.  I recently watched “Meet the Robinsons”, and I’m simply in love with that movie.  It shows so well the beauty of adoption.

Okay, back to our story:  Because we were already leaning toward pursuing the adoption of the sisters, once we received insightful encouragement from adoptive families, we were almost positive that this was the route we should take—almost.  Why weren’t we 100% certain?  Because there was a little boy named Jonathan that we simply couldn’t get out of our heads.  We snapped this picture of him the day we met, and we couldn’t stop looking at it.

Li'l Jonathan

Just when we were certain that we should adopt the sisters, one of us would say, “But what about little Jonathan?”  I, particularly, couldn’t stop thinking about the dear little boy because I had held him in my arms during our brief meeting.  I mean, just think of how hard it is to turn down an adorable puppy once you’ve cuddled with the little ball of fur.  This was obviously a thousand times more powerful.

So, it turns out that we spent the entire weekend with that same “I-have-absolutely-no-idea-what-to-do” look on our faces.  This time it looked a bit more like this.  We simply couldn’t make a decision, and Monday morning was quickly approaching.  Instead, we made two tiny decisions.  First, we scheduled the necessary appointment with the social worker for later in the week, not knowing which mom would be attending that meeting with us.  Second, we decided to call the mother of the sisters first to see if she was willing to attend.  We would see how that first conversation turned out, and then proceed from there.

The time for us to call the two mothers arrived.  With excitement, fear, anticipation, and a bit of panic, Nic called the mother of the two young girls.  A male voice answered the phone . . .

If you pray, when you pray, pray for us.

On to the next thing…

Chapter II: Calls, Kids, and Coconuts

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Hello, all!  So, in the month-and-a-half since we last saw each other, two mission trips have come and gone, I’ve been scrambling to meet deadlines for the curriculum I’m writing, our friend Whitney came for 50 days, and Jacelyn’s been slowly-but-surely kicking this semester’s patooty (Due to the impending parenthood, I’m trying to clean up my speach.  Old, non-father-ish Nic would have said “buttooty”).  The mission teams went off pretty much without a hitch.  Yes, there’s always the influx of explosive and inhibiting digestive issues, but they usually pass (pun).

I did have a fun encounter with an elderly woman up in the hills outside Portsmouth, in a village called Cottage.  The whole team and I were sitting in her living room, just chatting with her and her sister about life and enjoying some fresh guavas, when she suggested that we go get a fresh baby coconut, called a Jelly Nut.  You may not have known this, but the term “coconut” is only used for the mature, ripened, end result of what grows on the coconut tree.  To clarify, THIS is a jelly nut and THIS is a coconut.  And if you were looking for the smaller, brown thing that is called a coconut, they are merely the seed found deeper in.  HERE’S one of them.  (For infallible, inerrant information about coconuts try THIS LINK at Wikipedia.)

Anyway, back to the old lady.  I followed her outside.  She was surprisingly fast, and when I rounded the corner outside, this is what I saw:

Yes, that IS a machete (called a cutlass, here) that she’s leaning on.  Before I could say anything, she turned and darted off, which I photographed:

Then, apparently all the frustrations that had been building up inside of her over the past _,___ years came bursting forth as she ripped a jelly nut off the tree, and started to kill it mercilessly (if you click on it and let it load past the slow point, it’s hilarious to watch):

(What happens when you give an old lady a cutlass and insult Pat Sajak…)

I guess apart from what I’ve called “The Cutlass Massacre of 2012”, the trips were pretty benign, so I’ll just move along to what you’re all waiting for anyway: the next chapter in our adoption story!  Settle in, grab a bowl of molasses, and enjoy the ride…

…Then it happened.  I walked into a coffee stall owned by a local woman and, as soon as I walked through the door, she said, “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN??????”

I replied that I’d not only been busy with mission trips, but had also contracted Dengue fever for a bit and she was basically like, “Yeah, okay, wimp.”  Then she said the those five words we’d been waiting to hear: “I have caramel for you!”  Wait. No. Sorry, that was what I was wishing she’d say before she actually said something much more gratifying: “I have KIDS for you!!!!!”  I couldn’t believe it.  She went on to tell me that someone she knew was in an abusive, poverty-stricken situation, was prone to leaving her daughters alone for 12 hours at a time, and was willing to give them up for adoption.

So, we scheduled a meeting for three days from then.  When the day finally came, we were surprised at the mixture of nervous excitement and natural ease we felt while driving to the meeting.  We found it surreal to be driving in a taxi on our way to a village to meet someone who might suddenly be our child, a major “life moment”, when most people experience that moment in their own car on the way to a hospital room.  As we got closer, the woman who was acting as our go-between, whom I will call “Lisa”, began to tell us that the mom had recently been beat up by her boyfriend and father of her kids, and that he was currently in jail.  She also mentioned that the man had said that he was 100% ready to give up all rights to his daughters.

As we arrived, our hearts were broken by the sight.  The mother’s eye was swollen shut and her hair had been all but cut off by the abusive boyfriend.  She was soft-spoken and very kind to us and to the daughter who was nearby.  The mother said that she was interested in giving them up, but needed to think about it for a day or two and we agreed that that was wise, so we gave her our number and told her to feel free to call us whenever she made a decision.  The meeting was short, but promising.  As we drove away, “Lisa” mentioned that she knew of a lady just outside of town who had had 6 children, had given two up for adoption already, and was willing to give her youngest, a boy of 13-months, up for adoption.  We figured that there would be nothing wrong with stopping by, since nothing was in stone with the prior mother, but also were a bit reserved, since we’d talked of adopting siblings who were a bit older.

The meeting with the second mom was brief, and the little boy was adorable, as was his 2-and-a-half-year-old sister.  We gave the mother our number, telling her that if she was ever sure she was interested in adoption, we would love to hear from her.  As we drove away, we asked “Lisa” if the older sister was available for adoption, as well, but she informed us that she was not.

Early the next morning, the first mom we’d met called me up to say she’d like to proceed with the adoption!  We were so excited and began planning the next step, making an appointment down in Roseau to meet with the the mom and the social worker.  Not long after the first call, my phone rang again from an unknown number.  It was the second mom, calling to let us know that she was completely ready to begin the adoption process, even going as far as to ask, “When will you be taking the boy?”

If you pray, when you pray, pray for us.

On to the next thing…

Two and Fro

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Well howdy, everyone!  Brace yourself for a doozy of a post, a’ight?  First of all, remember when I posted last time that I’d been sick?  Well, if two doctor’s were correct in their diagnosis’, I had come down with the only disease you can get on this island, a mosquito-carried virus called Dengue Fever.  To give you a hint as to its severity, it is called “The Bonecrusher” and “Bonebreakers Disease” in Spanish.  I was blessed enough to only have a mild version, which excluded the body rash and hemorrhaging, but thankfully still included the insane body/joint pain, fever, vomiting, headache, and explosive diarrhea. (Can’t get enough of the la duze [Chinese for explosive diarrhea])

For the first 5 days of the visiting mission trip, I would show up at some point during the day, try to wave hello, make sure they were doing alright, and then allow the taxi driver to drag me by my ankle back into the car and to our front doorstep, where I would lie until the ants took over and brought me inside. (Probably because they didn’t care for my donation of la duze)  However, after 5 days of absolutely no food, I was back to my target weight and was able to cease participation in the Dengue Diet, as I’ve termed it.  Even though it was over three weeks ago, I am STILL getting the comments from people who I haven’t seen: “Dang, man, what happened to you? You lost a bunch of weight!”  This brings up all kinds of questions in my head like, “Wow, youngsters are pretty forward these days” and “Sheesh, what did I look like before to make everyone comment?” and “Am I just eating because I’m bored?”  Needless to say, the Dengue has passed (pun) and I’m back to my “normal” self. (For more on the thrills of Dengue Fever, click HERE)

Anyway, things were plugging along quite normally for us until last Monday. Then it happened.  Well, wait, let me pull a Quentin Tarentino on you and give you the ending first:  WE’RE ADOPTING AT LEAST ONE CHILD FROM DOMINICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Does the title make fun sense, now?)

There, now that that’s out of the way, we can start at the very beginning (yes, a very good place to start).  I’ll start by allowing Jacelyn to speak:

Hi, everyone!  I wanted to share with you a super-brief history of how God has placed adoption in our hearts.  For me, the desire to adopt began in high school when I heard a woman speak about her work with street children in Romania.  Over the years, that desire has simply never died.  While Nic and I were still dating, but beginning to talk of our future, we agreed that we would love to adopt internationally.  We had an “ah-ha” moment when we realized the very simple truth that right at this moment, all over the world, there are innumerable children who need a home, and a family, and need people to open their hearts to them.  Even after getting married, and developing the natural, maternal desire to have biological children, the calling to adopt has remained as strong as ever.  God has helped me see that just as he builds families naturally, he can also place us together as families through adoption.  He will masterfully build our family just as beautifully as any other!  By no means is adoption a second-best option or a last-resort.  It’s an incredible opportunity to share God’s love and the love of a family with a child who would otherwise go without.  Lastly, I have to mention that while we have long hoped that by adopting we would be a blessing to others, God has already used it to graciously bless us; He has used this calling to ease the struggle that Nic and I have had to face with our fertility difficulties.  Now, as we are finally embarking on this journey that has been in our hearts for so long, the blessings simply continue.  (Wow–God sure has an amazing way of doing that!)  

So, though this is the Dynamic Davidson Duo’s Dominica Blog, we are going to embark on the journey of the adoption process with you, both so that you’ll know what’s up with us AND so that you’ll see that adoption is attainable (in case you’re interested in following suit).  Even thus far, it has been a winding and long road, so, it will take a couple of posts to get ya’ll up to speed.  So, let’s start with how we started.

About a month after moving to Dom, without even talking about it with each other, we both started to feel like it was “just time” to start the adoption process in some way.  After realizing that the timing was right, it became completely clear to us that spending 16 months on an island just might afford us the time to process an adoption here on-island.  So, one of our first steps was to google “adoption on Dominica”, which lead us to locate a lawyer on the island who would help with the process.  We found one guy, called him up, scheduled a consult, got excited, showed up, and, after quoting rates, he asked us if we had a child “picked out”.  We found that to be hilarious.  I was tempted to say, “Actually, yeah, on the way here, I saw this kid on the street and he had an amazing fro, so, how ’bout him?”  I didn’t say that, and he proceeded to tell us that we had to contact him when we found a child.

So, we walked away bewildered.  (The fro kid was gone, so we truly were up a creek)  We then began to just tell every local we met that we were interested in adopting from the island and to get a hold of us if they knew of anything.(Luckily, I had done a sketch of the fro kid, just in case we could locate him)  We’d always talked about wanting to adopt siblings who were a bit older, since that is the demographic that is far less likely to get adopted; so we specified that and just waited.  Over the months, there were a couple of “possibilities” that faded before we could even make contact.

In fact, several people gave us phone numbers for people around Dominica, but they kept not being who we actually needed.  At one point, we found a great adoption agency, but they couldn’t work with people who live outside of the US … so we went back to the drawing board (Fro Kid pun) with that.  Then, a random person (so random that I truly can’t remember who gave me the number) gave us the number of the Social Services worker in Dominica that we actually needed.  She told us how to proceed–and we did indeed have to find an adoption agency who could legitimize the process on the US end.  So–we began searching again.  And we found her!

At the same time as putting the word out on the island, we contacted some friends of ours from China who’d adopted three children in the past to ask them their advice and thoughts.  They were INCREDIBLY helpful and put us on the right track to taking care of the U.S. side of adopting internationally. (Thank you SO much, Josh and Renee!)  So, after MUCH perusing of the internet and contacting international adoption agencies, we made a great connection with Adopt Abroad, who specialize in helping people who live outside of the U.S. adopt children internationally.  Though they have certain countries that they specifically work with, they will also help you adopt from the nation of your choice.

One of the more difficult and time consuming aspects to adopting while living outside of The States is that U.S. Immigration requires you to have a U.S. homestudy done by a licensed social worker.  This can be tough, especially in a country like Dominica.  Wonderfully, Adopt Abroad has compassionate, caring, and capable social workers who will gladly hop a plane and come to your humble abode, even to Pineapple Manor! (Our  appointment is on August 9!)  So, between September of 2011 and two weeks ago, we’ve just been quietly, persistently putting the word out, filling out papers, praying, and buying painting supplies, in case we find Fro Kid.

Anyway, things were plugging along quite normally for us until last Monday. Then it happened.  I walked into a coffee stall owned by a local woman and, as soon as I walked through the door, she said, “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN??????”

Tune in next time!

If you pray, when you pray, pray for us.

On to the next weave…

I Got A Fever!

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Hey, everyone!  Okay, so I’ve been sick since yesterday, puking, fever, aches, sweats, chills, pink elephants, and there’s a mission trip arriving from Ely, MN at 2:30.  With that in mind, here’re a few pics.  This is where I try to do my curriculum writing when I can.


This is a locally-made drink called Cocoa-Tea, which is cocoa mixed with some spices and formed in to blocks, which you drop into boiling water, burning your hand in the process.

This is Jacelyn’s crazy Wall of Tests, as I call it.  It’s a documentation of what tests to do in certain situations and then what to do next, given the outcome of the first test.

This is the pineapple outside of Pineapple Manor.

This is an interesting flower that is growing out front.

This is me, signing off.

If you pray, when you pray, pray for me, dangit!

On to the next thing…


Beaches, Barrels, and Factor B

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Hey, there, Strangers!  I know it’s been a while, but believe me, there’s been good cause, and I’m about to give you every detail from the last 4 weeks.  I’ll start with every single toilet experience.  Well, maybe I’ll “hold off” on those stories until you’ve heard the less interesting anecdotes.  You gotta “let it build”, ya know. (wink)

To start with, we moved to a new location!  We loved our old apartment and our location, but, for various reasons, we decided to relocate.  A wonderful lady in our church, Fredricka, just happened to have an opening in the house above her, so we jumped at the chance.  Not only did we gain a bath tub, but also a separate work space.  In our first apartment, we’d kind of converted the back room into the bathroom/office/dining room/sleeping quarters/recording studio.  Here at Pineapple Manor (our title, not the locals’), each of those categories has its own space. (Except the studio, of course)(Where do you think we live–Jamaica?)  We’ve given our residence that name because of the small, picturesque pineapple that is growing just outside of the frame in this picture of our front door:

And remember this?  Well, now we have this:

That’s right, we have a peach patio!!!  So, I can grab my Wonder Wash, head out the patio, and allow the peach to distract me from my work as I place the washer upon the…………OMGoodness!…………….we have a WASHING MACHINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Why did I not notice that until right this moment?  I feel so silly about having been excited about the peach walls.

In one of our first posts, we mentioned that we shipped all of our belongings to Dom in 55-gallon barrels.  While moving to this new place, we found that you can get a lot more into barrels when you are specifically packing to move to a different nation than when you are hurriedly throwing everything into them to re-locate to 5 minutes away.  We ended up making two trips with Kenny’s van crammed to the ceiling and one barrel filled, emptied, then refilled on the second trip.  As you probably know, when moving, you can misplace things if you’re not careful.  Imagine our surprise when we got to the bottom of one of the barrels and found:

(You can see that he also found the red contacts we’d gotten him for Halloween when he went trick-or-treating as Edward Cullen.)


The people who discovered, and then got to name, the various components of the immune system decided it would be “easier” to just label everything with letters and numbers rather than actual names.  So, for the lucky ones of us who get to learn about the immune system, here’s a sample of the kind of things we get to learn.  It sounds so ridiculous when you start saying all these things in repetition!  Our teacher even noted that this following discussion was his favorite part of the lecture.  Even though it won’t make such sense, just read through it to catch the absurdity!

 When a substance called C3 comes in contact with a bug in your body that shouldn’t be there, the surface of that bug splits C3 into C3a and C3b.  C3b remains attached to the surface.  Factor B comes along and splits C3b into C3bA and C3bB.  C3bB again stays attached to the bug surface.  Then Factor D enters the picture; this substance splits C3bB into C3bBa and C3bBb.  Oh yes–and it gets a little better.  C3bBb is a C3 convertase, meaning it can also split C3 into C3a and C3b.  C3b joins C3bBb to make none other than C3bBbC3b!  Fortunately that particular compound doesn’t continue to get bigger!

Jacelyn is beginning her second week of her THIRD SEMESTER of med school and we’re finding that each consecutive semester gives her new ways to sound brilliant.  Yes, indeed, she made it to what is considered her second year of med school!  During the break between semesters, we were amazed to find $40 tickets to Barbados, so we hopped over, skipped to our cheapo hotel (with kitchen to keep food costs down), and jumped into the ocean.  We literally did nothing.  We read about 5 books each and we watched old black-n-white movies on the computer at night.  I think it was the first time I’d ever seen Jacelyn be so tired that she was capable of just sitting for days on end.  We took very few pictures while we were there, mainly because that would require effort, but also because there wasn’t much besides the gorgeous ocean/beach.  I have this pic…

….and this one….

I took the first pic, because, yes, both her and the water ARE that beautiful; I took the second pic because I’d never seen two grown men walking down the beach with tube floaters, one of which was pink and around the man’s waist.  We wanted to get some pics of the amazing Green Monkeys of Barbados, but we only saw them once and we didn’t have any sort of camera with us.  Every time we made the journey over to where we’d seen them, you’d swear it was an abandoned lot.  They must’ve been at the beach.

Anyway, after many days of “chillin’ out, maxin, relaxin all cool”, Jacelyn thought she’d like to spend her last hours of freedom with sore muscles from the longest, most-difficult hike on the island: The Boiling Lake Hike.  It’s an 8-mile walk, the initial hour of which Virtual Dominica describes as climbing “steeply uphill to about 2,500ft, then a steady SE climb along the ridge to the top (3,168ft) where’s there’s a clearing and a good point to stop and rest. It can provide spectacular 360° views… or it can be cold, misty and miserable.”  On our hike, we got both!  On the way there we were able to take this video (which, by the way, represents the first time I’ve posted video on our blog!):

….and on the way home, the same peak looked like this:

Between shooting those two videos, we hiked through one of the coolest terrains we’ve ever seen.  Because Dom is essentially still actively volcanic, there are hot springs everywhere and, if you’re out in the ocean, the air bubbles that come up are called champagne.  Well, when those vents are big enough, and happen to occur where water pools up, you get hot springs; and when the pool and the vents are even bigger, you get the second largest boiling lake in the world.  It is right around 200 ft across, over 200 ft. deep, and boils at a temp of right around 200 F.  Virtual Dominica says, “It is believed that the Lake is actually a flooded fumarole, a crack through which gases escape from the molten lava below, rather than a volcanic crater. The natural basin of the Boiling Lake collects the rainfall from the surrounding hills and from two small streams which empty into the lake. The water seeps through the porous bottom to the hot lava below where it is trapped and heated to boiling point. “

To get to Boiling Lake, you must first pass through The Valley of Desolation, so named because, as a result of all the sulfur and heat, very few things can live near the vents.  As you watch the next video, I encourage you to light some matches and sniff a bunch of hard-boiled eggs.

(Jia Lin is the name our Chinese friends gave her when we lived there)  Last up for videos is the clip of the actual Boiling Lake.  Off to the left in the video, you can actually see the hot water boiling up.  You can also hear the words slurring and sort of trailing off, since we were exhausted and only half-way through the hike.

Well, that’s all for now, peeps!  We’re back into the swing of things, so I should be able to blog once a week (or so).  For all the pics and vids from our hike, our move, and other various aspects of our time here, visit our ever-present, always-available photo album by clicking HERE and scrolling down.  Till later:

If you pray, when you pray, pray for us.

On to the next thing…

Pineapples and Tony Danza

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Welcome, all!  Glad to have you.  Do you remember when I told you our apartment had been over-run by ants (HERE)?  Well, they’ve not really been a problem for us since I discovered a miraculous piece of chalk, which, upon retrieving from the kitchen, I found to be an accurate description.

I was referred to the M.I.C., as I call it, by the clerk at Jame’s Store, the all-purpose shop I’d mentioned in the past (think Jennifer Aniston speakers).  The clerk said that it worked wonders and was only $1, so, I tried it.  The stuff really does work wonderfully!  I simply lined the windows and cracks with it (stopping only to trace a nice, ant-free hopscotch grid in our tiled floor) and poof, the ants stopped coming!  Every once in a while I see a stray ant walking around the apartment.  I think he’s a scout, sent out to check if we’re still “chalkin’ it up”, as he put it when I demanded that he identify himself.

So, the chalk was a success, except for two details.  First, in my efforts to write a truthful, factual blog, I did some research on M.I.C. tonight.  Crap.  Apparently, as much I love this stuff, the EPA hates it more.  Click HERE for the scathing expose’.  I was reading it out loud to Jacelyn while she was studying and when I read the part about “several children have been hospitalized after eating insecticide chalk”, I said, “Well, this doesn’t pertain because we’re not eating it.”  Without looking up from her diagram of the course of the corticospinal tract through the brainstem, she quietly replied, “Well, I’m gonna stop eating it now.” (She IS truly the funny one in the relationship).  For more information on deltamethrin, M.I.C.’s main homicidal ingredient, click HERE.

That was the first issue.  The second problem with it is that it does not in ANY way deter the inundation of what the locals call “water bugs”.  When searching Google for some pics of what they look like, I was surprised to find only pics like this:

Which makes me think that Google doesn’t know what it’s talking about, since in OUR neck o’ the woods, they look like this:

Now, before you judge me, picture 40 of them appearing on your counter every few hours or so.  I can’t seem to find where they’re coming from, but I just KNOW they’re somehow in league with the ants, like an underground, Davidson Apartment Time Share.  (For more pics of what Google mistakenly calls a water bug, click HERE)

Last Saturday night, we had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Easter Vigil service in Portsmouth and it was a really great experience.  There were two people getting baptized and, when they reached that portion of the night, they proceeded out the side door.  Since a bunch of people were getting up to watch, we figured we would, too.  It was awesome.  Just outside the door, they had filled a kiddie pool with water! (No, not like this.  More like this, only blue.)  The people would kneel in the water and they’d dump huge pitchers of water all over them (a double blessing: baptism AND getting cooled off from the heat of the night).  “I baptize you in the name of the Father”…HUGE PITCHER OF WATER…”…and of the Son…”…HUGE PITCHER OF WATER…”…and of the Holy Spirit!”…HUGE PITCHER OF WATER.  It was cool because one of them was a med student and one was a local guy and you don’t see many med students at the local church, mostly because of the length of the service; in fact, other than that midnight service, Jacelyn’s the only “whitey” in the place. (My tan has gotten dark enough that I consider myself to be “one of the natives”, if you will)

We were able to belt out some of the old school hymns, my favorite being “Because He Lives”.  One of the coolest parts of the yearly Easter Vigil is when you enter the darkened church with only your candles lit.  You sit in relative darkness as they go through 7 large chunks of Scripture, tracing the course of salvation history.  When the readings finally reach the “Glory to God in the highest”, all the lights come on and you just belt it out! SO fun.  The only hiccup was that, much like I didn’t know we had to bring our own palms for Palm Sunday, I was unaware that we had to bring our own candles for the Easter Vigil.  So, while most sat in relative darkness, we sat in complete darkness. (But, guess which un-rhythmic white couple was able to experience the brightness of the light ever more so because of the ignorance and absentmindedness of the husband???)

All said and done, it was a fun experience.  It was a bit harder on Jacelyn, since she’s been studying for tests for two weeks, now……………………….and it started at 10pm……………………………….and went for 4 HOURS!  However, it was worth all 240 minutes of it!  Speaking of Jacelyn, for those of you unfamiliar with medical school finals, here’s what she’s been attempting to do in the last 4 days–and what she’ll continue trying to do for the next 2; reviewing 7 weeks worth of neurology, 2 weeks of gastrointestinal physiology, 2 weeks of renal physiology, 2 1/2 weeks of reproductive physiology, 3 days about skin, anatomy of the head, neck, and abdomen, and a healthy smattering of the biochemistry of metabolism. (And she’s too humble to admit it, but she’s also discovered cures for bunions, road rage, and deja vu)

Hey, you know those big, tall pineapple trees you always see in the pictures?  The ones with pineapples growing off of them in bunches?  Yeah, I thought I knew of them, too.  In fact, I’d have bet money that they grew on big trees.  That is, until we were driving past a field the other day and our taxi driver, Kenny, said, “Over there is a pineapple field.”  And I said, “You mean that grove of tall trees on the other side of the field?”  And he said, “What? No.  The FIELD right there.”  So I took this picture of where pineapples grow:

Apparently, they grow low.  So, in my head, I pictured them growing like a potato does, all buried in the ground, and some strong-armed farmer (or farmess) comes along and plucks them from the dirt.  Turns out, not only was I wrong about them growing in trees (don’t pretend you didn’t think the same thing), I was also wrong about them growing in the ground.  They grow on TOP of those little tufts of plant you see there.  Like so:

You may have heard that I’m currently writing a curriculum for youth ministry, hoping to get it published somewhere down the road and have some small royalties trickling in while we’re on the mission field.  One of the aspects of the curriculum is that I record myself teaching each lesson, so that a rural parish could use the curriculum, even if they didn’t have a youth minister, and they’d have an audio “hint” as to how you could possibly teach the lesson.  With that in mind, I asked my mum for a recording mic for Christmas.  She was wonderful enough to have bought me this and it has helped the sound quality tremendously.

As I’ve been recording these last few months, I’ve been thinking about all the noise pollution that goes on while I’m doing so.  Not only is there the sound of the computer fan running, there’s the symphony of sounds from outside (incessant dog barking, cows mooing, this weird bird cooing, the goats chatting, and the weed-whacking ninjas).  Then I saw an article on the Quietest Place On Earth, which just happens to be located in Minneapolis and it all got me thinking.  How can I get rid of all that ambient noise, without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars? (Because that’s how much it would cost to pay off all the animals and their owners so that they’d SHUT UP!)  So, in lieu of that investment, I came up with this:

A combination of couch cushions, pillows, and blankets gets me a pretty good lack of background noise.  It feels so rugged and real to switch off all fans and AC, hunker down in the stifling heat under the comforter, and record these sessions, knowing that not only is the Lord watching over me, so is Jacelyn’s epic blanket which features David Bowie dressed as Dorothy and Mona from Who’s The Boss as Glinda.  Mmmmmm, comfy.

If you pray, when you pray, pray for us.

On to the next thing…

Noggin On Heaven’s Door

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Today’s blog is all about the cranium, ladies and gentlemens, and since Jacelyn’s the one with the most knowledge on the subject (and also has the prettiest one ever made), she will providing the bulk of the info today.  (As usual, all of Jacelyn’s words will be in italics, so as not to confuse her brilliance with my lunacy.)

Brand of sunglasses does not matter!

“Though it is shown to be important for us to protect our eyes from UV damage by wearing sunglasses (repeated UV exposure can degrade the retina), don’t fall for advertisements that claim that their brand of sunglasses is better!  High tech experiments have been done in state-of-the art research labs that demonstrate that sunglasses costing $2 filter out the exact same amount of UV rays as those costing over $2000.”

Now that Jacelyn has saved us thousands of dollars, let’s move on to fashion.  Most of you know that Jacelyn always dresses cleanly and appropriately, with a hint of Disney Princess flair; what you may not know is that she also has a small gangsta thug streak about her.  That is why I wasn’t at all surprised when she burst through the door, announced that she’d found a head covering she wanted, and showed me a picture of the largest trucker hat EVER:

I especially love the bill on the front.  Speaking of bills, you’ll be receiving a letter soon, asking for the necessary funds to buy a matching set. (Just pray about it)  Next up we’ll take on the Book of James as we try to tame this one:

(While I dry heave, Jacelyn will expl…….) This condition is called “Hairy Tongue” and it definitely looks like a hairy tongue, but it is actually overgrown filiform papillae, which are projections on our tongue.  They don’t contain any taste buds and are mostly present to catch and scrape food for us.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I don’t have time to give any more details than that–my final is in two weeks 🙂

Phew, I’m back. Sorry about that.  It’s just that every time I look at it, my stom…..

…read THIS while I get some Sprite and chicken nood……….

Okay, I’m back.  I hope you enjoyed the trip through head and eye protection and sick and twisted tongue issues as much as eye did. (pun)(I always feel the need to point out puns.  They’re funny enough as it is, but when you point them out, I think it makes the punnier) (pun).  All last week, I was given the amazing privilege of speaking at a different church in our deanery every night as a part of a youth Lenten retreat.  The week culminated on Saturday at a youth rally for the whole island, where over 800 youth attended!  I truly couldn’t believe that I used to be concerned about whether or not I’d get to do any ministry during our time here (silly Nic).  The event on Saturday began at 10am with a processional through a town called Mahaut (pronounced MUH-ho).  Maybe you’ve been on a processional before, but I hadn’t.

I had no clue what was going on as we all gathered in the middle of The Road, halfway between Portsmouth and Roseau.  Soon after we gathered, live worship music started blaring from a pickup truck stacked high with huge speakers and the 800+ youth and leaders started singing and walking through the streets of town.  This is a picture of the beginning of our walk:

Then we began climbing a hill to a playing field at the top, where the rally was held.  Here’s us on the way up:

…and up…

(Feel free to play “Where’s Whitey”) I just couldn’t believe I was able to be a part of it!  And, lest I forget WHERE I was, in the middle of the rally, while we were taking time to pray about how the Bible is “a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path”, a massive, perfect rooster walked by.  Classic Dom.

Then, to top the weekend off perfectly, we attended the Palm Sunday  service in Portsmouth, which began with…..yes, you guessed it…..a processional!!!!  Beginning at 7am, we marched through the quiet streets of our little town, singing the old school songs like “Lift Jesus Higher” (yes, in case you were wondering, there WERE multiple roosters singing with us).  It was great because we sang and sang and kept singing as we walked in the front doors of the church and our singing became the processional hymn.  It was beautiful.  Thank you all for tuning in!

If you pray, when you pray, pray for us.

On to the next processional…

Sebastian, Zero: Spearfisher, Seven

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Howdy, everybody!  Last week was perrrty busy and I get to speak at a retreat every night this week; so this blog will be short.  Well, shorter than the usual novel I write for you all.

First, I make it a policy to alway always have a few binder clips of all sizes with me.  Always.  You’d be amazed at how many random things you can use them for.  I initially became enamored with them a few years back when I was hanging Christmas lights on our house and garage in Duluth.  The cheap plastic clips that came with lights only held the lights up long enough for me to get the cheap plastic replacement clip ready in my hand; so, in desperation, I went in the house and grabbed a container of teensy, silver binder clips and headed up to the roof.  Those beautiful things lasted me for three years!  So, you can imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon a brilliant new use for a large binder clip.  You know ear buds, those little earphones that, no matter what you do to prevent it, come out of your pocket/backpack/purse in a tangled ball, looking like what the celts were going for with their infinity knots?  Well, brace…………..your……………………..self……………………:

Yes.  It works.  It’s amazing.  I’m brilliant (in the way I find stuff online that people have already made available and photoshop in my gorgeous thumbs)  You can thank me in whatever way your culture repays genius.

About a month ago, I noticed that there was a lack of what we would call Sugar In The Raw at any of the stores.  Usually, there small, zip-lock-type bags of that “brown sugar” everywhere on the island.  Then, even at our IGA in town, there was no longer any white sugar, either.  Then, disaster struck.  Jacelyn approached the stand that she normally gets fresh juice from and saw this:

You know how I always say “…when you pray…”?  Well, you should start NOW, because, apart from the statements of The Oracle and the sweltering heat, the juice is the number one enjoyment of the Dynamic Davidson Duo on Dominica.  Thank God there wasn’t a paper shortage at the same time, or we’d have had no clue why the shack was closed.

While talking with some folks about the amount of beach on the island, I once made the offhand statement that practically the whole coast was on the ocean, which those who were present were quick to point out the utter stupidity of, which I who was present was quick to throw a shoe and walk away, sobbing.  Well, however I should have said it, there are definite benefits to having the ocean so close, fresh seafood being on top of the list.  Also, you probably know that every year on my birthday, the ONE place I want to go is Red Lobster.  It’s like my Neverland (Peter Pan, not Michael Jackson), what with all the melted butter, constant birthdays, Coke refills, and quirky “I’m gonna act like your best friend” servers.  Well, two weeks ago, my dream collided with this 100% coastal island.  I was at home, just thinking of sacrificial and impacting things to do for each of our readers (your home-knit Rasta hat is in the mail), when there was a knock at the door and a local guy, named Randell, was standing there with 2 lbs of lobster and 2 lbs of small fish (red fish and the like)!  For 30 ec ($11), it was ALL mine.  Well, brace yourself and Fisherman’s Feast ………….your…………………………eyes:

The fish are already gutted and waiting for me to figure out what to do with them.  After 3 days on the counter, I moved them to the patio (because of the counterspace) until I figure out how I wanna cook ’em.  As for the lobsters, I knew to boil them.  I got our cast iron pot filled and boiling, added some Old Bay seasonin’, dropped the 4 smallest in, and shrieked like an alien (because, being dead, they couldn’t do it, and I NEED that sense of realism).  They tasted good.

One of the things I love about living in other cultures is seeing the different ways in which the cleaning staff do their work.  Now, just calm down, before you judge me.  I NEED to have a cleaning crew if I’m going to be out interviewing servants all the time.  But seriously, most of the student housing in our area has weekly housekeeping included in the rent.  In China, we had a housekeeper, but it truly was in order to help one more person have gainful employment; and, to be fair, their standards of “clean” were far different than ours, which meant I would usually re-do all the dishes after she left. (One time, I opened a hard-t0-reach cupboard and found all the dirty dishes from earlier in the day stashed up there)  Anyway, back to Dominica.  I’ve grown to love our cleaning ladies, Zephrina and Media.  Usually, every time they come to our apartment, they sweep, and I cook them grilled cheese and make hot tea or coffee for them.  Who’s serving who, I ask you?  I can just see Zephrina getting home and her children asking her, “How was the chef today, mommy?”  Then I see Zephrina saying, “It was good.  The bread was stale.  I’m thinking of pushing for an appetizer next week, too!”   Back to the opening sentence of this paragraph, I have loved seeing the different ways of doing things since we’ve been here.  For instance, my mum taught me to make a bed so it looked like this…

…because she happened to work at a hotel at the time.  Jacelyn’s mom taught her to make a bed so it looked like this…

…because she loves herself some pillows!  And, Zephrina and Media’s mums taught them to make a bed so it looks like this…

…because Dominica invented the world-famous game “Where’s the Topsheet”.  Can you find it?  Give you a hint, I call it “The Postage Stamp”.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is folded up into a teensy square at the foot of the bed, under the comforter.  The first time they made our bed, I looked through the whole apartment to find that sheet!  I thought I’d forgotten to put it on the bed or something.  Nothing wrong with this method; it just adds a Scavenger Hunt aspect to going to sleep at night.  I am also thinking of getting those two an origami DVD for Christmas, given their natural talent at folding things.

Lastly, I know I’ve mentioned my li’l sister, Smeaphie, a lot, but I had to include one more classic picture of her.  Before leaving to come to Dom, Jacelyn got a perm, and Smeaphie and my niece, Brooklyn, decided to get one, too.  I got to spend the three hours at the salon with her and, in a beautiful moment, I snapped this photo:

The combination of curlers, Ugz’s, and random antelope on her smock make for a self-narrating photograph, don’t you think?  (The towel in her lap is for the bits of raw fish that she keeps in her pocket “for snacky timeseses”, as she calls it)

If you pray, when you pray, pray for us.

On to the next thing…

Johnny, Jennifer, and Amnesia

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So, I’ve spent the last two days sitting in what is known as “The Fishbowl”, a large study room filled with tables and a silence fostered by something which my instructor at flight school called “The Pucker Factor” and which is caused mainly by the fear of imminent danger.  (There is far more fear in this one room on a daily basis than in my entire time in flight training.)  Jacelyn has her second major exam tomorrow morning and has been planted firmly in the same chair for days.  The Fishbowl gets its name from the two huge banks of windows found on either side of the room, but I also think it has a lot to do with the nearly complete lack of fresh air.  I took the following picture of The Fishbowl two minutes ago.

It has looked exactly the same for days. Same people, same hunched posture, same look of profound confusion.  And then there’s me, alternately blogging and trying desperately to beat my mom at Scrabble online.  One of these folks is definitely NOT like the other.

When we lived in China, it was always uplifting to see the various ways they would either “tweak” the English language in their advertising (we called it “Chinglish”) and how they would blatantly take things from the American market to use as their own(Red Berry vs. Black Berry).  Well, I’d missed that regular dose of hilarity, until I walked into James’ Store the other day.  Jame’s Store is a general store of sorts, where you can basically get what you need for your household in some form or another, most of it straight from good ol’ Chinaland.  While walking the aisles, I happened upon this box of computer speakers:

Yes, in case you’re wondering, that IS Jennifer Aniston.  No, I don’t think she knows that her image is being used to market cheap, immediately broken computer speakers.  Yes, I bought four boxes of the green because the marketing ploy worked.  No.  Just no.

Do you remember Phil and Sandra, the happy goat couple who lives out behind our house?  Well, they recently reached a milestone in their relationship: they had two kids! Oh, gosh, we were so happy for them.  We actually walked past them minutes after they’d been born! (I know this because I stepped on the still-soupy afterbirth)  So, they asked if we’d make their kids famous by posting them on our world wide web.  We did.


Apparently, in the goat world, it is good parenting to lie directly on top of the newborn, thereby teaching them to NEVER roam.  The baby goat on the left, a boy, they named Chester, “After Phil’s uncle.  He was  a sheep, but we loved him, anyway”, said Sandra.  The little girl kid on the right, they named Scram.  “I don’t know what we were thinking”, said Phil, “We’re gonna change it.”  I’ll keep you posted.

As I mentioned in our last blog, our buddy Johnny came to visit us for 9 days.  We saw many sites, ate many unique foods, and in lieu of forgetting the sunscreen, instead applied 9 bottles of Aloe.  One highlight of the trip was when he and I attended an hour-long class with Jacelyn one morning “about measuring clearance values to measure kidney function”.  Jacelyn seemed to like it, but I almost fell asleep just typing that quote from her on what the class was about.  Here’s a pic from that class.

Johnny did really well during the class;  he kept his eyes on the screens, nodding every once in a while for effect.  I was good for the first 60 seconds.  Two minutes in, I was desperately trying to figure out what food that girl had brought.  I took this picture 5 minutes in, after which I remember nothing.  We did plenty of lying around and reading.  Johnny napped quite often, at which point I’d get out the camera.  Isn’t this a great pic, which I’ve NOT asked permission to post?

Like little angels, Johnny wrapped in a Wizard of Oz blankie and Burt, snuggle between his toy and his boy toy.  However, there WERE some low points.  Jacelyn gets pretty stressed sometimes and one night, while we were having fun posing with some souvenirs Johnny was buying…

…one of us said something to contradict her in some way and….well……

Sadly, that pic of Johnny and Burt really IS just his head.  She showed me mercy because she needs someone to continue blogging and cooking for her.

If you pray, when you pray, pray for us.

On to the next thing…

Aspiring Airport Staff and Pricey Pigs

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Phew!  Well, that’s all done.  Since December 13, life has been a constant flurry of activity.  We travelled to Duluth, travelled back to Dom, Jacelyn’s parents came, Jacelyn’s parents left, we got ready for 2nd semester, I went to Minnesota for 19 days, I came back to Dom (bringing two friends with me from Eau Claire), they left, the 20-person mission trip came, they left, our good friend Johnny came, he left, I slept 9 hours and sat down to write this blog.  See.  Flurry.

Because so much has happened since I blogged in broken sentences about our Christmas break, I’m going to move on.  With one exception.  I want to explain “The most expensive ham on earth“.  For Christmas, I made the trip down to Roseau to purchase a frozen 10-lb turkey, which cost me about $60 U.S.  I expected to pay that much.  In fact, since the turkey is only native to North American Forrests, basically anywhere you go on earth, besides America’s imminent neighbors (“eh” and “que”, as I like to call them), you will have to pay through the beak to get turkey in any form with which you’re familiar.  When we were in China, we had to go to a back alley at the back end of a dark and dingy neighborhood to get turkey from what our friends called an “import store”, but we’d affectionately termed “The Crack House”, both because it looked like somewhere you’d buy crack AND because the walls were structurally un-sound.

Anyway, in Porstmouth (our town) we have an IGA grocery store, where most things are overpriced because, again, they’ve been shipped there on the open seas.  While Jacelyn’s parents were here, I made a journey there to pick up a couple of last-minute ingredients and, out of curiosity, I wandered over to the chilled meats section to see what they might offer, at which point I found the most expensive ham on earth.  There, in the glass case, lay a maple and brown sugar ham much smaller than THIS one.  The major difference between the two was that the one I just showed you is listed as $37.25, whereas the less-than-four-pound turkey I saw was priced at $125 u.s.!!!!!!!!!!!  Yes, U.S. dollars.  The Eastern Caribbean Dollar price was $333.75.  So, needless to say, we stuck with over-priced turkey this year.  Maybe someday, when we’re rich missionaries in a third-world country, I’ll be able to afford a ham of that low weight but high quality, but for now, I’m okay with eating things that naturally grow here, like Coca-Cola and KFC.

There are no trips or visitors planned for the next two months, so my goal is to blog on a more regular basis.  Life has been busier here than it was in Duluth, believe it or not, and I’ve really struggled to find a routine, what with all the visitors, details, and full moons.  However, I have recently been introduced to a time-saving method called The Pomodoro Technique.  At first, I thought the same thing you probably just did–that it has something to do with fighting bulls–and dismissed it because bull interaction would just be one more thing on an already-too-long list.  But, after a giving it some thought, I looked into it, and let me just say that, as simple as it is, it has changed my time management completely and has drastically increased my productivity.  I won’t waste time here telling you about it (that’s one part of the technique, and I only have 15 seconds till my pomodoro is done), but you can click HERE to find out more about it. (Okay, the infomercial is officially over)

The tidbit from Jacelyn this week comes as an addition to last week’s David and Goliath factoid.  Turns out, there’s one more possible explanation for the details of what happened on that fateful day.  There is a condition known as “Bitemporal Hemianopia”, which is usually referred to as “tunnel vision”; this can be caused by a pituitary adenoma, which is a tumor on the pituitary gland.  When someone suffers from this condition, not only is their vision affected, they can grow to unusual heights.  The tumor is located in the pic on the right and effects vision as portrayed by the pic on the left:

The reason you can become a giant with a pituitary tumor is because the pituitary gland helps regulate the amount of growth hormone given to your body.  The tumor could make it over-stimulate the growth hormone, which brings us to Davey and Goley:

Allow me to draw your attention to the pic on the right.  Meet Yao Defen.  Please take note of the layout of the picture and the two happy, yet frightened, Chinese doctors hold her hands.

In closing, I’d like to give you a few highlights from the mission trip.  They had a great time and we were very thankful that we were able to keep 20 pale Minnesotans safe for 8 days on the island; in fact, I think we used fewer than 10 band-aids the whole time!  Below are some of the better pics.

We were able to thoroughly clean about 3 miles of The Road on clean-up day.  This is the group when we finished:

This is how much trash we collected and then distributed to the various front porches of people who’ve made me mad since we’ve been down here:

While we were working at the elementary school in Roseau, Kevin and I were able to meet someone whom I at first mistook for one of the many mythical creatures that inhabit this magical island.

Meet Garth Joseph, former player for the NBA and current basketball coach for multiple teams around the Caribbean.  This picture was taken as I was counting to five, Kevin was counting to ten, and Garth was in the process of slamming our heads together.  T’was a beautiful moment, the paramedics said.  (I always say that Kevin is the Asian version of me; well, in the preceding pic of Yao Defen, I think we found the Asian version of both of us!)

Lastly, someone snapped a pic just as we finished letting the 2nd grade health class practice their mandatory body cavity searches:

Actually, we were SUPPOSED to just be helping them with their vegetable garden; the searches were impromptu and apprently initiated by the confident guy on the left, who is aspiring to work for the TSA someday.

Well, that’s enough for today!  Thank you all for your patience and your continued readershipness!

If you pray, when you pray, pray for us.

On to the next thing…

A Quick Word From The Lady…

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So, two times this semester David and Goliath have come up.  Two teachers have presented different ways that scientists have thought Goliath might have died.  (Besides the obvious rock in his head.)    Neither of these completely fit with the Biblical account, but they are still interesting.  Apparently the neuroscientists didn’t consult with any theologians.  I simply like seeing people’s interest in the story!  The story of David and Goliath is so inspiring and such a testament to God’s power that people love thinking about how exactly it unfolded.

So, here’s the first explanation:

Look for the circled area on the skull above—it’s an intersection of skull bones known as the pterion.  Right under the pterion runs the middle meningeal artery.  This is also the thinnest area of our skull bone.  Therefore, getting hit here (say, with a stone) could relatively easily break the skull bone in that area—which could pierce the middle meningeal artery and cause blood to collect inside the skull (an epidural hematoma, to be exact)—putting pressure on the brain—which can lead to death in a matter of hours.   Now, the Bible says the rock hit Goliath in the forehead . . . and it didn’t take him hours to die . . . but you get the idea.

As for words from Li’l Nic, there are none this time. I’m busy showing my friend Johnny how to safely make it through a sea tunnel and end up in a sea cave.  You can safely assume that I will blog next week, though, if it’s any consolation!

If you pray, when you pray, pray for us.

On to the next thing…

Adaptations In Sibling Quality Time

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Welcome to our balmy blog!  Amidst the preparations for the upcoming 20-person mission trip that arrives this Sunday, I’m trying to make time to keep hacking away at getting you all up to speed. (When I say hacking, it’s only because I have a very “productive” cold, right now.)

Siblings learn to kill together:  One would think, given my love of all things Jason Bourne and her love of crouching over ponds and slamming fish against rocks, that me and my sister, Smeaphie, would be better at warfare tactics.  But, we’re not.  Plain and simple.  In fact, it took our family until this Christmas for us to begin a structured training program of how to go about covert operations.  I don’t usually try to be subversive to someone’s parenting techniques, (It seems I usually AM, but I’m just not trying) but while we were home, I had the chance to learn how to play a game called “Modern Warfare 3” (MW3), and I found that I couldn’t just keep it to myself.  So, one day, when my mom had left me alone with my sister, I enticed her down to the living room, gave her a Red Bull, and slipped an Xbox controller in her hands.  The next thing I new, it was like 13 hours later, my hands were duct taped, and Smeaphie had dominated so much that all the characters in the game had laid down their arms and were on their knees up close to the screen, begging her to please take a bathroom break or something so that they could re-group and figure out what all the fighting was even for.  (Don’t judge me, all you people who are judging me.  You think Snakes-n-Ladders or Trouble were any more benign when we were kids?) (Or Scissor Tag?)

Kryptonian undergarments:  This was the second year in a row that I got Superman Underwear!  Last year, I experienced the repurcussions of joking around too much by opening the underwear package and putting them outside my clothes; my mom snapped a pic and within 2 minutes it was on Facebook. (Luckily, at that point, my mom hadn’t figured out how to tag someone in a pic)

Consistent Airport Security Fail:  So, I like to keep my travels pretty streamlined.  I like to have my pack in order and everything where it should be.  I prefer to be on time, if not early.  Now, you all know that Jacelyn likes to travel with as much as is possible, if possible, and she is consistently 5 minutes late (at best).  So, one would think that airport security would have issues with her clutter and take one look at me and simply wave me on through, possibly complimenting me on my physical succinctness and offer to give me a piggy back to my gate.  It’s the oddest thing, though.  When we get in line to go through security, it seems that all occasions inform against me.  I swear that my name is on a “Not Remotely Threatening, But REALLY Fun To Mess With” list. (Yes, the TSA has one, I just don’t know how I got on it) (Bets are on Smeaphie)  Anyway, for the last couple of years, when we line up, I get everything packed into one pocket in my backpack, completely remove ALL personal possessions (even tooth fillings, just to be safe), place them all on the conveyor, and then proceed to be run through every, single security measure that the TSA has at their fingertips (I said “fingertips” on purpose).  Everything from that weird, huge piece of cotton that they smear all over your bag to idle chit-chat with the officer while I wait (which I’m sure is designed to find out how I react to extreme boredom).  And, no matter what prep work I put into it, the ending is always the same: me trying to justify the large amount of binder clips, rubber bands, and twisty ties that I must have with me at all times, and Jacelyn chilling in a lounge with a magazine.  I usually find her just as she’s either finished a R.E.M. cycle or a 1-hour massage.  It’s infuriating.  And it has been true to varying degrees no matter WHERE on God’s green earth we travel. (It’s clear that the therapy is not helping my anger in this area)

Feliz navidad:  We met up with Jacelyn’s parents in the San Juan, Puerto Rico Airport on Christmas Eve and travelled to Dominica together.  Beautifully uneventful.

McGorge: Yes, again.  Always.

Fleas, rashes, bowel obstructions (Burt, or course):  While we were in the States, we left Burt at a kennel on Dominica.  It was recommended by a friend and the woman had a great, thick Cockney accent, so I thought, “What could go wrong?  The Brits are great at animal care, right?  It was the taxation without representation that we took issue with, not their PETA infractions, right?”  Anyway, at first he seemed fine when we picked him up after 12 days.  He seemed upbeat enough, but I should have known something was up when I walked in to get him and he was lounging in a recliner with a smoking jacket, reading a copy of “The Complete Works of Jeremy Bentham, which he set down with a pithy sigh when he saw me come in.  Anyway, the next day, we noticed that not only was he scratching a LOT, he also had fleas jumping off of him like crazy, a red rash near his eye, and was now taking like 5 minutes to complete the act of Canine Valsalva, which is highly uncommon for him.  At first, I chalked the bathroom time up to having adopted the “British way of doing that“, but later changed my mind.  Well, that was two months ago and all three health issues have, for various reasons, gone away.  We ARE having trouble breaking him of the habit of trying to tax us on all of our tea, though.

If you pray, when you pray, pray for us.

On to the next thing…

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Hi there!  Jacelyn signing in for a moment!  Here’s another interesting tidbit–sure to come in handy for all those living in the arctic, or planning to practice medicine there someday 🙂  In a recent lecture, a professor was discussing the damaging effects of too much Vitamin A, called hypervitaminosis A.  She then briefly mentioned how eating polar bear liver will give you toxic doses of Vitamin A . . . polar bear liver?  That struck me as odd, so I looked it up after class.  Sure enough, it’s true—and it’s a well-researched topic.  Polar bear liver accumulates large amounts of Vitamin A from the seals they eat.  I haven’t found wherethe seals get it, but they need it because it helps young seals mature quickly.  Here’s a little blip about this from the website “How Stuff Works”.

From “How Stuff Works”

The native peoples of the Arctic have never shied away from cooking up some polar bear stew, but they’ve long known to avoid eating the livers of various arctic creatures. Western explorers, however, learned the hard way. As early as 1596, explorers returned to Europe with accounts of horrible illnesses resulting from the consumption of polar bear liver.  Illness severity depended on how much liver the explorers consumed, but symptoms typically included drowsiness, sluggishness, irritability, severe headache, bone pain, blurred vision and vomiting. Perhaps the most horrific symptom they encountered was peeling skin. While milder cases merely involved flaking around the mouth, some accounts reported cases of full-body skin loss. Even the thick skin on the bottoms of a patient’s feet could peel away, leaving the underlying flesh bloody and exposed. The worst cases ended in liver damage, hemorrhage, coma and death.

 In the wild, polar bears feed almost exclusively on bearded seals and ringed seals, both of which store high levels of vitamin A in their livers and blubber. The seals store high levels of vitamin A in order to swiftly grow and nourish their young in the harsh environment. Vitamin A plays a key role in growth and development, so seals rely on this vitamin to quickly advance them through their vulnerable pup stages

And now, on to more of explanation of the one-word paragraph from just after Christmas:

McGorge: The Dominican food is not in any way bad. It tastes fine.  In fact, the fresh juices are downright amazing.  The fish is great.  The pelao is hearty.  However, it doesn’t take long before you notice that it’s just not like food from back home. Even the restaurants that sell “American food” have to, for the most part, use ingredients found on the island to make the meals, so it’s always ALMOST there, but not quite.  Seriously, I’m not complaining. I live in the Caribbean and get to do ministry. I know I am livin’ the dream.  That still doesn’t stop us from exiting the plane in San Juan (technically America, mind you), walking through security, down to baggage claim, and immediately to the airport McDonalds to eat our fill of the un-ageable burger.  In fact, I’m going to be honest with you now, which is something I rarely do.  When I came back to the states by myself in January, I walked straight to the Mee-kee-dee’s, ordered a Big Mac Meal (supersized with Coke), ate it all, walked back up, ordered a Triple Bacom Burger meal (supersized), and ate it all.  I’m not proud of it, but I’m kinda proud of it.  In retrospect, I should’ve budgeted enough time to also walk to a clothing store to buy pants with a bigger waistline.

Surprise!, Grandma’s nightgown, and grandpa’s drug problem:  When we arrived in Minneapolis, my mom picked us up at the airport.  After much finagling (and boldfaced lies by my mum), we were able to keep our visit to the States a secret.  The only people that knew were mum, Ralph (the wise one), and my little sister Smeaphie (because, in her attempt to prep herself to rule the world one day, she has started reading all of my mum’s texts, consequently enabling her to read the text about us being trapped in Barbados) (Oh, and I call her “Smeaphie” because she reminds me of a combination of Sophie (that’s who she actually IS) and Smeagol (Not really. I just have to tease her) (She DOES sit that way sometimes, though) Anyway, after surprising my sister Kristina at the hotel (she sorta went blank-faced and then told mum she was mean), we made our way north from Minneapolis.  The first stop was my grandparents.  It was 11 at night.  They were in bed. They’d already taken their evening “sleepy time” meds.   We sent mum and Kristi in ahead of us and listened outside.  Grandma was the first to get up.  She came out of her bedroom in a nightgown to see what was going on.  They called for grandpa numerous times, but he wasn’t getting up, mainly because, like I said, they’d already taken their nighttime sleep aid.

Then, Jacelyn and I burst in the door and screamed, “Surprise!!!”  It was at that point that a few things happened.  First, after hugging us, grandma disappeared into her bedroom.  Then, grandpa came out and, after hugging us confusedly, leaned against the wall.  Then, grandma returned, wearing a thicker, darker nightgown. (I have permission to tell this, by the way) (and by “permission”, I mean, I was there and I talk about everything I ever see).  We chatted for a bit, telling them about our adventures in getting there, during which I entertained myself by watching my grandpa’s legs occasionally give out due to tiredness and sleep aid.  He’d be listening and the randomly dip about six inches and pop back up, kind of like watching a 1-year-old trying to stand.  This was better, though, because gramps combines the instability of a toddler with the finely manicured hair of James Dean.  Anyway, after about ten minutes, we realized they’d probably not remember the surprise in the morning, which would let us do it all again the next day, so we left.  I started belly laughing when, as I was closing their front door, I heard my grandpa bellow, “SURPRISE, SURPRISE!!!!” (Which he later told me he had no recollection of)

But the best moment almost of the entire trip happened in the car on the way home after that.  If you know Jacelyn, you know that she quite often knows what she wants to say, but adds many pre-cursors or qualifiers to her sentence BEFORE she says the actual sentence: i.e., “Because she is so nice…..and I always like to make my own yogurt…..and because it’s not Tuesday, yet…..I just thought I’d mention…..that before one gets loose…..and since I’ve always been afraid of gnats…”   So, as you read these next few lines, you need to put yourself in the situation.  Close your eyes.  Now open them because you can’t read the rest with them closed.  It is dark.  We’ve been travelling for days.  We’re tired.  It’s very quiet in the car.  We’ve all sort of started to zone out.  There’s just the sound of the road and the view of the headlights in the dark.  Then, out of the quiet comes this statement: “I’m not ashamed of it……………………….Because they’re so soft……………………….but that nightgown grandma was wearing………….BEFORE she put the second one on………….” It was at this point that my mum later admitted she was thinking, “Nic, are you gonna stop her?”  I had ZERO clue what she could be talking about, but, in the context of just having seen my grandma in a “first nightgown”, BEFORE she put a second one on, the words “not ashamed” and “so soft” were seriously perplexing my mind as to what could POSSIBLY be coming next.  We all just basically started laughing, Jacelyn included, and it was about ten minutes before she could expound on what she was not ashamed of.  Turns out, earlier this year, Jacelyn had purposefully gone out and purchased what she appropriately terms a “granny nightgown”, because they’re “so soft”, and, in the most random of coincidences, she bought the EXACT SAME NIGHTGOWN that my grandmother was wearing when we surprised her.  So, if we read Jacelyn’s words again, in the light of that knowledge, they make total sense.  For days, all anyone had to say was “I’m not ashamed” or “so soft” and we would all bust out laughing. (Incidentally, Jacelyn inserts this comment: “I highly recommend splurging on a granny nightgown from a department store.  It’s TOTALLY worth it!”)

Early Christmas:  We celebrated Christmas dinner early.  There’s nothing funny about that.

If you pray, when you pray, pray for us.
On to the next thing…
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