Emancipation Day…or in Freeport…an excuse to celebrate!

Today is the last day before Jonathan starts school and it’s a local holiday.  According to Tyrone, every month there is a holiday here and sometimes 2!  Bahamians LOVE to celebrate and they look for excuses to take off work, fire up the pit, and party on the beach.  So today is Emancipation Day here.  Right now Jonathan and I are still in bed (it’s 9:00 am here) and there is some strange weather going on right now.  It’s sort of spitting rain but it’s fully bright outside.  It looks like it has been raining for a while.  We were jolted awake this morning by a HUGE clap of thunder which scared us (and probably Matilda more) to death.  We were expecting it to look like it does in Houston when you hear thunder like that.  Black and gloomy and gnarly.  But it’s sunny and island-y!  So strange.  And even though it’s only 9:00 am, I can hear the Taino Beach party getting under way right now.  All the bus drivers and taxi drivers are technically off (though I’m praying at least one will be willing to drag us down to Lucaya tonight to meet the Wellses and the Grays for dinner) but I hear cars whizzing by on their way to the beach.  Apparently a little rain isn’t stopping these people from taking advantage of a day off work!  In the states wouldn’t we all be inside whining about rain on the 4th of July??  I’ve been guilty of that plenty of times myself.  But these Bahamians, lemme tell ya.  In their opinion there are very few things in this world worth  worth wasting perfectly good celebration time on with negativity!

We have discovered another part of the island in the past few days.  There is another student (whom I’ve mentioned before) named Connor who lives up Midshipman from us (that’s kind of the main drag through the residential areas on this side of the island).  Connor has spent a lot of time out here and near here (he lives in Florida) so he is a great resource.  Not to mention he has a car here!  He has made it so that Jonathan and I have felt the least “trapped” than we’ve felt probably since we moved here.  You really don’t appreciate mobility until it’s stripped from you!  Connor lives near a stretch of beach called Banana Bay and also near this point where the canal spits out into the ocean.  They’ve spotted dolphins and sting rays and sea turtles in the canal, though we weren’t fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of any of that Saturday.  The water was kind of churned up from the rains the night before.  But the boys (and eventually me after I worked up the courage to trek down there) waded through a part of the cove in search of “treasure” (that seems to be becoming a favored activity with Matt and Jonathan).  My toenails are painted bright pink and I think some of the little damsel fish (think Dory from Finding Nemo) were a little confused because they kept congregating around my feet.  There were like 5 or 6 at a time.  Cool!  They found sea urchins and pieces of coral, a lobster graveyard, and this crazy weird worm thing that totally grossed me out.  It kind of looked like a white “nerd rope” stuck to a rock.  When Jonathan picked it up with his knife this worm/snake/slug came smooshing out.  Nasty!  I ran screaming from that thing and decided it was time for me to get out.  You never know what’s lurking around in that water…

There are 4 wives here on the island.  It’s me, Michelle, Ashley (who’ve we’ve yet to meet but are dying to!), and another girl who is here with her husband, two children, and sister.  I haven’t met her.  I’ve heard that some of the girls left their husbands at home to do this semester and will be dragging them down to Dominica.  At any rate, right now it’s just me and Michelle and hopefully Ashley after tonight!  Michelle and I were talking yesterday about the fact that we’re really looking forward to nailing down a routine once the guys go off to classes.  It feels like vacation (which don’t get me wrong is perfectly fine with me!) but we need some continuity!

Matt shared a link with me to the Ross University spouse association.  There isn’t anything like that here for Freeport since it’s only a 15 week program, but that link has been very helpful.  We kind of came a little blindly into this whole thing in Freeport.  Which is fine, because we’ve been able to adapt to the very few “surprises” we’ve encountered.  But Dominica is going to have it’s own set of challenges.  For instance, apparently the luggage restrictions are going to change since we take a teeny little airplane from Puerto Rico (which is where most of the flights connect through).  Instead of just being able to bring what we want and just pay the luggage fees, you are only allowed one 50 lb. bag and one 25 lb. bag.  Yikes!  I’ve seen some of the blogs from the women who are currently down there and it looks like they’ve shipped these barrel things over there with stuff packed in them.  I can’t imagine that we can get everything we want to bring into 75 pounds a piece (especially since we were lucky to pack it into 250 pounds this time and we’re only here 15 weeks!), though I am already getting a handle on some of the things I could have left behind.  I’ll try to link up to a few of their blogs here so you can see for yourself (that’s probably mostly for the benefit of Bernice and my mom…so they can prepare themselves 😉 …).  It’s definitely going to take some adjusting.  It’s much more “jungle-y” there and apparently it rains 2-3 times a day.  They all have rain coats and umbrellas and galoshes at their doors and that’s kind of the “accepted dress” (I can’t help but be a little excited about the prospect of getting some zebra striped rain boots!).  But the beaches are AMAZING.  Even prettier than here if you can believe it!  It’s a volcanic island so it’s mountainous and very untouched looking.  The apartments are much less “comfortable” than they are here so that will take some getting used to.  But I’m so thankful to have some MERP wives (I keep leaving Delancey out of this by saying wives, but I guess I’m just assuming she’ll be a “wife” soon enought!) here in Freeport who share some of my “trepidation” and we can all go down to Dominica and experience it together.  That’s a huge blessing!

I talked to Zach Qualls (a friend of mine from college) and I told him about how I’m learning that God’s timing is perfect.  He really does have this all figured out, which is incredible.  There’s a plan here and we are getting almost daily affirmations that we are right on track.  He definitely orchestrated this whole Freeport thing to help us ease into island living.  Dominica is going to be a HUGE departure from the norm!  But I am reminded of a prayer that I prayed many months ago and it gives me a reality check.  I told God that we would be willing to give up all that is comfortable in our lives, all of the tings that “make us happy” to receive His blessings.  To receive the desires of our heart.  I guess He’s checking me on that one, because in a few short months we really will have given it all up.  There may be only a few comforts!  But we’ll be living on a picture perfect island!  What more could you want!

So to close, here are some links to some of the Ross spouses’ blogs and a link to Tyrone singing Shame and Scandal.  Super funny!  Rachel Gaffner thinks I should send it to Ellen Degeneres…

This is Clare and Charlie (Clare has a little video of their apartment posted…)


This is Tanya and Blake (she’s expecting their first child in October and they are in semester 5 in Mirimar)


And last but not least…the Bahamian Idol…

Tyrone shame and scandal

P.S.-I forgot to share probably one of the funniest things I’ve seen here in Freeport.  Michelle and I were sitting in the lounge chairs on the beach in Banana Bay watching these two Pakistani boys try their dardenst to climb into a hammock.  If you don’t already know, the key to getting into a hammock is to go in butt first.  Belly first is just a no go.   So this kid gets in on his knees and gets his foot caught in the hammock.  He does a face plant right into the sand and Michelle and I just bust out laughing.  It was just so funny!  So then the poor thing tries to play it off (because his dad is laughing at him at this point too…) and he stands up and starts acting like it didn’t happen.  But the entire bottom half of his face is covered in sand!  haHa!  He looks like Sandy Claus!!  Oh my…side splittingly funny…

This entry was posted on August 6, 2012. 2 Comments

The struggle for the study buddy…

Oh my goodness what a week this has been!  Hence my lack of post…by the time we find time in the evening to slow down, it’s just about all we can do to keep our eyes open!  So let me sort of organize all the events so that I don’t ramble for hours here…

Paychecks and Tyrone

There was much ado about my last paycheck from Pasadena.  Let me just express my great disdain for Amoco Federal Credit Union.  I won’t get on my soap box about it too much, though.  Suffice to say that nothing is more frustrating than knowing you’ve got a big fat direct deposit just SITTING at the bank and they won’t deposit it until the “date on the check”.  Of course if I wrote a check today and post dated it for next week, you better believe they’d be ripping that money out of my account as soon as they received the check.  Ugh!!!  Banks make me so mad!  But finally we got my final paycheck which was fabulous.  It’s the paycheck that’s gonna carry us through until we get that student loan refund deposited.

So what did we do with the paycheck??  We did some serious grocery shopping!  We happened upon a really cool taxi driver named Tyrone (he pronounces it with emphasis on the “ty”…I always feel like you all should know how to read it like I’m thinking it in my head…) at the casino.  No, we aren’t “going to the casino”.  It just happens to be both the hub of taxi drivers and the only “duty free” ATM on the island!  So after a convoluted mess about withdrawing from our account (I’ll save you that stupid, stupid story), we grabbed a ride with him.  He’s so very passionate about the island!  We told him we wanted to see about some fresh seafood markets so he took us to the International Bazaar.  That area is considered downtown Freeport…or at least the outskirts.  It’s a little heartbreaking actually…I must say.  It used to be the “cruise ship hub” before 2006 when two hurricanes hit the Bahamas.  The International Bazaar never really came back.  So what’s left is a few people selling their wares and a few fisherman selling stuff out of coolers in the back of their cars.  So Tyrone, in an attempt to I think at first shock us, took us over there to buy some seafood.  It didn’t shock me.  As a matter of fact I felt really blessed to be able to help out some of the locals by buying what they were selling.  We bought one grouper (which is a very popular fish around here) for $17 (mind you that grouper was filleted in to 8 large steaks…so essentially $2+ per fillet…) and 3 conchs at $2.50 each!  We have seafood markets at our disposal in Houston down by the docks in Kemah.  It’s usually fairly reasonably priced so “cheap fresh seafood” is not really something novel to us.  Though the “cracking of the conch” was definitely a sight to see!  I’ll post the video of Jonathan “eating the worm” which the locals call the “piston” (they also claim that eating it changes you from Clark Kent to Superman…I’ll refrain from speculating on that accuracy of that statement for the sake of all my readers…).  I told Jonathan that thing was probably the conch’s “man parts” but he apparently did some research and swears it’s not.  I’m not convinced…

Taxis around here are outrageously expensive, but more reliable than the famed “reggae buses”.  We talked to some students yesterday who were getting off a bus in Lucaya who had been taken by a bus driver to get gas in the van and run a few of his errands.  It took them like 15-20 minutes to get from Sunset Lodge (which is not terribly far away) into Lucaya.  A taxi driver can be propositioned to sort of chauffeur you all day.  They are at your beck and call if you want them to be.  We really needed that sort of flexibility from Tyrone on Tuesday while we were traveling all over the island running errands and stuff, but let me tell you we payed him royally (and he earned his keep…he actually helped us unload our groceries at the house!).  A bus costs you $1.25-$2 per person per leg just about anywhere you want to go (though some are more willing to “break their route” than others).  A taxi costs you at least $10 per leg, but it depends on where you go.  Understand also that this island is not that big.  At least not the part we live in.  So $10 from Taino Beach into Lucaya is kind of outrageous.  We won’t be calling Tyrone very often because we’re broke as goats, but he will probably end up being our once in a while grocery chauffeur.  Check out our pictures and videos on Facebook (and here) to catch a glimpse of him.


The next day (Wednesday) was the weekly fish fry. It also happened to be the day when most of the other students were arriving in Freeport.  So Jonathan has been communicating a lot on Facebook with the other Ross students and suggested a sort of “meet and greet” at the famous fish fry.  I’m not really sure if there was a definitive plan about how to actually “meet and greet” since none of us knew each other.  I have to say it was painfully awkward for a minute.  I wasn’t sure who were the cruisers and resort goers and who were the students.  Eventually there was sort of an assembly down by the beach.  Jonathan and I sort of had a perfect little spot overlooking it all.  I kept telling him “Hey, those guys look smart” or “Ugh…steer clear of that bunch” etc, etc.  So we sort of got to “survey” before actually diving in.

You see, meeting your fellow medical school classmates is more than just “meeting new friends”.  Honestly, other than this weekend, there probably won’t be many “social experiences” because all the students will be (or should be) buried in books.  It was sort of funny for me to be the in the position that I was in.  It was amusing for me to see all of them sort of “feeling each other out” trying to figure out who was serious and who needed to be avoided.  It is SO important to assemble a good study group in med school.  We’ve read that and heard that in LOTS of places, so this event was an opportunity to sort of attach yourself to the right people that are going to challenge you and compliment your learning/working style.  It’s a little tough considering it was basically a full on beach party!  Put lightly, it was very easy to see who was serious and who was along for the ride!  Apparently only 50% of the students in this first semester actually make it past “Freeport” and on to Dominica.  At first that was daunting to me, even though I am super confident that Jonathan is about to take this school by storm.  50% just sounded incredibly huge to me.  But there was definitely a little light shed on that number Wednesday night.  I keep telling Jonathan that “real world experience” helps us sort of have an objective view of this whole process.  There was a bar there and music and it was a lot of fun, but you had to be careful to present yourself appropriately.  The first impression is so important in this situation, because you have precious little time or opportunity to “fix” any kind of mistakes you may have made in your presentation of yourself.

At times I felt a little old around all these fresh faced undergrads.  Jonathan and I are, on average, at least 5-7 years older than most of the students.  Seeing them all doing exactly what I was doing (minus the whole med school thing) at 22 sort of takes me back.  It made me smile sometimes because I don’t feel that far removed from that experience in my life, but what a difference 5 years makes!  We did sort of end up gravitating to a small group of people.  It was fate I think! 😉  I happened upon one of the few “wives” who is here on the island (her name is Michelle) and her husband Matt.  They are around our age (I think 27-28ish) and Matt has been in medical research for a few years.  Michelle is working from home in communications, so she’s actually still working here on the island.  She’s sort of inspired me to potentially explore that option as I keep seeing advertisements for these online public schools.  It’s not band directing, but it would be teaching!  We also met Connor and his girlfriend Delancey (she’s only visiting this weekend and then headed back to South Florida soon), Dimitri, Raymond, and several others.  It was nice to finally put a face with a name (or maybe just a face with a Facebook pic).  Anything can happen I guess, but I was encouraged to see Jonathan connecting with Matt, Connor, Dimitri, and Raymond because they seem like guys that have their heads screwed on straight and have great personalities.  It was easy conversation (but for the earsplitting music and bad dancing all around us!) and we really did enjoy ourselves.  We are anxious to spend a little more time with everyone and I personally am anxious to see who Jonathan “ends up with” as far as a study group is concerned.  I can’t help but hope those guys will be part of it!  I was so blessed to meet Michelle too.  She’s a super sweet girl and I think the 4 of us have a lot in common, so I’m looking forward to building a relationship with the Wells for sure!

Making the switch…

Jonathan is actually at “pre-orientation” right now so this is the first day I’ve been without him.  I guess I’m officially a housewife now.  I have to be honest and tell you that I’m not sure it’s set in yet.  I realized that it’s been since like 1997 that I haven’t had a July-August-September that’s jam packed.  Usually the middle of July is filled with anxiety and preparation for me.  In the 90’s and early 2000’s it was in preparation for a new school year as a student and starting with marching band/basketball/volleyball.  From 2003 on, those months were filled with Pride practices, section leader responsibilities, moving in, auditions, etc.  Very stressful.  Since 2007, it’s been in preparation as a teacher for a new school year.  Which, as a band director, includes instrument drives, evaluation nights, teacher prep courses, setting up my classroom, meetings, inventory, scheduling and placement, receiving supplies, fielding parents, and the list goes on and on.  So I don’t think my mind and body have accepted the fact that NONE of that is going to be part of my repertoire (can’t shake that music teacher lingo!) in these next few months.  I’m not sure when I think that all might dissolve.  I think it will be when Marivy starts texting me (and she better!) about all the hot gossip around Keller 😉 , and I realize I’m not gonna be there this year.

But I will say that I did my housewifery duties this morning and actually got up early to fix Jonathan breakfast (aren’t you proud of me!).  After he left, I had a minute to watch Good Morning America (what?!) and I actually got to spend some time in the Word (again…what?!).  So I’ve decided that in addition to cooking breakfast, some serious P90X action, devotional time is going to be part of my morning routine.  I may even share some of my insights here!

I figure the only way to keep myself on track here is to check myself in prayer every morning.  I shouldn’t  be naive enough to think that just because we are finally here in Freeport that things are going to miraculously become easy.  They aren’t.  The onslaught of things that pummel us daily has not stopped, though our mindset is slowly but surely changing.  I’m changing.  I don’t feel like I need to even give credit to the negative by spewing it all over my blog.  It’s just so insignificant.  So what I will leave you with is the quote that’s been floating around in my head all week long.  Not because I’ve felt despairing at all, but because I’m reminded of how intensely I am loved…

“During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints in the sand,
it was then that I carried you.”


Photo: We picked these local fruits called coco plums. Apparently they are edible but I think they kinda tasted like doody...

Nasty little fruits we heard were edible called “coco plums”.  I refused to try them after Jonathan described their taste as “like a rotten mealy apple”.  I really couldn’t think of anything worse…

Photo: Coming out onto Taino beach, about a 5 minute walk from out house

Our beautiful Taino Beach.  I am convinced it is the prettiest beach on the island.  It’s certainly the prettiest one I’ve seen!  On Wednesday Jonathan and I sat out on the beach talking for almost 3 hours (I have the sunburn to prove it!) and we were seriously the ONLY people there.  Incredible…


My sweet little gecko hunter.  She’s about to become the most love puppy in the Bahamas because I think she may be the only (certainly ONE of the only) puppies who made it out here!


One of her latest finds.  Roaches? No.  Mosquitos? No.  Geckos? Yes.  And Matilda is a fiend at tracking them down!  Look at the proud huntress in the background.  Ha!


Tyrone the taxi driver extraordinaire!  Next post I’ll tell you about the lyrics to a Caribbean song he sang to us.  Very funny…

Photo: A little preview of A Different Kind of Flair Caribbean style!  This is one of the 4 kumihimo bracelets I've made!  I'm in love...

A small preview of A Different Kind of Flair (the Womack women’s jewelry business) Caribbean Style!  This is one of 4 from my newest inspiration.  Very beachy huh?  Soon we’ll have our website up and running (that’s one of my jobs!) and I’ll link up to it here.  Love this one?  In a few weeks it’ll be up for sale!


The Womacks’ Conch Experience…

So these past few days have been pretty quiet around the Womack house.  I’ve had this really gnarly sore throat for the past few days.  I have been hoping it’s not strep because there hasn’t been any fever or body aches or anything.  The only thing I can figure is that it’s an allergic reaction.  I already have a mild allergy to iodine when ingested, but it usually doesn’t give me any issues on a day to day basis.  I just can’t eat lobster!  But I think there’s an elevated quantity around here in the water and then in all the fresh seafood we’ve been eating.  I think my system is just on overload!  Good news is that it feels better today than it has in a few days which is good.  I’ve felt more like getting out and around today than most days.  So we spent a good amount of time down at our Taino Beach (which I have to mention is pronounced like TINO…not TAYNO…:)).  I picked up some serious sun which I’m excited about.  I think I still look a little like a tourist with my uneven tan, so anything I pick up is one step closer to blending in! 😉

So the most exciting thing that happened today happened while we were out at the beach.  Jonathan and I have been hoping to snag a conch shell either in the ocean or surf or on our little coral reef thing.  We’ve been unsuccessful.  We’ve been told by the islanders that they catch them only in certain places on the island.  They also say that in order to catch them you have to be really fast and VERY strong because they burrow really deep into the sand underwater and dig in.  You have to have super human strength to dig them up.  I guess we really would look like tourists trying to scrape one off the ocean floor.  Probably wouldn’t be a pretty picture.  But today was our day.  If you have access to our Facebooks, take a look at the little video Jonathan posted today.  It’s a video of our teeny little baby conch that we found in the surf today!

I have had this idea for a long time that a live conch kind of looks like an octopus thing.  I’ve eaten it several times and looks and tastes a lot like octopus from a sushi restaurant (which Jonathan and I love!).  But it looks NOTHING like that.  The first time I saw one was the other day.  There’s a dish that they serve here mostly at these little conch shacks on the beach called conch salad.  It’s sort of like their version of ceviche (which, if you don’t know, is pieces of raw seafood and veggies that have been cooked by the acid of citrus fruits and sometimes vinegar).  Conch salad is the perfect beachside dish because it’s light and refreshing and very beachy!  There was this guy who had like 12 conch shells tied together on this table and he was selling conch salad.  I thought the shells were empty until I saw this weird little goo covered claw shoot out of one of them.  I mean this claw was literally trying to snip the rope that it was tied to.  It was like something from outer space!  The teeny one we grabbed out of the surf today gave me a little closer look at it.  It really does look like an alien.  It is like a crab/slug/snail thing.  Very weird.  It has one claw which is covered in slug-like stuff which it wields pretty easily.  It has two eyes on these stalk things just like something from Monsters Inc.  And it’s body is like a speckedly slug thing.  As far as I can tell they only have the one arm.  So weird!  Needless to say after seeing one up close I WILL NOT be trying to nab one for myself.  Yuck!  But I’ll still eat them.  I mean they can’t be any uglier than shrimp or anything like that.  But I might be a little more choosy when I decide whether or not to look closely at any more edible sea creatures.

Also instead of roaches or beetles, there are these teeny little geckos and and mini iguana things running around.  I’m usually not one for  creepy crawly lizardy things, but these are kinda cute.  The mini iguanas curl up their tails behind them when they run.  So cute!  And when they’re running away from you, they keep their head facing you while the run the opposite direction.  It’s very cartoony.  The teeny geckos have made their way into our apartment a few times.  Matilda has become a pretty good gecko hunter.  She tracks them down and Jonathan grabs them up and shuffles them outside.  They’re cute, but I’m not touching them.  I’ll leave that to the man o’ the house!

Things are settling down a little around here which is good.  We’re learning a lot about island life.  It’s sort of like a behind the scenes look at resort life.  We see the beach both when it’s primped for resort goers and when it’s just empty.  Yesterday we found out that Sundays are kind of the islanders time to go out to the beach with their families.  Think Sunday lunch after church on the most beautiful stretches of beach in the world.  Not too shabby!  Jonathan has orientation this Friday, but several of the students are getting in on Wednesday.  We are arranging a little meet and greet at the fish fry down here on Wednesday night.  We are really anxious to meet everyone!

Some philosophy from a reggae bus driver…

So, we’ve been here only a few days and there is so much to take in.  As I lay here in my bed, I can hear the sounds of the festival going on down at the beach.  There’s some seriously jammin’ reggae music playing and I can only imagine what kind of wild party is going on down there.  The culture down here is really rich.  The people that live here are so happy and easy going.  They’re so welcoming and friendly.  We caught a ride from a public bus (I’ve heard them called reggae buses on other islands, so that’s what I’ll refer to them here as.  Not to mention, there’s always reggae music playing inside!) just the other day on our way to the grocery store for the first time.  The way you catch a reggae bus is to walk down the street looking like you might need a ride.  They honk AT you, and you either wave them off or flag them down.  So our first reggae bus experience was quite inspiring I must say.  When we got in, the guy says “Dis is a have it your way bus ride, mon.  It tis $2 each person and I take you anywhere you wan go.  Are you a Ross studan?”  Of course we answered yes.  That we had just arrived Monday.  He says, “Das whad I tot.  So I’m gonna take you down dis street up here to show you whad you have to look forwad to, mon.”  So we drive up this street which can only be described as Millionaire Rowe.  These houses are right on the beach (some with their own private stretches) and they are MASSIVE!  Absolutely gorgeous and over the top. This bus driver is describing them and telling us how much they cost (one was $25 million!!) and he starts saying “Ya know, ya have da dream big, mon.  Ya know whad I’m sayin’?  If ya don dream big, ya never go anywhere.  If Alexander Graham Bell did na dream big, would ya be talkin’ on dat cell phone?  If Michael Dell did na dream big, would ya be usin’ dat computa?  You have such a big opportunity here mon, so don waste it, eh?  I wish I woulda done some tings different in my life, bud if I’m gonna drive de bus, mon, I’m gonna tell as many people as I can to dream big.  Ya neva know where ya might find yaself!”  

So true.  And aren’t we dreaming big??  At 27 and 29 years old, we are basically taking the bull by the horns and doing something which might seem “unconventional” because we have a dream.  And we aren’t afraid to pursue it no matter what the cost.  And believe you me, there are PLENTY of costs.  For instance:

-Giving up all means of transportation other than your own two feet.  

-Going from a beautifully decorated home to a one bedroom apartment.

-Having to sleep under a mosquito net to avoid the mutant bugs that lurk around at night.  

Etc., etc., etc.  But as a wise Caribbean native said once while Jonathan and I were on our honeymoon in Jamaica 5 years ago “I am rich!”.  I am living in paradise.  A short walk from a place some people NEVER get to see in person.  Wonderful people, beautiful scenery, everything I need and not much else, my family, and an incredible opportunity for Jonathan which really is once in a lifetime.  

There are so many things I could write about tonight, but I been wanting to sort of list a few things.  So I guess that’s what I’ll do tonight.  Maybe I’ll expand on them a little later.

What I Wish I Had Packed More Of:

-Swimsuits-I am not the kind of girl who really enjoys wearing swimsuits.  They never fit me right.  Not to mention, I’ve been on the chunkier side in the past 5-6 years so I feel uncomfortable in them even if they do fit right. But I’ve lost a lot of weight in the last 6 months and none of my suits fit me correctly anymore and I did not venture out to shop for new ones.  I hate swimsuit shopping!  But it is looking like swimsuits may be my outfit of choice around here.  I was disappointed today because we walked a long way up “our beach” to this GORGEOUS stretch of beach and I REALLY wanted to go swimming.  Unfortunately, though, I had opted out of one of my ill fitting swimsuits for a sundress instead.  Sad face..

-Lotion-Who would have thought with all this humidity that I would need lotion?  It’s just all the salty water and air and of course the sand.  I’ve already gone through almost half a bottle and we’ve only been here a few days.  I’m anticipating running out of that pretty darn quickly.  

-An Extra Leash-Matilda has this really nice lead which we bought specifically for the airport.  It’s really comfy on the hand, but it collects seaweed like crazy!  Obviously not something we thought about.  I’m just gonna have to “de-seaweed” it every time we come home I guess…

What I Wish I’d Packed Less Of:

-First Aid Stuff-I might recount this later, but right now I feel like we’ve got first aid stuff running out of our ears!  I just don’t anticipate us needing that much of it.

-Long Dresses-Although they are cute and summery, my long sundresses may not make it out of my closet.  It’s just too darn hot and I can’t walk on the beach with them…

-Shoes-I’m amazed, but I don’t think I needed as many shoes as I brought.  Just a few pairs of flip flops probably would have done the trick.  I really pared down what I had, but it’s still more than I probably need…

Some Things That Take Getting Used To:

-Mutant Bugs-At night these weird ant things start crawling on our walls.  We’ve sprayed for them, but it doesn’t help much.  They’re harmless and basically keep to themselves.  But you know me!  I HATE bugs!  So thank God we bought this mosquito net!  It makes me sleep better at night knowing I’m not gonna wake up to one dropping on my face in the middle of the night!

-Limited Groceries-There’s no snacking in our house.  Why?  Because groceries are SUPER expensive!  There is not food at our disposal all the time.  Tonight we both wanted something sweet after dinner and there was nothing.  So we satisfied the craving with one TUMS a piece.  Delish…

-WALKING-We have to walk everywhere.  It makes us choosier about where we go since we’ll have to either pay to get there or walk there and back.  It’s nice enjoying the sun and stuff, but I’ve definitely gotten more than a little cranky on occasion thinking about having to make the trek back to the apartment after a beach trip.  I keep telling myself it’s just gonna make me skinny…

A Few of My Favorite Things:

-Taino Beach-Lucaya Beach is the most famous beach here in Freeport.  However, our little Taino beach (which is about 3-5 miles west of Lucaya) is perfect.  It’s not touristy.  It’s just quaint and quiet and it’s ours.  The beach is beautiful and then there is this coral reef “encroachment” a few hundred yards east up the beach where there are tide pools that have the most amazing things in them.  We’ve picked up a TON of beautiful beach glass and shells and coral pieces that would blow your mind!

Photo: Look at this piece of coral that washed up (or whatever it is...)!

-No mosquitos!!-Can you believe it??  I am floored.  I thought for sure I’d be fighting off mosquitos for 4 months, but I have YET to see a single one!  Amazing…

-Cable!-I’ve been without for so long, and now our landlord pays for it.  Woohoo!  I actually got to watch Project Runway tonight which I was unhealthily excited about…

-My Tan-I am going to be seriously dark when I get back to the states.  Jonathan is too.  We are darkening exponentially already and we haven’t been here that long!  No more pasty white Rachel (at least not for a few years…).

-The Culture-We’ve been to one of the weekly fish fries down at the beach already.  They just bring in whatever fish is fresh, some chicken, and some home cooked local dishes.  Of course there’s gotta be conch (which is my favorite) and music.  It’s funny to be someone who’s not going back to a hotel or getting back on a cruise ship.  It’s cool to get to say “I live here.”  The food is REALLY good and the people are so friendly.  


Matilda is adjusting well too.  She is a beach pup for sure, but I also think she’d be an anything dog as long as she was with me and Jonathan.  I have to make her food because a bag of dog food costs upwards of $50 at the grocery store.  So she had her first home cooked meal tonight and she’s officially spoiled.  As if she wasn’t already!  

More later.  Hopefully these pictures show up, but if they don’t I’m still working on it!  Believe me, I will have LOTS of time to get this perfected.  For now, I’m milking time with Jonathan for all it’s worth since I know he’s about to be Mr. Bookworm in just a very short time.  We are looking forward to the other students getting in (most don’t arrive until Monday) so that we can meet everyone.  We’ve already started kind of networking through Facebook and I’m just so excited to finally meet some of these people.  It’s a journey I guess we’ll all be taking together in a sense!

For now, I’ll wrap things up.  There’s plenty more to tell, but that’ll be for a later date!  For tonight I’ll close er out and turn out the lights and sleep to the distant sounds of a Bob Marley style beach party just minutes from my new home…

This entry was posted on July 27, 2012. 1 Comment

The long awaited post!

So much has happened in so short a time.  I’m sure this post will be a long one, so grab some popcorn and cozy up on the couch!  I’ll try to organize all this so it’s a little easier to write/read:

Bernice update:

One week ago today, we found out that Bernice was going to need surgery to remove a malignant tumor in her abdomen.  Tomorrow will mark exactly one week since surgery and she is doing marvelously well. She is still in the hospital tonight, but we are hoping and praying that tomorrow will bring that final piece of the recovery puzzle that her surgeons are looking for.  She is in good spirits, though there are days she feels frustrated and tired.  I tell her to remember that she just had 6 organs removed…she’s gonna feel tired every once in a while!  But also, in light of that, I’m completely amazed at her progress.  She really is a warrior.  She’s in pain, but she really doesn’t let on.  You have to give up a good chunk of dignity when your recovering from surgery, but despite that, she manages to keep a smile on her face.  It blessed my heart for her to ask me to read her Bible passage to her.  She is such an amazing woman of God and I’m so thankful to have her model in my life.  She’s still got chemo to go which will be challenging, but I left Sunday with so much peace in my heart.  And I told Jonathan as we were walking to our gate in OKC that I am SO pumped about the idea that when we fly back in to OKC in November she’ll be at the bottom of that escalator waiting for us.  What an amazing moment that will be!!  Thanks to everyone for all of your prayers and well wishes.  They are so appreciated and so comforting.  Keep them coming as she continues to fight this fight.  Though in my mind, she’s already won!



The brother in law helping to load the van. Yes, we miraculously fit everything in 4 suitcases and 4 carry ons!


That’s it!  


Ready to fly!

Four suitcases and 4 carry ons.  I swear the carry ons weighed 50 pounds a piece!  The bags had to be under 50 pounds to check (otherwise they go from costing $30 each to $120 each!).  So that proved to be a bit of a challenge.  Put it here, weigh it, take it out, put it in another bag, weigh it, put it in the carry on pile.  There was a lot of paring down, lots of tough decisions about things not going, but ultimately we got it all packed and everything was under weight.  So we said our “see ya laters” at the hospital and loaded up to head to the airport.  

The Airport and the “Wild Ride”:

The flight plan was this:

-6:15-8:10 — OKC to Chicago

-9:10-11:53 — Change planes in Chicago and fly to Charlotte

Then we were supposed to stay overnight in Charlotte (we prepaid a hotel room at the Microtel).  We ended up leaving OKC almost 30 minutes late, but the pilot made up some serious time and got us to Chicago by about 8:!5.  That was 55 minutes before we were supposed to catch our connecting flight.  So we land and wait on the tarmac.  And wait…and wait…and wait.  We don’t actually step foot in the actual airport until almost 9:40.  No joke!  So we get funneled to the customer service booth.  Where we wait…and wait…and wait.  They give us $40 in food vouchers and a hotel room at the Intercontinental hotel and they send us downstairs to catch the shuttle to the hotel.  We also have to mention that they “rerouted” us to a flight from Chicago to Charlotte the next morning at 5:45, which means that we had to get to the airport at 3:45 since it’s an international flight.  So we grab the shuttle and head to the hotel, so here’s that story…

The Hot-Hell:

When we pull up to the hotel we were like “Wow! We totally got an upgrade!  This place is like the stinkin’ Ritz!”.  I think Jonathan even posted on Facebook that they had hooked us up with an awesome hotel room.  Boy were we wrong!  Once we got checked in, it was almost midnight.  And naturally, the only way we could get food with our food vouchers was to order room service.  In order to check into our room, they required a credit card number for “incidentals”.  We didn’t feel comfortable leaving a card because we didn’t want to be “accidentally” be charged for the room.  That was United’s responsibility! So Jonathan handed them $50 that was promised to be refunded upon checkout.  So we went upstairs and ordered $48 worth of room service for dinner.  Mind you, by the time we actually got our food, it was already like 12:30.  So we ate and went to sleep since we had to be up by 3:00 to catch the shuttle.  And so the saga of the bell boy begins:

12:50-phone rings…it’s room service. “Sir, you have to pay for your room service and there’s no credit card on file.” “Yes, I know.  But there are $40 worth of food vouchers on file with our account and $50 cash.  Just charge that.”  “Okay, thank you sir.”

1:00-knock on the door…Matilda starts barking her head off.  It’s the little food runner boy. “Meester.  Thees ees room servees.”  Ugh!! “Wee neeeed you to pay for your food meester.”  “Will someone from your department please go downstairs and talk to the front desk?  They’ve got it down there!”  “Oh.  Okay.  Thank you!”

1:15-phone rings…again! “Sir, you need to pay for your room service.” “Did anyone talk to the front desk?” “No, but there’s no card on file.” “Yes, I know.  I already talked to someone else there in your department.  If the cash and vouchers are not sufficient, then just charge it to my room and I’ll pay for it when I check out.  I have to leave here at 3:00 am, so it’ll only be a few hours and my wife and I are trying to grab a few minutes of sleep please.”  “Okay, that should be fine.  Enjoy your night sir.”

1:30-knock on the door…Matilda starts barking her head off again.  By this point we are so tired that we had actually fallen to sleep in those 15 minutes.  So Jonathan gets up in his boxers to answer the door.  Almost immediately I hear this guy basically accosting him and it’s all I can do not to jump up in my pajamas to go and rip this guy’s throat out.  So here’s the famous convo (insert the most annoying Yankee drawl you’ve ever heard in your life…):

“Dude, you HAVE to pay for your room service.  I mean this guy (the little food runner guy from earlier) needs to get paid.  I mean you wouldn’t go to a restaurant and order food and tell them you’ll pay them later.  You have to pay.  That’s just common courtesy.”  “Ok, this is the 4th time I’ve been through this.  There are $40 worth of food vouchers and $50 cash downstairs at the front desk.  I am fully aware that there is no credit card on file.  Please just take that money that is down there.  If that’s not okay with you, then I’ll deal with it when I check out in an HOUR AND A HALF!”  “Sir, this is ridiculous.  We can’t trust that you’re gonna pay this when you check out.  That’s not gonna work for us.  This guy needs to get paid.  You clearly don’t understand how a business like this works.  This is a really nice hotel and this is the way we do business.  You may not have ever stayed in an establishment like this, but this is how you are supposed to do this.  Just be responsible and pay this bill.”  “Oh, so the way you do business is to pester a customer at 1:30 in the morning who has to get up at 3:00 to pay a bill for which there is more than enough money at the front desk??  The way you do business is to insult both my integrity and my intelligence??  Ok, I get that message loud and clear! (insert 4 letter words)”  “Sir, I also hear that you have a dog in your room.  There’s a $120 non refundable pet deposit which I know you probably haven’t paid.”  “Actually she’s a service animal and the front desk is aware of that.  She is on file with them.  Please check there for that and for the money to pay for room service.”  “Sir, your dog is not on file.  And what kind of service animal is she?”  “She’s a medical alert dog.”  “Sir what is your disability?  You can’t just say that you have a service animal and expect me to believe that.”  “Actually, I don’t have to tell you a damn thing about what my disability is.  That is completely NONE of your business.  You ARE NOT the manager of this hotel, and even if you were, I DO NOT have to disclose my ‘disability’ to you or anyone else.  I have shown the front desk all of her documentation and that is ALL I have to do (except be awesome and die…that’s what he would have said had he not been flaming mad…)”  “Well regardless, sir, you need to pay…” “Okay, okay.  Whatever.  My wife and I have to get up in less than an hour and I am so done with this.  How much do I owe?  I’m just gonna pay it and deal with this later.” “Sir, you owe $8.65.”  “Are you serious???  You just harassed me at 1:30 in the morning for 8 freaking (edited!) dollars????  You have got to be kidding me.  I have been standing here being insulted by you at 1:30 in the morning for the last 30 minutes in my freaking underwear for $8???  Okay, here’s freaking $10 and I want some freaking change.  Get the hell out of my face, take your money, and you better get your ass back up here with my change immediately.  I mean, you better run like hell dude.”

So Jonathan comes back in, pulls some clothes on, and goes downstairs to talk to the manager.  It’s nearly 2:00.  He comes back up at 2:20 and has it taken care of.  They gave us our money back in full and actually handed us $20 for our ‘trouble’.  He told them that we would have probably had a better night at some roach motel at $40 a night.  Which we really probably would have.  But I am still pissed and so is he.  We don’t even go back to sleep because we have to be up in like half an hour.  So we go downstairs to check out and I tell the manager that I think that little piece of crap needs to get out here and offer a formal apology to Jonathan or else I’m gonna call ADA and have them all over this hotel for violating our rights.  So she runs to go get him, and when he shows up I realize it.  He is Satan himself.  He just showed up in flesh.  The guy gives this puny little apology which included interrupting Jonathan 2 or 3 times.  And we leave mad, but just happy to be leaving!

The Final Leg:

We get through security in Chicago and I realize I left my phone at the Hot-Hell.  So Jonathan calls them, they send the shuttle driver with it, he grabs is out front, and goes through security again.  We grab the plane and actually make it to Freeport at 1:30 which is when we were originally supposed to arrive.  So here’s a little airplane humor for you.  We had to find something to laugh about after so much drama:


No blackberries, no lighters, no 80’s style boom boxes, and absolutely NO Gone with the Wind!


How to buckle your seatbelt.  How NOT to do your hair…


In the event of an emergency, a coconut bra will drop from the overhead bin.  Each cup of the bra is actually a grenade…which has already been lit for you…


How Kanye exits a plane crash…


And the long awaited first look through the plane window of Freeport!

The Apartment:

There will be some more complete pictures of the apartment later, but for now, here’s the front walk of our new little bungalow!


I’m also gonna figure out how to get these pictures turned right side up.  Sorry about that!  I’ll probably start a Flikr account or something so I can post all of them.  That’s a project for later!  The apartment is super cute.  I have to be honest and tell you that I was really expecting something way worse!  It’s cute and clean and the perfect size.  And it’s about 5 minutes to Taino Beach!  The beach is amazing (again, pictures soon!).  It’s all coral so there are all sorts of amazing things washing up on the beach.  I already have an amazing collection of shells, coral pieces, and beach glass.  So excited about that!  The sand is white in places and pink in others.  Very cool.  

We went to the grocery store which was interesting.  That’s a post for later though.  Our first meal was shrimp and grits.  Very yummy!  Everything is going well, but I’ll leave you with that for now.  Isn’t that plenty!  Yet to come:

-Our grocery experience

-Our Lucaya Market experience

-Beach pics!

-Interior apartment pics!

-A little philosophy from the reggae bus driver

Thanks for all your prayers and well wishes.  We are so excited to be here safe and sound and we are adjusting well.  Jonathan doesn’t start school until the 7th, so we are kind of calling these next 2 weeks our 5th anniversary trip.  Not to shabby, huh??

Trying desperately to raise the sails…

Okay, so I apologize for sort of leaving everyone hanging with the last paragraph of my previous post.  Suffice to say, everything feels as though it has hit the fan this week.  Before I fill you in on the “goings-on”, I want to offer a sort of disclaimer.  As I write about all of this, it might sound like we’ve lost hope.  Or that we’re despairing about our decisions about the Caribbean and what not.  Although these things are incredibly worrisome and at times discouraging, we are in no way second guessing that the Caribbean is where we are supposed to be.  It is no coincidence that every day that our trip draws closer, the lengths to which Satan goes to keep us here get more and more drastic.  Maybe he was getting a little irritated by me and Jonathan’s sort of laughing off all his stupid quips and decided to take things more seriously.  Make us pay attention.  Well he got our attention, but it’s not changing our minds.  Though it’s making the prospect of moving on Sunday seem very scary and unstable.  So here’s an update:

Jonathan and I ran to Houston to finish things up with the house.  Got the garage completely cleaned out, all the last minute things into storage, and we locked up Peachford for good.  I really thought I’d be more emotional about that, but I was SO ready to do that, that it didn’t even phase me.  However, the same day we started our trek back up to OKC, Bernice and Charlie let us know that Bernice was having some issues and had been referred by a gastroenterologist to have a CT scan.  Come to find out, there is a mass on one of her ovaries.  After the intitial blood work, the “tumor markers” (I’m still a little fuzzy on what exactly that means) show heightened indicators of ovarian cancer. 

So what does that mean?  Bernice will be going in tomorrow afternoon to meet with the Oncologist (not sure what her name is, but apparently she’s one of the few GYN Oncology surgeons in OKC and she’s the best).  They will review blood work, the CT scan, and also to pathology reports from the fluid they drained from her abdomen (she lost 10 pounds in a matter of minutes!…silver lining…).  From there, they’ll decide a plan of action.  Bernice is already a cancer survivor.  She beat breast cancer several years ago.  So I know she can do this again.  It’s scary and obviously unexpected, but she seems to have a really good feeling about everything. 

Her outlook is really helping me cope with the fact that my mother-in-law (I hate calling her that because the name doesn’t fit the relationship) is about to undergo major surgery and possibly (probably) chemotherapy and I’m going to be out of the country!  I hate that.  I hate this.  If you know me, you know that I have a very close relationship with Bernice.  It’s uncanny really.  I don’t think I’ve ever know anyone who has the kind of mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship that we have.  Most of the time it’s more like a close friendship.  So the thought of her having to go through all this makes me sick.  It makes me sicker that I won’t be able to be here with her while she goes through it.  I keep telling her that she’s a tiger earning her stripes.  That we aren’t even going to discuss the “alternatives”.  She’s going to beat this again and come out on the other side.  She’s got a very vocal prayer army behind her that’s assembling as we speak (wanna join??).  And she’s gonna be fine…

I posted on my Facebook status this afternoon this quote: “All I can do is raise the sail.  But you, Lord, YOU must bring the gale…”.  That has become somewhat of a mantra for me in the past few months.  I heard it on KSBJ on the way to work a while ago and it seems so appropo for what we are facing.  Without going into much more detail, I have to tell you that there have been other things happening in the past few days that are literally sucking the wind out of my sails.  My metaphor craving mind paints a picture of me, in the middle of a hurricane, trying desperately to tug the sails of our sailboat up.  If I could just pull them to the top, that incredible gust of wind would grab them and send us rocketing through the ocean.  To places and experiences beyond what our eyes could see.  If I could just force those sails up the masts in the midst of those waves and rain and wind.  So let’s just say that for the next 7 days, Jonathan and I will be pulling those ropes as diligently as we can.  Tugging, yanking, pulling, and waiting.  Waiting for that “divine gale” to grab our sails and send us rocketing into this next chapter in our lives.  It may mean that for the next 7 days, we are in for a beating.  The lengths that Satan will go to keep us here may not even be reached at this point (ugh…that’s exhausting just thinking about it…).

What can you do??  Man, pray like you’ve never prayed before.  Pray for our Bernice.  Pray for tomorrow and for what’s ahead in treatment for her.  Pray for Charlie and Bernice’s friends (Brenda, Dena, Charlotte, Sandy etc.) who will be her immediate support system here.  At least until I can get back here to fill my role.  Pray for me and Jonathan as we prepare to leave.  Pray that God will bind up the devil at least for a few days so that we can get to Freeport safely and in one piece.  Pray specifically for Jonathan as he starts medical school with the well being of his mom always in the back of his mind.  Pray that he can rest in the knowledge that God has His hands on this whole situation.  He’s got this under control.  But maybe a greater request for all of us (or maybe just a more specific one) is pray for PEACE THAT PASSES ALL UNDERSTANDING.  The only thing we understand right now is that there is a greater purpose here.  What that purpose is, we don’t know.  But we need that peace desperately… 

This entry was posted on July 17, 2012. 2 Comments

From the mountains to the prairie to the ocean…

ahd back again!  Jonathan and I have been national travelers these last two weeks.  Hence the lack of post.  We started our double header family vacations with my side of the family in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  We had this beautiful beach house rented right across the street from the ocean.  It was beautiful and relaxing and we had a really fun time spending time with our family.  It was very low key which was just exactly what we needed after such a crazy month leading up to it.  My sister’s husband, James, ships out  to Afghanistan in September and then obviously me and Jonathan will be leaving for the Bahamas in a few weeks.  So it was a good opportunity to spend some much needed quality time together before we all experience the “diaspora of Harris’s”!  After that (literally the day after our week at the beach) we made a quick turnaround up to Oklahoma City where we left with Jonathan’s side of the family for the Rocky Mountains.  Change the time zone, change the company, change the scenery!  The mountains were just awesome and the weather was a crisp 68 when finally stepped out of the van (yes all 6 of us rode together…like a family vaca from way back when!) in Frisco, Colorado.  Frisco is like one of those mountain towns from a movie.  It’s a page straight out of Better Homes and Gardens in the winter time.  It was one of 3 stops for us along the way.  We hiked, and ate, and talked, and read, and just enjoyed eachothers’ company.  (I will post some pictures of bother of the trips soon!) Since our trips, I’ve been thinking a lot about the environments we found ourselves in.  There are parts of me that connect really genuinely to the ocean and coast.  It’s been my home for so long.  The salty air, the sun, the sand, the ocean.  Nobody takes anybody else too seriously.  The houses are low key and whimsical.  The food isn’t fussy.  And the beach is relaxing morning, noon, and night.  When I sit on the beach or on the porch looking over the ocean, there is an intense calm and peace about me.  It’s like breathing in paradise.  But then there is another equally strong side of me that connects with that crisp mountain air.  That feeling of “insignifigance” in comparison with God’s creation.  This environment of “earth friendliness” and the fact that EVERYBODY treats their dogs like citizens.  That’s my kind of place!

In short, I find peace and comfort in all aspects of nature.  There are parts of me that sing no matter what elevation I’m in!  (and sometimes that singing can be heard…and sometimes those songs can get stuck in your head…and sometimes you’ll start singing them too…and wonder how Rachel has Jedi mind tricked you into singing the soundtrack that plays in her head…mwahaha!)

At any rate, it was all a very welcomed distraction from the chaos that has been our lives for the last 30 days.  God is merciful and allowed us a full 2 weeks of departure from all of it.  It was nice to not have to think about any of it for an extended period of time.  Of course in the back of our minds, we knew it was all still there waiting for us.  I was amazed, though, that I did not get a single email or phone call concerning any of it for two weeks.  God is good! 

But of course, this past Monday morning it all picked up where we left off with the drama!  Yay!  What we have to keep telling ourselves is that Satan is grappling for a foothold here.  We are embarking on a leap of faith with nothing but God’s grace to break our fall and Satan is HATING how obedient we are being.  He is trying through just about every aspect of this situation to plant that seed of doubt in us.  There are days and times (like today) when I feel like maybe we’re going in the wrong direction.  That really no two people can be met with this much resistance in pursuit of “God’s will”.  But then I take a step back and realize that GOD has been placing the affirmations…it is Satan who is planting the doubt.  Satan who is planting the road blocks.  Satan who is trying desperately to strap those blinders on us that keep us from seeing the bigger picture.  The bigger picture is much bigger than me and Jonathan, much bigger than medical school, and certainly MUCH bigger than Satan. 

I am having a hard time walking away from what I know I’m leaving behind.  Two friends whose relationship Jonathan and I have watched grow and mature are planning a wedding…getting married…starting a life together!  Two friends are bringing a precious baby girl into the world!  We’re missing showers, and baby shopping, and we’ll miss that glorious day when Emma Henderson graces us with her presence!  My parents are embarking on new territory…in more ways than one.  By the time we get back their retirement property will be halfway built!  And, we’re hoping and praying that this doesn’t go beyond the next month or so, but we are having to walk away from our Womack family in a time of crisis and uncertainty.  We have no idea what to expect.  But if I’ve learned anything along the way in this journey, it is to expect the unexpected and to cling to hope and faith.  Marivy and Bryan are going to plan and have the most perfect little wedding that ever was…God willing I’ll be there!  Sara and Jared will be amazing parents and our sweet Emma will still be brand spankin’ new by the time her Aunt Rachel and Uncle Jonathan get down to see her!  My sister will be the resilient woman she always has been as her husband ships out to serve our country!  My parents will be slowing opening a whole new chapter in their lives!  And my dear mother in law will still be the quiet warrior she’s always been…a tiger earning her stripes…