Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sarah and Tomicah's Family--George Post

Sarah and the kids (Eli, Thomas, Lincoln and Mim) flew into Sea-Tac on Tuesday, July 29th, for a three week stay in the Pacific Northwest.  Tomicah will join the family for about two weeks later in the month. This is an especially busy time for him, so we hope it wouldn't be too stressful for him to get away.   Despite catching an early morning flight from Reagan International in Washington, D.C. to Seattle, the Tillemanns were in good spirits when they arrived.  On Wednesday, early in the morning, we caught the Anacortes ferry to Friday Harbor, so the family is just starting to decompress and get their little bodies recalibrated for West Coast time.   Last summer we did not have Sarah's family (or for that matter any of the kids and their families) at the Island House inasmuch as Carole and I were in Paris.  Carole and I were anxious to have some quality  summer time with all of the kids and their families this year, knowing we would be out of pocket next summer.

Zambia and Malawi Independence from British Colonial Rule--National Flags--George's Post

Zambia and Malawi Independence from British Colonial Rule--National Flags--George's Post

Neither Zambia nor Malawi has existed as an independent country, free from colonial rule, for very long.  Each gained its independence from Britain in 1964, Zambia celebrating its independence day on October 24th and Malawi on July 6th.

Zambia and Malawi have wonderful national flags, with similar bold colors and strong patterns. 

The architects of the Malawian flag had simple but powerful symbols in mind when designing the flag.  The black stripe represents the people of Africa, while the red one stands for the blood split during Malawi's struggle for independence from British colonial rule.   The green stripe symbolizes the native vegetation.  The rising sun denotes the dawn of freedom and hope, not just for Malawi, but also for all of Africa.

The colors in the Zambian flag, common to those of Malawi's, have similar meanings.   The green background represents Zambia's vegetation and natural wealth,  the red strip represents Zambia's struggle for independence and the black stands for the people of Zambia.  The orange stripe, a color not used in the Malawi flag, symbolizes the Zambia's mineral resources, particularly its copper deposits.  The eagle is a symbol of freedom and also serves as the country's coat of arms.  

Family Farewells--George's Post

Family Farewells--George's Post

Not surprisingly, the hardest part of getting ready for a mission is the family farewells.  Carole and I are in the midst of saying the painful goodbyes to our six children and their families.

Early July was the time pre-arranged for our eldest daughter Leah,  her husband Ryan and their four children--Claire, Max, Daphne and Luke (or Lucas as I call him).  They live in  Alpharetta, GA, which is way too far away from our family home in the Pacific Northwest.  Fortunately, we were able  to pry them loose from their summer commitments--their Scout and girls' camps, swim lessons, and the Atlanta humidity--for a two week stay in Seattle, most of which was spent in the San Juan Islands.  The highlights of their visit included July 4th fireworks in the backyard of the Woodinville family home; clamming in the mud flats of English Camp on Garrison Bay (a first for the Beal family); seeing Orcas off the west coast of Henry Island; going to Church, as a big family group, in the San Juan Island Branch; a midnight kayaking trip to stir up the flourescent  swirlings with our oars; an overnight family boat trip to Victoria (the guys sleeping on the boat, while the girls had a room in the Empress Hotel); and  visiting the Pacific Visitors Center in Victoria, with its marvelous collection of First Nation and early colonization exhibits.  But, unfortunately, they are now gone and, absent an unexpected change in plans, we will not see them again before leaving for Africa in early November.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Mission Preparations---George Post

Mission Preparations---George Post

Several weeks ago we received a packet from the Church offices containing information helping us to get ready for our 18-month in Zambia/Malawi.   As one might imagine, the Church is an expert in processing overseas assignments, given that it has been sending missionaries, both young elders and sisters, as well as senior couples, around the world for decades.  Shortly the Church will have over 90,000 missionaries serving worldwide, of which about 8,000 or roughly 8% of the mission force are senior couples.  Our materials included, among other things, instructions on how to get passports (if needed), as well as visas for Zambia and Malawi; a list of the immunizations we needed to be on the safe side while serving in those African countries; information about procuring  health insurance coverage while outside of the country; and a list of the clothes we would need for Africa.   Carole and I have started working through the list of pre-mission preparations.  

Not surprisingly, I started first compiling the information for the visas and getting the required immunizations, leaving until later the trips to buy clothes.  On the other hand, Carole got right on the clothes list, worried that it might be hard to find clothes suitable for warm weather as the local stores rotated their stock for the upcoming fall and winter fashion seasons.   We understand that Zambia and Malawi generally range in temperature from 80 to 60 degrees, with a wet season of four months, from November through February.  Hopefully, we will be able to get through most of the preparations, other than last-minute ones (such as getting a flu shot for the upcoming flu season), within a month or so.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mission Calls Received--George's Post

Carole and I received a letter from the LDS Church Office on Saturday, July 12, 2014, notifying us that we have been assigned as MLS ("member and leader support") missionaries to the Zambia Lusaka Mission.  Our assignment is for 18-months.  The Zambia Lusaka Mission covers both Zambia and Malawi, two land-locked countries in south Africa, with populations of 14 million and 16 million, respectively.   We enter the MTC in Provo on October 27th for one week of training, before heading to Lusaka on November 3rd (arriving two days later on the 5th).