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Baby Turtles. BABY TURTLES.

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The Saturday after Christmas, my family and I headed to the beach to meet up with friends for a service event I had helped my friend Regina organize.

Me and Regina
The service event involved busing in children from the inner city who lived in orphanages/children's centers and bringing them to the beach to learn about the environment, learn about their responsibility as citizens, clean up trash off the beach, play at the beach, and eat a picnic lunch.

Jeff, my dad, Alice, and Gordon looking for trash to remove from the beach.
Receiving instructions
Let the competition begin!  The boys and girls were competing to see who could collect more bags of trash.
As we moved down the beach, we discovered a surprise!



You may think that those are ping pong balls, but no! Those are olive ridley sea turtle eggs! And they should definitely NOT be visible.

I am not a sea turtle expert, but I had seen leatherback sea turtles lay eggs twice, and I knew the eggs should be buried in the sand, hidden from …

ssssssssnakes

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At the beginning of last month, a baby snake was found in our compound, a snake of a rather venomous variety. It was a little exciting, a little terrifying. Our brave guards killed it. (In the picture below, the guard flipped half of the body over, so we could see that the back is straight black and the belly is banded yellow and black.)


Then there was another one. Our guards killed that one, too. We called pest control, and they came and fumigated the yard with snake repellant. (Yes, apparently that's a thing.)


Then another met its demise.


(You're welcome for all of these pictures of dead snakes, by the way. I'm sure you were hoping to see something like that today.)

All in all, there were five baby snakes brought to my attention. The pest control people came back and fumigated again. And I tried not to think about the fact that if there were baby snakes that meant that once upon a time a rather large adult snake must have slithered through my compound and laid eggs.
Week…

Swing sets and soldiers

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A month ago, I wrote a post and asked you to donate funds to install another swing set at a public school here in Gabon. Friends responded, and everything was arranged. School was out for vacation, but the swing set was installed on Sunday, and we were all set to present it to the students on Monday morning at 9:00am on their first day back from break.

On Monday morning, Jeff and I awoke to busy phones. It is fairly common for us to have a lot of messages when we wake up, because while we sleep our family members are still conversing in our group chats. This morning, however, many of the messages were local, and they contained news that filled my heart with dread.

Screenshot of the video put out by the rebelling soldiers
First, there were rumors of a military coup. Then, there was a video being passed along where a few members of the Gabonese military called upon the youth of Gabon to rise up against our current government officials. Then there was talk of emergency procedures, road bl…

Soundtrack of our first year in Gabon

These are the songs that I played almost nonstop this past year. If you have time to listen, I included links to the songs. (The titles are clickable links.) If not, the lyrics most important to me are quoted in my explanations below.


Passport Home by JP Cooper
This song was shared with me by my sister-in-law Alia. So one reason I love the song is because it makes me feel closer to Alia. Also, the lyrics are beautiful. The theme of passport and home really resonant with me and my lifestyle. I like the idea of the person you love being your passport to getting home.This song also makes me think of when I return to my parents and siblings and the families my siblings have made, and how they always welcome us back. They're our guiding light to the idea of America as our home.

You're the only one who knows 
every weakness I've exposed 
and I can't believe you chose 
to see this through.

You're my passport home, 
my guiding light, my hand to hold.


Runnin' Home to You by Gra…

Swing sets for School children

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Everywhere I live, I like to get involved with volunteer work. Sometimes it's with my church or at my kids' school or in the community. You're my friends—you all know this about me. One project I have been involved with here in Gabon is helping a friend put swing sets in at public schools. In November, my local friends and I pooled our funds to put in a swing set at this school. 
See? There is really nowhere to play.

My friends and I were able to place this swing set there. From an American mindset, thinking on the large playground structures we have at our schools, it seems so, so small for a school with so many children. 

But when I visited the school on the swing set's first day of use, it was clear that the students did not think it was too small. (And wow! What a difference it makes to have that back wall painted!)



For most of these kids, this is the first time they had ever slid down a slide or swung on a swing. There are no public playgrounds here. Nothing at t…

Thanksgiving: Turkeys and Turtles

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Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in the United States! I hope you were able to spend a relaxing day with those you love.
For those of you who are not familiar with Thanksgiving, it is a holiday that for Americans falls on the fourth Thursday of November. On that day, it is typical to play or watch American football, watch parades, and eat a very large meal with your family. Almost all businesses are closed on that day, and the government and schools are closed. It is a day to express gratitude for everything we have.
I have celebrated Thanksgiving every single year of my life, but only recently have I been the "senior female" for the day. Perhaps it is sexist, but in my experience usually the women cook the turkey. (Thanksgiving meals tend to center around a turkey.) So, for most of my adulthood, I have been in charge of side dishes or pie, and I am quite good at those. The very few times I have been responsible for the turkey, I've taken the easy road and only done tur…