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Andy and I have our new website up and running, so if you want to know what’s going on in our lives and check out our crazy puppy come visit at:
Andrew and I arrived back in Samoa after a brief extension to the initial length of our California visit due to some fun oral surgery on my agenda and jumped right into finishing up our grades for the term at NUS. We have also decided, as a result of a great deal of thought and weight on our various options and their positives and negatives, that we will not stay in Samoa for the coming year. Rather than teaching at NUS for the 2007 school year as originally planned, we are wrapping up our responsibilities from this year and then will be heading back to California where we are planning on settling, near our families, and beginning our new life together. There are many reasons that have contributed to this decision. Most importantly, we feel that getting married means making a choice to create a new life with your partner, and the more we thought about remaining in Samoa for another year the more it felt as though that would be putting our ability to build and change our relationship in its new form on hold. The last thing that we wanted was to live here in Samoa for a year resenting the feeling that perhaps it might be holding us back in terms of our growth as a couple and as a family. And while no, I am NOT pregnant at the moment, we also felt the need to consider the fact that being a Peace Corps volunteer means that this would not be an option for us, and the truth is that it isn’t something we want to be an impossibility for the next 13 months. We also realize that one doesn’t want to just up and start having children with no job and nowhere to live, which would push the possibility of having children back far beyond our official end of service no matter when that was. Our choice gives us more time to prepare and become comfortable with a stable situation back home so that we can head down that path when we decide we are ready. There are other reasons, as well, but the main point that it comes down to is that it feels like the right thing to do, for us as a couple, at this point in life. I personally joined the Peace Corps hoping that I would come out the other end with a direction, an idea of what I wanted from my life, and finding Andrew and creating a life together was more than I ever could have imagined in that respect, and I am so grateful for this. It is always saddening in life when one is confronted with a decision that necessitates giving up certain things that are important on behalf of others. We have both valued our time and experiences in Samoa more than words could express, and it has been a huge part of our lives, as it always will be. Making the decision to leave, however, enables us to begin an entirely new and very exciting chapter in our lives both as individuals and as the family that we have become. We are thrilled with all of the possibilities now open to us and cannot wait to explore and fall into many new adventures together as we take this next large step (steps, more accurately).
This site, which is now coming to an end, has been such a great outlet for me to share all of my experiences and help to bring to life for people back home what I have been going through. It has also been a wonderful therapeutic tool for me and I hope a useful resource for others in all different walks of life, from family to strangers, who came upon it for a myriad of reasons. So thanks, blogger, I owe ya one. Although now that I’ve married a computer geek who can create a site for me I have to say your utility wanes… :) Once Andrew and I move home we will create a new website, together, through which you can continue to be a part of the journey of our life. So, for now… Tofa Soifua!
We just found out that the photographer created a great photo montage (video clip) of some of the photos from the wedding for everyone to check out. If you’re interested go to: www.jimkennedyphotography.com/movielansford
Any photos that are taken are orderable by anyone through the photographer’s sites. I think the photos will stay up for about six months.
Everyone has been sending us all kinds of great pictures that they took at the wedding and it’s been wonderful getting so many different perspectives on the day. The “official” photographer has uploaded hers to her website so I wanted to post those links here. There are two sets- the photos that were taken on the day of the wedding and an engagement photo shoot the week before (more casual and, um, wet).
To see our wedding day photos go to www.stephaniebrockman.com enter the site, click on “view proofs” and select “Bennett & Lansford Wedding”. The username is “brockman” and the password is “mari” (all lower case)
To see our engagement photos go to www.jimkennedyphotography.com enter the site, click on “view proofs” and select “Bennett & Lansford Engagement” (scroll down about a page to find it). The username is “kennedy” and the password is “mari” (again, lower case)
A highly recommended activity for a day when one is trying to kill time or has little else to do as there are TONS of photos on the sites.
So, needless to say, I’ve been a bit busy what with the whole getting married thing. but despite my current lack of presence here I thought I would try to post some of the pictures that people have taken and sent us to alleviate some of the suspense as to what the whole affair looked like. I promise I will add something more verbally profound about the whole experience at a later date. And for those still in doubt/question, yes my mother-in-law DID make my dress :)
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My sister posted a whole bunch more wedding pictures on their website if you want to check those out as well: www.jakegodwin.blogspot.com
So I am officially finished with teaching for the semester. Yesterday was our last day of class before my students go out for four weeks of teaching practice in local schools, which I will not be able to oversee since I’ll be back home for that whole wedding thing. This term was really difficult and TONS of work but it was really great and so rewarding and fulfilling. I asked for some feedback from my students so that I could try to improve my methods for next year and got some fun responses. My favorite suggestion was regarding the fact that I had the same students for 4 hours straight once a week and it drove us all nuts:
“I hope that the time of this course will change because after this double followed by the other double hour, man I’m tired of sitting on the same chair!”
Overall they were really positive and seemed to really like me, even if I do talk too fast and use overly complicated language. I learned a lot and hopefully they learned at least a bit as well and it feels really great to have a sense of completion about it all, especially since we’re going home in just over a week and there’s a ton of packing and shopping and general craziness to take care of first, so it’s nice to be able to start focusing fully on that since it is only 3 WEEKS until the wedding. Wow.
Robin, who works in the same department as my parents, sent me the following:
“About you teaching college… Maybe you remember this, but years back we were at an Eco Evo department retreat in the mountains. Mountain X. I skipped out of the endless boring talks to play basketball with Drew. He was pretty little, not sick yet. He asked me if I did the same kind of work as his mom and dad. I said yes. He said GOD! YUK! How can you STAND IT!!!! So I asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up. He said he wanted to do something fun, like work at Del Taco.”
Everyone has their own perspective. I can only imagine how disappointed he’d be at what a “boring” adult I’ve become :D Although I bet he’d think selling funnel cakes was pretty cool, especially for such a steep profit!
So, in case my teaching job didn’t take up enough of my time I decided a couple of months ago to become the president of a local non-governmental organization called Avanoa Tutusa. This translates roughly into “Equal Opportunities” and was started by a group of Peace Corps volunteers about 6 years ago targeted at providing opportunities for women and children in Samoa. The organization is comprised mainly of Peace Corps volunteers although we would really like to make it more locally sustainable, particularly since our terms of service here are of such a temporary nature. At this point all of our programs are focused on children- we do a big career day each year at the beginning of the school year (I wrote about it last February). We hold one in Upolu, this island, and one on the other island, Savaii. We also provide grants for art supplies for preschools in rural areas where there is no access to consumable supplies. We are working hard to expand the organization and become involved in more events on a regular basis. As part of this we have decided to develop a new program of doing craft and sports days where we bring a whole bunch of equipment and supplies out into rural villages to have a big fun day with all of the children. We had one a few months back and it was amazingly successful so we are looking forward to making it a more regular occurence. We’re also looking to get involved in a youth camp that is put on by the Ministry of Youth here and hopefully this will happen in the coming year. The long and the short is that we’re trying to be able to provide resources without actually having an income of our own, so we survive mainly off of fundraising. So this past week was the annual Samoan cultural celebration, the Teuila Festival. This consists of lots of parades, singing and dancing competitions, and tons of booths with food and handicrafts and anything one could want to find in this country. So Avanoa Tutusa held a booth where we sold funnel cakes to make money to support our programs. The Samoans totally loved them and we were cooking nonstop from early monday morning until late friday afternoon. We sold well over 1000 funnel cakes and ended up making a really great amount of money that we can use for a bunch of upcoming projects. It was tiring work but really fun and a great break and change from teaching for the week (NUS was on mid-semester break). I have to say I’m not interested in looking at another funnel cake for a long long time but fortunately for me we seem to be the only funnel cake vendors in the country which leaves me safe until next year.
After months of empty promises and evasions on behalf of NUS, we came home yesterday to find the house in total disarray, two chairs broken, wall panels in the living room removed and replaced, and… A NEW HOT WATER HEATER!!! After we figured out how they managed to screw up our electricity and undid the damage, we kicked back to wait for our little wonder machine to do its thing. And then we took hot showers. It was one of the strangest sensations I have experienced in this country. I’ve showered in hot water here, but only on very rare occasions- namely when mom and dad or Andy’s parents come and stay at some place where they’re paying enough for the hotel to provide hot water. I can’t describe how bizarre it is to step into your own shower, where your standard operating procedure usually involves evading the actual stream of water as much as possible whenever not absolutely necessary for rinsing purposes, and standing there feeling uncomfortably warm (after all, it is 85 degrees with 90% humidity here and hot showers are often a silly concept) being drenched by hot water. We both got out of the shower and were making dinner and turned to each other and realized that we were sweating 20 minutes later, from the novelty that our bodies have grown so unaccustomed to. We did agree, however, that it is an adjustment we are both willing to put the energy into working towards. In my own little Peace Corps development world my life just jumped from the stone to the iron age and I can’t even begin to describe how shiny the metal is!