Author Archives: Elyse Seal

The Journey of Owen Enoch

Owen Enoch was born March 15, 2017 right on his due date. We didn’t think he would ever get here. It was so hard to wait especially since I went into false labor almost every day for two weeks. We would get our hopes up only to have them dashed when the contractions went away. We were fighting the clock; my OB said if I didn’t have the baby by March 16th, she would need to operate. So on March 15, when the contractions started early in the morning, I was ready and excited. I told Ryan he was not going into work that day. We spent from 5:30 am to noon at home working through the contractions together and occasionally with Mum and Aryanna when they would run into the bedroom while they were playing. Around noon, the pain was starting to become too much for me. We called my midwife and she encouraged us to come to the hospital. The 20 minute ride to the hospital was rough. Sitting made the contractions far more painful and the potholes and speed bumps made me want to scream. When we got to the hospital I could barely walk. We got up to the 3rd floor ( thank God for elevators) and my midwife checked me out.

She looked at me and said, “Elyse, not only have you not dilated, your cervix has not moved down into the birthing position.”

I said, “ok, id there anything we can do to get this rolling, I’m in constant pain here.”

My midwife froze. “Constant pain? You should be getting relief in between the contractions.”

My heart sank. “Well, I’m not. The pain lessens but it is not going away.”

She sent for the OB right away. I knew right then I was headed for a c-section. That realization crushed me, I would never be able to have a baby naturally now. I know that having a healthy baby is the most important thing but it was important to me that I be able to give birth naturally and not have to worry about having major abdominal surgery.  I cried in Ryan’s arms until the OB came. By this time, the contractions were only manageable because I was standing up and holding tight to Ryan and I breathed deep and moaned.  She examined me too and heard my midwife’s report. The OB told me that both the baby and I were in trouble and we needed to get down to the Theatre right now and do the c-section. I wasn’t even allowed to fill out paperwork. I signed the release for the c-section and they immediately started to prep me for surgery. They whisked me away downstairs. There was a flurry of action happening as everyone was called to the theatre.

I don’t know how long it took them to prep the theatre because that time is a haze of pain for me. I was laying on a gurney. Every contraction was worse than the last and getting closer together. I demanded a bucket because I felt like I was seconds from throwing up because of the pain. My world became nothing except breathing and moaning through the pain.

They got me into the theatre and had to put me on the operating table. Unfortunately, I had to help. I was in so much pain; it was agonizing to move. We moved inch by inch between contractions. Ryan was not in the room. He was being scrubbed up so he could be in the room. My OB came over and put me in a bear hug. She told me, “ the pain is almost over. Hold onto me. We’ll get through this together.” The spinal block was put in place and I cannot express the relief I felt in that moment. The pain was gone completely, I could finally relax and let the doctors do what was needed.

My OB started cutting me open. She brought Ryan over to look at me. She told him that if I had labored another hour, I would have ruptured my uterus and both Owen and I could have died. Thank God my midwife caught the warning signs when she did. Then, as they were cutting me open, Owen flipped inside me. It felt like the OB was digging around inside me. They had a difficult time getting Owen out. Finally, when they did get him out, there was silence.

“What’s going on?” I called out. Ryan had gone over to see Owen. No one was paying attention to me. All I hear is the Pediatrician telling Ryan, “He’s ok. He’s ok”

I’m thinking, “Why does she need to be telling him that? What’s wrong? Why isn’t my baby crying?”

Turns out that Owen had been in distress along with me. He had meconium in his mouth and nose. Thank God he did not actually breathe any of it in. The doctor sucked all the meconium out of Owen and I heard that blessed cry. It wasn’t very loud but it was there. I still didn’t know if I had a boy or a girl. No one was telling me anything. Finally I heard Ryan say, “hello, Owen Enoch.” I knew I had a son.

It took much longer to sew me up and get me out of recovery. I think it was almost a full hour before I got to hold my baby Owen.

When we got back to my room, I was utterly exhausted. Everything from the waist down was numb and couldn’t move. All my son wanted to do was eat. I felt utterly helpless. Through the next 24 hours, I was not well taken care of. My nurses did not bring my pain medicine on time so my pain went from a zero to a nine before I could get a nurse to do anything about it. Then of course it took a while to bring the pain down to a manageable level. When I got the chance to be transferred to another unit, I jumped at it. When I got down to the other unit, the Head Nurse asked me how I was doing. I told her that I was in a lot of pain.

She whirled on my nurse and demanded, “ why is this woman in pain? What have you been doing?” I felt vindicated.

The nurse replied, “It’s not my fault. Some people are not as strong as others.”

My jaw dropped. It was a good thing for her I was in pain or else I would have slapped her. I couldn’t believe I was being called weak after going through such a difficult and traumatic birth. I had just had abdominal surgery for Pete’s sake! Let’s cut you open and then deny you pain medicine and see how you like it!!!

The Head nurse took care of me personally after that. I think she felt bad for my ill treatment upstairs. My pain was finally cared for so I could think about my son. I still could not sleep but at least that was not because of the pain.

In the month that has followed, I have struggled not just with physical pain, which I still have. Sometimes I feel like I have done nothing all day and yet my scar still hurts at the end of the day. I’m still walking tender sometimes. My body is not bouncing back like I hoped it would, like it did after Aryanna’s birth. But I still have to take care of two children. They depend on me. Thank God that my wonderful mother was here the first two weeks of Owen’s life. I don’t know if we could have survived without her. I depended on my mom to take care of Ary, to cook, and to handle my emotions when Owen would not stop crying some days. My mum took everything in stride and let me lean on her without complaint. When she left, I was still hurting. I panicked a little that night. I didn’t know how I was going to take care of my kids without her.

I have felt isolated. I was not able to drive until the end of April. At first, when I asked for help from the people who said they would be there, all I got was silence. They didn’t want to provide the help I needed. I felt so alone and discouraged. I could not pick up Aryanna until the end of April. It is so frustrating to not be able to pick up my child or even have her on my lap because it may hurt me. Owen is also a pretty fussy child. He wants to be held constantly and cries a lot if he is awake. It is exhausting for both Ryan and myself. I feel like a bad mother when I can’t give Aryanna the attention she needs because Owen is crying for an hour.

Finally on Good Friday, we had a terrible day, but we went to church anyway for the Good Friday service. God met me there. He refreshed my spirit with the story of Christ’s suffering and the worship. After the service, I had several people tell me they could help in the ways that I needed. I could have cried. We just started going to this new church in February. We have not had a chance to really get to know people. Our new church family who barely know us, is supporting and loving me in a most overwhelming manner. Thank God for His goodness. I still have my bad days but I am encouraged to know that I can call someone and get the help I need. I indeed have a family here in South Africa that treats me like my own family.

 

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Trusting God

I hope your New Year has been a good one so far.

Ours has been a month filled with struggle. You see normally in our newsletters we try to fill you all in on the big picture of what is going on in our lives. We like to tell you the exciting things that are happening in our lives and in the ministry. However, that also makes it look like our lives are perfect and everything is going smoothly. But we all know that is not how life is. There are ups and downs. The month of January has definitely been a month of trusting God more.

I’ll start with the first week of January. I got a call for my OB that said he was no longer practicing and I needed to find a new doctor to give birth. Ok. Goodbye. No recommendations. No explanations. I was 30 weeks pregnant and had not seen an OB in 6 weeks because of the Christmas holiday. I sat at my dining room table in shock. How in the world was I going to find an OB here in Johannesburg who would help me to have a natural birth instead of just wanting to rip me open again? I don’t know what the practice is in the USA since I am having both my kids here in South Africa, but it is very difficult to find an OB who is willing to do a natural birth after a woman has had a C-section. I can’t validate which story is true; I just know I was left hanging with 10 weeks to go in my pregnancy with no one to deliver this baby except Ryan and possibly my mum. No one to check up on me to make sure I wasn’t developing any complications.

I sat down and cried. “God, why? What are you doing?”

After a good long cry to get it all out (I am pregnant), I heard God say, “I have something better.”

So I went to work. I asked for recommendations but this time I asked for midwives. I got a recommendation on a good hospital to give birth at who had a lot of midwives working there. I got a list of names and phone numbers. It felt like picking my husband based on how much I liked his name! How do pick someone from a list to help you with one of the most important times in your life? I told God that he would have to lead me to the right person. I started calling people. I called seven midwives and they all said that they don’t do VBAC’s (Vaginal Birth After C-Section) or I was too far along for them to want to take me on. I was getting very discouraged and despaired that I would find anyone who would help me. I was thinking I would just have to bite the bullet and get a C-section when the last midwife told me that she knew someone who did VBAC’s and gave me her number. She accepted me immediately and set up an appointment.

My midwife is the best thing that could have happened to me in this pregnancy. Her values on labor, delivery, and birth are similar to mine. She loves it that Ryan is very involved. She answered every question we had until we were satisfied. She helped with all the rushed paperwork that needed to be done. She set up an appointment for me with her back-up OB. She coordinated everything so I didn’t have the extra stress. The hospital in which I will give birth has policies so I won’t be chained to a bed. They have all the equipment I may need to having a successful natural birth such as birthing balls and tubs. This hospital is only 20 minutes away unlike the other one which was 35-60 minutes away depending on Johannesburg traffic. My midwife is going to be helping me through my labor. She is not going to be there just to catch like the doctor was. God did have something better for us. I don’t know what labor will be like, but I am more hopeful than ever that I can actually have this baby without having surgery.

Please join Ryan and I in praying that this little one will be delivered naturally. Please also pray that the baby would turn. Little Munchkin is head down (Thank God) but is backwards. His/her face is supposed to face by back but, at the moment he/she is facing my stomach. That doesn’t make it impossible for me to give birth but it may make it more difficult.

My due date in March 15 but everyone knows babies come in their own time. My mum is coming out on March 5th. She would appreciate it if you would all pray that Little Munchkin come after March 5th so she can be here. She missed Aryanna’s birth by a week because Ary came 2 weeks early.

For Ary’s birth we had a little contest: a baby pool. No you will not be winning money if you get it right but I will send you chocolate. If you want to have a little fun with us, go ahead and guess

(If the form doesn’t show, you can enter in info by going to this link: https://forms.zohopublic.com/zohoryan178/form/MunchkinPool/formperma/M4eAE1J11K1_C0m6AD1Kj1e32)

Ryan and I will be putting in our guesses too since we will be surprised as well. Thank you all for supporting us and praying for us.

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Learning Afrikaans

“Elyse! Quick!”
I went running out of the house at the sound of Ryan’s voice.
“Ary walked without holding onto me!”
I didn’t believe it. Ary is only 9 ½ months old. I knelt down and called Ary to me. Amazingly, she stood there for a moment, daring herself to move without the reassuring hand of mommy or daddy. She looked at me and smiled. She took one step and wobbled. She kept going faster so to get to mommy before she fell over. She then toppled into my arms. I wrapped her up in my arms as we cheered her. She looked so proud with herself. Those first steps brought on a new life for mommy. I now spend Ary’s waking hours chasing after her inside and outside. Her favorite thing to do , besides put things in her mouth that she shouldn’t, is walking. It’s a whole new world for her to explore now. If you want to see some of her first steps, here is a short video clip.
After being here a year and a half, we finally found an Afrikaans teacher: our friend Christo. We are using a method that we learned in our missions training. We have paper hanging next to objects in our home with words and sentences on them so we not only use the word but also learn how to say it in a sentence. We play games and watch TV shows in Afrikaans. It is slow going as we only have so much time to dedicate with our teacher….not to mention we have an active child who loves attention. I must admit some of the sounds make me giggle. An Afrikaans “g” makes the sound of bringing up phlem in the back of your throat. I have a lot of fun now speaking to people in my limited Afrikaans and having them teach me some words and phrases too. People respond so much better to me when I speak to them in their heart language. Ryan wants to be able to speak technical computer Afrikaans with Waldo, one of the other programmers in the office. Once we get some of the basics down, he will be learning that. Programming language and terminology is complete gibberish to me in English so I will not be learning that. One of my goals is by the end of the year, I will be able to have a simple conversation with some of my neighbors. They are mostly older Afrikaans people and they are very proud of their language. They will not speak to anyone unless it is in Afrikaans. I would like to get to know my neighbors and learning there language is probably the best way to break through the walls in the community.
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I know you can’t read them but these are just a few of the papers taped up around our house. The other picture is one of the games we play to learn modes of transporation and places to go. We are so awesome a drawing right?!
Until next time
Totsiens
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Jesus Loves You

Here is a video that our Visual Media Dept. pit out a few weeks ago. Please share it with others. It is called Jesus Loves You.

Get TWR 360 online or on your phone and be encouraged by the different radio programs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9MAuHw__To&feature=youtu.be

 

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Your Skills Are Needed in Missions

Impending retirements, reassignments and TWR’s global outreach expansion are driving a demand for more laborers in the harvest fields.  Therefore, TWR is looking for people who are administratively, artistically & technically minded to serve as missionaries so people in places like Afghanistan, Cuba and North Korea can continue to hear the gospel.  Specifically, we are in need of antenna riggers, accountants, station and business managers, graphic designers, recruiters, engineers, technicians and so much more.  Please see our newly updated Web page (www.twr.org/serve) for specific job listings,  an extensive list of FAQs and an Opportunities page with filters for personalizing the search process. There is a wide range of service categories available, including internships, short term (three to twelve months) midterm (two to three years) and career.  If you can’t help, maybe you know someone who can! Please pass the word !

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Pray for TWR in Africa

Many of you might have seen pictures of violence against foreigners here in South Africa. People have had their small businesses looted and burned. People have been driven from their homes, beaten, and even killed by their neighbors.  Public demonstrations have been happening sporadically since 2008. South Africans are blaming the foreigners of taking jobs away from them. Even government officials have said, “the foreigners should go home”. Many people have been concerned for our safety since we are foreigners here. The xenophobia should actually be characterized more as “Afrophobia” as most of the people who are bring affected are other Africans who have immigrated legally or illegally to South Africa. Many of these people are from Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The riots have died down. Various humanitarian initiatives have been started to address the health, housing, transport and other needs of victims of the recent attacks in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. Please pray for peace in South Africa. There is still a lot of fear and bad feelings surrounding the latest outbreak of violence.

South Africa Map

Guateng is the small cream province and Kwazulu- Natal is the orange province on the east coast.

Violence has also broken out in the country of Burundi. Their constitution says that the president is elected DIRECTLY by the population on the principle of “one man, one vote” for a five year term and renewable only once through the same process. The Arusha accord says that no one can serve for more than 10 years (two terms as president). Technically, the current president has been in power for almost the last 10 years, though for the first 5 years (or first term) he was elected by the parliament (not directly by the people) and his party sees that, legally, the current president has served for only o ne term because he was elected Directly once (in 2010) by the population and wants to push forward for his candidacy for the coming presidential election in June.

The Constitutional court validated the incumbent president to run for another term. The rulings of the constitutional court are final and cannot be appealed against. The opposition was not satisfied with this ruling and announced that they will maintain the demonstrations that have been going on since April 25th. The demonstrations started peacefully but  have turned violent as police have defended themselves against the protestors. People who are associated with the ruling party are being targeted for house burnings and attacks. Our TWR team in Burundi fear that these political protests may turn into selective killings on ethnic grounds which happened during Burundi’s 12 year civil war. Please pray for the safety of our team in Burundi and peace in this country.

Trans World Radio Burundi

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It’s a boy! It’s a girl! NO! It’s a pup!

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That’s right. A baby Seal will be joining us in early July. We are all eagerly awaiting the arrival. I am 19 weeks along and have had a very healthy pregnancy except for an infection that threatened a miscarriage at the beginning of December. During this stressful and uncertain time we had to completely rely on God because there was nothing we could do. Often I had to remind myself that God was taking care of our baby. I am happy to tell you that our baby is healthy and growing like a weed. God protected me and the baby. I was on bed rest for a week. Our South African family rose to the occasion beautifully. I was blessed with people coming to visit and make me meals.

I’ve been fortunate to have no morning sickness. I’m also blessed to have my mum coming out to South Africa for the birth. The baby (who we affectionately call Dibbun) is about the size of an avocado. We are not finding out if Dibbun is a boy or a girl until birth. This is driving many of our friends in South Africa crazy. We are having a fun competition. You can join in if you want:  Guess the gender, date of birth, weight and a name you think we should name our child.  Just send in your guess in the comments of this post on our website.  In July we will tell you who got closest. We are giving chocolate to whoever comes closest. My mum will be bringing it back in August. Happy guessing!

That’s all about Dibbun for now. We will update you as things progress. Ryan would like you all to know that we are vehemently against the clubbing of baby seals though. J

 

Ryan and I enjoyed two weeks off at Christmas. We used the time to relax and get things done around our home. Ryan has developed a bit of a green thumb. He has been taking care of our yard and trying to grow an avocado. We hope to transplant it outside soon. On this side of the equator, White Christmases only come if spend them on the beach!  On Christmas day, we swam in the pool as we talked to our families. During our break, we got to go hiking at a game reserve. We got stared down by a water buffalo with an overly protective instinct and a group of ostriches.

During this time of rest, God started to nudge me about getting involved in our local church. Upon further reflection and prayer, I am going to be the leader of the grade 6 and 7 of our children’s ministry. During our first term we will be going through the basics of Christianity: God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, sin, and salvation. I look forward to telling you more. We begin February 6th.

Please pray that God will bless me and my two helpers to disciple these young people.

You can also pray that Dibbun continues to grow and be healthy.

Happy New Year!

 

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Trip to Limpopo

I got an e-mail saying, you are going to Limpopo for a conference about HIV. Your purpose is to gather information about how we can broadcast our children’s program, “Grandma’s Village” to people in Limpopo. I had to look up Limpopo on a map. I had never heard of that country, and for a good reason. It is a province in South Africa just north of Guateng where we live. After an easy peasy 5 hour drive…. (We had air conditioning something I never had in the States), we arrived in Tzaneen. The conference covered 16 weeks of teaching in 4 days. We learned everything from helping kids make good choices to forgiveness to recognizing good and toxic relationships. It was a very interactive teaching considering that we would be teaching teenagers. I never sat down for more than 45 minutes through the whole training.

We had four sections: creating a vision for life, building healthy relationships, making wise decisions and putting it all together when it came to HIV. There were many lessons inside the different sections. One of the most powerful activities I watched was about forgiveness.  A man had to run across the room, grab a jacket, button it up, and run back. He was timed and he was fast. But then some terrible things happened in his life like fights with friends, an unfair boss, a divorce. Every time he held on to the bitterness and hurt another misshapen, heavy bag was added to him. Every time he ran to grab the jacket, button in up, and run back, he was slower. Finally he had so much baggage around him; he couldn’t perform the simple task. It was a good visual of how unforgiveness and holding grudges on anyone or ourselves can slow us down or make life impossible.

There were many other activities and stories but there are just too many to share. The highlight of my trip though was the worship we did before every session. We didn’t have any instruments. Different women would come to the front of the room and start to sing. The rest of us would join her but she had a solo part and we had the following part. There was dancing to every song. Some of the people even taught me a traditional dance they used in worship. I couldn’t understand the words but I could feel the presence of God there when we worshipped. I have a video attached to this blog if you want to see it too.

One of the ladies told me that I was a Black woman on the inside. I asked her how she knew that. She said it was obvious by the way I sing and dance just like them.  It made my hear t happy to hear that.

The last day of the conference, we went to a Lodge. They had many different animals there, some in cages and some not. I got to pet and play with baby lions and tigers. I rode around in a jeep to see full grown lions and tigers. I had a herd of buffalo walk by me and an ostrich who gave me a funny look. After seeing all the animals, we watched a stunning performance of Limpopo traditional dancers and fire dancers.

My greatest prayer for the dear people I met is that they would be able to teach the youth of their churches and schools the important messages they learned. There is so much pain in Africa because of sex and HIV.

If you want to listen to “Grandma’s village”, you can go to http://www.twr360.org/ministry/61/ or on the TWR360 app under Kerus It Takes Courage.  They are about 30 minutes long each. Enjoy!

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My friend Hanna and me

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I had to hang off the back of a jeep to go see the big animals

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The man carrying many burdens

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TWR Global Quest

This month, TWR-US (Trans World Radio) invites you on a 22-day adventure in the Great Commission: our new online game, TWR Global Quest.
Have Fun; Be Inspired!
From September 9-30, daily questions will unfold the story of how God has used people like you to reach every corner of the world with His Word over the past 60 years – and share inspiring stories of lives being changed today. We’ll also test your Bible knowledge and offer special bonus activities.

Invite Your Friends!
TWR Global Quest is easy and fun to share with friends and family. Your personalized leaderboard lets you see how you’re doing against the global community and your own friends.

Compete for Prizes!
Each question, bonus activity, or friend who joins earns you points toward great weekly prizes and the Grand Prize of up to $5,000 USD toward a trip for two to experience the sights, sounds, and people at one of three fascinating destinations – Bonaire, Guam, or Swaziland, launching pads for TWR’s daily gospel outreach to millions!

Sign up now (http://twrglobalquest.com/), or at any time during the game. Please join us on this rewarding adventure into what God is doing through you around the world!

Both of us have been playing. Catch up to us!

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Settling In

We have been in South Africa for a month! How the time has flown.

We took two overnight flights: one from Denver to London, the other from London to Johannesburg. We even got to go out into London for a few hours before we had to rush back to the airport. We got to see Big Ben and the London Eye.

All six bags made it with us. Praise God! Our first week here was dedicated to unpacking, rediscovering what Ryan had in South Africa, shopping, and orienting to life in South Africa. Orienting to life in South Africa is getting used to driving on the other side of the road. You must also watch out for pedestrians who will walk right out in front of you. You must also watch out for taxis that cross 4 lanes of traffic at rush hour because the driver sees someone who they want to pick up. It is also remembering to turn the house alarm on before you leave and off before you come in the house. I think I have tripped the alarm 5 times in the last two weeks. I think the security company is getting tired of calling me to make sure I’m ok. I have also realized the difference between the terms “just now” and “now- now”. My friend told me that “just now” could mean anything from in a minute to next month. “Now- now” is quicker than that but not always now. We learned that the word “crap” is a vulgar word. South Africa Wins Again or SAWA is how we define the funny cultural moments. I will be filling you in on those SAWA moments every month as they happen.

Ryan jumped right back into work. He spent his first few days at work setting up his equipment and then started to plug and chug on his newest program. Most of his work involves LinguaDMS, though he is getting involved in a project to create a global system for our transmitter computers.

I told many of you that my first week here we would be figuring out my job description however, my boss left the day before I arrived at work and won’t be back  until the 29th.  So far, my time at the office has been “unofficial”. The Health, Children, and Youth department only has one other person in it. She was very thankful to have me join her. My first assignment is writing some programs about Ebola. West Africa has been ravaged by Ebola especially in the last few weeks. The numbers of the new cases and the dying are rising with no end in sight. TWR is writing and producing health warnings to get out to the countries that are affected and the countries worried that they will be next to go on the expanding list of countries that are affected by Ebola. We are teaching prevention, mourning with those who have lost loved one, dispelling myths, and empowering people to care for themselves and others.

Prayer Requests:

Please pray for our settling in process. Our house is all set up, however, we are still getting used to a new culture, new jobs, new friends, new skills, and a new way of life. I especially have been feeling homesick.

Pray for the countries affected by Ebola: Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria, and Senegal. Pray that this outbreak can be stopped quickly. Pray for the physical and emotional health as people are watching family members and friends die by the hundreds.

Thank you for praying

Ryan and Elyse

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Elyse crocheting a TARDIS blanket from the popular BBC show Dr. Who in the living room.

Ryan working hard at his desk.  Our apartment came fully furnished except for this desk.

Ryan working hard at his desk. Our apartment came fully furnished except for this desk.

We have a washing machine but everything dries on the clothes-line

We have a washing machine but everything dries on the clothes-line

 

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Ryan making brekkers in our kitchen/dining room

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Elyse sleeps while Ryan works 🙂

 

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