Ok, where did we leave off.. oh yes.. Joel and I just got MARRIED!! February 16, 2019!!
I’ll leave it to your imagination what happened after the wedding.. haha!! Jk.. No, but we did finally get to experience all the fun of married life, and I got to move in and take over Joel’s house.. and make it a little home!! As his brother Justin said, “Mama’s home!” Ha.. yup! I think that’s been one of the best parts of marriage for us, is the living together! Neither of had in the past, nor wanted to live with a bf/gf before marriage, so it really was something special for us, and has been SO fun!! And, luckily, the transition has also been very smooth! Here’s a sneak peek at our home..
We also decided to add 2 puppies to the mix in March!! We brought home Tico and Izzy, and by “home” I mean, their own little “home” outside. Yes… this is one battle I had to compromise on.. these dogs will not be Americanized, and will be African dogs, which means they are outside and are meant to be our fierce, intimidating protectors (except they are little softies… especially Izzy! Ha!) They have been fun, and are growing quickly.. they are now 8 months, and are doing very well in their obedience and “aggression” classes!! And of course, always enjoying their daily home-cooked meals of rice or ugali, vegetables, daga (small fish), meat, avocados and a variety of other things.. Yes, you read that right.. we (and by we, I mean Joel) cooks for them everyday! It must be paying off though, because look how they’ve grown.. (this is before.. and now..)
So, only a few weeks after I moved in, I jumped on a plane to Cairo, Egypt for the SIOP (Society of International Pediatric Oncology) Africa Conference with a few of my favs from Dar! It was an amazing opportunity to see what else is being done around Africa as far as nursing education, research and advancements in treatment and care. The abstract I submitted about the 10-week course I faciliated last year in Dar was chosen to be presented at the conference! I was so excited to share all the great things that have happened and are continuing to happen in peds oncology in Dar!! It was well received and people showed a lot of interest in it!! It was also a good way for me to network, and get involved with others around Africa to share ideas and to start streamlining the nursing education!
And of course, squeezing in some time to see Cairo and the pyramids was pretty cool too!
Once I was back from Egypt, I was able to settle back into work-mode and finalize an Oncology Nursing short course that I put together to run at KCMC for nurses in a variety of areas. Since March, we have run 3 courses, educating around 50 nurses in oncology. We hope to continue the course until we have the Inpatient ward (which, construction has started!!), and then we can begin focusing the training on the oncology specific nurses!! Exciting stuff!! (Little FCCT plug here.. you should follow us on FB to see all the cool things we are doing here and the latest updates!)
And just as I was getting into the work groove, it was time to take off again..next up, our real honeymoon to the Seychelle islands. If you’ve never heard of them, or aren’t sure where or what the big deal is with them.. STOP right here.. google Seychelles, and then come back.
The Seychelles are known for being the most beautiful islands on Earth! They are made up of 115 islands, about 1,000 miles from the Tanzanian coast in the Indian Ocean. They are known for their surreal rock formations, lush forests, Creole heritage and some of the worlds best beaches.
Amazing, right!?! Oh yes, to say the least. This place is paradise and was the ultimate honeymoon destination! We loved every minute of it!
We were able to find a cute little apartment right on the beach, fully furnished with a kitchen, so were able to cook our own breakfasts, and a few other meals (only downfall..this place is tad bit expensive!). We picked out a few excursions to do during the week, which included zip lining, and an all day boat trip to other various islands to do snorkeling, see the wild tortoises, the Coco-de-Mer (look that up too!), and spend some time on the beaches!! We also got brave and rented a car (the streets are VERY windy there..and steep!), and drove to other areas of the island, found secluded beaches and ate delicious food! They have a French-Creole influence, so many of the foods were curries, with lots of wonderful spices!! Their shark cinnamon curry was So.Good.
Joel even got adventerous (much to my pushing), and tried snorkeling for the first time (jury is still out on that one..)! And, ziplining (he did like that!)!
After the honeymoon, I had about a month before I was coming back to the states, so again, it was work mode, and Joel and I playing host to his nephew who was on school break for 2 weeks, and my friend Alyssa (my Denver friend who is living in Kenya) who came to stay with us for a few weeks to help me out with some projects and volunteer with Gaudy’s organization!! It was so fun having her around…it’s nice to have a friend who you can just lay around with, chat about everything and get good advice from!! She’s been a huge blessing to me this year!!
Alyssa and I booked our flights out of Moshi together, and got to use her VIP access to the businesss class lounge in the Kili airport..ha!! Score!! Once we got to Nairobi, we had to part ways.. she went back to her “family” in Kenya, and I was preparing myself for the 15hr flight home!!
Once I was back in Ohio, my mom and I hit the ground running with wedding preparations! More meetings with vendors, confirming numbers, shopping and putting together wedding decorations (which pretty much took over the house.. sorry, Dad!), and more dress fittings and hair/makeup trials!!
The first event of the month was the bride weekend, which meant my sister and Ella flew in for it!! Saturday night, my sis planned a night out for us and some of our high school friends at one of the local wineries! It’s always a fun time, catching up with them… getting caught up on all the local gossip, and talking about old times (which most of it, I don’t remember.. haha.. I have the worst memory!). These girls are the best!!
Sunday was the bridal shower! My sis and mom did an amazing job, and made it look so beautiful and made me feel so special!! Family friends, local friends, and many of my extended family came to Lima for it!! It was great to spend some time with them before the wedding!! One of the activities was to write down a memory they had with me, which was then read as I opened their present… here are some of my favs…
From my Aunt Lydia: Camping in Wisconsin when I was 4yrs old, and my dad made me sweep out the tent, and I was crying.. and she felt so bad for me!!
From my cousin Jen: Doing my sister and I’s hair when we were younger- that perfect 80’s curl, nice and big 🙂
From my friend Jamie: When we were in high school, hanging out in my room getting ready for Friday night football games, and the Vortex! Ha!
From our family friend Barb Duval: My high school graduation party! Tent, rain, wine, friends- they sent me off to the world with a great send off! (A few people mentioned the graduation party..lol!)
After the weekend, we were down to 3 weeks before the wedding!! During that time, I was able to take a break from wedding planning to go with my parents to Michigan to visit our cousin Jacob and his family, and to celebrate 4th of July Cleveland-style with The Gleasons! Both weekends were so fun, and in typical Mags and Liz fashion, our weekend together involved the infamous “nursing-home” time and long talks about life! 🙂
One thing I had really been praying for during all of this was for Joel to be able to have some family at the wedding. We had been talking for months about his brother, Justin, his wife, Gaudy and their 3 girls coming for the wedding and other US travels!! It seemed like it would be an easy thing, seeing as they had traveled to the states before. Well… you all know Joel’s history with the US Embassy and visa interviews.. and, things never seem to be easy with the US Visas! And of course, this time was not different for his brother. After being denied, we all decided they would apply again.. and after many more nights of praying (because the only available time for an interview was after the wedding!), God opened several doors for them… an earlier appointment became available and they received the Visa!! Wohooo!! So we quickly booked the flights, 2 days before they were planning on leaving Moshi, and we said, “see ya in Ohio!” It was a huge blessing and many answered prayers that all of this came together!!
It meant so much to me to have Joel’s family here with us!! I felt like it was an opportunity for them to see more of where I came from, meet my sister, Nick and “Baby Ella” (as Myra says), my extended family and friends, and for people here to see a piece of my life in Moshi. God really blessed our time together.. it was as if everyone had known each other, and had been family for years. My sis and Gaudy were “Team Mom”, supporting each other with coordinating all the nap times and kid schedules. Myra and Ella were little besties from day 1, and Nicole and Bella played non-stop with our American Girl dolls!! We spent hours swimming, chasing the dogs around, playing outside (Joel and I kicking everyone’s butts in cornhole..again!), and just enjoying each other’s company!! They joined in all the pre-wedding festivities.. the girls to the winery again, and the boys to the baseball game (Joel and Justin’s first baseball game!)… manicures and pedicures and the rehearsal dinner! Of course, everyone loved them, and were so excited to meet them!
Finally the wedding day was here, and thankfully, the weather was clear (after a LOT of rain in June), the power was back (a big storm had come through a few days before), and everyone showed up for their scheduled hair and makeup times… despite a 7:30am start time and a *few* bridesmaids being a bit hungover! Ha!!
And of course, a huge thanks to the team at Jameson Manor for doing an amazing job decorating and making the venue look so beautiful!
The day was perfect.. from our beautiful venue, to the very personal Mass, to the perfect evening dancing under the stars….that is, until the police came right as were about to do sparklers (someone.. I won’t mention names.. Peter Zalasko.. but someone accidentally called 911 during the reception..ha.. oops!). The day was more than I could have even imagined and hoped for!! It’s not very often you get just about every person you love, and who has played an important role in your life at one point or another, who has love and supported you… all in one room together. My little heart could hardly handle it! I’ve never felt so much love, support and encouragement as I did that day for Joel and I! My family and friends have welcomed Joel into our family with open arms and shown us so much love. We truly are beyond grateful for all the people in our life, both in the states and in Moshi.
As hard as it was at times, dating.. and wondering when “the one” would come along.. the wait was SO worth it, and as Angie said, “I am so glad you waited for God’s best”.. I am too!! It just goes to show, God’s ways are always above our ways, because I could never have imagined a more perfect husband for myself, and more blessed life!
My friend Sarah made me cry when she said this, but she said how there are some friends/people that just feed your soul.. and she’s so right.. and so many of you are that for me and Joel. So thank your for feeding our souls for a weekend, and making it an unforgettable one!!
I was basically a mess before Joel and I had to head back to Tanzania. It was one of those life moments that you don’t want to end, and I was really feeling the distance between TZ and the USA!! But, we knew we were leaving with full hearts, and memories to last a lifetime!
At least I had Joel to accompany me on the long plane ride back.. and 2 (now, huge) puppies that welcomed us with open paws.. and pretty much knocked me down once I got home!! Moshi is home, and I am thankful for this place and the peace I feel here.
Now it’s back to normal life again… just enjoying each other and enjoying married life together (and re-living the wedding day through these beautiful pictures by the amazing Aileen Elizabeth Photography – https://www.aileenelizabeth.com)
God is so good.
Love you all,
P.S…sorry..not sorry for the picture overload in this post!!