First world life…third world country

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For the past year we have been preparing to life in the country of Niger in West Africa.  It is one of the five poorest countries in the world.  Sometimes when I tell people where we are moving, their first questions is, “Are you going to be a missionary?”  While that is the reason I figured would bring me back to Africa, it is not our current situation.

As I have learned, to work at an embassy is to live the same life  you live in the USA but your surroundings may be drastically different.  For example, many of the people in Niger live in houses made of mud or straw.  Our house will be similar to a home in Florida, complete with swimming pool.  It is a very nice house with three bedrooms, spacious kitchen and a number of living spaces.  Perhaps it would even be on the modest side in the States.  In Africa, we will live like kings.

The last time I visited Africa was 2005 with a class from Seminary and we spent most of our time with university students.  We pretty much lived how they lived down to showering in the same stall as the toilet which was a hole in the floor.  I dressed like everyone else in the country: t-shirt, kanga (wrap skirt) and flip flops.  It was glorious and I loved every second of it.  This time around there will be expectations to play a bit more of the part of a diplomat.  Dress nice, drive a car, hire a maid, and all that comes with the status.

Maybe  you can tell, I am feeling a bit uneasy with this new life we will have for two years.  The fact that some people have to walk for miles to get water and I have a swimming pool in my back yard seems a bit unfair.  Balancing first world life in a third world country just might be the hardest part of living in Africa.

However, last week I met a gentleman who grew up in Congo and he brought to my attention something I’ve heard before, but in a different context.  I had a friend in seminary who worked with the homeless and she had a hard time balancing her privilege with the people who needed her help.  Someone told her that to help the homeless the most, she needed to be professional in dress, manners and lifestyle.

As I discussed the different situations in Africa with my new friend, I confessed that I was troubled by the disparity between the local population and myself.  I told him that while I live in Africa, I would love to be part of the culture and perhaps teach, volunteer or be involved some way in making the little corner of my world a better place.  But I couldn’t get over the pool in the backyard.  He said to me, “How can you help , by understanding the poor by being  poor or being rich enough to have a pool in your backyard?”

Give me the pool.  The next challenge will be to find the best way my gifts can meet the greatest needs.

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Kitties!

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Good news!  We get to bring our kitties to Africa with us!  We are flying Air France and they have a great pet policy for pet traveling in the hold of the aircraft: climate control.  Today we picked them up after a week of boarding and we sure did miss them.  I’m glad they get to come with us because they are such great pets to have around.

I never had pets growing up (well, a hamster and hermit crab but they don’t really count) and now that I’ve lived with these cats for 6 years, I can’t imagine what I’ll do when they’re not around anymore.  I don’t even want to think about it.

On that happy note, I only hope we move them overseas with no problem and the most comfort possible.  Bon voyage, mes petits chats!

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For the past year we have called Washington DC our home.  We decided to live in the city and it was a beautiful decision.  Our apartment was located in the SouthEast quadrant of DC, just down the street from National’s Baseball Stadium.  Yes, we went to quite a few games.  (you know, two hours before game time, they start selling tickets for $5!)

One of my most favorite things about this city was when people would come visit and we toured the sights.  Most of the time, I tried to get everyone on bikes and see the city from two wheels.  Not only is it a quick way to get around, it’s a great place to ride too.  I rode my bike all over the place but one of the most magical places of all is the White House.  I don’t know why but each time I rode by, it made me smile.  I just love the idea that I was neighbors with the President.

This was the first time either of us lived in a city and we both agree that we would do it again in a heartbeat.  There are so many things to do: museums, theatre, restaurants, sports, rivers…you name it!  But for me, the city shows something that other places merely hide: crazy.  The city doesn’t hide it’s crazy.  I absolutely love that people in the city live within the melting pot of America.  I will long for this diversity the rest of my life.

Our year in DC included:

A White House tour (and tour of the gardens!)
Katie joined DC Strokes Rowing Club – amazing!
Many trips to Eastern Market
Obama’s second Presidential Inauguration
Reconnecting with old friends
Touring the sights at night on our bikes
Visits from friends and family
Cherry Blossom Festival
Monticello and Mt Vernon
Biking to the National Arboretum
Seeing Teddy win the Presidents Race!
Katie ran the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in DC (can you believe it?!)
Visiting pastor friends all over the DC metro area
Hiking the high point in VA

We will miss you, DC!  Let’s cross our fingers we will return!

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I know, I know…

So maybe I haven’t updated our blog in a year but it’s been crazy.  But we’re back online and ready to keep you updated on the happenings of Team Osweiler.

After 6 months of French training we entered 3 months of diplomatic training.  Since the beginning of April it’s been a roller coaster of insanity.  Our move date to Niger was pushed back from July to August and we spent most of the summer in Ohio with my family.

Our new leave date is August 28th and this week we will have one more week of training with the Department of State.  So many things have been last minute that I wouldn’t be surprised if they told us today that we actually have another month of something else and then we can leave in September.  Hahaha!!

I’m sure I will have more time to update the good old blog when I’m stuck in the house for a few weeks.

Peace out, yo.

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En Francias, s’il vous plait.

Today was our second day of French Language training.  Perhaps you are wondering why we are learning French.  In this post I will explain it all. It all started on a dark and stormy night…

Not really, but doesn’t that sound exciting?

It all started when Victor and I spent two years stationed in England.  He worked for the Ministry of Defense for two years and we pretty much had the time of our lives.  This put a bit of a travel bug in our…well, where ever travel bugs go…and we decided that we would try for another over seas assignment.  After we landed back in the States, Victor got picked up for an over seas assignment a year later but I had to stay home since it was not possible for me to follow him to Afghanistan.

About a month or so into his deployment a friend emailed him a posting for jobs opening up in a variety of US Embassies around the world.  After asking my permission to put his name in the hat, he applied but getting a slot would be a long shot.  Apparently, the long shot hit the bulls-eye and by February he was informed that he would be the Defense Attache and Senior Defense Officer at the US Embassy in Niger.

And just incase you were wondering,”where the heck is Niger?”, here’s a map:

Don’t worry, I wondered the same thing.  I did, however, know that it is located in Africa.

So after a short 18 months in the greater Boston area, we packed up and moved to Washington DC.  For the next year we will be learning French for the first six months and then off to Embassy training.

And that’s all you need to know for today.

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Beginnings

This is the beginning of the next adventure of Team Osweiler

Victor and I just entered into our fourth year of marriage and what better way to celebrate than taking on a new adventure?  Last week we moved to Washington DC from Boston for Vic’s new assignment with the Air Force.  This is my first post on our new site: Team Osweiler.

Rather than tell you what’s going on in our lives, I’m going to tell you the story of Team Osweiler:

A few years ago, whilst we were stationed in England, Victor and I were driving to a USAF base near Oxford.  We were running low on petrol and I was getting a bit worried but Victor wanted to make it to the base for cheap gas.  Usually we can get a little over 420mi per tank in our little Prius but we were well past the safety zone.  I begged Victor to pull over for a few gallons (liters) but he wouldn’t budge.  “We’re going to make it!” he shouted.  “Are you with me?” and he put up his hand for me to grab.  I hesitated when he pulled out the big guns, ” Come on, TEAM OSWEILER!”  That’s when I had to give in.  Team Osweiler was going to make it to the base.  As we rolled into the gas station I knew that if Team Osweiler can make it this far, we can make it anywhere.  So now when either Victor or I need to get the other on board with anything, we stick our our hand and say: TEAM OSWEILER!

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