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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Summer is Over - Fall is Here

Greetings on a nice fall day!

Oh, its not fall yet where you are? Well we've only had a handful of days that have reached 70 degrees in the last few weeks. Yes this is one of the advantages of moving farther north. Yet it does signal that winter may be fast approaching - but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.

We survived our first summer in Minneapolis and it was a lot easier than the first winter! It may be cooler in general but we had plenty of days in the 90's and our share of humidity. One night it was 92 at 7pm. Our weather reaches both extremes - just that the summer is short!

Ok, enough about the weather. It is the middle of September which means we are getting ready to celebrate 2 years of wonderful marriage. Moving to Minneapolis has allowed us to grow closer together and really deepen the friendship that is the bedrock of our marriage. We have explored many new and exciting places and met many new wonderful people. Don't worry, we haven't forgotten about you and all of our friends that are spread around the country. Since the last update I also celebrated my 27th birthday and am definitely on the downhill slide to 30. Per our tradition (and really almost a tradition from my entire life) we went camping to celebrate. Who knew that to get "good" camping spots you have to begin planning almost a year in advance? We had a great time exploring more of the North Shore (Lake Superior), especially all of the water falls and rivers! We have visited the North Shore a handful of times since April and have enjoyed taking friends up to explore and see new things each time.

Interspersed with all of our adventures we do actually work! And summer was no different. I was one of the few individuals that worked at school all summer long. It was very relaxed and provided a good opportunity to get to know some of the other staff better. We truly have an amazing group of teachers and support staff that are dedicated to their jobs. I put in a few hours each day at school before heading over to the Seward Towers. The Towers are two affordable housing apartment complexes, with a mostly East African tenant base. They are owned and operated by a non-profit organization that provides a variety of services to the tenants throughout the year. As I mentioned in previous e-mails I needed to keep my level of service consistent throughout the summer and the Seward Towers staff was gracious enough to let me help with their Summer Fun program. So basically I spent my summer afternoons hanging out with 5-12 year old children. It was a fun experience with many ups and downs along the way. I truly enjoyed learning more about their respective cultures and seeing their reactions and growth throughout the summer. The Summer Fun program ended in time for me to ramp up for the beginning of the school year, which started the Tuesday after Labor Day. The building dynamic steadily changed as first the teachers came back and then went into full-pitch fever with the arrival of the kids!! It is good to have them back since they are the purpose for our work!

Christy is enjoying her job as well. She appreciates the consistency of working straight nights. Her ability to sleep through anything is amazing! Recently she has been assigned more to work in the nursery where she enjoys holding and taking care of the babies while their mothers sleep! Her parents came up to visit us for a week in August and we had a great time showing them around the city and letting them get a glimpse of what our life is like here.

A summer without a garden would be a little sad so we were happy that our landlords let us build a garden in the back yard and also use their plot in the community garden. We were overwhelmed by tomatoes and cabbage and enjoyed eating our peppers, herbs, and lettuce. Sadly, the lettuce and tomatoes weren't ripe at the same time so we never had a full salad from our garden. This was also a great way to get to know many of our neighbors and share produce with them.

We continue to help our Somali neighbors learn English and more about America. This summer we had 2 of our students pass the citizenship exam and were excited to welcome them as fellow citizens. I had the pleasure of working directly with these students, preparing them for their tests. Christy continues to work with some of the beginning level students - practicing letter sounds and constructing words and sentences. Christy has also been going with one of the teachers to visit some of the students and is beginning to get to know them better.This has been a great way for both of us to connect with our neighbors and learn about their experiences. Some of their stories are heart-breaking as their lives were ravaged by greed and war. We are currently enjoying a break while they celebrate the month of Ramadan, their holiest time of year. We were very saddened to learn that one of the students passed away a few days after Christy had visited her. We continue to be challenged in unique ways throughtout this experience and would appreciate your prayers for us and our friends.

This is getting a little long, so I won't bore you with too much more! Feel free to check out the pictures from our summer at

I would be a little remiss though if I didn't talk about my marathon training and our fundraising efforts for Team World Vision. Training for my first marathon has gone exceptionally well. I have set many new personal records (PRs) during the training cycle as well as running my farthest run ever - 22 miles this past weekend. With three more weeks to go I am quite excited and my goal of running a 3:10 marathon is within reach. After some discussion Christy and I decided that I should dedicate my first marathon to supporting World Vision, an organization that is doing work that we are both passionate about. I've written a lot about this ( and am proud to say that we've raised over $500 and are 1/4 of the way to our goal of $2,000. We are thankful that you, our friends and family, have supported us in this endeavor. You might think that Christy has it easy - but she has to put up with me being tired and traveling around with me to my races!! You can make your secure, tax-deductible gift here.

If everyone reading this e-mail donated $10 we would easily exceed our fundraising goal and change many lives in Africa. I am dedicating this marathon to them and need your support to make it happen. Thank you in advance for your generosity.

Please e-mail us back with an update about your life, we would love to hear from you!

God Bless,

Nick and Christy

PS. $10 is a few cups of coffee for you, but is literally the difference between life and death for a friend in Africa.

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