Author Archives: Rachael

Joy in Remembering


Today marks the 4 year anniversary of when my Dad breathed his last breath.

For several days I’ve been anticipating the coming of this day. Anniversaries and holidays and such can be filled with so many emotions. I decided that instead of being sad today I was going to be happy and thankful and think about all the good memories I had the privilege of sharing with my Dad.

Well, before I even turned the bedroom light on this morning, I was already shedding tears. (Maybe I don’t always get to choose my emotions, but that’s a whole other topic.) Not so much because I was feeling sad, although there was some of that, but because my sweet husband hugged me and spoke encouraging words into a day that he knew would be hard. It was because without me saying anything he remembered.

Several years ago a close friend of mine lost her child. One of the things I remember so much about that were her words expressing how much it means when someone tells her of a memory of him or brings him up in conversation. It’s the remembering that can mean so much! We can’t fix the pain or take away the grief, but we can remember!

So today I wanted to take some time to remember too! Of course, I remember in my head, but I want to remember and write it down. I hope I never loose these memories I treasure in my heart, but I also want my children to remember too. I want them one day to read these words and have it spark a memory of a story I have told them or a time they shared with their Grandaddy.

Although many of you won’t really understand my list, that’s okay. It’s really for me and my children and close family.

“Foot in pocket”
Sharing birthdays in the park
Dangerous moves on the jungle gym
Lots of used cars
Grandaddy’s biscuits
Fixing cars
Cooking questions
Walking me down the aisle
When I got engaged, my Dad said, “This is one of the happiest days of my life!” He loved Brad. Cafe du Monde mug
Silly songs made up on the spot
Teaching me to make bread
Green Jeep
Helping me financially in rough times
Rubbing my back and neck when I was sick
Coke Truck
Taking me to school
Singing Happy Trails to me
Playing Tiptoe Through the Tulips on the ukulele
Holding my children for the first time
Love for his grandchildren
Caring for his terminally ill mother
Visiting me in Abilene
Auto auctions
Driving to Arkansas in the middle of the night
Big Brown Bear
Little Red Bear
Cheering me on at sporting events
Helping me feel safe during storms
His laugh
His smile
His hands
Being able to fix anything
Taxidermy Shop
Mallard Used Cars
Orange VW camper
Red tool box
Many other tools
Audio Bible tapes
Our last (both engaged) hug
Pleading with God for his life in 2008
“Here’s Mom” when I would call on the phone
Loving our family
Being with family gathered around his bedside
Natural remedies
The gift of life so I could be with him one last time
Being so concerned when Annie was born with complications and testing that followed Comanche
Happy Day Cakes
Peach filled cookies

So many memories fill my heart!

Many of you knew my Dad as well. Just as my friend taught me, there is so much joy in remembering!

I’d like to ask if you knew my Dad if you would be willing to share a memory in the comments section. It would be a fun way to remember the life my Dad lived and the way he touched others through his time on this earth.

I’m sad today because I miss my Dad, but I’m so thankful for all he taught me and they ways he loved and supported me through the years. I’m thankful he knew my children and they knew him and still talk about him. He was generous and loved well! I’m so glad I get to call him Dad!

Today also happens to be my Dad’s half birthday. We acknowledge half birthdays in our family. No gifts or anything. Just a way to say “hey, you are special and you’ve made it half of another year”. When my children were born my Dad made a Happy Day Cake for each of them to celebrate. So today, in honor of my Dad and and in an effort to choose the joy in remembering, we’re off to make a Happy Day Cake to celebrate a life well lived!

5 Years in the Making


May 15th marked 5 years since our family arrived in Swaziland!

Whew! So much has happened. So many changes. So much growing.

On our 5 year anniversary we woke up in Abilene, Texas, of all places, and enjoyed breakfast outside. Brad had gotten us a few favorite Abilene treats and as we sat together as a family we made a list of things that came to mind about our time in Swaziland. A way to reflect and a way to remember.

Bee stings/attacks
Lion cubs
Stuck in the mud
Fire pit
Pizza oven
Wall of rhinos
Talent shows
Sweet potatoes
Long church
Chicken slaughtering
Baby goats
Loosing teeth
Hospital stay
4am sunrises
Electricity outages
Summer Christmas
Book tree
Left handed gear shifts
Kumquat juice
New couch
Long plane rides
Mountain top views
No A/C
Screaming children
Merry go rounds
Clothes lines
Ugly plants
Loud birds
Hoopie birds
Planting trees
Giant avocados
Bumpy roads
Dirt roads
Now now
Borrow me
Greek class
Music lessons
Tea time
Flat dogs
Feeding Nyala
Mlilwane Buffett
South Africa
Table Mountain
Ice cream
Craft markets
Shredding cheese
Cooking from scratch
White skin
Strangers touching us
Pizza night
Pretty plants
Big shady trees
Coral trees
Reading outside
Story time
Picnic table
Thanksgiving meals
Execution Rock
Hillbilly Rock
Ginger beer
Forresters Arms
Malva pudding
Beautiful disgusting desserts
Walks through orchard
Monitor lizard with can stuck on head
African blankets
Slow wifi
Prepaid data
SIM card exchange
Wednesday night meals
Song leading
Caroline starting bible class
Net ball
Government business
Big guns

There are so many more! Our time in Swaziland has been all the things!

Here’s to tomorrow and remembering the past!

A Mad Dash


It hasn’t even been a whole week since our family arrived back in Swaziland from a fast and furious trip to the States! Seems like we’ve been back for weeks, however.

This year African Christian College is celebrating 50 years and we went to host some celebration events in the USA. We hosted 4 events in different areas and it was great to get to see so many people from so many places.

Our friends, Justice and Tsitsi, traveled with us and spoke in many places too.

Out of the five weeks we were gone, I slept in 13 different beds and a few different couches! Our travels took us to Paris (on the way, but we didn’t get a bed), Houston, Oklahoma, Kansas, Malibu, Albuquerque, Austin, Abilene and back to Houston.

It’s always an interesting time coming back to the States. We enjoyed the time we got to spend with family, though brief, and are looking forward to many more friends and family joining us in Swaziland in September to celebrate the ways God has been working at ACC for the past 50 years!

We are still settling back in, have guests on campus, and trying to get back to our routines. We are thankful for the opportunities God allows and are continuing to strive to serve Him no matter where we find ourselves!

Thanks for all the encouragement for our family and support of our work at ACC! It means so much!

Bird Watching


For the past couple weeks, at random times, we have spotted a Kingfisher bird around our garden in our yard. We’ve seen different varieties of this bird before, but never on campus or in our yard. I’ve been watching out for it, hoping it would stay around and even bring some friends.

Yesterday morning we noticed it was much closer to our house as it sat on a wire that runs from our house to a security light across our yard. We were so excited to get a closer, longer look. It has been raining a lot the past week so it seemed a bit wet.

As we went through our morning, it kept coming back to rest on this wire. We kept watching and noticing different details about this beauty. We have a bird identification book that we often refer to when seeing a new kind of bird. We read and reread the description and then began to determine if the wings were more brown or black to know if it was male or female. It was kind of hard to tell because it looked wet.

As we watched on and off, we noticed that there were now actually two Kingfisher birds sitting on our wire. How fun! I decided to get out the binocLEEers (as Annie calls them) and get a better look.

And this funny thing happened. I think I became a bird watcher! Not only did I get many close views of the Kingfishers, we got to hear them make their sound. And in the meantime of looking out for them, armed with my binoculars, we noticed a Sunbird and a Hoopoe. Actually, we had tons of birds in our yard yesterday, but these pictured below were the most unusual.

We had a fun time watching, waiting, comparing and listening to these beautiful creatures.

#1 Brown-hooded Kingfisher

#1 Scarlet-chested Sunbird (black one)

#4 African Hoopoe

First Fruits


For my girls to remember the simple yet exciting times.

At the end of last year a papaya tree, called a paw paw tree around here, just popped up in my garden. I decided to leave it and let it grow, mainly for the purpose of providing a very little bit of shade…maybe.

I didn’t really know much about a paw paw, and still don’t, but we were excited to find fruit on it this year. A couple weeks ago Ellianna picked the first fruit and got to enjoy it. We’ve had another one ripe since then. And we are watching and waiting to get our next fruits very soon.

We also planted a passion fruit vine, which we call granadilla, along a small fence just outside our house. Again, I don’t know much about them, but just today I noticed a granadilla growing. I noticed the beautiful flowers a few weeks ago, but didn’t realize it would grow fruit so soon. We are expectant about what this vine will produce.

The excitement about these two fruits is simple but real. It’s the little things that I want to remember with my girls as we, one day, reminisce about simple joys in our days. It’s the little things that add up to big things that make our lives so full.

And in these little, simple joys, I’ve been reminded over and over today of the verse from Proverbs 3:9, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing and your vats will brim over with new wine.”

In the excitement of first fruits, I don’t want to forget that God has blessed us with a beautiful world with amazing things like being able to grow food. That is pretty incredible!

And so, we rejoice over these first fruits and honor the Lord with them. And one day, long into the future when we never would have thought about our first home grown paw paw or granadilla ever again, we will now remember our joy and excitement of these tasty fruits and how the Lord has filled our hearts with simple pleasures.

2 For 1 Special


Our family has been settling back into life in Swaziland for the last couple weeks. We have finally gotten over the jet lag and have been blessed with cooler than we thought summer temperatures. Can’t complain about that! Every day that is cool is a gift and we cherish it!

We have enjoyed getting to be back with our ACC family and feel so thankful we have family on both sides of the ocean. Each side feels like home.

On Saturday morning as I got up to make breakfast I put on a pair of flip flops and walked to the kitchen. I noticed that between my big toe and the one next to it it was very painful! There was a bit of redness, but not much to see. I had broken a jar the day before while wearing the same shoes and thought maybe somehow a piece of glass got into my foot. After checking several times and not seeing any cut or anything I kind of ruled that one out.

Not too long after my unexplained toe pain, I noticed I had a pain near my groin area on my thigh. It also hurt really bad. I’ve had lymph nodes swell in different areas of my body before and figured it must be that. I knew it hurt, but didn’t think the two were related. But, I knew they were both weird!

Fast forward a few hours to before lunch and I suddenly got the “I need to lie down” feeling. I made it through lunch, with out much appetite and immediately headed for the couch. No headache, no stomachache I just ached all over. It was all very strange.

Sunday, I felt better. Not great, but I went to church and attended a wedding immediately following it. (Read: We sat in our chairs for 5+ hours. Y’all, that’s a LONG time!) We left, got some lunch and headed home with just enough time for a quick nap before church again. I felt like I could have just slept the rest of the day and night.

I don’t really remember that evening, but we were all pretty wiped out. Monday morning started our Orientation at ACC. New students and lots to do! I went to the morning introductions, but still was not feeling well.

If you know me well, I’m not one to go the the doctor if I can help it. I am very thankful for doctors and know there is certainly a time and place for them, but try to do as much natural healing as possible. However, I was feeling so poorly and not really getting better and something in my gut told me I needed to call and get an appointment.

I spoke to the dr by phone and she told me it sounded like tick bit fever! So, off I go to research what I can do about this at home. It was clear through my research this can be a very serious illness and I wanted to do all I could to keep off an antibiotic! What to do? My appointment wasn’t until Wednesday morning so I decided to do as many natural things as I could before then. I pulled out all my “natural” stash and began downing all the vitamins I could get down! Including sleeping with an onion tied to my leg at night!

Now, for all you skeptics out there, I do think the vitamins were helping! I think I would have been much worse had I not been taking them and trying so hard. However, I swallowed the fact that I wasn’t getting over it. And I wanted to be over it with no serious complications.

Monday night we had all the first year students and their families and several staff members over to our house as we do every year. It was a nice time to get to know people better, but I felt TERRIBLE!

Tuesday came and sometime during the day, Brad showed me a bite he had on his side. We have had a ton of mosquitos in our house and have all been getting eaten up at night. Thankfully we are not in a malarial area. I thought maybe it was just an extra big/uncomfortable mosquito bite and just told him to put something on it.

Brad had a meeting that night and I was already in bed when he came home. He talked about that spot again and I just grabbed the best essential oil I could reach from my side of the bed and told him to put some oil on it. He did and went to sleep.

When I got up the next morning, thankful it was finally my doctor appointment day, he told me he thought he had the same thing I did. I couldn’t believe it. How was that even possible? He had the same pain in his groin area too! I insisted he go to the doctor with me because he did not want to wait as long as I had.

Luckily he was able to get some appointments moved around and we headed on a date to the doctor! The most romantic date ever!

After seeing the doctor she did decide that somehow we both have tick bite fever. We got our happy little antibiotics and got back home as quickly as possible.

Thankfully Brad seemed to catch his early and I’m praying he does not get super sick from it. I am still feeling pretty rough. She said it could take a while to recover, but I’m hoping that while will be a quick while. I tire out very easily and am pretty useless, especially by the end of the day when I begin to get chills and such. I’ve had a fever the past two days, but I’m hoping it is just my body’s way of getting the toxins out of my system!

I’m thankful I decided to go to the doctor and thankful for the meds to help get over this! I’m thankful for the sweet girls I have and the ways they are able to help me when I am not well. I’m thankful for a sweet husband who is trying to take care of me even though he does not feel well either.

Some of you may remember last January when Brad got so sick and had to be in the hospital for a week. We are hoping this is not going to be our January routine!

Because, Why Would I Want to Forget?


Right now, I’m riding a bus from Austin to Dallas. As we stopped for a 15 min break a little while ago, where I took advantage of the facilities, I was reminded about a story. A true story that happened to me on our recent trip from Swaziland to the States.

On a particular trip to the facilities on the plane, it must have been a bit bumpy or something. As I was figuring it all out, in what is a very small space on an airplane, somehow, just as I was about to, …ya know…, my elbow accidentally hit the call button.

I realized I had done this as soon as it happened, and before I had started, …ya know…, going.

Almost instantly, the male flight attendant was pounding on my door asking if I’m ok. It’s really loud at the back of the plane and inside the bathroom so neither one of us could hear very well. He continued to shout through the door as I am shouting through the door that I’m ok and it was an accident.

Somehow, as he was shouting, as if in a real state of emergency, and as I was considering if I needed to pull my pants up, I understood him to say push the button again to turn it off.

Well, pushing it again only makes it ding again and pushing it a few more times, ya know, to make sure you didn’t just miss something the first few extra times you tried to turn it off, DOES NOT WORK.

So, here I am. Big decisions to make. Obviously, neither one of us were communicating well through the door. He was still shouting while I was beginning to get a bit flustered.

Just seconds after I decided it might be best to just pull my pants up until things calmed down, the bathroom door opens! From the outside!

The man was very respectful and finally made it easier for each of us to be heard! I assured him I was ok and it was an accident.

Finally, after all the drama, I was able to accomplish my goal in peace.

Then I had to come out…

Watch your elbows in small spaces and know this…your door is only kinda locked!

Happy traveling!

Sew and Sew


On our last visit to the States, which was almost a year ago, I picked out some material to make some curtains for a few places in our house.

And just this past weekend I finally finished them!

Oh, you didn’t know I sew?! Well, I don’t. You see, all I did was pick out material. I didn’t have much of a plan after that. And, I honestly only had some rough measurements to work with.

But, because my Mom is the BOMB, she held my hand (virtually, of course) and coached me through the whole process! Like taught me to see through WhatsApp! For real! I even did edge stitching…whatever that is!

I owe all this to my Mom! Really, would not be anywhere near looking like curtains without her!

We’ve lived in our house for over 4 years. I don’t like to rush into anything, but I figured maybe the old curtains could use a little freshening up.

So, behold new curtains!

These are part of new schoolroom curtains

Scullery and front door curtain. Hard to tell, but it’s polka dots.

My bathroom

The girls bathroom

And, finally, I am finished sewing. Forever?!?

Friends, Not Just Guests


We have had a fun and busy couple of weeks here in Swaziland! This is one of my favorite times of the year because we are blessed with guests on campus. Because of the ACC school schedule, during the American summers, we have visiting lecturers come from the USA to teach in our 2 week terms. It is always a blessing for our students to be in class with these wonderful teachers and there is so much to learn!

However, these “guests” are not just “guests”. They are friends! Friends we have built relationships with in the past. Friends we look forward to spending time with, eating together, sightseeing, visiting, learning from. These are the kind of people that help to strengthen our family and our spirits. They are a listening ear, and breath of fresh air, an understanding heart! They’ve encountered similar situations and know what it is like to live abroad.

These past two weeks have been a time of reconnection, growth, adventures, sharing, love and so much more! I’m so thankful for all the gusts that come to ACC, but there is just nothing like having friends come to visit (even though I know they are not just coming to visit us)! We are grateful for the energy, passion, dedication, support and life they bring!

As we said our “see you laters” this morning (which is always hard to say on both sides), I stood feeling so full! Charles, Mark and Roxi you are a blessing to so many! Thank you for the ways you have touched our lives, in this season, as well as in others! Thank you for caring about us and our girls and the ways you truly show it! Thanks for giving of yourselves and your resources to shape the lives of others!

Safe travels on the rest of your journey. We are looking forward to being together with you all again!

Much love from the Carters

4 Years to Celebrate!


Today, May 15, we celebrate moving to Swaziland! It’s sometimes hard to believe it’s been 4 years already. Some days it seems like we are still so new here. Other days it seems like we have been here forever.

We had plans to celebrate eating a big meal out at a favorite place today. However, because of some unforeseen circumstances involving at least 3 members of our family, we celebrate by buying, well…um…two-ply toilet paper! Like the really soft kind with cute little puppies on it! It’s super soft and wonderful!

This change of events kind of reminds me about winding up in Swaziland altogether. I guess when life throws you a curve ball, you have to change things up a bit. Who knew we would ever call Swaziland home? But, that is what it is for us now.

There is so much that comes to mind when I start to think about 4 years. In about a month my youngest will have lived more of her life in Africa than in America. This is not exactly the life that we had “planned”, but I’m pretty sure it’s better than anything I could have planned. It is eye-opening, unpredictable, good, hard, humbling, sweet, meaningful, lonely, fulfilling, beautiful, far from family, frustrating, shaping, full of wonder, exciting, amazing and thrilling. There are so many parts of all of us that are different because we said “yes” to this crazy adventure! I’m so glad we did!

So today, we celebrate soft toilet paper and all! I continue to be so thankful for God’s mercy and protection for our family, especially these last 4 years in Swaziland! Through the ups and downs God has been with us through it all! We have much to celebrate!