We've arrived! In Gabon! Finally!

The Huang family newsletter

During a training session at MTI in Colorado several months ago, someone told us to raise our hands if we had not ever previously visited our anticipated field of service. We were surrounded by 40+ people with plans to settle in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. We raised our hands and looked around the room.

We were the only ones holding up our hands.

It sounds a little crazy, we know: we just moved ourselves, two small children, and several dozen suitcases’ worth of supplies, food, and furniture to a small, equatorial country in central Africa that we have never been to before. And we’re not even in the national capital, or a major port city, or a provincial capital, or (frankly) in a city at all. We are perched atop a hilly ridge in a remote, rural, and rather isolated part of the country. People call it “the jungle,” with a simultaneous and paradoxical affectionate and dismissive tone of voice.

A view from the road going down to the hospital.

Our world has gotten concurrently bigger and smaller. This marks the fifth continent that we’ve traveled to in as many months. Our children are undoubtedly well-traveled for their age. But now that we’ve finally arrived, the process of settling in shrinks our world to just a few hundred metres. We temporarily stay in one house and walk across the residential station to our future apartment. We sweep the floor and position our appliances. We open boxes that were packed in Saskatoon (which now seems ages ago but really was only 14 months ago) and we assemble furniture (mostly Ikea shipped over from the States, as we knew our place would be unfurnished and we were told not to expect reliable, local furniture). We do this day after day, always returning to our temporary home for lunch and dinner. We don’t even really venture into the hospital, which sits a stone’s throw away, down the hill from the houses.

The work is tiring. Despite the fact that we are well-versed in turning a house into a home (this marks the sixth time we’ve done so as a married couple), it is the first time we’ve attempted this with two children and without the benefit of a furnished apartment (or the assistance of our own previous furniture). Childcare (i.e., a Gabonese nanny) is still a work in process, thus leaving us adults to repeatedly swap roles as kid-watcher and furniture-assembler.
We meet the other people living on station: a mix of health-care workers, maintenance personnel, administrators, and spouses thereof. Africans and non-Africans live side-by-side (in our case, quite literally, as the other apartments next door to us in our triplex building houses two African surgeon families). Nolan quickly learns the names of the children closest in age to himself and begs to play with them daily.

Nolan has made fast friends with kids on station. Here, two of them traverse the local produce market.

Slowly, our apartment takes shape. There are chairs and bedframes and dressers. There are mementos we’ve brought to hang on the fridge, and there are old toys that Nolan hasn’t seen since we left Canada.

Our world is very small right now, and we look forward to expanding it grandly in the weeks and months to come. But for now, we are grateful just to sit, settle, and say: we’re home.

Here we all are in front of our new home!

And now...for some family pictures!

It's hot and humid here, but we're thrilled to enjoy an outdoor pool on station, perfect for sunny, sticky afternoons.
Nolan always wants to be helpful -- here seen with a real hammer, hammering in real nails, really diligently (if not perfectly).
The hospital has its own fire truck! Having apparently both missed this field trip in elementary school, we were super excited to get a ride in it.
Recent newsletters:
Transitions and tantrums
How French is like dying of dysentery
When butchering a language...
Spring break support report

French should be easy!
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Copyright © 2018 The Huang Dynasty, All rights reserved.

This newsletter is about Andrew, Kimberley, Nolan, Solène and Ewen Huang, and their time in France, Gabon, Australia, and beyond.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely ours, and they do not necessarily represent those of Samaritan's Purse or World Medical Mission.

The Huang Dynasty PO Box 820152 Vancouver, WA 98682 USA

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