Tyler’s little brother got engaged this past weekend! Check out the photos.
”But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”’ – Luke 2:10–11
Wishing you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year from Brooklyn!
Just got an SMS from Stefanie – after two plane flights and a 4-hour car ride, she’s arrived safely at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya.
Seeing our friend Dylan Sneed play at Rockwood Music Hall in Manhattan tonight.
Today Stefanie completed the USMLE Step 2 CK, her last exam of medical school. Tonight we’re off to Long Island to celebrate with cocktails and lobsters!
Most of the you far away probably haven’t heard yet, but I’m on my way to Africa! Right now I’m on a jet plane floating somewhere above the Libyan dessert on my way to Nairobi, Kenya. Tomorrow I’ll be flying to Juba, South Sudan and then making my way up to Tonj.
I’m going to be spending the next three weeks here helping out my friends Sabet and Suzy Kuj. The first class of their 3-year discipleship training program is graduating this week – and I’m so happy to be here to celebrate with them!
I’ll be taking my camera everywhere with me, documenting how life in Tonj has changed and how In Deed And Truth has grown over the last two years. I’ll also be working with the Kujs and Jeamette Lock, their stateside coordinator, to chart out the next year of designs for their website, printed materials and fundraising events so they can more fully communicate the work they’re doing to their supporters all around the world.
And since this is South Sudan, probably a bunch of other unexpected stuff too.
I’m excited to return to Africa for so many reasons, this continent has a mysterious way of drawing one back; but mostly, I’m just excited to see a bunch of people I love and care for so much face-to-face. As months go by, the people you serve with can become chat bubbles and email threads and the ones you’re truly doing this for can become faces in a photograph instead of a handshake and a smile.
Some ways you can be praying:
- That I would be filled foremost with the Sprit, and with love for everyone I interact with, especially those whom I don’t share a common language with, and that the Spirit would guide my creativity as I seek to make things that tangibly bless the ministry and further His Kingdom.
- For the pastors who are graduating, that the Spirit would be upon them as they go out to start or continue the work at churches across South Sudan.
- For my health, thanks to a well timed red-eye to London I feel very well adjusted to the time change already, but I have a propensity to attract stomach bugs and, admittedly a bit selfishly, would prefer to not be puking my guts out during my limited time here.
- For Stefanie, she’s in the middle of some of her most work-heavy weeks in all of med school right now, that God would sustain her in my absence and remind her of much I love her when I’m not there to.
- For my employers, I’m so incredibly grateful to work for two guys who not only personally believe in the what I’m doing, but are also willing to give their designer three weeks off in the middle of fall to go do it.
The desert had started to fade into jungle below me, I think we’re getting close…
So one of Stefanie and I’s favorite things to do when we get some free time is to drive out into the more rural parts of the island and spend the day there. Our favorite stop is Belmont Estate in St. Patrick, we’re their biggest fans and we’ve been so many times they don’t even make us pay to go on the tour anymore. We’ve written about it a few times, it’s home to the plantation that grows the chocolate for the Grenada Chocolate company.
It’s also the home to the Grenada Goat Dairy’s main processing facility. Their cheese is a main ingredient in Stefanie’s delicious and almost 100% local sweet potato soup that I’m sure she’ll be sharing with you all after the fourth term craziness calms down. Grenada Goat Dairy is running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to expand and build a interactive goat dairy at a primary school in rural Grenada, so if you’d like to support the development of some local farming here in Grenada, head on over, they’re offering some pretty cool rewards for backers both local and abroad.
After snorkeling, we took a much needed nap and headed out for the Grenadian Friday night tradition, Fish Friday. Fish Friday happens about 22 miles up the coast of the Caribbean Sea in a town called Gouyave. Stefanie and I were hoping to have a little better experience than we did the previous time we were up in Gouyave when we got stuck there for a few hours longer than we would’ve liked and I puked multiple times into the local gutter.
It takes a little over an hour to get to Gouyave during rush hour. Unless you drive like a maniac you don’t go too much faster than 25 miles an hour on average on the island due to the windy narrow roads. The drive up was quite the adventure – though I’d driven in Grenada before, this was my first time driving a car with a steering wheel on the right and I was still getting used to having a lot of car on my left, especially so on our full-size SUV. Also, Grenada doesn’t really bother with putting up guard-rails, which would just make too much sense on a road with scores and scores of tight turns on the side of gigantic cliffs.
But alas, we didn’t die and I got over my fear of driving right through the center of downtown St George’s so it was time for some delicious seafood! Fish Friday is essentially two perpendicular alleys filled with lots of tents of people selling all the local seafood cooked Grenadian style – well done. I made my way straight to the lobsters and we grabbed a bunch of other items to accompany them – fish and shrimp kebabs, egg rolls, fried fish balls, fried fish patties and a fried whole fish to name a few. We ran into a bunch of our friends and got to introduce them to my parents and afterwards we finished off our meal with some excellent homemade nutmeg ice cream! It was a real fun night.
The next morning we rallied and woke up early to take my parents on a reggae bus to downtown Grenada for Saturday morning market. Saturday morning market is a big part of our experience here; a lot of weeks we’re really busy with school and work and don’t get out too much, so Saturday morning market keeps us feeling in touch with local life here.
We made our way over to the fish market and it had been an excellent week for fishing! We saw the biggest Red Snappers we’d ever seen and immediately bought two of them and took them over to the “fish master” to be filleted, which is a always a bit of a show, at least to us foreigners.
After we got our fish we then made our way over to market square to check out the world famous Grenadian Spice Market to smell and pick up a few of the local spices, mingle with the locals and also buy up our vegetables for the week.
That afternoon we used the car to go down to Morne Rouge beach, a first for Stefanie and me. Morne Rouge is a quiet bay just to the south of Grand Anse with more of a local feel to it. After spending an hour in the water, we were in the mood for…more seafood!
I had heard from various sources that BB’s Crabback was the restaurant to try in Grenada so we headed down to Le Carenage, navigated through the government restored French colonial buildings and sat down on the water for dinner. We of course, ordered the crabback as an appetizer, which is a local Grenadian speciality. Stefanie and I had a little trouble with the idea of eating the funny land crabs that primarily seem to roam Grenada’s storm drains – but with BB’s special sauce boy were they good! We got four different local fishes prepared four completely different ways for entrées and they all were delicious and had a lot of personality to them. To close it off the meal, Stefanie and I ordered a dessert that was lit on fire!
BB’s is a completely family run restaurant. BB crafts up his creations in the kitchen while his son and daughter-in-law run the dining room. They were all incredibly friendly. BB’s adorable baby granddaughter had been hanging out in the restaurant all night. My mom had her eye on her and let her parents know that if she needed to be held, she was up for the task. So at the end of the meal, they brought the baby over and my mom got to give her some loving. It was very cute and very my mom.
Two weeks ago my parents packed up their bags in sunny San Diego to come to, well, sunny Grenada and see firsthand this crazy place Stefanie and I now call home. Stefanie and I were really excited to see them and have a little vacation in our own country, plus they brought coffee, popcorn and M&Ms!
After an obligatory first evening trip to Grand Anse beach for swimming, sunset and fresh vegetables and seafood at Umbrellas; we woke up early, grabbed our swim trunks and flippy-floppies and hopped on a boat to see what the Caribbean Sea looks like below the surface. Our first stop was the world famous underwater sculpture park. Viewing the sculptures is a lot of fun since you have to submerge about 15 feet to get a level look at them. The works have evolved to a form of their own over the years beyond what the sculptor created as they become more and more apart of their environment and sea-life starts to grow on them.
Photos of some of the sculptures (click to enlarge)
Our next stop was Flamingo Bay where we spent a few hours snorkeling along a reef to get some good views of coral and fish. When we pulled up, there was a kid who had climbed a hundred feet up a cliff on some vines chasing after an iguana – which can apparently grow to be up to ten feet long here! We all watched in both terror and amusement as he tried to shake it out of the vines onto his friends onlooking below so they could kill it and have it for dinner.
After four hours at sea were were all sun-kissed and ready to eat some seafood, good thing that night was Fish Friday!
As soon as Stefanie and I found out this summer that Grenada’s national football (soccer) team’s name was in-fact the Spice Boyz (with an annual match against the rival St. Kitt’s Sugar Boyz), we put attending a match near the top of our Grenadian bucket list.
Grenada is currently competing in a pool against Guatemala, Belize and St. Vincent & the Grenadines in the World Cup qualifiers. I saw on the FIFA website that they had an match on Saturday and despite the women at the market that morning having not heard about it, we decided to treck down to National Stadium to check-out the action. We arrived just as the national anthems were being played (our first time hearing Grenada’s) and found some seats in the stands.
There were no goals in the 1st half with both keeper’s being on top of their game. There were around 500 in attendance at the game, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but if you do the math, per capita that’s about the same as 45,000 people showing up to something in Los Angeles.
As soon as the half-time whistle blew, the DJs started blasting the reggae and we bought some delicious fresh-roasted peanuts (they were literally still hot) and a cone of Greanda’s surprisingly delicious Sugar & Spice ice cream. After a string of phenomenal saves by both goalies, St Vincent took the lead in the 62nd minute and the spirits of the crowd started to go downhill after a few missed scoring opportunities.
During a late injury time-out, both team’s whom I’ve dubbed “flag men” started dancing to reggae, doing push-ups, and of course, waving their flags to get the crowd pumped. A timely penalty in the 92nd minute gave us one last chance to equalize and off the indirect kick we headed in a last second goal! I was stoked, we got to have our moment of screaming and yelling with a bunch of strangers from another country – and it was awesome! It reminded me of being in Uganda last summer and watching the USA vs Slovenia game with about 50 other Ugandans on a tiny TV at the soda shack in a little shopping center.
We ended the day with a sunset walk along the coast back downtown to the bus terminal happy to have had a fun afternoon outside of our normal routine.
Stefanie and I had a fun time today at a local orphanage with some other people from the on-campus church. One of the orphanage staff members was doing all the girl’s hair so the girls were inspired to do Stefanie’s…and then mine. Here’s some pics of their handiwork! I told them I would come by next time Stefanie and I went on a date so they could get me fixed up all nice 😉
Friday nights in med school often have to be productive nights, but getting ourselves motivated to come back up to campus and work all night after Stefanie gets out of class can be challenging so we’re always looking for new strategies…
Last night we decided to go to Bananas for some pre-studying grub. Bananas is the happening bar / grill / night club down the street from school. We got there at 5pm, about 5 hours before it becomes a happening bar / grill / night club. We grabbed a seat at the bar and ordered a pizza and two cokes and spent an hour recapping the day and chowing down.
We’re pretty sure the staff is rather confused by us and now knows us as the weird couple that comes in really early and orders a pizza and no alcohol. Case in point, we were walking towards the bus terminal downtown this morning and one of the bartenders at Bananas came up to us and said “hey, I recognize you two!”
So we’re not sure if it was the caffeine, the spicy jalapeños, or the special treat of having ham and pepperoni; we were both in a seriously hardcore working / studying mode last night. We cranked for six straight hours (mostly) until we looked up and realized it was 12:30am and we should probably head home.
Needless to say – there will be another pizza and coke night coming up soon.
Well, it’s a typical Saturday night here in Grenada for the Paulsons. I’m sitting on the bed reading and Stefanie is playing the Lord of the Rings soundtrack trying to get herself in the zone for some hardcore studying while snacking on the Trinidadian equivalent to Cheetos.
For dinner we had tostadas topped with all the delicious local vegetables I bought at the market this morning (and the jalapeños I found at the supermarket this week!). I think the women at the market are starting to know me as the husband with a list of vegetables to buy that he didn’t know all existed (what on earth is a shallot?) and they’re really nice to me once they realize this.
While I was downtown, I grabbed my first Grenadian newspaper. This week Grenadian runner Kirani James won the gold medal in the 400m race at the World Championships and I wanted to read more about it; needless to say, people are pretty excited here. I hung out at a local orphanage this afternoon with some friends from the on-campus Christian fellowship and two of the girls smiled when I told them I could bring them a picture of Kirani next week. They also challenged me to a race. I have a feeling the American might come in second just like at the championships.
While I was flipping through the newspaper, I found the week’s weather forecast and it was just so funny that I had to post it. Lots of variety here!
Tyler here making my first post on the blog, Stefanie has dived fully into the swamp of her medical school textbooks so you’ll probably be hearing from me a lot more often now.
Last Saturday morning I rolled and Stefanie gracefully leaped out of bed at 6:30am to make our way over to the Saturday morning market in downtown St George’s. Needless to say, that place is a little different early in the morning than it is at night, i.e. a little more our style.
4 months ago, the spice collection in my kitchen consisted of salt, pepper and garlic salt. It then decreased to just salt and pepper after Stefanie threw away my garlic salt. When Stefanie moved in with her kitchen ensemble it ballooned to a mass collection of stuff that apparently Grenada is world-famous for producing, so when we got to the market, we headed straight to the lady who was selling that stuff.
We then moved over to the fruit market and started by grabbing the essential stash of mangoes and figs (bananas). I’ve been craving oranges and to my surprise found someone selling them. They are of course not orange here, but green. I was so excited I forgot to ask what the local name for them was, but I’m going to guess it’s not “orange.”
Next was the part I was really looking forward to, the fish market. We heard rumors that you could get fresh mahi-mahi here for a little under US $3 a pound. They were out, but we bought ourselves a nice chunk of sailfish and a whole red snapper. It was all so amusing; fish lady was very stern and had a large dull machete which was not quite sharp enough to cut through the fish. She solved that by whacking it with a sledge hammer over and over again. Not sure what to do with a whole fish, I made my way over to a man I called the fish master whom I gave 2 EC to clean all the scales off and make it a fillet. While I fully expected him to discard the head for me, apparently that’s not the Grenadian way so when we got home I opened the bag only to see four eyeballs staring back at me; he’d given us both our fish’s head and our friend’s fish’s head. It was a fitting end to an excellent morning.
After I wake-up in the morning, I brew some English tea (or Irish breakfast if I’m extra tired) and pour myself a bowl of Weetabix, my favorite British cereal that I used to always eat in Africa. I operate my own freelance graphic design business so after breakfast I fire up my computer and get started on my work. I’m really grateful that so far people have been willing to hire me from afar and we’re trusting God to continue to provide for us that way.
Around 10am I usually meet Stefanie on campus after her morning discussion or lab and we work / study together in one of the study halls until lunch time. Eating out is super cheap in Grenada, we can usually buy a hot lunch from one of the stands on campus for the both of us for around US $8. In the afternoon I go home so I can take conference calls and such and then at 5pm, Stefanie either comes home and cooks or we meet at Options, a cluster of roundhouses down the hill from campus that serve different kinds of food from all over the world. Naturally my favorite is the veggie burrito from Mr. Chipotle! Then it’s back to campus for some more working / studying.
Being that Stefanie’s a med student and all, she usually has a little more to do in a day than I do. Since she has multiple absolutely massive textbooks, I’ve vowed to read all 500 pages of Alister McGrath’s Christian Theology: An Introduction in my spare time by the end of the semester. I’m also working on learning the complexities of responsive web design.
East coast friends and family – we’re thinking of you as you sit out hurricane Irene tonight. Good night all from Grenada!
** Wife Edit: Tyler grudgingly gets out of bed to shower pretty much as I am walking out the door for class – just want to make that clear and all. My 6am loud-as-all-get-out alarm apparently has no effect on him 😉 **