Welcome to the Scharrer family's real life story! Most of our story is written for, and about, our four kids and the spice they add to our lives. It's our story of happiness, craziness, and sometimes ridiculousness. We've journaled through childbirth, the terrible two's, private school (and our public school experience), an autism diagnosis, medical school, residency, and long-term mission work in Africa.

Now we're following a new adventure, which involves a 45 foot motorcoach, homeschool, and as many ski slopes as we can go down in one year.

For posts from while we were living in Zimbabwe and updates about our future plans in Zimbabwe, please see our mission blog...

www.ourzimbabwejourney.blogspot.com.

31 January 2014

And we're off!

We made it to the airport with our four carry-ons and 266 pounds of luggage!  Erik lost his boarding pass within 10 minutes of being in the airport, but soon found it and we buzzed right through security. For once we didn't have to run 20-some gates down the concourse and made ourselves at home in a cute little restaurant right beside Gate G6, where we'll depart from in about one hour from now. Even though we ordered and ate some lunch, the majority of our time has been spent on the phone and computer, tying up loose ends before leaving the country.  I took a minute to just sit and watch and I laughed to myself as I realized how different life will be in 24 hours from now. We're sitting in a restaurant that has two iPads at every table. They don't have servers that take your order, you view the menu and order on the iPad.  There are also several games on these iPads, as well as free internet and plug ins. There isn't one single person here not on some kind of elecctronic.

30 January 2014

It's the night before departure...

It's the night before departure, and all through the house,
not a creature is stirring, except the old spouse.
Kara's bags already packed, by the door with care
in hopes that Dr. Erik's soon will be there.
The children are nestled all snug in their beds,
Grandparents here to keep watch, adventures dance in their heads!
Early bed, early rise, a bus and then planes
Hard to sleep, eagerly await, what will the journey contain?

28 January 2014

Our Destination

Impfondo on the map (picture taken
from Google Maps)
A little more information on our African destination...
(Picture take from http://famouswonders.com/impfondo/)
We will be going to Impfondo, Republic of Congo.  Impfondo is located on the west side of Africa, on the banks of the Oubangui River, a major tributary of the Congo River. It is a town of about 20,000 people and the official language of the city is French.  Impfondo is five hours ahead of Minnesota time and the weather is vastly different.  It is 80 degrees with 80% humidity most of the time.  Although Impondo is located in a dense tropical rainforest, called the Congo River Basin Rainforest, it has paved roads.  Impondo also has an airport and a hospital.  The hospital there is where we'll be working.
Brazzaville on the map (picture taken
from Google Maps)
According to the information we were given from World Medical Missions, the Pioneer Christian Hospital is a 60-bed hospital, composed of 32 buildings on a 17-acre campus.  The hospital has male, female, pediatric, surgical, and maternity wards.  It also has an outpatient clinic and an emergency department.  There are three operating rooms, one of them dedicated for ophthalmology.  The hospital has a portable x-ray, ultrasound, EKG, pharmacy, chaplaincy, and a well equipped laboratory.

When we first get to Africa, we will be flying into Brazzaville, which is the capital city of the Republic of Congo. We will stay there for two nights where we can rest up, explore, practice our French, and attend 
picture of the chapel at the hospital
(picture taken from www.laurafoudy.blogspot.com)
church services!  Then we will fly from Brazzaville to Impfondo on the third day.  Someone from the hospital will meet us at the airport and bring us to the hospital.  From what I understand, we will be staying either at the hospital, or very close to!  We're getting very excited to get there and serve!

26 January 2014

Wills, Visas, and Shots, OH MY!

I'm not sure what it's like for most parents, but sitting down and deciding the future of your children, should anything happen to you, is rather difficult!  It's hard to admit for one second that they might actually have to continue on with life, without you, at such a young age.  Erik and I have put off writing wills for several years now, but decided it was an important part of preparing for our trip to Africa.
Luckily, we had previously discussed who we would like to take our children if something were to happen to us, so there was not too much to discus.  I am thankful for a good friend who is a lawyer and helped us through the will writing process.  There is a sense of peace knowing that our babies will be taken care of, if anything were to happen while we are away.   Jehovah Jireh - the Lord will provide.
Another thing we crossed off the list: immunizations! The only thing worse than getting a shot - is getting multiple shots.  My left arm was so sore after all the shots I got, I could hardly lift Torsten the next day!  Erik and I got our immunizations at the travel clinic, who did a marvelous job educating us on the country we are going to and the illnesses and diseases that are in that area.  It was eye opening to hear about all the sickness other countries deal with and, often, have no means to protect themselves against.  I am so thankful to live in a fairly healthy country with ways to protect ourselves and our children against many diseases.  It is amazing to have the means to also further protect ourselves against other diseases when venturing to other countries.  The recommended immunizations to enter into the Congo are Yellow Fever (required), Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, Polio, Tetanus/Diphtheria. and Malaria Prophylaxis (pill form). I'm hoping I don't have to get that many shots at once again for a long time!  Luckily, most of the vaccinations we received will last a while!
Another important step in making our trip official was obtaining visas to get into the country.  Visas are required for everyone traveling to the Republic of Congo.  We suspected a hold up over Christmas because the visa office was scheduled to shut down for the holidays, but we received our visas in plenty of time - Jehovah Jireh.  It was fun to get something new stamped in my passport!
Everything else is coming together, too.  I have spent the majority of the last week putting together a binder to leave with my parents for our children.  It has every detail of their lives documented.... daily schedules and routines, school and bus information, doctor and insurance information, food and allergy information, church information, directions and maps for anywhere they'd need to go, and a list of people living close who my parents could contact if they have an emergency or need help for any reason. 
Next up on our list will be trying to figure out how to fit everything we need into four, 50 pound bags.  It might prove rather difficult seeing as though we are transporting some heavy items for the hospital and also packing some things for the missionaries there.  However, I have no doubt that the Lord will provide again, just as He has through this whole planning process.   Even from the day we had the idea to go over to Africa for one of Erik's rotations, to the recommendation to go through Samaritan's Purse/World Medical Missions and our work with them, receiving our visas with plenty of time to spare, having all the vaccinations available to us here (and not passing out while receiving them!).  God has provided for us.  My un-explainable peace about our trip comes from the proof of God's hand over and over and over again.
Jehovah Jireh - the Lord will provide.


22 January 2014

Impfondo, Republic of Congo

What you've heard is true!  Erik and I are headed to Africa!!!
We have been blessed with the amazing opportunity to travel to Impfondo, Republic of Congo to work at the Pioneer Christian Hospital.  We will be spending 18 days there, serving in every and any way we can.  Erik's primary focus will be medicine and helping at the hospital.  It's my plan to serve wherever I'm needed, in the hospital, city, or elsewhere.  While we're there, we will also have the unique opportunity to visit and bless some friends of ours, the Tenpenny's who are serving there more permanently.
We have exactly nine days before we leave.  In the midst of packing and preparing the children for our departure (they are staying home with Bumpa and Grandma!), we'll share more about our trip!  It's our hope that we don't go alone to serve, but that we will have all of you serving along with us.  We ask for you to join us prayerfully on our journey.  It isn't easy to pack up and leave the kids for 20 days (when the longest I've been away from them is a few days!).  It's scary to think about stepping into a country we don't know and entering into language in which neither of us know any of, either.  These are just the beginning of my fears.  The list goes on!  However, through prayer, I have peace and assurance.  Everything will be okay!
Two years ago, we were unsure if Erik would ever be able to practice medicine in the same way ever again.  God taught us patience, trust, and healing.  He taught us His timing, His will, and His answers.  Erik's recovery and return to work a year ago was such a blessing and a gift.  Now it's time to use this gift that God has granted him and help others who aren't so fortunate.

***



If you would be interested in financially supporting our friends, The Tenpenny's, who are long-term missionaries in Impfondo, we would love for you to donate to their cause!  We personally got to know Elliot and Sarah during Elliot's last year of residency when he was one of Erik's chief residents!  They are an amazing christian family and have sacrificed so much to serve the people of the Congo.  They have two adorable little boys, Elias and Hudson.  This family is an amazing example of a living sacrifice and they shine with God's light.  All donations go directly to them and their ministry.
Please click here to make a donation to them. 

21 January 2014

Skogen's 5th Birthday

Skogen was blesssed with an entire week of celebrating his birthday!  He took it very seriously and insisted that we refer to him as "Birthday Boy," and if anyone called him Skogen, he would politely remind us that it was "Birthday Boy."

We started the birthday celebration week with going to Sea Life at the Mall of America.  We got there right before closing time, so we had the entire place to ourselves!  The kids were amazed by all the sea animals swimming all around us!
 Then we ate dinner at the Rainforest Cafe!  The kids have always wanted to eat there and we've never been there at a time when the wait time to eat was under an hour.  Apparently on a Monday night, it's not a too popular place, so we were able to walk right in.

It's tradition to decorate the kids' rooms for them to wake up to on the morning of their birthday.  I tied some balloons to Skogen's bed railing and he didn't even notice when he woke up in the morning!  ha!

Birthday table

Daddy had a new bike waiting for Skogen when he got home from school!  He didn't even notice.  Ha!  We had to direct him into the kitchen and point it out and it still took time to register that it was a new bike that was waiting for him!







Skogen requested "Dirt" for his birthday dessert.  The kids all helped make it!






We ended Skogen's birthday week with a celebration at Chuck E Cheese!  We celebrated with Skogen's best friend, Grant.  They were both born within a couple days of each other, in the same hospital, and in the same hospital room.  They have literally been best buds ever since.  No matter how much time passes in between them seeing each other, they always pick up from where they left off.




18 January 2014

Christmas 2013 (#2)

I can't imagine Christmas without any snow.  Snow adds that magical element that makes Christmas, Christmas!
With a few new inches of snow on the ground this Christmas, we had an afternoon of skiing and sledding in the front yard!












































We write to taste life twice, once in the moment and in retrospection.”
~Anais Nin