10 things this missionary MUST do on furlough

When people find out we’ve been in Tanzania 2 1/2 years without visiting the U.S. — and that we plan on living here a total of at least 10 years — the first thing they say is this:

Wow!  That must be hard.
What do you miss the most?

What do I miss the most?  That’s an extremely difficult question to answer.  It’s like asking a father which of his kids he loves the most.  The answer is all of them.

But the two questions are not exactly the same, mind you, because I’ve not sired much of anything you’ll see in this list.  Nor do I miss everything about the states.  But I do miss a lot.  That’s why I’ve made this top ten list.  


10 Things I’ve Got to Do on Furlough*

10.  Experience autumn.
  Tanzania doesn’t exactly have autumn.  We don’t have any seasons.  In fact, there’s not such thing as weather here.  I know it sounds crazy, but it just doesn’t exist.  So you can imagine how much I miss the cold weather and the smell of fall.  I miss bonfires and sweatshirts and fleeces and leaves changing colors.  Above all, though, I miss my family’s annual fall celebration in which we dress up like children of the forest, exchange greeting cards made of pine straw and pumpkins, and sing songs by Woody Guthrie.  I do not miss Christmas music in November.

9.  Worship in English with more than two other families.  We regularly get together with our teammates for worship, and we use English during these meetings.  But it’s just not the same as joining hundreds of other Christians to praise God.  

8.  Go on four romantic dates with my wife — at least one of which will be a spend-the-night party.  Christie and I don’t go on dates often.  There’s not really anywhere special to go, and childcare is an issue.  But people will be begging to keep Baylor for us to go out to dinner on furlough (especially her aunts and grandparents).  Why four of these dates, you ask?  Well, because that’s one for every month during which we’re in the U.S.

7.  Go to an Auburn football game.  Wouldn’t you know my Auburn Tigers would win the their first national championship since 1957 while I was out of the country?!  And it doesn’t sound like we have a superstar quarterback to pay this year.  Nevertheless we will indeed be attending an Auburn game this year.  War Eagle!

6.  Eat at several of my favorite restaurants — including but not (at all) limited to the following (not even close):

5.  Drink 15 cases of Diet Dr. Pepper.  That’s one per week.  And I don’t need help from any of you.  You can get your own sody pop.  [And I’m not kidding about the number of cases I intend to drink.]

4.  Go to the National Peanut Festival.  Approximately 50% of all peanuts grown in the United States are grown within 100 miles of Dothan, Alabama (my hometown).  So we like to celebrate peanuts.  And I’m not talking about some small town Jazzfest Tomato Festival.  This is big.  Bigger than big.  So big, in fact, that I’m surprised you’ve never attended.  Where are you from, anyway?  Colorado, you say?  Yeah, everyone else from there’s already been to the National Peanut Festival; you’re the only one who hasn’t.  And you’re really missing out.  We’ve got hog and cattle shows, demolition derbies, a parade, a fair and carnival, beauty pageants, all kinds of photography and craft contests, delicious food, a greased pig chase, and a whole bunch of concerts.  So… I guess I’ll see you there?

3.  Compete in several triathlons and running races.  I’m able to train a fair amount and stay in pretty decent shape here in Geita.  But there’s only one race in Tanzania within a 14-hour drive.  Therefore I will be racing as much as possible while in the states.  I’ll soon post a calendar of my races — in case any of you want to join me.

2.  Wrestle a bear.  This one is pretty self-explanatory.

1.  Find out the gender of our second child, whom we are currently expecting.  That’s right — we’re pregnant!  Baylor’s going to become a big sister sometime around January 26, 2012.  And once we find out the child’s gender, we’ll be able to tell my brother whether he’ll be an aunt or an uncle.  If we have a boy, our second child’s name will be one of the following (bold names are those by which we’d call him):  

  • Atticus Rhett Harrison
  • Atticus Rhett Harrison
  • Atticus Grey Harrison
  • Brodie Knox Harrison
  • Tanner Brooks Harrison

You guys are welcome to vote for a name in the comments section below.  Heck, you can even suggest other ones.


Looking forward to seeing you all in a few weeks.  If you wanna’ grab a fajita at SATCO — or if you know where I can wrestle a bear — please let me know. 

* Because it’s very much a given that during furlough I want to 1) see family and friends and 2) introduce Baylor to everyone she’s not yet met (most of you), I’ve not included them in this list.

Also, you should know that this post is a fulfillment of prophecy.  On January 10, 2011, I published a list of my top ten posts of 2011… before they’d been written.  This post was one of them.  You can find the others here:  looking forward — top 10 posts of 2011.



Filed under family, top ten lists, updates from geita

66 responses to “10 things this missionary MUST do on furlough

  1. Andrew

    Praying you have a fabulously blessed furlough! Enjoy all the food, don’t drink all that Die-t Dr. Pepper, and do well in those races, on those dates, etc.

    • thanks, andrew. we really appreciate the prayers. and i will heed all your advice and accept all your good luck wishes — except the one regarding diet dr. pepper.

  2. Brett: I can’t help much since we live so far away, however, I can send you money for a 12 pack of Diet Dr. Pepper. Wish we could share it (you drink yours and I drink mine) but that appears to be an impossibility. have you found a bike and rack yet?

    • i’d love to go for a ride with you, bill, and then relax with a diet dr. pepper afterwards. that’d be a lot of fun.

      i do have a bike — and i think i have a trunk rack to use as well. there’s a fellow janie (the regular reader and runner) knows who just got a new bike and said i could borrow his for the entire furlough. so that’s great. i’m really anxious to race again.

      • I have a 62 cm Bianchi that has been modified for my 6’5″ frame. I was going to have it de-modified for you. I also have a trunk rack I am using on my Outlander and would have had to get a hitch and rack. But sounds like you are set. Plus, I would have had to figure out how to get them to you. 🙂 Glad you are set. Would love to ride with you.

  3. David Robinson

    First one on the blog to say CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!! So excited about the baby news.

  4. Congratulations!!! How exciting and wonderful! I really like the names you picked out too. I like Atticus Rhett and Atticus Grey, but it will be easier if he gets to go by his first name. Take it from Erika Jane. 😉

    Wrestle a bear? I just watched a show on Animal Planet about bears and they are mean. And big.

    Sounds like a GREAT furlough!!!

    • i probably should have said that christie didn’t approve any of those names. they’re just the ones i like the most.

      oh, and obviously i’m james brett, going by brett. but i didn’t ever really mind the middle name thing.

      • Ha! Well, you will have to get her approval! Back in the day of being Erika Jane (a name I like more now than I did then), I had to correct every teacher on the first day of school and I hated that. Substitute teachers as well. I had to do it all the way through college. And then at NASA, my work badge and e-mail said it, so it took people (engineers) forever to figure out that the girl sending e-mails was the same girl working down the hall.

        And in truth, I DID start out my life going by Erika. I asked my parents if I could change it when Dad adopted me because I could not pronounce my r’s very well.

        Atticus Grey sounds like an author’s name. Or the hero in a novel.

        • Elodie

          Congrats on baby #2!
          Here are Rena Elodie’s two cents on baby names:
          It seems to bother girls more to go by their middle names. My husband goes by his as well but it never seemed to bother him. My experience was exactly like Janie’s. It drove me crazy having to explain my name, especially since both of mine wern’t “normal”, easy to pronounce names. This is one of the main reasons that Iegaly changed my name after I got married, droping the Rena making Elodie my legal first name. So maybe go with a middle name if it’s a boy, but not if it’s a girl. I do however like the choices of Rhett and Grey and love your girls choice of Harper!
          Have a wonderful time on your furlough!!

        • i think atticus grey might be my favorite. but it’s a no go. brodie knox is probably my second. and it’s a no go as well, methinks. if we have a girl, making our name decision will be really easy. i think we already have the name, in fact. but a boy will cause much strife….

          • Elodie

            We’ve been living just outside of Orlando for the last (almost) 5 years now. I started teaching once we moved down there but took some time off after Evan (who is now 3) was born. I came back part time this past school year and am going back full time in the fall. I love your blog, and am actually a faithful reader but I always read it on my phone which doesn’t allow me to comment. So even though you won’t hear from me often, know that I’m always reading and praying for you guys!

          • it’s really good to hear from you, elodie. i often miss our little china crew. a very late congratulations on evan’s birth (and on living somewhere warm and beautiful).

  5. Kyle Ferguson

    Wow! Congrats you guys! And I hope to get to see you sometime while you’re in the States.

  6. Kate Connell

    Yeah!!! Congratulations!!!!! on both the furlough and the new baby. 😉 Safe travels, guys.

    • thanks, kate. i hope all is well for you back in ohio? how’s the health? is it good to be home for a bit?

      • Kate Connell

        health is almost back to normal… a few more tests. (breathing is good, but heart is doing some weird racing things… can’t run without it shooting up to 220 bpm. Scary.) it’s sometimes good and sometimes bad… moving back in with your parents after 13 years is a big adjustment. 🙂 But it’s nice to have coffee shops, nieces/nephew, siblings, NO traffic, and free time! (Lots and lots of free time to hang out with the Youth Group and help out at church.) Excited for you guys to be back in the States for a bit!

        • glad to know you’re feeling better. though the 220 bpm doesn’t sound great.

          and your talk of “NO traffic” in the states reminds me how very different our tanzanias are.

  7. Kasey George

    I have to say, I’m not surprised about the pregnancy. I figure what better time to be pregnant? Sonic and comfort foods for the preggers!!! Congrats and can’t wait to see ya’ll. There’ll be plenty of DDP’s here, and Sonic trips, oh, and we’ve been collecting for a bon fire!

    • it was indeed well timed, we think. we can’t wait to come stay with you guys are your newly created menagerie. and a bon fire sounds great.

      • Daniel

        we’re really excited to have ya’ll! mostly excited to have baylor play with annelise and them learn some crazy climbing stuff from each other. i know daniel is really excited to be under the same roof with two pregnant women!

  8. If you have a Brodie he’s gonna have to borrow that polo Jude had on tonight cause it’s right up there with Thaxton.

    • christie will not allow me to have brodie, so it’s of little import that it sounds like a yacht club name. she says it’s too much like grodie (however you spell that word). i, however, think i could find an unattractive word to rhyme with most any name out there. but she insists he won’t be called brodie, should “he” be a boy.

  9. loved the crack about paying a quarterback. Judging by the number of furlough posts in recent weeks – you may be semi-excited!

  10. bogenhagen eroik

    hey hope i get to see you on furlough. we’d love to see you guys! all of you 🙂 maybe even take in the peanut festival with you or something fun, lake trip, i mean we could do more than one thing together you know! hope all is well, safe travels.

    • more than one thing sounds nice. as you know, i love the peanut festival and the lake. i also don’t mind just hanging out with your family. as long as everyone wears name tags. what do you guys have now, like 12 kids?

  11. maemae

    Congratulations and I am so excited!! We are really looking forward to seeing all of you. Oh, just so you know, Dothan now has a Five Guys. I wouldn’t suggest going there and Conestoga on the same day though. Take care of Christie and we will see you soon. Love ya!!

  12. Kim

    Okay, this was all much more bizarre to me than it will be to you b/c there is very little chance that you remember me, but here it is: I recently fell in love with Jamie the very worst missionary’s blog, and I’ve been reading back through all her old posts. And I kept seeing this guy named James Brett’s comments, and liking them, and seeing how Jamie seemed to think he was a really cool guy, and so I checked out your website. And I KNOW you! Sort of. I went to Lipscomb, and the summer before I went, my church went to Dothan’s youth rally, and you were there. And b/c you went to Lipscomb, I remembered you. You might have been on the Quest team or something, too, b/c I feel like I saw you during those first few weeks. Anyhow, all that to say, I was very amazed to see a fellow coC’er, whom I knew, out in random cyber space. But anyway.

    The real reason I’m commenting (I’ve known about your blog for a few week’s now) is because I LOVE the name Atticus. To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book.

    Kim (Sparrow) Kirby

    • wow. it’s good to see you on here, kim. i do indeed remember you. [aren’t you originally from huntsville? and somehow or another we met one another (maybe at youth for Christ) through randy and rhonda fowler? though i might be wrong about that. but i do remember you.]

      i clicked over to your blog. it would seem you married greg kirby, whom i knew too. i think because he was good friends with jackson ware, who also hails from dothan. i’m glad you found me on here. the number of church of Christers who know how to use the internet is steadily growing, you know.

      thanks for approving the name atticus. i don’t think christie’s going to go for it, though. at least not as the name that’s primarily used.

      tell greg i said hi. and thanks for commenting. what took you so long?

  13. Brett,
    We had some contact through your blog some time back. I haven’t been on in a while my computer was hacked. Now I have a new operating system, new email, etc. I see you are coming Stateside for a while. If by chance you are itinerating in or near southern Delaware or Maryland, let me know.
    I was Mamac@gmail.com; but that no longer exists.

    • cheryl, it’s good to see you on here again. sorry to hear about your computer misfortunes. unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll be in delaware or maryland (it’s cold up there). i think the closest we’ll get is richmond, virginia, where christie’s parents live.

      • In the summers I work for a Christian Bed and Breakfast. We serve everyone but it is our heart to transition into serving and ministering to people coming in off the mission field for a rest (as God enables us.)

  14. JMF

    KYLE FERGUSON!!! Wow, lots of LU throwbacks here.

    1) 5guys = way overrated.

    2) Congratulations on impregnating your wife!

    3) I don’t have a “live” bear for you to wrestle, per se. I am, however, in the middle of acquiring several animal mounts, which includes a full mount grizzly bear, a brown bear wrestling a wolverine, and the real prize of the collection: a full mount polar bear! Very random, but very true.

    • i think it’s a different kyle ferguson. though i don’t remember one from lipscomb when we were there?

      5 guys overrated?! but you can get extra cheese and bacon for free! thanks for the congrats on the pregnancy (though you said that a very different way). and what are you doing with all those animal mounts? where are they going?

  15. Daniel

    I hope climbing and eating at the Dairy Delite is # 11 on your list cause it’s hard to find a climbing partner around here. I definitely like Atticus better than Brodie but not as much as Mjambe or whatever that made up African name was that you came up with. Congratulations.

    • that probably is number 11 on the list. problem is, though, all my rock climbing gear is going to be here. so we’ll have to borrow everything from someone?

      • Daniel

        just bring your shoes. I have the rest.

        • great. i’ll bring them. good thing you said so — or i wouldn’t have.

          are you interesting in running any races while i’m home? any distance at all? [i won’t try and talk you into a 50k race through the mountains with frozen hair.]

          • Daniel

            the idea of running another race with you sounds fun, however, I have not been running. I could probably swing a 10k or a not-so-serious bike race. The Warrior Dash is in Manchester in September ( a 5k with some ob-Stackles included).

  16. I don’t know why but images from Eddie Murphy’s “Coming to America” are popping up in my mind!!! 😯


  17. Have a wonderful furlough!!! I love your list… some of your “things” are also my furlough “things” Enjoy!!!

  18. Being the woman carrying this child, I would like to say that in no way will our child be named brodie, atticus, or brooks. sorry to all you kill a mockingbird fans out there. Perhaps it will be some consolation to you to know that our top girl’s name right now is Harper?

  19. And I like Harper too!

  20. Craig Bullington

    Rats…really liked the name Atticus Rhett. A lot.

    I’m glad that McDougal’s made it on this list, that’s on the top of the classic ‘vandy hunting grounds’ list, and I miss it (even living in the ‘Boro). Look forward to meeting you (y’all, since Christie is on this blog?) soon! And if you need someone to make the trek to SatCo or McDougal’s, let me know. : )

    • both those names are still in the running, craig. just not together probably. and atticus can’t be the name by which the kid goes. but it could be one of his two names.

      i heard there was a mcdougals in the ‘boro for a short while, didn’t i? i can’t believe they didn’t stay in business.

      • Craig Bullington

        Not that I know of…but I haven’t been in the ‘boro that much since going to college. I know murfreesboro has otter’s, but it’s not the same.

  21. Congratulations Brett and Christie! I am with Christie on your name selection choices, just sayin…
    It sounds like you are really looking forward to your time back home. I can only imagine how excited you must feel about heading home after being away for so long.
    Enjoy your ‘break’ away from Africa.

  22. I totally wanted to comment on this when I was camping but my smart phone wouldn’t let me. Now I forget what I wanted to say. *sigh* Oh, well … Congratulations on the baby and happy furloughing!

  23. Pingback: things i’ve missed: humidity | aliens and strangers

  24. Pingback: top 12 list (of top 10 lists) on 12-12-12 | aliens and strangers

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