Right after Penelope was born, we had a very special visitor. Months ago, our dear friend Brandy decided to visit us during the Gustavus spring break. This would be her first transoceanic trip, and she was going to travel all the way from St. Peter, Minnesota, to Penang, Malaysia. She’d arrive 16 days after the baby’s due date, and we were all confident that baby would be out of the hospital and the Carlin family would be adapting to its new routine by then.
Ha! Little did we know how persistent this new little person would be. I was still in the hospital when Brandy boarded her first flight from Minneapolis to Tokyo. Fortunately (?), it takes a while to travel halfway around the world and our family was all settled into our apartment by the time she actually landed in Penang. In fact, Penelope’s very first outing in this world was a cab ride to the airport to meet Brandy.
Because the baby was so very new, we had to moderate the amount of touristy stuff that we got to do with Brandy. We compensated with lots of baby snuggles. I think it was a fair trade.
Her first weekend in Penang happened to coincide with Easter. I suppose it might seem strange to travel all the way to Malaysia to celebrate an American-style Easter, but that’s what we did! The USM buddies, coordinated through staff member Jumie, organized an Easter celebration at the Interational Office. All the Gusties and many USM buddies met up that afternoon to dye Easter eggs. And wow, we have a creative bunch. I was too busy holding a baby to get to decorate any eggs, but I loved seeing the students’ creations.
But Brandy wasn’t even our only guest! Another Gustavus colleague was also in Penang for the week. Mike has already been selected to lead the Gustavus Semester in Malaysia program in 2018. So he was in town to meet with program faculty, visit the USM campus, and get a feel for Penang. This was a bit of a special visit for us. Mike taught at United International College in Zhuhai, China, several years before we went there. I remember meeting with him and his wife at River Rock way back in 2012 as they described life in China to us. Now, the roles were reversed and we were able to tell him about life in Malaysia. I felt like I was repaying a favor, in a way.
And Mike got to hold a baby, of course.
The next day, Joel played tour guide in historic Georgetown.