Sunday, May 23, 2010


This entry of “derek and alicia in the ‘zerb” has been unusually difficult to begin. It is not a problem of knowing what to say, but where to start. Okay, so knowing exactly what to say may be a bit of a problem, too. First and foremost, these last two weeks have been daunting. Sabirabad city has still not flooded, but the surrounding villages have flooded again. The threat to the city is still looming, and because of that threat Peace Corps’ decision has been to keep Sabirabad closed to all Volunteers, PC vehicles, and Staff. We have remained with friends during this time.

It has been a game of “wait and see” in regards to the possibility of Sabirabad city flooding. So we have found ourselves in a weird and wearing situation. We have been in frequent contact with the PC Staff, and everyone seems to be in the same boat. No one can predict the future. At this point PC Azerbaijan is undecided on whether or not Sabirabad will be reopened. In the next two weeks we may be allowed to return briefly with a driver provided by the PC to grab the rest of our belongings, but will not stay.

On more than one occasion Alicia and I have talked about our future in Azerbaijan. It has been a long, and often, uphill battle. As we have talked about already in this blog, it has been good for us. We have learned so much. And for that, we are grateful. At this point we are waiting to for the possibility to go to Sabirabad and say our goodbyes. We are praying for closure on this, and never imagined leaving Azerbaijan under such circumstances.

To be clear, the Peace Corps had offered to relocate us to a different region in Azerbaijan. Most likely we would live out the rest of the summer bouncing from PCV to PCV, keeping what we could carry, and sleeping on floors and couches. We would essentially work with other PCV’s on their projects or camps, but wouldn’t have a home base. Before the floods we had decided to finish the school year and reassess our time here. The flood pulled us out of our community and put us in limbo. We’re using this time to see some other volunteers.

We aren’t sure about a time frame, but we will be returning to the States within the next few weeks. As I said we are waiting to see if Sabirabad will open back up momentarily so we can get our stuff and see our friends to say our goodbyes. Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and prayers for the people of Sabirabad during this time of difficulty. We also want to thank everyone for their support for us while we have been in Azerbaijan. I can’t begin to give you a detailed, or even a summary, of everything that we have experienced and learned. Just know that we are grateful for our time here and have learned life lessons that we will carry with us and learn from long after returning to the States. These last nine months have been a whirlwind of emotions and experiences, and we are happy to have shared a piece of it with you through this blog.

Our plans for the future are unsure. Our immediate plans involve returning to Alicia’s folks house where I will help on the farm over the summer. We’ll be bouncing around from Iowa to Missouri to see family and friends as well. We plan to, in time, relocate to Kansas City and will use Alicia’s parent’s home as a “homebase” to look for work and a home in KC, unless something else comes up. As I’ve said already, your support for us during our time in Azerbaijan is more appreciated than most of you will probably realize. Hope to see you all down the road and our next adventure. Cheers!

Derek and Alicia


  1. Sorry to hear about the stresses and trails but glad to hear of your experiences and being stretched. Will be praying for closure for you. Hope to see you back here in the USA.


  2. Wow, Derek, Sounds like you guys have been through the roller coaster of experiences and emotions!! I know that no experience is ever wasted and am glad you are so positive about all you've been through. Hang in there and keep trusting God. He knows what we do not!! Love, Francie

  3. I have enjoyed reading your blog from the perspective of a married couple. My daughter Stephanie is in Balakan and it is interesting how experiences vary from PCV To PCV. I thank you for your servie in the Peace Corp. Every bit of American Good Will that we can bring to others leads to a more peaceful world. Best wishes to both of you in all your adventures!!!! Darlene (Stephy's Mom)

  4. Wow. It is hard to believe that your time there is ending like this. I have been praying for you guys and I am so glad you have been taken care of. We selfishly look forward to seeing you soon!!!!!

  5. dang! love you guys! that is so unexpected. but we'll be praying for the transitions and everything and that you will know that God is near to you in all of this!! and, like laura said, selfishly look forward to seeing you soon.

  6. Derek....remember how you guys always wanted to have adventures???? Well, this certainly has been one; glad the two of you were together. You'll have lots of stories to tell your children. As difficult as it's been, am thankful you have been safe and healthy. Though far from ideal circumstances, you've learned and grown in ways you probably never thought you would. Pray that God will make a way for you to return to say your good byes and retrieve your things. Pray, too, for a safe journey home. Am anxious to see both of you. Love you, mama ging