i didn’t have a party, but that’s ok

Fourteen days ago marked the beginning of the second half of 2014.
Most people probably didn’t even notice the shift from first to second half.
It’s not like anything really big happened that day, at least not in my life this year.

Last year, though, was another story.  If you don’t recall that celebration you should read about it here!

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during last year’s party at the church on June 30th – little boy dancing outside and some of the people preparing food in the kitchen

 

I might not have had a party to celebrate the first six months of this year, but thinking about last year’s definitely got me to reflect on all that has happened thus far in 2014.

Thus far, this year may not seem too exciting or glamorous.
And there may have been some uphill battles I’ve had to deal with along the way, such as re-entry to America (more than once:)
But, there is no need to focus on the negatives; plus, facing challenges can definitely be opportunities for growth.

The first half of my 2014 included some of the following, in case you’re interested…

- Starting the year Berlin

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ringing in 2014 at the Brandenburg Gate

 

- two great conferences, seeing friends, and having a good time in LA and San Diego, CA

1798800_10201649487741418_375707907_nbesides a 9 mile walk down the beach one day, this was our only other time at the beach (kind of sad for two girls spending time in CA from MI)

 

- quality time with friends and family (in person – instead of over Skype:)
- getting a part-time job
- amazing progress on the Hallelujah Project [the library  / classroom building in Uganda]
- officially meeting and hanging out in person with a “co-worker” from my time in Japan

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so thankful our unique paths were able to cross while I was in Chicago

 

- honored to be in a wedding for a good friend
- having the opportunity to visit my friends and family in Mukono, Uganda

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so great to be back at the school and see all of the kids and smiling faces again

 

- getting to see Amsterdam during my 6.5 hour layover
- boxes and boxes upon books finally arrived in Uganda the week after I left from my visit
- meeting my friends’ kids / going to their birthday parties

What will the rest of this year hold?
I have no idea.  But, that’s ok.
And honestly, that’s part of the adventure.
There’s One who does know, and that’s all that matters!

 

much love!

growing and changing

When I moved back from Uganda at the end of December, I knew work on the Hallelujah Project  [the library/classroom building that started being dug April 2013] was not over and would not stop just because I was leaving.

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soon before I left, this is what the building was looking like

 

In fact, Pastor and Maama Frida would send updates on the school and the building, including pictures.
But, there is definitely a difference in being there and being back here in America and communicating through emails and getting updated on the happenings over there.

I think that is another reason why my recent trip back to Mukono was so great.
Besides what I wrote about last week, which you can read here; seeing the progress of the building and the school in person was amazing.

From emails, I knew the school had made changes and progressed since last year.
To see that progression in person and to be able to see the tangible differences was something that cannot be conveyed in an email.
It was great to have conversations with my friends at the school, to meet new teachers, and to see the students.

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upper students gathered during morning assembly

 

As for the Hallelujah Project, seeing that in person, I had no words the first night I saw it (not like that’s a new occurrence for me:)
When I left, as you can see in the picture above, they were going to put a ceiling on the ground floor; now almost all the walls on the second floor are up to ceiling height.
Now, the inside of the ground floor is being plastered and finished, shelves and tables are being built for books.
Oh, and the books have officially arrived!

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starting to plaster the ceiling of the ground floor before I left

 

I keep saying it’s hard to believe how far the building has come and how much has happened with the Hallelujah Project.  I remember what the school used to look like, and seeing all of the changes is really exciting.
Here are a couple of pictures for you to see some of the changes since the building was started!

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much of the area cleared for the building and the retaining wall built

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADavis and I watching as they are starting the slab [or the ground of the ground floor]

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwalls of  the ground floor starting to go up

 

DSC_0330a two story building when I visited at the end of May!

 

much love!

 

ps. if you are interested in helping us see this project continue, you can find out more information about supporting it financially here.  Or you can feel free to contact me if you have any questions, as well:)

home is where the heart is

To be perfectly honest, when I was leaving America for this trip, I was a bit anxious; I had no idea what to expect.  Along with that anxiousness came a great deal of excitement though; and soon after arriving, the anxiousness disappeared.

As soon as I walked out of the airport in Entebbe, Uganda, saw Pastor and Maama Frida’s faces, I knew I was home.
After the two hour drive to Mukono, I entered the house that had been my home for over a year; it was good to be back.  I stayed up with Elizabeth (my mom in the house) and a few other people, talking for a while before heading to bed (my plane had landed just before midnight:)

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laughing with Elizabeth and Nakato – happens quite a bit with these two

 

After spending a couple of long, but good, days in Kampala at a conference with others from the church, I finally went to school on Friday and saw the kids.
Not only did I just get to see the school, but I was able to help in Baby class again!

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filling out numerous books of work for the 54+ students in Baby class [the equivalent of preschool]

 

DSC_0378a few kids eager to have their picture taken on their way to classes 

 

In some ways it felt like I had not been gone for almost five months; which is really an indescribable feeling, I am very thankful to have.
My short time back in Mukono was filled with numerous conversations, hugs, high fives and quality time with great people I consider my friends and family.

I have numerous pictures and stories from my time there, but here are just a few pictures to hold you until I give an update on the Hallelujah Project [library / classrooms we've been building].

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goofing around with some of the kids Saturday afternoon

 

DSC_0410their faces may not be in focus – but, Peace and Aggie are radiating happiness as we eat baby mangoes and they tell me to stop taking their pictures:)

 

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my precious little Lytone, so good to see her again!

 

much love!

my, how time flies

It is hard to even put into words how great it is to be back home here in Mukono.
Time has really been flying by, I can’t believe that I leave in just a few days.

Even though this trip is short, it has been so good.
In this time, I feel like I have slipped back into life here and been a part of what has been going on and catching up on the lives of my friends and family.
Oh and of course getting to see all of the changes that have been taking place at Champions Christian Primary School and with the Hallelujah Project [the library / classroom building we are building here].

I plan to write more and when I get back, but here are a couple of pictures of the building here:)

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can you believe how big it has gotten?

 

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Uncle Sam breaking out the space for one of the doors

 

And for some really great news, the books are finally on their way here.  They are set to arrive next week!  Thank you for all of your prayers thus far.

If you are interested in supporting this project financially, feel free to ask me any questions, or click here to find out how.

 

much love!

back home…

…or at least to my Ugandan home:)

This is going to be short, but I wanted to let everyone know that I have made it back to Mukono, Uganda safely.
I don’t have much internet while I am here, but I will post pictures and updates when I can.

Before I go, let me tell you, it feels good to be back here, even though I know this visit will be brief.
the smiles
the warm welcomes
the hugs
it has been great and brought so much joy to my heart.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to be here; to see my friends and family, to talk about life, and to see what God has been doing here.

 

much love!

friends and flights

It’s hard to believe that in three days I leave for Uganda.

But, I won’t be spending that time getting ready to leave.
Not at all.
In fact, my bags are packed already.
First stop, Chicago, for the wedding of a great friend.
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yes, this girl is getting married and I am so happy

 

After she marries her best friend and I see another friend, I will be boarding a plane.
Said plane, a couple of others, oh and a few layovers later (almost 25 hours later to be more accurate:) I will be back in Uganda!

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can’t wait to hang out with this one again (and so many others:)

 

Your prayers, love and support mean so much to me as I make this journey.

 

much love!

world’s toughest job

Recently, I read about this job posting for the World’s Toughest Job.
It said that only 24 people applied, out of over 2.7 million people that viewed the online ad.

Not surprising it was so few considering this was the description (taken from here):
• Standing up almost all the time
• Constantly exerting yourself
• Working from 135 to unlimited hours per week
• Degrees in medicine, finance and culinary arts necessary
• No vacations
• The work load goes up on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and other holidays
• No time to sleep
• Salary = $0

Do you have any idea what this job is?
You should watch this video of their interviews to the end:)

 

Being a mom is definitely a tough job.
So a big thank you to my mom and to all the moms out there!
Happy Mother’s Day!
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my family, from a long time ago!

 

much love!