if i’m not mistaken…

…today is someone’s birthday.
(actually, it’s probably many someones’ birthdays)

But, there is only one person I know, for whom I am writing this blog.
He is less than twice my age for over two years now;
but at one point he was much older than me.

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yep, me as a baby

 

I could probably make this really wordy, but I think I’ll cut right to the chase
Happy birthday, Poppy!

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in the snow maybe 7 years ago

I hope you have a great day!
Eat lots of chocolate (I even ate some last night:)

love,
.

 

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so, what’s next?

So I’ve alluded to this over the past few days.  But I guess it’s finally time to fill you in on what’s coming up for me.
For quite some time I had been feeling like I should teach English.  Not something I’d ever really thought about doing.  I think education is important, and maybe there could be something from the experience for my future.

In less than one week, visa depending, I’m moving to Daegu, South Korea to teach English as a second language.
My students will mostly be kindergartners, with some older elementary students later in the day.

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next week, I should be on a plane to Korea:)

 

I wish I had more to share with you about what I’m doing and where I’m going, but I’m sure there will be a lot to tell once I get there and things get started.

What I can tell you for now is, the past couple of months have been a number of up and downs with jobs and preparations.
And this job, the process of getting it, and getting ready to go, has been quite the whirlwind.

As I mentioned before, being in America hasn’t been the easiest for me, but leaving is definitely full of many emotions.
There are feelings of being overwhelmed for what needs to be done here and sadness as I say my goodbyes; and excitement and nervousness for what is to come;

So soon.
So soon.
I can’t believe I leave in less than one week.

 

much love!

 

those non-plan plans

You know how sometimes you have a plan, even if you don’t have a plan?  Meaning, it’s not a really thought-through, worked out plan, but it’s just a rough idea in your mind of what “should happen.”
I think that’s where I was at when I returned to America from Uganda.

I felt like I was supposed to leave, but there was nothing lined up for me and I had no plans or ideas of what I was supposed to do once I got back to the land of America.
Somewhere in my mind though, even if I would never admit it, I thought I would only be in America for a short while, then leave again, perhaps even be moving back to Uganda.
But, that wasn’t happening.  Things weren’t going according to my “non-plan.”  And sometimes, that was really hard.  I would feel lost and like my life was in limbo.

All of this sounds pretty negative so far, but I don’t mean it to.  There were definitely some great parts about being back.
Being able to reconnect with friends and family in person; Skype is amazing but there is something to be said about interacting face-to-face.
I was able to take escape MI winter with one of my friends by taking a trip to CA for a couple of conferences, and while out there, see other friends.
Worked as a barista for a while, and I definitely enjoyed some of my conversations with the customers and my coworkers.

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with Lauren in CA

 

Then there are those unexpected parts of being back.  Those parts that are such a mix of emotions, where bittersweet is really the best way to describe it.
In October/November my parents sold their house and moved to Vermont, due to my dad getting a job transfer.  Despite at one point having had my own apartment, then traveling, and moving around the world, this had been my home, or “home base,” since I was in sixth grade.  In some ways it was really hard to be there for the moving process, and to have to go through so many memories and only save some.  But, at the same time I was really thankful for this opportunity for my parents and that I could be home for this change.

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last day with my pine tree, Alfred, I planted as a seed in a cup around 1993

 

Not only was this a change for my parents, but a change for me as well.  I had had been living with them since returning to America, but my friend and her husband graciously offered me a place to live with them.  There were so many questions and unknowns throughout.  Moving in and of itself was a change, but all that went with it was more of a change and more to process than I realized.

Last year at this time, if you would have told me I would still be in America in a year, I wouldn’t have been too thrilled about that.  That was not in my “non-plan.”
2014 may not have happened the way I thought it would, but I am thankful for all that happened and for where it took me.
2015 is shaping up to be an interesting year already – don’t you worry, I’ll fill you in soon on what some of that looks like:)

 

much love!

 

where to begin?

I’ve started and restarted this blog multiple times. It shouldn’t be this hard to type a blog.
There have been quite a few big changes in my life recently, so I have plenty to share.
So why has this blog taken me several days to write?

I think the delay might be from having so many things I want to talk about, but not having the adequate words to express it all.
Or maybe it has taken several days because I don’t know where to begin.

I haven’t consistently written here since living in Uganda.
Yes, it has been a little over one year since I returned to America, and much has happened since then; but every day I think about my family and friends in Mukono.
As I left in December 2013, I felt like I was leaving part of my heart there, and I truly did.

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at my going away celebration

 

While sitting in the airport, waiting for my plane to arrive that December night, I had no idea what I was going to do when I eventually got back to America; I also had no idea I would be back in this same airport in a little under five months for a short, but wonderful visit.

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Patience, Ivan, Benja, and Lytone when I went back in May

 

When I felt like God was telling me to leave, I didn’t understand why. And I still might not have all the answers, but that’s okay. I know that my time in America has been a part of His plan and I can see His hand in so many ways.

 

much love!

 

stay tuned for what’s been going on and one of the BIG changes just around the corner!

 

730 days

Two years ago today I walked onto a plane and started the journey to Mukono, Uganda.
It wasn’t my first time there, but this time it was going to be different; and really I had no idea what to expect.
I was nervous and excited all at the same time.
Moving to Uganda for at least a year.  What in the world?!

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Lytone, October 2012

 

To become a part of a community and family there in a way that I never even imagined.
And when I left, I truly left behind a part of my heart.

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with Lytone, August 2013

 

I don’t know if I have the words to share with you how thankful I am for my experiences there; or to relay to you how important the people who became my family and friends there are to me, and how they will always be a part of my life, even if I am thousands of miles away.

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Lytone, May 2014

 

Thank you to everyone who has supported me financially, emotionally, and through prayer along the way.  I cannot imagine my life without Uganda in it.
And thank you to all of those who have also helped to expand the school through the development of the library and additional classrooms!  It has been so amazing seeing the school grow and I know the building will be finished!*

 

much love!

 

*to help finish building more classrooms for the school in Mukono, Uganda, click here!

would you rather . . .

When things get slow in the world of coffee, one of my co-workers and I typically pass the time by cleaning, and asking a myriad of random questions and “would you rather’s…”

Most of it is sheer ridiculousness:
Would you rather have mops for feet or towels for hands?
Would you rather bark like a dog every time you talked or were only able to say one phrase – “Polly want a cracker?”
Would you rather have garlic breath or have bleu cheese b.o.?
Would you rather be a celebrity or a royal?

But sometimes our questions make me think about changes in my life and my perspective of things over the past few years.
Would you rather spend 2 years on a deserted island or 2 years in a remote village somewhere?
If you could wake up tomorrow in any country, where would you be?
Would you rather live without electricity or without running water?

I know what I answer now to some questions is not what it would have been four years ago, maybe not even two years ago.
And honestly, that’s kind of cool to me.
Sometimes I feel like I haven’t changed.  That life has been happening and I have been doing things, but I haven’t necessarily changed much.
It was encouraging to see, through these simple back and forth questions, that change has occurred.

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sometimes [many times] I miss the view out my window in Uganda

 

This might be the end of my story for today.
But I know it’s not over.
I am not done growing and I’m not done changing:)

 

much love!

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!