i’m a mom

Have I ever told you about Sam and my family?
Well, a year ago, when I said, “I do” and became a wife, I also became a mother.


visiting with kids the day after our wedding, before they went back to school
(not all of the are our kids:)

 

For those who have known me for a number of years, you’re probably thinking, “I thought she didn’t want kids.”
You would be correct, I didn’t.  But, over the last few years, God has gradually changed my heart and made me love kids in a way I never did before.

How many kids do we have?  Currently, we have 7.  Although, I’m sure that number will continue to grow over time.
Continue to grow?  Simply put, Sam and I both have a heart for kids.  When we hear a child’s story, the hardships and the pain they are in, our hearts break.  We both want to be able to give them hope and fill them with love.
Although we created CITY to help kids, we also feel pulled to certain children and want them to be a part of our own family.


Sam with some of our kids on their first day of the school year

 

Who are our kids?  We have two boys and five girls.  Their backgrounds are varied: some have lost one or more parents, a couple have been diagnosed HIV+, some have a parent who is not able to feed them or pay school fees; but all of them deserve the opportunity to go to school and be a part of a loving family.

These children are incredibly precious to Sam and me.  When we talk about our future or anything we want to do, our kids are definitely part of our decisions and plans.

 

much love!

 

sometimes three pairs of socks isn’t enough

When I was little, I loved snow.  Not only was it fun, but it was beautiful.
I never really enjoyed driving in it, but the beauty made up for that.
There was even a time I would have said winter was my favorite season.

The past few years though, have been quite different.
Now, I don’t look forward to cold or snow.
I look outside in the morning, not with anticipation, but with dread, that there will be snow.

Although, this year, there is a tiny part of me that wants snow.
I want my Ugandan husband to see snow for the first time!

Coming to Korea, he has experienced many new things, including the weather.
He has now become a professional layerer; including his socks and scarves.

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bundled up for outings in the snow

 

It’s been fun for me to experience season changes, for the first time, with him.
He loves the fall leaves as much as I do.

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of course we took a leaf picture:)
although the colors aren’t quite as good here as in America

 

He also was able to experience American[ish] Thanksgiving for the first time.
The children’s English class we help with on Sunday mornings, at the church, had a Thanksgiving meal the Sunday after.  I was excited for macaroni and cheese (it’d been a long time since I had had cheese).  He really enjoyed the stuffing.

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at the Thanksgiving meal

 

As we are well into the holiday season this year, we hope you are able to take time and reflect on some of the things you are thankful for this year.
Also, that you can enjoy time with friends and family.

 

much love!

how to describe more than just a trip

How do I tell you more about my trip back home?
I could give you a play-by-play of every moment, from landing at Entebbe and having to wait over an  hour in line for my visa to officially enter the country of Uganda, until we finally said the goodbyes we had been putting off saying outside the departure doors at the same airport one week later.
Yes, that would be one way.
But for me, it’s the little stories; the not-so big moments.
Those are what make me smile.
The things I will remember the most.
Those are what made my trip what it was.

I hadn’t been to Mukono since May of 2014.  In one year’s time, kids can grow.
Arriving at the house I call home there, two of the three kids were back from school.  Both Ronnie and Joet are tall now.  Ronnie is right under my chin, and proudly, he can pick me up and carry me (a goal of his for some time now:)

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Joet, Kata, and Ronnie  – taking fun photos with me before church

 

I was even able to go to visitation day to see the oldest from my house.  I hadn’t seen her since I first left at the end of December 2013.  We feasted and laughed with her, enjoying stories and being able to spend those precious few moments before they made all visitors leave.

IMG_6133so good to see this one again

 

Like I said in my previous blog, it was as if we picked up where things had been left off.  I answered questions about Korea, my family, and life.  They filled me in on the happenings there.
There was no awkward, “I don’t know where I belong” feeling.

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reunited and it feels so good
laughter always ensues when I am with Justine:)

 

There have been a number of babies born in the community since my last visit.  It was great to finally meet and hold them.

IMG_6248with Favour – isn’t her smile beautiful?!

 

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and this is Jeremiah – I couldn’t wait to meet him!

 

On Sunday, when I was greeting the church and telling them about what has been happening in my life and such, I taught them how to greet in Korean.  I made sure they knew, you don’t just say the words, but you also bow.
I had people bowing and sputtering through their version of annyeong haseyo for the remainder of the week.
It was so great.

I’m sure I could keep going.
Jumping back into life there felt so normal.  From helping cook dinners at the house and ironing and mending clothes again, to being back at the school.
It was so great to see my friends and family there.  And I am incredibly thankful for the time, even if it was so short.
There have been changes and progress made at the school, but I think I’ll save that for next time.

 

much love

 

 

time

It’s funny what time can do.
About five and a half months ago I flew from Michigan to South Korea.
After arriving at the airport, I needed to buy a bus ticket and get to Daegu.
Well, last night I arrived at Incheon airport in Seoul, bought a bus ticket, and made my way to Daegu.
This time though, the process seemed easier, and I knew where I was going.

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flying over Hong Kong – one of my layovers

 

Almost four and a half years ago, in March 2011, I went to Mukono, Uganda for the first time.
At that time, I had no idea I would be going back.
And not just going back to visit, but that that would become my home.

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flying into Entebbe during the day – I think this was a first for me

 

I may have only been in Mukono for one week, but my week was full and filling.
Although it had been a little over a year since the last time I was there, from the moment I was greeted at the airport, I was home.
Things weren’t having to be restarted; but rather, we were taking our finger off the pause button and starting where we left off.

It’s hard to believe my time there is over, and it’s back to teaching English to my Korean kindergarteners tomorrow.
I’m not even sure how to process or fully think about the last week.
But, I do plan to share more stories and pictures in upcoming days:)

For now, I will leave you with this:

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having fun with Joet and Ronnie while making supper

 

much love

 

 

summer vacay

Well, it’s almost time for my school here in South Korea to go on our week long Summer vacation.
Of course that means I want to go somewhere.
But where should I go?
Being in Asia, there are so many options.
I think I will go here…

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do you recognize it?

 

I’m going home!
Yep, I’m leaving Asia and going where my heart most wants to be, back in Africa
In Mukono, Uganda – with my family and friends.

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yes, this is where my heart is

 

IMG_2784let me tell you, I am excited to see her:)

 

I leave in just a couple of sleeps.
You probably won’t hear from me until I return
But then I can tell you all about my trip:)

 

much love!

 

for the tall blonde I never lost in a store…

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that flower outside my gate I told you about

 

I know you were just expecting an email, but I thought you might like this a bit more:)

Today probably wouldn’t be quite as special without a certain three people…

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somehow he thought it was cute – even though it was trying to takeover the house!

 

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one would think there would be no silly photos today – but then that would truly not be a picture of your daughters

 

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but, because it is Mother’s Day, here is a nice one as well

 

And, remember that time we were all together when I was supposed to be in Africa?

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looks as though a certain gentleman grew suddenly taller:)

 

Happy Mother’s Day!
I hope you enjoyed it from beginning to end – you deserve a great day because you are such a great woman.
I love you!

 

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!