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!

 

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!

and the bride wore blue

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned a wedding where I was asked to be one of the photographers.  Well today I finally have time to share more about that weekend of festivities.

This wedding was for a couple from the church, Frank and Sandra.  Both of them are teachers, Sandra teaches at Champions where I worked all of this school year.

Saturday was the Introduction ceremony, where the man pays the bride price.  Basically, the parents of the bride have made a list of things that they want from the man before they will say yes to him.  During this ceremony the man brings some representatives from his side to the woman’s village and meets with her family to present the gifts.  There is A LOT of talking throughout the day, dances are preformed and food is eaten at the end of it all.

Everyone here is very surprised to find out that we don’t have Introduction ceremony or a bride price.

Oh, interesting side note, family is such a big part of this ceremony that people hire or have friends stand in to play roles that you might not have or to make your family appear larger.  Like, I would hire or have people act as my brothers and get more sisters if I were to get married here.

Here are a few pictures from the day:

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because I know people want to know what I wore:)
plus this shows you traditional gomas (what all the other women were wearing)

 

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Sandra’s “aunties” greeting Frank’s side

 

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Sandra and her “aunties” being greeted by some of Frank’s “aunties”

 

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Frank and Sandra

 

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the gifts from Frank to Sandra’s parents

 

Arriving back from the village late Saturday night, we didn’t get too much sleep before the traditional ceremony of Sunday.  The ceremony on Sunday was woven into church service, which I guess some people do here.  This ceremony was similar to our wedding ceremonies, except Sandra was not walked up the aisle by her father, she was escorted by her matron [maid of honor].

 

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the packed church

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAexchanging their rings

After they said their vows, exchanged rings, the preacher gave a sermon, and they signed their marriage liscence, we left to take some photos.
That was a lot of fun!

 

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the bridal party

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwith uncle Peter [I’ve known him since I was on the World Race]

 

Returning from the pictures, the reception began.  Speeches, speeches, and more speeches; there was more talking at the reception than I have ever heard.  The cake had sparklers on it, which was fun.  When it was time for gifts, everyone lined up to hand the gifts to Frank and Sandra personally.

Interesting fact #2, for this couple, these two ceremonies took place in the same weekend.  However, the Introduction and traditional ceremony may take place days, months or even years apart.  Some couples never even have a traditional ceremony [they consider themselves married after the Introduction].

Even though it was a tiring weekend, it was very good.  In my opinion, if you’re mzungu [white], being the photographer is definitely the way to attend a Ugandan wedding; everyone is going to stare at you anyways!

 

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Frank and Sandra, the happy couple, before heading to the reception

 

much love!

moving to the beat

Last week was a busy one; but this past weekend was even busier.
Saturday and Sunday I was one of the photographers at the two wedding ceremonies for a couple from the church.

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with Sam – the other photographer 

 

I want to tell you about the wedding ceremonies, catch you up on life and the Hallelujah project; but I am exhausted.

So instead, I’ll leave you with a video from today.
The kids at school were practicing / doing a trial run of some of their dances, songs, and plays for Saturday’s  closing day and graduation party.  Well I happened to have my camera with me and thought I would share part of one of the dances.

 

 

 

Yes, these are some of the amazing kids at my school here.
[I don’t really remember anything quite like that in my American schools]

 

much love!

in brief

A mini update for you:

I am feeling stronger from my malaria.  PTL!

This week has been busy with meetings, catching up from having malaria,  finals starting at school, trying to find outfits for the wedding ceremonies I’m going to this weekend, and more.

and the biggest news…
My visa was officially extended for another 2 months.
My passport was stamped this morning!

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yep, that’s the official stamp (although it’s a little blurry in this picture:)

 

much love

back to Uganda

Late Thursday night, I landed safely in Uganda.  After two crazy, but great weeks in America, I was back here to my home in Mukono.  My time in the States felt very short; it was packed full of visits with family and friends, many questions about life in Uganda and the library we’re building, and a time well spent at a wedding for a great friend.

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with Colleen, Mere and Nicole while getting ready for the wedding
the four of us have been friends for quite some time now, and were in a different wedding 5 years ago:)

 

Upon returning to Uganda, I had about two days with Chandler, then we took her to the airport so she could go back to America for three weeks.

Yesterday, I was asked to say something to the church about my trip.  I figured this would happen, so I was prepared to speak a few words in Luganda; but Peter, my translator did not know I was going to be speaking in Luganda.  My sentences may have been very simple and partially incorrect, but the look of surprise on Peter’s face and the reaction from the church at my speaking their language was great!

On Friday evening, my Ugandan family left for the village for a big family meeting (reunion).  They were planning on coming back yesterday afternoon; supposedly they will return today.  In the meantime, I have been hanging out with Hope and Jennifer (oh and baby Joshua).  These two women are both around 23 and are really great.  The three of us are really hoping the power comes back on soon; it’s been out since late Saturday morning and we are now running out of water!

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jerry-can of water.
we have been using up our supply, so this and another one is needed to bathe, brush teeth, do dishes, cook, clean, and flush my toilet

 

Just today, things have begun to slow down; I was even able to take a nap and rest for a bit.

 

Don’t you worry, later this week, I will be writing an update on the library project!

 

much love!

two surprises, an impound, and a wedding

As I sit writing this, I am not sitting on my bedroom floor or my bed in Mukono (my two typical blog writing locations).
But I am sitting on my bed
…in Michigan.

Last Wednesday night I walked through the door and totally surprised my mom, which was pretty great.

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my family, all together for the first time in over seven months

One of my good friends is getting married in two days, and I have the honor of being in her wedding, thus this trip to America.  My time here is really short, I am only in the States for a total of two weeks; but so far it has been really good and not even close to mundane:)

On my way here, I had a layover in Brussels, Belgium.  New stamp in my passport, I think so!

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thought I found the Grand Palace, but really, I’m not so sure what building I found

Not only did I surprise my mom, but I also surprised one of my friends, by showing up to her graduation at Indiana Wesleyan University.

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with Carmen after she became a college graduate!

Tuesday, I took a 2:15am bus to Chicago, to spend the day with my Suminta!

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pictures in cars never get old:)
with Samantha, right before she left me to get my bus back to MI

We had a great day, despite walking back to her car at one point and it was gone.  Definitely a first for both of us, her car had been towed and impounded.  Everything worked out and we just laughed about this for the rest of the day!

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Being here has been such a whirl-wind.  I feel like I have been non-stop with seeing people and trying to figure out what all needs to happen before I go back home to Uganda.  I am so thankful for this opportunity.

much love!