Heart for Uganda

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Goodbye Again America

Posted on December 10, 2014 at 11:30 PM

We have enjoyed 3 weeks home in the Mid-West visiting loved ones. It was comforting how easily and quickly Antwain and I slipped back into daily life, as we both treated this time home as a true holiday. I found myself enjoying (with less guilt) the luxuries of America. I relished the opportunity to catch up the highlights, news, and updates of family and friends. I left my responsibilities back in Uganda and felt more present during quality time with loved ones. I soaked up Antwain’s constant company.

 

Saying goodbye again to close friends and family has been bittersweet. There is an enmeshment of joy, thanksgiving, and sadness as I reflect on dozens of fantastic and truly special memories captured during this visit. We are definitely blessed with an incredible family, friends and support network!!

 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart with much love and gratitude!!

 

Back on American Soil

Posted on November 21, 2014 at 10:35 PM

Antwain and I have safely landed on American soil.  Weather has delayed our official reunion with family by a day, but we knew it was a possibility traveling during winter months.  Travelling half way around the world is long and exhausting. I almost forgot how key a sense of humor and patience are to a pleasant journey!  But these next few weeks home with family and friends will be well-worth it.  Our schedule will be filled with visiting, catching up, and reconnecting...

Thinking about Ferguson

Posted on August 21, 2014 at 11:40 AM

Often the news cycles are updated so quickly in America, I am challenged to follow major new stories without incurring some large gaps of information. So I must begin with a disclaimer on the following blog post that I have not read every news article or watched any online media videos about the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. I was a Kansas City resident for over a decade. While Ferguson is a small town on the other side of the state by St. Louis, the news story about Michael Brown‘s death and the subsequent riots still hits pretty close to home for me. I am so deeply saddened by the images of mass riots, protesting with violence, damaging of property, and the raw emotions of anger and sorrow that are currently colliding with one another within Ferguson.

 

I have family members in law enforcement, including my own brother, so I am empathetic to the plight of these officers and their families as they endure some terrible, public scrutiny. I have grown up with nothing but respect and admiration for law enforcement officers and their selfless oath to keep communities safe and secure even during the most harrowing circumstances. Every day these officers put their own personal safety on the line and have to make split second decisions based on their experience, intuition, and very little actual information. They are the front-line personnel for our protection.

 

But it is true that the death of Michael in Ferguson is every parent’s worst nightmare. And as the mother of a young African American male, I have to admit to feeling more hyper-sensitive of the danger of Antwain walking city streets in America. And I have to be honest that here in Uganda, I feel that Antwain has a reprieve. I am not nearly as fearful as I was in Kansas City, where senseless violence dominates the streets of the urban core and another set of rules for resolving conflicts exists. Antwain’s birth family still resides in the urban core of Kansas City, Missouri, so we have first-hand experiences about the tragedy that can befall someone ‘in the wrong place, at the wrong time.’ As best as I can without being disrespectful, I have had to inform Antwain about some of those rules, just to keep him safe and aware whenever he has the opportunity to visit his family. But I always breathe easier when he is back in my care.

 

Again I must assert my ignorance in the hard facts of the case. Perhaps I should be more responsible by knowing each involved party’s background, personality, interests/hobbies, and testimonials from their family members and neighbors. But it does not change the essential facts. A young man has died. A police officer will be shadowed by this incident for rest of his life. A community is truly hurting and acting out their sorrows.

 

My daily prayer has been that more incidents of validation and resolution occur within this community, instead of stirring up tensions for good media coverage. I also lift up the families and loved ones of both victim and officer, as their lives are forever altered. And I gave my Antwain an additional hug, which as a teenager he was a bit off-put by, but I have taken some extra special comfort to have him back home safe and sound for this school holiday.

 

Happy Birthday America!

Posted on July 4, 2014 at 3:50 AM

Happy Birthday America! I have always been proud of my country, but since living in a developing nation, I have harbored a greater appreciation for many of the freedoms that America offers its citizens.

 

Free and mandatory Primary and Secondary education, as well as several financial assistance means for University/Vocational studies

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Emergency health care regardless of insurance status

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Civil Rights for all citizens regardless of religion, age, gender or ethnicity

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Ability to marry a partner of choice without fear of prejudice or violence

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Religious freedoms to worship the God of your faith

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Social service supports for those individuals/families who have fallen into difficult times

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Justice system where one is innocent until proven guilty in court of law

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Hourly Minimum Wage Pay for Employees

 

 

Those are just a few illustrations of freedoms that millions of people around the world are not so fortunate to receive. Without the presence of one or more of these freedoms, the daily life for citizens within these developing countries is often a hard, miserable struggle.

 

But today I want to lift up and celebrate the forefathers of this country who inspired other brave pioneers, fearless advocates, and gutsy citizens to also make sacrifices and have courage to develop America into the most powerful and respected nation in the world.

 

Here’s to you America…Happy 238th Birthday… may you continue to exemplify freedom, liberty, peace, and prosperity for all your citizens!!

 

Departure

Posted on June 22, 2013 at 12:55 AM

Our visit home to America is over. As anticipated the time went quickly. Suitcases have been stuffed to the gills with goodies and necessities. Our time was filled with dozens of visits, celebrations, and hours of chatting…just like I wanted. There could have been more, but we simply could not squeeze them all in.

 

Presently I am overwhelmed with emotions. I am not a public crier, so my emotions are lingering just below the surface. I figure that sometime during the quiet hours over the Atlantic, I will allow my floodgates to open. My cup is overflowing with such love, appreciation and thanksgivings for the most amazing group of family and friends. The Lord has indeed blessed us abundantly from our biological families, as well as chosen family of beloved friends. The outpouring of love and support will carry me through until our next visit.

 

Thank you to all for your well-wishes, visits, meals, gifts, hugs, sharing of stories, and overall love. We love you right back. Next stop…back home to Uganda and the children at SMKOM!

My Besties

Posted on June 14, 2013 at 9:10 AM

I have been blessed to have the same best friends since childhood. They are my rock of support. They are my loudest cheerleaders. We have celebrated every significant achievement since Junior High. They definitely know where all of my skeletons are hidden. Our personalities and life’s course have been vastly different. But our history, our sisterhood, our long-term love and respect for one another has endured the test of time. I love them with all of my heart, and I feel blessed everyday with the certainty that our friendship will last a lifetime.


 

Antwain and I were able to spend a couple of days with them at the lake. It was a special time where we had fun in the sun, as well as plenty of time to gab and catch up on each other’s life events. I am not sure that our mouths stopped moving. We laughed. We ate. We drank. We celebrated our time together.

 


I am not a water person. As a child I enjoyed lakes, rivers, and oceans, but over the years and the influences of movies with man-eating snakes, killer sharks, toe-chomping fish have caused me to seriously dislike the mere thought of any body part invisible under water. Antwain and my besties thought it humorous to trick me into a tube ride. While I will admit some fun, I will acknowledge more tight-gripped horrors of falling into the chilly, murky lake waters. Luckily, I did hold on (for dear life). My scream also probably scared away any fish within a mile radius. I survived with pictures to prove it.



 




Night with CTT

Posted on June 13, 2013 at 11:20 PM

This past Saturday night, Eddie and Gloria hosted a dinner with some of our favorite Change The Truth friends. I always enjoy these evenings as former team members from the various CTT trips come together. There is a sister/brotherhood with these incredible individuals. We bonded during a special moment in time as we loved on the orphans at SMK. The night was filled with lots of laughter, stories, and life updates. Despite the long gaps of time between seeing these friends, it is almost as if time has transformed us all back to the grounds of SMK.


Special thanks to all those that came over to see us: Eddie, Gloria, Carol, Lynne, Lonnie, Natalie, Emily, Avis, Jeff, Jennifer, and Strings for Uganda!! Love you all!!


(Thanks to Gloria for some special photos...)


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CTT Board of Directors (from left): Carol, Lynne, Eddie, Gloria, and Avis

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Antwain and his buddy, Natalie

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Dinner time conversations about SMK

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me and my favorite guy

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Leaving Uganda

Posted on June 10, 2013 at 11:10 AM

Although delayed, here is a photo of our Departure Team.  Leaving someone at the airport is not a pleasant experience.  Feelings of sadness and longing are often accompanied for both parties.  Due to security those final goodbyes are often rushed.  There is usually a crowd of onlookers who watch their departed loved ones go through security, ticketing, and into the passport check. I have never encouraged that... the emotions just run too high. I am looking much more forward to our Arrival Team, which will be these same loved ones.



I was delighted that my boys did not feel too old or too busy to see us from the airport.  I have made almost all of my airport trips with Henry, Saka, and Petra.  They are the fixtures.  Also having our beloved Willy and my special friend, Isabirye, was special this time, too.




From left: Saka, Isabirye, Petra, Mel

Willy, Henry, and Antwain

From One Home to Another

Posted on June 4, 2013 at 11:25 AM

I wrote this blog post on my last day in Uganda. With the craziness of the day, I failed to post it. The sentiment still holds true. Having a great time with my family and friends...and even more blessed to know that more is coming in the upcoming weeks!!

 

 

This morning when I awoke it was surreal to be reminded that it will be my last morning waking in Uganda for the next few weeks. I lamented as I listened to the sounds of big boys getting ready for school outside my bedroom window, the chants of the nursery school children singing their welcome song, and the bodas racing by on our nearby road. Then I looked around my bedroom at the pictures and cherished articles that make this place my comfortable home.

 

But then I felt excitement stir… in just another day, I will be waking in America. I will be waking up with family and the quietness of the small town which my family lives. I will hear the laughter of my family members and see how my niece and nephew have grown and changed. I will enjoy small amenities like hot water and constant electricity. I will be catching up with friends who have gotten married, had babies/children grown, changed jobs, or otherwise celebrated some life events.

 

In most ways it is a blessing to have two homes. I feel very blessed with the supports that exist in both of my homes, as different parts of me flourish in each of my homes. I only wish they could be closer together, so that they could merge with one another. There is a large disconnect between my two worlds that I spend a lot of time trying to bridge through stories and photos.

 

I will enjoy every moment of my time home in America. I will savor and squeeze every delightfully quiet, slower paced holiday. But then I will enjoy returning home to Uganda where my children will be waiting. I am indeed one very blessed girl…

 

Homeward Bound

Posted on May 16, 2013 at 6:30 AM

It is again time for Antwain and me to visit home in Kansas/Missouri, reconnect with loved ones, refill our cups, and enjoy some American luxuries. This visit has been expedited, as I have a strong urge to spend time with certain family members.

 

Antwain and I will make our journey home to America from May 30th-June 21st. While most of my time will be spent with family members in the Chapman area, there will be a few days that I will venture to Salina and Kansas City. Will keep you posted as the schedule comes together…

 

It was only yesterday that I finalized our airplane reservations, so I anticipate the next couple of weeks to be a literally whirlwind. Secondary students must be prepared and returned to school for Term 2. My household must be in proper order. Projects must be finalized, transferred, or put of a sufficient hold. And I have lots of goodies to prepare for family/friends. But I will gladly work hard for these weeks with a great amount of excitement and anticipation seeing loved ones in America!

 

Hope to see you soon, as I look forward to some down time, reflection, recharging, and lots of visits!!