Becoming Mrs. Timba

Not so long ago I wrote a blog post about how I was going to start going to the gym. I wanted routines in my life, so I picked a gym close to my house and got busy…. busy working out, and also busy trying to sneak some pictures of that cute personal trainer (which I then texted to my mom and my best friend, of course)!

Pretty soon after that, the cute personal trainer became my personal trainer, and then my friend, and then my boyfriend, and then my fiance, and pretty soon, my husband. I feel very blessed because he’s truly my best friend. Timba and I can do absolutely nothing together and have a fantastic time. BUT we have been blessed with some great adventures including safari (x2), white water rafting on the  Nile, ATV riding, and much more.

A lot of people ask me what I love about Timba, and I think there are a few moments that have really stood out to me.

  1. When Dr. Bishop, one of my professors at Drake, was here visiting, Timba helped her get groceries. Without me. He had known her for just a few weeks and was already deeply committed to loving her, serving her, and making her comfortable.
  2. For my birthday, we rented ATVs and went riding alongside the Nile. Timba was in front of me, but kept looking back every few minutes (Seconds?) to check on me behind him, which at one point caused him to crash into a barbed wire fence!

Timba is sweet, protective, humble, and genuine. He loves me like Jesus does, always putting my needs first.

As I’ve looked back over my relationship with Timba since our engagement, I’m consistently amazed at God’s sovereign hand. What a fantastic God that brought a girl from the midwestern US to fall in love with a guy from Eastern Uganda! God’s fingerprints are all over our relationship and our lives.

Last Sunday, we were going out to lunch at Speke Resort with a group of students from Drake University and MUBS, as well as some of our favorite people, Professor Jimmy and Dr. Deb. Throughout the meal, Timba was acting strange, getting up, answering a lot of phone calls, and speaking with the manager.

At the end of the meal, Jimmy announced that Timba wanted to say a few words. He stood up, and began saying how that day was one of the most special days. And then he asked me to join him. I knew and I was so excited I could hardly breathe!

Timba turned to me and told me how I deserve the best and he wanted to spend the rest of his life loving me, protecting me, and raising a family with me. I didn’t hear the rest. Eventually he asked me to marry him! I was so excited I didn’t even want to put the ring on, I just wanted a hug!

He even ordered a special cake and bottles of champagne to properly celebrate the day, as well as a Manchester United jersey with “Timba #2” on the back.

It was a perfect day, but the most perfect part is knowing that we are beginning a beautiful, challenging, sweet adventure together as a family! I can’t wait to be Timba’s wife and feel blessed that God has chosen us to be a team!

 

Election Week in Uganda

 

I am sitting in the living room of my new home, with the doors wide open, a very calm breeze blowing through the house. Today is a public holiday in Uganda so I have spent most of the day like this, reading a book, working on a few projects, and enjoying the sounds of the neighborhood kids below the apartment as they giggle and play. As I type, a Ugandan strums the guitar and sings an incredibly calming mixture of Ugandan and American songs. Each time he stops, the children sing the next words in the song, urging him along. I feel at peace. This is the Uganda that I know and love. I think of the women I met in Kikandwa last weekend, kneeling down before me and thanking me with tears in their eyes for believing that development is possible in their community. I think of the health center – full of clients – changing the lives of every person who steps through the doors. For me, Uganda is hope. Uganda has always been hope. Uganda is still hope.

It’s a big week for us here in Uganda and in Kampala in particular which is home to about 3 million people. On Thursday, we will have our presidential elections, which occur every 5 years. We’ve had the same president for 30 years and don’t have the best track record with peaceful elections. In a country ravaged with poverty, the situation is desperate at times. The country is torn between groups of people who desperately want change and others who want stability because they fear the recurrence of the violence their country experienced under Amin’s regime. My heart was worn and saddened on Monday night watching rallies that turned violent. Tear gas, streets swarmed with police, individuals at the rally running away covering their faces. One man was killed. And my heart broke. The places shown on the news are not close to my home, but at the same time, they are too close to my home. They are familiar. Places I have eaten, places I pass through.

My heart broke because in a world where Uganda is almost never in the media, the images shown on TV screens across the world on Monday night will impact the way that many people in the world, and maybe many of you, will view Uganda. You will not hear the laughing children, you will not see the smiling faces, you will not see the face of a woman who steps into a health clinic for the first time in her life with a new hope and a new confidence.

You will only see the tear gas in the streets of a country that is struggling desperately for development.

I am privileged to be part of a church community in Uganda that I dearly love. At church this week, the pastor spoke about our role in elections. He challenged us to shine positively in the midst of negative publicity this week. He urged us to pray for our country.

I would also like to urge you this week: When you see the pictures of our country on its worst days… think about its best days, too. Think about the hope, the development, the progress that we are making each and every day. Think about me, think about my many friends here, and their families, and pray that God would guide us, and them, not just this week but every week. Pray for business development, pray for church development, and pray for life development. Pray that God would bless Uganda and that the good works already begun here would continue. And if you feel so bold, would you dare to see Uganda for more than just what’s shown on the news?

Let me close with this: “Pray for the peace of Uganda. May all who love this country prosper. O Uganda, may there be peace within your walls and prosperity in your government, homes and businesses.  This I ask for the sake of all my friends who live here.  Psalm 122:6-8 TLB (word in italics changed)

On Leaving Home (And Coming Home)

At some point, you accept that this is the new normal. You stop thinking about going to Target and instead think of Nakumatt, where there is an elephant statue outside that you eventually forget about too. You stop craving Ben and Jerry’s and learn to like avocados. You’re no longer surprised when the electricity goes off, and when the water pressure in the shower gets low you mentally calculate how many days you can go without needing another one. The time difference becomes normal. You spend the first 8 or 9 hours of every day with very few messages, and then gradually say hello to your parents, your family, and eventually your friends as you finish your day at work.

You stop converting shillings to dollars every time you shop. You get used to the sounds of a foreign language at work, at the gym, on the street. You stop thinking that everyone is talking about you. You acknowledge that every one is living a normal life. They are home. You are home, too.

You drive on the other side of the road without thinking about it. Day by day by day, your expectations of the world around you change. You settle in. You have friends. You have a boyfriend. You stop reporting on every detail of your new life because, well, it just feels like life now.

You make plans for your trip home like you’re planning a vacation to a foreign country because you somehow are. You think about packing your favorite juice, your new favorite snacks… and you forget that just six months ago you were doing the same thing to come here.

You are comfortable. You have routines. You have people in your life who recognize you when you go places. You have YOUR people, YOUR places… the places where you leave your fingerprints day after day.

Somehow you never imagined hat you would settle here. When you moved, nothing seemed clear. There was May 25 – moving day – and then a blank canvas. No plans.

But here you are in your new home, feeling somehow oddly at home in ways that you never expected. Thankful, yes, to be going “home” to America for the first time in six months, but also sad to be leaving home here. Leaving home to come home….

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As mentioned above, this is the price you pay for the richness of loving people all over the world. So with that, it’s time to go home. ❤

MONTH #3

I’m horrible at blogging and I’m even worse at keeping in touch with my family and friends in the states – so instead of writing some earth-shattering analysis of how my life abroad is going… I’m gonna tell you all about what I’ve been doing the past month! Many of these pictures are on Instagram but no shame in double-posting 🙂

August started strong with the move into a new office (construction not yet completed, but hopefully soon). Over all, I’ve really enjoyed being able to settle in, buy new office supplies, and soaking up the view from my my window!

Blog1I also started a gym membership this month and am  enjoying quiet early mornings at the gym. 
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One of the best parts of August was going to Fort Portal with my boss’s son and nephew and spending time with their friends. Super fun weekend messing around and four-wheeling around Fort Portal!

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Fort Portal was a blast except that I had a serious headache the entire weekend that I couldn’t seem to shake. On Monday when I got back to Kampala, I went to the doctor… and found out I need to have my wisdom teeth out. So I will be back in the states for six weeks starting November 24!

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A few days after my doctors appointment two of my friends from Drake, Hayley and Megan, came to Uganda to do some research on water quality in Uganda. They’ve been working really hard since they’ve been here but we’ve also had a lot of fun! We went to Jinja, enjoyed the view from the top of Old Kampala Mosque, visited Sure Prospects, and even enjoyed a couple fun nights out with friends 🙂
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At this point, you might be wondering if I ever go to work. I do! Since we moved into the office, I’ve been working on getting us organized! Baby steps… notice the massive piles of unfiled papers at the bottom of the photo below. The Type A in me is freaking out a little!
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Not included in this post are a couple dozen pictures of fun weekends with friends and a billion pictures from time with Hayley and Megan, which you can find at waterforsureprospects.tumblr.com!

We ended the month with a fantastic birthday party for one of my best friends, Billy. I had my first experience with ordering a cake in Uganda, and even got to cut the cake with Billy (yes I know it looks like we are cutting our wedding cake).

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That’s all for now, but one last special shoutout to Ceaser, who is teaching me to drive!

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Much love to everyone stateside and see you November 24!

Two Months In!

I’m horrible at blogging but I finally made time to post another update! It’s crazy to think that I’ve been living in Uganda for more than two months now. In some ways, it feels like I just got here, and in other ways it feels like I’ve been here for my whole life. All I know is that it seems like years ago that I was in college!

June and July were fantastic months full of lots of visitors from the US. In a lot of ways, my life has felt like a vacation! Can’t complain about that.

Love means different things at different times, and I can’t entirely put into words how deeply loved I felt last month as my family took the time and the leap of faith to experience Uganda. We had a fantastic time visiting the hot springs, going on safari, going white-water rafting, and exploring Kampala. It was such a blessing to have my family stay in the same building and for them to have the opportunity to meet my boss! As they left, we all agreed – once you’ve been here, it really doesn’t seem so far from home. Uganda and the USA are very different – but it’s possible to love both and for both to feel like home. Here are some pics from our fun adventure:Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 4.06.44 PM

Cam and me at Murchison Falls

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Mom and Dad at Murchison Falls

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Watching the sunrise over Lake Victoria

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Ruwenzori Mountains

That being said, I knew my life here would be different after they left. With that in mind, I made a goal to spend the month of August developing at least one routine. I thrive on structure  and habit, and developing a routine here has been very, very hard. Supposedly it takes 28 days to make a habit, so it’s a good project to start at the beginning of the month!I am almost a week into my new gym membership at a gym close to my house. It’s important that I have at least one predictable element in my life and going to the gym six days a week seems like a good place to start! Also thankful for a housemate who signed up with me and that I sometimes see people I know there 🙂

 

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Enjoying weekend fun with the guys!

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 4.06.08 PMMy neighborhood 🙂

Y’all, an eight hour time difference is serious business. If I don’t text or call you, it’s probably because my free time happens while you’re asleep. I love you and miss each of you so much! Thanks for joining me on this journey!

Please continue praying for a deep network of friendships and a support system in a new country, as well as PATIENCE for the changes around me and PEACE when situations seem uncertain. As always, I am so thankful for each of you and hope to speak with you soon!

You Will Need Other People

These words stay in my mind often: “You’ll need coffee shops and sunsets and road trips, airplanes and passports and new songs and old songs, but PEOPLE more than anything else. YOU WILL NEED OTHER PEOPLE and you will need to be that other person to someone else, a living, breathing, screaming invitation to believe better things.” – Jamie Tworkowski

I have needed people my whole life… A doctor when I am sick, a call home to my parents when I’m frustrated, a late night with my best friend when I’m having trouble understanding my circumstances. And that’s great. Relationships can be so enriching!  The reality though is that my life in the US allowed me to be wildly independent. If I wanted to go a couple weeks without speaking to another human I probably could have.

Well.. Guess what! I can’t do that here 🙂 I don’t know how to do much of anything for myself.  The expat experience has been compared both to going through puberty and being a toddler. My experiences in the US aren’t necessarily helpful. I am, in some ways, starting over. Definitely humbling.

I need the people around me. Before I moved, I began reading a book called “Turning International” that touches on some of the issues expats face when moving abroad. The book mentioned that during your first weeks and months abroad, everything may seem harder than it should. I didn’t understand it then, but I’m starting to now:

  • Ordering delivery food for dinner, but not being able to explain to the delivery man where your house is… and of course it doesn’t show up on his GPS. “Hi, can you meet us somewhere?”
  • How do I get my phone to work? How do I turn my TV on?
  • Why did the water stop running? Am I really using that much water? Is something leaking?
  • How much money is that in US dollars?
  • How do you say ____ in Luganda? Did I say it right?
  • When you say it starts at 7, does it actually start at 7, or is that just when I should start getting ready?
  • What is this food?
  • Why is the traffic so bad?

It’s been a crazy, hilarious, exhausting beginning to a new adventure! I’m so thankful to have friends in Kampala who have been along for the ride and have been there for me through it all. It is so reassuring to have people texting me to check on me. “Do you need anything?” and “Did you turn on the porch light before you got in bed?” have become my new love language. 🙂 Accepting help is hard for me because it requires vulnerability. One of my friends told me last week that this experience is going to make me stronger because it’s making me weak and building me up again in different areas. It’s an opportunity to grow.

And it’s been super fun!! Although it’s been challenging, it’s been everything I had hoped for and more. Some insights into my new adventure:

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Left to right 🙂

  • Lunch at work each day
  •  Spending time with some of my favorite ladies! Trip alum from the Drake-MUBS partnership.
  • My new apartment
  • Seeing Salvado perform comedy with coworkers
  • Enjoying a national holiday by relaxing at the Red Chilli Pool
  •  Making the most of a weekend by visiting Kikandwa and spending time with the kids!

Until next time!!

twenty five days

Almost every day now, I have a conversation with my roommate that includes the words, “I can’t believe this year is almost over” or “I can’t believe I’m graduating from college” or “I can’t believe I’m moving in ___ days”. It seems like the days pass slowly, but then you wake up and another week is gone.

The past month in particular has absolutely flown by. I’ve been very intentional about spending time with family and friends over the past month – which has involved a lot of travel, many, many lunch dates, and a lot of laughter. The past month has been filled with so much joy.

5 weeks ago, I made this goal:

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I am so thankful to be in a new chapter of my life where I have time to spend with the people I care about. I’ll admit that I made myself way too busy in college – working full time, going to school full time, and trying to uphold my other responsibilities didn’t always go well.  It feels good to finally take a couple deep breaths!! Here are some of my favorite moments from the past month:

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This chapter of my life has been filled with more joy and so much less anxiety than I ever would have thought. Packing is in full swing in Apartment 215 (cardboard boxes everywhere) and moving day will be here before I know it. I am so eager for all that is ahead, and continue to rest in God’s peace which surpasses all understanding. Thank you all for joining me on my journey!