Sunday, May 30, 2010

Our Last Week in Uganda

A week of packing and goodbyes has made us a little crazy!
Our last week in Uganda is sure to prove to be a crazy and busy one, so we thought we’d share a short journal about everything we’ve doing to close down our lives here in Uganda and prepare for life back in the USA!

Saturday May 22, 2010:
5:30am: Woke up early to check the British Airways (BA) website to find that our flight is listed as operating normally! Finally, we can breathe a sign of relief that we will be able to leave June 1st.
10:30am: Picked up the Aylard’s (new eMi family that just arrived from Canada) and took them to the pool for the day.
7:00pm: Went to the guesthouse nearby for our going away party with eMi. It was a touching time where people said a lot of nice things about us and we were able to share what the East Africa office has meant to us. I promise I’m usually not a crier!

Sunday May 23, 2010:
9:30am: Picked up the Aylard’s and took them to church in town.
12:00pm: Stopped by the ‘mall’ to do some last minute shopping at a little souvenir store Alisha likes. We also grabbed bagels at the “New York Kitchen” – an American sounding and looking joint that does kind of resembles American food! ;)
6:00pm: Out to dinner with our friends Matt and Angela and their baby Alexis. One of the teachers from Heritage who has become a family friend watched the boys for us. I’ve probably spent the most time with Matt and Joe (from the UK) here since both are avid football (soccer) fans and players and most every weekend we’re around we’ve watched the games at the ARA. We’ve also been playing together on Friday nights and most recently Saturday mornings and at the Euro Cup tournament here in Kampala (see below).

Goodbye dinner with Matt and Angela

...and Alexis!
Monday May 24, 2010:
9:30am: Went to the bank to pay the new family’s rent since Pat (the new eMi employee) is in Tanzania on his first project trip as staff.
10:00am: Went to town to meet our landlord (finally! – we’ve spoken many times and email regularly, but I was always gone when he came by our house so this was our first face to face meeting!) and pay him for the painting of our house after we leave – it’s standard here when you move out of a rental to paint the interior.
6:00pm: Alisha had her 3rd interview with The Classical Academy in Colorado Springs. It’s a charter school and we are really excited about the prospect of her teaching there and the boys attending school there. Apparently, there is an 8000 student waiting list to get into this school!
8:30pm: We heard back from the principal and they offered Alisha a job! The offer is to teach part-time 2nd grade with an hour of 5th grade until November, and then take over the 5th grade job full-time when the teacher has her baby. How exciting!

Tuesday May 25, 2010:
7:00am: On a whim, I checked the BA website, and now they are saying that they won’t confirm our flight until Wednesday May 26th! Arrg! So, we’re back in limbo! Packing has to stop now until we know how many bags we’ll be allowed – if our flight goes, we get 15 bags. If we have to change to another carrier, we’ll only be allowed 10. Darn.
1:30pm: Last week I worked just over 30 hours, so this week I’m trying to cut back to around 20 so I’ll have time to do some closing up things. So I went home early and started doing paperwork.
3:00pm: Alisha arrived home with her Kindergarten report cards completed! Yeah! That’s a huge load off.
5:00pm: I went down to my final Tuesday night basketball – we’ve been doing it for 2 years now and there is a great group of guys. We’ve had as many as 25 show up, though usually it’s between 10-15. It’s been a great physical outlet, along with Saturday morning soccer with the Germans. But, as ‘luck’ would have it, on my last night I slightly pulled a calf muscle! I’m supposed to play in a soccer tournament this weekend with the Irish team so that is definetly in doubt now. L
6:00pm: Alisha had her last director’s wives skype call – she has really enjoyed getting to know the group of ladies scattered all over the world with their husbands working in the leadership of eMi.
8:00pm: Alisha called the principal at TCA back and accepted the position! We are so thankful that we’re heading back to the US with Alisha having a job and our boys knowing which school they’ll be at!
1:15am: I went to bed after spending 3 hours grading a Trigonometry final for Heritage. Apparently, the high school math teacher had to leave early, so they didn’t have anyone to grade the final. It took me 3 hours and a handful of googles, but I got it done! The hard part was that they left it up to me to determine how much each problem was worth and how much partial credit to give. It’s amazing the things you end up doing when you’re living overseas!

Wednesday May 26, 2010:
5:30am: Woke up to check if BA had posted the flight information…not yet.
12:15pm: BA announced that our flight was cancelled! I immediately called the BA office here and the lady said that the only option was to fly through Nairobi on Kenya Airways to connect to a BA flight to Heathrow. The BA flight out of Uganda the day before was on, but the agent said it was unavailable. So I reserved the Nairobi flight for the time being.
2:40pm: Since I had to take Jonah down to the clinic to have some warts frozen off, I decided to stop by the BA office in town to just see what I could find out. When I sat down and told the lady the situation (she was the same one I had spoken to earlier), she brought up the information on her computer screen and shrieked, “Ah! They’ve opened up the flight the day before!” All the agents in the office immediately started typing and/or making phone calls, so the lady who was helping me quickly added us to the flight and booked us! Now we get to have our same itinerary as originally planned, only 1 day earlier! How exciting!
5:30pm: Our friends the Mickler’s – Bobby and Downie and their 5 kids - invited us over for a delicious steak dinner! They are a great family and we’ll miss having them in our lives.

Our good friends Bobby and Downie

The boys with the 5 Mickler kids
9:15pm: After getting the boys in bed, Alisha and I accidently fell asleep on our bed and didn’t wake up until 1:15am! We couldn’t believe we had just slept for 4 hours. Alisha did the smart thing and regrouped and went to bed for good 30 minutes later. I went down and started working through the 23 emails that had come in while we were sleeping! I didn’t return to bed until 3:40am! The way I see it, I am now trying a new anti-jet lag strategy since I seem to be getting worse and worse at fighting it off whenever I travel to or from Africa.

Thursday May 27, 2010:
8:30am: Went into town for my final root canal appointment. It lasted an hour and a half, but it’s all done! The dentist is actually really good and has all the sophisticated equipment. Plus, dental work is about 1/4th the cost of work done in the US! I think all major dental work I have in the future I’m going to try to have done here!
1:30pm: I’m on the phone with the internet company trying to get our service restored. It’s only right that on my last days in the office, I’m doing what I did most – trying to restore one of our utilities that has either been illegitimately turned off, or the line (or pipe) has once again been compromised. It’s a frustrating part of life here, but it happens almost daily – certainly weekly.
9:30pm: Got an email from a volunteer who wants to join my project trip to Zambia in September! It’s nice that my team for the Fall trip is already beginning to take shape.

Friday May 28, 2010:
8:30am: Went into work for my last eMi morning prayer. I led it based on a devotional I’d read last week about how even though God gives us many talents and gifts, sometimes he wants to use us in ways that are not in our areas of gifting, and that He does that so we don’t forget that ultimately it is He who is in control of our lives. Sometimes, we become overly dependant on our own ability instead of on God to use our talents for His purposes.
11:00am: The Final chapel at Heritage is how the school closes the school year, so I went down to attend. They recognized all the families and teachers who were leaving, so Alisha went up to receive a photo album they’d made for her. I also went up to help present a gift from the parents to Miss Keeley, the principal (from the UK) who is also leaving later this summer. It was a great school year, and it’s a great school. We’ll definitely miss the school and the people that make it special.

Jonah with his good friends Gogi ("Jo-gee") and Emmanuel (right)

Graysen and his friend Milaena Stride

Jonah, up front receiving his 'Christian Character' award. Each class voted for the person in the class who they thought best exemplified Christian Character, and Jonah's class picked him! We were so proud of him.
1:00pm: I left work for the last time as a member of the eMi EA office. Alisha has school functions from 1:00pm to 7:30pm tonight, so I’m on watching the boys duty. Also, the guy who is buying my motorcycle is supposed to come pay me and take the bike.
5:30pm: The motorcycle is sold!

Me and Martin, the boda driver, who bought my boda from me. I had about 5800 km on it during the 2 1/2 years I owned it. Martin will put that much on it in less than 3 months!
6:30pm: We drove around to the various eMi sites and said good bye to the guards (we said goodbye to the house helpers earlier in the day). We gave them each a ‘bonus’ to say thank you for their love and care for our family. Our guards and Monica have been a major part of our lives for the past 2 1/2 years and it is hard saying goodbye.

Guard Stephen - he's the head of security and HR for eMi EA - a natural leader and part of our office leadership

Guard Yokannah - always alert no matter what time of night

Guard Wilson - Jonah spent a lot of time with Wilson gardening. We will miss having him around the house.

Guard Joseph - a super nice guy and very hard worker. He's also an avid reader and read any book we put out there for him at night.
Saturday May 29, 2010:
5:00am: I woke up early - time is short here, so sleep is getting less and less!
6:45am: We left the house to go across town to the school where the Eurocup Football (soccer) Tournament is being held. I’m slated to play on the Irish team, but they are being sticklers about nationalities playing for their own country, so earlier this week I had my dad look up my Irish heritage – it turns out both of my 7th great grandparents were born in Ireland (in the towns of Ulster and Tyrone). Perfect, I am officially at least 1/256th Irish! That should be good enough!
9:00am: In the first game of the tournament, I pulled my right calf muscle! But since there were two games to go, I sprayed some deep heat on it and wrapped some tape as tight as I could stand.

The trainer, Emma, treating my calf. I haven't had a bad injury here the whole time I've been here, so I guess I was due.
11:00am: After the completion of the next two games, I limped off the field and unwrapped the tape on my calf.
11:02am: I can no longer walk on my right leg! But it was worth it!
Matt (L), Joe (C) and I after our heartbreaking elimination from the 16 team tournament. We played with the Irish team, and didn't qualify out of our group (of 4) despite only conceding 1 goal. They had a goofy rule that any goals scored by women (each team had 1 woman playing) were worth 2 goals! So we lost 2-1 to the UK on a female goal - lame rule! But I am really going to miss these two guys!

Matt and Angela and us after the tournament
11:30am: We arrived at the ARA pool for the last time. We hung out with friends and swam most of the afternoon. This place has been such a great retreat for us, and we have met so many good friends here – we will definitely miss our friends here in Uganda.

Our good friends Emma and Laurie (from the UK, via Texas).
6:00pm: We went out to dinner with our friends Joe and Jess from the UK. They have been here for almost 2 years and are leaving in July. We have hung out a lot with them at the ARA and our house over the past year and have really become good friends. I will definitely miss watching the English Premier League with Joe, but I’m certain our paths will cross again.
Alisha and Jess
Me and Joe
Monica watched the boys, so when we came home, it was time to say goodbye to her. She has become a part of our family here and it was hard to say goodbye.

We'll miss you Monica!

Sunday May 30, 2010:
6:15am: Our last day in Uganda. We spent the morning finishing packing before church.
9:45am: We left for our last church service, picking up the Aylard’s along the way (minus Pat who is on a project trip still).
12:30pm: After church, we stopped by a few of the local places we’ve frequented to say goodbye to some of our Ugandan friends. We’d been told by others in the past that it was important to say goodbye to all the store workers and other local people – a lot of time westerners just leave and forget to say goodbye to the people they’ve interacted with most every day. So we didn’t want to repeat that mistake, and after stopping by a handful of places, we were glad we had done so.
3:30pm: The last of the packing is done and the bags are closed and ready by the door – all 15 of them! We left a little room for the clothes on our back today, so we are all set to leave! After a month of saying goodbyes, we are a little fatigued of saying goodbye! We remember feeling the exact same way when we left the US 2 1/2 years ago.
So, I better stop the journal now so I have time to post it. We're heading over to our good friends the Stride's for a quick pizza party in just a bit.

Then, it's off to the airport at 4am tomorrow morning (that’s 6pm Sunday night, Pacific time).
USA, here we come……… :)

This was our sending off crew 2 1/2 years ago...

The start of the journey: SFO in January 2008

15 bags are packed, 3 boys and 2 parents are ready to go!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Last days in Uganda - Part II

Jonah & Brodie at Graysen's Graduation on Brodie's 9th birthday. You can't tell in the picture, but Jonah is now 1/4" taller than Brodie (much to Brodie's displeasure!)
We've just about said all of our goodbyes here now and have started the packing process. It's a surreal feeling to be leaving life once again. It's hard to believe that after leaving Medford 2 1/2 years ago, Kampala has grown to feel like home with so many friends and people who have been our 'family away from family'. Leaving here feels very similar to how we felt leaving Medford - we love our life here and the people we've met. I have loved working at the eMi East Africa office. I feel so priviledged to have been a part of the work that is done and teamed with the people who are doing it.
We really do feel like this is the time God has for us to step away - if we weren't so sure of that it would be much harder to leave. We are both excited and a little nervous about what lies ahead, but I am very excited to still be a part of the work eMi is doing, and I hope that my being in Colorado Springs can in some way still be of help to the East Africa office as well.
In these last days, we've had a lot of dinners, BBQ's and events that have allowed us to thoroughly say goodbye to our great friends here. We've also had a Kindergarten graduation for Graysen, a birthday party for Brodie (9), hosted my college friend Ryan for a couple of weeks, I'm playing in one last soccer tournament next weekend and Alisha is finalizing her school year this week! And, we've been tracking the British Airways strike and volcano to see if our flight is going to be cancelled! (So far, they are saying that our flight will not be cancelled due to the strike!) So, enjoy some pictures from our very busy last couple of weeks in Uganda...

Brodie's birthday party

Graysen and his teacher after 'graduation'

Even on tip-toes, Graysen's about the shortest in the class!
The kindergarten class had a parent's party in the room before the graduation ceremony (which was in front of the whole elementary school).
Graysen showing me what he's learned this year.
Interns Brittany and Megan being the drumset for Jonah at a welcome party at our house for the new Summer interns.
Our neighbor and pastor, Brian Kelly and I, out to one last dinner. It's been great to have them as neighbors these past 2 1/2 years. We'll miss them!
Alisha and Lynne (Brian's wife). They've kind of been attached at the hip these past 2 1/2 years.
Our boys with the Aylard boys. The Aylards are just arriving from Canada and their dad Pat will be working int he eMi EA office for the next two years. They also will be living in our house and driving our car!

The Aylard family - we're bummed to not have had more overlap with them, but then again, the fact that they bought all of our stuff and car and took over our house to rent has meant that our leaving Uganda was unbelievably smooth! I think it's been a blessing for both families, as they don't have to furnish a house or find a car, and we get to 'live and leave'!
My friend from College, Ryan Greene, came to visit for a couple weeks. We had a great time with Ryan, and Ryan fit in very well with everyone here. Lots of laughing those 2 weeks!
Our friend Betsy with daughter Ellis - our boys love and miss this little girl! They left in early May for a visit home before heading to Tanzania for their next assignment with the US Embassy.
Betsy's husband Joe and I - one good thing about us leaving is that some of our friends our leaving too. It would have been hard to stay on without Joe and Betsy around!
Paul & Karen Berg just left after being here for a year. Paul worked as a long term volunteer civil engineer in our office and was a great friend and mentor.

Friends Downie, Dawn and Tarah at our going away party. We really have been blessed with a great group of friends here (their husbands Bobby, Doug and Wayne aren't pictured, but they too are great friends!)
Some of the boys' girl friends (two words!) at the going away party
Guard Joseph with his 'kill'! Alisha opened the cupboard and this little guy came running out. So Joseph came in and helped me corral it and kill it.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Some of our last days in Uganda...Part I

Here's a photo collage from our last few weeks in Uganda...we've met some great friends, seen some amazing places, and have been blessed beyond words at how God brought us to and through this experience. I feel so fortunate to have worked with the incredible ministries and talented professionals at the eMi East Africa office. It's been a life changing experience and one I hope will continue to shape our lives in the future. The Ugandan people will always hold a special place in our hearts and we pray that their country continues to develop into a prosperous and healthy place for it's people where God's love can overwrite generations of war, struggle and tragedy. Enjoy some pictures from our last weeks living in Uganda!

My good friends Joe (on left) and Matt (center) and I watching the English Premiership at the ARA club TV room. Most every Saturday afternoon/evening we'd meet up to watch the football (soccer) matches. Joe is from the UK and is unbiased as his team (Luton Town) is 4 leagues below the EPL. Matt is from Michigan, but unfortunately supports Arsenal. My jersey should give away my allegiance (Manchester United).

Jonah and our househelper Monica had a spontaneous jam session on the drums the other day. The rest of us all came in the hallway to dance to their drumming.

We took the boys to the Speke Resort here in Kampala one Sunday afternoon to ride horses and swim. It was a fun treat for the boys - Speke is a very nice resort where foreign dignitaries usually stay.

Alisha and I having a seat while the boys rode their scooters around the big, paved loop at Speke Resort.

Graysen and his bestest buddy and next door neighbor Liana. Sometimes, they are like an old, married couple together! Too cute. Graysen is really going to miss her.

Our office manager, Semei, got married last month. As a part of the festivities, the bride introduces her prospective husband to all her family, friends and villagers. This 'Introduction' takes place before the wedding on a separate day and happens at the brides village. So all of us who work with Semei donned the local attire (Kanzu's with sportcoats for the men and gomesi's for the women). With the travel, it was a 12-hour day! But really cool to be a part of, and Semei was honored to have so many of his muzungu co-workers attend.
Intern Travis and staff member Steve and I posing in our costumes.
The eMi ladies taking part in part of the ceremony - the presenting of gifts.

The wedding was the next day - back to normal attire!

We were given a special table of honor as Semei's co-workers. I even got to give a speech!

The boys were excited to be able to wear ties!

We don't know this boy - some man we didn't know came up to us at the wedding and asked if his son could take a picture with our boys.
Easter Sunday morning, the Easter Bunny arrived. Amazing how fast that bunny gets around the world!
We had a nice Easter dinner with our good friends Joe and Betsy and their daughter Ellis. They work at the Embassy here and we have enjoyed hanging out with them over the past 8 months. We'll miss them as they are moving on to Tanzania this Summer after a brief visit home.

Our boys absolutely adore Ellis - of course, as cute as she is who doesn't adore her. She is so dang cute, and she isn't afraid to use her cuteness to get out of a jam either, according to her parents. We love little Ellis!