Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A Christmas to Remember

Our Exciting Adventure began by taking the overnight bus from Uganda to Kenya 

 Christmas 2019 will be a Christmas we never forget! For years we've been trying to get my sister Audrey and brother in law, David and their kids to Africa for Christmas. We decided it would be fun to do on the Kenyan coast because we have so many fond memories from vacationing there as a family when we were growing up in Uganda.

A common sight on the roads
We met up in Nairobi, Kenya and took a 6 hour train ride from Nairobi city to Mombasa where we'd stay in cottages on the beach for 6 nights.
We were quite the scene on the train with our large group :)

Cousins reuniting

We were so thankful for these strong boys and their help with all the luggage!

Poor jetlagged baby (and Dad)

The sight we got to enjoy every day!

One day the guys went snorkeling at the reef and the ladies stayed home with the babies and got pedicures.

We spent all day in the water

Someone really loved the beach!

One of our sand creations

(Possibly our last family photo as a family of 6!)

Breakfast in the Banda
 The meals were definitely a highlight! The place we stayed had a chef that cooked all our meals. We ate a LOT of seafood.

We ate a lot of meals in our swimsuits

Evan's breakfast plate

Afternoon coffee with my Mom

Waking up from his nap

Long awaited Sister Time

Fun in the waves

My youngest and my oldest

Swims with Mimo (Grandma)

My favorite view in the world!

Just chilling

My 4 year old nephew

Being silly with Mimo

Josh is forever our fish lover

 After 6 glorious days on the beach with family, it was time to head back to real life.

Carson's newest interest is drawing/scribbing

Josh fed the giraffe from his own mouth!
 We fit in a few more fun things in Nairobi before Audrey and David flew out. First stop: Giraffe Orphanage.

 We polished off our time together with a big lunch at a Brazilian Steakhouse for all-you-can-eat meat.

But that wasn't all! After the US crew flew back to CA and my parents flew back to Uganda we got to spend a day with our sister in law Heather, and our 3 beautiful nieces!

Dutch Blitz - always a must!

Lunch and ice cream

Cousin Abi wanted to carry Carson while we did some shopping

So thankful for these opportunities to see our loved ones!!!

Lastly we needed to drop Isaac and Evan off at school. It's not our happiest thing to do that's for sure but we got to spend the weekend at school and see a few more glimpses of their life there and get to know some of their friends a little better.  Since I missed getting both boys moved in at the beginning of the school year, I treasured getting to help each of them unpack and get moved back in to their dorm rooms. God is good.

So now we're back in Adjumani. Real life. Good Life. And sooo enjoying reflecting on these sweet times that God blessed us with! It always amazes me how often we get to see family, even being here in Africa - because so many of them are HERE!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

When NOT in America for Christmas

The other day I was in my kitchen cooking breakfast while Christmas music played in the background. When the song "Here with Us" came on, I suddenly found myself in a full blown worship session as I was flipping french toast. The words of this song stirred me so deeply as God reminded me that He is here with us. 

I also couldn't help but be thankful for a Christmas season here in Uganda where there isn't all the hype and distractions that come with Christmas in my home country. There was no crazy Black Friday shopping, no Santas, and no pressure to have the most beautifully decorated house or cookies. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with those things. But those things can detract from what Christmas is truly all about.
Instead, this year, all we have is a simple Christmas tree and Advent Calendar. For our Advent reminder each day we have a reading we're doing together every morning after breakfast and then in the little box is a piece of paper that has a family Christmas activity to do for the day. Some examples are: bake Christmas cookies, sing Christmas carols by candlelight, or drink hot cocoa while sharing past Christmas memories. 

Please understand. I'm not trying to say our Christmas "traditions" are better than anyone else's. But I've had several American friends tell me this Christmas that they're jealous of me because I'm not caught up in the chaos and flurry of the Christmas season. And it hit me. So often missionaries really struggle during Christmas time because they miss the snow and cold weather, or the Christmas shopping and of course the family. And yes we do miss our family and friends especially deeply during this season. BUT what a special gift to be able to focus on the TRUE MEANING of Christmas and marinate in that rather than all the hustle and bustle. 

Click on the link below to listen to the beautiful song I love called "Here With Us"