May 31, 2014

Hiking up a hill, walking through a palace

It doesn't matter how many times I've been to Uganda or how many places I think I've seen, there is always something new to discover and enjoy.

One of the greatest surprises of staying at Abide is how close it is to a killer view of Lake Victoria. 

A short (or longer if you're out of shape like I am) hike up from our compound and there you are. Looking out over Lake Victoria and the surrounding area. It's breath taking.  Not only that but on top of this hill stands a real life palace for the king of Busoga (the local Ugandan tribe).

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This last week we had a missions team come and visit Abide.  And with the extra willing hands we were finally able to bring the children currently at the center up to see the view for themselves.  Babies were strapped to backs and we double checked that each child had their shoes on.  And off we went.

With the little legs the hike was [much] longer than expected.  The sun was hot and there were some tears on the way up.  However, once at the top we were greeted with the best surprise, a private visit in the kings palace. We had biscuits and juice on the porch.  Then we marveled at the view and the fairy tale looking staircase. 

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The view was amazing. The breeze was glorious. but these children, they were the best part. They win. Always.
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May 23, 2014

Playtime at Abide Family Center

I've been at Abide Family Center for a little over a week now and these children continue to amaze me.  They work together [almost] flawlessly and can be entertained for hours with simple objects.

Today that object was a wheelbarrow.  So many laughs followed.

This week ended on a [very] good note.

Playtime at Abide Family Center || Bugembe, Uganda from Joanna Rist on Vimeo.

A Harvest of Blessing

May 19, 2014

In the chaos they were calm

Today started with a bang.  While standing outside Abide Family Center's child development center one of the older children came up to me and said...

"Auntie Joanna, Teacher Nakato is not coming today."

Um, okay. 

What happened next can only be explained as pure chaos. It started with the realization that my Russian is better than my Lugandan.  It continued with children going nuts over new supplies and refusing their naps. 

Toys were flying across the room.  Children were flying across the room.  The one baby who is terrified of me showed up in the classroom.  It didn't take me long to realize that I needed help.  And I wasn't to proud to admit it.  

So into the office I went,  "Pastor Julius, do you mind translating for me for a little while?" To which I got the wonderful response "It's okay".

And the day was saved.  He translated and was the peace keeper between the children all day long.  While I helplessly tried to wrangle and entertain the remaining children.  Countless times today I found myself sheepishly looking over at one of the Ugandan staff mouthing "help me!" and they would smile, walk over and calm the situation right down.

Maybe one day I will be as skilled at calming these children down, but right now I still have so much to learn.  

Today I could not be more thankful for Abide's amazing Ugandan staff.
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May 15, 2014

First day at Abide

After one missed flight + three successful flights + a 2.5 hour car ride I finally arrived at Abide Family Center late last night. This place rocks and I'm excited for what these next couple of months are going to be filled with.

Lots of cuddles and smiles. Lots of good conversation. Lots of creativity.

And hopefully lots of learning.

It's going to be good and I can't wait.

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May 13, 2014

See you on the other side

It's super early in the morning (or is this late at night?) and I'm heading to the airport.

The time has come. I'll be in Uganda by Wednesday night.

See you on the other side people!

May 8, 2014

The calm before the storm

I love rain.  I'm not sure if I've mentioned that before, but I love it.  Everything about rainy days makes me happy inside. When it's a thunderstorm it's even better.

Before my first international trip (Cambodia in 2009) I discovered something about myself.  I freak out easily.  I have never been so sick with fear or worry than I was during the weeks leading up to that trip.  It was terrible and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.  Since then the before trip freak out has happened like clockwork.  For the week or two before any of my trips anxiety strikes.  I look for ways out of the trip and contemplate faking some kind of sickness.  During this time it isn't unusual to hear me promise that I will never travel again after the current trip.  It's completely psychological and disappears as soon as I board my flight.  This happens every single time I go somewhere. 

This trip is different. 

Last week we had a thunderstorm.  All day the clouds slowly moved in.  It was hot, humid and still outside.  Having no wind in this city is very, very unusual. There was a sense of anticipation as the day went on.  It was going to storm and I couldn't wait.  Finally, that evening I heard the thunder.  There is something extra special about the first thunderstorm of the season; it was glorious. 

I've realized that this trip is very similar to that thunderstorm.  In a very good way.  I'm less than a week away from leaving for Uganda and I am nothing but calm. I'm filled with anticipation.  I'm excited.  I'm not freaking out!  This is a first for me and it is truly amazing.  It's the calm before the storm.

And I honestly can't wait for this storm to begin.

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May 6, 2014

Playing soccer in the snow

Sometimes timing works out perfectly.

This weekend my schedule opened up.  And it happened to open up perfectly around a soccer tournament. So after a quick whirlwind road trip I found myself sitting on the side of a soccer field huddled under a pile of blankets.  It was freezing.  And the snow dumped on us.

I spent more time commuting on the road than anything else.

But it was worth it.  Because family will always be worth it.  Making it to one of her soccer games before I leave the country was priceless.  She's a champ.  And I'm so glad she's mine.

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