6 Months Later…

I remembered today that I have a blog…which I haven’t written anything on for almost  months now! I didn’t think it had been that long. Honestly it’s been a very full six months – full of family, travel, new friends, work, more travel, some heartache and lots of laughs.

Our time in Canada was full :). But we’re grateful that our schedule was full and we were able to meet so many great people and to share our hearts about the work that God has called us to. We’re also grateful for God’s provision and protection during our time in Canada. He is so good to us.

We left Canada exactly 3 weeks ago today and we arrived back in Mwanza on August, 20th. I’m not going to lie the jet lag struggle was SO real this time! It took a good week to feel human again, and poor Hubby was off again after one week as he traveled to Zambia for VOH Africa Meetings. It also probably didn’t help that I had two wisdom teeth pulled two days before we left Canada–but we all survived and Julius is coming back home to Tanzania today, so I am one happy wifey. 🙂

Five days before we left Canada my Grandpa had a major brain bleed and subsequent stroke. We were told the bleed in his brain was massive and inoperable and he wouldn’t recover. It was quite a blow and very unexpected as he was very healthy. The Doctors said there is no way to predict these things; they are totally random. Grandpa always used to joke that he was ready and that he wasn’t long for this world – which we all hated, but it’s like he somehow knew. He was only 71 when he passed away a week later while we were in the air somewhere between Turkey and Tanzania.

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I really miss him. It’s been hard for me to process. I am very glad that I was able to see him in the hospital and to say “see you later” and to be with my family for those few days before we left. But everything still seems very surreal to me. I can’t believe he’s in Heaven already. This is the hard part about living overseas (one of them). I feel as though it won’t really seem real to me until the next time we’re back in Canada and he’s not there, which won’t be for a couple years and I feel like it might hit me all over again. It’s also hard to be away from family during the time of a family death. But in all of this I thank God for His grace and strength and peace – to continue to do what He has called me to do. I know my Grandpa would be proud of that. He was one of our biggest supporters in every way, financially, praying for us and even visiting  – he came to visit us twice in Tanzania. I will cherish those memories and many more forever.

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I am grateful that the boys saw Grandpa this past summer and were able to have some time with him. Ezra went fishing with Grandpa at Family Camp and had a great time. I know he won’t remember much about Grandpa when he’s older, but we will tell him the stories. It was challenging for me to try to explain to Ezra what had happened. It’s really the first time we have had to talk to him about death. He is five so we just tried to keep it simple and explain about Heaven best we could. Since then Ezra has questions almost every night about Heaven. He has really been thinking about it a lot. Some questions are funny and others are so insightful I am taken aback. And he also prays for Grandpa nearly every night – that he is with Jesus in Heaven and that he is healed. It’s all I can do not to cry every time. At first Ezra told me he didn’t want to go to Heaven because he would miss everyone here. But then one night, he told me, “but if my friends are like me and know Jesus they will be in Heaven with me too, right?” “You’re absolutely right, Ezra.” I told him, my heart full. My kids teach me so much about having a relationship with God. And about how God sees me as His Child, now that I’m a parent. It’s such a special thing to be able to see the world through a child’s eyes and also to catch a glimpse of how much God loves me, knowing how much I love my boys.

Heartache comes. We can’t ignore it or run from it or avoid it. There is a season for everything and it’s trusting God through each and every season that gets you through it all. Is my heart aching a little? Yes, some days more than others, but at the same time my heart is so very full and grateful for this wonderfully amazing life God has allowed me to live – and for the amazing people who are a part of it.

I hope I will write again before another six months goes by but sometimes there’s just a lot of life to live and that’s OK too.

JK

My Long Lost Blog

I have been MIA for the past 3 months. Well at least in the Blogosphere. I have been present in A LOT of other areas of my life. 🙂 To say it’s been a “busy” few months would be a huge understatement. I’m really not sure what you call the past few months…other than maybe, CRAZY. Yes, crazy seems fitting.

The end of the year is always a busy time; wrapping things up and beginning to plan for a new year ahead. I had my fourth warm Christmas and celebrated another New Year in Tanzania.

Parts of the last few months have been very challenging but I am so thankful for God’s continued grace and strength. Even though it’s been crazy, we’re all healthy, we’re all happy and we’re all HERE. That’s enough of a blessing for me.

I don’t know how much I will blog in 2016, I haven’t set any goals or anything when it comes to blogging, mostly because this is just something I do for me, for my sanity and because I enjoy it. I hope I will take the opportunities to write as often as I can because there is so much to write about! Sometimes it’s a shame that life seems to go by so quickly you don’t even have time to sit down and reflect and in my case, write your experiences down. All I can honestly say is I will do my best to make time to blog because it’s something I truly do enjoy and it helps me to slow down amidst the craziness that is life sometimes. (Ok. Most of the time.)

As far as catch up goes…hmm…what are the major events from the last few months? Here’s my short list:

* My grandparents came for a visit in November and it was GREAT! It was so nice to have them here and we really enjoyed two weeks with them.

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* Both November and December were full of reports and stats and wrapping up the year. (We survived and managed somehow to get it all finished).
* We took a week before Christmas and got away! We went to Seychelles and it was absolutely AMAZING! I have never seen a place so beautiful! We had a wonderful time with the boys, swimming and relaxing. It was exactly what we needed and for our first real Family Vacation it was a success!

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*Christmas! We had a lovely Christmas here in Mwanza. While we were far from our families, we had some friends from Kenya come, and together with friends here we enjoyed ourselves. Lots of food, fun and laughter, just the way it’s supposed to be. We also had a really great Christmas Celebration at Village of Hope. Some of our children out on a skit and it was VERY impressive; I’m sure it will be remembered for years to come.

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*Early in January (the 3rd) Julius and I celebrated 7 years of marriage. ❤ We can hardly believe it’s been that long. We are so blessed and we love doing this life together. We look forward to all the years ahead and all that God has planned for us together.

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*A couple weeks ago our youngest (our wild child) fell and face planted onto our very hard tile floors. He chipped a big chunk out of his front tooth and now has also gotten a gum infection because of it. Thankfully he’s on antibiotics and will be fine. Never a dull moment!
*Other than that the first couple weeks of January have been full of planning for the new year, hiring new staff, getting ready and opening our school onsite at VOH and reports and many many other little tasks. But we thank God we are headed in the right direction and He is helping us every single day.

It’s a new year and a new start. I know we will see amazing things in 2016. Hoping you had a wonderful start to the year. We truly have so much to be grateful for, even if it means not getting much time to blog about it all. 🙂

Until next time 🙂

Don’t Give Up On Doing Good

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written a post. It’s been a very hectic few weeks to say the least. The normal busy-ness was added to in the form of sick children, an extremely cranky, teething toddler, and bunch of other work-related stuff I can’t really go into – but it was BAD.

It has not ever been “not-busy” since we moved to Mwanza, and granted we knew the first year or so would be like this – it’s not really a surprise, but whenever we face particularly challenging situations at the Village (check out the “Bringing Hope” tab up top for more info on what is it we actually do) at first it usually does surprise me a bit. Probably because things seem to go really well for a couple months – everything is running smoothly, people are generally getting along, we’re moving forward, things are happening in a positive way and then it’s like a bomb drops. Something big. Something you can’t ignore and something that affects everything and everyone. And then for those few days or weeks that’s all you deal with! Climbing out of the whole, dealing with the consequences, while trying to still be Godly at the same time (easier said than done).

It’s not like I have unrealistic expectations that everything will be good all the time – not at all, but still somehow these things tend to come in such an “out of the blue” way that they still surprise me. It’s in these times – when I reach the complete end of my rope in every way, that I need to remind myself of a few things…maybe you need to hear these reminders today too…

  1. God absolutely still knows what He’s doing – and he hasn’t stopped “doing.”
  2. Our rewards are not on this earth. Our rewards for how we serve on this earth will be handed out in eternity and we may not know until then the impact our actions had.
  3. Don’t give up on doing good. Let God deal with the actions and responses of others – you can’t control those anyways – so just keep doing good and being faithful. Remember you are serving for Jesus, it’s not about how other people respond.
  4. Remember how broken you are – and how amazing God’s love is for you – and then look at the people around you through that lens.
  5. Our battle is not against flesh and blood- but we are most definitely at war. Expect attacks – the enemy is not going to just sit around and let you impact the Kingdom of God without trying to derail you. Remember where your strength is.
  6. Jesus can and does bring hope into every situation if we invite him in.
  7. You feel a lot better when you let go of the bitterness and start being intentionally grateful again.
  8. Remember God called you and He has equipped you for that call.
  9. Jesus loves “those people” or “that person” that you absolutely can’t stand right now. You can’t even fathom how much he loves them, but the fact is, He does.
  10. This too shall pass. And how you handle this has the potential to make you stronger and smarter – for the next time – because yes, whatever we are facing now is preparing us for what’s ahead.

I have been meditating on these verses this week…

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” ~ Galatians 6:9

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.”

~Psalm 121:1-2

Transition Time (Again)

Sometimes it feels like my whole life is one big transition – meaning they’re just never ending. I keep thinking – once we get through this transition we’ll be able to settle a bit…NOPE. BAM another transition. I should just expect it at this point!

We are coming up on our one year anniversary in Mwanza. It has been a year of much change and transition to say the least. When we came our sons were 3.5 years and 5.5 months…now they are 4.5 (and about ready to start Kindergarden!) and 16 months (keeping us very busy!) We had to learn a whole new place, new roles for both of us at work, adjust to both working full time, and host crazy amounts of people in between all of that. But we made it. Coming up on the one year mark here I think I can safely say – while it has not been without its challenges – we have thoroughly enjoyed this transition. You see not every transition is bad. Most are difficult in some way – I’ll give you that, but not all bad. I have definitely had my moments of being overwhelmed in the last year trying to adjust to it all and keep some level of my sanity, but I have also had some of the best times of my life and surprisingly felt the most settled I’ve probably ever felt since we’ve been married.

So here I am ending one transition, our first year here and on the brink of several more…

In less than two weeks my baby boy (the first one) officially starts kindergarden. I can’t believe we’re here already. This will be a big transition for him but also for us and the beginning of a new phase as he starts his education journey.

We are also getting back to the books from next week. Julius has two courses to complete through Global Uni and I am starting to chip away at my degree again (two kids later). This will obviously change our routine and add more to our plates but at the same time we feel ready and settled and that there is no better time than NOW.

I am also getting back on track and continuing my journey to get healthier. One day at a time.

The truth is transition will always be there. Change is a part of life. If you’re waiting for it to slow down…you might be waiting a while! So why not embrace it, and see how God is working all of these changes around you to create something beautiful inside you.

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Happy Juggling 😉

“You are not allowed to enter because your skin is white.”

In all the years I have visited and lived in Africa I have never experienced any real prejudice. Of course I’m sure there are individual people that might have a problem with my presence here but as for the general population I have always been welcomed and have known the majority of people to be kind and hospitable to me.

Today I experience something that, to be honest I am still kind of in shock about.

We recently found out about a supermarket that is for the Military and NGO workers only. We found out about it from one of our own staff members who told us she frequents the store as do many of our other staff because there is no tax, prices are much lower and they are allowed in because of their Village of Hope ID cards. We thought, wow that’s wonderful and probably helps them out a lot.

Yesterday we thought we would go check it out – we might even find some good deals for things we need for the Village. We went and were let in no problem after we showed our own ID cards – only that we were a bit late so they said we had to be quick. We found a few things but because they and already started closing we didn’t get to the actual food section.

Today at lunch hour we decided to head back with a couple other staff from VOH and see if we could check out the super market side.

However when we got to the entrance we were told that I was not allowed to enter. My husband and the other colleagues were allowed but not me. I told them I had been there just yesterday and had been allowed in, no problem. They said the rules had changed and I was not allowed in. We said we all work for the same charity we all have the same ID cards – why am I not allowed? Then he bluntly said, “Because you are white.” We all said – “What?!” We asked him, you are actually saying she is not allowed to enter because of the colour of her skin alone? He said, yes. Period. There was no other reason. Not because I am a foreigner even, but because my skin is white. He wouldn’t budge. So I went back to wait in the car not really knowing what to feel. What I’m sure happened is someone saw me go in yesterday and said, “I don’t want to see white people in here” and so the rules changed.

I still don’t really know how I feel about it all. It’s very strange. I have never encountered anything like this since living here. I just couldn’t believe how bluntly he said, “You are not allowed in because your skin is white.” – Literal translation. Wow. I wonder how big of a deal it would be if the tables were turned and he was in a European country or America and was not allowed to enter a store and was bluntly told it was because he is black. I know it would be front page news.

I can only imagine what it must have been like for so many Black Americans not so many years ago during segregation. They would have been told this countless times I’m sure. “You cannot enter because you are black.” No matter what the colour on the end of that sentence is – it’s such a horrible statement. We think we’ve moved on from such things – but obviously, unfortunately they still remain as a dark part of our societies.  We are all created in God’s image – black, white and everything in between. There is no justification for statements like the one above. Ever.

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It truly just saddens me that there are obviously people who still believe that it is perfectly OK – to discriminate against people because of their skin colour of all things! God help us. Help us to see people through your eyes; to see them as the beautiful creation they are and to love them unconditionally.

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