Memories

This song played alot while we were in the U.S. last year spending time with my dad before he died. Every time I hear it, it brings tears to my eyes and makes me think of my dad. As both Leland and I have walked through this journey, first with his dad dying unexpectedly in a car accident and then my dad dying a slow debilitating death, we both feel the pain of loss. We feel the sadness of not getting to talk to our dads anymore, not seeing them, not giving them hugs, not hearing their laughs or their jokes, or them giving us advice whether asked or not… With Leland’s dad, there wasn’t a chance to say goodbye and there were so many things left unsaid. And with my dad, while we knew it was coming and we made some really good memories, there was still so much more we wished we could’ve said or did with him.

Life is funny like that; it feels like we have plenty of time, and yet, we never have enough time. You’d think these losses would make us “wake up” and be more intentional with our time. But unfortunately, it doesn’t. I was washing lettuce the other night for a salad and it made me think of my dad because he loved salads and always had one ready in the fridge. Then a few days later, Leland put on some country music while we were cooking dinner and the song “Live Like You Were Dying” came on the playlist. We both got tears in our eyes thinking about how that was just what my dad did. He realized he was dying and didn’t know how much time he had, so we saw a side of him that I’ve never seen before. He was vulnerable. He shared his love and feelings more freely. We had hard conversations and good conversations. We cried. We laughed. There was so much he wished he could still do, but he did what he could to enjoy his remaining time. There was pain, frustration, denial, fear. And we got to walk through some of that with him and my mom. About this time last year, we were with them knowing goodbyes were coming. We were all pretty sure it was going to be the last time we saw my dad. I wouldn’t give up our time with them for anything. But it doesn’t make the goodbye any easier. It doesn’t make the loss go away. But I am thankful for the memories. I can “cheers” for my dad. I can “cheers” for Leland’s dad. I can “cheers” alongside my family and friends who have lost people along the way.
He said “I was finally the husband that most of the time I wasn’t. And I became a friend a friend would like to have. And all of a sudden going fishin’ wasn’t such an imposition. And I went three times that year I lost my dad. Well I, I finally read the Good Book, and I took a good, long, hard look at what I’d do if I could do it all again…”

So today…

“Here’s to the ones that we got
Cheers to the wish you were here, but you’re not
‘Cause the drinks bring back all the memories
Of everything we’ve been through
Toast to the ones here today
Toast to the ones that we lost on the way
‘Cause the drinks bring back all the memories
And the memories bring back, memories bring back you…”

Here’s to trying to be more intentional about our time with the people we love.

Happy Birthday Adalyn!

Adalyn turns 9 years old this year. This will be her 6th birthday while living in Uganda. She has grown up in Uganda – she has gone from a spunky little toddler to a tall girl who has her own unique personality (still spunky). She is caring, sassy, athletic, silly and compassionate. She loves almost everything active, but she also loves chilling as a family with movies or video games. Here are the annual questions for her birthday.

Continue reading

Unique Community

One aspect of missionary life that I was not anticipating is the close-knit community that surrounds us here in Mbale, Uganda. Not only do we live among like-minded people serving God through different ministries here, but we all are away from our home cultures and need to rely on each other for life stuff. Whether it’s celebrating Thanksgiving together, helping a family who needs medical treatment, someone who has to leave unexpectedly, or having a pool party to celebrate the end of the school year, it is a beautiful thing called COMMUNITY. And while being a close-knit community also has challenges, we are thankful because not all missionaries have community like we do. And not all people have relationships that are connected through the desire to follow God to wherever He calls.

Continue reading

Lockdown, Take 2

2020 Lockdown

We can all agree that 2020 was a crazy year, and for us personally, 2021 wasn’t looking any better with my dad’s death, an unexpected ice storm that affected my travel, getting back to life in Uganda amidst the pandemic, A LOT of house repairs needed, and ministry struggles. But things seemed to be settling down…

Just in time for another lockdown. While the U.S. and Europe has a large population of people who are vaccinated, there are many countries around the world that don’t have vaccines. In Uganda, we were watching as Kenya and other surrounding countries were struggling with the new Covid variant from India, but Uganda seemed to be okay. Uganda has been okay throughout the Covid situation with no real explanation.

Continue reading

Same storm, different boats

I have seen this meme or image around lately, and while it’s mainly talking about Covid-19 and all that this past year entails, I think it also speaks volumes about our life in general. We are all in the same ocean or storm, depending on which image you see, but we are all in different boats. Meaning, we do not all live with the same status, same education, same wealth, same abilities. We each live in different and unique circumstances. We all have different life stories, wounds, struggles, and perspectives.

The biggest impact from this image came also from the quote “we may not all be in the same boat but we’re sailing the same storm. Some may be in a yacht, some in a canoe, some in a dinghy, and some may be drowning. So just be kind and help whoever you can.” Be kind. Help whoever you can. That is so true, for life in general. We don’t truly know what someone is going through, so that annoying student, that unhelpful salesperson, that angry coworker, the unfair boss, that rude neighbor, that homeless person on the street, that struggling shopkeeper, and the list goes on…. We don’t know the situation they are going through and we are called to be kind, showing love because that’s what Jesus did when he saw people hurting or when people were hurling insults at Him. He was LOVE. He is LOVE. We are called to love.

Continue reading

2020 In Review – A Year Unlike Any Other

Discipleship Groups – Before the lockdown, we were continuing to meet with our discipleship groups and seeing personal growth in many of them. They have been testifying that their marriages have improved, their role in discipling their children has increased, and the work of the churches they serve has deepened through discipleship groups. During the lockdown, we began hearing feedback from church leaders about ministry going on in their areas. We were encouraged to hear that Relational Discipleship and Discovery Bible Study groups were flourishing even during lockdown.

Discovery Bible Study Trainings – After hearing from church leaders about the impact that Relational Discipleship and Discovery Bible Study groups were having during lockdown, the Mission Leadership Team decided that the best way to continue equipping churches for ministry was to train more local churches and church leaders on how to use DBS to impact their local congregation and community. Between July and October, we brought a total of 40 leaders representing 5 churches in different areas here in Eastern Uganda to train them on how to have DBS groups in their village. We will be following up with them shortly to encourage and ensure that the ministry is having an impact.

Long-Distance Church Visits – Before the lockdown, the Mission Leadership Team was able to visit churches in areas far away (Kyankwansi, Kitgum, and Lira). We encouraged the churches in those areas, but also had in-depth conversations with church leaders about the future of the work in their areas. The focus must shift to training leaders that can stand faithful in those areas. Because of these visits and discussions, we are bringing leaders from these areas to MTI for training and discipleship.

Messiah Theological Institute – In January and February, we met with 57 students for Messiah Theological Institute. With in-depth theological training AND relational discipleship focused on life-change, we had high hopes for another great year. Sadly, we had to close MTI from March through December due to the Covid-19 pandemic and government restrictions. We have plans to re-open MTI in March to continue what we started in 2020.

Continue reading

Tribute to My Dad

Just recently, I went to a funeral for a little girl who battled sickness in a wheelchair most of her life, and she finally “ran to the arms of Jesus” at age 11. At the funeral, someone said “To be born is a blessing and to die is a must”. While we all mourned her death for being so young, that statement rang so true to me for my dad as well. My dad has been battling ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, since spring of 2019, although the doctors didn’t know that’s what it was until June 2020. While 2020 was a crappy year in so many ways, the shutdown of Uganda in regards to Adalyn’s school and our ministry allowed us to be able to travel to the U.S. at the end of July 2020 and spend 5 months in America, and about 3 of those months of quality time with my parents. Continue reading

Thanks be to God

While we were in the U.S. and traveling to many different places, I saw this sign at a friend’s house, and I took a photo because it captured my attention and hit my heart pretty hard…

We can all agree that 2020 was a big, huge mess! It was a year of change, frustration, change, adapting, change, flexibility, change, disappointment, change, fear, and more change. One of the biggest realizations I had about myself pre-COVID, was how I thought I could control my life by planning. And while I would say, “God is really the one in control”, I would still plan and expect things to go how I want them to go. I would get frustrated when things didn’t go my way. And I still do this. But this past year has opened my eyes to realize that I can still plan, but it needs to be with flexibility and with the understanding that God is ultimately in control and my life is in His hands, not my own.

Continue reading

Happy Birthday Adalyn!

Adalyn has turned 8 years old. This is her first birthday in the U.S. since we left for Uganda when she had just turned 3 years old. We had the crazy realization that we traveled across the world with a toddler who was barely 3 years old! Wow! It has been a blessing to watch her grow and mature into the feisty, strong, caring and adventurous little girl. As another year has passed, here is another round of questions to see where she is this year…

Continue reading

Missionary Merit Badges

This post is for our fellow missionaries and expats, trying to find humor and victories in the simple, mundane things of everyday life. Just like the Scouts, expatriates and missionaries should start collecting merit badges for the things we have accomplished. Here are a few that my friends and I thought about to get us started… Continue reading