Since we moved to Uganda in 2016, we have often used the phrase “I never imagined I would say/do/have…” and we have learned a lot over the last 7+ years. One of the main things that has surprised us is the large garden we have at our house. With both of us being “city” people, garden and farming were never in our vocabulary.
We started with a few small beds of fruits and vegetables that we couldn’t get in Uganda, and we have expanded our garden to have many options. We grow our own sweet corn, colored bell peppers, jalapeños, lettuce, squash of different types, tomatillos, sweet potatoes, strawberries, cantaloupe, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, and green onions. We have banana trees, mulberry/blackberry bushes, jackfruit tree, avocado tree, mango tree, and orange trees. We also grow local foods like beans, maize, potatoes, tomatoes, and greens to share with our neighbors. It has been a blessing to be able to make meals out of the vegetables from our garden, and to share our abundance with friends around us. It is certainly not something we imagined we’d do with some of our time, but we continue to expand our family farm.
When we moved to Uganda we brought our one dog: an English Bulldog, named Jezebel. Over the years, we’ve had 5 dogs, a couple litters of puppies, 2 hedgehogs, a rabbit, and now we have added 6 new chickens.
Leland and Adalyn started scheming about wanting to have chickens a few years ago, but I said I would not have much to do with them because I already had a lot of work to deal with in the garden. While it took several years for planning and actually making it happen, this year we bought our chickens. We currently have 6 chickens that Adalyn can identify, each with their own unique name: Applesauce, BBQ, Crispy, Drumstick, Egg-selent, and French Fry. And already we’re averaging one egg per day, with more layers growing and hopes of producing more soon.
Adalyn loves animals, so she enjoys all the animals at our house. And she enjoys helping in the garden, while also eating the fruits and vegetables (jackfruit is her FAVORITE).
And of course, she hasn’t neglected the 4 dogs we currently have and always makes time to play with them. While the Sawyer Family Farm is not something we expected when we moved to Uganda, we have enjoyed the adventure. Below are several more photos of our family farm for your viewing pleasure. =)
We are happy to celebrate 7 years of living in Uganda. It is hard to believe it has been that long, and at the same time, it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long at all. Like any place, there are things that frustrate us, but there are also many things we love about living here. There are many things we count as blessings and there are many things that make us shake our head and laugh. It’s a fun mix, and God is always faithful in reminding us that He’s got us.
So with that being said, We want to share some fun everyday life items with you….
We have always loved how easy our access to tropical fruits and vegetables has been. We can get a pound of potatoes, fresh green beans, tomatoes, onion, green bell peppers for about 30 cents. We have a large assortment of dried beans for about 6o cents. Our avocados and mangos are huge and also sell for very cheap! The avocado tree we planted when we first moved here finally started producing this year, so we have avocados in our own yard. Pineapple is another delicious treat for less than a $1 (a whole pineapple). We do not have the selection of produce like an American grocery store, but we have gained access to a lot more options over the last 7 years. We can consistently get zucchini, broccoli and cauliflower now. And sometimes red and yellow bell peppers. Those items are a bit more expensive at about $1 each. The broccoli and cauliflower are often small and about the size of my hand, but still nice to have available. There is a farmer who lives on the mountain and he comes to town to sell his fruits and vegetables. His biggest treat for us are the strawberries. We buy a container of strawberries for about $4. I don’t know what they sell for in America, and I don’t care because we can consistently get strawberries and that makes us happy. We can buy 1 small red apple or a hand a bananas for 50 cents each (and the bananas are amazingly sweet). We can sometimes get grapes at the supermarket for about $3.50 a container. We grow black raspberries and mulberries in our yard, as well as sweet potatoes, asparagus, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, green onions, and jalapeños (because Leland loves his salsa). We have had some success growing yellow sweet corn, butternut squash, tomatillos, yellow squash and cantaloupe. As two city kids who knew nothing about farming, Leland and I often feel very proud of ourselves and our endeavors to grow our own food. (We do have a lot of help from the guys who work with us.) I think we eat healthier than we did in America, but we also work harder for our food. 😉
As far as our grocery store, there has been so much improvement in the last several years as well. Our main supermarket has pretty much everything we need (note I said need and not want). It’s a good-size store, but we can go months without items being in stock. For example: I haven’t been able to get frozen beef since November. And import canned goods are not a guarantee. It’s an adventure to go grocery shopping because you never know what will be there, and it’s always a nice surprise when you find something in stock. It’s like a treasure hunt. =) But sometimes you pay for those products we recognize from the U.S. For example, a can of pink salmon (rare find) is $8 a can. I don’t buy those. =) Cereal can also be about $5 for a small box (no value sizes here). A small container of peanut butter is about $6, unless you buy the local stuff, which is much cheaper. There are some items we just splurge on because we can’t imagine life with out it…like cheddar cheese. We pay about $8 for a small block of cheese and we ration that block of cheese! =) When we first moved here, we had to bring our own shampoo, conditioner and body wash. Thankfully, those items can mostly be found in town or in Jinja (about 2 hours away), so we don’t have to use our luggage weight on those items – instead we bring back more cheese. 😉 There are 3 familiar brands of shampoo that may be in town: Tresemme, Herbal Essence, Head and Shoulders. Needless to say, we’re not picky. But there’s a whole aisle of lotion/creams/oils available for skin rehydration.
We rarely go to the capital city of Kampala, which is a good thing because that means we can get most of the things we use without traveling the 5 hours to get there. We used to have to go on regular trips to Kampala to get bags of dog food and dog shampoo. Both of these items are expensive but necessary for our big dogs. Thankfully, we can get these items in Jinja (only 2 hours away). And there’s even a deli in Jinja that partners with an import company from Kampala, so they bring some America (think Walmart) items to Jinja. We get excited when we find some fun unexpected items like buffalo wing sauce, ranch dressing, grape jelly, Clorox antibacterial wipes, paper towels, or powder coffee creamer. It’s all about perspective. For us, we have adjusted to life without so many American products, but we do still get excited when we see something from home. And we have been blessed with people who either bring us or send us yummy treats from America, so we are not lacking. We are very thankful and abundantly blessed.
We are celebrating our time in Uganda, but it’s also an interesting time because we have had more people ask us what is next. It is a bittersweet to think about about what might be next for our life and the ministry here. We can honestly say “we don’t know” and that’s okay; we have peace in it. We know our time here isn’t finished yet, but we also know we’re not supposed to stay here forever. So the questions and thoughts on our minds are about making the most of the opportunities with our friends and ministry partners here, about how we can help the ministry continue to thrive for generations to come (with or without other missionaries), and about how God is going to continue to use us while we are here. We are nowhere near seriously thinking about what’s next for our family because we know we are called to be faithful to where He has called us right now. So we are here now and we are making sure we are present in everyday life!
Adalyn turned 10 years old today. Double digits! For those parents who have already walked through this journey, you know how quickly time flies and how fast kids grow. Adalyn is a blessing to our family and we are so thankful for who God has made her to be. She is funny and compassionate; she is fiesty, sarcastic and adventurous; she loves being at home but she also loves traveling to experience new things; she loves our life in Uganda but she also misses her family and friends in America. She is independent, courageous, smart, thoughtful and forgiving. We love her dearly, and we hope you enjoy watching her grow with us.
There’s always mixed-emotions with our trips back to America. While we love seeing friends and family, it is also busy and exhausting. Yet it is also life-giving and refreshing. And then we also have to say goodbyes, which are always hard. Our life as missionaries is “both/and”, a paradox of emotions (yay ducks and yuck ducks). And this trip was a whirlwind! We stayed for 2 months, so a bit longer than home assignments pre-Covid. With visiting more churches this time, it was busier, with even more travel. But it was also SOGOOD! For those who are interested and don’t already know, here is a recap of our summer travels in the U.S. We left Uganda at the end of May, spent a couple days in Istanbul to break up the long travel back to America and to adjust back to “western culture”, then continued to Dallas and Houston for a couple days to get over jet lag and see our parents.
As you are aware, 2021 was another “different” year. We continued to balance the important ministry God has for us here with concern for safety, health, and making wise decisions. Ministry, as well as everyday living, continued to take on new forms on a regular basis. Here are some highlights from 2021:
Wow, December has been such a busy and great month. November was too…but that was last month. Today, we’re focused on December!
The first week of December was our theological classes, MTI. This was the first time since May that we’ve been able to have full classes, due to lockdown and Covid restrictions, so we were overjoyed about the opportunity. We had a total of 30 students come for teaching, discipling, and sharing.
During the week of MTI, our family also had some celebrations. Adalyn has been taking a dance class from a missionary here in Mbale since September. They worked so hard over the past few months, even overcoming practice cancellations due to Covid, to put together a lovely Christmas Dance Program. In all, there were 12 dance routines, six of which Adalyn participated. She went into dance a little reluctant, but in the end, she thoroughly enjoyed it! She persevered and reaped the blessings! It was also really fun for us to watch our beautiful little girl shine and enjoy something that isn’t usually her cup-of-tea.
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.
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.
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.
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 →