Monday, June 24, 2013

What I miss...

And can't wait to see/do again..

The entire staff 
Jimmy and James racing the vans
stopping by the market for soda and sweets
delicious meals
incredible hospitality and love,
 morning devotions
"Brian, this is Holly" - the power was out...
 “like” conversations with BK
sharing skirts and clothes/getting ready in the morning,
 Shelby’s braids
 “muno, bye!”
 naked babies
 big smiles
the huge stars in a clear sky
 poop talks (big deal if you were able to go!)
the prison visit
 quick showers,
 brief debriefs - that turned into long debriefs.. (I always fell asleep anyway)
 pill cocktails - the nightly chats AFTER ambien was taken...
 fearing for your life and the lives of others every time we got in a car
“you are most highly welcome” 
Emma’s “yeth”
garlic burps - sorry Michelle!
 busting out worship songs at any time of day
 Africa time
Obanga na gin aloi pe
head lamps
 aggressive prayer
clapping for everything
bikes serving as a taxi, pick-up truck and SUV
squatty potty
thunder storms and the cool breezes that followed
 serving the children a meal at center day
raising eyebrows to say yes
 the people carrying things on their heads
 babies strapped to family member’s backs - strapping a baby to my back!
those sweet little kids being afraid of the "muno's"
Ugandan’s wearing coats in 90 degree heat
dance parties
 the sunrise on safari
 the “carwash”
fresh pineapple
 avocado and bananas
personal hygiene and cholera poem 
Jimmy’s stories and jokes…

(thanks Meghan!)

And some of my favorite pictures...

Praying for everyone's food babies... 

until next time...

Our God is so big..

So strong and so mighty... I do love that song from when I was little... After an amazing day on the Nile and delicious dinner and a fabulous night's sleep we were up at the crack of dawn for what may have been the coolest experience of my entire life to this day (my wedding day was pretty cool BUT to go back and share this with my other half I think is so going to top even that day!).

Before I share the pictures with you - I have to tell you that if you ever question the greatness of our God, I highly suggest you wake up and watch the sunrise.. in Africa if at all possible... 

I kept having to pinch myself and be like holy cow I am in Africa! I am on a morning safari ride in Africa! It was surreal... We were all completely silenced by the beauty of it all.. For being such a war torn country - Uganda is absolutely, breath-takingly beautiful. 

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

I love the little glimpses God gives us of his majesty. A little peak of the glory of what's to come!

And if the sunset couldn't have been more beautiful... we saw SO many animals!!

The beginning of TONS of giraffes!

Cape buffalo or water buffalo or a cape water buffalo? I can't remember BUT I do remember that they have great memories...

herd of elephants!!!

We knew we weren't going to be seeing a cat that morning because this carcass was fresh and cats only hunt every 2-3 days...

Me, Dr. Caroline and Michelle

 The Nile! AND right over the mountains was the Congo.

We saw as many giraffes as 17 in a herd...

setting up breakfast on the Nile for the royal family - it is a available to all for a price... 

The state bird.. country bird? The grey-crowned crane... They mate for life. So cute

It was an indescribable experience that I wish I could share with everyone I know. The perfect end to a perfect trip. The ride lasted about 3 hours and then we rushed back to the hotel for a quick breakfast (which was amazing!) before our long ride to Kampala... Um disclaimer.. we were in a bus, with no A/C, it was about 100 degrees outside... I was sweating like crazy, our driver didn't speak English (Jimmy was driving the other bus.. with A/C...) and we did not ever stop for lunch...  we were out of snacks and out of water... Um talk about a quick turn around to spoiled American... 

I sent this to my bus- mates via Facebook after we had all made it home... 

We did make it back to Kampala in time to stop by the cutest little market - I mean think a church craft fair.. but in Africa - tons of wood carvings and beaded jewelry and homemade goodies! A little more overpriced than in Lira, but still totally worth it!

We made it to the airport in the nick of time and of course Jimmy knew one of the guards at the entrance - his "cousin"... Musevini was in town so security was super tight. It was sad to say good bye to Jimmy - but it was not good bye - we knew it was "see you later". 

I cannot wait to go back and see the staff and children at COTN - my good friend Ellie put it so beautifully - there seems to be a smaller space between heaven and earth in Uganda and it's totally worth leaving the comforts of America behind... I can't wait to go back to the country and people that stole a piece of my heart. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Safari Time!

This morning, we left Lira so early. It was definitely sad to know that we were leaving the guest house, and the staff and not going back to the children's home. As sad as I was, I knew that I would be back some day.... hint hint

But there was one more adventure to be had... 

In an effort to allow us to re-acclimate to western culture and luxury and to decompress we were headed on a safari! We thought we were in the bush of Africa... we drove about 3-4 hours toward the lodge and watched the "city" of Lira disappear and saw what the Lion King taught us all Africa looked like and to what I think of as the middle of nowhere AKA the bush... It was beautiful!

Jimmy did tell us a great story.. and by great I mean sad... He said that there was a family driving through and they had to stop so the mom could go to the bathroom and she went a little bit into the grass and a cheetah got her and they never saw her again.. he assured us he wasn't making it up.. Sooo basically none of us complained about needing to stop and use the bathroom.. Um TIA? (this is Africa)

Nants ingonyama bagithi baba Sithi uhhmm ingonyama... Simba? Are you out there? PS those words actually mean something! Who knew!? They mean - there comes a lion, oh yes, a lion... I thought it was just a bunch of weird noises strung together...

Anywho, after a wish hour drive we arrived at Paraa Safari lodge... Security was super tight because the British royal family was in town for the jubilee - not William and Kate unfortunately but one of the queen's other sons  and children... 

After we checked in... realized that they had wifi (um hello two whole weeks without Facebook!?) and checked into our rooms we had a wonderful lunch!

Our view of the Nile!! SO cool!

our bathroom... with hot water!!

Mine and Steph's room!

Lunch! I'm not sure I've ever downed bread and butter so fast in my entire life!

The pool...

They warned you.. the next best thing to signing a death waiver I suppose...

This is probably one of the nicest resorts I've ever stayed at including any hotel I've ever stayed at in the states... I also had never traveled internationally before this trip to Africa... We don't even really travel that often at home.. But besides not having AC this was such an awesome resort!! 

After a delicious lunch we went on our first safari ride.. a boat ride down the Nile river.. maybe it was up the Nile river? I'm not sure...

We were riding in a boat on the Nile!! How cool is that!? Pretty cool! We saw TONS of hippos, TONS. We were told that they kill more people in Africa than any of the other wild animals... So there's something to that whole hungry, hungry hippo game.. We were heading to Murchison Falls (the water fall in front of us) and we were going to get off the boat and go on a hike and see more water falls... But like I said since the British royal family was staying at the lodge the road that we would have been picked up was closed. So there was no hike.. but we were able to get pretty close to the falls...

We jumped onto a rock in the middle of the Nile and took a picture real quick! We were told not to fall in because the crocodiles are hungry... Good to know. 

On our way back in we saw the said crocodile...

And then because we were all dying to see an elephant Amber I decided that I should pray for an elephant drinking water in the Nile... and I would get a bag of ruffles potato chips... Where this bag of chips was coming from - who know? We were going to test the power of prayer...


God really does give us the desires of our heart.... we saw an elephant!!! Not drinking water in the Nile.. so I didn't get a bag of potato chips BUT we saw an elephant!!!! It was so cool!

Meg - our fearless leader for Uganda 2013!!! (eeks I'm going back!!!)

Amber, our fearless leader from Uganda 2012... 

At the end of our boat ride we saw some baboons up close and personal...

I don't think they're known for being too nice either...

We went back to the lodge where we had some downtime and we were able to take hot showers! Woo what a luxury! So nice. I took advantage of the wifi and emailed the hubs to let him know I was alive and updated facebook - let all 900 people in my life know that I was okay and had just had one of the coolest experiences of my life! I was also able to facetime with my dad!! I love technology! It is so awesome! We had a nice little chat and I caught him up on life and then it was time for dinner. A buffet!! Yum!! It was so good. There was a pasta bar! There we were in Uganda eating dinner on the Nile, it was just such an awesome unimaginable experience! Then We went to bed super early because we had a 5am wake up call for our sunrise safari!!