Saturday, December 26, 2009

A few words before the 12 hour bus ride...

Praise God for good friends and times to rest. This past week I have been with Laura at her home in London, Ontario. I can't believe it's only been a week and a half since I waved goodbye to my children and sent them back to Uganda. Over the last 10 days we have rested, cried a little, laughed a lot, and tried to process where we are at. What a blessing it has been to be together. Together we have gone for walks, prepared for Christmas, drank LOTS of good loose leaf tea, watched our favorite movie-Anne of Green Gables, decorated a pretty snazzy looking gingerbread house, made several calls to Africa to check on our friends there, and...went to see the Olympic torch come through London on it's way to the Vancouver 2010 Games. It's been exciting. Christmas Eve and Christmas morning it really started to hit me how much I miss the kids and how lost I feel without them. I don't have any children to care for, no meals to cook, no real place to be. That's hard. I still have purpose in my life, it's just not as easy to see everyday. My goal in these next months is to rest and be renewed, but also to pour myself into other people just as much as I poured myself into those precious children.

It's 8pm and Laura and I are getting ready to board a bus in about two hours to drive all night to St. Louis. There we are attending the Urbana Missions Conference, along wtih 22,000 other young, enthusiastic, missions minded people. I am hoping it will be a great time of renewal and learning and not too overwhelming at this point. If your reading this I appreciate your prayers that God would use this week to help guide me into the next chapter of life. Will keep you posted!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tearful Goodbyes

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." -Dr. Suess

Thank you Dr. Suess for this quote that has become my motto over the last week. Wednesday I tearfully watched my children get on a plane and fly back to their homeland of Africa. It was hard not to feel like they were walking out of my life. I held myself together until hugging them goodbye and then I could hold the tears in no more. As I sit here 3 days later though, I am sincerely content and so thankful about the way our last hours were spent together. The night before going home, the children finally got their tour long wish to play in snow. We sledded and built snowmen, and chucked snowballs at each other with great excitement. The perfect way to spend our last night together. I slid down the hill with Racheal and at the bottom we layed back and looked up at the stars for awhile. I told her that even though we will be oceans apart we can still look up at the same big sky, the same sun, and the same moon. It's a beautiful thought and makes me feel so much closer to them. During our last hours together at the airport we had plenty of time to talk, take pictures, and read/draw pictures/play. Thanks to the wonderful people at British Airways we were all allowed gate passes to accompany the children all the way to the plane! What a tremendous blessing. I looked out the window at the plane backing out and imagined that someday those pilots in the cockpit will be Christopher and Julius. I hope with all my heart that their dreams come true.

Laura and I made it safely to Ontario Thursday and have been resting and adjusting to life off tour. I'm so thankful for her amazing friendship and the chance to be together at this difficult time of letting go. We've cried a bit, but also laughed a lot, reminisced, processed, and praised the Lord together for the rich year and half that we have shared. I'm quite content with how tour ended and am feeling good altogether.

Friday morning we awoke to a call from Africa and had the chance to talk with Patrick and a few of the children. What a blessing to hear their voices and hear all the children playing and laughing in the background. They are happy to be home and excited to see their families. As I write this blog the children are enroute to be reunited with their families and friends-a moment I wish I could be present to experience. They have grown and changed so much. I know their parents/guardians will be shocked, delighted, and proud to see who their children have become. I know their Christmas celebrations will be extra special this year, before the children return to the boarding school and start their full-time education.

Thank you for your prayers, sweet notes, and support for me during this time. I am doing surprisingly well right now. The intial parting and letting go has not been as difficult as I thought. I know it will be a gradual process and some days and moments will be hard, but I am so thankful for the Lord's strength, and good friends to walk through these times with me. Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to those I won't see during the holidays!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Final Days

There have been many lasts these past couple weeks, but tonight was the finally the "real" last concert. I'm so thankful that we had the opportunity to do this Christmas event with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra as our last event. It's been such an honor to rub shoulders with world class musicians and singers. The children have made us so proud this past week. They have sang their little hearts out and they have impressed people who are far more educated and professional than they are. N'Kenge, the Broadway soloist who sang in the show with the children, just about knocked their socks off. She was gorgeous and had a brilliant soprano voice. I found Peace after the concert writing a letter to her tonight. She said "I love Auntie N'Kenge. I want to be just like her when I grow up. I am going to come back and visit her at her house." She said it with the most genuine childlike eagerness and faith. I promised to get the letter to N'Kenge.
As the children sang "Love in Any Language" tonight I geared up for the tears to come...but they didn't. When the entire cast and the whole theatre stood up to sing White Christmas at the end I got a little lump in my throat and I was sure I would cry, but somehow I didn't. This whole week I have been anticipating tears but it hasn't happened. I just pray they don't come at the most inopportune times.

Two days left now. That's when it really hits home. I appreciate your prayers for all of us as we prepare to go separate ways.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

30 weary travelers arrive in Cincinnati

Newsflash: 30 excited and weary travelers arrive in Cincinnati after a 12 hour drive from North Carolina! All the bags are packed, the house is cleaned, the cookies are baked, and the kids are ready. Through rain and snow we made our way yesterday to the place that has seemed so far off in the distance. This week the children have four Christmas performances with the symphony orchestra before heading home to Uganda on the 16th. Our time at Mirembe flew by in the blink of an eye, but I am so thankful we had the chance to be together as a family. The bus pulled out yesterday morning and we waved goodbye to Mirembe. I thought I would cry, but I didn't. There were a few tears on the bus though, as I thought about things. I wrote down some random moments on the bus to try and remember the small things...
Christopher earned his own CD player, so he sat in front of me with the world's biggest smile, pinching himself to make sure he wasn't dreaming. He said he dreamt about it all night. Uncle Steve made him his own personal mix CD, so he rocked out the whole ride to Lion King, Kirk Franklin, African Children's Choir, etc.
12pm-we entered Virginia and the children began to cheer as they saw snow covered hills for the first time!

2:15pm-random rest stop in West Virgina. After using the toilet and getting our Starbucks fix, everyone broke out into a huge snowball fight in the parking lot. It was the best snowball fight of my life :)

2:30-I pass out exams for the children to do while they ride. Meanwhile, I rock out to Christmas music and try to process...

3:45-I got bored and started passing notes to the kids. Nelson turned around and gave me the biggest smile ever. I started crying, thinking about how much I am going to miss little moments such as these. He wrote back asking if I am ready to go home or if I want to travel with them again. I cried again and told him I would like to live with them forever, but this season is over and it is time for us to go separate ways. He said he can't wait to be in Heaven with me.
6pm-Stop at buffet to stuff our faces :0
9pm-Arrive in Cincinnati and check into Comfort Suites...whew..home for 4 days.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

In memory of my Grandmother

This blog entry is dedicated to the memory of my Grandmother. It's been 10 years (on Dec 22nd) since God took her to be with Him. I imagine she is having a party with him today, worshiping him and loving life. As the children were rehearsing this morning, and the rain was pouring down outside, I decided to be suzie homemaker (as my mom would say). Clad in an apron, I set to work baking chocolate chip cookies and banana bread. As I was cracking eggs, measuring flour, stirring with a wooden spoon, and scooping out dough, I thought of my Grandma. She was the best cook ever. Many of my childhood memories involve baking cookies or pies with her. As I was baking this morning I wondered if she could see me and if she would be proud of how I've learned to cook and am now feeding 30 people at a time. I love to cook, though I haven't had much opportunity until now. The kids have paid me many compliments which is very encouraging as a developing cook :). I hope that I inherited Grandma's cooking skills and I hope that someday my grandchildren can say boldly that I was a great cook. I love you and miss you Grandma. Can't wait to see you again someday!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thank You Jesus

Thank you Jesus for always providing for my needs
Thank you for eyes to see the beauty of your creation
Thank you for this wonderful house you have provided for the choir
Thank you for the sunshine outside
Thank you for hot tea
Thank you for your Word which changes lives
Thank you for ears to hear music
Thank you for the 21 children across the room who have such hope and dreams
Thank you for the gift of photography to capture moments in time
Thank you for the amazing friends you have placed in my life
Thank you for the mystery of phones and the ability it gives me to keep in touch with loved ones
Thank you for the internet
Thank you for my incredible family
Thank you for the gift of love
Thank you for never giving up on us
Thank you for the gift of life
Thank you for this computer you provided for me to use
Thank you for the opportunity to travel and meet people from all nations
Thank you for the generous body of Christ
Thank you for words to communicate
Thank you for the freedom to worship you anywhere
Thank you Jesus for being a sovereign God who I can trust with my life