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Introvert in an Extrovert World

If any one really knows me they may not know that I am uncomfortable in social settings. I am always hoping someone else will break the ice by talking first. I strive to be an extrovert but it doesn’t come naturally. I think most of the time I just don’t want to be a bother, to say something “stupid”, to be a bore, or seem self-centered. All my life though I have been pushed to be an extrovert, I believe we all have. In order to make friends we need to talk to someone else, sometimes being the first to speak up or we will be passed up. When dating we need to get out there somehow to be seen and heard so that someone will take notice and want to ask more. In school we need to ask questions, be engaged when you work in a group or apply for college and scholarships. In our careers, typically you need to be able to communicate and seem interesting enough to those who are hiring, otherwise the other candidate is chosen. You get my point.

So here in Uganda I have been challenged again to be the extrovert I am not naturally gifted with. I have also seen it with my kids, they have people every day coming up to them talking to them and trying to get them to talk or play. I think that after the initial stranger danger, and especially if you don’t speak but just smile and keep some space; Parker will be all over you within minutes. She will talk your ear off and point out things she sees with your hair, clothes, skin etc. Jacob is hard to read, he is at an interesting age and I think though he is more of an introvert, but daring and curious so an extrovert with his actions and an introvert with words…or just does what he wants and is super stubborn.

I need in every aspect of my life here in Uganda to be an extrovert. I have to communicate to those here, and with more experience with learning the language it will be less nerve racking. I need to try and network so I literally have to say hello to strangers who might be able to help me with resources or find different programs. I need to meet people, who can give me the relationships that help me to not miss home so much when the going gets tough. I also have to be a good communicator to those who support us financially and prayerfully. I also need to reach out to friends from home to keep those special bonds and to keep me sane.

Here is just one example: Today the kids are playing in this amazing little play place at the mall. (You have to pay to use it, that’s the only downfall). It reminds me of home, same situation where there are several other parents all there for the same reason. Same anxiety, in my head I am saying, “Say something, don’t just smile, engage, ask the safe questions, like how old is your kid?” It just doesn’t come naturally to me, I always feel weird, and think well if they cared to talk they would, what if they really don’t want to be bothered, or they are already in a conversation, what interesting things do I have to say?… Normally at home in the states I would literally only speak when spoken to, and I know I missed out on some potential opportunities for friendships, resources, conversation, Godly witness, wisdom…. So here I have really challenged myself to say hello, ask the icebreaker questions, and just go with it…who knows if I will ever see them again and if I do then it won’t be as awkward that next time. I hope with this attitude I can be an encouragement and be encouraged (I am totally ok with benefiting from sticking my neck out there).

All that to say, I have to rely on God A LOT for A LOT of things, even some things that would come naturally to others. I would also add that even extroverts would have a hard time with the life of a missionary. I will keep you posted on how I do with all those new relationships that I know God has in store for me.

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What’s so different?

Well it happened Jacob almost made me cry by saying he wanted to live back in Nebraska. We asked why and he said because he missed his friends. It is true we haven’t made many friends, I mean everywhere we go he has kids wanting to say hello and greet him, touch him and play. He just hasn’t really enjoyed playing with them for very long. It is different, they don’t talk to him about the things he is interested in. Like action figures and cars, or certain cartoon shows and movies. He isn’t in their homes playing around with their toys and playing with the outdoor playground. He isn’t in school and even Sunday school is lots different. Basically he is over the whole staying with mom and not being able to just go explore. We have some work to do, it’s only the beginning and time with change things but it still hurts. So today we are going to skype some friends back home and hopefully that will help until we can get a routine and some normalcy around here. Granted it will be a different normal but it will be good.

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Adapting…things you may be interested in knowing

So we are on week three here in Uganda, though it feels like we have been gone from our family for longer, yet here a short time. As my kids adapt to this new life, I thought it might be fun for you to get a glimpse into our lives. Some insight into how our kids see things and just some fun facts about life here in Uganda. Let us start with home life, we are renting a home about 10-15 minutes from our current ministry center, what would take probably 5 minutes if we had paved roads.

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(first pic, view down and second view up)

We live in a quiet area as it is being developed almost every home around us is in the process of being finished or built. Which I guess makes for quiet nights and busy days. All you really hear is goats bleating, roosters calling and birds chirping (tranquil for some and annoying for others). In fact some beautiful birds are around our home one a hummingbird, decided it wanted to come in the house, thankfully it quickly went out. The kids love to point out the animals they see, even the same ones you just saw the day before.

We have a brick wall that is plastered with a barb wire running along the top that surrounds our compound, and a front gate that slides open to let the vehicle in/out, plus a door to go in and out. Why? Because simply put that is how single family homes are built, or even larger compounds. You will see this in the city and in the country, in this region of Uganda. The better the home the more security you have, even if you feel safe, which we do.

Speaking of security, many hire a guard and we even had one in the past when we lived here before. But we prefer to use a dog, and are working on that as we continue to get settled. As for now I am the gate keeper, meaning I have to open and close the heavy gate when Matt wants to get the car inside. We have asked the kids what they would name the dog, “Well if its black and white we could just name it Hercules, just like our dog from Nebraska.” Jacob said very matter of fact.

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Our compound is a good size and we look forward to letting the kids ride their bikes and things out front when we get those types of things to play with. Every house has what they call a veranda and ours is a good size, basically a porch leading to the house. Our front door is a sliding door and then a security gate behind that. There are lots of windows and all are sliding which is a new idea here. They all have decorative and functioning security bars on them for added security. We hope to figure out a way to make screens though to utilize the cooler weather in the evenings and leave out the bugs. The kids love to go in and out all the time, and play with the reflective mirror on the outside (at one point the only mirror we had at our home.)

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Bugs that would be the next topic, we have ants, flies, gnats and mosquitoes. That is basically the normal bugs we encounter daily. We also have lizards, geckos whatever they are that I don’t mind because they are bug eaters and harmless. However when they randomly run across your wall when you open a door it is a bit startling. The kids have gotten bit several times, Jacob having the worst of reactions, he has been getting what looks like blisters when he gets bit. He is a bandaid wearing fool these days, as he hates any mark on his body and must make it all better with a bandaid. So if you ever send a care package, include those, we will always be able to use those with this kid. No malaria, praise the Lord, our bed nets are working in that regard as well as of course prayers.

It is rainy season, but not a lot of rain has been falling, and no one really knows how long the season will go as they say it started later this year. We rely on rain water for our water source as this is a developing area, the main line has not yet been routed this way. We actually had to purchase water to put in our tanks yesterday as we had run out. We try very hard to conserve water, while still staying clean and sanitary around here. It is no easy task that’s for sure. We have a sink in our dining room, a very common feature so guests can wash without going into the kitchen or bathrooms. Jacob has been very helpful with Parker making sure she doesn’t waste water. Parker’s favorite saying is of course “wash your hands with wahwah and soap”.

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Lastly, I have been working hard on trying to figure out what to do with Jacob and his academic and social adaption here. I am still working on it but have found some information to research. The hardest for me is figuring out how to best integrate yet educate the way I want as it pertains to his American culture, and Ugandan culture. Along with positive socialization, Biblical teaching, and overall education. For now with the little resources we have we are learning and playing at home until we can figure it out. So pray for that especially as cost, distance and peace of mind are all challenges faced in this area.

We plan to do a youtube video of our home soon when we get the remainder of our furniture in place, so be on the lookout for that. There will be a link on our website www.risingstarministries.com

But here are a few pictures until then.

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Mary Poppins is my hero…

So the kiddos fell asleep to Mary Poppins, they didn’t even get to the first good part when they are putting the toys away. We started our first day of “school” since the kids around here also started school back up today. The schedule is basically in school for three months at a time with one of the breaks being a longer one during what would be winter in the states some of November all the way through the beginning of February.

The goal for us is to use these next few months to basically clean the slate make necessary repairs and have training for staff. Refocus and motivate the staff for the future. We also want to build that bond and trust with the kids, as the current children in the program have not spent as much time with our family as the previous children did. The children that we started the program with are starting University and finishing up high school.

I would like to be able to invite those original Rising Stars back during the holiday time to help in motivating and encouraging the next Rising Stars and to be a part of getting them excited for what is in store for the future.

On the home front I am continuing to try and get a good schedule down for the kiddos and to lay that foundation of learning and discipline to prepare for continued learning and future longer days of schooling. It is an adjustment for me and the kids to have structure and a plan in this new environment.

I am doing what I can with the little supplies I have, and look forward to our shipment coming to get some of those useful educational tools I packed. We will also be getting a desk for Jacob and myself which I think will make things more organized and hopefully motivating.

We did well though this morning as we practiced writing and learning the calendar, names, age and birth date. We worked on math using his action figures, as well as following directions. We are reading in the book of Daniel and learned about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego at least the first chapter.

We have a big day on Wednesday celebrating Parker’s 2nd birthday, I will be sure to write all about it. Until then let the adventures continue, God Bless.

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Travel tips with kids

So I had written this as I was travelling many miles through air and port with too many bags and two children, and felt it necessary to spare some sanity to the next individual who decides to travel with kids.

Now my experience was a bit extreme considering I was moving my family so I was bringing way more than one might bring on a short trip or even a longer than normal trip. We travelled thousands of miles on 3 different planes and over a three day time period, due to layovers and the like.

When travelling with kids it is a balance to bring all the necessities, but to also be able to carry everything. Note the kids although very able bodies to help are not reliable. Their moods shifts…when the gate is too far, the line for security is very slow or overcrowded. Other crazy moments include getting on and off the not so roomy airplane isles. Snacks are also something necessary if you are trying to keep your trip budget friendly and to avoid the high costs at the airport, but that is also a balance you don’t want too many snacks because that either becomes another bag or a very heavy bag. This also is a balance with getting your kids to actually eat “real” food when the time comes they won’t because they have snacked too much, then when mealtime is over and you are at the ticket counter or boarding that’s when they are starving and all chaos irrupts.  I packed snack bags for each of them small enough to fit in a snack size Ziploc, that’s what I did right…I won’t get into what I did wrong.

Next good idea that when executed can be great. Double umbrella stroller for the not so cooperative walkers in your family. You can hook some bags and any blankets or pillows you may have decided your kids would do better with, but if you don’t get the right strollers it can just be another headache. For example your kids may decide they don’t want to ride in the strollers they want to either push the strollers or run off with you lugging them and all the other things they decided they didn’t want to carry themselves. The threat to leave things behind, is stupid and you and they know it, because you want to keep those things because when they are about to melt down you need those items to help calm the situation down.

Finally I conclude with this grand idea, no delayed flights, no long layovers, no gate changes, no idle waiting on the runway, no kids, free food, teleportation, happy people and kids at all times.

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It’s only the beginning

Monday It’s been a week since we have started our travels and we are starting to become more settled. We have started to have some learning time and are trying to get a schedule started. We are about a week away from really getting into a routine that includes ministry work more full time. As for now we are just starting to get into a flow. Ironically I started teaching Jacob time, basically his numbers and then looking at the clock we purchased and how the day is broken up into morning and afternoon. Here time is usually a general idea not one that is respected or kept especially during the rainy season. I believe that all that waiting for things to take place and funds etc. has helped prepare us for each moment here, I had forgotten how slow and patient I need to be here.

Here is an example of one of our crazy days, it was Saturday and we finalized which home we could afford and move into that day. It took most of the morning, and while Matt was doing that I made sure all the bags were repacked and ready to load into the car. We then set out to town (Kampala) to choose some furniture, the basics to be able to sleep in the new house that night. We had a friend help us to go to someone she trusted would give us a fair price for what we needed and would have some stock we could take that day. We couldn’t find exactly what we wanted but put in an order for two kid beds with posts for the nets. (the kids didn’t like the nets to be near them when they slept so we needed something to make the nets square.)IMG_20150512_203158IMG_20150512_203127

Then we picked a table and chairs but wanting plain ones was very hard to explain, they like to decorate in some bold designs. Also we needed something to sit on for couches again no plain ones available so we ordered a three seater and two seater couch but they sent us with some to borrow and then swap when ours were complete. When you order things they take it in the back of a pickup and you pay for delivery. So as time was running out we left our friend with our things to ride back with them to show the place. We went on into town to the mall to pick up other basic things to get us started, we ate dinner and then headed back as it was already getting dark. We called our other friend Ben to ask if he knew of any places that had mattresses….We found some on the way back home and had no room so we had to tie them to the roof of the car. Matt and Ben can tell you that you should make sure that you don’t tie the very doors that you need to get back into shut when attaching the mattresses. They had to climb in the windows, it was quite the sight. Anyway we got home, Matt had to go get the rest of the bags from the hotel, we were able to set up the beds and went to sleep about 2am. Not a typical day however not too far from life when you have to get things done, it tends to take way longer than expected.

Tuesday We finally have some wheels of our own our first van! IMG_20150512_174922We went to the center today and I am excited for what the future can hold. We set a plan to have a meeting on Monday and I am excited to kick off a refreshed version of Rising Star Ministries. Having the kids there today helped me to figure out more of how I am going to balance them and the ministry. Jacob was fascinated by the roaming cows and the local water pump, plus of course soccer. Parker was able to fall to sleep and take a nap in the office which gave me the opportunity to talk with Agnes and keep a lookout for Jacob. I am excited as the kids are returning back to school on Monday from their holiday break and I want to start a project with them on Saturdays before training. The idea is to motivate them to think about the future, about what it could hold for them and to help them to realize their dreams and how to pursue them.

The idea is to ask them to think about what they want to be when they grow up, how they think they will achieve that goal. I want to also know what their parents do for work and what schooling they had. I hope to get a back story to their lives and what it will take to help them achieve their goals. I want to then put the kids with the same goals together in groups so that I can work with each of them on a plan to achieve those future goals. I plan on finding local people who are in those professions and interviewing them and also hopefully having them come and speak to the kids to help inspire them to dream big and work hard to achieve their goals. I am hoping this will increase their motivation to work hard in school and in life as they can see themselves as being able to achieve what others in their country have been able to achieve.

I also plan to document a few stories and track the progress, parallel it to kids in America who I am also getting similar information from and then make a small documentary or book to inspire and motivate others. A big idea that I hope with some effort and hard work will turn out how I have it envisioned in my head.

Tomorrow The plan is to get our washer hooked up, repairs to the house that needed to be finished, like tiles in the bathroom and other little things. We also are supposed to get our furniture pieces that we ordered. We have a few touches here and there to finish the place to fully make it our own.  Then when the shipment arrives in a few months we will really have all of our things like pictures and a few furniture items we wanted to keep from our home in the states. The future is promising and we are still trusting God in all things, including his continued timing and direction with everything.

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No return flight…the first few days

The kids are adapting well in regards to comfort. They do well with kids but still struggle with adults talking to them and the phrase commonly used is “how are you?” They don’t really know how to respond. They are shy in the states too, so this is something that will come with age and time. Usually Parker opens up to situations if she sees that Jacob is acting as though he is having fun or feels safe.

We have gotten several bites, but we are all still in good health. The kids have been very tired though adjusting to time change and just overall comfort. They like to sleep in…wish this would have been the case back home. Adapting to the food and their appetites has been hard, but I think that with time and with the change of venue of being able to cook for ourselves this will change. They still love the sweet stuff like juice and any candy that we have left over from our travels.

Our routine getting to become more productive and adaptive is contingent on us finding a home that meets our needs. Language is a big factor too, the kids that Matt and I worked with are all grown up and not around as much. The new kiddos will have to want to be invested as the kids once were. We have some work to do to build up those trusts and relationships.

It is rainy season here which means that bugs are more present and temps are cooler in the morning and evening when the sun is not out. Cool as in a long sleeve shirt or light jacket is comfortable. Also when it rains productivity slows considerably, its usually a down pour and with the conditions of the roads and transportation it serves as  an excuse for some to just wait until it stops to do anything. I however understand how much harder it is to travel if you don’t have access to good roads and good vehicles. When we were searching for a home the road we went down for one got us stuck, let’s just say that one was out of contention real fast after that. We need to be able to get in and out of our home.

Parker is liking the basin baths and so is Jacob, they never really cared for warm baths or showers. Power has been available which is great and hopefully it is something that they have figured out how to keep running now that the previous construction is finished and power and water are stable.

I am wanting to start learning the language as fast as possible, maybe because when I don’t understand people it makes me uncomfortable. They could be talking about me, they could need something that I can’t understand how to help, and they could better open up and share what’s going on if we could communicate more clearly. Even talking to adults it is surprising how many things are lost in translation of even two people who know English but don’t fully understand phrasing and accent.

The homemaker side of me is in definite need of being fulfilled and that means we do need a home, even if that home is temporary as in we are renting. I can still make the home feel like ours with beds and space, cooking, cleaning, and just the increase in self-reliance instead of having to wait on others to get things done. I like doing things myself and doing them the way I want them done.

God’s timing and trust is everything. It is how we will be able to survive here, to be happy and to call it home. We have been preparing for this adventure for so long, now that it’s here we need to remember how hard it was to get here and fight to stay so we can impact. I am excited and am ready to get after it.