The last time I wrote a post here, it was before I became a mom! That was nearly 3 years ago! So much has happened and so quickly — it was always such a challenge to put anything into words… also, I blame “mom brain!” Haha!
So. Much. Has. Happened.
Our lives have been full of trauma and challenges, but also overflowing with joy and blessing.
How does one summarize a decade of living overseas? I will try.
I needed to write about our transition back to Canada to help me process the unrelenting wave of emotions I have been experiencing.
It’s been a wild ride. I wouldn’t change any of it. Well, if I’m honest, we could have done without some of the injuries, illnesses, and tears — but for the most part, that holds true! Everything we’ve experienced and done, both the impossibly good and the extremely difficult, has helped shape Josh and I into the people we are today. We are so different than when we left Canada for the first time back in August 2011. We are wiser, stronger, tougher, more confident, more exhausted, more grey hairs, more scars…
We have had the absolute privilege of a lifetime to be able to explore so much of the world living on this side of the globe. We have been blessed to experience countless adventures that continue to grace our minds with colourful, vibrant and rich memories.
We have seen and experienced tough moments and painful times. Even the small traumas, the things that we don’t realize at the time, accumulate over the years, wearing us down. We have become used to carrying burdens that seem so normal to us now.
We have learned so much about the character of Jesus and how faith becomes manifest in action. We’ve been able to learn about the global church, and how the world works in ways we could have never anticipated.
We have been a part of incredible teams, leading exciting work on the frontlines of healthcare and development, and witnessed incredible impact across the East African communities we’ve called home.
We’ve also had lots of things grow inside of our bodies that WERE NOT supposed to be there! (Definitely put that in the list of things I’d change!)
We have been able to build and develop a global family. People from all over the world, who have impacted us greatly, and will remain key parts of our lives long after our transition.
Most importantly, and a more beautiful experience than all others combined, we found our boys and became a family. With all of the incredible work we’ve been called to do over the years, it feels like finding our boys was the ultimate reason why we were meant to be here in the first place. A culmination of everything that came before, like each step was another piece in the puzzle that ended up creating our family when we finally put it all together.
It was a wild and painful journey to get us across the finish line of becoming a family, but Oliver and Finn are the greatest gifts of our lives. Our greatest choice, and chiefest pride. Everything else, all other achievements, pale in comparison.
And now our time living in East Africa is coming to a close, for now.
It is time to create more distance between us and disaster. Because those who know us very well, know that we are magnets to all things crazy. It is time for a break (we hope). Time for rest. Time to recover.
We keep saying that we are “coming home,” but really it feels like moving to a brand new country again. It feels more foreign than when we set out for Burundi, or moved to Uganda. There will be a lot of adjusting required as we put down roots once again.
We left Canada in our mid-twenties to move to Burundi for “a couple of years.” We are now leaving Uganda almost a decade later with two kiddos and 110lbs of Rottweiler. Never would I have imagined this! We make plans. God’s plans are better.
We’ve been so privileged to have clarity through each of the big moves we’ve made as a married couple. This is no exception. We know it is time to come back to Canada for a few years. After that, our options are still wide open! Why would we change our thinking now, when we can look and see where God has led us? So we will continue to trust Him and remind ourselves that He has always made our next steps clear.
Over the last ten years, I have filled more than a dozen journals, documenting the ups and downs, the things that have made us laugh and cry. It’s always been powerful to reflect back on what we’ve experienced and been through. So cheers to the end of this chapter of our lives, and to the beginning of the next.
Are there more things I would change? Yes! I won’t miss the hundreds of ants assaulting the kitchen when a single crumb has been left on the table. I won’t miss the cockroaches, or the constant dust that settles on every single surface in the house. I won’t miss power outages. I won’t miss our clothes taking days to dry during rainy season. I won’t miss the absence of sidewalks or public parks, being forced to take my children to hotels to find a playground. I won’t miss Kampala’s traffic, where it can take hours just to travel a few kilometres. I won’t miss spending an entire day just to get one thing done. I won’t miss worrying about our health or what to do if disaster strikes. I will not miss being so far away from my loved ones.
Yet the list of things I will miss is much, much longer. I will miss the people, and the beauty that is evident across every inch of Uganda. I will miss the constant adventures that have just become normal life for us. In March, we went on a special trip for Finn’s birthday, and a pack of monkeys ripped into our tent, stole his birthday LEGO, and we had to hunt for the missing pieces in the jungle! I will miss being so close to the frontline work here, mentoring and connecting with LifeNet team members making a world of difference. I will miss perfect weather, all year-round. I will miss the ease and spontaneity of camping as a family. I will miss the Nile River. I will miss the soothing sounds of crickets and frogs at night, and the exotic birds that wake us in the morning. I will miss the privilege of living in close proximity to incredible wildlife. I will miss how this place has stretched and grounded us. I will miss being surrounded by people who truly know and understand this life.
As complex and messy as things can be, I will miss the simplicity of life here.
Our hearts will never fully belong in one place anymore. Just as Canada was still “home” even while we were living in East Africa, Uganda will be “home” for us just as much once we move back to Edmonton. We are now a Canadian-Ugandan family — Uganda will always remain a huge piece of who we are. As one of my dearest friends wrote, “you will always be home and homesick.” It might sound like a burden, but we know it to be a true blessing.
Thank you all dearly for the support you have been giving our family in different ways. Thank you for the love and prayers. There are no words to truly express our gratitude to all of you, who have carried us through many hardships over the years. Even when we were too weary, frightened or troubled to pray for ourselves, we knew there were so many lifting us up from all across the world. Thank you for being so faithful in following our journey and loving us from afar. Thank you for it all.
We love you.