25 March 2009

It's official!

"I'm leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again." -- John Denver

The date is set. I'm leaving Portland on September 2nd at 12:05pm for my new adventure in Tanzania. I bought the ticket yesterday, so the official countdown can begin.

As of today, I have 161 days before I leave. Now I have to really kick into overdrive to get all of the visa, medical, legal, financial, and relational details worked out! I appreciate your prayers and advice as I get moving on all this stuff.

13 March 2009

Where I work

This was my first week of three days in the Lahash office. (I had been working two days per week up to this point, but two days wasn't enough time to do all my work and raise support.)

Since I'm now here Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I thought I'd give you an idea of what my work space looks like.

The shelf above my desk holds all my records, thank you notes, my sponsorship binders, and all that good stuff. I covered cardboard magazine holders with collaged magazine cutouts to give some color and help me remember what is in each container. My real inspiration is the corkboard backdrop of my desk.

1. Amazing Grace kids getting "Back to Business" which reminds me to do the same!
2. Baby Sarah, my favorite little baby from Charlotte Babies' Home
3. Note card I received this week from my friend Jaclyn with some encouraging words
4. My To-Do List for February and March (notice not many check marks?)
5. Thank you note from one of my sponsors for sending a photo of her sponsored girl, Amina
6. My assistant's To-Do List for February and March
7. Hope is Alive insert picture of my friend José
8. One of my sponsor families who are amazing and supportive and send me photos
9. Adorable note from little Juan at Nsambya (she had help, she's only three years old)
10. Haribi Joseph, who reminds me to pray for peace in Southern Sudan
11. Drawing of me by Bansuk Victoria
12. The Amazing Grace ladies and Cristine and Lexie and myself
13. St. Andrew's Sewanee Middle School
14. Amazing Grace kids again
15. The future's so bright...
16. Sponsor kids who love their little brother in Uganda so much!
17. Baby Sarah's sister Buba, my little darling

06 March 2009

Made it home...

I thought I should let you all know that, after initally getting worse when I dropped my phone into a cup of water and the keypad began to malfunction, my "luck" turned around.

Heather's parents came up to Atlanta to see her off, and they took pity on me. They got a hotel room for Heather and I to share and bought me dinner. When we went to Walmart for Heather's last minute items, they bought me some food for my expected long wait in the airport. They insisted that my parents would do the same for Heather if she were in my position, so they should be looking out for me.

Monday morning Heather and I went to the airport, and I checked with the counter. They couldn't put me on standby until the same day as my flight, and I couldn't go through security until 6 hours prior to my flight. Things were looking bleak, until the lady took pity on me, changed my flight to one that was only five hours away and gave me $20 in airport food vouchers! When I checked my phone to try calling my parents a moment later, it worked! And it's been working perfectly ever since.

I got home to Portland Monday night, and all I can say is that I'm really grateful for the friends who took care of me in my moment of need and to a wonderful God who went before me and arranged things in His own way.

02 March 2009

Sewanee, TN = Stellar!

I had a phenomenal time in Sewanee Thursday and Friday. Cindy Potter was a fantastic host, and showed me all the sights to see in Sewanee. I got to have coffee with friends Stephen and April Alvarez, who have been faithful sponsors and supporters, I spoke to a Third World History class, gave a presentation to the whole middle school, met with a Korean exchange student who raised $400 for the Christmas giving initiative by selling her pottery, and I got to see the middle schoolers demonstrate the skills they've learning in their workshops for "Winterim" week. It was really encouraging for me to be with this community who have been so supportive of Lahash and IWASSRU for several years. I got to say thank you and talk to them about the impact they've made in the children's lives. They really blessed me, and I hope I got to bless them.

I love speaking to middle schoolers, and these middle schoolers are amazing. Each class at the middle school sponsors a child at Amazing Grace Orphanage. The 8th graders sponsor Taban Moris, the 7th graders sponsor Poni Evaline, and the 6th graders sponsor Waran Robert. St. Andrew's-Sewanee is like a college prep middle school, so the kids are taught some amazing and profound things, and I could definitely tell how advanced they are when it came time for the Q&A period of my presentation. They asked extremely intelligent questions about the culture and history of Uganda and Southern Sudan. They got really excited about some suggestions I made for ways they can engage with the kids at Amazing Grace. One of the girls asked if she could send some songs that she's written. Of course I said "Of course!"

I spent one night in Chattanooga, TN on my way back down to Atlanta, which was fun, but I'm learning about the importance of community and the very addiction to money I was blogging about recently. I was pick-pocketed yesterday, and lost my cash for food and my debit card. After the initial frustration and mild despair, I sat in the public library getting some perspective on the situation. I met up with Heather Sumner, a friend from Georgia who I met in Uganda, and she and her friends have been taking care of me well, buying me food and beverages.

My ticket home is for Tuesday, but I think I'm going to go to the airport and ask them to put me on standby for every flight between now and then, hopefully I can get home shortly. According to Murphy's Law, though, it started snowing this morning, and a ton of flights got canceled today, which will probably mean a backlog for the next few days. Please pray that I can get home shortly. I've had a great trip, but I'm ready to be back in friendly Portland.