Monday, December 26, 2011

The best part about Christmas

This is the whole reason why I came back for Christmas... getting to spend time with my family.

Some of the cousins went with our Grandma to the River of Lights.

The O'Hea cousins... they're all so HUGE but it's still like old times.

We decided to celebrate Christmas a day late since my brother had to work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It was a great idea as we're all now just chilling out watching a movie.

My beast on "Christmas Eve"

On "Christmas morning"

Christmas goodness

My new obsession is with a website called Pinterest. Over the past couple of days I had fun trying out new recipes from there and then some old defaults. Needless to say the gym is a must this next week.

Cheesecake strawberries... these were so yummy!!!!

I was a busy girl... Strawberries, gingerbread and sugar cookies, pumpkin pie (everything including the crust from scratch), and my mommy made fudge.

This was made with Grands biscuits, syrup. brown sugar, and pecans and we had it on our "Christmas Morning"

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Culture Shock

(This is for everyone in the past week who has told me they've appreciated the candidness of my posts)

Culture shock: the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.

Being out of the country for two years, I have grown accustomed to a new "normal". Now that I'm back, especially during this time of year, I'm experiencing a rather intense bout of culture shock. I'm finding that even though I've now been back just short of one week and jet lag is pretty much over, I'm becoming even more tired. I think it's just because I'm processing all of the different things going on around me, especially all the changes. Coming to a place that was my home for 22 years and it was the epitome of the Cheers song of everyone knowing my name, to now where everywhere I look there are strange faces who look at me the way I once looked at random visitors who were coming into my territory is such a surreal experience. Looking around I just see things that used to be so familiar and yet now have changed just enough to throw me off and it's almost like I'm in a perpetual state of a border-line panic attack. I love seeing everyone who I've missed but I guess I was just so busy before leaving I never got a chance to really prepare myself for how different things would be. I'm very grateful though for those who are around who have either been on the field before or people like my brother who have been with me and know what life is like in Uganda in some aspect and who know the people and the stories I'm talking about. I know that as time goes by the culture shock will lessen and I'll get used to life here in some ways and meet new people and rekindle old friendships, but until that happens I know I just have to take things one step at a time.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Made it!

It's midnight on Saturday morning. I've now been in the States for about 50 hours and it's been such a crazy whirlwind! I arrived in Albuquerque to my family and it was just amazing to see them (grandma, grandpa, aunt, cousins, brothers, and of course parents) all and I just can't believe how much all the kids have grown! My brother Keelan is now well over 6 feet tall and I really feel like I'm a black key on a piano when I stand in between my two brothers now. It was very nice getting home without any real traveling problems - both of my bags came and all of my flights went off with out a hitch.

I encountered the fun of jet lag as the next morning as I slept in until noon. My mom and I then began to tackle the to-do list: renewing my expired license, making a target run, etc... Then we partook of heavenly green chile stew! Oh my goodness!!!! And by 7:30 I was ready for some more sleep.

Today I woke up at 6 and was able to barrel through the day despite an incredibly gnarly cold I'm having at the moment and I got my phone finally all set up! We also prepared for my first speaking engagement with the folks at the Life After Fifty Fellowship. That's honestly one of my favorite ministries to share with and they were so sweet to allow me to come and fill them in on some of what God is doing with the youth of Uganda. I didn't realize just how raw I was until I started crying talking about our girl Naaziwa who passed away earlier this year.

So needless to say, cold or not, it's go time. I hope to start getting to see people tomorrow as these past two days I've been spending it primarily with my parents and my brothers. I know these next two months are going to go by so fast, I just have to try and really "make the most of every opportunity".

Furlough: Traveling part 2

Ok, so this post may be a little less of the deeper subject matter as the last one… As I am writing this, I’m sitting in the Washington DC airport. It’s 5:30 and already dark and pouring rain and I’m just praying that the plane won’t be delayed. I have just finished partaking in the main craving that I have in Uganda but can’t have… SUBWAY. I got off the plane here and passed by a Wendy’s and an Auntie Ann’s then a Dunkin Donuts and then as the angels sang… there it was: Subway. But even when I saw those other places I got a little veclempt because little by little it’s beginning to hit me that I’m back. Now I’m just going to have to be sure to start at a gym ASAP or I’m going to be in trouble… the “furlough fifteen” is just not something I want to encounter this time.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Furlough: Traveling part 1

Currently I'm in Brussels Belgium partaking in a waffle and OJ waiting for my next flight and so I decided now was as good of time as any to post a blog:

To get anywhere from 8,000 miles away is a bit of an ordeal... and if you're going to be gone for 2 months well, you can up the stress factor quite a bit. Yesterday (or I think it was yesterday) was madness just trying to get stuff done, goodbyes said, and everything I needed to pack. Bev and I left Jinja at around 3 in the afternoon and got to Entebbe (the town where the airport is at) at about 6:15. We had some dinner and then it was time for me to check in. Gotta love the international flights where you have to check in 3 hours ahead of time. The ticket area was so loud and full of chaos but I made it through and I was very happy to discover that I was within my baggage allowance. I sat down to some good ol'e African Tea one last time and then headed to the gate.

Our plane was packed with quite a cornucopia of cultures - Ethiopia, US, Belgian, Ugandan, and the list goes on... It's really on this subject that I'm wanting to really focus on. People, cultures, this world... they all amaze me. I mean I was surrounded by muslim families and just really doing my own little anthropological observations of how they interacted with one another and those around them, the different people boarding the plane some were young twenty somethings others were older business people who still wore suits to travel internationally. I was able to sit next to a girl who slept most of the time but then in the last hour of our flight we started talking and it turns out she's also 25 with the PeaceCorps in Rwanda and has been disappointed by religion and fell away during college. It's in times like those with conversations with people who are great people with "good" hearts, and yet they're so lost. That's really what has hit me really heavily this morning that I was on a plane where a majority of those people did not know Christ. And my plane was just a microcosm of this world, there are more and more people growing up either not knowing Christ at all or being burned so much by "religion" that they use that as an excuse to run away from Him. Oh man, it just kills me as I'm thinking about that....

Anyway, be praying for that girl, and really all the "Lost" in your life. I have to go and check in now.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Get to Work

Since May of 2010 our youth group has been making their way through a series called The Race to Revelation. We have covered all the books of the Bible in a survey fashion up until the past two months where when we hit Revelation we slowed down a little bit in order to look at it a little more closely. It's been a crazy year and a half and definitely a challenge to try and cover the "important" verses and lessons of each book in just an hour's time.

Last night we finished our series as we covered the last 2 chapters of Revelation. It still hasn't hit me that we're done and that when I come back from furlough we will be able to change things up a bit and study a book more intensely and in an even more applicable way. To finish off the series we had kind of an extended youth group as we began at 1 with some worship and studying chapter 21 and getting the kids to understand how much we should be looking forward to heaven and live for that instead of this world that will one day pass away. We also had a couple of sessions on how the students can share their faith. So the first session was on testimonies and teaching the kids what a testimony was and getting them thinking about what theirs is.

From there we did some games, each with a lesson attached. We began with a boys team and a girl's team and each team had to have two key people who had to transport the rest of their team to the goal and back in a minute and a half and whoever they didn't get back were to get hit by water balloons. This was to show that we need to get to work and help people know Christ before it's too late. Then we had all the kids sit down with their backs to us as we threw water balloons at them to teach of how we don't know "the day or the hour" (of course, it didn't take long for them all to get up and start trying to run away, but it was still fun). Then we had four students with blindfolds and four cups each. In one cup there was a marshmallow, the next had some cookies, the other had honey, and finally a jalapeno. They were to be listening to their friends about which cup to take from. This was to teach that we need to do our jobs to tell people about what's coming but it's also the other people's responsibility to listen to what you're saying. Finally we played spoons and that was to teach about what the rapture will be like and Jesus will come and snatch us up to be with him in the air.

We had our final evangelism session about how we witness with our lives, through our relationships, and how to do it with just anyone we meet on the street. And then our final teaching was Revelation 22 again just about how awesome heaven will be and we need to be sure that we go there by giving our lives to Christ.

It was really cool as I didn't really know how many people would come and by the end of the day we had around 70. It was a lot of fun and definitely humbling as God taught me a lot of lessons gearing up for the event (see previous post). God is good, and His word is faithful and true. These 70 kids hopefully now know the truth of what their future can hold, the question is, do you?

Organized Chaos

I am a control freak.... there I said it and they say that acknowledging you have a problem is the first step to recovery, so here's hoping... Anyways, being that I do enjoy having things organized and under control, especially with big events, I make sure the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed, the schedules are color-coordinated, and everything little detail is covered and everything is communicated ad nauseam. But lately God has enjoyed making life a little more interesting as I embark on putting on the large-scale youth events. Last time He decided that I should loose my voice so I had to rely on others to help me, and then we had a big event yesterday and He thought I needed to learn that I still can't control everything.

The past couple of weeks, the power has been absolutely ridiculous! Technically it's supposed to be off every other night from 7pm to 7am, but that's apparently a mere suggestion as the power company here enjoys having our power off sometimes every night (like this week) and for longer than 12 hours. That's item number one that set things in a chaotic motion for this event. Then I'm also watching three of my friends kids (ages 15, 14, and 9).... that's fun in and of itself, but then the 9 yr old got Malaria.... another contributing factor to the chaos. Being that I was staying at their house and divided between there and the church with my time it was just like there was no real constant I felt very much like I had little or no control over really anything. And not to mention in the midst of all that I'm preparing to head to the States for two months in just a couple of days so that would make even a normal existence crazy. But praise God that He is in control even with the things that are impossible for me to control. The event happened and even though I knew all the hiccups beforehand, God made the event a success and so yet again He reminds me that He's got it and I need to trust in Him, not myself or my neurotic organization of things.


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