Saturday, December 31, 2011

Farewell, DMC

We welcomed in 2012 in the capital city Kampala. The beauty of Kampala during holiday season is a decrease in traffic. It allows us to restock supplies and eat at real restaurants without spending too many hours sitting behind diesel taxi vans or dodging boda bodes. Being here also allows us to give our kids "eyeball time" in which our focus is them, not the million distractions or demands of life in Bundi. It has been a sweet time of family reconnection.

Though we have great hopes for the year (and a few resolutions too!), we did receive some sad news from our teammates back in Bundibugyo. DMC, our matriarch dairy cow, has died. We are all sad as she not only produced liters and liters of rich milk daily, but she also became a dear part of our life. Lilli learned to milk her. Daily, she and Patton would give her a head scratch on the way to school. DMC has served well, producing many, many offspring, several of which remain on the mission.

We will miss you, DMC.

Christmas Highlights

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
The Johnsons

Monday, December 5, 2011


Thanksgiving 2011:
So much for which to be thankful!
A real team effort: worship music led by Kevin, teaching by Akindele, sharing by all, planned by Amy, decorations by RMS teachers and students, food by Dutch and Ugandan kitchen crew, cranberries by Shellie, Christine' birthday cake by Pamela, visit from Pat Abbott and Michael Masso, memories by all!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Celebrating visitor 100 and 101!

I love in the movies when the unsuspecting shopper checks out and is surprised with confetti and a bevy of free gifts as they are the one thousandth shopper!

I wish that we had such amenities for our latest visitors, Shellie and Kevin Rees, for they win the prize for being our visitor 100 and 101!

While that number is dizzying to me as it reminds me of the many, many preparations for housing, meals, schedules, and meetings over the last 20 months, it also makes me smile to know that over 100 people have wanted to be here with us!

We met Shellie and Kevin when Travis did the prenatal care and delivery for their youngest child in North Carolina. A friendship was formed and fostered over the years over many different moves both in America and across the world. We were so grateful when they agreed to come to Bundibugyo and lead a Bible teaching conference for local pastors and a retreat for our team.

As I read their blog post recounting the events, I chuckled at how many "firsts" of their experience now are normal life for me now. I say this as I drink coffee that has sugar ants floating in it and it no longer bothers me. The link to their blog is

So, webele, Shellie and Kevin for being our 100 and 101 visitors. We are grateful for the way you led our community leaders and our team in worship.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Trying to find normal

While Travis was at a 5 hour Board of Governors meeting for CSB, the kids and I decided to surprise him with one of his favorite parts of the Christmas season: Christmas Cookies!

Now that the kids are all old enough to be actively involved, it was really fun. Of course, there are sprinkles all over the floor, it took four hours to make four plates of cookies, and Aidan ran around in circles on a sugar high. But the measure of success was their huge smiles and their pride in showing their creations to Travis when he returned home.

Baking Christmas Cookies is a normal part of the American Christmas tradition. But here in Bundibugyo where there are no convectional ovens, sugar is a luxury, and icing is unknown, it is not normal. I find myself often straddling these two worlds, two sets of norms, not knowing where or how or what to do. How do I handle the 5 knocks on my door requesting "assistance" in the short time I am baking with my children? How much of my home country's traditions and customs do I hold on to and how much do I embrace my host country's culture and norms. Sometimes I am baffled in my new "normal."

As I reflect upon the year 2011 for many of our friends, I remember that I am not alone in the struggle of new normal:

One family now lives daily with one son instead of two. Another has battled non-hodgkins lymphoma and this week celebrates that last chemo treatment. A doctor who planned for a glorious retirement, lost it all in the stock market crash and now is working at a walk-in urgent care at Wal-mart. A minister who dreamed of missions now wakes up at 4am to operate a fast-food restaurant. In one very traditional American family, the mother is now forced to be the sole bread-winner and the dad stays at home with two boys, with a third on the way. Others are adjusting to a new job, new child, new diagnosis, or simply a new stage in life.

In the middle of these reflections about change, struggle, and new norms in life here and in America, I am reminded to dwell on the character of God:

He is Unchanging in uncertainty. He is Mercy in the hard places. He is a Shepherd who gently leads those with young. He is Big when obstacles seem looming. He is Powerful when the darkness surrounds. He is Protector for the weak. He is my Joy when I am missing the familiar, the comfortable, and my old normal.

When Travis brought down our one box of Christmas decorations from the attic, he reminded me that we used to have eight boxes of Christmas lights, ornaments, wreaths, angels, garland, etc. I laughed in remembrance as this one current box not only held our decorations, but our whole tree too! After we put the lights on it, Patton looked at it glumly and said "I don't like it." We took a moment and all sat on the ground to acknowledged that it did not have many ornaments on it and it was small, but that we get to make new traditions, new ornaments and make it however we want it to be! So, this year's Christmas tree hosts paper snowflakes, an origami duck, and photos of loved ones. And though it will never be on the cover of any magazine, it is okay with me because this is a part of our new normal.

Welcome Ann!!!

The week before we moved to Africa, we got a call that a fellow Grace Community Church member was interested in serving with us in Uganda. Excited to hear this, we met with Ann Kieser and looked forward to her vision trip visit in June of 2010.

And now SHE IS HERE!

We welcome Ann to service here and pray with her as she begins language and culture learning and working with visitors, interns and apprentices.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Well Done, CSB!

We are grateful to announce the end of the school year for Christ School Bundibugyo! The students took their last exams today. Travis and Headmaster Edward have had 10 hour budget meetings. Edward met with parents this morning. A board meeting is scheduled for the morning. All students have now gone to their homes. So, to end the year well, we celebrated with the teachers over a homemade pizza dinner!
Scott Will, longtime Bundi friend and WHM Sudan teammate visits us this week.
Travis is sporting his new wood fire oven safety goggles!
Good friends bring good laughter.
The oven was hot tonight...and needed to be to feed 50 people!
Newest teammate Ann Kieser shows Eunice and Peter how to make their first pizzas!
Aidan is a pizza making professional at the age of 2.
Headmaster Edward and wife Christine lead the teachers in prayer.
Eunice is proud of her first pizza!
For most, this was their first time to make or eat pizza.
Ann, Vincent, and Akim
The kids' table.
Edward versus Alex in table tennis.
Justine and Juliet, two wonderful women teachers, beautifully make pizzas.
Travis thanks Kataramu Francis for his hard work this year.
And also appreciates Masereka Godfrey.

We are grateful for the hard work of the teachers and staff of CSB. We are also are humbled by the generous response of donors who support the school as it has struggled to make up the unexpected 28% inflation rate here in Uganda this school year. As we come to a successful close, we are filled with thanks to God. We will rest well tonight!