Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

The kids with Grammy, Poppy and Cousins

As we explained to our friends that we were leaving to the US for 6 months for HMA, they did not seem to understand. One said, "You will be back for Christmas, right?" So I explained to them that we had to go to our villages this Christmas to see our mothers for it had been a couple years since we had done so. This made sense to them and became our line.

So, a few weeks ago, we packed our car and began our trek across Uganda, to Europe, across Europe to meet with a dear friend for debriefing, and then to the US and our villages of Charleston, SC and Nashville, TN.
When we boarded the plane in Brussels to cross the Atlantic, the flight attendant said Merry Christmas. I smiled as I realized we would see my family in a few hours and said, "It sure is."

It is good to be with you this Christmas!
The Johnsons

What child is this?

In surprise I found myself tearing up while singing What Child is This? Surprise because of the image God brought to my mind.
Yesterday morning I felt like the train conductor of the Polar Express trying to pull back the breaks and bring the locomotive to rest only to frightfully watch as it continues to skid across the ice. In the past few weeks we have travelled across 4 countries, 7 cities, and 3 continents. Over the past week, my head has been swimming as my mind tries to reconcile the stark differences of everyday reality here and Bundibugyo. We also have jumped right in to the hustle of Chrismas buying gifts for those we love, waiting in long lines and praying for patience as we sit in traffic for hours just to reach that last store to buy that last perfect gift- only to be told that they don't have it, but their store across town has two left...
So, Sunday snuck up on me. It's Christmas Sunday, we are at "our home villages," with our families, to worship Jesus. I wanted to settle my heart and mind so I could enjoy the moment and worship Jesus. Yet, the brakes did not seem to stop my racing mind.
I pictured myself running through the rooms of my heart trying to find a quiet place to rest and pray. I opened one door and it was filled with all the things needed to do before Christmas. The next was filled with all the correspondence I want send out to friends to arrange time to see them. The next was filled with emotions from the past 3 years in Bundibugyo. Another had desires of being a better husband, father or team leader. Boxes fell out of each door as I quickly tried to push close the door and say- not now. I kept going down the stairs deeper into my heart seeking a place to see Jesus. There was no room.
Finally, in the deep recesses, buried behind dust and boxes of crap, I heard a peaceful steady voice speak into my frantic-ness and say I am here. There in the darkness, as I stumbled over boxes and pushed through cob-webs, a small light shown and I saw the baby Emanuel held by his mother and father, quietly sitting amongst the bustle of my heart.
I had no room and no time to prepare a room. The inns of my heart were full. I failed to prepare the palace for the coming king. Yet, this king, in His love,did not wait for me to be ready. He cleared his own space and pierced his light into my darkness, confusion and madness. He made his home with me, humbly, accepting my brokenness, filth, issues, frustrations, desires, misguidance, and busyness as his home. His love did not wait.
Like the shepherds, when I saw Him there we I did not expect Him, all I could do is proclaim in surprise, "what child is this?"

Location:New Highway 96 W,Franklin, TN,United States

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

We have sent out our November update.  If you have not received it and are on our mailing list, please check your spam inbox.
Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas season!
Travis, Amy, Lillian, Patton, and Aidan

Sunday, November 18, 2012

rainy season means mpali

 After having dinner at our teammate's house, we returned to find that we had been invaded by mpali, also known as red ants, safari ants, biting ants. When it rains a lot, they must move their nest, so they march in lines to a new home. However, our casa was not their casa! The most effective method to deter them is to mix kerosene and water and pour it where you do not want them to cross. As they were already in our front room, work room, and kitchen, this meant sweeping out hundreds and hundreds of those mean biters and then pouring kerosene along the inside and outside walls of our house. You can see that I am not so happy with their evening invasion and that they liked to hold on to my local broom! Eventually, we got them out and then had a peaceful night...

wedding bells

 Bwampu Steven, CSB math teacher, married the beautiful Rachel on Saturday. A Babwisi from Nyahuka, he is a graduate from CSB and now one of our star teachers. A Bakonjo from Bundibugyo Town, Rachel is a primary school teacher in a nearby village. Saturday was both their traditional "introduction" and their wedding service. We are grateful that Alisha watched our children so that Travis could be the wedding driver and I could attend. What a joyful couple!

The wedding started with a choir and the couple dancing into the Anglican church!

puppy warriors

It has been a sweet 5 days with the puppies. Lilli checks on them at 6:30 am each morning and I have been known to do a midnight check as well. They are all healthy and growing. In 5 more days, their eyes will open. For now, they are defenseless, hungry, wiggly, snuggly little bundles of softness. 

Sunbirds, palm nut vultures, morning doves, warted hornbills, and even fish eagles frequent our backyard. However, for the first time since we have been here, an African Crow (really big, black and white) perched on the branch right above the puppy pen and cawed a strange repetitive call. Lilli, Patton, and Aidan sprang into action to scare away the mean sounding crow. Lilli used her local slingshot; Patton gathered hard fruit from a tree to throw, and Aidan held rocks and made a mean face. The creepy owl that only comes when a new puppy shows up on the mission has also been heard at night. But with these three puppy warriors, these predatory birds don't stand a chance! The puppies are well loved and safe.

6 males and one female (yellow lab with the pink ribbon)

greenheat biogas

Work has begun at CSB for the GreenHeat BioGas project. When it is completed, gas from the dome tank will fuel the kitchen stoves, greatly decreasing the amount of firewood that is currently consumed for the kitchen stove fires. Additionally, new latrines will be built as a part of this green project. We are thankful for the partnership with GreenHeat to work towards this very helpful project.


Alisha joined for a nine month internship in nutrition. A dietician by profession, she is running the Severe Acute Malnutrition pediatric ward and working with the Outpatient BundiNutrition Program. She also has been a great friend to our family, enjoying meals together and special time with the kids.

Lilli and Alisha with our new puppies

The BundiNutrition team (minus Dr Jess who was still seeing patients) as they return from their weekly meeting.


We were thankful to have Andrew, an intern with the South Sudan team, on loan for a month. He assisted in writing and videography for CSB and general handyman work, such as repairing our old lawn mower. Webele Andrew!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

puppy love!

When we woke up this morning, this is what greeted us!

Seven beautiful, healthy puppies! 

Thanks to the Stevens family, Bella and her puppies are enjoying a clean shelter (Simon's crate). Bella has been a wonderful mother and the 3 black puppies and 4 yellow puppies have been eating well! The kids are enjoying every moment with their new friends (and I am grinning from ear to ear too!).

Sunday, November 4, 2012

aidan is 3!

Today, Aidan turned three! When we ask him, "are you a big boy?" He replies, "No, I am a little brother." He is a boy who certainly loves his siblings...and Racecars! We had a fun Sunday afternoon party full of "Racecar Cornhole", Kachow Red birthday cake, generous gifts, calls from family, and Aidan's first live guitar concert. We are thankful for his life and love him deeply.